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Like ‘Game of Thrones?’ Try These Historical Fiction TV Shows

Which TV shows like Game of Thrones should you watch? Good question.

It’s painful, isn’t it? When new Game of Thrones episodes run dry? The stabbing pain that leaves fans empty inside has prompted lots of people to ask, what now? What other TV shows that are like Game of Thrones can I watch?

First, the bad news. There are exactly zero TV shows like Game of Thrones. The incredibly high production value, the tortuous examination of the human condition, and the nail-biting suspense that made Game of Thrones a hit has never been reproduced. I doubt it ever will be. Another Mother of Dragons? Puh-lease.

But now, the good news. There are several TV shows that come close to being like Game of Thrones. Some of them are similar in the type of drama they serve up. Others are similar for their fantasy elements or time period.

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(You can watch my YouTube video or download my podcast about TV shows like Game of Thrones. Just scroll to the bottom of this post.)


I lightly researched hundreds of TV shows to narrow down a list of several that might reproduce the fervor that surrounds Game of Thrones. As you can imagine, there are tons of great TV shows out there. But how to decide which TV shows might be like Game of Thrones? Here’s what I looked for.

  • Drama, particularly high drama
  • Fantasy element
  • Historical setting
  • Suspense, especially when it came to the death of the characters
  • Critical and/or fan praise

There were several TV dramas I didn’t include on this list — The Wire comes to mind — because they were too close to real-life. If a show was set in modern time, even if it had some elements of fantasy, I passed it by.

And, a TV show might have fantasy and a historical setting, or it might only have one of those things.

Let me reiterate, there are exactly zero TV shows like Game of Thrones.

With that criteria in mind, check out this list of TV shows like Game of Thrones to ease your pain. You might even find a new favorite! (TV show links will open Amazon, but you can also download these shows on iTunes.)


Westworld Like Game of Thrones

Westworld is another HBO series that defied TV norms. Although Westworld is an adaptation of a movie from 1973, the TV series hasn’t stayed religiously faithful to its source material. How could it? They have to fill hours and hours more.

Synopsis? Set at the intersection of the near future and the re-imagined past, explore a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged without consequence.

What’s similar?  Graphic sex and violence. Fantasy element. Compelling characters. Suspense.

What’s different? Old West setting. No magic. Futuristic.

Binge time? 10 hours, 39 minutes to date.

Read more about Westworld.

Rome Like Game of Thrones

Rome premiered on HBO in 2005, when The Sopranos was winding down. Rome was nominated for a Golden Globe award for TV drama. The series took home several awards for costumes, hair and other production aspects, which means it’s gorgeous.

Synopsis? A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic.

What’s similar?  Graphic sex and violence. Compelling characters. Suspense.

What’s different? Set in Rome. No magic. Historical fiction.

Binge time? 22 hours.

Lonesome Dove Like Game of Thrones

Lonesome Dove was a very successful mini-series in 1989. It was popular with a particular generation. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold up today. Lonesome Dove has an all-star cast, with the likes of Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston and several other amazing actors.

Synopsis? Two former Texas Rangers renew their spirit of adventure as they and several other residents of a small Texas town join a cattle drive to the Montana Territory.

What’s similar?  Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Incredible acting.

What’s different? No graphic sex and violence. Set in the West. No magic. Historical fiction.

Binge time? 6 hours, 12 minutes.

Deadwood Like Game of Thrones

Deadwood became notorious for its ability to weave curse words into its dialogue like a tapestry. It’s also the series that made Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant household names (in cool households, anyway).

Synopsis? The town of Deadwood, South Dakota in the weeks following the Custer massacre is a lawless sinkhole of crime and corruption. Into this uncivilized outpost ride a disillusioned and bitter ex-lawman, Wild Bill Hickok, and Seth Bullock, a man hoping to find a new start for himself. Both men find themselves quickly on opposite sides of the legal and moral fence from Al Swearengen, saloon owner, hotel operator and incipient boss of Deadwood.

