10 Fantasy Medieval Shows That Aren’t Just Political
Since the premiere of game of thrones, it seems like every other medieval fantasy show has become politically focused. Rather than having adventure and magic with a dash of politics, these shows focus on political intrigue and maneuvering with a dash of fantasy, trying to recapture the appeal of game of thrones.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Many shows accomplish this while telling fresh and interesting stories instead of being rip-offs. Nonetheless, it has become an important theme, and not just in medieval fantasy. More than half of fantasy shows, medieval and otherwise, are about politics. It’s a relief these days to go back to a simple fantasy that is actually about dragons rather than feuding with nobles who have dragons.
10/10 The letter for the king
A new hero’s journey
Based on the novel by Tonke Dragt, The letter for the king is the story of a young squire who accepts a dangerous secret mission. Although the show has been called “game of thrones for kids”, politics are actually on the back burner for this adventure. Instead, the focus is on the young hero and his growth along the way.
The show has major differences from the book. Rather than letting the hero go on a quest with a single companion, he goes with a group of other young heroes. There’s also a fantasy element that wasn’t in the book. The show is a bit rushed and many fans of the book don’t like the changes. Even so, it’s not too shabby, and it’s great for binge-watching on a free afternoon.
Politics is not the biggest problem
Merlin is a television series that aired from 2008 to 2012 on BBC One and features an unconventional take on Arthurian legends. Instead of an old mentor guiding a young boy, Merlin and Arthur are teenagers who become close friends. However, magic is forbidden in Camelot, forcing Merlin to hide his gifts in order to survive.
Even though the story is about Merlin helping Arthur to be a good king, there’s hardly any real politics involved. There are plots, certainly, and a bit of backstabbing. It is far from being close to the level of game of throneshowever, and most problems are easily solved with magic and defeating the good bad guy.
8/10 red wall
A miniature epic
Aired from 1999 to 2002, red wall is an animated show for children based on the Brain Jacques novels. It tells the adventures of a hero and his people who protect their homes from various dangers.
Although it’s a story with talking animals, the show is a large-scale epic that’s not afraid to go to dark places. Each season tells of a war between good and evil. The young protagonist is a champion of the innocent who fights evil villains and eventually passes on his mantle to younger generations. It draws inspiration from other fantasy epics before it without being a total offshoot of them.
7/10 Robin of Sherwood
Grounded, but still fantastic
Robin of Sherwood a fantastic retelling of the Robin Hood legend with a down-to-earth aesthetic. In this version, Herne the Hunter, a character from Celtic mythology, makes Robin Hood his champion and charges him with protecting the people from their Norman oppressors.
The show has Robin Hood dealing with moral dilemmas and the occasional real-world issue (like anti-Semitism) and isn’t afraid to break its audience’s hearts. However, Robin of Sherwood is above all a simple fantasy adventure. The morality is simplified and easy to understand, and no matter how bad things go, the heroes remain a thorn in the side of tyranny.
6/10 The wheel of time
One of the many descendants of The Lord of the Rings
The wheel of time is an epic fantasy based on the book series of the same name. It follows a group of characters led by a powerful young witch who wishes to find the hero destined to save the world.
On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a four in terms of including politics in its plot. There is a touch of plot in later seasons, but other than that it has more in common with The Lord of the Rings that game of thrones. The wheel of time is part of The Lord of the Rings’ many descendants that have emerged since the movie trilogy was released in the early 2000s, and the inspiration comes through through its relationships to world-building and characters.
Evil is easily identified
Damn is yet another version of the Arthurian legends. It tells the story of King Arthur through the eyes of the powerful woman who would eventually become the legendary Lady of the Lake. It’s a coming-of-age adventure about a young girl who learns to overcome her fears and embrace her gifts.
The show features many real-world issues, including violence, religious bigotry, and environmentalism. There are a few power plays made by enemy kings and a tragic death. However, actual politics rarely make an appearance on the show, and the show doesn’t make it hard to take sides. Morality has few gray areas in Damnand there’s no question who’s a hero and who’s a villain.
4/10 the witcher
Just love and monsters
the witcher is a fantasy/adventure series based on the Polish book series of the same name. Starring Henry Cavill as the titular witcher, the series follows the adventures of a monster hunter and his friends as he protects his new young ward from danger.
As The wheel of time, the witcher is a four on a scale of one to 10 when it comes to including politics in its plot. There might be a few power plays and a plot or two. However, the heart of the series is fighting monsters and finding a family. Most of the conflict comes from one or the other.
3/10 Researcher Legend
Good old fashioned adventure
Loosely inspired by Terry Goodkind sword of truth series, Researcher Legend follows the adventures of a young hero and his quest to fulfill a prophecy. It aired for two seasons and included major events from the first two books, plus a few elements from others.
The show is a series of sword and sorcery adventures. There are no politics and almost no plot. It’s just wizards, romance and sword fights. The writing isn’t the best, and there are clear influences from other popular properties, including The Lord of the Rings, star wars, and Harry Potter. Even so, it’s a good watch for a fantasy fan who needs something to take their mind off things.
2/10 Once upon a time
Family on thrones
Once upon a time tells the adventures of a group of characters, most of which are from different fairy tales and children’s stories. Since the series is set in many places, including today’s United States, the series would technically not be considered medieval fantasy. However, much of the action takes place in a medieval fantasy setting.
Despite the occasional storyline, the series has nothing to do with politics. The majority of the conflict centers around the characters solving mysteries, building relationships, and going on adventures to other worlds. Most royals, even the villains, are more interested in keeping their families safe and happy than reclaiming their lost thrones.
1/10 the outpost
Swords Solve Everything
the outpost is a fantasy/adventure series about a young warrior whose quest for revenge quickly turns into a fight for freedom and justice. His base of operations is an outpost on the edge of civilization.
Although the series is full of drama and intrigue, the fighting is the main attraction. The choreography of these scenes is well done despite the small budget. The star actress does all her own stunts, and special effects are kept to a minimum for a more grounded, gritty aesthetic. It’s an entertaining story with an intriguing and relatable main hero who delivers some great victories.
NEXT: 10 Best Fantasy Series Of The 21st Century