12 TV Shows You Can Stream Right Now to Fill the Game of Thrones Void

Jason Momoa stars in Frontier
Jason Momoa stars in Frontier
Netflix

After eight seasons of hype, dread, dragons, and fan theories, we finally said goodbye to Game of Thrones. So what’s next on your streaming schedule? What TV show could possibly replace the incredible battles, roster of duplicitous schemers, and unpredictable plotlines of George R.R. Martin’s bleak and brutal fantasy saga? Thankfully, you’ve got options—and plenty of them.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of 12 series you can stream right now that should help as you’re going through Westeros withdrawal. Some of these shows feature complex plots and power struggles like in Game of Thrones but in completely different settings, while others are different takes on the fantasy genre, just in case dragons are really your thing. One even takes the familiar Game of Thrones themes and sets the whole thing in space. So check out our choices below, because no one should be without a series to binge. 

1. The Last Kingdom

Based on the series of historical-fiction novels by author Bernard Cornwell, BBC/Netflix’s The Last Kingdom checks plenty of the boxes that Game of Thrones fans will be looking for—most notably a roster of colorful villains, brooding heroes, sword-clanging battle scenes, and blood-soaked quests for power. And while it’s easy to view the whole thing as a poor man’s take on the HBO hit, the series separates itself by being rooted in actual historical events, namely the 9th-century rule of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex. The series is seen through the eyes of Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), a man who grew up in the beer halls of the Danes but now fights against them for Alfred’s Saxon armies in the pursuit of a unified England.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. Deadwood

Despite being off the air for 13 years, HBO’s foul-mouthed Western drama still ranks among the network’s greatest achievements. It’s based on the actual town of Deadwood, South Dakota, a mining camp that was established in the late 1870s and attracted vices of all shapes and sizes. The series, created by David Milch, examines the town as it evolves from a patchwork of disreputable businesses and outlaws into a more integrated community where law and order attempt to prevail. At the center of it all sits Al Swearengen, owner of The Gem saloon, a profane force of nature who manipulates the town and its people to ensure he remains at the top of the heap. Like Game of Thrones, Deadwood is an examination of power and the necessary lengths one needs to go to seize control and maintain it. Once you blow through the first three seasons, you’ll only have to wait until May 31 for the much-too-long-awaited Deadwood: The Movie to premiere on HBO. 

Where to watch it: HBO GO, Amazon Prime Video

3. Rome

The brainchild of Bruno Heller (Gotham) and the inimitable John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian), the ambitious Rome proved to be a success with critics in the mid-2000s and helped lay the groundwork for what the future of the network would look like. The series brought historical events to life with a realistic (and oftentimes ruthless) touch, including the assassination of Julius Caesar (played by Game of Thrones star Ciarán Hinds).

Though the series met a premature end due to its cost, the twisting plots, sprawling cast of morally questionable characters, and the old-world brutality of the series set the stage for what HBO could do with Game of Thrones once the network was in the position to produce a show with a budget to match its ambitions.

Where to watch it: HBO GO, Amazon Prime Video

4. The Expanse

The Expanse has been described as “Game of Thrones in space” so many times online that the comparison has lost all meaning, but both shows do share many trademarks, including mounting tensions between factions, separate narratives that slowly weave together with chess-like precision, top-notch world-building, and a cast of maladjusted characters trying to navigate their way through all of it. The simmering conflict between Earth, Mars, and the Belt should echo Westeros just enough to leave fans intrigued without feeling like they’ve been there, done that.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video

5. The Tudors

This one is simple: If you’re drawn more to the political intrigue of Game of Thrones rather than the pervasive gore and fantasy, then The Tudors will fit you like a slipper. This one chronicles the vicious reign of King Henry VIII (played by a not-nearly-fat-enough Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who moves from wife to wife seeking an heir to the throne and leaving plenty of heads in his wake. There’s also the requisite political fare to deal with, such as traitors in his inner circle, rebellions, assassinations, and Henry VIII’s own growing paranoia.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. Vikings

This is a no-brainer for the Game of Thrones fan. Vikings has the power struggles, bloody battles, and repulsive villains you love to hate, but it ditches the fantastical and instead opts to be (loosely) based on the exploits of a real (though even that’s up for debate) Norse figure, Ragnar Lothbrok, played by Travis Fimmel. Here, Lothbrok is portrayed as an everyman farmer who finds himself commanding armies, leading raids against England, and etching his name into legend. Though not as hardcore as Game of Thrones (hey, it’s The History Channel, after all), Vikings still offers up plenty of bloody chaos that’s well worth your TV time.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu

