These series are epic and gripping, with complex storylines and compelling characters. Sound familiar?
There’s no doubt that Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows of all time. It’s event television in a time when event television isn’t really a thing anymore since streaming has made it easier for TV fans to watch their favourite shows on their own schedule. That’s why the Game of Thrones phenomenon is so fascinating. Fans host viewing parties, live-tweet the show and dissect new episodes as soon as they become available. The series sets rating records annually, so there’s no wonder the final season of Game of Thrones is arguably the most hotly anticipated television event of 2019.
Keen for a rewatch of Thrones?
Nightflyers, based on a George R.R. Martin novella about a haunted spaceship, is available to stream on Netflix. It should be a treat for Game of Thrones fans suffering withdrawal symptoms since the writer’s talent for world-building is the stuff of legends. The show only consists of 10 episodes, however, so here are 12 equally epic series you can binge on right know that are guaranteed to fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in your heart. They don’t all hit the high bar set by the HBO hit, but they definitely have enough going for them to appeal to Thrones enthusiasts.
This gorgeous historical drama features a large ensemble cast, with some of the characters based on real historical figures. However, the main action revolves around two soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, who find their lives intertwined with key events in history. The action begins in 52 BC, when Julius Caesar finally conquers Gaul, but the Senate seeks to undermine his power. Rome is a fascinating tale of politics, intrigue and violence. In other words, it was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones became the huge phenomenon it is today.
Despite only lasting for two seasons, the series manages to cover a lot of ground, historically speaking, and it does so beautifully. The show’s magnificent sets and elaborate costumes are just the cherry on top, as Rome delivers on all fronts, benefiting from a clever script and impeccable direction. You can purchase the HBO drama from the Sky Store.
2. The Tudors
This lavish drama focuses on the early years of King Henry VIII’s near 38-year reign. While his effectiveness as king is tested by both international conflicts and political intrigue in his own court, Henry also becomes frustrated with the fact that his wife is unable to give him a male heir. When a stunning young beauty catches his eye, things escalate quickly.
The Tudors is more soapy than morally complex, so expect plenty of sex and dangerous court liaisons, which is what makes this show so much fun. It may not be the most thought-provoking drama on hand, but it’s an excellent option for when you’re craving something lighter, yet still riveting. Plus, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is magnetic as Henry VIII. His performance alone should be reason enough to tune in. You can buy The Tudors from the Microsoft Store.
|Stream now with 30 days of Prime Video free|
3. Black Sails
Did you enjoy Game of Thrones’ epic sea battle from season seven? Then perhaps you would also enjoy a dark series following the adventures of a pirate captain the early 18th-century Caribbean. A prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island, Black Sails follows a brutal pirate, Captain Flint, as he quests for treasures, quashes mutinies and exchanges fire with other ships.
The show is amoral and violent, staying true to the (anti)heroes it portrays. It’s not the romanticised version of pirates you grew up with, but something much darker and violent, so don’t expect any wooden legs or mimicking parrots. If you’re into gore and sea battles, however, you’ll be hooked from episode one. Stream Black Sails on Amazon Prime Video.
4. The Last Kingdom
This slick historical drama is based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series of novels. The Last Kingdom is set in the late 9th-century AD, when England’s seven separate kingdoms were gradually attacked by Viking forces. The story centres on Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a man born a Saxon but raised by Vikings, who finds his loyalties tested as the two forces clash.
The show boasts an interesting mix of historical and fictional characters, beautiful scenery and a fantastical story. If you love Game of Thrones for its magnificent action sequences, you might want to give this one a try. Stream The Last Kingdom on Netflix.
Spartacus follows a Thracian warrior who is captured and enslaved by Romans. Placed in gladiator school, Spartacus battles to survive and regain his freedom. The series features plenty of violence and depravity, spectacular fight scenes and a compelling hero worth cheering for. Important to note: lead actor Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and passed away in 2011, with Liam McIntyre eventually stepping in to fill the role.
While season one takes its time to dazzle viewers despite solid acting and enough gory bloodshed, subsequent seasons make up for it, doubling up on the action and keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Once you have a taste for the arena, it will be hard not to binge-watch the whole thing. You can stream Spartacus on Netflix.
6. The Borgias
Centring on the Borgia family, this soapy period drama boasts enough intrigue to hold you off until April 2019 at least. Set at the end of the 15th century, The Borgias follows Don Borgia as he schemes his way to the papacy to become Pope Alexander VI, while his relatives also struggle to maintain their grip on power.
