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 Shows Are Like Dark?
The story of Dark revolves around a fictional town with a morbid secret. After the sudden disappearance of two young children, authorities and local people start looking for answers. The most intriguing part about this show is not the disappearance of the children without a trace. It's only a start. The events that follow are far more incomprehensible.
The show introduces the idea of “circular time”, i.e., the past, present, and future are intertwined. Any movie or show introducing time-travel into the fray usually puts tons of pressure on the writers and creators as even the smallest of plotholes will be subject to scrutiny by fans and critiques alike.
Thankfully, this German web series exceeds all the expectations. All the questions raised in the first few episodes are answered satisfactorily in the later episodes. It's easy for a sci-fi show to get tangled in its own over-complicated storyline, but Dark is too sophisticated for that.
The third and last season was released in 2020, tying up all the loose ends by delivering a satisfactory answer to all the lingering questions fans had over the course of its last two dizzying seasons. Once you're done with something as sublime as Dark, it's only fitting to look for something similar. I have scoured a couple of shows like Dark you will enjoy. Let's take a look.
Series Like Dark
- Stranger Things
- The Expanse
- 12 Monkeys
- Black Mirror
1. Stranger Things
What better way to start off the list than with one of Netflix’s first major successes. Stranger Things is unarguably a global hit with a passionate fanbase. The story revolves around Will, a young boy, who goes missing, leading everybody in the town to start looking for him. It's, however, not an ordinary disappearance. Something more sinister is at play here.
His friends an own small-scale operation in the hopes of finding Will, only to come across Eleven, a mysterious girl with a superpower. As they learn more about their town and their friend’s disappearance, it becomes apparent that there is more to it than meets the eye. Are all these events somehow connected or is it all just a huge coincidence?
This Netflix original instantly went viral as soon as it came out. Some think it is due to the nostalgic tone, while others believe it’s the brilliant cinematography and storytelling that does the trick. Whatever the case, we can all agree that Stranger Things has amassed a staunch fan base who love every bit of the show. Suffice to say, we have a future cult classic in our hands.
While well-known actors like Winona Ryder and David Harbour were already famous before being a part of this show, most of the cast members became famous after its release, which later helped them land other major Hollywood roles.
Will Dark fans Enjoy Stranger Things?
Both Dark and Stranger Things revolve around the disappearance of a kid in a small town, but the method of storytelling in the latter is quite different. Stranger Things' saving grace is its 80's nostalgia, while Dark's strong suit is its multi-layered story, spanning 3 generations. While Dark leans more towards authentic, character-centric stories, Stranger Things requires suspension of disbelief most of the time.
Less subtle and more casual, Stranger Things is a good option if you're looking for a fun show that doesn't require your absolute attention all the time.
Humans are the most dominant species, thanks to our intelligence, but what if someone far more advanced decided to visit? Is it justified for someone smarter than ourselves to control and tame us? The series will make you ask these unanswerable questions as you churn through its limited episodes.
Tons of movies and shows have already been made about the alien invasion, with most of them being a monotonous dud. The same formula is rehashed in a new package, hoping to win the audience over with just grandeur spectacles (The Tomorrow War is an apt description of the type of movies I am talking about). Colony, however, changes the tried and tested formula in favor of something more pragmatic.
The extra-terrestrials don’t simply land and start slaughtering the residents. They're portrayed as smart beings who know how to create a rift among the people without resorting to any drastic measures. After LA gets invaded, a wanton conflict is conjured up among its citizens. There are two sides—one that supports the invasion, and then there are rebels who still believe in a lost cause. Of course, we know which side is morally right, but it's not easy to pick sides when humanity's future is at stake.
Carlton Cuse, the producer behind this obscure gem, already has an impressive resume with steller hits like Lost and Bates Motel to his name. Like his previous works, Colony further helps cement his legacy as an auteur director.
3. The Expanse
Elon Musk plans on taking humans to Mars, so we can inhabit another planet besides this pale blue dot. In this series based 100 years into the future, we’ve managed to create a new civilization on Mars and even colonized the solar system. Peace and harmony, however, is still an unrealized dream.
Humans are not perfect creatures. The more advanced our technology becomes, the more robotic and ruthless we become. Just like countless countries today are looking for reasons to go to war with each other, Earth and Mars are all set to annihilate each other in this sly sci-fi series. Who will you side with when both parties are right?
The story might fall under the 'fictional' template right now, but with the pace of technological advancement, The Expanse might become reality soon. It doesn’t matter if humans control an entire galactic system as our complete lack of empathy towards each other will still not let us be in peace.