7. The Crown

There’s not a sword or dragon or White Walker in sight, but The Crown’s meticulous waltz through history shares plenty of DNA with the goings-on in the fantasy realm of Westeros. This bingeable masterpiece is a meditation on power done right—it examines the sacrifices that need to be made as a queen, the inevitable personal suffering that goes along with it, and the near-impossible decisions that must be made on an everyday basis. Throughout the show, the Sword of Damocles is always right above Queen Elizabeth’s (Claire Foy) head, as she’s torn between her duties to herself, her family, and her people, all while dealing with conflicts from within her own inner circle that threaten to undermine her. Season 3, which will see Olivia Colman replace Foy as Queen Elizabeth II (and Game of Thrones's Tobias Menzies take over the role of Prince Philip from Matt Smith), is due to premiere some time this year.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. Frontier

Jason Momoa has become one of Game of Thrones’s most successful alums after he broke out as Khal Drogo in the first season—even doing the unthinkable and turning Aquaman into a $1 billion global smash. But if you really need a binge fix, it’s his role as the moody outlaw Declan Harp on Netflix’s Frontier that should scratch that itch. Set during the 18th-century North American fur trade, focused specifically on the Hudson Bay Company’s ruthless dominance over the market, Frontier showcases Momoa doing what he does best: brooding to excess, taking down bad guys, and looking like he kind of needs a shower the entire time. All with that trademark Momoa charm, of course.

Where to watch it: Netflix

9. The Shannara Chronicles

Based on author Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara trilogy, this MTV-produced fantasy drama was obviously created in a post-Thrones world, but it still managed to do enough things right to carve out its own niche. Rather than being set in a Middle Earth-esque second world, The Shannara Chronicles takes place on our Earth thousands of years after a nuclear war devastated most of humanity. Downer though it may be, this gives life to a world full of wonders, including winged demons, lavish kingdoms, and the half-human/half-elf Wil, who must save the world from an impending evil once thought long vanquished.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. Outlander

Fantasy blends with history in Outlander, a show about a WWII combat nurse named Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) who falls backward in time to 18th-century Scotland. If having to deal with both the Axis Powers and British redcoats in a single lifetime sounds stressful, add the fact that Claire is married to Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) in the 20th century and falls in love with, and marries, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) in the 1700s. This genre-packed mashup, based on the ongoing book series by Diana Gabaldon, leans on the romance more than Game of Thrones ever did, but its engrossing plots, stylish action, and impressive period-piece visuals should win over anyone looking for a new series to stream.  

Where to watch it: Starz, Starz on Hulu

11. Merlin

After spending eight seasons trudging through the bleak, unforgiving battlefields of Westeros, it might be a good idea to lighten the mood a bit—and BBC’s Merlin is the perfect fantasy romp to remedy the GRRM blues. This series tweaks the King Arthur legend by reimagining the timeless wizard (Colin Morgan) and the once and future king (Bradley James) as young contemporaries finding their way in a kingdom where magic has been banned, legends are in their infancy, and a talking dragon is always hanging around to dole out some sage advice. It won’t pack the dramatic punch of Game of Thrones, but Merlin delivers enough heart and whimsy to prove that brighter fantasy still has a place on television. 

Where to watch it: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu  

12. The White Queen/The White Princess

George R.R. Martin may have created a fantasy world for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, but real events from our own history helped its formation. One of the key events that Martin borrowed from was the famed War of the Roses, a series of civil wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster for the claim to the English throne. Starz’s The White Queen and its sequel, The White Princess, retell this story, from its beginning all the way to the start of King Henry VII’s reign. The two miniseries are based on the historical fiction book series by author Philippa Gregory, and they feature all of the betrayals, strong-willed women, and royal drama of Westeros—but in a fast-paced two seasons you can blow through in a week.

Where to watch it: Starz

This Damn Fine Twin Peaks Box Set Is the Only One Fans Will Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Fans of David Lynch’s three-season drama Twin Peaks know there’s quite a lot to excavate. The series, which ran from 1990 to 1991 on ABC and returned for a one-season engagement on Showtime in 2017, has been a perpetual source of ambiguity, red herrings, and the downright inexplicable.

Now there’s a centralized hub of all things Peaks to dwell on. Twin Peaks: From Z to A is a Blu-ray box set containing all episodes of the original series; 1992’s feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 2017's Twin Peaks: The Return; an international version of the 1990 pilot with additional footage; as well as an abundance of new and archival material totaling 20 hours in length.

The box for the 'Twin Peaks: From Z to A' Blu-ray DVD set is pictured
Amazon

Inside the package, which is illustrated with the Douglas firs that are part of the show’s iconography, are mini-figures of Special Agent Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, played in the show by Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee, respectively. The box acts as a diorama of sorts and opens to reveal the Red Room, a location where many of the show’s most surreal moments took place. A series of three-by-five index cards provide backdrops of key scenes. The only thing the set doesn’t have is Lynch’s hand-drawn map of the show’s Washington location, but you can find that here.

