In the past, Game of Thrones has been widely
regarded as the best show on television. Airing on HBO
affords it an amount of creative license that network TV simply
hasn’t been able to compete with in recent years. Lax content
restrictions on premium cable have given the show the ability
to feature all manner of nudity, swearing, and violence. The
result is a series operating with tool-belt basic cable
competitors haven’t been able to match. In just the last year
though, a collection of shows, which are much better, have
stepped up to challenge Game of Thrones.
This is a collection of television that deals primarily in
long-form drama. Some have a story driven by shared
elements with Game of Thrones. Others choose
to head in a different direction altogether, making a better
plot. What they all prove is that you don’t have to be a
premium cable series in order to succeed in the realm of sci-fi
and fantasy. If you find yourself tiring of George R.R.
Martin’s glacial pace, these better alternatives might just
sate your appetite.
1. Sleepy Hollow
While Sleepy Hollow has seen a decline in
recent episodes, there’s no denying that its first season
was pure fantasy magic. It’s the first fresh retelling of the
Headless Horseman story we’ve seen…well, ever, anchored by a
spectacular performance by Tom Mison as the time-traveling
Ichabod Crane. It’s since descended into a monster-of-the-week
procedural that’s left it unfocused and at times hard to
watch, but Season 1 is where the real gold can be found anyway.
2. The 100
The 100 has followed a path opposite to that
of Sleepy Hollows. An up-and-down first season was
followed by two seasons of growth, putting the show in a
pantheon of prestige TV no one could have predicted it would
reside. The story follows the exploits of 100 teenaged
criminals sent down to an irradiated Earth in the
not-so-distant future and their quest for survival. As it’s
gone on, it’s turned into one of the most suspenseful and
progressive sci-fi shows ever made, and there are no signs
it’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
3. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has actually been around for one
season more than Game of Thrones, and in
that time it’s become the most-watched show on television
across any network. The story slowed to a crawl around Seasons
3 and 4, and many wondered if TWD could
really drag itself out much longer. In Season 6, the
introduction of an infamous villain from its source material
graphic novel has breathed new life to a series that was in
desperate need of a Hail Mary. Recent episodes putting a
fan-favorite character in peril though may undo that
progress, but we won’t know for sure until the upcoming season
It’s an American dark comedy-crime drama television series
inspired by the 1996 film of the same
name.Fargo has received broad acclaim from
television critics. The review aggregator website Rotten
Tomatoes currently reports a 98% “certified fresh” critics
rating. Fargopresents more quirky characters and a
new storyline that is expertly executed with dark humor and odd
5. The Expanse
If Game Thrones‘s chosen genre is “hard fantasy,”
the closest equivalent you’ll find in science-fiction
is The Expanse. The two shows share a
similar DNA: Both are based on dense, lengthy novels, are
merciless about the characters they kill off and focus on
political intrigue among warring factions. The sci-fi genre has
been clamoring for a show like The
Expanse for awhile now, and finally, it has its
golden goose to rival even HBO’s own flagship series.
6. Orphan Black
Orphan Black, while known to go off the rails for
brief stretches, is still among an elite class of television
within sci-fi and fantasy. Tatiana Maslany plays Sarah
Manning, a woman discovering her role as a product of a
top-secret government cloning project. The web of lies and
deceit goes deeper from there, as Sarah meets a host of
clones identical to her in appearance, but different in
personality. Maslany plays upward of five different roles in
any given season, and a strong argument can be made for her
being the hardest working actor on TV right now.
7. Mr. Robot
The USA network has never really been known for its prestige
dramas, tending to focus more on light-hearted middle-tier
television. That all changed with Mr.
Robot though, a terse, amazingly executed series
digging into corporate corruption with a cyber-punk aesthetic.
The show follows Elliot, a man working for a digital security
firm who moonlights as a hacktivist vigilante. It’s not long
before he catches the eye of a mysterious underground
organization hell-bent on taking down the world’s biggest
corporation, plunging him into an intricate new world that
quickly has him in over his head.
The History Channel is another network known really known for
the high quality of its offerings, with the one exception
of Vikings. The show tells the story of the
legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, a figure from Viking lore rumored to
have been the scourge of 9th Century England. We see the humble
beginnings of Ragnar as a simple raider, who soon becomes the
leader of an invasion force across the water into the Great
Britain. It’s now four seasons in, so there’s plenty
of Vikings to marathon through
while Game of Thrones sits in its offseason.
9. Penny Dreadful
If you’re more into fantasy and supernatural drama than
historical stories, then we recommend
trying Penny Dreadful on for size. Coming to
us from Showtime, it features an A-list cast of Eva Green,
Joshua Hartnett, and Timothy Dalton. We also get a chance to
see prominent figures from literature and sci-fi, including
Frankenstein’s monster, Dorian Grey, Mina Harker, and tons
10. The Americans
So maybe sci-fi, fantasy, or Viking legends aren’t your thing.
Then how about trying a Cold War spy drama on for size
then? The Americans focuses on a family of
Russian spies in deep cover, as they try and reconcile their
loyalty to the Soviet Union with their new life in the United
States. Over its four seasons, it’s been widely recognized as
one of the best shows on all of the television, and it’s
certainly a worthy opponent to Game of
Thrones in terms of engrossing political intrigue.
11. House Of Cards
If plot twists, back-stabbing, and political intrigue are what
you love most about Game of Thrones,
then House of Cards is for you. The plot
follows politicians of various rank and influence in Washington
D.C. With familiar faces like Kevin Spacey and Kate Mara, the
whole cast thrives under Fincher’s direction. Fincher has
pulled off this drama in the best way possible. Taking the
plunge of 13 episodes per season is not easy.
One of the best things about this show is the removal of the
fourth wall, which makes it better that GOT. You’ll find Frank
Underwood talking to the camera every once in a while as a way
of explication and expressing his opinion. Actor Kevin Spacey
pulls those scenes off in style.
12. Black Sails
Sex, violence, and nudity – Black
Sails doesn’t lack in these elements.
Airing on Starz and set as a prequel to Treasure
Island, the plot follows the adventure of one of the most
feared and infamous pirates of the golden age, Captain Flint.
On an island overrun with thieves, pirates, and prostitutes,
Flint has to maintain control. The first season helps you get
acquainted with the characters and style of storytelling. You
might think that everything is a tad flashy, but the second and
third seasons will help change your opinion.
If you are looking for some better action, Black
Sails is a good bet.
That was our pick for ‘Shows better than GOT’. What are
your favourite shows that you’d call better? Let us know in the
comments down below.