9 Captivating TV Shows Like "Game of Thrones" That’ll Hook You Instantly
TV Shows Like "Game of Thrones"
We get enough brain-dead TV series 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. 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 2017), we are left craving more.
So of course, a lot of people are looking for TV series like Game of Thrones, including me. I decided to take a look around and compile a list of some other shows similar to Game of Thrones.
What Shows Are Like Game of Thrones
- Black Sails
- House of Cards
- The Tudors
- Boardwalk Empire
- The Bastard Executioner
- The Last Kingdom
How'd you rate Game of Thrones out of 5 stars?
Rome could easily have achieved Game of Thrones's popularity. It’s a shame that it was canceled after only two seasons. Rome never got the audience it needed to keep it on the screen and it was crazy expensive to produce.
Good news is, you can still watch 22 episodes of this excellent series on HBO Go or Amazon on Demand. Everything you need to know is covered in those few episodes. It doesn’t feel unfinished. You’ll know who is standing and who has fallen by the end of the second season.
Rome lacks in nail-biting fights, but it more than makes up for it with its gritting storyline and convincing acting. If you are looking for a great storyline like Game of Thrones, Rome is your best bet.
Vikings follows the story of Ragnar Lothbrok, a farmer who ultimately becomes the king of Denmark, as he terrorizes France and England with his constant raids. He is joined by his troubled brother Rollo, his first wife Lagertha, and the shipbuilder Floki in his quest.
Although it’s not Game of Thrones by any stretch of the imagination, I still love its storyline that has managed to captivate for four seasons. As you watch, you'll find yourself pulling for guys you loathed in the first season and booing last season's heroes. The plot and character development are artful, and as far as the depiction of medieval Scandinavia goes, I’d say it’s pretty accurate. If you love Game of Thrones but its nudity and violence are sometimes a bit too much to handle, you should defiantly give Vikings a shot. If you love this drama, check out some similar shows to Vikings.
3. Black Sails
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 the 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. Check out some more shows like Black Sails while you're at it.
4. House of Cards
If plot twists, back-stabbing, and political intrigue are what you love most about Game of Thrones, then House of Cards is for you. The plot follows politicians of various rank and influence in Washington D.C. With familiar faces like Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara, the whole cast thrives under Fincher’s direction. Fincher has pulled off this drama in the best way possible. Taking the plunge of 13 episodes per season is not easy.
House of Cards is a serious political drama. What if someone is not into politics? Would they like it? The short answer is ‘yes'. Even if politics is not your cup of tea, you should find House of Cards enjoyable. The writing is to the point, sharp, and accurate. It never goes over the top or underwhelms, either.
One advantage House of Cards has is that you can watch one episode after another without any commercial breaks or programming schedules. You could even watch the whole season in one sitting (wouldn’t recommend it) if that’s your thing. On top of that, episodes don't include any flashbacks or recaps, thus freeing up significant time for more stories, conspiracy, and action. However difficult it is to get used to this kind of program scheduling, once you start paying attention, House of Cards grows on you.
One of the best things about this show is the removal of the fourth wall. You’ll find Frank Underwood talking to the camera every once in a while as a way of explication and expressing his opinion. Actor Kevin Spacey pulls those scenes off in style.
5. The Tudors
The Tudors is the story of Henry VIII’s reign over England. It’s about his political control over the region.
Just like Game of Thrones, this show is all about politics and the struggle for power. It might not be historically accurate, but it still is a lot of fun to watch all the four seasons. If you’re looking for historical accuracy, skip this entry. Then again, I don't think historical inaccuracy is a problem for a Game of Thrones fan. You’re here for some serious, gritty drama, and The Tudors has plenty of that in the store.
Spartacus is a series crammed with some intense action, violence, and drama – everything you’d expect from a TV show like Game of Thrones. Though this show doesn’t dwell in fantasy, it has gladiators with swords. Did I mention that there are tons of plot betrayals? You can stream the entire thing on Netflix.
7. Boardwalk Empire
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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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 me know in the comments section, and I’ll be sure to check them out!