TV Shows Like “Game of Thrones”
We get enough brain-dead TV shows every week. Every once in a while, though, a show like Game of Thrones lands on our screens and hooks us.
It’s gripping, gory, and beautiful. From dark dungeons to snowy mountains, the contrasting landscapes are captivating, each with a new story to tell. With its strong narrative and jaw-dropping visuals, there is no wonder that it has broken all sorts of records. The acting might seem a little wooden at times, but this is perfectly in keeping with the medieval look and feel of the show. Yes, it is dark and gloomy, but again in keeping with the narrative. Yes, some scenes can be hard to stomach for some people. If you can digest a lot of nudity (which is awesome), heart-wrenching deaths, and shocking betrayals, though, Game of Thrones is just the thing.
It also happens to be one of the most pirated TV shows ever, both for season 6 as season 7 in 2017. No wonder they premiered the 6th season in 172 countries simultaneously (by far the largest TV simulcast ever)! The only problem with Game of Thrones is that there isn’t enough of it. With only ten episodes every year, only seven in season 7 and (as far as we know at this point) 6 episodes in season 8, we are left craving more.
So of course, a lot of people are looking for TV shows like Game of Thrones, including us. We decided to take a look around and compile a list of some other shows similar to Game of Thrones.
Enjoy and let us know in the comments what shows you already watched or are planning to watch after this overview!
Grey Worm may be missing from your TV for a while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see a great slave warrior rise up. Starz aired Spartacus for three seasons, and filled it with graphic violence and slaves, as well as sex; lots of sex. The story was inspired by the historical gladiator from 71 b.c. that led a slave uprising against Rome, and did it without a khaleesi or dragons to help.
Similar to Spartacus, Rome is set in the 1st century b.c. and follows the final days of the Roman empire. For any true GoT fan, the sprawling cast of 20-something characters won’t be overwhelming. Throughout two seasons, you’ll watch the lives of rich and powerful folk deal with shifts in power, politics and fortune over the course of 12 years. Watch for a younger Indira Varma before she became the ruthless Ellaria Sand.
Power struggles, deception, gods, strong women and bloody battles, all in a medieval setting: Vikings has everything you love about GoT, except dragons. The History Channel’s show is a fictionalized tale of Ragnar Lothbrok who may have ruled Dark Ages Denmark from the town of Kattegat, at least when he was not raiding England and France. He has to play the game as allegiances constantly seem to be shifting among his friends, brother and sons. Plus, the shield maiden Lagertha would give even Brienne of Tarth a run for her money on the battlefield.
Seasons: 5 and counting
Natalie Dormer (a.k.a Margaery Tyrell) wants to be queen and she’ll ruin a country to do make it happen, only to end up on trial for her life. Sound familiar? Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays King Henry VIII in this Showtime show, and Dormer plays the infamous Anne Boleyn, who ripped England apart through her manipulations. Sex, priests, famous families, invasions, beheadings and politics all shape this period piece, just as in GoT. Sadly, no dragons.
Medici: Masters of Florence
The series is set in the 15th-century Florence, and the protagonist is Cosimo the Elder who was elected head of the Florentine Republic in 1434. Cosimo, played by Richard Madden (a.k.a Robb Stark), has inherited the Bank of Medici from his father Giovanni, who has been mysteriously poisoned. Through various flashbacks (20 years prior), we are introduced to Florence at the time of Giovanni, and to his relationship with his sons Cosimo and Lorenzo.
The second season, which will air in 2018, will star Sean Bean (a.k.a Eddard “Ned” Stark) in the role of Jacopo de’ Pazzi. So if you like the instant Game of Thrones melancholia, be sure to try out this series!
Seasons: 1 and counting
House of Cards
A manipulative Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) dominates the ruthless political world of Washington, D.C., in this Netflix remake of the 1990 British miniseries. Sure, it’s not set in Europe, and there are still no dragons, but the wickedness, corruption, greed and sex will feel familiar. And if the icy, blond and conniving Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) doesn’t remind you of Cersei, I’ll eat my hat.
Seasons: 5 and counting
Dragons! In the classic tale of Prince Arthur, you see the world through the eyes of his young magician Merlin. Of course, the future ruler doesn’t know he’s a magician, because that would mean his friend is a danger to the realm. There’s tons of father-son drama, knights, battles, and deception. Spoiler alert: There’s a dragon who can talk hidden beneath the castle.
Sure, they’re not Iron Born, but The Borgias family know a few things about taking what they want and then struggling to hold onto it. This Showtime show, headed by Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, is set in 15th Century Italy. It follows the family’s rise to the top seat in the Roman Catholic Church with plenty of incest, bribery, assassinations and illegitimate children along the way.
Tom Riley stars in this fictionalized account of Leonardo da Vinci’s life, which is filled with inventions, lovers, political intrigue, religion and magic. Set in Renaissance Florence, this Starz show will keep you wondering who you can trust, as you watch the power struggle between the Starks and the Lannisters, er, I mean the Medici and Pazzi families. Plus, the cult of the Sons of Mithras is a little like the Faceless Men. Throughout the series you can also see Alexander Siddig (a.k.a Doran Martell) playing the role of Al-Rahim.
The White Queen
Who needs a war of five kings when you can bask in the girl power that is the battle of three queens? The White Queen 10-part miniseries from Starz is based on the historical novel series The Cousin’s War by Philippa Gregory. It’s set against the backdrop of Britain’s Wars of the Roses, following three regal ladies from warring houses (York and Lancaster). A little bird also tells me that a sequel, based on Gregory’s The White Princess, is currently in production.
