Season 6 of Game of Thrones went out with a bang (or multiple deaths as usual), yet we just can’t get enough of the self-torture of watching our favourite characters die. Game of Thrones offers everything; strong characters, beautiful costumes and an intricate plot laced with betrayal. Now that it’s over, how are we supposed to manage?
I’ve gathered together a few shows that might help you fill the void the world-favourite TV show has left in its wake.
But first, let’s tailor those suggestions a little bit with the question: what do you watch Game of Thrones for?
In my head, I think of Reign as the YA version of Game of Thrones. Based on the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots, what the show lacks in historical accuracy it makes up for in scheming, political and sexual intrigue, and a classic YA love triangle in the first season (which if you know your history, you already know the outcome of). Once you get past the fact that all the French people speak English, and the Scottish characters have American-trying-to-be-English/English accents and ignore the history, it becomes a really interesting show.
It features a cast primarily consisting of strong female characters who tend to have the most involvement in the plots at court. Catherine, Queen of France, is a character very much like Cersei in that she would do anything for her son, which is more understandable considering her son isn’t a murderous psychopath like Joffrey.
Set during the Golden Age of Piracy, Black Sails follows Captain Flint and his crew 20 years prior to the events of the famous novel, Treasure Island. Intrique, secrets, deceit, mutiny and the politics of piracy are littered through the story, all while searching the high seas for treasure. Despite the wide appeal of the Age of Piracy when it comes to fiction, it’s a surprise that shows following thieves on the high sea are so rare and this is where Black Sails succeeds. After all, how can you go wrong with pirates?
As far as accuracy goes this is your best bet. Unlike a lot of other shows on this list that go very light on the history, Vikings is actually made by the History Channel and is one of the more accurate representations of medieval Scandinavia. Sure it’s not gonna accurately tell you about people, but it can tell you about the kind of life they lived. It tells the story of Ragnar Lothbrok, a warrior and farmer who proposes sailing the water and raiding the uncharted West instead of impoverished East. Though that is the core of the story, its heart is a focus on the people and their relationships.
Anyone Can Die
The Vampire Diaries
In general, this is absolutely nothing like Game of Thrones. It’s a romance story about a girl torn between two vampire brothers. It’s essentially the cool version of Twilight. However, despite the main plot being romance based, the rest of it – not so much. Within the first season they killed off 13 characters and throughout the next few seasons they continued to kill more and more main characters. No one (except for the love trio) was safe.
The Walking Dead
Set in a harsh zombie apocalypse it’s no surprise characters are dying left, right and centre in the Walking Dead, but as of the latest season only about 5 of the large cast of characters introduced at the start of the show still remain. There’s always another bad situation around the corner and if you enjoy watching your favourite characters die in shocking and gruesome ways then this is your next fix after Game of Thrones.
A sci-fiction set in the future after Earth has been destroyed, humanity lives on a space station. To find out whether the ground is inhabitable (due to radiation) they send 100 teenage convicts to the ground. What results is a power struggle between the teenagers and war with the ‘Grounders’, humans who survived and lived on Earth.
The setting may be different and it may be based of a YA (romance) novel, but the 100 and Game of Thrones have a lot in common. Don’t be put off by the teenage protagonists, amazing authors like Stephen King (yes the Stephen King) are huge fans of the show. The constant power struggle rivals the political intrigue, there’s always some form of war going on (although there are more attempts to make peace in the 100), grey morality and the fact that no character is safe. In one of the first couple of episodes they killed off one of the main characters of the show and do the same for more characters throughout the series. Some die in tragic ways. To top it off, the leaders (particularly Clarke) are forced to constantly make tough decisions in an effort to put her people first.
Fantasy and Dragons
Merlin is a BBC show based on the legends of King Arthur, however the focus is on his trusty magician Merlin instead of Arthur. Instead of a greying old wizard Merlin is a young man who has come to the city because he can’t control his magic. In a world where the King has declared magic equivalent to treason, it’s even more important Merlin hides his abilities. Though he manages to do that, he ends up Prince Arthur’s servant.
While the first couple of seasons are very light-hearted, mostly featuring a monster-of-the-week format, there are some very dark moments hidden within. Particularly culminating in the last two seasons (4 and 5) where the story reaches the end of it’s journey and becomes something different altogether. The first season is just to sucker you in with the laughs while you fall in love with all the character, all in time for the fifth and final season to rip your heart out. And stomp on it. But hey, it’s got the dragon I promised.
Ja Myung Go
A Korean historical drama which centres on a prophecy about two half-sister Princesses, that one would lead the country to greatness while the other would devastate it. Using her connections, the mother of Ra-Hee ensures her daughter is viewed as the saviour and Ja Myung narrowly escapes with her life. When Ja Myung is older, she returns to court, finding herself surrounded by palace intrigue and must fight to free herself from the prophecy.
Death Note is a Japanese anime that has been adapted into two films and recently into a drama. I recommend watching them all, but it’s an interesting fight between good and evil and the discussion into what justice really is. Light is a student, who finds a book called a ‘Death Note’ and learns that if he writes someones’ name in it, they’ll die of a heart attack. He decides to use the Death Note to kill criminals and make the world a better place, but by doing so he becomes a criminal himself, gaining the attention of the police (including his father) and the world’s best detective, L. Both Light and L are incredibly intelligent and fighting to take down the other, for what they believe is right.
Or If You Just Want to Have a Laugh
After watching Game of Thrones or a few of these other shows on the list, you’re going to need to take a break with something a lot less serious. If you still want fantasy while you’re going for that, then Galavant is your best bet! Galavant is a half hour episode musical comedy fantasy series about a hero, a Princess and an evil King. It mad and bonkers and just to prove that point, the first episode in their second series is titled ‘A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear’ (otherwise known as; their show was so mad, even they didn’t think they’d get a second series). Sadly, the cancellation bear struck and they never made it to a third season though it won’t take you long to find a petition (that has over 10,000 signatures) asking to save it. So what’s Galavant like? You know that stage show that Arya was watching, which summed up the royals of King’s Landing? Yep. That’s Galavant (except with more singing).
No matter why you watch Game of Thrones, hopefully you’ll find one of these shows interesting. It might not be possible to replace one of the best fantasy shows on television, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other shows just as fantastic.