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The Best Fantasy Shows You're Still Not Watching

In the absence of Game of Thrones, one of the biggest fantasy epics in recent memory, networks and audiences alike have been looking for something to fill that extremely particular space. But for a fantasy show to truly take off, it has to have several different elements. It needs to build an effective world, introduce compelling and captivating characters, and feel original despite every single fantasy show that's come before it. 

It might seem difficult or almost impossible for a series to hit every single one of these marks, but luckily for fantasy fans, there are plenty of actors, showrunners, and writers who can make that happen. Between Netflix, Amazon, cable networks, and more, there's an abundance of magical choices, and many of these series have been on the air for some time. So whether you're looking for fairies, witches, or ancient gods, here are the best fantasy shows that you're still not watching.

Carnival Row is a fantasy show that mixes magic and murder

Amazon has made a few splashy entries into the fantasy genre, but Carnival Row might be their most ambitious project yet. Based on a film script by showrunner Travis Beacham, who created the show alongside writer and producer René Echevarria, the show tells the story of a mythical world where a group of supernatural creatures called "fae" are forced to integrate into human society after war strikes their community and the world. Naturally, this creates plenty of discord between the two populations, especially considering that humans are immediately mistrustful of this group of powerful, magical beings. It also doesn't help that there's a supernatural serial killer running around.

The show is packed with plenty of star power, including Orlando Bloom (known for fantasy fare like Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit), Cara Delevingne (a model turned actress who can be seen in everything from Paper Towns to Suicide Squad), and Jared Harris (a Mad Men veteran who headlined the acclaimed HBO miniseries Chernobyl in 2019). And if you're looking for a series that beautifully blends magic with mystery and murder, then you might want to take a stroll down Carnival Row

Lucifer is a sinfully good show

The myth of the Devil is an endless well for entertainers — curious audiences from any background are always going to want to learn more about evil incarnate — and Lucifer, which has been running since 2016, puts a modern spin on the story of Satan. Starring Welsh actor Tom Ellis as the Devil himself, this show finds a bored and restless Satan leaving his hometown of Hell behind to start over in Los Angeles, where he runs his own nightclub, only to become embroiled in a murder case by pure happenstance. Alongside Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), Lucifer joins forces with the LAPD to help solve local crimes, forming a romantic relationship with Chloe as the two fight off everything from serial killers to errant demons.

The first season got off to a rocky start with critics, but while the second and third fared much better, the show was never really a major hit. So in 2018, Fox decided to cancel the show after three seasons. Luckily, Netflix swooped in to save the series, and that's great news, because Ellis is fantastic as the satanic protagonist, and Lucifer is devilishly good.

Outlander is historical fantasy at its finest

Time travel is always a great conceit for any fantasy show, letting characters travel throughout different worlds and eras, and Starz' hit series Outlander uses this device to perfect effect. Based on Diana Gabaldon's book series, the adaptation stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married nurse who's just survived World War II, only to find herself transported back to Scotland in 1743 by a set of magical stones. Trapped in a time where women have no rights or any autonomy, Claire tries to find her way back home, but along the way, she falls for Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Highlander she marries for protection. However, as the bond between Jamie and Claire deepens, she resists the chance to return home, and even tries to manipulate time as centuries keep the two lovers apart.

Thanks to its steamy central romance, captivating characters, and exciting story, the show has been a huge success for Starz, serving as one of the cable network's biggest hits and earning rave reviews from critics since it premiered in 2014. So if you're looking for romance, adventure, and attractive people with UK accents, then don't worry. Claire and Jamie have got you covered. 

Good Omens is fun, quirky, and apocalyptic

As one of the most popular modern American novelists, Neil Gaiman's work is always ripe for adaptation, and in 2019, Amazon became the official home of Good Omens, based on the groundbreaking novel Gaiman wrote alongside the late, legendary Terry Pratchett. It's the story of an angel named Aziraphale (Twilight's Michael Sheen) and a demon called Crowley (Doctor Who and Jessica Jones' David Tennant) who must work together to stop the impending apocalypse, as they've gotten pretty comfortable inhabiting human bodies on Earth. Ultimately, this show has everything fantasy fans could possibly want, bringing religious elements and ethereal action into play in a quirky, whimsical way that keeps audiences thoroughly entertained, thanks in large part to the strong chemistry between Tennant and Sheen.

