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12 Best Shows Like Willow To Watch Next

When "Willow" hit theaters in 1988, it's no exaggeration to say that there hadn't been anything quite like it. Though often underrated in conversations around SFX breakthroughs in film, it sported digital morphing technology that took movie graphics to another level. Likewise, though director Ron Howard had some big hits under his belt with "Splash" and "Cocoon," this remains one of the more overlooked films in his 1980s repertoire, pulling together many of the ongoing themes that made him one of the great filmmakers of his generation. Throw in a compelling dark fantasy, plenty of world-building, and the star power of Val Kilmer, Warwick Davis, and Joanne Whalley, and it remains a classic that's always ripe for a rewatch.

With its Disney+ sequel series, the "Willow" story continues. The original film saw Willow on a quest to bring a lost child to safety, only later realizing that the infant was a pivotal character in a drama thus far unseen. With decades between the original and the show, the eight-episode series shows a changed Willow, now a powerful mage. The world of complicated fantasy settings like "Lord of the Rings" and "House of the Dragon" are always great to get into, but the balance of lighthearted and grim is what made "Willow" as good as it is, and what might also make it a challenge for viewers to follow up on. Fortunately, we've got some recommendations.

The Sandman

Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" comic series is remembered by many as one of the most influential comics of all time. Though the original run concluded after 75 issues, the universe has continued in many forms, including miniseries and one-shots, "The Dreaming" series that ran through the 1990s into the 2000s, or the recently relaunched Sandman Universe line of comics that has seen many stories on par with Gaiman's original vision, such as the top-notch "The Dreaming: Waking Life" and "House of Whispers" arcs. Clearly there's no shortage of new stories to be told, and Gaiman's tendency to pull in mythologies from every corner of the earth into a singular vision has become a delightful playground for some of comics' best creators in recent years.

For film and TV fans, however, "The Sandman" spent years in development, with many starts and stops along the way. As CGI evolved, the impossible slowly but surely became possible, and when Netflix finally released the first season of the series in 2022, it looked and felt like an updated take right out of the comic that so many know and love. Sporting an out-of-this-world cast, the story follows Dream of the Endless, one of the seven essential gods of the universe. When Dream is captured, his kingdom is placed in jeopardy, meaning that the very structure of the universe is suddenly thrown into question. Those high-stakes odds and A+ characters will be like catnip to "Willow" fans.

The King: Eternal Monarch

Though "Willow" is primarily a heroic fantasy, it doesn't go light on the romance, which is why its fans should follow it up with "The King: Eternal Monarch." Dialing up the romance to 11 while still retaining more than enough fantasy to keep genre fans engaged, this South Korean series introduces viewers to a doorway into an alternate dimension that destabilizes both worlds. Shifting between the different realities of the Kingdom of Korea and the Republic of Korea, the emperor of the Kingdom, Lee Gon, is on the run from the man who killed his father, Gon's uncle, Lee Lim. In the Republic, he encounters a detective named Jeong Tae-eul who can't help but join him on his quest to restore some sense of balance between the worlds.

While Lee Gon struggles to regain his footing in hopes of repairing the breach between the worlds and potentially bringing his uncle to justice, Lee Kim is building armies on both worlds as part of his plan for an inter-dimensional coup. As the show progresses, Tae-eul and Gon develop feelings for one another as their chemistry goes from minimal to through-the-roof. The high-stakes action and interpersonal dynamics will appeal to fans of "Willow," as will the villain Lee Lim, who is a top-notch villain in pursuit of a flute that will grant him immortality.

Wheel of Time

Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" books make up one of the most widely read fantasy series of its era, and while it took quite a while for it to be adapted to the screen, the timing couldn't have been better when it comes to finding a dedicated creative team working to bring the tale to life. In the "Wheel of Time" world, an organization of women known as the Aes Sedai have the gift of channeling the One Power. They train in preparation of the coming of the Dragon, who has the potential to either break or save the world. A small group of childhood friends from the small village of Two Rivers are identified for their strength and potential, and tasked with the heavy responsibility of saving the world.

Shifting the novel's POV character Rand to Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai, opened the series up to tell a very different kind of story. While a lot of the complex language and world-building of the novels has yet to make it to the screen, the character work and casting thus far has been top-notch in a way that has us on the edge of our seats awaiting the second season. This series will be a must-watch for fans of "Willow," featuring a similar journey rife with those who've been corrupted by their own power along the way.

