There will be a huge gap to fill when Game of Thrones ends. Can any TV show ever compare to its graphic display of violence and sex, its power plays and family dynamics, its intricate storylines and vast settings? Game of Thrones has kept us hooked by subverting traditional storytelling rules, killing off protagonists and proving there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ characters. While there will never be another Game of Thrones, there are plenty of TV shows that are just as incredible.
1. Black Sails
Like Game of Thrones, Black Sails is full of debauchery, battles, sex, and politics. Based on the famous pirate novel, Treasure Island, the show follows Captain Flint and his thirst for power. The show is like a more serious Pirates of the Caribbean, delving deeper into the pirate mythos and culture which has fascinated people for centuries. Season 1 starts a little slow, but seasons 2-4 are top notch. It’s tragically underrated and is worth a watch by anyone who appreciates good TV.
Before Game of Thrones, Rome was considered the most expensive TV show ever made. No expense was spared creating the vast and elaborate set. Set in the 1st century BC during Rome’s change from Republic to Empire, it follows the dramatic lives of infamous figures like Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Pompey Magnus, Cleopatra, and Augustus. While it only lasted 2 seasons, Rome is an impressive spectacle worth watching by anyone.
3. The Expanse
Many people describe The Expanse as the ‘Game of Thrones of space’. This is true in many ways. It is a big budget show full of conspiracies, a dark, gritty tone and a cast of interesting characters. So if you like political intrigue and morally grey characters, like Game of Thrones, then this is the show for you.
4. The Borgias
The Borgias follows the Borgia family and their lust for power in Renaissance Italy, with Jeremy Irons taking the lead in his quest to become Pope. Like Game of Thrones, The Borgias is full of Machiavellian politics, intense family dynamics, lush costumes, and even incest! This is a must watch for any Game of Thrones fan.
Deadwood is considered one of the finest TV shows ever made, it’s a shame it only lasted three seasons. Set in an American mining town during the 1800s, it brings to life the Old West in a way never seen before on TV. Deadwood deals with themes like prostitution, race, violence, and politics. The show is both grim and humorous as characters navigate the dangerous and depraved Old Wild West.
6. The Tudors
The Tudors is a historical drama depicting the lives of King Henry VIII and his six wives. Unlike Game of Thrones, we know how this story ends. This doesn’t make the show any less enjoyable. The show gives us more detail about the famous events, helped by a talented cast and lavish costumes and sets. It’s worth a watch for history lovers and anybody interested in themes of power, romance, religion and the role of women in history.
If there’s any show that can rival Game of Thrones for its display of graphic sex and violence, it’s Spartacus. But behind these vivid scenes is a show that, at its core, is about freedom. It follows the famous gladiator, Spartacus, as he leads a rebellion of slaves against their cruel Roman oppressors. The show is immense, the scenes are sexy and gory, but it tells a heartfelt and deeply human story.
8. Peaky Blinders
Peaky Blinders is a crime drama series set in Birmingham, England, after WW1. It centres on the exploits of the Shelby family and their criminal gang, the Peaky Blinders. It has one of the best casts out there, with Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Helen McCrory and Adrien Brody, to name a few. The show is dark, intelligent, intense and quite simply, cool. You’ll want to be in the Peaky Blinder gang by the end of it.
9. Les Misérables
Forget the musical, Les Misérables is a dramatic, song-free adaptation of the original Victor Hugo novel. The literal meaning of ‘les misérables’ is ‘the miserable ones’, and boy does this show display just that. It’s a grim and tragic tale full of heartbreak, death and poverty, but despite all of this, there are moments of light and hope. One to watch for all the masochists out there.
Outlander follows Claire Randall as she is transported back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she is forced to marry the warrior Highlander, Jamie Fraser. Outlander will sweep you away into another world full of romance, politics, and rebellion. Like Game of Thrones, Outlander creates a vibrant, awe-inspiring world with its costumes, score, and setting. Definitely one to watch!
Have you watched any of these TV shows? Tell us your thoughts and recommendations below!
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I am a Writing and Publishing student at RMIT, Melbourne, keen to build my writing portfolio and pursue a career in publishing. I am currently working on a YA fantasy novel.