Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter may have made fantasy acceptable in the mainstream but it was Game of Thrones that made it cool. Six plot-dense seasons (with number seven on the way shortly) have so far charted the rise and fall of claimants to the Iron Throne, never tiring of gleefully flinging your way scenes packed full of blood, politics, swords, sex, and dragons — often at the same time.
Superb casting helps, not least Peter Dinklage’s scheming Tyrion Lannister. The set and effects are also dazzling, major battles appearing to have been wrenched wholesale form expensive movies rather than being episodes of a mere TV show.
But revelling in the unexpected is what keeps Game of Thrones compelling. From a shocking beheading early on to horrifying, scandalous betrayals that occur at regular intervals, it’s clear all bets are off. No one is safe; keep your eyes glued to the screen.
Set in 1983 and channeling Spielberg (and King), this creepy series features kids searching for a vanished buddy.
The Garth Ennis comic explodes onto the screen. Its mix of gore, glee, and guns enthrals, despite a sense of shallowness.
Marvel’s grittiest outpost finds the blind lawyer continuing to beat up baddies, with the Punisher now in the mix.
Mr Robot‘s world of dark technology, hacking, and social disorder is peppered with weirdness. Smart and essential.