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When you need more gritty dramas with tough dudes
Reacher is a bona fide smash for Amazon Prime Video, and has quickly become one of the streamer's most popular shows. The series based on the novels by Lee Child follows Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), a former military policeman who travels around the country solving mysteries and cracking skulls using his unique mix of brawn and brains. As Reacher's success shows, it's a formula that just works.
While you wait for Reacher Season 2, we have some recommendations for shows like Reacher. We have action shows, detective shows, paperback adaptations, and shows that feature the cast of Reacher. A lot of them are on Amazon Prime Video, because Prime has cracked the code of how to make shows like Reacher. So grab a cup of black coffee and a slice of peach pie and settle in to watch some wisecracking antiheroes beat up some bad guys.
2022 was a pretty good year for shows featuring men chasing conspiracies with more than just muscle, and while Reacher was one of the best, my vote for THE best of the year would be FX's The Old Man. Based on the 2017 novel by Thomas Perry, The Old Man stars Jeff Bridges as Dan Chase, a former CIA operative whose life in hermitic retirement is disrupted when someone tries to kill him, sending him down a path of revenge and redemption involving his past. Like Reacher, Chase is direct, sharp, and can put a man down in ways you'd never expect. But Chase is sitting on a bed of secrets, which are doled out in excellent fashion throughout the seven white knuckle episodes. John Lithgow, Amy Brennman, and Alia Shawkat also star. If you like Reacher, you'll love The Old Man. -Tim Surette
Amazon has carved out a niche as the streaming home for action shows based on novel series. The streamer started with Bosch, perfected the model with Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan (both shows are on this list), and scaled it this year with Reacher and The Terminal List. The Terminal List, which is based on a novel by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, follows a rogue SEAL played by Chris Pratt on a mission to get revenge on the people that orchestrated a conspiracy that caused great suffering for him and his loved ones. The testosterone-fueled thriller is a Reacher-sized hit. The biggest difference between the shows is that Reacher has a sense of humor and The Terminal List does not. -Liam Mathews
Jack Reacher is a brilliant detective with superior powers of deduction and no fear of saying exactly what he thinks. He's basically an extremely muscular, American version of Sherlock Holmes; specifically, Benedict Cumberbatch's modern-day version of the iconic inspector from the 2010-2017 BBC show Sherlock. Holmes is a brilliant, acerbic London detective who's always the smartest person in the room, much to the chagrin of his more ordinary but still pretty brilliant sidekick, John Watson (Martin Freeman). Sherlock doesn't have the action-packed beatdowns of Reacher, but it does have the clever detective work that's the other half of the Prime Video show. If it's wall-to-wall action you're looking for, scroll down. -Liam Mathews
If you love Reacher's action and small-town crime, you have to check out Banshee. This Cinemax series ran for four seasons from 2013 to 2016 and tells the story a high-level diamond thief (Antony Starr, now best known for playing Homelander on The Boys) who gets out of prison and assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, the new sheriff of Banshee, a town in Pennsylvania Amish country, after Hood is randomly killed in a bar fight. Since the new sheriff in town is no sheriff at all but a career criminal with his own ideas about justice, the town gets lawless as hell. That lawlessness leads to some of the best action and fight sequences TV has ever seen. Antony Starr is not as large as Alan Ritchson (who is?), but he can scrap with the best of them. -Liam Mathews
This is another Southern-fried crime drama with an arch sense of humor that's based on a book series. Hap & Leonard, which ran for three seasons on Sundance between 2016 and 2018, is based on a series of novels by cult favorite author Joe R. Lansdale about Hap Collins (James Purefoy), a white conscientious objector, and Leonard Pine (the late, great Michael K. Williams), a gay, Black Vietnam vet. They're blue-collar best friends who have a way of getting caught up in criminal entanglements with violent people in '80s East Texas. Each season adapts a different one of Lansdale's novels, which is the same format Reacher will follow. Season 1, for example, finds Hap getting recruited by his left-wing radical ex-lover Trudy Fawst (Christina Hendricks) to help find some stolen cash that was lost in the area decades prior, a plan that's supposed to be simple but ends up getting very complicated. It's a clever, underrated show that always brought in a great supporting cast every season. -Liam Mathews
