5 great shows like Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

“Don’t you dare try to replace me.”

Ah, finally, a show that makes Lord of the Rings look like a saturday morning children’s cartoon. Finally! Seriousness! Well-developed characters! Nuance! Moral subtlety! Well-written dialogue! Huzzah!

Sadly, nothing else quite exists that can match exactly what Game of Thrones has to offer, which, on the one hand, is a shame. But that’s exactly what makes it so gloriously spectacular. A show that actually has female characters that aren’t incredibly lame cardboard cutouts. OMG!

Okay, rant over. On to the shows like Game of Thrones!

So if you’re attempting to replace your Game of Thrones with similar shows, you’re probably looking for a few of the following factors:
  • A diverse range of well-crafted characters
  • Powerful performers by talented actors
  • A complex plot
  • Moral ambiguity and challenging ethical dilemmas
  • Swords and dragons and stuff
Now keep in mind you won’t find anything quite like it. High production value fantasy drama with a broad and talented cast is not something you find every day. But here are a few ideas for potential alternate TV viewing possibilities.

Shows like Game of Thrones

1) Rome


“One more pun about Rome vs. Roam and I’ll gladiate the shit out of you.”

This is where to go if the period drama and political intrigue are what draw you into Game of Thrones. This is, as others have stated, is so far removed from “regular” society that it might as well be a fantasy story. The culture is so extraordinarily removed from our own, as well as the technological level of the society, and can offer the sort of culturally immersive experience that so many fantasy fans crave.

And not only that, but just like in Game of Thrones, the show features a diverse cast of characters, and as much political intrigue as you can possibly imagine. Almost as much as the real world, in fact. No fantasy world can match the backstabbing of reality. We kinda suck.

The downside? No dragons. Sad times. But it’s also something of an educational experience, as it’s based on historically accurate situations, so you might actually learn a thing or two along with all those togas. Woo hoo!

Check out a little bit of Rome:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbI-fDzUJXI]

2) The Tudors

The Tudors

“No, I won’t help you with your math homework.”

Here’s another period drama that’ll be a delightful viewing pleasure for the fans who enjoy Game of Thrones because they feel as though they’re being whisked away to another world. But, once again, as is the case with Rome, this is a good one for fans of political conflicts and secret back room negotiations and enemies getting stabbed in the back. There’s a murder within the first 60 or so seconds.

Beyond that, the production values are damn good, and the performances are strong, with plenty of different characters playing the royal games, putting on a show for the nobility while plotting against them in the darkness. It’s good stuff.

And, well, it’s probably worth mentioning there are plenty of nekkid times in the Tudors as well. But that may or may not be why you got into Game of Thrones, but it’s perhaps a point worth mentioning. But really, this is well-crafted period drama of the highest order. Enjoy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXNf9dxnQrM]

3) Mad Men

Mad Men

They’re mad indeed.

Technically a period drama, but not so far removed that it feels period-y, this is a suggestion you might not totally expect. But Game of Thrones and Mad Men have a few threads in common. If you’re a fan of the quiet tension, the variety of challenges, and the wide range of conflicting personalities that must deal with each other, Mad Men is going to work for you. The gray shades of morality are another reason to enjoy the show, as the protagonist isn’t nearly as heroic as one might expect. Life is more complicated than everything being wrapped up in a shiny bow.

Not so great if you were a fan of the swashbuckling action sequences and battles from Game of Thrones, but then again, Game of Thrones isn’t even that great if you’re into buckling swashes. It’s a much slower, more deliberate game the participants are playing, and quite often, the warriors don’t even get their moment to shine. Mad Men will be even slower, but the business empire these people are building pushes them to do certain things that royalty might do to build their kingdom. And, quite often, those in power are not the ideal candidates for such a position. In both cases, sexism is part of the reason.

It’ll be a quieter, less swordfighty, tense and realistic presentation of different people going about their struggles. If that’s what drew you to Game of Thrones, then give this one a try.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTQ9Z3YTT9o]

4) The Wire

Omar, The Wire

He was amazing on Community.

Here’s another option if you don’t care one way or another about the setting, and prefer instead the moral ambiguity and the deeply challenging predicaments in which many characters so often find themselves.

Much has been said about the Wire, and if you haven’t already heard people talk about it as if it’s the greatest show in the universe, then you’ve probably been living under a rock with noise-canceling headphones for a decade or two.

So I won’t mention any issue relating to quality, but instead just the fact that, like Game of Thrones, this is a series that’s meant to challenge what you think is right, showing ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and just trying to get by, while any ideas of honor and justice seem quaint and impractical when pitted against the insurmountable tragedy that is real life.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sgj78QG9Bg]

5) The Simpsons

Monty Burns, The Simpsons

I can’t figure out if he’s better or worse than Joffrey.

Under the guise of 2D comedy resides a far darker, far more insidious doom-laden tragic horror story of proportions even more epic than Game of Thrones itself. The residents of this town live under the pettily maniacal rule of a madman who controls the electricity which powers every aspect of their lives. The law enforcement consists of little more than ineffectual, incompetent, or merely rotund morons incapable of thwarting even the most pitiful of thievery in the town. The educational foundations are deteriorating out from underneath the feet of its students as the faculty squabbles over outdated curriculum and teaching materials whilst ignoring the requirements of their jobs and smoking while on the clock.

The most thorough similarity is that of Homer, whose inexplicable status as a father is further exacerbated upon realization that he is merely a preceding version of Hodor, incapable or more than basic speech or cursory understanding of the emotions or thoughts of those around him. The mother of the family, much like Cersei Lannister, must deal with a petulant and impetuous young boy, whose constant disdain for the rules governing society border on the criminally insane. Only the daughter of the family, much like Arya, seems to have a healthy sense of what’s going on in the world around her, but, powerless as any small child would be, she is unable to affect even the smallest of happenings.

It is a boundless pit of despair the likes of which slash and burn the soul of humanity without remorse or even recognition of its brutality. There is no escaping the crushing defeat that is life in this town, nor the horror that befalls its residence each Halloween.

Sample the madness:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yGJGTjV2WE]

More shows like Game of Thrones?

Well, this was a mere list of shows that provide a few of the major points that fans of Game of Thrones might enjoy. There’s certainly nothing exactly like it, but if you have a few suggestions for shows like Game of Thrones that might be worth mentioning, well then by all means, chime in.

None found.

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