What’s similar?  Graphic sex and violence. Compelling characters. Suspense.

What’s different? Set in the West. No magic. Historical fiction.

Binge time? 36 hours.

Battlestar Galactica Like Game of Thrones

Battlestar Galactica was a game-changer for the Syfy channel. It was a bona fide critical and ratings hit, even snagging an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. That’s pretty unusual for a science fiction series.

Synopsis? When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurface and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protect a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.

What’s similar?  Compelling characters. Suspense. Engrossing story. Fictional religion.

What’s different? No graphic sex and violence (although it’s close sometimes). Set in space. No magic.

Binge time? 73 hours.

Vikings Like Game of Thrones

Vikings is an incredible TV series that, for some reason, flies under the radar. Maybe it’s not blowing up on Twitter because it airs on the History channel. It’s not just for nerds!

Synopsis? The world of the Vikings is brought to life through the journey of Ragnar Lothbrok, the first Viking to emerge from Norse legend and onto the pages of history – a man on the edge of myth.

What’s similar?  Gritty, historical setting. Violence. Compelling characters. Engrossing story.

What’s different? Not as graphic (TV-14). No magic. Historical fiction.

Binge time? 49 hours to date.

The Handmaid's Tale Like Game of Thrones

The Handmaid’s Tale hit a nerve with fans in 2017, even though the original book was published in 1985. The Hulu series is nominated for a slew of Emmy awards, which will air in September.

Synopsis? A religion-based autocracy has taken over most of the United States, renaming the country Gilead. In this country women are second-class citizens. Anyone trying to escape is punished. One such person is June, who is captured while trying to escape with her husband and child and is sentenced to be a handmaid, bearing children for childless government officials. As a handmaid, June is renamed Offred. This is her story.

What’s similar? Mind-blowing drama. Compelling characters. Graphic sex and violence. Fantasy element.

What’s different? No magic. Modern setting.

Binge time? 10 hours.

Spartacus Like Game of Thrones

Spartacus is four seasons of incredible sex, violence and gore. The dialogue can seem rather stilted. If you get into it, you’ll be hooked. If you have trouble with the dialogue, there’s plenty of action to make you forget all about it.

Synopsis? Inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 B.C. led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic departing from Capua. This is his early life.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Gritty, historical setting. Compelling characters. Action.

What’s different? No magic.

Binge time? 39 hours, including the Gods of the Arena prequel mini-series.

Outlander Like Game of Thrones

Outlander was an instant hit when it premiered in 2014, mainly because Diana Gabaldon’s book series has a huge, loyal fan base. Outlander has been nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy awards, and won a People’s Choice Award.

Synopsis? Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Action.

Bonus! Look for Tim McInnerny as Father Bain. He plays Robett Glover on Game of Thrones.

What’s different? The only thing I can think of that’s different is that the body count may not be as high. However, after the Battle of Culloden, that may change.

Binge time? 29 hours to date.

Read more about Outlander.

Lost Like Game of Thrones

Lost is another TV series on this list that was a game-changer. It’s hard to remember now, but Lost started the trend of telling a character’s story through flashbacks. (Everyone does it now.) Although some fans were disappointed in the series finale, there’s no doubt the overall show takes you on a wild ride.

Synopsis? The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.

What’s similar?  Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Suspense.

What’s different? No graphic sex or violence. Modern.

Binge time? 121 hours.

The Last Kingdom Like Game of Thrones

The Last Kingdom is one of those great TV shows that lives on the bubble. So far, two seasons have been produced, and fans have their fingers crossed for a third season. Producers have hinted that the third season might be released on Netflix.

Synopsis? The year is 872, and many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Danes, leaving the great kingdom of Wessex standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred. Against this turbulent backdrop lives our hero, Uhtred. Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is captured by the Danes and raised as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are ever tested.

What’s similar? Graphic violence. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Action.

What’s different? No magic.

Binge time? 16.5 hours to date.