If it's a stone-cold guy embarrassing crooks and criminals and talking sh-- in the South that you're in the mood for, look no further than the modern masterpiece Justified, which is based on a character created by crime novel master Elmore Leonard. Timothy Olyphant plays U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a shoot-from-the-hip lawman whose tongue is as sharp as his aim. While more gregarious and poetic than and not quite as yoked as Reacher, Givens shares Reacher's sense of the ideal male fantasy; you'd swap places with either of these guys in a heartbeat. As for the show itself, each of the six seasons follows a season-long mystery involving plenty of investigation that bends the rules just a bit. -Tim Surette
If you can't get enough of ass-kicking Jacks on Amazon Prime Video after watching Reacher, then your next binge should be the action thriller Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, another book-to-screen adaptation about a guy who knows more than anyone else in the room. John Krasinski plays the popular CIA analyst in this story about the early days of his career and transition from a desk jockey to a stud in the field, as he takes down threats to America around the world. This Jack isn't as jacked as Reacher's Jack, but Jack Ryan has the same procedural investigation you loved in Reacher, just in a bigger, global scope. The show debuted in 2018 and was an immediate hit, and Amazon will keep making seasons as long as there are more bad guys to catch. -Tim Surette
Amazon's becoming a real home to watch dad books, and the series that started it all was Bosch, a gritty cop show based on the works of author Michael Connelly. Titus Welliver stars as Harry Bosch, the titular troubled cop who, at the start of the series, is not only out to throw murderers in jail, but is also the subject of a murder investigation (a wrongful death suit) himself. (Hey, just like Reacher!) It's more of a straightforward cop show than a lone wolf doing good show like Reacher is, but it's firmly centered on a main character who solves crimes his own way. It's also got a real sense of place, with Los Angeles serving as the backdrop for corruption and crime. -Tim Surette
What's a one-season drama about cheerleaders doing on a list of shows to watch if you like Reacher? Well, before Jack Reacher joined the military, he was a cheerleader. Just kidding! But I would watch that. Dare Me makes the list because it shows off the talents of Willa Fitzgerald, whom you may have been introduced to in Reacher; she plays Roscoe Conklin, Reacher's more-than-a-friend on the force. In Dare Me, Fitzgerald plays the new cheerleading coach — a mysterious character who is almost nothing like the sweet Roscoe — at a high school where the cheerleaders run things, but the show adds the extra drama of a murder mystery and a thriller as the cheerleaders investigate the sketchy past of Fitzgerald's character. It was canceled after one season, but it's one of those gems that never got its due. -Tim Surette
Alan Ritchson's performance as Reacher carries most of Reacher, and if you're just meeting him for the first time, you're probably wondering where you can see more of him. The obvious answer is to watch the crude football comedy Blue Mountain State, which aired three seasons on Spike TV from 2010 to 2011 (it's streaming on Freevee) and features Ritchson as a linebacker for a college football team, but we're going with something of a deeper cut. A leaner Ritchson was the star of Syfy's underrated 2017 series Blood Drive, a drive-in action show about a car race in an apocalyptic future where the cars run on... human blood. Each episode features a new grindhouse-style obstacle, like vampires, cannibals, or "sex plagues," and Blood Drive gleefully played up the campiness. It sounds silly, but it got great reviews and is a perfect escape. Ritchson plays a former cop forced into the race who teams up with a femme fatale (Christina Ochoa) to take down the evil master of ceremonies (a balls-to-the-wall Colin Cunningham) and the corporation behind the games. -Tim Surette
If you're new to the Reacherverse but loved Amazon's take on Jack Reacher, you may as well see what all the fuss was about when Alan Ritchson was cast in the lead role. It's because the Jack Reacher in the 2012 film was played by 5'7" Tom Cruise, who does not exactly fit the physical profile of the Reacher dreamed up by Lee Child. Still, the movie is a solid action film, and as usual, Cruise is good and does his own stunts. But it's also a good reminder of how great Ritchson is as Reacher and why we were all happy to see him fill up the TV screen and vacuum up plates of BBQ. -Tim Surette