Top 12 Gritting Historical TV Shows Similar to 'Vikings'

Updated on December 11, 2017
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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."

What are some good TV shows like Vikings?

The plot of Vikings revolves around Pagans who have been terrorizing England and France for a while with their relentless invasions. And we, back in our homes, sitting comfortably on our couches, love every moment of it. Some people called it a Game of Thrones-lite. As it turns out, the show is just as good as GOT, even toppling it in some areas. While they prepare for the next season, it only makes sense to look for more shows like Vikings.

Being a huge fan of this show, I’ve compiled a list of some other shows similar to Vikings. Let’s take a look -

Game of Thrones – One of the most popular TV shows like Vikings

Game of Thrones has proved that you don’t need to be historically accurate or have a story based on real life to be authentic. The world of Westeros is just as beautiful as they come. The 7 houses are on a quest to hold on to the power they already have, expand their influence, and maybe, get to the Iron Throne. The result is corruption, chaos, despair – a total collapse. In a world where no one can be trusted, there is another bigger threat that looms round the corner – White Walkers – thousands of undead creatures that can easily overrun the Westeros. This winter might just be the last one Westeros will ever see. Are they prepared for the final battle?

There are a lot of questions here, most of which have already been answered in last 5 seasons. If you somehow still haven’t gotten a chance to watch this show, go ahead and do it.

With just the right mix of violence, humor, nudity and heart, Game of Thrones has cemented its place as one of the best shows like Vikings. It doesn’t happen very often, but every season of this show feels like a 10 hour long action movie instead of a TV show. You pull for the heroes despite knowing that there is no chance they’re coming out unscathed. It’s filled with realism, and to some extent, pessimism. But I won’t blame you if you can’t wait for the next season.

Marco Polo – One of the most underrated TV shows like Vikings

The plot revolves around Marco Polo, a Venetian explorer, who gets entangled in the power struggle and politics of Mongol Empire.

The 13th century China is perfectly depicted on screen. While the show might not be historically accurate in terms of events and dates, it is intriguing. Everything from acting to directing has been executed pretty well. I think that they made a wise choice to have the characters speak English. Their main audiences are Americans - the same people who are not very patient with subtitles. People often speak in native language as well, making for a nice flow of different languages.

Those complaining that it’s not historically accurate; don’t know what they’re talking about. Even scholars feel that the Polo hasn’t been to some of the places he’d claimed to visit. We’d never know for sure. Instead of focusing on flaws and comparing it with shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones, enjoy a rare peek into the rich Asian history.

Black Sails

If anything, last couple of years have proved that people dig historical dramas. They don't have to be accurate or even real (Game of Thrones). As long as they can get us to escape from the real, contemporary world, they’re pretty much guaranteed to succeed. Airing on Starz, Black Sails is one such new offering, ready to suck you into its dangerous and beautiful world.

Both Vikings and Black Sails have a lot in common. They both involve relentless marauders, who come out of nowhere, rob and murder people, and disappear quickly.

The plot revolves around the Captain Flint and his crew, plundering ships and wreaking havoc in the ocean. I think Starz has outdone themselves here. Pirates, gore, sex and tons of high-voltage drama – “Black Sails” has everything you need to fill the “Vikings” shaped hole in your heart.

Throughout the first 3 seasons, the show has done remarkably well, never derailing from an overarching storyline. As far as looks go, it has always stayed one step ahead of other historical dramas – Black Sails is as gorgeous as they come. It winds up looking a tad flashy at times, but who cares. We are here to have some fun.

If you’re looking for some god pirate TV shows like “Vikings”, give “Blacks Sails” a shot.

Rome – One of the best HBO shows similar to Vikings

Rome is a historical drama, set during the first century B.C., covering the last days of Roman republic before it transitioned to an autocratic empire. The transition is sketched from the standpoint of Octavian Augustus, Lucius Vorenus, Titus Pullo and a couple of other important characters. Again, it’s not historically accurate by any stretch, and it doesn’t have to be.

I would go on to say that “Rome” is perhaps the greatest historical drama HBO has ever produced. I’m not counting “Game of Thrones” here since it’s fictional. Yes, there are some fictional elements here as well, but for the most part, it stays true to the history.

Being on HBO allowed the people behind it to flex the creative muscles as much as they could. You can see it in the amazing production quality. With the quality, of course, comes profanity, rough sex, a lot of nude scenes, and violence – your usual HBO stuff. Keep children away.

The script is intelligent and realistic, with some profanity, violence, and decadence. Unlike most portrayals of Rome, it doesn't shy away from showing the ugly side of an otherwise glorious empire. Ancient Rome, filled with drunkards, brawlers, womanizers, prostitutes, adulterers, fornication, and loads of sexual acts. It's an honest depiction of the, portraying the decadence and wickedness in the best manner possible.

As a huge Viking fan, the only thing I couldn’t get to like was the lack of fighting. There isn't any. “Rome’' is more narrative oriented. Don’t fret. There is a lot to chew on.

The Borgias

Ever since HBO aired “Rome”, I used to think that it’s impossible to topple the production value and quality of content. I knew I was wrong as soon as I watched a few episodes of “The Borgias”.

The plot revolves around the Borgia family, who are brought to power after the death of Pope Innocent VIII. Things spiral out of control as soon as Rodrigo along with his family get the hang off things.

