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The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows 

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Updated June 29, 2020 15.1k votes 3.6k voters 195k views 62 items

List Rules Shows near the top must be only the best Historical Fiction TV series.

This is a list of the best historical fiction shows on television, ranked from best to worst. Whether dramas, comedies, or action shows, TV series set in real history have rich source material and great stories to tell. This list of the greatest historical fiction shows also includes pictures from the shows when available. Popular historical fiction TV shows have been a staple of television for years, because we love to learn about our ancestors via a compelling narrative rather than dumb books, so there's often debate about which are the top history shows of all time. Never heard one of these debates? Then you live under a rock. Don't let your favorite historical fiction television programs in history get to the bottom of the list- be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. The list of historical fiction television shows below includes information like the program's cast, creator and premiere date when available.

List shows include Vikings, The Tudors, Deadwood, and many other history TV shows. Just because every detail in the series isn't textbook-level accurate doesn't mean the show isn't realistic. These are the best historical fiction series of all time!

This list answers the questions, "What is the best historical fiction show of all time?" and "What are the greatest historical fiction shows?"
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1
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen

Premiered: 2013

Vikings (History, 2013) is a historical drama television series created by Michael Hirst. A farmer (Travis Fimmel) rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a ...more

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2
The Tudors is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Anthony Brophy

Premiered: 2007

The Tudors (Showtime, 2007) is a historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst. In 16th-century England, King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) protects his throne from enemies ...more

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#124 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #137 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #86 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

3
Rome is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
MichaelCavanaugh added Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker

Premiered: 2005

Rome (HBO, 2005) is a British-American-Italian historical drama television series created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller. A down-to-earth account of the lives of both ...more

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#111 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #187 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #135 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

4
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
JenShivel added Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern

Premiered: 2010

Downton Abbey (PBS, 2010) is a British historical drama television series created by Julian Fellowes. A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in ...more

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The Best Downton Abbey Actors #43 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #141 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

5
The Borgias is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Jeremy Irons, François Arnaud, Holliday Grainger

Premiered: 2011

The Borgias (Showtime, 2011) is a historical-fiction drama television series created by Neil Jordan. In the fifteenth century, Pope Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons) tries to control all power in ...more

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#329 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #143 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #340 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

6
Reign is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
AnnieRobison added Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows, Torrance Coombs

Premiered: 2013

Reign (The CW, 2013) is an American historical romantic drama television series created by Stephanie SenGupta and Laurie McCarthy. Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, (Adelaide Kane) faces political ...more

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#193 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #173 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #73 of 293 The Best Female-Led TV Shows

7
Black Sails is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
TimothyJHunte added Jessica Parker Kennedy, Toby Stephens, Hannah New

Premiered: 2014

Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. The series was created by Jonathan ...more

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#175 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #215 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #144 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

8
Hell on Wheels is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Joan H Jenkin added Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Robin McLeavy

Premiered: 2011

Hell on Wheels (AMC, 2011) is an American/Canadian Western television series created by Joe and Tony Gayton. Hell-bent on revenge, a former Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) joins the Union ...more

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The Best Seasons of Hell on Wheels #197 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #339 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

9
The Pillars of the Earth... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne

Premiered: 2010

The Pillars of the Earth (Starz, 2010) is an eight-part TV miniseries based on the 1989 novel by Ken Follett. Set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears ...more

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#47 of 189 The Best Medieval Movies #50 of 175 The Best Miniseries in TV History #7 of 33 The Greatest TV Shows Set in the Medieval Era

10
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Premiered: 2004

Deadwood (HBO, 2004) is an American Western television series created by David Milch. In 1870s South Dakota, residents of Deadwood are involved in all sorts of corruption, crime, and secrets.

