HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones brought its record-breaking, award-winning run to an end over the weekend by capping a final season that featured two massive battles before it even aired its final episode. So what’s a Game of Thrones fan to do after bidding farewell to Westeros?
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of binge-worthy television shows available now and coming soon that share some basic elements in common with Game of Thrones. Whether they share cast members, creators, or themes, these series may appeal to you now that you find yourself with a Game of Thrones-sized void in your life.
Imagine all of the intrigue, gritty violence, drama, and sex of Game of Thrones set in the world of piracy on the high seas, and you’ll understand why Black Sails was such a popular show throughout its four-season run on Starz. The series was ostensibly framed as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Treasure Island, and follows the pirates of New Providence Island as they attempt to make a life for themselves outside of society’s rules. Lost in Space actor Toby Stephens plays naval officer-turned-pirate Captain Flint, and a host of infamous pirates from history are also portrayed in the show. The series is currently available to stream on Hulu.
Game of Thrones might be the darling of HBO audiences right now, but Deadwood has long been considered one of the best programs the network ever aired. Set during the late 18oos, the series follows the residents of Deadwood, South Dakota, as the region grows from camp to town before being annexed as part of the Dakota Territory. David Milch created, produced, and wrote most of the series, which features an impressive ensemble cast led by Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant.
A visceral, brutal look at the machinations of a town where the rule of law is flexible at best, Deadwood may not host dragons, but it won eight Primetime Emmy Awards during its three-season run and is often ranked among the best TV dramas ever made — a list that Game of Thrones might join at some point. Despite being canceled (far too soon) in 2006, Deadwood is returning to HBO for a full-length feature film premiering in late May. The series is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and HBO.
Jason Momoa’s time on Game of Thrones was over far too soon for many fans, but the Aquaman star found a new small-screen home in this Netflix series. The historical drama premiered in 2016 and stars Momoa as an outlaw in 1700s Canada who’s on a mission to destabilize the Hudson Bay Company’s hold over the fur trade during that period. Momoa’s performance as part-Irish, part-Cree protagonist Declan Harp has received tremendous acclaim during the show’s three seasons, with his character weaving his way through history in a chronicle of the bloody events that shaped North America’s timeline. The series is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Jon Snow might know nothing, but Game of Thrones star Kit Harington knows that he’s a direct descendant of Robert Catesby, who — along with Guy Fawkes –was one of the leaders of the infamous, unsuccessful Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This three-part series stars Harington as Catesby, who plotted to blow up the House of Lords in London, only to have their plan discovered before the barrels of gunpowder hidden in tunnels beneath Parliament were ignited. The series generated some controversy for its graphic portrayal of the torture and persecution faced by English Catholics and Catesby’s co-conspirators, but earned good reviews for its deep dive into the notorious event that spawned a now-famous poem. “Remember, remember, the fifth of November …” The series is available to stream on HBO.
The Last Kingdom
Like Game of Thrones, this series is based on a popular series of novels, but its adaptation of Bernard Cromwell’s saga known as The Saxon Stories doesn’t feature any dragons, zombies, or magic. In fact, the Netflix series — which was renewed for a fourth season at the end of 2018 — is often described as a more grounded, historically accurate version of Game of Thrones, containing much of the same medieval intrigue without the fantasy elements. The show is set in the 9th century when what is now England was divided among warring groups of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, and follows a young nobleman’s attempts to reclaim his homeland and avenge the death of his father. The series is available to stream on Netflix.
This wildly popular Starz series is based on Diana Gabaldon’s series of novels about World War II nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), who finds herself transported back in time to 1743 Scotland, where she falls in love with Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Their saga continues throughout several historical periods, jumping between her own time period and the life she leads in the past with Jamie, and encompasses both wartime England and the eras that follow, as well as the Jacobite risings and the American Revolution. With plenty of war, drama, political intrigue, and steamy sex, Outlander is Game of Thrones viewed through the lens of a romance novel, and continues to be one of the network’s most popular programs, with its fifth and sixth seasons already in development. The series is available on Starz, and the first two seasons are headed to Netflix on May 27.
Blood, backstabbing, sex, and violence all abound in this Starz series that ran for four seasons and followed the rise of the gladiator Spartacus, who led a slave uprising against the Roman Republic that became the stuff of legends. Spinning in and out of historical facts and events from that age, the series’s narrative is layered with complex political machinations orchestrated by the various Roman factions vying for power. The series expertly blends elements of brutal violence and depravity into a compelling saga that’s propelled by impressive performances from its talented cast — a mix of familiar faces and relative newcomers at that time. The series is available to stream on Netflix and Starz.
History Channel made this project its first original, scripted series when it premiered in 2013, and the network’s gamble paid off in a big way, with the series earning critical praise for its depiction of the rise of Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok. Travis Fimmel portrays Ragnar, a farmer who became a legend through his exploits in England and the surrounding regions, and eventually ascended to become the Scandinavian king. Brilliantly scripted and acted, the show explores the hierarchy of the Viking era and how many of its most famous figures found glory through clever interactions with surrounding regions and gut-wrenching, violent battles. The series is available to stream on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
On the horizon
It’s not expected to premiere until 2021 and few details about it — including the official title — are available at this point, but this show’s association with one of the greatest fantasy sagas ever told is enough to make it a must-see project. The series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic stories of men, elves, orcs, and dwarves (among other creatures) is shaping up to be one of the most expensive television projects ever made, which is another thing it shares in common with Game of Thrones. We don’t know much about it yet, but we know enough to be excited — and Game of Thrones fans should be, too.
Set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, this series set in that same universe is an obvious one for fans to look forward to, even though we don’t know when it’s going to make its way to television. Still, with Naomi Watts in a lead role and all of the momentum of Game of Thrones behind it, this series is looking like another hit in the making for HBO.
Updated on May 20, 2019: This article has been updated following the conclusion of the series.
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