Rahul is a TV addict who can never get enough of good shows. His all-time favorites are 'The Wire', 'Breaking Bad', and 'The Sopranos.'
Shows Like The Leftovers
The Leftovers was always going to be a divisive show. Some people loved it, while others gave up on it pretty soon, thanks to a sluggish first season. While it felt slow in the beginning, the second and third seasons were a treat to watch, blending dream sequences and reality to tell a hauntingly beautiful story.
Whatever your opinion might be, there is no doubt that The Leftovers is going down as one of the best shows to ever air on TV. It made us laugh and cry at the same time—something that’s quite a feat to achieve in the age of countless shows popping up left and right. If you loved it, it’s only fitting that you’d look for some other shows like The Leftovers—no need to go anywhere else. Let’s take a look.
8 TV Shows Similar to The Leftovers
- The Returned
- Black Mirror
- The Handmaid's Tale
- American Gods
Smoke monsters, ghosts, the afterlife, alternate realities, and time travel—over the course of six seasons, we saw it all as Lost moved from one storyline to another. With so many stories being told all at once, there was always the risk that the series might not be able to answer each and every question it raised. Thankfully, all the loose ends were tied by the last episode.
Fast forward seven years after the finale, and it's still one of the most talked-about series online. While some people loved the vague ending, others understandably didn't like it so much. In my opinion, Lost couldn't have ended on a better note. It answered enough questions while leaving the rest for us to interpret.
Make sure that you have a lot of time in your hands before committing to it. Once you start watching, you’ll churn through everything as soon as possible.
Created by Ray McKinnon, Rectify is the story about Daniel Holden, who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder of his girlfriend. Fast forward 19 years, he’s out of jail, only to find that the world he knew is gone. He must adapt to this new world soon if he wants to survive out there.
Be prepared for some slow, character-centric episodes. There is almost no action at all. So, if you’re looking for action, you might want to skip this entry.
It's a shame that this show had to end just after the third season. Apparently, Rectify could never find the audience it needed to keep going. The good thing is that you have three soul-crushing seasons to feast your eyes upon. Let the sob-fest begin.
If you loved The Leftovers, there is no doubt that you'll love what Rectify brings to the table. The lack of action-packed episodes might take some time to get used to, but once you warm up to it, you’ll devour the three seasons in no time.
3. The Returned
The story revolves around a small town where some people have risen from their graves after a few years, not realizing that they were dead all this time. No time has passed at all for them. They come back home to find out that everything has changed.
While some townsfolk are thankful to get their loved ones back, others think they are foul creatures. The consequences that follow are both quite shocking and heartbreaking.
The constant struggle between the living and the dead is the real point of attraction here. Every episode is mysterious, raising few questions while answering some. It takes a few episodes to understand what’s going on. Just give it some time to let it all sink in—you’ll love every moment of it.
Do yourself a favor and stay away from the American remake. Watch the original show with subtitles instead.
When it comes to production value, acting, and cinematography, I can confidently say that Westworld is well on its way to replacing Game of Thrones, which is HBO's all-time most popular show.
The story takes place in a Wild-West-themed amusements park with human-like androids for the entertainment of rich people. Any kind of appetite, no matter how sinister or sadistic, can be indulged here. They’re free to do whatever they want to with those robots, including raping and murdering just for fun. Things spiral out of control when one of the Androids gains consciousness, leading to an all-out war between humans and automatons.
You’ll spend a lot of time figuring out the timelines of various stories told through the first season. For better or for worse, you’ll have to do that by yourself. It’s not an easy show to get into. The first few episodes are guaranteed to puzzle you. Stick to it 'til the end, and you’ll be glad that you did.
If you’re looking for some great shows like The Leftovers, Westworld should be your best bet. Different timelines, theories, and an out-of-the-world storyline—these two shows have more in common than you might imagine.
5. Black Mirror
Created by Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror successfully brings to screen all sorts of near-future problems we could be facing a few hours/days/months/years from now, thanks to the rapid technological advances made in recent years. It portrays a bleak future where the very gadgets we depend upon so heavily have disrupted our lives. From its description, Black Mirror might sound like just another sci-fi show with a familiar drama, but you’d love its unique approach and tone once you give it a chance.
