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Rewrite History With These Historical Fantasy Shows

August 20, 2020 197 votes 30 voters17 items

List RulesVote up the best TV shows that set their magical tales in a specific period of history past.

Magic awaits those who tune into the best historical, mythological, and theological TV series. From famous wizards to divine beings, these shows feature a bevy of characters found in classic texts and tales. Although some historical fantasy TV shows follow characters who attempt to change momentous events of the past, just as many appear to be plain period pieces - until someone casts a spell.

Whether your want to travel a few decades or a few centuries, there's a historical fantasy series for you. Love the mid-20th century? James Franco plays an English teacher who travels back in time in an attempt to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 11.22.63, the popular Hulu series based on Stephen King's book of the same name. Want a buffet of time periods? American Gods is another great fantasy show based on a book that features several mythologies and is set in various historic time periods as well as the present. Don't forget that time travel isn't just for sci-fi. Claire Randall travels between World War II and 1742 Scotland in Outlander. Salem is another good show that combines fantasy with history and a touch of religion. Many medieval fantasy TV series revisit the era of King Arthur, from Camelot to Cursed.

Help make history with this list by voting your favorite historical and mythological TV series up to the top spot.

  • Merlin
    Photo: BBC One
    Merlin (BBC One, 2008) is a British fantasy-adventure drama television series based on the Arthurian legends. Merlin (Colin Morgan), a young and powerful wizard, sets out to fulfill his destiny: to protect Arthur (Bradley James) and ensure his throne.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Colin Morgan, Angel Coulby, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Anthony Head
    • Premiered: 2008
    • Network: BBC One
    Fantastically good history show?

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  • Penny Dreadful
    Photo: Showtime
    Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 2014) is a British-American horror drama television series created by John Logan. Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton), American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), scientist Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), and medium Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) unite to combat supernatural threats in Victorian London.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Eva Green
    • Premiered: 2014
    • Network: Showtime
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  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Photo: BBC One
    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (BBC, 2015) is a seven-part British fantasy television series to be shown on BBC One, adapted by Peter Harness from Susanna Clarke's best-selling novel of the same name. Set in England during the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century, and with magic long since lost to England, two men are destined to bring it back; the reclusive Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan) and daring novice Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel). So begins a dangerous battle between two great minds.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Bertie Carvel, Eddie Marsan, Marc Warren
    • Network: BBC One
    Fantastically good history show?
  • Da Vinci's Demons
    Photo: Starz
    Da Vinci's Demons is an historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life. The series was conceived by David S. Goyer and stars Tom Riley in the title role. It is developed and produced in collaboration with BBC Worldwide and is shot in Wales, United Kingdom. The series has been distributed to over 120 countries. The show follows Leonardo as he is implicated in the political schemes of the Medici and Pazzi families and their contrasting relationships with the Catholic Church. These events occur alongside Leonardo's quest to obtain the Book of Leaves as he finds himself entangled with a cult known as the Sons of Mithras. The series premiered... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Tom Riley, Gregg Chillin, Eros Vlahos
    • Premiered: 2013
    Fantastically good history show?