Top 13 Engrossing Shows Like 'Sons of Anarchy'
What Series Are Like Sons of Anarchy?
Lovers of crime and adventure series who watched Sons of Anarchy will attest to the fact that it was one hell of a ride for the main protagonist, Jax Teller. Sons of Anarchy ran for seven seasons, comprising of 92 action-packed episodes.
Who would have predicted that Jax would go on to murder his own mother as revenge for her sins? It was unflinchingly cruel and sadistic at times. Watching all seven seasons all over again from the beginning is never an exercise in futility.
The spin-off to SOA, Mayans MC, made its debut last year, but TV buffs were left unimpressed as it looked like Kurt Sutter was attempting another remake of SOA in Latino form. SOA was original and real, but rehashing the same stuff never was going to work out.
For all the love we have for SOA, there are several series that fall into the same category of violence, suspense, and action. Here are 14 series like Sons of Anarchy that will hook you like a meth addict.
Shows Similar to Sons of Anarchy
- Animal Kingdom
- The Shield
- The Sopranos
- The Wire
- Peaky Blinders
- Hell on Wheels
- Black Sails
- Boardwalk Empire
- The Outsiders
1. Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom made its TV debut in 2016 and all three seasons have not disappointed since. We've heard and read of crime families headed by masculine bosses calling the shots from top to bottom, but what about the possibility of a woman making the final calls and leading the group by the scruff of the neck? This series tackles the same idea head-on. All 36 episodes of this American crime classic were nothing short of epic.
It revolves around the life of Joshua “J” Cody, who had no choice but to go live with his grandma after his mother dies of a drug overdose. For years, Joshua was kept away from his mother but he didn't know why.
What Johusa doesn't know is that his life is about to go haywire, as the folks he's moved in with, earn a living from organized crime. This time, it's not his cousins making the calls but Grandma Janine Smurf, who rules her family with an iron fist and demands loyalty from and sundry.
Animal kingdom is one series I find captivating because it throws more light into the daily life of crime families and how they operate. Though it starts off slowly, things pick up after the first couple of episodes. Stick to it and you'll be rewarded for your loyalty.
2. The Shield
We all love crime stories, don't we? Being able to observe the lives of criminals at close quarters and gaining a perfect understanding of why they do what they do is a captivating experience.
In The Shield (Special unit of the LAPD), rogue cop Vic Mackey stops at nothing to bring criminals to justice. The overzealous cop takes crime fighting a notch higher and breaks the very same laws he swore to protect in the first place. His mistakes not only put his career on the line, but it also exposes him to untold dangers.
We often read about dirty cops but only very few drama series has brought the dark side of crime fighting to life in such painstaking detail. This series with 88 episodes ended in 2008, but the story it tells still remains relevant.
If you're looking for some shows like Sons of Anarchy, The Shield should be right up your alley.
3. The Sopranos
It's been over twenty years since The Sopranos ended but it's still more than relevant in today's TV landscape. Why? Because The Sopranos changed crime dramas forever. No drama series has been able to capture the minds of an entire generation like The Sopranos, maybe with the exception of Game of Thrones.
New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano has to deal with the responsibility of leading an often fractious family while fending off threats from rival families looking to get a piece of their cake, if not to steal the entire cake itself. The continuous struggles affect his health, and Tony is forced to see a therapist to deal with recurring panic attacks. If you have read The Godfather, The Sopranos brings to life what that classic mafia novel revealed to wider society.
After running for six seasons, it ended in 2007 to critical acclaim. The Sopranos also ushered into the mainstream drama series, unlike what we were used to before it. My most favorite part of the movie was the smirk on Tony's face after beating up his personal bodyguard, Perry, to prove to the rest of the family that he was still top dog after surviving a near-fatal shooting.
The Sopranos is indeed one the best television drama series ever made and a worthy occupier on this list.
4. The Wire
Baltimore has always been vulnerable to negative external influences just like any urban city center, but the rising wave of violence that bedeviled the city didn't gain worldwide attention and acceptance until this David Simon's directional.
The Wire is much like the Sons of Anarchy but with a broader perspective. It centers around five key areas; Government and bureaucracy, the illegal drug trade, education and schooling, the Seaport system, and mainstream media. Though it's a slow-burn ride, you'll love every bit of it once you're introduced to both sides of the law. Who'll you root for when no one is squeaky clean?
Viewers can watch this HBO classic comprising of 60 episodes via HBO’s online portal.
5. Peaky Blinders
Set in Great Britain in the early 20th century a year after the end of the first world war, the plot revolves around Thomas Shelby, a war hero, who returns home to a society ruled by crime gangs and drug lords. To get a taste of the pie, Shelby must reinvent himself as a criminal mastermind to earn a living and build a reputation for himself.
He succeeds in doing this but soon realizes that life can be much better as a legitimate businessman rather than as a crime boss. Soon after, the opportunity presents itself for him to reinvent himself a second time and he seizes the moment with both hands.
If you haven't watch Peaky Blinders, you are definitely missing out. I love the series because very rarely are we afforded the opportunity to live the experiences of those who survived the war in the early 1900s. Peaky Blinders takes crime drama to a whole new level.
