The fantasy genre has enjoyed a massive upswing in popularity in recent years. Tales of swords and sorcery were once considered too nerdy to enter the mainstream, but these days shows like Game of Thrones and The Witcher are household favorites.
If you love fantasy stories, there aren’t many options for ongoing TV series. The genre’s high-concept trappings and dreamlike settings are expensive to reproduce in live-action, and most animated fantasy series are aimed at children.
If you’re in the mood for a fantasy TV show that you can stream right now, you’ve got a few options. Today, we’re counting down the ten best fantasy TV shows you can find on streaming services!
Disenchantment is an animated series created by Matt Groening. It’s a Netflix exclusive, so it’s easy to find on the platform’s home page. It follows the adventures of a foul-mouthed, hard-partying princess named Tiabeanie–though her friends call her Bean. She travels with a friendly (and lovestruck) young elf named Elfo and a cat-like demon named Luci.
The series resembles its cousins, The Simpsons, and Futurama, though it takes a more serialized approach to storytelling. It’s a humorous and often over-the-top comedy series, though it dabbles in emotional storytelling with high dramatic stakes.
Fans of the fantasy genre will enjoy the series’ numerous riffs on common tropes. Likewise, eagle-eyed viewers might notice some fun easter eggs that tie the series to Futurama, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Fry, Farnsworth, and the Planet Express gang.
9. Sweet Tooth
Sweet Tooth is another Netflix exclusive series like Disenchantment, though it’s notably more serious than the previous entry in our list. The show is based on the comic series of the same name by Jeff Lemire, a post-apocalyptic tale that features human-animal hybrids surviving the aftermath of a global pandemic.
The show follows Gus, a sheltered hybrid boy who is half-deer and half-human. After Gus’s father passes away the boy finds a box of his father’s things buried under a tree near their home. Within is a picture of a woman Gus assumes is his mother, along with the word “Colorado” written on the back. This kicks off an epic adventure, as Gus journeys to discover where he comes from.
Other humans fear the hybrids, as they’re unsure whether they’re a result of the virus or the cause of the illness. As such, Gus’s journey is perilous, and he’ll need bravery (and the help of his friends) to make it to Colorado.
8. The Shannara Chronicles
The Shannara Chronicles is based on the Sword of Shannara trilogy, written by Terry Brooks. It’s a straightforward fantasy series that focuses on the adventures of a trio of heroes, Wil, Amberle, and Eretria. The three embark on a quest to banish a horde of demons who invade their peaceful kingdom through mysterious portals all over the world.
The three heroes are guided on their quest by the last druid, Allanon, who teaches them how to banish the demons from the Four Lands back to the Forbidding. Fans of high fantasy adventures will love The Shannara Chronicles for its straightforward good versus evil plot and stunning visuals.
Merlin is an exemplary TV show that follows the adventures of its title character, the wizard Merlin. The series defies expectations by starting when Merlin is a young apprentice wizard, not yet a full-fledged master of the arcane like he is in Arthurian legend. His mother sends him to the kingdom of Camelot, where he meets Arthur Pendragon and learns that he must use his magic to protect the young prince.
Magic is outlawed in Camelot by the decree of Arthur’s father, King Uther, adding high dramatic stakes for the young wizard. Those caught practicing sorcery are executed under Uther’s commandment, so Merlin must take care to avoid the prying eyes of Uther’s inquisitors.
The series focuses on Merlin and Arthur’s close friendship as the pair runs toward their destinies. It’s both engrossing and well-made, featuring impressive effects for its era and a stellar cast. If you’re in the mood for some classic high-fantasy adventures, you should give Merlin a shot.
6. Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess started as a spinoff of the 90s hit Hercules, but it quickly became more popular than the series that spawned it. Xena was initially going to be a side character in Hercules who would appear for a three-episode arc before being killed off. However, the show’s producers realized that Lucy Lawless was a fantastic fantasy hero and could carry her own show.
