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11 Crime Dramas Like The Sopranos to Watch if You Miss The Sopranos

Whaddya hear, whaddya say?

Kelly Connolly
The Sopranos

The Sopranos

HBO/Getty Images

If you don't think that The Sopranos is not only the best TV show of all time, but one of the greatest pieces of American culture in any genre, on the level of importance and influence of things like Moby-Dick or Kind of Blue, we have just one thing to say: "oof, marone." (That's Italian American for "smh.") The crime drama about mobster-in-therapy Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) changed TV forever, and remains one of the most quotable and memorable shows around, almost a quarter-century after it premiered. 

It's possible to rewatch The Sopranos over and over again and not get tired of it, but even the most loyle soldier has to watch something else sometimes. If you're looking for a show that's almost but not quite as good as The Sopranos, we have a list of great series about antiheroes, criminals, and families in conflict that capture elements of its appeal. Put on your bathrobe, fix yourself a big ice cream sundae, and hit play on these shows like The Sopranos.

Watch The Sopranos Now streaming on HBO Max

More recommendations:

The Many Saints of Newark

Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivolo, The Many Saints of Newark

Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola, The Many Saints of Newark

Warner Bros.

Of course, the first thing any Sopranos fan should check out when they're missing the series is the prequel film that tells us how it all began. The movie, set against the backdrop of the Newark race riots of 1967, takes us back to the New Jersey of yesteryear, when Tony Soprano (played here by Michael GandolfiniJames Gandolfini's son) was just a teenager learning the ropes of gangster-ing from his uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a conflicted mobster dealing with his own host of personal and professional issues. (Sound familiar?) Reboots/revisits/reimagines/re-whatevers of beloved properties can often be hit or miss with fans, and your mileage may vary here, but this one has a lot going for it, including the involvement of David Chase (he pulled double duty on the film as screenwriter and producer), and narration provided by Christofuh himself, Michael Imperioli (though the character only appears on screen as a baby). -Allison Picurro

The Wire

Wendell Pierce and Dominic West, The Wire

Wendell Pierce and Dominic West, The Wire


Does it even need saying? The Wire and The Sopranos are linked not only as two great early-aughts HBO crime dramas but as two of the greatest TV shows of all time. Created by David Simon, The Wire is a sprawling study of American corruption, weaving together stories that span from Baltimore's drug trade to its seaport to the local government and educational system. It's an unflinching excavation of a city, told with a documentary-like frankness that's far cry from The Sopranos' more dreamlike artistic style. The Wire shares The Sopranos' interest in exposing the American underbelly, but more than anything, what the two shows have in common is just that they're both stunningly good.

Mad Men 

Mad Men

Mad Men

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

If you haven't already chased The Sopranos with Mad Men, let this be your sign. Sopranos writer-producer Matthew Weiner's glossy golden-age drama about 1960s advertising is as good as advertised — and, like The Sopranos, a lot funnier than its serious reputation might suggest. Mad Men pulls back the curtain on a high-rolling world that's almost as insular as the mafia, and its careful chronicling of a tumultuous decade makes it better than any show out there at capturing what it feels like to live through history. For all his allure, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is also just a guy in a suit watching the times change around him. He's not a Tony Soprano-type antihero because he has less control over his world. The magic of Mad Men comes from watching him charm the world into thinking otherwise.

Boardwalk Empire 

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire


Another dazzling period drama on The Sopranos' family tree, Boardwalk Empire rewinds New Jersey's criminal history back to the Prohibition era. Created by Sopranos writer-producer Terence Winter (and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, who also directed Boardwalk Empire's pilot), the series stars Sopranos alum Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, a corrupt politician loosely based on historical crime boss Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson. Inspired by the stories of real-life gangsters and other kingpins, Boardwalk Empire paints a rich portrait of Atlantic City's most infamous era. It's tempting to boil it down to The Sopranos with flappers; the show is more than that, but isn't that more than enough?

