For the last ten weeks, Monday has unanimously become Game of Thrones night — so now that it’s over, what will you sit down to watch after a long day of work? At the end of season four we gave you ten movies and TV shows that could fill that Game of Thrones craving, and now two seasons later we’re back again with ten more.
Pillars Of The Earth
Remember that recent episode in Game of Thrones that opens on Ian McShane leading a group of cheerful peasants (and a certain old friend) building a sept? That scene (and the more violent one that follows) is basically Pillars Of The Earth in a nutshell, right down to the casting of McShane. The eight part miniseries is an adaptation of the Ken Follet book of the same name. Its central plot revolves around the building of an ambitious Gothic cathedral, though the series follows everyone from the lowliest worker to the multiple claimants to the throne of England as they struggle and fight for power.
Watch it if: you like the political maneuvering and gritty medieval world of GoT.
A lot of you noted this was missing from our last list — and as the series where our very own Margaery Tyrell (AKA Natalie Dormer) got her start playing a similarly scheming Boleyn girl, we’d be remiss to skip this one twice. Like a lot of the shows on this list it makes history sexy, bringing us a Henry VIII that’s a little different from the fat old man we recognise from his portraits. The four-season series follows the political and romantic intrigues of his court, introducing you to the key players of the time in a show that manages to be at least vaguely historically accurate.
Watch it if: you really miss Margaery.
Da Vinci’s Demons
Sexy history! Are we seeing a theme here yet? Da Vinci’s Demons is a semi historical, semi fantastical account of a young Leonardo Da Vinci, navigating the trials of being an eccentric genius in politically volatile Renaissance Italy. The show follows both his dealings with the powerful Medici and Pazzi families, as well as the ever-present Catholic Church. It also has a more mystical subplot involving a search for the Book Of Leaves and a mysterious cult that believes Da Vinci has the power to see the future. All of this is backgrounded by the pre-requisite historical bodice-ripping sex scenes, of course.
Watch it if: your favourite parts of GoT are set in King’s Landing.
The Last Kingdom
With The Last Kingdom we move from lush, sexy history into shows that prefer to lend a gritty, bleak cast to days gone by. Set in 9th Century England, The Last Kingdom depicts the so-called ‘Heptarchy’ or seven kingdoms of ancient England. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s roughly the historical inspiration for the seven kingdoms of Westeros. The show, an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories series of novels, follows the orphaned son of a Saxon lord who has been raised by viking Danes. It’s a good one for fans of Vikings too.
Watch it if: you’re a supporter of the King in the North.
Another day, another series of historical-fantasy novels adapted for the small screen. One of the latest is Outlander, another series added by Starz to apparently add to their domination of the genre. Outlander is a time travel epic-cum-wartime drama stretched across two eras — part World War II and part 1743 Scotland. It tells the story of WWII nurse Claire Randall, who is transported back through time to the Jacobite risings while on a trip to Inverness, Scotland. It captures both the lushness and the bleakness of its historical and geographical setting, with gorgeous costumes and fierce battles aplenty.
Watch it if: you’re a fan of GoT’s complex female characters.
Kingdom of Heaven
While Ridley Scott’s Crusader epic wasn’t too well received upon release in 2005, it still nails the ‘epic’ part. With huge battles, exotic romances, the rise and fall of kings and plenty of death, it offers every ingredient you might find yourself missing between seasons of Game of Thrones. If you want even more, check out the director’s cut which adds a whole 45 minutes of new footage — though whether this helps or hinders the film is debatable.
Watch it if: you like GoT’s gorgeous cinematography and intense battle scenes.
Another historical epic, Centurion is an imagining of what happened to the Roman Empire’s Ninth Legion when it disappeared in Caledonia in the early 2nd Century. It pits Roman soldiers against the Pictish tribes, united as one people under king Gorlacon. While its historical accuracy is questionable, it includes some badass warrior women and brutal historical violence in equal measure. If you’re still pining after Ygritte, you’ll love some of the women of Centurion.
Watch it if: you like watching the Wildlings fight.
This Danish film starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Scandinavian warrior named One Eye, and is one of the films that gets close to the complexity of Game of Thrones’ twisting plotline. One Eye has to face a number of brutal situations from being enslaved in a cage thanks to his fierce reputation to enduring a long and difficult journey by sea to a strange land. Valhalla Rising is as brutal and unforgiving as you might expect a film about an angry caged viking might be, but its true value really comes in placing you right there in the moment with Mikkelsen’s character.
Watch it if: you’re a follower of the Drowned God.
Like many historical fantasy films of the 80s, Ladyhawke is just a little bit camp, but that’s just part of its charm. Captain Etienne Navarre and his lover Lady Isabeau have been cursed — he must take on the form of a wolf by night, while she becomes a hawk each day. The two are helped by escaped thief Philippe Gaston, also known as The Mouse, to overthrow the corrupt Bishop of the city and in doing so, break their curse.
Watch it if: you’ve missed Bran’s wolf-warging adventures in the recent series.
The Princess Bride
Seriously, Thrones fan or no, everyone should watch The Princess Bride. Get on it.
What other shows and films have you watched to stave off Thrones cravings? Let us know in the comments!