The series ran from 1995 to 2001 and is considered one of the best fantasy TV shows of all time. It’s easy to see why: its unique personality is bolstered by Lawless’ stellar performance as the title character, Episodes could range from slapstick humor and goofy jokes to high melodrama and vicious action scenes.
Outlander is a long-running fantasy series based on the Diana Gabaldon novel series of the same name. The show centers on the adventures of Clair Randall, a former military nurse who tended to soldiers during the Second World War. Her assumptions about the world are challenged when she finds herself transported back in time to 1743.
Clair meets and falls in love with a Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser, and the pair’s chemistry forms the romantic backbone of this gripping time-travel tale. It’s equal parts romance and war story, with a healthy dose of time-traveling fantasy magic thrown in for good measures.
Fans of Scottish history or romance tales will love Outlander. Like Xena, it’s also one of the rare fantasy shows that stars a female lead.
4. The Magicians
Like many other great fantasy shows, The Magicians is based on a novel. The original book was written by Lev Grossman, though the show takes some liberties with the novel’s plot. The series follows Quentin Coldwater as he enrolls in a magical academy called Brakebills. He swiftly learns that magic is no laughing matter and that worlds beyond his own pose a serious threat to humanity.
The show’s sprawling narrative branches out swiftly, introducing audiences to Quentin’s numerous friends and classmates at Brakebills. As the adventures unfold, the show spreads into other dimensions and jumps between numerous narrative threads.
The Magicians is a treat for fantasy fans, providing plenty of magical intrigue and high-stakes drama. You can stream the series on Netflix right now, making it easy to catch up.
3. Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance
Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance is a prequel to the 1982 cult favorite The Dark Crystal. It’s set in the fictional planet Thra, the setting of the 1982 film, and uses similar puppets and sets to recapture the feeling of the original.
The plot centers around three friends, Rian, Brea, and Deet, who discover an appalling secret regarding their society’s ruling class. The three lead an uprising against the Skeksis tyrants, who use an ancient artifact to grant themselves immortality while siphoning the life force of the native Gelflings.
The show received critical acclaim upon release, with reviewers noting the stunning puppetry and rich worldbuilding as top-notch accomplishments. The only thing going against the show is that it was canceled after only one season. However, that one season is a towering artistic achievement and one of the best Fantasy TV series ever produced.
2. The Witcher
The Witcher is one of the most popular modern fantasy shows on any streaming platform. It’s a Netflix exclusive that stars Henry Cavill in the title role as Geralt of Rivia, a mutant WItcher who battles monsters and villains.
The series is based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, which were in turn popularized in the US by a successful trio of video games. Geralt is an atypical fantasy protagonist–he’s short-tempered and mean-spirited, and rarely acts like a traditional hero. However, he’s the exact person you want at your side in a fight with a demon or monster.
Geralt’s mutations and wards make him a fierce combatant. The world of The Witcher is dark and menacing, and most humans don’t stand a chance in a fight against the forces of evil. That’s where Witchers come in. They travel from town to town, slaying monsters in exchange for gold. You know what they say: toss a coin to your Witcher!
1. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is the ultimate fantasy TV show. It boasted an unmatched budget for a televised series due to HBO’s involvement, allowing it to portray the fictional world of Westeros in stunning detail. The series is based on the Sword of Ice and Fire books written by George RR Martin, which are some of the best dark fantasy novels of all time.
The series is brutal and unforgiving, and it quickly establishes the rules of its life-or-death setting. When you play the game of thrones, you win or die. There are no other options. Game of Thrones doesn’t hesitate to kill off major characters when they forget these rules, shocking audiences and pushing the narrative in fascinating new directions.
The series is one of the most beloved fantasy shows ever produced thanks to its stellar cast, superb writing, and unparalleled visual design. If you love fantasy and you’ve somehow avoided the show this long, now is the time to watch it.