Read Mike Brown’s review of The Last Kingdom.

Black Sails Like Game of Thrones

Black Sails is another historical fiction TV series from STARZ. It’s gorgeous and full of action sequences and special effects. Black Sails won several technical Emmy awards, thanks to all that effects eye candy. Beware, more than one review I’ve read says it gets much better after the first few episodes, then you’re hooked!

Synopsis? A chronicle of the adventures of a pirate captain, his shipmates and his rivals in the early 18th-century Caribbean. Black Sails is a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and is set 20 years before the events depicted in that literary classic.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Action.

What’s different? Some magic.

Binge time? 38 hours, 11 minutes.

Read more about Black Sails.

Da Vinci's Demons Like Game of Thrones

Da Vinci’s Demons has great acting, gorgeous costumes and well-executed special effects. Even though the show was a critical success, it failed to find a rabid fan base. Consider it a hidden gem!

Synopsis? As a 25-year old artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time as he begins to not only see the future, but invent it.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Fantasy. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Action.

What’s different? More lighthearted.

Binge time? 28 hours.

Man in the High Castle Like Game of Thrones

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s only sci fi drama to date. It’s another series that’s won technical Emmy awards. That makes sense, because they have to bring the past to life, as well as invent a new world in which Nazis dictate day-to-day life.

Synopsis? A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war.

What’s similar? Fantasy. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Action.

What’s different? Slightly less graphic sex and violence. More modern setting.

Binge time? 20 hours, to date.

The Tudors Like Game of Thrones

The Tudors comes very close to being just like Game of Thrones. Although, obviously, it’s not about dragons and White Walkers. The Tudors won Emmy awards for its production design, and lead actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Synopsis? A dramatic series about the reign and marriages of King Henry VIII.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story.

Bonus! Look for Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, who plays Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones.

What’s different? No magic. Less action.

Binge time? 38 hours.

Merlin Like Game of Thrones

Merlin has all the hallmarks of Game of Thrones, what with the medieval setting and fantasy elements. However, the production values aren’t terribly high. Genre fans will see several familiar faces. And it’s easy to become addicted to the characters and the story.

Synopsis? Young Merlin is a teenager, discovering and then learning to master his magical gift. Magister Gaius, King Uther Pendragon’s learned court physician, to whom he’s assigned as humble page, teaches him medicine, coaches his magical self-study and warns him of Uther’s strong aversion to magic. Merlin becomes squire to the noble but imprudent crown prince, Arthur, whose fate is linked with Merlin.

What’s similar? Dragons. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Magic.

What’s different? No graphic sex or violence. Less suspense.

Binge time? 65 hours.

The Borgias Like Game of Thrones

The Borgias is another TV drama that was nominated for lots of technical awards for costumes, hair and make-up, so you know it’s lovely to watch. The best thing The Borgias has going for it, however, is veteran actor Jeremy Irons. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Rodrigo Borgia.

Synopsis? The saga of a crime family in 15th century Italy.

What’s similar? Poison! Graphic sex and violence. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Suspense.

What’s different? No magic.

Binge time? 29 hours.

The 100 Like Game of Thrones

The 100 is so good that even Captain Kirk is a fan. That’s right! William Shatner loves to live-Tweet during episodes of The 100. This is another hidden gem, full of great actors and an incredible story. The 100 might be your new addiction!

Synopsis? Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.

What’s similar? Violence. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Suspense. Action.

What’s different? No magic. Modern-ish.

Binge time? 58 hours, to date.

Legend of the Seeker Like Game of Thrones

Legend of the Seeker had a strong following even before its premiere because it’s based on Terry Goodkind’s novels. If you can get past the exposition dump in the first few episodes, you will be handsomely rewarded. Stay strong!

Synopsis? After the mysterious murder of his father, a son’s search for answers begins a momentous fight against tyranny.

What’s similar? Fantasy. Magic. Historical setting. Compelling characters. Action.

What’s different? No graphic sex or violence. Less suspense. More light-hearted.

