Like all of us Lord of the Rings fans, you probably can’t wait to start binging The Rings of Power.
Amazon has foreseen this, which is why they’re releasing only the first two episodes of The Rings of Power on launch day (2 September 2022) and one weekly episode.
So, whether you want to kill time until the release date or in between episodes, that leaves the problem of what to watch in the meantime.
We’ve got your back! Below is a list of the top 20 TV shows to satisfy your yearning for fantastical settings and pulsating adventure.
1. The Witcher (2019- )
The Witcher is a dark fantasy horror series based on the collection of novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski.
The series’ main protagonist is Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher, a professional monster hunter and mutant outsider.
Henry Cavill does a standout job of bringing the taciturn, monster-slaying Geralt of Rivia alive. And the production quality, especially throughout the second season, is top-notch.
With two full seasons on Netflix, there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into. A third season is also already in development, and considering The Witcher’s success so far; it’s hard to imagine it not making it to the end of the books.
2. Rome (2005-2007)
Rome is a historical drama television series set in the 1st century BC. Fans and critics praise the series for accurately portraying significant historical events and everyday life in ancient Rome during its transition from Republic to Empire.
Rome featured a sprawling cast of real and fictional characters played by a great list of actors and actresses.
The lead protagonists are Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, two soldiers in the Roman army. Still, we also see some of the ancient world’s biggest names, such as Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra.
Like a historically accurate Game of Thrones, beloved characters are mercilessly betrayed or killed off regularly.
3. The Wheel of Time (2021- )
The Wheel of Time is an Amazon-exclusive fantasy TV series based on the book series of the same name by Robert Jordan. It follows Moiraine, her Warder Lan, and five young villagers, one of whom is the Dragon Reborn – a prophesied magic user that will either save the world from the Dark Lord or destroy it.
The Wheel of Time is one of the two highly anticipated fantasy epics alongside The Rings of Power.
The source material is easily one of the most sizeable high fantasy book series, so the series might be with us for a while.
4. Vikings (2013-2020)
Vikings is a historical drama series inspired by the Norse sagas about the legendary Viking Ragnar Lothbrok.
The first few seasons cover Ragnar’s rise from humble but ambitious Viking warrior and family man to the chieftain of Kattegat and scourge of Anglo-Saxon England.
Who doesn’t love Vikings? With six seasons and 89 episodes, Vikings is arguably the show that launched a new wave of historical drama series.
Although it was not always the most historically accurate, Vikings does provide some insight into the culture, life, and warfare during the early stages of Viking expansion. Viking buffs should not miss this series.
5. House of the Dragon (2022- )
House of the Dragon is an upcoming HBO fantasy drama series with the first episode set to release on 21 August 2022. Set roughly 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, it’s a historical prequel to the hit fantasy TV series.
The first season consists of 10 episodes and is loosely based on George R.R. Martin’s novel, Fire and Blood.
The show will focus on the events during the civil war, called the Dance of Dragons, fought between siblings Aegon II and Rhaenyra over their father’s throne.
6. Game of Thrones (2011-2019)
Game of Thrones is the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s set in the world of Westeros, where the families of nine noble houses wage war against each other for control of the Iron Throne.
As the series that set the bar for high-concept fantasy TV adaptations, Game of Thrones needs no introduction.
The show brings movie-grade sets and action sequences to the small screen with a meticulously crafted world that’s both brutal and beautiful.
With 8 seasons and 73 episodes, there is more than enough enthralling action to dig into. Though the final season was controversial – to say the least – it’s still one of the best television series ever.
7. The Sandman (2022- )
Adapted by Netflix, The Sandman faithfully recreates the comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics between 1989–1996. It follows the trials of Dream, the eponymous Sandman, as he must repair the damage caused to both the dream and waking worlds in his unexpected 100-year absence.
Many consider The Sandman a comic book classic with a dedicated cult following. The Netflix adaptation faithfully recreates Gaiman’s mythos and some of the beautiful imagery from the comics.
8. Stranger Things (2016- )
Created by the Duffer Brothers for Netflix, Stranger Things is the hit sci-fi horror series that needs no introduction.
During 1980s Indiana, a group of young friends witnessed supernatural forces and secret government exploits, unraveling dangerous and horrifying mysteries.
The series is the perfect blend of Stephen King meets elements of Lovecraftian cosmic horror, set in the neon-soaked 1980s.
9. Marco Polo (2014-2016)
Inspired by the real-life accounts of the eponymous Venetian merchant-traveler, Marco Polo was a historical drama series by Netflix.
The series primarily plays out in the court of Kublai Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongolian Empire, during the early days of his height in power.
Starring Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, and Lorenzo Richelmy, Marco Polo is a semi-historically accurate and highly dramatized account of real-world events.
After Marco Polo travels the Silk Road on a trading mission with his father, he ends up an unwilling hostage of the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan.
Despite rave reviews by audiences, Marco Polo was, unfortunately, canceled after just two seasons. Still, thanks to its fantastic production quality and an all-star cast, it’s a must-watch if you want to be immersed in the majesty of ancient China during a pivotal time in its history.
10. Carnival Row (2019)
Carnival Row is a Victorian fantasy TV show starring Orlando Bloom. A variety of creatures suppressed by humans are forced to live in a city slum called Carnival Row.