Good Omens was an immediate hit when it premiered on Amazon Prime in May 2019, with critics praising its humor (but saying it might've benefited by being less faithful to Gaiman's book, despite the fact that Gaiman himself worked on the show). With just six episodes, now is the time to binge this quick, funny series that balances light humor with heavy stakes.

American Gods is a fantastical and frightening journey

Neil Gaiman adaptations have proven to be pretty fertile television ground over the past couple of years, with series like Good Omens and Lucifer both drawing inspiration from the author's work. However, perhaps the biggest and boldest of any Gaiman TV show is American Gods, based on his 2001 novel. The show follows the saga of Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), an ex-convict who's drawn into a conflict between the new and old gods. And as he encounters leprechauns, hammer-wielding deities, and the personification of media, he's shepherded along by Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), a charming yet mysterious con man who's right in the middle of this religious war. 

The show features a knockout cast, with names like Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Gillian Anderson, and Orlando Jones. Seriously, everybody from TV veteran Cloris Leachman to comedian Dane Cook shows up in this thing. And with a rock solid story, it's no wonder that American Gods has been a hit since its 2017 premiere. Plus, Bryan Fuller of Pushing Daisies and Hannibal fame worked as the showrunner for the first season, so expect things to get very bizarre and very bloody.

The Umbrella Academy is Netflix's strangest superhero series

Netflix has dabbled in comic book adaptations for a few years, including a few outings alongside Marvel (with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage), but their most original comic book retelling yet is definitely The Umbrella Academy, based on the comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. The story, which spans a number of years, kicks off on one fateful day in October 1989, when 43 women who weren't pregnant suddenly and unexpectedly give birth. Years later, these supernaturally gifted children attempt to reunite and discover how and why they were born under such unusual circumstances, eventually finding a home with the elderly and eccentric billionaire Dr. Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). After Hargreeves dies, the makeshift family discovers the apocalypse is imminent, and they must fight against evil forces to prevent the destruction of humanity, as well as discover who they are.

Featuring young breakout stars alongside established performers like Ellen Page and Mary J. Blige, the show premiered to raves, and it was apparently a boon for Netflix as well, as the streaming service claimed that 45 million households streamed the first season. But if you're a Netflix subscriber who hasn't checked out the show yet, well, it's definitely worth enrolling at The Umbrella Academy.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is absolutely charming

Ever since Riverdale burst onto the scene in 2017, becoming one of the most talked about shows on television, it's been clear that, somehow, the Archie comics are still a deep well of material to pull from. Once Riverdale proved it was a bona fide sensation, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa teamed up with Netflix to develop The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on other comics from the Archie series.

Starring Mad Men's very own Sally Draper, Kiernan Shipka, the show takes on a much darker tone than you might remember from the lighter Melissa Joan Hart Sabrina series. As a half-witch, this new Sabrina Spellman is constantly struggling to find a bridge between her two worlds, often seeking help from her aunts (Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto) or from her professors at the Academy of the Unseen Arts, the magic school she secretly attends while bucking convention to straddle the human and magical worlds. Putting Sabrina's fantastical identity crisis at the forefront and mixing that with romance, intrigue, action, and horror has proven incredibly successful for this fledgling show. And thanks in large part to Shipka's grounding performance, the series has received glowing reviews. So if you haven't checked out the show yet, it's time to visit Netflix and fall under Sabrina's spell.

A Discovery of Witches is a fantasy show that's definitely worth watching

The first adaptation of Deborah Harkness' wildly popular All Souls trilogy of novels, the UK series A Discovery of Witches premiered with an eight episode season in September 2018, delighting Harkness fans and newbies alike. Initially set at Oxford, the series chronicles the journeys and adventures of Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a historian trying to deny her true identity as a witch, who finds herself swept into a magical world thanks to a haunted tome lurking within Oxford's library. With the help of a vampire-scientist named Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode), Diana must embrace her heritage and fight her prejudice against vampires as they team up to not only protect the book, but explore its mysteries to the fullest.

