Not the “Next Game of Thrones” – Fantasy Shows That Stand on Their Own.

Drew Frimston,

In 2011 Game of Thrones premiered and took the world by storm, quickly rising to the top of the fantasy genre. Its popularity amongst not only fantasy fans, but fans of any genre was astounding.

This began a cycle where anything even remotely similar to Game of Thrones in scale, tone or story was instantly compared to the HBO juggernaut.

While there is no doubt that Game of Thrones is an incredible watch, it has left a lasting effect on other shows having to live up to the standard of it. As a consequence, some shows have flown under the radar when they have been unfairly weighed down by this comparison. If they were to stand on their own, many would be considered great.

So let’s explore the shows that have been hindered by the phrase “the next Game of Thrones” and highlight how truly incredible they are in their own right. 

The Witcher S1-2 (2019 – Present)

With the release of its second season, the world of The Witcher is further explored through the frame of strong characters (and humorous – in the case of our favourite bard Jaskier). On Netflix we follow the Witcher Geralt played perfectly by Henry Cavil, himself a massive fan of the books that this series has been developed from.

Witchers are monster slayers seen as abominations, but play a crucial role in ridding the world of foul creatures. With a deep, established lore, the series has succeeded in capturing the essence of these books, as well as exploring the story in its own way.

The Witcher takes place in a dark world, but playful humour is used to break the tension through Jaskier, my personal favourite character in the series.

When the first season came out, many instantly compared it to Game of Thrones. Often highlighting that the humour was not enough to carry it through when compared to what was a notoriously serious show.

It’s unfortunate that The Witcher is compared to Game of Thrones. Both shows take a varied approach to fantasy and it’s clear to fans of The Witcher that it is in no way trying to be “The next Game of Thrones

Watch The Witcher on Netflix

The Wheel of Time S1 (2021 – Present)

The Wheel of Time has such an intricate, compelling storyline thanks in part to the complexity of the books (the show will never be able to include everything). We follow Moiraine, who discovers five young men and woman, believing one to be the reincarnation of a powerful being with untapped access to the magical source of the world, and who is prophesied to save or destroy the world. It is lead by a strong and diverse cast who take to their characters perfectly. 

To many, this was Amazon Prime’s Game of Thrones and even Amazon themselves hinted at this in some of their marketing approaches. In truth, The Wheel of Time is very much its own thing, with a much different take on the fantasy genre than Game of Thrones.

The series rejects many of the Game of Thrones tropes and rejecting these is exactly what makes The Wheel of Time a potentially strong series. Instead of relying on grotesque violent scenes to carry its story, or the dim-coloured costume design that is so aligned to the ‘serious’ fantasy genre, it has instead strived to become its own show. It’s not “the next Game of Thrones” and that’s exactly what makes it great.

Watch The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime Video

The Outpost S1-4 (2018-2021)

Now I’m not here to defend The Outpost. It isn’t the greatest show that has ever graced the small screen. In saying that, it does have a certain charm to it. I believe that without the comparisons to the monster that is Game of Thrones, The Outpost would be able to stand proudly on its own.

It’s a simple premise. We follow Talon, a survivor of the Blackblood Clan who seeks vengeance for the slaughter of her village. It fell off in its later seasons, mainly because it stepped away from this simple plot. From its start though, it was criticised and compared to Game of Thrones, a show with a much more intricate plot with layered storylines. 

However, sometimes simple is often best. The plot for The Outpost may not be deep or hard to follow, but in many ways that is its appeal. Game of Thrones set a precedent that fantasy shows need to be complex, with 20 different storylines for each character. But sometimes one character with one simple premise is a relaxing watch and it’s nice not to have to ask “Who is this again?”. 

Buy seasons 1 & 2 of The Outpost in the Fetch TV Store.

Watch all season on Amazon Prime Video

Kingdom S1-2 (2019 – Present)

Time for something a little different. If every fantasy show tried to follow Game of Thrones we would miss out on gems like Kingdom. Kingdom is a South Korean fantasy horror with zombies… that’s right zombies! We follow Crown Prince Lee Chang and his subjects who discover an unusual plague that seems to be bringing the dead back to life with a craving for human flesh. It starts with him investigating the rumoured death of his father.

What Kingdom does do that is similar to Game of Thrones is the investigation of political conspiracies and relationships. Also…did I mention zombies!

This is a great one to include, as thanks to Squid Game, more and more people are watching South Korean content. I’ll be honest, even I was introduced to South Korean titles through Squid Game, and as a massive horror fan I felt I had found an untapped goldmine.

Watch Kingdom on Netflix

If every fantasy show tried to be Game of Thrones, wouldn’t we be swamped with the same thing over and over? Nobody wants that. 

So none of the above are “the next Game of Thrones” and you know what… that’s a good thing! 

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