Thanks to a great cast and a tight script, the series revels in the scandalous shenanigans of a family that basically bribed its way into the Vatican. It’s chilling and highly addictive, regularly serving generous doses of murder and mayhem. In other words, viewers who appreciate twists and thrills will be nothing short of delighted. The Borgias is available to stream on Now TV.
7. The White Queen
Based on Philippa Gregory’s historical novel series The Cousins’ War, The White Queen benefits from a great cast, terrific costumes and plenty of political, soapy intrigue to keep viewers on their toes. The series is set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses and follows the story of the three women involved in a long conflict for the throne of England. A deadly yet tremendously entertaining power struggle ensues.
While The White Queen doesn’t feature too much graphic violence, it relies heavily on political scheming, with nudity a common occurrence as well. The Wars of the Roses were confusing and turbulent times in England’s history, but this miniseries manages to tell a very accessible story in a compelling way, proving once again that history is anything but boring. You can purchase The White Queen from the Sky Store.
Merlin ended back in 2012, but that doesn’t make this captivating series any less worthy of your attention. Loosely based on the legends of the young wizard Merlin and his relationship with King Arthur, the show follows the young warlock as he struggles to understand his destiny in Camelot, under the rule of a tyrant who banned the use of magic.
The great thing about Merlin is that you can watch it improve season after season. The show is pretty formulaic as it starts out, but it evolves into a glorious tale of magic and humour that does the legend justice. Well-cast and beautifully shot, the show is the best kind of comfort television. It doesn’t have much in common with Game of Thrones except for the historical fantasy aspect, but it’s a lighter and fluffier binge, perfect for when the gore and violence featured in some of the other entries from our list gets too much. Stream it on Netflix.
9. American Gods
Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, American Gods centres on a different breed of war – between the Old Gods and the New. The series follows Shadow Moon, a former convict who gets released from prison and meets a very strange man, Mr. Wednesday. He gets a job as Mr. Wednesday’s assistant/bodyguard and becomes embroiled in an epic conflict he never could have imagined before, as ancient deities who have been stranded in the US for centuries will come head to head with new deities born of the age of television and the internet.
American Gods is a visual treat, managing to pull off a mesmerising hallucinatory feel. Well-cast and spectacular, the show is the best kind of epic – bizarre, over the top, bloody, clever and mind-blowing. Stream American Gods on Amazon Prime Video.
|Stream now with 30 days of Prime Video free|
Frontier chronicles the North American fur trade of the 1700s. The show centres on Declan Harp, an outlaw campaigning to breach the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade in Canada. It’s a story of greed and power, similar to the likes of Game of Thrones. Plus, the lead is played by none other than Jason Momoa, Khal Drogo himself.
Momoa offers a powerhouse performance here, which more than makes up for the show’s occasionally sluggish pacing. Moreover, the series is chaotic and action-packed, shedding light on a battle few even knew happened. Frontier is available to stream on Netflix.
11. The Shannara Chronicles
Based on the book series of the same name by Terry Brooks, The Shannara Chronicles follows an unlikely trio of heroes as they set out to save their homeland, Four Lands, from an imminent threat. Look at it as the teen-friendly Game of Thrones, if you will. It features less gore and everyone looks beautiful, but the show still boasts a complex universe and compelling characters.
The Shannara Chronicles isn’t prestige television, but it’s a lot of fun, as it relies on a sly sense of self-awareness. It doesn’t pretend to be more than it is, instead, it allows viewers to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. Stream it on Netflix.
12. Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall is a brilliantly acted miniseries following Thomas Cromwell through his rise in social hierarchy in the Tudor court run by King Henry VIII. He starts his journey as a humble blacksmith’s son, but learns how to deal with the power struggles of the court, eventually managing to become the king’s chief minister.
Based on the book series by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall has all the intrigue of a modern political thriller, complete with delicious dialogue and lavish costumes. It’s a clever and atmospheric TV offering, catering specifically to viewers who prefer their characters with plenty of depth. Turns out, being the king’s right-hand man is a dirty business. You can buy Wolf Hall from the Sky Store or Microsoft Store.
When all else fails…
Watch Game of Thrones again. All seven seasons are available to stream via Now TV and Sky Go at the time of writing. Why not binge the backlog while you wait for season 8?
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