7 ‘Game of Thrones’- like shows for teens

There’s nothing quite like “Game of Thrones.” That’s why it’s held such a tight grip on its audience for six seasons. Based on the George R. R. Martin book series “A Song of Fire and Ice,” its complex bloodlines, twisted relationships, political strife and fascinating character studies all reside in a dark world where dragon eggs are treasured and winter is always on its way. But the realistic, relentless violence and graphic sex make it age-inappropriate for kids. If you’re not ready for your teen to watch it, try something “Game of Thrones”-ish. Not all these teen-friendly alternatives are perfect matches to the “GOT” canon, but they’re set in universes rich with fantastical histories, epic mythologies, deep characters and adventures the whole family can enjoy together.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender”/“Legend of Korra,” ages 9 and older, streaming

Beloved by tweens, teens and parents, these wonderfully written intertwined tales have rich characters and a mystical plot that references legends of long-ago cultures rooted in unity with Earth’s elements. Sound pretty deep for a cartoon? It is, and it’s also tons of fun.

How it’s like “GOT”: Rich storytelling, headstrong heroines and elemental battles (Khaleesi’s dragons breathe a mean fire, but they’re nothing compared to Korra’s water-bending skills).

“Doctor Who,” ages 10 and older, BBC America

The Doctor has been around since the ’60s, and his history goes back way further. He is a Time Lord, after all. The show is more sci-fi than fantasy, but its scope and quality make it a “GOT” peer. Kids will like all the action and perilous predicaments, though the main character always manages to escape his own demise (unlike many GOT characters).

How it’s like “GOT”: It’s got a nimble sense of gallows humor teens will appreciate and an epic catalog of threatening entities that must be defeated.

“Once Upon a Time,” ages 12 and older, ABC

Disney versions of classic fairy tale characters face challenges in Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in a parallel world filled with magic and mystery. While it’s a little too mature for young kids, teens should love seeing these alternate versions of their childhood heroes deal with all kinds of decidedly grown-up problems.

How it’s like “GOT”: Conflicts among characters are often solved by sword fights, death threats and murder — and much of the story is clouded in a sense of peril and shifting loyalties.

“Xena: Warrior Princess,” ages 12 and older, streaming

With a reboot coming up soon, kids can get to know this powerful, independent gal a little early. Like Arya Stark, she’s got sword skills and some serious inner strength. A fun mix of history and fantasy, this cult classic has stuck around for a reason.

How it’s like “GOT”: It’s set in a mythical world with lots of swordplay and its fair share of bare midriffs and sexual innuendo (think “Star Trek”-level, not “GOT”).

“Lost,” ages 14 and older, streaming

This drama set on a mysterious island should have teens on the edges of their seats with that “what the heck’s gonna happen next?” feeling (without surprising them with a gory beheading or mass murder). The cast’s quest to discover where their plane crashed, who the elusive Others are and why there’s a polar bear in the tropics remains riveting through many seasons.

How it’s like “GOT”: Ever-changing loyalties and realism countered with a heavy dose of mysticism, and the shocking deaths of some beloved characters.

“Shadowhunters,” ages 14 and older, Freeform

When you live in a world where werewolves, fairies and vampires are real, teen troubles are a little different. In this fantasy series based on the popular books, main character Clary learns how to navigate her new life dealing with various creatures, intriguing romances and universal teen drama.

How it’s like “GOT”: Lots of family secrets and their aftermath, supernatural battles and compelling characters.

“The Shannara Chronicles,” ages 14 and older, MTV

On a post-apocalyptic future Earth, humans have evolved into numerous races, including trolls, elves and gnomes. All live in harmony until an ancient demon brings magic back into the world and, along with it, trouble that only the young protagonists can stop.

How it’s like “GOT”: Also based on a series of fantasy novels, this show definitely isn’t violence-free, but it’s milder and the trio of heroes is always fighting for good.


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