Though Warner Bros. initially acquired the rights to A Discovery of Witches for a film adaptation, the UK network Sky One eventually bought the rights, turning it into a series. And that was a pretty smart move on their part, as the show currently has a 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  And if you're not in the UK, you can check out the show on both AMC and BBC America.

The Magicians is like Harry Potter for adults

Often described as a grown-up version of Harry Potter, this SyFy series based on Lev Grossman's trilogy of novels centers around a group of magically gifted teenagers attending Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy, so you can probably see where the comparisons came from. However, the similarities end there. Unlike Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who are young and impressionable children when the series begins, The Magicians' Quentin (Jason Ralph), Julia (Stella Maeve), Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and Eliot (Hale Appleman), along with the rest of their classmates, experiment with sex, drugs, and alcohol before making a horrifying discovery. As they soon learn, the fictional world of Fillory, the setting of a Narnia-style book series, is actually a real place, and while our heroes can travel to this magical realm, they quickly realize that Fillory poses a major threat to the human sphere. 

Though it got off to a slightly rocky start critically with its first season, as The Magicians has embraced its identity, it has only become more beloved, proving to be a defining series for the SyFy network since it premiered in 2016. 

Love, Death & Robots is a powerful series that tells dystopian stories

Move over, Saturday morning cartoons. Over the past couple of years, adult-geared animated series have proven that they're here to stay, from BoJack Horseman to Archer to Bob's Burgers. Love, Death & Robots, an animated anthology series, has certainly earned its place among the others, thanks to a winning combination of sci-fi, fantasy, humor, wit, and heart. Amazingly, this project has been years in the making. David Fincher, who serves as executive producer, spent over a decade trying to remake the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, eventually creating Love, Death & Robots out of that attempt. 

One of Netflix's more creative original series, Love, Death & Robots boasts an impressive voice cast made up of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Gary Cole (Office Space), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live), and Topher Grace (That '70s Show), just to name a few, with Grace and Winstead pulling double duty and also appearing in brief live-action sequences. Throughout its successful dystopian and fantastical stories, which span 18 episodes and clock in at under 20 minutes long, Love, Death & Robots is a short but sweet viewing experience, telling powerful tales about artificial intelligence and its impact on the world.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a return to a classic fantasy film

Adding another entry to the universe of the The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson's beloved 1982 puppet fantasy, was pretty much always going to be a slam dunk, but the important thing was making sure that any future adaptation got everything right. Luckily for audiences, Henson's daughter, Lisa, made sure she was on hand to help out, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was born, ultimately premiering on Netflix in the summer of 2019.

This prequel, which finds a group of three Gelflings protecting their home planet of Thra from the evil Skeksis, utilizes advanced puppet technology (making sure to stay true to the original film's feel and look), as well as an insanely talented voice cast. That cast is led by Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Anya Taylor-Joy (Split), and Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones). With supporting turns from other Thrones alum like Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey, comedians including Eddie Izzard, Andy Samberg and Awkwafina, Oscar winners like Alicia Vikander, and living legends like Helena Bonham Carter and Sigourney Weaver (who voices the narrator), Age of Resistance was an instant success, earning raves from critics and leaving Dark Crystal fans clamoring for more.

The Rook is a show that combines espionage with the supernatural

Pretty much every major fantasy series begin with the protagonist finding him or herself in an unexpected situation — think Frodo discovering the One Ring, or Harry Potter finally getting his Hogwarts acceptance letter — and The Rook, based on a 2011 novel of the same name, is in that same vein, although much darker. As this Starz series opens, its main character, Myfanwy Thomas (Shameless' Emma Greenwell), opens her eyes on London's famous Millennium Bridge to discover that she's surrounded by corpses, with no memory or idea of what happened or how she even got there. As the series progresses, Myfanwy uncovers that she's actually a supernatural secret agent in an underground agency, the Checquy.

The first season of The Rook, which follows Myfanwy as she navigates the shadowy Checquy and tries to come to terms with her identity, features actors like Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) and Olivia Munn (Predator, The Newsroom). And this mysterious thriller received favorable reviews, so if you're looking for a pulpy, suspenseful show that combines spies and magic, The Rook is the right move for you.