If you are waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones like millions around the world and find the wait excruciating, there is a solution. There are several similar TV shows that you can watch in the meantime.
While no show in this list has everything Game of Thrones has — no TV production in recent memory has had that budget, scale and scope in terms of the world-building and characters, for instance — they do share certain similarities with the HBO juggernaut that may make them appealing to you.
Rome: While Westeros and its culture is derived from medieval Europe (particularly England), HBO’s own Rome was based on ancient Rome, and was a dramatisation of actual events. It is set around the time when the Roman Republic was on the cusp of transforming into the Roman Empire thanks to a certain Roman general Julius Caesar. That was a time of great upheaval, and nearly everything that you like about Game of Thrones is there. There is unbridled violence, sex, gritty characterisation, and (of course) the machinations and political intrigue. Since it is based on real events, you will not find dragons or White Walkers here. Rome is available on Hotstar.
The Last Kingdom: If the Roman setting does not appeal to you, there is The Last Kingdom, which, like Game of Thrones, is also based on a book series called The Saxon Stories by British author Bernard Cornwell. The Last Kingdom is about a Saxon Uthred of Bebbanburg, who after a Danish invasion of his home in north of what is now England, is taken away from his family by the Danes. He grows up among the Danes and is something of a pariah among both the communities — Danish and Saxon. He has friends among both, most notably Alfred, who rules Wessex, the last Saxon stronghold amid the Danish onslaught. Despite his Danish ways, Uthred fights battles against the Danes for Alfred in hopes that he would get him his ancestral home back. Alfred (who we know as Alfred the Great) is way more ambitious. He envisions all the disparate Saxon kingdoms united as one country: England. The Last Kingdom also does not have any fantasy elements, but barring that, it is the perfect show to watch to cure your Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms. You can watch The Last Kingdom on Netflix.
Vikings: A brainchild of the brilliant Michael Hirst, Vikings is a realistic and no-holds-barred attempt at understanding the lifestyle of those elusive Scandinavian seafarers. It tries to show that unlike the mindless barbarians or gentle giants as they usually have been depicted, Vikings were a people with a rich culture and mythology. Rooted in gritty realism, Vikings nonetheless dabbles with a few mythological elements. Similar to Game of Thrones, it has fantasy, but it is played down in favour of history and character development. There is also a conflict of faiths here: Christianity and Norse Paganism. The money lamentably appears scarce here, with small-scale battles and cheap-looking sets. Even so, Vikings is ultimately very entertaining mostly because of its legion of engaging characters, particularly the central character: the devious Ragnar Lothbrok. Watch Vikings on Netflix.
The Borgias: Showtime’s The Borgias is the story of perhaps the nastiest family in Renaissance Italy: House of Borgia. It is basically Game of Thrones but focused only on one house. A house that makes the Lannisters look good. All that you saw in the King’s Landing storyline of Game of Thrones is here: political intrigue, violence, nudity and even incest. There is some strong acting on showcase here, especially by Jeremy Irons who not surprisingly plays the baddest of the lot: the ruthless patriarch of the family, Rodrigo Borgia. As you have probably guessed by now, The Borgias are pretty unusual protagonists, but you might still find yourself rooting for them.
Black Sails: There are few good shows on pirates, and Starz’s Black Sails sits pretty at the top. Although the first season was marred by more talking than action, Black Sails picks up from second, gets better in the third, and goes out with a bang with its fourth season. High adventure marries a strong story and characters. There are several twists in Game of Thrones fashion that change your whole perspective of a particular character and his motivations. The story is the prequel of Treasure Island, a well-loved classic adventure book by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stream Black Sails on Netflix.