Canceled by Syfy, the network it was airing on earlier, Amazon saved the series. The subsequent seasons after the save have proved what deep pockets of giants like Amazon and Netflix can do for small-time series like The Expanse. In hindsight, cancellation at Syfy is the best thing that could happen to this sci-fi series.
The Expanse vs Dark
While time travel and multiple dimension are Dark's mainstays, The Expanse only dabbles in the latter, avoiding the former. With a plot as subtle as it already is, The Expanse is better off without more confusion anyways.
Despite a more simplistic and straightforward approach to storytelling, this Amazon original still needs all your attention. Don't fret, though. The plot is nowhere near as convoluted as Dark's. Since The Expanse gets going without much of an introduction, those who've not churned through the titular series of books will find it a little confounding, at least in the beginning. A few episodes in, however, everything begins to fall in place.
4. 12 Monkeys
Based on the 1995 movie of the same name, the overarching plot of 12 Monkeys revolves around time travel, Just like Dark. James Cole travels to the past in hopes of finding and stopping a source of the plague that will eventually destroy the human race. His first challenge is earning the trust of Dr. Cassandra Railly, as she’s the only one who can help him in his quest.
Bending the space-time continuum for any reason whatsoever seems like a bad idea, but when it’s about the survival of an entire species, some rules need to be broken. Can James save the world or is it all just a vain effort to postpone the inevitable?
If you loved watching Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis clash to save the world in the original movie, you’ll surely love this different take on the same premise. While the series might not be as breathtaking and smoothly-paced as the original movie, it's still one of the best sci-fi dramas like Dark in the small-screen landscape. Unlike the movie, which doesn't take much time to get out of the block, the series spends its first few episodes in the introduction. Be patient.
12 Monkeys vs. Dark
Dark gets going right from the get-go, but 12 Monkeys takes its time getting to the point. As opposed to a stellar first season of Dark, 12 Monkeys' outing feels a little generic. However, things soon pick up. The pacing gradually increases, building up towards a spectacular conclsuion. If you love a good mind-bender, pick 12 Monkeys next for your next binge-watching session.
It’s been three decades since an alien invaded the Earth, entirely changing the course of the 21st century. And as you can already guess, humans and aliens are having a hard time coexisting. So, Nolan, our protagonist, and his adopted daughter, Irisa, head to the town of Defiance in an attempt to maintain order. Maybe humans needed a common enemy to finally band together as we are constantly divided by our flimsy differences.
What if the aliens we’re worried about are simply looking for a home like us? Can we understand and accept them as part of our society? So many questions are posed in the first few episodes and they get answered as the plot slowly unravels.
While this sci-fi series is not as groundbreaking as Dark, Defiance still packs a punch where it matters. Try not to go looking for professional reviews. In my personal opinion, a lot of them have been a bit too harsh on Defiance. If you're looking for a series like Dark, this underappreciated series is a good bet.
6. Black Mirror
Black Mirror doesn’t revolve around a single storyline. The show consists of multiple stories, mostly portraying the devastating aftermath of modern technology. Here is a little teaser to whet your appetite; the first episode revolves around UK’s president who is forced to have intercourse with a pig on live TV. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that things only get worse.
Once you've binged through all the available episodes, you might also wanna check out Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a choose-your-own-adventure where you are at the helm of the story. Throughout its run, you'll be making all the decisions for the lead character, which will decide the course of the story. With multiple endings, most of which are dark and gloomy, it's hard to find the thread that leads to a good ending. It's Black Mirror after all; there is seldom a happy ending to a story.
All in all, Black Mirror might be rough around the edges, but no other dystopian TV show can even come close to competing with the cerebral series. The willingness to tell suffocating, controversial stories in a day and age where everyone wants to appeal to the masses must be lauded. This series might not be an easy ride at times, but you must take it.
Should Dark fans give Black Mirror a shot?
Spanning across 3 seasons, Dark is all about telling a coherent tale, however convoluted the storyline might be. Right from the very episode of the first season till the finale, everything is inter-connected. Black Mirror, on the other hand, is a set of disparate stories, with no connection to each other. If you want to take a break from mind-benders like Dark, Black Mirror should be a perfect fit as its stories are short and simple to follow.
Did I miss out on any other shows like Dark? Though I did my best to find as many similar series as I could, there might be other hidden gems worthy of a mention. If that's the case, please let me know in the comments section.