When a TV series is not only a big ratings hit but also a pop culture phenomenon, it’s only natural for viewers to seek out similar shows once it ends. A decade ago, fans and networks were all hunting for “the next Lost” in order to replicate the thrilling success of that marvelous mystery box series.
Now — yes, despite how the saga ended — the hunt is on for a successor to Game of Thrones. HBO’s already got their ace lined up in the form of an actual Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, which premieres August 21. But you still may be looking for more shows that feature high stakes, vast geography, large ensembles, big battle sequences, and perhaps a touch of magical mayhem. We’ve compiled a quick list of eight shows you can check out right now if you want a sprawling drama filled with twists, turns, secrets, and shadows.
And no, not all of them are set in the type of fantasy world you’re thinking of. We’ve got bootleggers, pirates, space detectives, and more!
8 Shows to Watch if You Liked Game of Thrones
Where to Watch: Prime Video (2 Seasons), with Epix add-on (all 3 Seasons)
This blend of history and fantasy, which also uses 20th century pop songs (the opening credits are set to Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” T-Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” etc), is an absolute trip. This uncanny and unpredictable story, about the Romans’ attempt to conquer the Celts in the British Isles in AD 43, has been described as Game of Thrones on acid. The Walking Dead’s David Morrissey plays Roman invader Aulus Plautius, a man convinced that fate and fortune are on his side during Rome’s second attempt to subjugate the British lands. What he discovers are warring tribes, lands steeped in druid magic, and a young girl who prophecy says will save everyone from the Romans. Kelly Reilly, Zoë Wanamaker, Mackenzie Crook, and Eleanor Worthington Cox also star.
Where to Watch: Starz, DirecTV with Starz
This historic hyper-violent, ultra-sexual, vulgarity-filled series, filmed using 300’s green screen backdrop effect, is one of the most moving, rewarding action epics ever made. Laced with its own tragedy, Spartacus sadly lost its lead, Andy Whitfield, to cancer after he’d only filmed one season. His illness caused the show to delay production on a second season, instead creating prequel season Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Despite terrible setbacks, the show carried on for two more seasons, with new star Liam McIntyre, and finished stronger than most shows in TV history. Created and executive produced by Sam Raimi and Daredevil’s Steven S. DeKnight, Spartacus also featured John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Manu Bennett, Jai Courtney, Katrina Law, Peter Mensah, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson.
The Last Kingdom
Where to Watch: Netflix
Based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories, about the birth of England in the ninth and tenth centuries, The Last Kingdom ran for five seasons on Netflix, with a feature-length sequel, Seven Kings Must Die, now in development. Telling the story of England’s invasion by The Great Heathen Army (of vikings), The Last Kingdom shares history (and some characters) with the next show on our list, though largely told from a different perspective. Centered on Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a man born a Saxon and raised a Dane, this drama delivers a central character who grapples with split loyalties between his oaths, his conflicting cultural identities, and his quest for retribution. Alexander Dreymon, Emily Cox, and David Dawson star in this bloody and brutally satisfying series.
Where to Watch: Prime Video, Hulu
Vikings, which was created and written by The Tudors’ Michael Hirst, is a sprawling seven-season celebration of legendary viking Ragnar Lothbrok and his equally fabled sons. Whereas Game of Thrones was known for its clever, quotable dialogue, Vikings (who were notoriously not verbose) is a more direct exploration of ancient Scandanavian culture, religion, and violence. Spanning two generations, the show takes us from the halls of English kings to Paris to Kiev as warriors, explorers, and those wishing to please their gods by discovering and cultivating new lands lead us through a unique journey for the ages. Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig, Gustaf Skarsgård, and Alex Høgh Andersen headlined this incomparable work.
And for those Vikings fans out there, sequel series Vikings: Valhalla, set 100 years later and created by Jeb Stuart, is on Netflix.
Shadow and Bone
Where to Watch: Netflix
Steering away from history here completely is the newest show of the batch, Netflix’s Shadow and Bone. Based on Leigh Bardugo’s “Grishaverse” book series, this show is pure dystopian fantasy, focusing on a young girl, Alina Starkov, who’s an orphan and cartographer of the Ravka nation’s First Army, as she discovers she is a Grisha, one with special gifts – in this case a “Sun Summoner” who can control light. Featuring Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Zoë Wanamaker (who’s also in Britannia), Archie Renaux, and Freddy Carter, Shadow and Bone is all gorgeous costumes, impressive world-building, and dark magic. The series has one eight-episode season up on Netflix, with Season 2 premiering at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023.
Where to Watch: Hulu, Starz
With its lavish production, haunting drama, and a formidable finish, Black Sails is hard to beat. A prequel series to Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island, and featuring lead characters Captain Flint, Billy Bones, and John Silver (the “Long” nickname is developed on the show), Black Sails mixed those fictional characters with actual historic raiders and lawmen from the Golden Age of Piracy – including Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham (the real-life basis for Jack Sparrow), Charles Vane, Blackbeard, and Woodes Rogers. A beautiful blend of fact and fiction, with unbeatable sea battles, the Michael Bay-produced Black Sails lasted four seasons, gave us a fantastic finale, and starred Toby Stephens, Luke Arnold, Zach McGowan, Clara Paget, Toby Schmitz, Hannah New, and Jessica Parker Kennedy.
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Yup, we’re actually in the 20th century now, still dealing, somewhat, with history though. You may wonder how Boardwalk Empire might satisfy Game of Thrones fans but this masterful crime drama, from Sopranos writer Terence Winter, featured a top-line ensemble, labyrinthine plots, conniving criminals, and schemers extraordinaire. Set during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, in the original “sin city” Atlantic City, Boardwalk Empire showcased Steve Buscemi’s corrupt county treasurer-turned-gangster as its centerpiece, weaving in conflict, violence, and real-life organized crime figures like Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel. Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Gretchen Mol, a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox, and the late Michael Kenneth Williams helped round out the cast.
Where to Watch: Prime Video
Despite switching from a fantasy realm, set in the past, to a complete sci-fi future, The Expanse, which just wrapped up after six seasons (and a life that took it from Syfy to a Prime Video Original), may be the most similar to Game of Thrones in terms of its massive scope and compartmentalization of major characters and factions. Based on the book series by James S. A. Corey (the joint name for writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), and set hundreds of years in the future in a colonized solar system, The Expanse follows the crew of an embattled space-freighter, politicians on Earth, soldiers on Mars, and police in the asteroid belt as a conspiracy unfolds regarding the game-changing discovery of extraterrestrial life. Steven Strait, Frankie Adams, Dominique Tipper, Thomas Jane, Florence Faivre, and Shohreh Aghdashloo star.
Looking to rewatch Game of Thrones instead? Check out our guide to the best Game of Thrones episodes of the series.