It's been over 10 years since Game of Thrones premiered and changed television. HBO's epic fantasy certainly had its ups and downs through the years, and the ending remains, to put it as kindly as possible, controversial. Even so, the series still has an enormous fan base, and if you count yourself among them, you may or may not be sitting around wishing you could see Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and Sansa (Sophie Turner) on your TV screen one more time. While you could fire up the HBO Max machine and rewatch the series, might we also recommend trying something new?
If you don't know where to start, TV Guide is here to help. From gripping historical dramas to escapist fantasies to series that star Game of Thrones alums, here's our list of the best shows to watch after Game of Thrones.
Depending on who you ask, Outlander is either the sexiest show on TV, or it's a historical drama with a touch of sci-fi. Or maybe it's both! Based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander revolves around Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married World War II nurse who, after mysteriously time traveling back to 1743, falls in love with Jamie (Sam Heughan), a young Scottish warrior. You should know upfront that it definitely lacks the near-constant thrill that Game of Thrones brought (there are way less expensive battle scenes, is what I'm saying), but if you're looking for something that will give you an occasionally accurate history lesson and get you invested in a sweeping romance that spans centuries, Outlander is the show for you. [Watch on Netflix]
Black Sails is about pirates, but not the fun, rum-drinking Pirates of the Caribbean kind: These are gritty pirates. A prequel to Treasure Island, Black Sails is set in the early 1700s and revolves around Captain Flint's (Toby Stephens) debaucherous life as the leader of a band of swashbucklers. He brings on Long John Silver (Luke Arnold) as a member of his crew, and together, they engage in a sprawling battle for New Providence Island. Black Sails has often been compared to Game of Thrones, and even though it's not a fantasy, there are plenty of elements about this show that fans will recognize and enjoy: its period setting, its excellent characters, its engaging storytelling and world-building, and some beautifully shot battle scenes. (And some gratuitous nudity.) Also, if it helps, the ending wasn't anywhere near as divisive. [Watch on Starz]
If what you're really looking for in your post-Game of Thrones watching life is just people battling each other, look no further than Spartacus. This show, set in the 72 B.C. era Roman Empire, is about gladiators, which means it has blood and violence to spare. It has everything you're probably looking for: brutal fighting, betrayal, sex and nudity (seriously, when the characters on this show aren't trying to maim each other, there's a good chance it's because they're too busy having sex), and gore that's as exciting to look at as it is absolutely disgusting. [Watch on IMDb TV (free with ads), Starz]
For anyone whose favorite part of Game of Thrones was the twisted family dynamics, meet The Borgias. The show, set in Renaissance-era Italy, follows the ruthless and scandalous Borgia family who are willing to do just about anything to maintain their power. When the show begins, Rodrigo (Jeremy Irons) has just become Pope Alexander VI by using nefarious tactics, which is probably the least insane thing that happens throughout its three seasons. This show has a healthy amount of blood and violence, but the things that makes this show most compelling are the characters and the ways they interact with each other. The Borgias is not at all afraid to shy away from incest, so Game of Thrones fans should feel right at home. [Watch on Netflix]
It's hard to remember a time before Game of Thrones, but I promise it once existed. In fact, back in 2005, HBO made Rome, a highly underrated drama set amid ancient Rome's transition from republic to empire. It's a short watch (only two seasons!) that has basically everything you're probably looking for: rival families trapped in power struggles with each other, well-choreographed fight scenes, intriguing characters, and more. Plenty of shows wish they could be the next Game of Thrones, but Rome was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones even existed. [Watch on HBO Max]
The Witcher, which is based on Andrzej Sapkowski's book series, stars Henry Cavill as monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, a witcher whose destiny becomes bound to the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the powerful princess Ciri (Freya Allan). In case it wasn't already clear, this is a fantasy show, dealing with magic, knights, and terrifying monsters. There's been a lot of debate about whether or not The Witcher is trying to come up in Game of Thrones' image, and the comparisons are obvious, but this show isn't Netflix's attempt at a carbon copy. It's much more fantastical and centers around a smaller group of characters, leaning more into the "fulfilling your destiny" of it all. You will definitely walk away with the "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" song stuck in your head. [Watch on Netflix]
The real draw here is Natalie Dormer, who, a few years before donning Margaery Tyrell's curly wig, played Anne Boleyn on The Tudors. Showtime's historical drama is set during King Henry VIII's (played here by Jonathan Rhys Meyers) tenure, touching on everything from his political struggles to his many wives, which is arguably what he's most famous for. If you already know the story of King Henry, there's not much here that will surprise you, but it's still a great drama with a strong cast that's a must-watch for anyone who loved the royal family stuff in Game of Thrones. [Watch on Showtime, Hulu (with Showtime add-on), Amazon Prime Video (with Showtime add-on)]
Set in 866, The Last Kingdom tells the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), a Saxon warrior raised from childhood as a Viking after Vikings invaded his home. The show is a great mix of politics, family, and war, and it's adrenaline-pumping in all the right ways. If you were disappointed by Daenerys' messy descent into Game of Thrones' designated villain, The Last Kingdom kind of makes up for that with Brida's (Emily Cox) own dark journey, which feels more warranted thanks to the way the show fleshes it out over several seasons. [Watch on Netflix]
Speaking of Vikings, have you checked out Vikings? Originally following the story of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a Viking farmer who went on to become one of the most infamous Vikings in history, the drama is based on actual events and later transitions to focus more on his sons, including Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh) and Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig). Like Game of Thrones, Vikings is an epic that spans many years, and delights in exploring power struggles, how leaders fall, and family politics. It's the historical drama you've been looking for. Especially if you like a massive, big-budget battle once or twice a season. [Watch on Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video]