Sunday nights dedicated to “Game of Thrones” may be long gone, but getting lost in the complex and adventurous tales of Westeros is still something many fans miss. Two years later, the TV landscape still has a hole in it as big as the hole in The Wall, waiting for a new blockbuster fantasy series to fill it. Several “Game of Thrones” prequel series are on the way, but in the meantime, here are a few TV shows filled with magic, monsters and mighty heroes in the works that might have a shot at filling the “Game of Thrones” void.
“His Dark Materials” – HBO/BBC One
The HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman’s book series full of daemons and parallel universes premiered in late 2019 and was ordered for a third and final season in December 2020. “Logan” breakout star Dafne Keen plays Lyra Belacqua, who travels the multiverse with Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and Pantalaimon, her personal daemon, a creature that bonds to a child and takes the form of an animal that represents her inner being. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson and James Cosmo round out the cast of the fantastical, coming-of-age tale.
“The Witcher” – Netflix
Henry Cavill ditches the Superman cape to take up the steel and silver swords of Geralt of Rivia. The white-haired monster hunter with yellow cat-eyes slays beasts for gold across the Continent using his magical witcher powers. However, Geralt is one of the last of his kind, and most people don’t take kindly to witchers. His stories span Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels and can be played through in the video game trilogy of the same name. The second season is likely to be released sometime this year, with Adjoa Andoh, Cassie Clare, Liz Carr, Simon Callow, Graham McTavish, Kevin Doyle and Chris Fulton joining the cast.
“The Lord of the Rings” – Amazon
Jeff Bezos must be a diehard fan of “Lord of the Rings” because Amazon shelled out $250 million to buy the TV rights to the seminal fantasy series by J.R.R. Tolkien, making it the most expensive show in history. Like the “Game of Thrones” spinoffs, the series will use the prequel approach and take place thousands of years before the events of the books and films, during the Second Age when Sauron forged the One Ring. Expect to see some Middle Earth denizens, like hobbits, elves and dwarves, plus evil creatures lurking around Mordor, like orcs, trolls and Uruk-hai. Though there has yet to be an announcement for a premiere date, the series is still expected to debut this year. The single season alone cost $465 million.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” – Netflix
C.S. Lewis’ septology has been made into TV shows, movies and even a musical, but this will be the first time a single company has the rights to adapt the entire series. The first book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” introduced fans to the Pevensies, four youngsters who discover a gateway to the magical world run by Aslan, a talking lion, who needs help fending off the White Witch. The novels span a long stretch of time, so characters like Mr. Tumnus, Prince Caspian and Eustace Scrubb could make it into the show. In January, Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film division, told the New York Times that the new adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia” is part of their post-2021 slate.
“The Wheel of Time” – Amazon
In addition to its “Lord of the Rings” series, Amazon has a show based on the late Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” books, the best-selling high fantasy series since “The Lord of the Rings.” The novels follow Moiraine, a member of a powerful, all-women organization called the Aes Sedai, who finds five young people who could be the Dragon Reborn, a reincarnation of humanity’s savior or destroyer. Traveling the world, the group must use their magical Talents to stop evil factions from exploiting whichever one of them is the prophesied being.
“Shadow and Bone” – Netflix
The eight-episode Netflix series based on the first novel in the “Grisha” trilogy by Leigh Bardugo will premiere on April 23. Living in the Russia-inspired Kingdom of Ravka, orphan Alina Starkov discovers she has the power to summon light, a rare ability possessed only people known as Grisha. Don’t expect to hear the word “magic” on the show, though. The Grisha call their energy manipulation powers Small Science. Due to her powerful abilities, Alina has to watch out for Ravka’s enemies and the hidden agenda of the ominously named Grisha leader, the Darkling.
“Wild Cards” – Peacock
Even though “Wild Cards” is a sci-fi superhero series, the books were edited by “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin, so it had to be on the list. Under Hulu’s original development plans, the aim was to create two series based on the collection of stories created by a brainstrust of more than 40 writers. The interconnected books are set in an alternate history where survivors in a post-WWII United States contract an alien virus that rewrites their DNA and leaves only 10% alive. A lucky subset of those gain superhuman powers and are called Aces, while those given less exciting abilities are Deuces, and the unfortunate few with crippling deformities are branded as Jokers. Martin will executive produce with Melinda Snodgrass and Vince Gerardis.
“Disenchantment” – Netflix
Netflix’s “Disenchantment” may not be quite as riveting as “Game of Thrones” is, but it is surely packed with dark family secrets, mythical creatures and a mad king. The dry humor of Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson (with “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening at the helm as writer and producer) will have you chuckling as she stumbles through misadventures in Dreamland as Princess Bean and beyond with her best pals, Elfo (Nat Faxon) and Luci (Eric Andre). Parts 1 through 3 are streaming now on Netflix, with Part 4 having yet to be announced.
“Once Upon a Time” – Disney Plus
Running 155 episodes, this fantasy drama sees the worlds of fairytale legends and modern life collide. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is living a normal, comfortable life when the child she gave up a decade earlier, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), shows up. He tries to convince her she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, sent away to Storybrooke, Maine, before the Evil Queen could cast a spell and freeze the fairytale world. Emma decides to keep an eye on Henry, discovering there may be truth to his tale. Other classic fantasy worlds become entwined in the show, including Wonderland, Neverland and Oz.