Sometimes we just want to escape from reality for a while. What better way to do that than to live in a dark, complex, beautiful imaginary world? We have very strict guidelines for our list of best fantasy series on Netflix: No sci-fi and no horror. There are no superheroes. These Bingeable TV Shows aren’t all about medieval settings. Our selections include modern magic, puppets, and other uncategorized weirdness. Because that’s the essence of fantasy!
Fantasy is often based on myths, legends, and folklore. You might think that you know the legend of King Arthur and Merlin but you have never heard it told this way before. Fan-favorite Merlin aired from 2008 to 2012 on BBC. It is set in Camelot, where magic is outlawed. The story opens with Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James), and Merlin (Colin Morgan), two young men who can’t stand each other. But, after the former becomes the latter’s servant they become fast friends and put aside their differences. This is a good thing for both Merlin and Arthur, as Merlin must often use his powers in secret to save Arthur. Sometimes without Arthur knowing. The latter will one day fulfill his destiny of being the man who will restore the magic to the kingdom. This is a great, light fantasy show with lots of humor. —Kaitlin Thomas
If you have seen a lot of these shows and are looking for something different but more accessible than Gelflings, Matt Groening has an animated parody of medieval fantasy stories called Disenchantment. The show is aimed at adults and takes place in Dreamland, a world filled with magic and fantasy. It follows the adventures and adventures of three central characters: Bean (Abbi Jacobson), a princess who enjoys beer but is reluctant to accept adulthood; Elfo (Nat Faxon), who has a crush upon Bean; and Luci (Eric Andre), a feline-like demon who has been sent by Luci to keep an eye out for Bean. The show’s first season relied on episodic stories to set the scene. However, towards the end of Season 1, the show embraces serialized storytelling. It is now a funny and engaging series that can poke fun at fantasy while still having fun with it. —Kaitlin Thomas
8. The Shannara Chronicles
MTV made a huge fantasy splash with The Shannara Chronicles. This adaptation of The Sword of Shannara Trilogy was created by Terry Brooks. Although the series tried to be pop-TV-friendly, it failed to deliver the necessary elements of a great fantasy epic. There were well-thought references to an ancient world that we all recognize as ours. Shannara begins at a time in the future when once-banished demons start reappearing in the mystical Four Lands. This is because a magical tree known as the Ellcrys (which once held them in place) has fallen. The half-elf Wil and Amberle, an Elven princess, and Eretria, a human rover, are given the task of saving the Four Lands from the Ellcrys. Allanon, a Druid, is also involved. Shannara was brightly colored and rooted in practicality, making it look a lot like The CW’s The 100. Story-wise, Shannara is a remarkable addition to the TV landscape. After a long wait, the show was finally killed by Spike. It could have ended on a different network. The imperfect, but captivating series is a satisfying, even brief, trip into a wonderful, strange world. —Allison Keene
7. Neo Yokio
Neo Yokio is a truly unique category. It’s almost as if Q were a TV series that was converted into a modern D&D campaign. There are magic, mechs, and great tunes. Although it has an anime aesthetic, the execution is Western. It’s also a Vampire Weekend creation by Ezra Keonig. This means that it has a lot of winking humor. It’s hilarious, indulgent, and completely bizarre. This is a fantastic ride. The series takes place in an alternate timeline New York where magicians long ago saved the city from demons, and now enjoy the upper echelons of society as “Magistocrats.” That’s where we meet the popular, bratty Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), who shirks his Magisticrat duties and is more interested in his placement in the hierarchy of bachelors–particularly about his rival Arcangelo (Jason Schwartzman). The show understands that Kaz is a ridiculous character, and it’s obvious. But the world around Kaz is more interesting than the one around him. Neo Yokio will appeal to those who enjoy the chaotic, meta-humor found in Adult Swim shows. Neo Yokio is a pampered pastel playground. It only has six episodes and a Christmas special. This is a short investment in something truly unique on the virtual TV dial. —Allison Keene
6. Sweet Tooth
A live-action Sweet Tooth can be a nightmare waiting to occur if it is not handled properly. Netflix’s adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s comic book series retains the same lyrical qualities, rich character exploration, and compelling world-building, but it expands and fleshes out narrative elements that add to its depth, resonance, and resonance.
Sweet Tooth has a warm and friendly charm. The story is told through the eyes of Gus (10 years old), who is part deer. Gus was raised in solitude by Bubba (Will Forte) for 10 years, in a deep forest due to the pandemic. He is socially inept, but he is also very compassionate. He is inquisitive, stubborn, and deeply connected to his father and their idyllic little cabin. He’s not prepared for the reality outside of his little cabin.