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#80 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #242 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #127 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

11
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
RazvanPop added Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett

Premiered: 2008

John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of U.S. President John Adams' political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John ...more

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12
The Last Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
alsrsr-sultan added Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Tobias Santelmann

Premiered: 2015

The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 2015) is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. In 872 England, an unlikely hero (Alexander ...more

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13
World Without End is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
David Bradley, Oliver Maltman

Premiered: 2012

World Without End is an eight-episode 2012 television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Ken Follett. It is a sequel to the 2010 miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, also based on ...more

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#13 of 33 The Greatest TV Shows Set in the Medieval Era #30 of 36 The Best TV Shows About Disease Outbreaks

14
Roots is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added LeVar Burton, Olivia Cole, Robert Reed

Premiered: 1977

This award-winning six-part historical epic was one of the first examples of the miniseries format and one of the highest-rated television programs in broadcasting history. Based on the ...more

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#161 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #82 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #24 of 43 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories

15
Peaky Blinders is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Sharon López added Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson

Premiered: 2013

Peaky Blinders (BBC Two, 2013) is a British television action drama created by Steven Knight, based upon the exploits of the historical gang. In 1919 Birmingham, England, leader Tommy Shelby ...more

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16
Spartacus: Blood and San... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
crystallandi added Eric McIntire, Daniel Spink, Matthew Felker

Premiered: 2010

Spartacus: Blood and Sand is the title of the first and most critically acclaimed season of Spartacus, a television series that premiered on Starz on January 22, 2010. The series was inspired by ...more

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#154 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #196 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #104 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

17
Pride and Prejudice is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Colin Firth, Lucy Davis, Alison Steadman

Premiered: 1995

Pride and Prejudice is a six-episode 1995 British television drama, adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen's 1813 novel of the same name. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth starred as Elizabeth ...more

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The Best Books Inspired by Pride and Prejudice #303 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #111 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

18
Versailles is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Meghan Lucey Freeman added Versailles George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan

Premiered: 2015

Versailles (Canal+, 2015) is a television series created by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft. In 1667, 28-year-old all-powerful king of France, Louis XIV (George Blagden), decides to build ...more

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#12 of 30 The Best Wardrobes in Television Show History #17 of 120 The Best Historical Drama TV Shows #65 of 95 The Best Period Piece TV Shows

19
Spartacus: Vengeance is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Brett Tucker, Craig Parker, Viva Bianca

Premiered: 2012

Spartacus: Vengeance is the title of the second season of Spartacus, a New Zealand produced, Starz television series, which follows Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It premiered on January 27, and ...more

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#182 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #21 of 120 The Best Historical Drama TV Shows #4 of 4 The Best Seasons of 'Spartacus'

20
Marco Polo is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Sharon López added Benedict Wong, Olivia Cheng, Joan Chen

Premiered: 2013

Marco Polo is an American drama series about Marco Polo's early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the Khagan of the Mongolian Empire and the founder of the Yuan dynasty, which lasted from ...more

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#299 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #20 of 120 The Best Historical Drama TV Shows #5 of 33 The Greatest TV Shows Set in the Medieval Era

21
The Musketeers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
elza-elizabete-leice added Tom Burke, Luke Pasqualino, Santiago Cabrera

Premiered: 2014

The Musketeers is a BBC historical-action drama programme based on the characters from Alexandre Dumas's novel The Three Musketeers and co-produced by BBC America and BBC Worldwide. The first ...more
22
Turn: Washington's Spies... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Jamie Bell, Angus Macfadyen, Kevin McNally

Premiered: 2014

TURN: Washington's Spies is a period drama based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, a history of the Culper Ring. The series debuted on AMC on ...more

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23
Wolf Hall is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
aj-hudson added Wolf Hall Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy

Premiered: 2015

Wolf Hall (BBC Two, 2015) is a British historical drama television series based on the novels by Hilary Mantel. After the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey (Jonathan Pryce), Thomas Cromwell (Mark ...more

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#31 of 120 The Best Historical Drama TV Shows #32 of 95 The Best Period Piece TV Shows #16 of 31 The Greatest TV Shows About Kings & Queens

24
Narcos is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Sharon López added Pedro Pascal, Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook

Premiered: 2015

Narcos (Netflix, 2015) is an American drama web-television series created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, and Doug Miro. A chronicled look at the exploits of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo ...more

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Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Narcos' #106 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #165 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

25
Upstairs, Downstairs is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Historical Fiction TV Shows
Greer Baudreau added Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh

Premiered: 1971

Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 ...more