Each episode tells a different tale with different characters and stories. However, they share one thing in common—the futuristic theme with a bleak tone. I love this show’s ability to compel us to think about the kind of world we’re living in. The jibes it takes at our current way of living are pretty apparent. It’s scary without any jump scares.
Black Mirror is one of those shows that remain in your memory for a long time. It’s enjoyable and, at times, suffocating—just the way The Leftovers would like it.
6. The Handmaid's Tale
So, all the sobfest in The Leftovers wasn’t enough? Wanna get a little more depressed? Based on a 1985 dystopian novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is a story set in a near-future dystopia where most women have become infertile. Those who are not hit by the epidemic are compelled to bear children for someone else. Not only that, they're treated like objects—someone whose only job is to bring as many children to this world as possible.
It’s a chilling story about a group of fortunate (unfortunate) women trapped in a totalitarian society. In a world where women are treated as property, would things ever go back to normal, or will this become the new “normal”?
The scariest part about this show is that it all feels very real. If you’re a woman, it’s going to get you for sure. There were some times when I had to pause it and take a breather just to muster up the courage and brace myself for what’s coming next (and I am a man, just so you know).
If you’re looking for a thought-provoking show like The Leftovers that’ll equally disgust and mesmerize you, you’d love what The Handmaid’s Tale has to offer.
Developed by Bryan Fuller, Hannibal is a psychological thriller that presents brutality, gore, and blood with such style that you can't help but marvel at its haunting beauty. This visual extravaganza is going to mesmerize and disgust you at the same time.
The story explores a wicked, twisted relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a renowned psychiatrist who also happens to be a cannibal, and his patient Will Graham, an FBI criminal profiler. Will has an uncanny ability to connect and sympathize with psychopathic killers. Lecter sees his vulnerability as an opportunity to turn him into a cold-blooded killer as well.
Will, on the other hand, has other plans. He knows that behind a sophisticated mask lies a monster who likes to eat people. At the same time, they both know that they're the only ones in the world who'll ever understand each other. Will desperately wants to catch him red-handed while Lecter sees him as someone worthy of his companionship.
The tense cat-and-mouse game they play throughout the first few seasons is a treat to watch. The possibility that a beautiful psychosexual relationship between them can go awry anytime will keep you on the edge of your seat all the time.
I'm usually not too fond of crime dramas. Hannibal, however, is an exception to the rule. Very few crime dramas are well made, and this is one of them.
8. American Gods
Gods are real, and they have all sorts of issues, just like humans. If they want to exist, they need their followers. While some of the gods are doing pretty well in that field, others are mostly forgotten. On top of an existential crisis, there is a war brewing between the old gods and the new. When Shadow Moon, a skeptic, finds himself in the middle of this ongoing war, he realizes that he has a huge role to play in it. Which side will he choose?
There, I summarized the show while trying not to spoil anything. There is so much I want to talk about, but then it wouldn't be as fun for you. It's much better when you experience everything first hand.
This is a kind of storyline that could have gone either way for this show. Being a fan of the novel, I never could have imagined that something like that could be brought on TV. But thanks to a phenomenal cast and some good direction, they pulled it off in an emphatic manner.
Just like Shadow Moon, the protagonist in this show, I was a skeptic. Not anymore, though. I loved every moment of it, and I am sure you'll share my opinion once you're past a few episodes.
By and large, American Gods is weirder than The Leftovers. Unlike the latter, however, it embraces its mythologies. Gods are real, and you better believe in them!
Have faith in its different, branching storylines, and you will be rewarded for that. All the stories might overwhelm you at first, but they play an important role in laying the background for a bigger, better story to be told in the second season. Here is hoping that it will be as fun as the first one turned out to be.
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Nicholas W King on August 14, 2020:
Hannibal is a magnificent show, both a feast for the eyes and filled with horror that is both beautiful and terrifying. Good pick for the list.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 12, 2017:
There's some interesting shows there. I wouldn't mind watching Hannibal.