The Witcher

Among the many sword and sorcery heroes of fiction, Geralt of Rivia stands out as unusually complex and philosophical. While characters like Conan and Red Sonja have tread similar ground, one gets the sense that Geralt spends significantly more time in his head, weighing the moral ramifications of his work and trying to follow a code that makes space for him to cause the least amount of harm in any given situation. While this generally makes him a bit standoffish and not the most fun guy to have at parties, he also has a way of defusing situations simply by speaking plainly and refusing to play games unless absolutely forced to.

Based on author Andrezej Sapkowski's sprawling universe that is very much worth looking into for fans of the TV series due to its tendency to go the extra mile in building Geralt's character, "The Witcher" provides a window into one of the fantasy genre's most compelling characters. Fans of "Willow" will have been treated to a touching bond of a person who finds a child that they are forced by fate to stand by and protect, and that is very much Geralt's relationship with his young ward, Ciri. Geralt isn't perfect; he makes mistakes, acts out of anger, and pushes people away, but his journey remains all the more painfully relatable because of these flaws, especially when counterbalanced by his surprisingly sensitive inner world.

The Umbrella Academy

Based on the Dark Horse comic series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, "The Umbrella Academy" is fueled by the exact kind of dysfunctional family dynamics that superhero stories thrive on. In the late 1980s in this fictional realm, 43 people experienced surprise rapid births that were, in their time, scientifically unexplained. Of these children, 7 were adopted by a wealthy industrialist with a savior complex who identifies the unique powers of his wards and trains them in hopes that they will someday save the world. Naturally, these kids all grow up to suffer from any number of complexes and mental health issues due to the manipulative father figure who gave them numbers rather than naming them.

Though they've all gone their separate ways in adulthood, they each feel compelled to attend the funeral of the man that brought them together when they hear of his demise. This sees Five, who went missing years before, showing up from the future and warning of an imminent apocalypse that could bring about the end times. Paired with this warning, the crew learns new, hidden truths about the man that raised them with the help of a robot assistant, proving there was much more to their origin story they were given. "Willow" shows a group of people who have to put aside any differences and trust the group, which is exactly what the characters of "The Umbrella Academy" struggle to do in every episode.

Demon Slayer

"Demon Slayer" is one of the world's best-known anime series, and its genre-spanning appeal is high. The show follows the story of Tanjiro, a young man hoping to train to join the secret society known as the Demon Slayer Corps, who, as the name implies, fight demons to prevent them from rising to power. Tanjiro lost his family in an attack, and cares for his sister, who has been fighting her transformation into a demon for some time. Armed with the desire to protect and provide for his sibling above all, Tanjiro's bravery and dedication gain the favor of many, as well as the attention of some terrifying bad guys.

His journey includes a number of side quests, but never loses sight of Tanjiro's story and his evolution as he trains in the master of the Demon Slayer Breathing Styles, unique martial arts based on elements and creatures from the natural world. Featuring a sprawling cast of characters and taking occasional turns into dark and even frightening subject matter, this will appeal to "Willow" fans that can't get enough of the slightly macabre touch of the original film. Easily one of the most interesting fantasy stories going today, this is a series that has found an enormous audience due to its unique approach to longstanding fantasy topes.

Sweet Tooth

Based on the Vertigo Comics series by Jeff Lemire, Netflix's "Sweet Tooth" tells the tale of a society ravaged by a virus colloquially referred to as Sick, which eradicates much of the human population. While this is going on, there is an emergence of human-animal hybrids; the uncertainty around their origins puts them in imminent danger, as humans begin hunting and killing hybrids regularly. One such hybrid is Gus, who lives in isolation with his father until his father dies, at which point he goes on a quest to find his mother.

Though the series follows a number of different stories, including that of a woman working to create a safe space for hybrids called the Reserve and a couple attempting to cure Sick, the well-intentioned Gus takes the center role as he follows a lone traveler nicknamed Big Man in hopes that he will lead him to his mother. The elements of humanity's cruelty to those it deems to be different contrasted with those who fight overwhelming odds to protect the lives of the creatures unfairly targeted will click in a very real way with "Willow" fans, who will remember similar themes from the 1988 film as given new life in the Disney+ series.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Despite its dedicated fanbase and lengthy run, "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" remains one of the most underrated superhero series in recent memory. Focusing on a revolving cast of "heroes and antiheroes forgotten by history," the show begins with a challenge to each member of its cast to create something memorable with their time on Earth, and ends as one of the most hilarious, heartwarming, and still very emotionally real shows in the superhero canon. Genre fans in general would be doing themselves a favor by seeking this one out as its revolving cast makes for an endlessly entertaining watch and the time capers will keep any viewer on their toes.

