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9 Fantasy TV Shows to Binge During the GAME OF THRONES Hiatus

9 Fantasy TV Shows to Binge During the GAME OF THRONES Hiatus

The long winter is here, with no end in sight. Yes, that’s right: Game of Thrones is on its lengthiest hiatus yet, taking a full year off before it bows out with its eighth and final season. We’ll miss the show terribly, but look forward to whatever that crazy last hurrah will deliver. (We’ve already heard rumors about some pretty major battles.) We’re also anxious for the final two books in George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire, though we’re not exactly holding our breath for those to come out in the interim.

So what can we do to stave off the Game of Thrones blues? Why not catch up on a handful of other fantasy shows that deserve some love? Westworld will occupy HBO‘s epic genre slot for 2018, but there are plenty of other high-concept shows on streaming services that can also fill the gap. For the purposes of this list, we’re sticking to strictly fantasy stuff, from currently airing shows to some already-concluded gems. Hopefully this can tide you over until spring is here.

Outlander

What it’s about: While visiting Scotland with her husband, WWII nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is transported back in time by the standing stones at Craigh na Dun. She arrives in the 18th century, where she falls in with a group of rebel Scottish Highlanders, and falls in love with one of them, a man named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Because she’s from the future, her knowledge of historical events both aids and hinders her new relationship and her place in the clan. The show is based on the popular book series by Diana Gabaldon.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: The show is a super steamy costume drama. Plot-wise, it’s pretty dissimilar (Outlander is more outwardly romantic), but there’s a historical element that feels particularly Thrones-y at times.

Where you can watch it: Rent on Amazon or watch with a Starz subscription

Legend of the Seeker

What it’s about: Based on The Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, Legend of the Seeker follows Richard Cypher, a prophesied hero known as “The Seeker of Truth” who is believed to eventually defeat a dark wizard named Darken Rahl (Craig Parker). Richard is joined by Kahlan Amnell, a “Confessor” tasked with protecting him.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: Seeker is probably the most high-fantasy series on this list, so if dragons and magic are what you love about Thrones, you’ll have a lot of fun with this, even if the production quality is hardly comparable. A little bit Harry Potter, a little bit Lord of the Rings, the series has big battles and magic and other epic fantasy staples.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Hulu

Merlin

What it’s about: Merlin reimagines the legend of the future King Arthur and the titular wizard, who is forced to keep his powers secret. Merlin (Colin Morgan) learns from the Great Dragon (voiced by John Hurt) that he is destined to protect Arthur (Bradley James), and though the two initially butt heads, they eventually become close friends. The series weaves in other notable figures from the Camelot legend, like Guinevere (Angel Coulby) and Morgan le Fay (Katie McGrath).

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: First of all, a ton of actors from Merlin wound up on Thrones: Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Charles Dance (Tywin), Liam Cunningham (Davos), John Bradley (Sam). The show’s tone is similar to Seeker in that it’s a lighter fantasy take with a small budget, but there’s a spark of period drama to it that feels in line with Thrones.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Netflix

The Magicians

What it’s about: Based on the novel by Lev Grossman, The Magicians follows Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), who enrolls at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, a hidden school that trains college-aged students in magic. Quentin’s best friend, Julia (Stella Maeve), is denied entry to the school and goes on her own separate quest of magical discovery. It’s Harry Potter for the grown-up set, but has its own kind of dark, mysterious intrigue.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: The shows don’t have much in common, but if you’re looking for fantasy concepts in modern times, The Magicians has a ton to offer.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Netflix

American Gods

What it’s about: From the twisted minds of Neil Gaiman (who wrote the novel) and Bryan Fuller (creator of Pushing Daisies and Hannibal), American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who upon release from prison meets a mysterious stranger named Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). The two enter into a world of bickering gods: the Old Gods (the Queen of Sheba, Easter, Mr. Nancy) vs. the New Gods (Mr. World, Technical Boy, Media), both sets of whom are at odds with the direction of humankind.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: It’s big and visually rich. It melts your brain different ways than Thrones, but the shows are of a similar cable pedigree, and both challenge and broaden narrative television.

Where you can watch it: Rent on Amazon or watch with a Starz subscription

The Shannara Chronicles

What it’s about: Based on Terry BrooksThe Sword of Shannara trilogy, The Shannara Chronicles follows the journey of Wil (Austin Butler), Amberle (Poppy Drayton), and Eretria (Ivana Basquero) as they attempt to protect their world from banished demons who are returning from a place called the Forbidding. The three go on a quest to prevent their escape through an ancient tree called the Ellcrys.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: It’s more high-fantasy than Thrones, like a YA Lord of the Rings meets The Hunger Games. If you’re looking for something a little more lighthearted and youthful, this is a fun one to breeze through.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Netflix

Penny Dreadful

What it’s about: Penny Dreadful is a mishmash of storytelling delights, using  well-known characters from 19th century British literature and folklore (Dorian Gray, Van Helsing, Count Dracula, Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll) to tell new horror tales. Eva Green plays a medium named Vanessa Ives who ropes Josh Harnett‘s Ethan Chandler, an American marksman, into an underworld of monsters and danger, setting off a three-season story of intrigue and dread.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: It’s another crisp, fantastical, and ambitious cable series. The show was sadly short-lived, but it has the same dark chutzpah as Thrones; wholly its own thing, and full of similarly delicious performances. Eva Green has a real Cersei thing going for her.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Netflix

Xena: Warrior Princess

What it’s about: Xena follows its titular character (Lucy Lawless), a famed warrior who uses her physical power to help those in need. She is joined by her companion Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor), a farm girl-turned-Amazon fighter, with whom Xena shares a special relationship. The two travel through ancient Greece and beyond on their quests, fighting monsters, changing history, and forging their own mythical destinies.

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: If you love the lady power of Thrones, then Xena is the show for you. The tone is different, but the gusto is the same. It’s lower-budget and much older, but it’s worth setting those trappings aside and visiting one of the most beloved fantasy series ever in the Thrones interim.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Hulu

Grimm

What it’s about: The show is loosely based on fables from the Brothers Grimm but set in modern-day Portland. It follows local homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) who learns that he is a guardian known as a Grimm, and tasked with keeping the balance between humanity and mythological creatures called Wesen. Nick has powers – not unlike Buffy – that imbue him with super-strength and agility. Nick keeps the Wesen figthing a secret from his work partner (Russell Hornsby) and girlfriend (Bitsie Tulloch).

How it scratches the Game of Thrones itch: There’s honestly not much to compare here other than fantasy concepts. Grimm is way more arch with its genre stylings and can be a little goofy. That’s not for everyone, but it is a fun and well-plotted little show that not enough people watch. If the popularity of Thrones overwhelms you, you might enjoy Grimm‘s quaintness.

Where you can watch it: Stream it on Amazon Prime

Image: Starz

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