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Shows like Game of Thrones that will entertain you now it’s all over
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 a thing, as streaming has made it easier for TV fans to watch their favourite shows at their own pace. 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 set rating records annually, so there’s no wonder the final season of Game of Thrones was arguably the most hotly anticipated television event of 2019.
Sadly, there’s no more Game of Thrones to look forward to. We want more, and we want it now, but that’s not going to happen. Why not catch up with some equally epic TV series to numb the pain?
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. If that’s still not enough, here are 11 equally epic series you can binge on right now 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 have enough going for them to appeal to Thrones enthusiasts.
If you love Game of Thrones for its violence and striking visuals, you’ll be positively smitten with Vikings by the end of the show’s first season. The good news is that it just gets better from there. The series is a retelling of the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrok, a 9th-century Viking chieftain and hero of many Old Norse sagas. As the show debuts, he goes on a quest to raid the shores of England, a trial he believes Odin wants him to undertake.
The great thing about Vikings is that it doesn’t try to civilise or soften the main players. It’s gory and violent, but it’s also a study of power and relies heavily on viewers’ fascination with that period in history and the characters to make a mark. The phenomenal cast and gorgeous sets are a fringe bonus. Five seasons of the series are available to stream on Netflix.
- Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrook
- Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha
- Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn Lothbrok
- Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
This beautiful 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 critical events in history. It begins in 52BC 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 two seasons, the series manages to cover a lot of ground, historically speaking, and does so beautifully. The show’s magnificent sets and elaborate costumes are the cherry on top, as Rome delivers on all fronts, benefiting from an intelligent script and impeccable direction. You can stream Rome on Neon.
- Kevin McKidd as Lucius Vorenus
- Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo
- Polly Walker as Atia of the Julii
- Kerry Condon as Octavia of the Julii
3. The Tudors
This lavish drama focuses on the early years of King Henry VIII’s nearly 38-year reign. While both international conflict and political intrigue in his court test his effectiveness as king, 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. Stream The Tudors on Prime Video, Lightbox or Microsoft.
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII
- Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon
- James Frain as Thomas Cromwell
- Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn
4. 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 in 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. However, if you’re into gore and sea battles, you’ll be hooked from episode one. Stream Black Sails on Lightbox or Microsoft.
- Toby Stephens as Captain Flint
- Luke Arnold as John Silver
- Toby Schmitz as Rackham
- Hannah New as Eleanor Guthrie
5. 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 when Viking forces gradually attacked England’s seven separate kingdoms. 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 exciting 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.
- Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred
- Ian Hart as Beocca
- David Dawson as Alfred
- Eliza Butterworth as Aelswith
Spartacus follows a Thracian warrior who is captured and enslaved by the Romans. 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: The 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 is hard not to binge-watch the whole thing. You can stream Spartacus on Netflix.
- Andy Whitfield/Liam McIntyre as Spartacus
- Manu Bennett as Crixus
- Lucy Lawless as Lucretia
- Peter Mensah as Doctore
7. The Borgias
Centring on the Borgia family, this soapy period drama boasts enough intrigue to satisfy your post-Game of Thrones wishes. 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 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 Neon.
- Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia
- François Arnaud as Cesare Borgia
- Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia
- Joanne Whalley as Vanozza Cattaneo
8. 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 three women involved in a protracted 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 make it an accessible and compelling story, proving once again that history is anything but boring. You can stream The White Queen on Lightbox.
- Rebecca Ferguson as Queen Elizabeth
- Amanda Hale as Lady Margaret Beaufort
- Faye Marsay as Anne Neville
- Max Irons as King Edward
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 you can watch it improve season after season. The show is pretty formulaic as it begins, 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 get too much. Stream it on Netflix.
- Colin Morgan as Merlin
- John Hurt as The Dragon
- Bradley James as Arthur
- Richard Wilson as Gaius
10. 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 is released from prison and meets a strange man, Mr Wednesday. He gets a job as Mr Wednesday’s assistant/bodyguard and becomes embroiled in an epic conflict he could never have imagined, as ancient deities stranded in the US for centuries come head to head with new gods 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, ingenious and mind-blowing. Stream American Gods on Amazon Prime Video.
- Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon
- Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday
- Emily Browning as Laura Moon
- Crispin Glover as Mr World
Frontier chronicles the North American fur trade of the 1700s, with the show centring 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 Game of Thrones. Plus, none other than Jason Momoa – Khal Drogo himself – plays the lead.
Momoa offers a powerhouse performance, which more than makes up for the show’s occasionally sluggish pace. Moreover, the series is chaotic and action-packed, shedding light on a battle few even knew happened. Frontier is available to stream on Netflix.
- Jason Momoa as Declan Harp
- Landon Liboiron as Michael Smyth
- Zoe Boyle as Grace Emberly
- Jessica Matten as Sokanon
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