The Walking Dead
White walkers, walking dead, same stuff right? We’re talking about zombies, people. Sure, the AMC TV show is a bit more modern, but just as gory and enthralling. If you make it past episode one without being a complete addict, there’s something wrong with you. You’ll have all the feels as you watch Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his rag-tag group struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead don’t stay dead.
Seasons: 8 and counting
GoT’s latest season is dripping with strong women, but they are all played by different actresses. If you haven’t already witnessed the girl-power glory that is Tatiana Maslany’s portrayal of 20-some clones, you need to get on that. The show opens as Sarah witnesses what seems like her twin jump in front of a train. As she tries to find answers, all she finds are more twins and more questions. The fully-formed and believable characters are all distinct and identifiable, and Maslany’s seamless transition from one to another is simply breathtaking.
While there are no dragons, there are plenty of other fictional monsters embedded in the fantasy world of Penny Dreadful. The Showtime show is a dark and brooding 19th-century British nightmare filled with characters from public domain literature, including Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein and Mina Harker. My personal favorite is the powerful Melisandre-like Vanessa Ives (played by Eva Green), who has one foot in this world and one foot in the next.
Lots of greed, sex and political in-fighting fill this Netflix original portrayal of the explorer’s journey through Mongolia’s Silk Road. Marco Polo gets some training in the art of war, love and familial betrayal (I’m looking at you Viserys Targaryen) when his uncle and father give him to Kublai Khan to setting a debt. It’s not Europe, and there are no dragons, but there are so many similarities to GoT, it’s silly. See if you can’t see the parallels between Littlefinger and the evil chancellor Jia Sidao.
Seasons: 2 and counting
Sex, violence, and nudity – Black Sails doesn’t lack in these elements.
Airing on Starz and set as a prequel to Treasure Island, the plot follows the adventure of one of the most feared and infamous pirates of golden age, Captain Flint. On an island overrun with thieves, pirates, and prostitutes, Flint has to maintain control. The first season helps you get acquainted with the characters and style of storytelling. You might think that everything is a tad flashy, but the second and third seasons will help change your opinion.
If you are looking for some action, Black Sails is a good bet.
Taking place amidst a thriving illegal alcohol business during the era of Prohibition, when the political landscape was laced with violence and corruption, Boardwalk Empire is a story about Nucky Thompson, a politician who also happens to be a mobster, playing both sides to his gain. Due to his lavish lifestyle, the federal government starts looking into him, making life a little bit harder for our man than it already is.
What surprised me is how far the makers of this series were willing to go with every little detail. It’s beyond accurate. Every furnishing, every corner, every street looks and feels authentic, as if everything was shot in 20s. In this show, a new standard is set for storytelling with everything far beyond perfect. With a talented and experienced cast, amazing cinematography, and twisting story lines, Boardwalk Empire cements its place as one of the best historical shows to ever air on TV.
The Bastard Executioner
The Bastard Executioner started airing September, 2015. After watching the one season aired before it was canceled, I was convinced that this medieval epic deserved a place in this list of shows like Game of Thrones.
It cost a whopping $10 million to make the two hour premiere, and subsequent episodes cost almost $2 million each. Judging by the quality of content and ratings, though, I’d say it was money well spent.
The story is set in Wales somewhere around 1300. It’s about Wlikn Brattle, a soldier who has had enough of the war and is looking to live rest of his life in peace. Unfortunately, he finds out that he has no option but to pick up the sword again, this time as a badass executioner. The first few episodes don’t reveal much, but it’s certain that The Bastard Executioner isn’t going to be a weekly execute-bad-guys episode. It’s trying to tell a larger story.
This might be the ultimate cure of Game of Thrones withdrawal. Less fantasy, and perhaps less nudity, but we have a lot of gore, blood, story line, and violence crammed in every episode.
The Last Kingdom
It’s a shame that more people don’t know about this series or the story it’s based on. Just like Game of Thrones, The Last Kingdom is based on a series of books called The Saxon Stories. Set during 10th century AD in England at the time when Viking invasions were at their peak, The Last Kingdom is a story about Uhtred, an orphan born in Northumbria who must choose between the people who raised him and his native country.
Eye-gouging, beheading, stabbing, and crucifixion, amongst other things, is all here for your pleasure. There are a lot of bone-crunching battles with ever so satisfying clings of swords. The only thing lacking is explicit nude scenes, something we have grown accustomed to in Game of Thrones. It’s not surprising as the show is aired on BBC, which is not a premium channel. Still, a show well worth your time.
Seasons: 2 and possibly counting
In 1603, as England is engaged in war against Spain, tensions are high in domestic society due to brutal persecution of Catholics. Robert Catesby, a young Catholic nobleman who has recently lost both his wife and his father and, angry at his perception of punishment from society, conjures a literally explosive plot to kill King James I when he sits in the houses of Parliament. Catesby joins with a group of equally aggrieved men, including the infamous Guy Fawkes, to enact vengeance in a series of events that are still commemorated in present-day Britain. The three-part miniseries was originally presented on BBC in the U.K.
Although this is only a mini-series consisting out of only 1 season with 3 episodes, you’ll have a big enough dose of Game of Thrones when watching this, due to the fact that Kit Harrington (a.k.a Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen/King in the North) is playing as one of the main characters. A huge reccomendation if you have little time for watching way to long series, or even just when you simply want to have more Jon Snow on your screen.
Seasons: 1 (3 episodes)
Once you’re done with above shows, give Westworld and Wayward Pines a shot as well.
Are there any other TV shows like Game of Thrones that should have been on this list? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to check them out!
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