No fantasy series has ever captured the pop culture zeitgeist quite like Game of Thrones has. Based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, HBO’s epic saga of war, incest, dragons, and frost zombies has transcended genre to become the world’s biggest television obsession. But with the hugely popular show wrapping up soon, many fans are asking – what’s next? Well, there are those Game of Thrones prequels and Amazon’s insanely expensive Lord of The Rings in production, but those are still years away. In the meantime though, we thought we’d recommend a few other terrific fantasy series that are happening right now!
Nothing on TV is as narratively audacious and inventive as The Magicians at the moment. While it’s initial premise, following students at a magical school, might seem reminiscent of Harry Potter, it continually reinvents itself to forge its own darkly hilarious and emotionally complex paths. From adventures in time travel and parallel universes, to dealing with nuanced political allegories and harrowing sexual trauma, The Magicians does it all with heart and imagination.
Watch on: Syfy
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure tells the story of the Joestar family, whose various members discover they are destined to take down supernatural foes using unique powers they possess. Each arc of the anime (and manga) follows different generations, tracing their adventures through the decades, allowing the shonen to introduce new casts, and morph into different genres (ranging from gangster epic to Elizabethan melodrama). This series is an outrageous technicolour joy.
Watch on: Netflix
Wynonna Earp’s unique blend of fantasy, horror and Western elements is such a fun ride that one wonders why it continues to be so underrated. It’s titular character is the descendant of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, and she battles a variety of supernatural threats with her 16-inch barrel “Peacemaker” revolver. With its fourth season coming up, this whisky-fueled and queer-friendly tale of complex women saving the world is Buffy’s truest spiritual successor.
Watch on: Netflix
Monstress is the greatest fantasy comic of the last decade. This gorgeous, manga-inspired epic set in a post-apocalyptic and matriarchal alternate-Asia is massively dense and gloriously violent. We are thrust into its gargantuan steampunk narrative about race, feminism, war, and slavery through the prism of Maika Halfwolf – a ferocious warrior possessed by a demonic god. Her brutal journey brings us mud-deep into a wondrous mythology and the moral cost of conflict.
This tragic space opera about a young family struggling to find their place in the universe is an engaging, fast-paced, and perpetually shocking morality play about bigotry and deep-seated hatred that feels all too timely. Through its large cast of compelling characters, ranging from ghost babysitters to amphibian reporters, Saga’s juggling arcs show that there are no right sides in war, just countless casualties and everyday people forced to do horrible things to survive.
Set in Detroit in the 1970s, Abbott is a supernatural crime noir story about a hard-boiled black reporter for a tabloid paper, who comes across a series of bizarre killings that bear strong similarities to the murder of her husband 10 years previously. From supernatural threats and literal demons, to police brutality, rampant racism and workplace sexism – Abbott confronts evil in many forms. This smart series offers unapologetic social commentary and riveting mysteries.
The Broken Earth Trilogy
Set on a supercontinent constantly wracked by massive natural disasters – N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy is a triumphant achievement in fantasy literature. Through three phenomenal novels entitled The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky – this dense story immerses readers into a world where grief, abuse and cataclysm are the norm, while also interrogating what right do worlds built on oppression and genocide have to exist.
The Dark Star Trilogy
Kicked off by the engrossing Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James’ Black Star trilogy draws upon the rich heritage of African folklore to create a breathtaking new world, develop distinct characters through Rashomon-style perspective shifts, and subvert Western fantasy tropes. While it’s been labelled as an “African Game of Thrones”, this series is so much more. Future installments entitled Moon Witch, Night Devil and The Boy and the Dark Star are coming soon.
Children of Blood and Bone
The first of a planned trilogy, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is an Afrofuturist epic about a black teenage girl who is the is key to bringing magic back to the world. This riveting page-turner feels like what if Octavia Butler had written the Hunger Games. Set in the land of Orïsha, loosely based on West African cosmology, this story of conflict and enslavement explores the brutality of a racist system while still fitting into the mould of a YA quest narrative.
Hello From The Magic Tavern
This hilarious improv-comedy series stars Arnie Niekamp, a Chicago comedian who fall through a dimensional portal behind a Burger King into the fantastical land of Foon. Despite his strange new surroundings, he’s still getting a slight wifi signal – so he uploads a weekly podcast from a tavern called the Vermilion Minotaur where he interviews a variety of sorcerers, monsters and adventurers. If you’re looking for break from epic quests, this funny hangout is a great listen.
Listen on: Apple, PlayerFM, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher
The Once And Future Nerd
The Once and Future Nerd is a long-running serialized audio dramedy, following a group of modern American teenagers who are transported to a magical realm of wizards, elves, and feudal intrigue. While this initially plays out like The Breakfast Club trapped in Narnia, the plot eschews escapism by taking some fascinating turns, delving into funny yet thoughtful quests that bring up issues like institutionalized racism and the perils of unchecked power structures.
Listen on: Apple or Stitcher
Set in a futuristic dystopia in which corporations have stripped almost everything from the world, Jarnsaxa Rising follows a scandalized employee of a company as she slowly becomes mixed in with in the dealings of Norse gods and giants. Jarnsaxa Rising feels like a spiritual sibling to both American Gods and the Marvel movies, blending action with drama with the occasional killer comedic performance for a certain trickster. It’s intense, riveting, and always surprising.