Bringing in Arrowverse superstars like White Canary and Constantine while also pulling in comparative unknowns such as Firestorm and the Atom and digging into some of the weirdest, most unexplored corners of the DC Universe, this was a wonderfully unpredictable show. Though "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" might not be the most obvious pick for fans of "Willow," it's very much worth checking out for its wild forays into the timestream and its absolutely bonkers action sequences. Grappling with heavy themes while refusing to take itself too seriously and introducing truly over-the-top side questions and subplots throughout every season, this series got better with each episode. 


When the manga artist Kentaro Miura passed away in 2021, he left behind an enormous tome of stories set in the "Berserk" universe dating back to 1988. Easily one of the most popular manga series of all time, the story was adapted to two seasons of anime in 2016. Although the anime series may be best viewed as an entry point to turn viewers of the show into readers of the significantly more fleshed out manga, it's still a wild ride full of show-stopping action sequences and many of the same themes, such as human resiliency in the face of human oppression and questions of autonomy and free will in an uncaring world.

The story follows a man named Guts who was once a wandering mercenary without a family or home. He joins the group known as the Band of the Hawk, led by a man named Griffith, who ultimately sacrifices his followers in hopes of ruling his own kingdom as one of the God Hand. Guts' lover Casca survived, but lost her memory due to the horrors she experienced. Leaving her with a small group of people he trusts so he's free to go on a life-spanning quest for vengeance against Griffith and all who associate with him, we meet Guts very much in the middle of his story as he rails against a world that has taken so much from him. This is all quite a bit more somber than "Willow," but for those looking to turn the series' moodier themes up a notch, "Berserk" is waiting with open arms.

Motherland: Fort Salem

Imagining a parallel reality in which the Salem witch trials led to popular acceptance of witches rather than death, "Motherland: Fort Salem" takes three witches, Raelle Collar, Abigail Bellweather, and Tally Craven, and follows them on their journey as they're conscripted into United States Army. Though witches often live openly, they aren't without their detractors, and a terrorist organization known as Spree organizes attacks against them in hopes of defaming and ultimately eradicating the witches. In this tense political climate, the story explores the inner worlds of each of its central characters while digging into their motives around joining the larger group.

Though it was sadly cut off at only three seasons, "Motherland: Fort Salem" gifted viewers with real-world allegories and political commentary as well as some top-notch action and drama. Despite all the show had going on episode to episode, it still managed to show the witches learning how to use their powers in ways that reflected their individual journeys as people, making for an underrated all-timer that we hope pops up again somewhere along the line. Fans of "Willow" will connect to the series' emotional nature as well as the themes of fighting against the misapprehensions of society to create a better world for everyone.

His Dark Materials

World-hopping is far from a new concept in the realm of fantasy, but few do it as well as HBO's "His Dark Materials." In a world in which each human's soul manifests as an animal companion known as a daemon, we are introduced to the young orphan Lyra. The subject of a prophecy that has deemed that she will someday save the world, she searches for a missing friend only to uncover a much bigger mystery than she ever expected. This leads to her meeting a teenager named Will, who hails from our world and is searching for his missing father. These unanswered questions all seem to hinge on a substance known as Dust, consciousness particles which go on to play a major role in this wild saga.

Though not the first attempt to bring novelist Philip Pullman's work to the screen, "His Dark Materials" succeeds due to the space the TV format gives the author's concepts while finding the heart of its story in its characters and their friendship. A group of unlikely friends on a quest will appeal to fans of "Willow," but the over-the-top fantasy elements of the series balanced with genuine philosophical yearning to understand one's place in the universe is something just about anyone can enjoy.

Shadow and Bone

Before being turned into a Netflix original series in 2021, the characters and story arcs of "Shadow and Bone" existed as part of author Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse novels, with the series' in-universe world-building primarily occurring through the trilogy of the same name and the duology "Six of Crows." In this fictional realm, the Grisha have special abilities that allow them to take on the crucial task of restoring and maintaining universal balance. In their youth, the Grisha train for a place in the army of the nation of Ravka. The series takes Alina Starkov as its POV character, but no fantasy is complete without a sprawling ensemble cast, and "Shadow and Bone" is no different.

The first episodes tell us that Alina is an orphan whose parents died attempting to cross an enormous wall of shadow called "The Fold" that separates Ravka from the nations they're at war with. Naturally, this just so happens to be where Alina is stationed with her childhood best friend Mal before they are called to travel through the Fold. High-stakes, world-shaking journeys are the bread and butter of "Willow" fans, making "Shadow and Bone" a must-watch. With the second season set to adapt the original novel's sequel, "Siege and Storm," the series promises to continue delivering top-notch fantasy TV set in a unique and complex universe.