The slum is uneasy after a string of terrifying murders, and a detective called Rycroft is called in to solve the mystery. A tale of horror, love, and intrigue.
11. Arcane (2021- )
Arcane: League of Legends is an animated action-adventure series distributed by Netflix. Produced under the supervision of Riot Games, Arcane serves as the origin story for two League of Legends characters, namely the sisters Vi and Jinx.
We definitely don’t get enough steampunk action in pop culture. However, the world-building of Piltover brought the perfect blend of magic and Victorian-era industrialism to the screen.
We don’t often get a good game-to-screen adaptation, but Arcane is an exception.
12. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated TV series and fantasy-adventure franchise. The series is set in an Asiatic-inspired world consisting of four tribes, each of which can telekinetically control one of the four elements – water, earth, fire, or air.
Aang, the titular Airbender, is the last survivor of his nation and the current reincarnation of the “Avatar” – a being that can achieve mastery of all four elements. The story follows him and his friends as they attempt to stop the Fire nation’s war on the other nations and bring peace to the world.
Once you finish the main series, Avatar has numerous live-action spin-offs in the form of both animated and live-action films and television series.
13. His Dark Materials (2019- )
His Dark Materials is a dark fantasy series adaptation of the trilogy of novels of the same name by Philip Pullman.
Set in a multi-world reality where humans’ souls manifest as animal-like companions, called daemons, it follows Lyra, an orphan, as she goes on a multi-world-spanning adventure to uncover a dark conspiracy.
Featuring Daniel McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Andrew Scott, His Dark Materials has a pretty impressive cast. It’s also fair to say that fans of the books generally prefer the more thorough treatment the source material received in the series rather than the diluted portrayal in the film, The Golden Compass.
The first two seasons, consisting of 15 episodes, are already here, with season 3 arriving in late 2022 or early 2023.
14. Britannia (2018- )
Britannia is a British historical fantasy drama set during Rome’s second invasion of Britain in 43 AD. The story explores both sides of the conflict, and although it mostly tracks real historical events, elements of fiction and fantasy feature prominently.
Like most historical drama series, Britannia features plenty of betrayals, cold-blooded murder, torture, intrigue, mysticism, and large-scale battles. The series comes to life with a superb cast in David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly, and more.
The first season of Britannia is good, but the second and third seasons really improve the quality. A fourth season is also already on its way and should arrive in late 2022 or early 2023.
15. Legend of the Seeker (2008-2010)
Legend of the Seeker is a 2008 fantasy TV series created by Sam Raimi (Director of Spider-Man). The show is based on The Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind.
Legend of the Seeker was a fantastic attempt at adapting a high-fantasy book series to the small screen before big-budget adaptations became mainstream. It’s the quintessential story of a young man from a small village going on a journey to save the world.
16. The Last Kingdom (2015-2022)
The Last Kingdom is a British historical fiction series based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series, The Saxon Stories. The main protagonist is Uhtred, the son of a Northumbrian lord killed in battle against the Danish Vikings, who is afterward adopted by the Viking hero Ragnar.
The first season follows Uhtred as he seeks to reclaim his birthright and get revenge against his adopted family’s murderers.
Throughout the ensuing wars between the various kingdoms of England and the Danish invaders, Uhtred’s loyalty to both factions is continually tested.
The series ran for nearly seven years and five seasons, spanning 46 episodes.
17. Locke & Key (2020-2022)
Locke & Key is another Netflix comic book adaptation based on the comic series of the same name by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. When three siblings move into a new house following their father’s murder, they discover mysterious magical keys and a demonic entity set on taking them for itself.
Locke & Key successfully wrapped up its run as a three-season television series after 28 episodes. The final season came out on 10 August 2022, right in time to help pass those last few weeks before The Rings of Power.
18. The Mandalorian (2019- )
The Mandalorian is a sci-fi series set in the Star Wars universe, created for Disney+ by Jon Favreau. It follows the adventures of the eponymous Mandalorian as he tries to safely deliver “The Child” (Baby Yoda, or Grogu) from captivity and torture.
Some describe The Mandalorian as a Western movie set in space. It’s easy to see why as it follows the gunslinging Mandalorian traveling across a lawless galaxy, fighting his way through aliens, space bandits, and, occasionally, remnants of the evil Galactic Empire.
You’re already able to enjoy two seasons and 16 episodes of The Mandalorian, with the 3rd release in February 2023 and season four already in development.
19. Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a sequel to Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, set 10 years after the events in the film. It tells the story of the Jedi-Master Obi-Wan as he deals with the fallout of those events and sets out to rescue the kidnapped princess Leia.
Obi-Wan is one of the most beloved characters in all Star Wars fandom, which is why the series was so highly anticipated. However, it’s also a must-watch because it fills in many gaps between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars saga.
20. Shadow and Bone (2021- )
Shadow and Bone is a 2021 Netflix adaptation based on the fantasy book series of the same name, taking place in the so-called Grishaverse by Lea Bardugo. It follows the story of the young orphan and cartographer Alina Starkov as she realizes her grand destiny to help save the universe.
The Grisha universe is filled with different civilizations, such as Ravka, Fjerda, Shu Han, Kerch, Novyi Zem, and the Wandering Isle. Each nation has its own rich language, culture, and traditions drawn from the real world.
So far, only one season of Shadow and Bone has been released, consisting of eight episodes; however, it has already been renewed for a second season.