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12 Shows and Movies to Watch if You Miss Vikings

And you can't wait for Vikings: Valhalla Season 2

tim.jpg
Tim Surette
Alexander Ludwig and Travis Fimmel, Vikings

Alexander Ludwig and Travis Fimmel, Vikings

Jonathan Hession/Vikings

Vikings, the epic series that made history (and History Channel) cool again, entered TV Valhalla when its series finale streamed in late 2020. But it was only about a year before the Vikings invaded television again; Vikings: Valhalla, a sequel series set about 100 years after the events of the original, premiered on Netflix in early 2022. The shows have different casts and a different showrunner — Vikings creator Michael Hirst has moved on to the Epix Western series Billy the Kid, leaving Valhalla in the hands of Die Hard screenwriter Jeb Stuart — but they're very similar in most other ways, with many of the same writers and producers (and more importantly, the same stunt coordinator) who worked on Vikings now working on Valhalla. Both shows have sword-clanging action, complex drama, and beautiful costumes and production design.

A Season 2 premiere date has not yet been set for Vikings: Valhalla, so you may be looking for another ancient adventure to keep you occupied in the meantime. Or maybe you really miss original recipe Vikings and want something else that captures that feeling. Whatever it is you're looking for, we bet you'll find it on our list of shows fans of the Vikings franchise will enjoy.  



Boundless 

Alvaro Monte, Boundless

Alvaro Morte, Boundless

Prime Video

Known as Sin Limites in its native tongue, this Spanish historical drama tells the story of the first circumnavigation of the world. Westworld's Rodrigo Santoro plays the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who led the expedition at first, and Money Heist's Álvaro Morte plays Juan Sebastian Elcano, who completed the expedition after Magellan's death (historical spoiler alert). Amazon didn't promote the series in America, so you might not have heard of it, but if you like grand historical dramas about the maritime adventures of brutal men — and if you're looking for more shows like Vikings — you should check this one out. -Liam Mathews



The Northman 

Alexander Skarsgard, The Northman

Alexander Skarsgard, The Northman

Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features

We don't usually recommend movies on our "If You Like" lists of TV shows, but sometimes there's a movie so perfect we'd be remiss to not recommend it. And if you're a fan of Vikings, you have to check out The Northman. This brutal revenge epic based on the Scandinavian myth that inspired Hamlet comes from visionary director Robert Eggers, who makes the most of the first big studio budget of his career. It stars insanely ripped Swede Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, a Viking prince who devotes his life to getting revenge on his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) for murdering his father, King Aurvindil (Ethan Hawke). It's a visual marvel that's one of the most unique action movies in years. Just be warned it's more extreme in every possible way than Vikings — which may entice you! -Liam Mathews 



Barbarians

Barbarians

Barbarians

Katalin Vermes

Someone at Netflix said, "Let's make our own Vikings, but not quite as good." And then Barbarians was born. The German series released its six-episode first season in October 2020, and it follows the titular tribes of German warriors who battled the Roman Empire in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. Like Vikings, it has lots of complicated inter-tribal politics, odd haircuts, and violent battles. But for true fans of Vikings, it might just feel like a knockoff. 


More recommendations:


Raised by Wolves

Travis Fimmel, Raised by Wolves

Travis Fimmel, Raised by Wolves

Coco Van Oppens

You became such a big fan of Travis Fimmel from the early seasons of Vikings (Ragnar!) that you watched Warcraft just to see him again. That was obviously a mistake, but don't let Fimmel's latest project, his first TV series role since Vikings, sneak by without a watch. The HBO Max sci-fi series stars Fimmel as a space crusader trying to get his son back from a pair of androids who have taken the child to raise him on a deserted planet. It's full of questions about parenting and religion, and is hard, weird sci-fi stripped down to its essentials with an assist from Ridley Scott, who executive produces the series and directed the first two episodes. Plus, Fimmel does some impressions of a duck, which shows off his goofy side. The show was canceled after two seasons, but it packed in four seasons' worth of eccentricity. 



Game of Thrones

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones

HBO

Here's the most obvious pick: HBO's Game of Thrones. In fact, since Game of Thrones predates Vikings by a few years, it's quite possible you found Vikings because of your love of Game of Thrones. But if for some reason you haven't seen Game of Thrones, then a) where have you been? and b) you'll find the only show in the last decade that has better battle scenes than Vikings does. And contrary to what you may have been told, Game of Thrones doesn't overly emphasize fantasy elements. Yes, there are dragons, but when author George R.R. Martin crafted the story, he based it on history, specifically the War of the Roses in which several different families laid claim to the crown. It's your call whether you want to watch the final two seasons, which sadly didn't live up to the rest of the show.