The set is limited to 25,000 copies. It retails for $139.99 on Amazon and is due for release on December 10.

[h/t Newsweek]

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Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

The story of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" has it all: love, baseball, Kennedys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s pop’s answer to the national anthem, and as any karaoke belter or Boston Red Sox fan will tell you, it’s way easier to sing than "The Star-Spangled Banner." As the song celebrates its 50th birthday this year, now’s a good time—so good, so good, so good—to dig into the rich history of a tune people will still be singing in 2069.

"Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing," Diamond sings in the song’s iconic opening lines. Except the "where" part of this story is actually pretty simple: Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" in a Memphis hotel room in 1969 on the eve of a recording session at American Sound Studio. By this point in his career, Diamond had established himself as a fairly well-known singer-songwriter with two top-10 hits—"Cherry Cherry" and "Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon"—to his name. He’d also written "I’m a Believer," which The Monkees took to #1 in late 1966.

 

The "who," as in the identity of the "Caroline" immortalized in the lyrics, is the much juicier question. In 2007, Diamond revealed that he was inspired to write the song by a photograph of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, that he saw in a magazine in the early ‘60s, when he was a "young, broke songwriter."

"It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond told the Associated Press. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there.” Years later, in that Memphis hotel room, the song was finally born.

Neil Diamond sings the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXI between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos at the Rose Bowl on January 25, 1987 in Pasadena, California
George Rose/Getty Images

Perhaps because it’s a little creepy, Diamond kept that tidbit to himself for years and only broke the news after performing the song at Kennedy’s 50th birthday in 2007. "I’m happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline," Diamond said. "I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

The plot thickened in 2014, however, as Diamond told the gang at NBC’s TODAY that the song is really about his first wife, Marsha. "I couldn’t get Marsha into the three-syllable name I needed,” Diamond said. "So I had Caroline Kennedy’s name from years ago in one of my books. I tried ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and that worked."

It certainly did. Released in 1969, "Sweet Caroline" rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the decade that followed, it was covered by Elvis Presley, soul great Bobby Womack, Roy Orbison, and Frank Sinatra. Diamond rates Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version the best of the bunch.

"He did it his way," Diamond told The Sunday Guardian in 2011. "He didn't cop my record at all. I've heard that song by a lot of people and there are a lot of good versions. But Sinatra's swingin', big-band version tops them all by far."

 

Another key question in the "Sweet Caroline" saga is "why"—why has the song become a staple at Fenway Park in Boston, a city with no discernible connection to Diamond, a native of Brooklyn?

It’s all because of a woman named Amy Tobey, who worked for the Sox via BCN Productions from 1998 to 2004. During those years, Tobey had the wicked awesome job of picking the music at Sox games. She noticed that "Sweet Caroline" was a crowd-pleaser, and like any good baseball fan, she soon developed a superstition. If the Sox were up, and Tobey thought they were going to win the game, she’d play the song somewhere in between the seventh and ninth innings.

"I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey told The Boston Globe in 2005. "Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel." It became a regular thing in 2002, when Fenway’s new management asked Tobey to play "Sweet Caroline" during the eighth inning of every home game, regardless of the score.

At first, Tobey was worried that mandatory Diamond would lead to bad luck on the actual diamond. But that wasn’t the case, as the Sox won the World Series in 2004, ending the "Curse of the Bambino" and giving Beantown its first title since 1918. In 2010, Diamond made a surprise appearance at Fenway to perform "Sweet Caroline" during the Red Sox's season opener against the New York Yankees. He wore a Sox cap and a sports coat emblazoned with the message "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn."

 

A different mood greeted Diamond when he returned to Fenway on April 20, 2013, just five days after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured nearly 300 others. "What an honor it is for me to be here today," Diamond told the crowd. "I bring love from the whole country." He then sang along with the ‘69 recording of the song, leading the crowd in the "Ba! Ba! Ba!" and "So good! So good! So good!" ad-libs that have essentially become official lyrics. Diamond also donated all the royalties he received from the song that week, as downloads increased by 597 percent.

The Red Sox aren't the only sports team to have basked in the glory of "Sweet Caroline." The song has become popular with both the Penn State Nittany Lions and Iowa State Cyclones football squads and has even crossed the Atlantic to become part of the music rotation for England's Castleford Tigers crew team and Britain's Oxford United Football Club.

Over the last five decades, millions of people have had their lives touched by "Sweet Caroline" in one way or another. The enduring popularity must be a pleasant surprise for Diamond, who had no idea he’d written a classic back in 1969. "Neil didn't like the song at all," Tommy Cogbill, a bass player at American Sound Studio, said in an interview for the 2011 book Memphis Boys. "I actually remember him not liking it and not wanting it to be a single."

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