Despite a few hiccups, “The Borgias” is otherwise a pretty fascinating piece of TV entertainment. One word to sum is up – Beautiful. Everything from costumes, houses to hair styles is perfect in line with the medieval era. Nothing is out of place. Plotline and pacing is impeccable.

In other words, it's much more thna your usual soap opera. I’d say it’s more similar to shows like “Vikings” and “Rome”. Everything is perfectly executed. You have to experience the exquisite craft first hand.

If you’re looking for some great historical TV shows like Vikings, “The Borgias” should be your best bet.

The Last Kingdom – A BBC TV show similar to Vikings

The Last Kingdom is one of the few historical shows that actually get most of the fact correct. It’s on BBC after all – a network that’s usually pretty accurate and detailed with its shows. I’m not sure how much you care about it, but if accuracy is what you’re looking for, “The Last Kingdom” is not going to disappoint.

The plot revolves around Uhtred, who gets abducted by the Vikings. They take him in as a slave. Pretty soon, though, he ends up being raised as one of the pagans. Things get complicated when he returns back to his homeland to get the land back from his uncle. He must adjust to this new Saxon lifestyle and fight against the very same people who raised him.

There is a lot of drama and action here. The first season was amazing. The good news is, it has been renewed for an another.

The Bastard Executioner – A new TV show like Vikings

“The Bastard Executioner” comes from “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter. Taking place in early 14th century, the plot revolves around Wilkin Brattle (Lee Jones), a former knight, who decides that he has had enough of war. The war, unfortunately, hasn’t had enough of him yet. He must pick up the sword again and lead his people on a path to vengeance. The result is chaos and a lot of high-voltage drama. The only law of this land is - Kill or be killed.

Penny Dreadful

Victorian London – a place where demonic creatures roam around the streets in disguise. A place where you need people like Ethan Chandler, Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa to keep supernatural threats at bay. When fog starts creeping through this strange place, no one is safe. These three must work together to prevent chaos.

As far as the plot goes, I’m not going to give anything else here. It’s better if you watch this show not knowing what to expect. It looks gorgeous all the way through. We have had other shows and movies set in Victorian era, but nothing comes close to the beauty “Penny Dreadful” displays on screen.

I’m afraid that blood-soaked action sequences are going to put some of people off. If you can stomach some ultra-gore, go for this show.

Honorable mentions – Other TV shows like Vikings

“Da Vinci’s Demons”, “Peaky Blinders”, “Reign” and “Robin Hood” are some other shows you should give a go. These shows didn’t make it to the list. They are, however, just as good as those mentioned above.

Did I miss out on any other good shows like Vikings? Let me know in the comments section.


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    • profile image

      nancy 13 days ago

      Vikings is tonight at 9 on the History Channel... so excited...

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      Linda 5 weeks ago

      I just love Vikings. I'm totally hooked. Thanks for all the suggestions.

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image

      Ramona 2 months ago from Arkansas

      The Vikings new season returns this November 2017. I can not wait! I never watched Penny Dreadful. That might be a show I will look into. Thanks to your Hub.

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      Angie 3 months ago

      I loved the Last Kingdom but do not find it nearly as accurate as you describe. Albert was NOT King Egbert's son. He was his grandson as depicted on Vikings. Also, The Last Kingdom depicts /Ethelwulf as a bumbling idiot, when in reality recent historians denote him as one of the most successful West Saxon kings. Historical accuracy does not simply lie in battle descriptions and time periods.

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      Mike 3 months ago

      Last Kingdom- yes- even has Ragnar & son in it... But the Grandaddy of Em All... ya missed was. SPARTACUS (STARZ). Great story. Semi accurate- plot like Rome- Action & Gore fight scenes unequalled... Decadent Sex scenes, and Characters as magnetic as Vikings & GOT...

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      Monica 5 months ago

      If you are going for similarity to Vikings, you should switch the Last Kingdom to the top. It is the most similar, it even has king Alfred in it as a little boy.. it's like a prequel or opener for Vikings.

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      lovro 5 months ago

      frontier vanished

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      charles 6 months ago

      the musketeers

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      Name 8 months ago

      Spartacus?!?! The Tudors?!?!

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      Alex 9 months ago

      Borgias is way better then The Borgias, and Borgias is also complete vs The borgias that was cancelled in the 3rd season instead of the 4 seasons it was slated for.

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      Tammie 10 months ago

      This list should include Reign and Medici -Masters of Florence

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      mr hankey 10 months ago

      the last kingdom is better than vikings (i think)

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      Credence 10 months ago

      Watch Da Vinci's Demons and Medici : Masters of Florence. There are the best tv shows I've ever watched this year.

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      Clementine 11 months ago

      I would totally add The White Queen. Better than the Tudors.

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      Bendio 13 months ago

      Spartacus is amazing! I recommend watching it!

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      Nagato 14 months ago


      War and Peace

      Hispania, la leyenda

      The Tudors

      Da Vinci's Demons



      Mozart in the Jungle

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      CelticBhoy 15 months ago

      Watch ROME!!! Fantastic. Love The Last Kingdom as well

    • profile image

      wolf 16 months ago


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      Serdar 17 months ago

      The Last Kingdom is very similar to vikings. I prefer for who watches Vikings..

    • profile image

      Alex 17 months ago

      Spartacus blood and sand

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      Viggo 17 months ago

      Hell on Wheels.

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      Patience 18 months ago

      Thank you!! I am going to have a blast this weekend checking these out! I literally typed in, show like vikings and marco polo and i am so very happy your page came up!!

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