If you're looking for some gritty shows like Sons of Anarchy, Peaky Blinders should be right up your alley.
6. Hell on Wheels
This five season series is a classic in its own right. The main character, Cullen Bohannon, survived the American civil war fighting on the side of the Southern Confederates, but he can't seem to free himself from the ghost of bloodshed that characterized the war.
To conquer his inner demons, Cullen gives in to revenge as an escape route. Hell on Wheels revolves around the construction of the first ever transcontinental railroad project, and it sees Cullen make the trip to the city that goes by the same name. Determined to exact revenge, he follows the trail of a band of Union soldiers responsible for the killing of his wife.
Viewers can catch all five seasons on Netflix. Hell on Wheels is full of debauchery, revenge, and bloody orgies. A feast for gorehounds indeed!
Ragnar Lothbrock was an average farmer who just wanted to travel the world and explore new lands. The leader of Kattegat preferred safety over adventure, but the adventurous spirit of Ragnar could not be quelled. He goes far beyond anyone else had ever dared to venture in his quest to conquer everyone and everything.
Ever since its debut in 2013, Vikings has become one of the most watched historical fiction on TV, only trounced by another epic, Game of Thrones. Although the show's ratings dropped a few notches under in the fifth season, it's still going strong.
Vikings is replete with vandalism, sexual rascality, blood, glory, and ludicrous adventures. If you're looking for a show like Sons of Anarchy to quench your thirst for some jaw-dropping action, this historical fiction won't disappoint you.
Another FX network crime series worthy of mention is Justified, which aired between 2010-2015. Justified chronicles the life of US Marshal deputy, Raylan Givens, who subscribes to unconventional practices in nailing down criminals, much to the displeasure of his bosses.
The plot takes a different turn when he is reassigned to his home district of Kentucky to take down dangerous criminals who will stop at nothing to break him down limb by limb. Justified is a sort of throwback to the blue hero stories that used to be popular in the early ’90s. The story remains evergreen and a favorite for fans of crime and drama.
When Cinemax launched Banshee in 2013, many viewers weren't expecting much. They thought it was the same old crime story retold with a different twist. After the first five episodes, Lucas and Carrie made a believer of all of us.
Lucas went to jail for a jewel heist gone wrong and while in jail, his lover gets married to Mr Hopewell, the town's prosecutor. Lucas arrives in Banshee, PA, in search of his estranged love but things have changed now.
His past life just won't let him off the hook as a mob boss seeks revenge on Carrie and Lucas. Both have to maintain their new identities while staying alive at the same time.
The show came to a satisfying conclusion in the fourth season. All the 38 episodes are available on Amazon Prime Video.
10. Black Sails
Those of us who were fortunate to read Robert Louis Stevenson’ Treasure Island, fell in love with Black sails from the very first episode.
This pirate adventure series is a story of Capt Flint, regarded as the most revered of all Golden age pirates. Black Sails was a breath of fresh air - a welcome departure from the well-worn storylines of contemporary dramas. The principal characters of Stevenson’ Treasure Island are reprised in this pirate classic with panache.
Despite not staying loyal to its source, Black Sails holds its own. It's an underrated experience nobody should miss out on.
11. Boardwalk Empire
HBO has the reputation of churning out spellbinding crime-themed dramas, and Boardwalk Empire doesn't fail to impress. I'm sure you've heard about the top bosses who ran the various crime rings on the West and East coast in the US, but Enoch Nucky Thompson is a name not a lot of people have heard.
He had established himself as the top dog in the illegal alcohol trade with the help of his Sheriff brother, Elias, and some local dons in the area. But he didn't fly high for long. A former protege flips on him and the authorities race into town with the sole aim of taking him down.
Boardwalk is a tell-all story of the great families who ruled several states in the Probation era, masquerading in designer suits and acting like legitimate businessmen. If you're looking for a top-notch show like Sons of Anarchy with best production values, Boardwalk Empire should be your best bet.
When most people are asked to mention their most favorite series set in a correctional facility, they are quick to mention Prison Break, but before that gritty drama, there was OZ, an HBO original.
The plot revolves around, Tom McManus, the head of Emerald City, who deals with the power struggle between factions slugging it out for power and privileges. It's a ruthless place - one where life holds no value. The story chronicles a normal man's struggle to adapt to the new reality, as gets sentenced to jail for unintentionally running a little girl over.
If you loved Prison Break and have never watched OZ, you should take time out to enjoy this series long produced and aired before penitentiary-themed stories became the vogue.
13. The Outsiders
An adaptation of E Hinton’s novel, The Outsiders, is the oldest series on our list. As old as the series is, it still remains evergreen, Giving contemporary crime series a run for their money.
Set in rural Colorado, The Greasers are in constant confrontation with a rival group named The Socials. The Greasers go into hiding, fearing retribution from The Socials after a member is killed by Ponyboy (Greaser member). Things, however, don't stay quiet for long.
The Outsiders brought white gangsterism to modern television long before they became popular. Don't miss out on this underrated show.
That's about it, for now. Despite my best efforts to collate an ultimate list of shows like Sons of Anarchy, I might have missed out on a few good entries. You're welcome to voice your suggestions in the comments section.