The Equalizer, CBS' vigilante action drama, is currently one of broadcast TV's most-liked shows. It stars the incredibly charismatic Queen Latifah as Robyn McCall, a former CIA operative who now uses her extensive skills and network to help people whom the justice system has failed. She's a vigilante known as "the Equalizer." She's also a single mom to a teenage daughter named Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes), and maintaining a healthy relationship with her is even harder than being a vigilante. At least she gets help at home from her wise aunt Viola (Lorraine Toussaint). At work, the team helping her includes Mel Bayani (Liza Lapira), who owns the bar Robyn uses as a home base, Mel's husband Harry Keshegian (Adam Goldberg), a brilliant hacker, and Marcus Dante (Tory Kittles), an NYPD detective who starts out the series trying to catch Robyn but eventually comes around to her ways and offers her support.
The show is the third series in the Equalizer franchise. Previously, there was a TV series that ran from 1985 to 1989, and a film series starring Denzel Washington that's slated for a third installment in 2023. But we're here to talk about Queen Latifah's The Equalizer. If you love the show and are looking for other action dramas about high-tech vigilantes and/or women who kick butt, you've come to the right place. Here are shows to watch between episodes of The Equalizer.
If what you like about The Equalizer is the vigilante action, Leverage is all about the same thing. This light, breezy action thriller follows a team of semi-reformed criminals as they use their powers for good, doing heists that target wrongdoers on behalf of the people who have been wronged. They're getting justice for people who have been chewed up and spit out by the system the only way they know how. The series originally ran from 2008 to 2012 on TNT, and has been resurrected on Amazon Freevee as Leverage: Redemption. It has more of a sense of humor than The Equalizer, but it has very similar themes and team dynamics.
Blindspot is another show with a bit of a lighter tone than The Equalizer, but one that's even heavier on the action. The fun series, which ran on NBC from 2015 to 2020, followed a woman known only as Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) after she emerged naked from a duffel bag in Times Square with no memory of who she was and covered in tattoos that turned out to be clues to unraveling a massive conspiracy. It turns out she's an absolute ass-kicking special operations soldier, and she's helped in her journey for justice by FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and his team of hackers and specialists. It's a classic ensemble action show, and it sort of feels like The Equalizer took Blindspot's place as TV's representative for this type of show after Blindspot ended.
Another show about an ex-CIA operative-turned-vigilante in New York City. Person of Interest, which ran from 2011 to 2016 on CBS, follows John Reese (Jim Caviezel), whose life has fallen apart after leaving the agency, partially as a result of the things he had to do. He gets recruited by billionaire tech genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) to work for a vigilante program that uses an advanced artificial intelligence to stop crimes before they happen. He's the special ops guy on a team that also includes a hacker, as all TV teams must. Person of Interest is a sci-fi show, which The Equalizer is not, but it has a similar procedural-with-season-long-arcs structure and themes of working outside the system to do what's right. It's also a truly intelligent show, with sophisticated explorations of free will and artificial intelligence.
This action classic was created by J.J. Abrams and ran for five seasons between 2001 and 2006. It stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a CIA agent working undercover as a member of an elite criminal organization called SD-6. Her father, Jack (Victor Garber, one of the only actors who can match James Spader for idiosyncratic charisma), is also a CIA agent who's infiltrated SD-6, so espionage becomes a family affair. Along the way, Sydney falls in love with her handler Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan) and wears many, many wigs. There's more spy stuff than there is on The Equalizer — Sydney is in the CIA, not formerly in the CIA like Robyn — but as a female-fronted action drama, it can't be beat.
Yet another highly entertaining action drama about a former CIA agent. The charming Jeffrey Donovan stars as Michael Westen, who is suddenly and without explanation blacklisted from the agency and sent home to Miami, where he has to work as an unlicensed private investigator to make ends meet while trying to figure out who burned him and why. It ran for seven seasons on USA from 2007 to 2013. It's another one with a more playful tone than The Equalizer, but like The Equalizer it's a fun melange of spy stuff, crime stuff, and extrajudicial stuff with a mix of season-long and episodic stories.
If you like the reboot, why not check out the original? It all started with this series that ran from 1985 to 1989 on CBS. It starred dignified British actor Edward Woodward as retired intelligence operative Robert McCall, who did the same thing Robyn McCall does, helping downtrodden people get justice from powerful people taking advantage of them. It makes the most of its gritty '80s New York City setting, and watching it now, it's really fun to see the early-career guest appearances from people who became TV and movie fixtures who are still around today, including one of the first screen appearances by Sam Rockwell.