Convery’s performance isn’t always annoying or cloying. Instead, Convery adds subtle layers of intelligence to the new friendships that he forms with children and adults once he has escaped his bubble. Particularly, Convery’s connection with Tommy Jepperd, a loner/survivor, who grudgingly saves Gus and is forced to shepherd the child to Colorado, is a brilliant evolution from mutual irritation into an earned bond that eventually becomes one of the most significant emotional arcs in the series.
There’s nothing clunky about the eight episodes of Season One. They all manage to weave three parallel stories into an emotionally charged season finale. —Tara Bennett
5. The Witcher
High fantasy fans will love Netflix’s The Witcher. It prioritizes a compelling narrative and insightful characters over the sex and spectacle other shows seem to rely upon (although there is some of that). The series was adapted from a series by Polish writer Andrzej sapkowski. It also features a video game franchise. It is set in a fictional area called the Continent where gruesome supernatural beings exist alongside humans, mages, and other familiar creatures found in fantasy. Henry Cavill stars as Geralt of Rivia, a monster-hunter-for-hire known as a witcher whose main antagonist might be the plot. The show is a mix of interesting world-building and a story that involves Geralt’s destiny being tied with that of Freya Allen’s Ciri, a young princess. Warning: Some viewers found the series difficult to follow. For those who haven’t read the source material, the key is to understand that The Witcher was told in chronological order. Multiple timelines begin to merge near the end. This won’t ruin anything, but it will increase your enjoyment. Now “Toss a coin” to your Witcher …” — Kaitlin Tom
4. The Magicians
The Magicians is originally sold to viewers as “Harry Potter For Adults” because it’s set in a secret school for magicians, and people have limited imaginations. Syfy’s show is much more than this. The series is based on Lev Grossman’s books. Jason Ralph plays Quentin Coldwater. He discovers that the rich, magical world he loved growing up is real and threatens the world we know. He enrolls at Brakebills University to become a magician and joins a group of young twenty-somethings on an exciting adventure that cleverly twists the script around some of the most common tropes of the genre. The Magicians is often darkly comic while still dealing with serious subjects. However, if you persevere, you’ll enjoy one of the most entertaining fantasy shows of the past decade. —Kaitlin Thomas
3. Shadow and Bone
Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy and subsequent Six of Crows duology are the inspirations for Netflix’s new series Shadow and Bone. This familiar Chosen One story has enough appeal to appeal even to those who don’t enjoy fantasy. A fictional country set in Ravka is based on Russia. It features an orphan named Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), who discovers that she is the only one capable of saving her country from the dark forces that threaten it.
Alina has to contend with both those who would use her and her unique ability and those who want it to be snuffed out. The show explores larger themes such as destiny and abuses and power, but never shies away from more serious topics like racism or oppression. Although it won’t be a groundbreaking show in fantasy, the first eight episodes of the season are a standout. The story is full of emotion and is backed up by unique mythology. —Kaitlin Thomas
Based on Diana Gabaldon’s popular series of books, Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall, a nurse living in 1940s England, who is transported through mystical stones back to the 1740s while on holiday in Scotland. As she struggles for survival and a path home, she meets James Fraser, a tall, dark, and handsome Highlander. The rest is history. Outlander does a wonderful job of following the couple’s history through time, and provides tense, captivating, and yes romantic storytelling. Its cast is truly amazing, and the series’ leads will have you believing in love at first glance. The show is full of political intrigue, battles, and beauty on every level. It’s a wonderful, cozy (and sexy!) adventure. Outlander will take you to the dangerous and surprising world of its mysterious, beautiful theme song, by Bear McCreary, as soon as you hear it. —Allison Keene
1. Age of Resistance: The Dark Crystal
Prequel to Jim Henson’s 1982 cult movie The Dark Crystal. Netflix’s TV series Age of Resistance showcases some of the most remarkable puppeteering and practical effects that we have ever seen. This series is unlike any other on the list, and likely, unlike anything you have ever seen. The events of the series take place before the events in the film. You don’t have to see the film to enjoy it. This is a complex and unique world, so it’s a good idea to have some background knowledge. The series is set on the planet Thra and follows three members of the elf-like Gelfling race (voiced by Taron Emerton, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Anya Taylor Joy) as they attempt to unite all Gelfling clans and defeat the Skeksis reptilian Skeksis. They have destroyed the planet’s heartbeat and caused a deadly disease to spread throughout the world. This series may not be suitable for casual fantasy fans, but the amazing work displayed makes it a must-see TV show. —Kaitlin Thomas