TV shows like Game of Thrones know how to reel us in. The small-screen adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series has inspired fandom the likes of which few franchises have ever known. Part of the show’s appeal lies in its unpredictability that spits in the face of cookie-cutter TV narratives. It also perfectly juggles its footing in various genres. On one hand, it’s a fantasy series complete with magic, dragons, and dreadful villains (both humans and White Walkers). Yet, it’s also a gritty political drama mirroring many disturbing real-world conflicts. In Game of Thrones, the noble can die and the cruel prosper – a tense dynamic that creates water-cooler moments not seen since Lost.
As a fan, you’d know no other TV show out there quite compares to Game of Thrones. However, a few do come close – and may even execute a few things better than HBO’s modern epic. So, with that in mind, here are 10 Insanely Addictive TV Shows Like Game of Thrones worth your time-investment!
Selection Criteria of Our List
- Shows like Game of Thrones must have high levels of political intrigue and addictive drama. So, you can expect lots of devilish scheming among characters both likeable and loathe-worthy.
- There should be an overarching main plot made up of smaller alliances, each impacting the show’s unfolding story.
- Each show should tease your narrative expectations. You’ll be struggling to guess who wins and loses!
- Shows should have generally favorable to excellent reviews from critics and fans alike.
- Selections are not limited to a specific genre and are in no particular order.
Also check out: 10 Sci-Fi Supernatural Shows Like Stranger Things.
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1. House of Cards
Out of all TV shows like Game of Thrones, House of Cards best answers the question “What if GoT was set in the real world?” This Netflix original series was created by Beau Willimon, also featuring Fight Club’s director David Fincher and his Se7en collaborator, Kevin Spacey.
Spacey plays Democratic Majority Whip, Frank Underwood. Think GoT’s Littlefinger in the White House and you’ll get a rough picture of Frank’s personality and intentions. The main plot of House of Cards follows his artful rise to power as he plots revenge against those who have wronged him. His drama-filled journey is both aided and thwarted by his temperamental wife, played by the brilliant Robin Wright.
The Game of Thrones fan in you will be happy to hear that backstabs and cunning lies are the norm in House of Cards. You, the viewer, are privy to all of the show’s clandestine ongoings thanks to Frank 4th wall-breaking habits. He never hesitates to cue you in on his many devious plans to outdo his equally shady colleagues. However, House of Cards’ best moments come when Frank goes off the books, leaving you to guess his true insidious intentions.
Overall, House of Cards’ gripping political overtones makes it an easy recommendation for TV shows like Game of Thrones.
Spartacus is a bit like Game of Thrones, on steroids – with lots of hyper-masculine chest beating. Created by Buffy and Angel writer Steven S. DeKnight, the show aired for three successful seasons (not including the prequel) on Starz, ending on its own terms. The main story focuses on the rise of its titular character, Spartacus, as he transcends from slave to gladiator to freedom fighter, with loyal followers by his side. Subplots help deepen the intrigue, all told in convincing fashion by a stellar supporting cast (including Lucy Lawless and John Hannah).
Spartacus is undoubtedly one of the most violent and sexually explicit TV shows like Game of Thrones. However, this is all keyed to great effect when it comes to building an immersive world of high stakes and bloodthirsty power struggles. You’ll be pulled in by each and every episode brimming with murders, backstabs, and revenge – all winning ingredients of GoT. Yes, the series is far more ostentatious than most on this list – but is no less binge-worthy!
Rome is often credited as the 2005 precursor to Game of Thrones, sowing the seeds that led to the latter’s big-name success. This HBO / BBC co-production brought a fictional retelling of the tragedy of Julius Caesar (played by Ciarán Hinds) to homes for two truly epic seasons. Like Game of Thrones, Rome is all about crippling power struggles between the elite and the weak – in this case, acrimonies among rich Roman families, rulers, soldiers, and peasants. Much of the show’s narrative follows the lives of two Roman centurions (Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson) caught in a chaotic mutiny of warring factions.
Rome aims for full viewer immersion, no expenses spared. There are even rumors that the series commissioned one of the largest period sets ever built in TV history. Top that off with plenty of violence and controversy and you have yourself a classic that’ll appeal to anyone wanting more TV shows like Game of Thrones – with a historical twist.
On the surface, Outlander’s synopsis sounds like your typical sappy time-travel romance. The plot follows Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe), a married World War II nurse who unexpectedly time-hops back to 1743, Scotland. Here, she meets a charming Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser. The two soon find themselves falling in love even as they are torn apart amid the backdrop of the Jacobite risings.
Now, before you let out that yawn, you’ll be happy to know that Outlander actually surpasses expectations thanks to its genre-bending prowess. In fact, the show is often compared to Game of Thrones for its many shady characters, political allegiances, and oh-so-addictive plot twists. The Daily Telegraph likens Outlander’s merger of fantasy, history, and romance to that of GoT, further noting the show’s equal propensity for excessive sex and violence. Outlander is also packed with nasty villains. One character – Black Jack Randall – has even been named among the 40 greatest TV baddies of all time. Fun fact: the role is played by Tobias Menzies, a star in both Game of Thrones and Rome.
Admittedly, Outlander starts at a rather sluggish pace for a lot of the first season. But stick with it and you’ll find a surprising gem of similar appeal to most other TV shows like Game of Thrones.
Vikings holds its own as one of the most-watched TV shows like Game of Thrones. The series stars the ever-electric Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Viking ruler and hero of the Viking age. Critics have applauded this Irish-Canadian drama for its alluring cinematography and immersive storytelling – a formula perfect for Game of Thrones-ish binge watching!
Some brave sources – such as the Boston Globe and The Richest – go as far as to say that Vikings carries out some things better than Game of Thrones. For example, the show pays very close attention to timelines, with characters that progressively age in believable ways. This detail helps heighten the level of viewer immersion. Vikings also does not shy away from blurring the lines between good and bad. In addition, the show’s unfolding story aims to be streamlined, making for a more digestible, less confusing plot.
Overall, Vikings is by far one of the best TV shows like Game of Thrones. It thrives on many of the same appealing strengths of the latter, while offering its own brand of bloodlust and political intrigue. Plus, you’ll never get tired of hearing someone yell “SHIELD WALL!!!!”.
More TV shows like Game of Thrones ahead!
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