Binge time? 44 hours.

The Shannara Chronicles Like Game of Thrones

The Shannara Chronicles is a beautiful fantasy series with a nod to J. R. R. Tolkien. The cast is terribly young and fresh, but they are joined by a few veteran character actors.

Synopsis? Based on the best-selling fantasy novels by Terry Brooks. Set thousands of years after the destruction of our civilization, the story follows an Elven Princess, Amberle, a half-human half-elf, Wil, and a human, Eretria, as they embark on a quest to stop a Demon army from destroying the Four Lands.

What’s similar? Fantasy. Magic. Primitive setting. Action.

What’s different? No sex. Less graphic violence. Less suspense. More light-hearted.

Binge time? 10 hours, to date.

Read my full review of The Shannara Chronicles.

The Stand Like Game of Thrones

The Stand is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s like Game of Thrones in the way the characters’ stories wind up intersecting. It also shares a “the world is doomed” theme. Gary Sinise (pictured) was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award.

Synopsis? After a deadly plague kills most of the world’s population, the remaining survivors split into two groups – one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a maleficent being – to face each other in a final battle between good and evil.

What’s similar? Gore. Suspense. Compelling characters. Engrossing story. Fantasy.

What’s different? No graphic sex. Less graphic violence. Modern setting.

Binge time? 6 hours.

Read more about Stephen King.

Emerald City Like Game of Thrones

Emerald City was billed as Wizard of Oz meets Game of Thrones. That pitch is more than a bit ambitious, because it certainly doesn’t have the production value or crazy-good writing and acting that Game of Thrones has. However, it is a dark take on the classic Wizard of Oz story, and lots of fans voted for it on IMdB.

Synopsis? A modern re-imagining of the stories that led to The Wizard of Oz.

What’s similar? Fantasy. Magic. Suspense.

What’s different? Less graphic sex and violence. More modern.

Binge time? 6 hours.

Salem Like Game of Thrones

Salem has the Game of Thrones creep factor down pat. This series doesn’t shy away from dead bodies, as you can see in the image above. Salem could be considered a horror TV show, but it examines the human psyche and the gray area between good and evil, just like our beloved Game of Thrones.

Synopsis? Explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and uncovering the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind this infamous period in American history.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Fantasy. Magic. Suspense.

What’s different? Lower production values. Less engrossing story.

Binge time? 36 hours.

Camelot Like Game of Thrones

Camelot is not the romantic place depicted on Once Upon a Time or in the titular Broadway musical. This Camelot has a dark underbelly and nefarious characters. Think Excalibur.

Synopsis? King Uther dies suddenly. Britain is facing chaos. The sorcerer Merlin appoints the not so known son and heir Arthur as the king who was raised as a commoner, but his half sister has other plans. Arthur faces tough times and will be tested beyond imagination.

What’s similar? Graphic sex and violence. Fantasy. Magic. Suspense.

What’s different? Less engrossing story. Less compelling characters.

Binge time? 10 hours.

I hope one of these TV shows like Game of Thrones tides you over until (dear God!) sometime in 2019. 2019? Maybe I should say all of these.

Thanks for reading! Which series is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Long list of TV shows like Game of Thrones to binge-watch!

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  1. Another one that I watched that is very similar is the medicis, a Netflix original. It even has some of the same actors. I loved it.

  2. What a well curated list. Love that you implemented criteria for inclusion. Vikings and Westworld are currently at the top of my list, among others, to fill the post Game of Thrones void.

  3. Looks like I have a lot of binge watching to do! And I was so happy to see LOST on this list. One of my all-time favorite shows! 4 8 15 16 23 42

  4. I’ve struggled to watch GoT for various reasons, but I have heard some great things about some of these shows like Westworld so might have to give it a go.

  5. Rake

    These are some fine TV shows to kill time and get hell a lot of entertainment. But one of the list is The Borgias. It is bad. It has incest and it is portrayed somehow as good.

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