The Last Kingdom

Alexander Dreymon and Emily Cox, The Last Kingdom

Alexander Dreymon and Emily Cox, The Last Kingdom

Joss Barratt/Netflix

Of all the shows on this list, The Last Kingdom is going to be most like Vikings, and should be your first stop if you're trying to relive the thrills of Ragnar and company. Based on Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, The Last Kingdom nearly overlaps with the events of Vikings (which begins in 793), starting with the 866 Viking conquest of York. The show's hero is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon who is adopted by invading Vikings and raised as one of their own after the Vikings conquer his homeland, pulling him in two different directions as he has the blood of a Saxon but came of age as a Danish Viking. As the two shows are loosely based on the same history, some characters appear in both shows at different ages in similar stories separated by a generation of history.



Barkskins

David Thewlis, James Bloor, and Christian Cooke, Barkskins

David Thewlis, James Bloor, and Christian Cooke, Barkskins

National Geographic/Peter H. Stranks

If it's a historical drama teeming with conniving factions at odds with each other that you're looking for, definitely check out the underrated Barkskins, which premiered to good reviews but had a quiet launch due to it airing on National Geographic during the pandemic. The series features Vikings' greatest trademark — unkempt men in the wilds trying to kill each other in new territory — as it follows English and French settlers who come to the new world of the Americas in the late 1600s either for the bounteous opportunities of pillaging fresh countryside or as criminal indentured servants who work off their sentences. The budget is impressive, the cast (which includes David Thewlis) is great, and the drama is thick. It was also a limited series, meaning you can get a whole story in just eight episodes.



Norsemen

Norsemen

Norsemen

Netflix

A little tired of all the seriousness of Vikings, what with all the war, dismemberment, and family members stabbing each other in the back? The rugged world of ancient Norse life slips on a banana peel in this English-language Norwegian comedy that spoofs Viking culture with a sense of humor somewhere between Monty Python and the Farrelly Brothers. Though everyone's wearing animal skins and tattered armor, some of the dialogue is decidedly modern, like when the show's version of The Seer says, "Hate the player, not the game," when trying to get the village's reluctant handmaiden to drink a cocktail of spit to fulfill a prophecy. It's entirely silly, but that's the whole point.



Knightfall

Simon Merrells, Knightfall

Simon Merrells, Knightfall

Larry Horricks/HISTORY

Following the deserved success of Vikings, History sought out more historical dramas in the same vein, shows that use history as a blueprint and then craft an intricate drama around it. 2017's Knightfall most closely resembles the strategy History set forth with Vikings, this time moving to the 14th Century to visit the Knights Templar. The series follows Landry de Lauzon, a disenchanted Knights Templar whose faith is once again stirred when he learns the Holy Grail — yes, THAT Holy Grail — has reappeared in France.



Black Sails

Black Sails

Black Sails

Starz

If "Yarrrrrr" is more your speed than "Skol!," then set sail for the underrated pirate drama Black Sails. Like Vikings, it intricately details a culture that most of us know more from Halloween costumes than actual history, with different factions set up against each other as they all want the same thing. In Vikings' case, it's land, in Black Sails' case, it's treasure. Black Sails is actually a gritty prequel to Treasure Island, with characters like Long John Silver, Captain Flint, and Billy Bones from Robert Louis Stevenson's books brought to life in a thrilling drama. It doesn't have as many battles as Vikings, focusing more on the renegade cutthroat strategy of these sea-faring bandits, but when ships do clash in the crystal-blue open waters, it's some of the best action ever seen on TV. 



Spartacus

Andy Whitfield, Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Andy Whitfield, Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Starz

You know what? It's OK to like Vikings for its bloodletting. And if it's spurting crimson you want, it's a tidal wave you'll get in the Starz series Spartacus. One of the most brutal and violent series ever, Spartacus is set in 72 B.C in the Roman Empire and follows the gladiators who made murder a sport, which Spartacus is more than happy to show off in artfully cinematic ways. And in keeping with the hedonism of the times, the show is also loaded with sex and nudity, because I know that's also your thing. 



The Witcher

Henry Cavill, The Witcher

Henry Cavill, The Witcher

Jay Maidment/Netflix

If Vikings' complex political drama is what intrigues you, you'll get a faceful of the same in Netflix's The Witcher. It's far more fantasy-based, however, spectacularly bringing Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski's novels about a monster hunter fulfilling an unknown destiny to the small screen, while also laying out an expansive battle for a continent between a brutish empire and several independent nation-states. Plus, Henry Cavill is the only other charismatic sword-swinging hunk who can hold a candle to Travis Fimmel.