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Giancarlo Esposito, Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul

Giancarlo Esposito, Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul

Robert Trachtenberg/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

As Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan put it, "There would be no Walter White without Tony Soprano." The Sopranos paved the way for Gilligan's propulsive thriller about another one of TV's great, loathsome antiheroes, a chemistry teacher who unlocks his capacity for brutality when he gets into the meth trade. Breaking Bad is a gripping ride with some of the best dramatic payoff since The Sopranos, and it strikes a similar balance between Walt's (Bryan Cranston) underworld dealings and his fracturing family. But don't skip Breaking Bad's spin-off, Better Call Saul, a quieter, tighter, and, yes, even better series about the transformation of scrappy lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into the crooked criminal ally known as Saul Goodman. In a TV landscape that makes it too easy to worship bad guys, Saul will make you feel the moral weight of every bad decision. (Plus, Rhea Seehorn's Kim Wexler is the best character on TV.)

The Americans

Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, The Americans

Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, The Americans

Jeffrey Neira/FX

Forget the weekly question of who might get whacked; The Sopranos is really a family drama about the rotten core of the American dream. In that sense, its best successor is The Americans, Joe Weisberg's exquisite Cold War spy series. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are electric as a pair of Russian intelligence officers posing as an American couple, complete with a white picket fence and two kids who are none the wiser. Like The Sopranos, The Americans finds violence behind the closed doors of a picture-perfect home, spinning every global conflict into a metaphor for domestic life. It's the best show of the 2010s. Philip and Elizabeth weaponize their secrets as well as Tony and Carm do.


Maria Pia Calzone and Fortunato Cerlino, Gomorrah

Maria Pia Calzone and Fortunato Cerlino, Gomorrah

Emanuela Scarpa/Sundance TV

If what you really want from The Sopranos is even more darkness (in tone, but also literal, visual darkness), watch Gomorrah. The frighteningly authentic Italian drama follows a crime family in Naples that comes under siege as the head of the family, Pietro (Fortunato Cerlino), feels his power slipping. Gomorrah is bleak compared to The Sopranos' sentimentality; Pietro's ruthless savagery is enough to make Tony Soprano look soft. There are also echoes of The Wire in the way the series expands in scope to explore the networks of corruption in the city. The basic outline of Gomorrah is familiar, but it tells its story so masterfully you still won't be able to look away.

Queen of the South

Alice Braga, Queen of the South

Alice Braga, Queen of the South

Benedicte Desrus/USA Network

Looking for more girlbosses in your criminal drama? USA Network's Queen of the South stars Alice Braga as Teresa Mendoza, a Mexican woman who teams up with a woman from her past (Veronica Falcón), the head of an American cartel, to take down the drug ring that killed her boyfriend and is coming after her. Before long, Teresa is raking in money at the top of her own drug empire. It's a fun, just-gritty-enough series with a soapy telenovela flair. The real standout is Alice Braga's commanding performance, which anchors the show when it's at its wildest.

Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders

Cillian Murphy, Peaky Blinders

Robert Viglasky/Netflix

Peaky Blinders isn't the first period drama on this list to be set in the decade after World War I, but this time it's British, innit? American viewers might want to brush up on the history of the United Kingdom to follow this lush, bloody gangster drama about a crime family led by the ambitious Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). The scope of the series widens with Tommy's influence, and what starts in Birmingham spins into a tale of international political intrigue. The cast of Peaky Blinders is just as sprawling, a who's who of workhorse English and Irish actors that includes Helen McCrory, Tom Hardy, Sam Neill, Josh O'Connor, and, by later seasons, Anya Taylor-Joy, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Aidan Gillen. If The Sopranos starred practically every actor in the British Isles, it would be Peaky Blinders.

Six Feet Under

Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under

Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under


Anxiety about death hangs over The Sopranos, from Tony's first therapy session to that cut-to-black ending. Death is also the star of Alan Ball's great, somehow still underrated Six Feet Under, which follows the Fisher family as they run the Los Angeles funeral home passed down by their recently deceased father. Led by a strong cast that includes Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, and Lauren Ambrose, the series looks head-on at the mysteries of mortality and grief; every episode starts with a different death, and plenty of them will haunt you. Through the dysfunctional family at its center, Six Feet Under also wrestles with the legacies people inherit from their parents in a way that should resonate with fans of the Soprano family's most messed-up interactions. It's a heavy show, but it's well worth the pain — especially since it all leads to a stunning series finale.