In the world of television, Fantasy series can appeal to a wide array of viewers, such as teenagers looking for allegorical representations of their real-life experiences, and adults, who just might want to watch something well-plotted with a fantastical element running through it.
Netflix boasts an impressive library of back-catalog series, including several that have been off the air for years, acquired from major networks. Additionally, Netflix produces many of their own series, some of which are worth taking some time to sit back and enjoy. Fantasy, in the era of streaming, doesn’t have to be so out of reach.
10 The Witcher
The Witcher is a fantasy drama based on a video game series, which, in turn, is adapted from a series of novels by Polish author Andrej Sapkowski. Set in “the Continent,” the story follows Geralt of Rivia – a Monster Hunter – and Cirilla, Princess of Cintra. The two main characters are connected in mysterious ways, and the series has a slow, methodical pace.
The Witcher is full of medieval-fantasy action, and intriguing characters. With a third season on the way, it’s a good time to dive into the world of the Continent.
To think that Arcane is based on the lore of a massively popular Multiplayer game is a bit confusing. However, the League of Legends Mythos is rich and complex, lending itself well to world-building. The show stars Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Bumblebee, Edge of Seventeen) as Violet, aka Vi.
Together with her sister, the two navigate a powder keg scenario: the technological disparity between the utopian over-city, Piltover, and Zaun, where the 99% live. As tensions rise, the Sisters are forced to choose sides. Season 2 is currently in production.
8 Shadow And Bone
Based on author Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology (together, pieces of the ever-expanding Grishaverse), Shadow and Bone follows an Orphaned cartographer named Alina Starkov, who discovers that is a Grisha – a being with the ability to manipulate matter on a molecular level. As it so happens, Alina’s gifts could potentially serve a greater universal good. However, there are conspiratorial forces at work that want to kill Alina, along with other Grishas whom she Encounters on her journey. The series has been renewed for a second season based on the second book in the series.
Outlander is a Netflix show based on a series of novels of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. As the books are ongoing, there is no lack of material to be adapted. The series follows Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe), a woman whose life in Scotland in 1945 is upended when she’s mysteriously sent back to 1743. From there, Claire meets a tacksman named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes involved in an uprising.
The series plays with fictionalized versions of historical events. Interestingly, the series was developed by Ronald D. Moore, who worked on various Star Trek series, and brought the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series to life. A seventh season is on the way, with a prequel series in the early stages of production.
Matt Groening has made quite a name for himself with The Simpsons, Futurama, and the cult-favorite Life in Hell comics. With his first series for Netflix, Disenchantment, he enters new territory: the world of medieval fantasy. Set within Dreamland, the story follows Princess Bean (Abbi Jacobsen), her elf friend Elfo (Academy Award-winner Nat Faxon), and a demon named Luci (Eric André).
The series has all of the usual Matt Groening-style sensibilities, plus magic and dragons. Veteran voice actors John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Billy West, and many others lend the show their singular talents. More episodes are reportedly on the way.
5 The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance
Jim Henson’s original 1982 film, The Dark Crystal, is an all-time classic of puppetry. Whether or not it’s kid-friendly is up to parents’ discretion. The Netflix series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, follows a similar storyline. It follows three Gelflings named Rian, Deet, and Brea, who are tasked with Uniting all wayward Gelfling clans to fight back against the Skeksis.
Additionally, an event called “the Darkening” is beginning to take hold, threatening the entire planet of Thra. The series was canceled after a single season, but it’s still an amazing achievement in production and storytelling.
Based on the video game series of the same name, Netflix’s Castlevania is an extremely dark fantasy series with plenty of action and violence. The series’ first two seasons lift their story from the 1989 game, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, which follows Trevor Belmont, Alucard, Sypha, who team up to fight against Dracula and his cohort of evildoers. Later seasons include elements of the other games in the series. The show was developed by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, and the criminally underrated Planetary). While the series has formally reached its end after four seasons, another in-universe series is in the works.
Merlin, aka The Adventures of Merlin, might have ended back in December 2012, but that hasn’t stopped boatloads of people from discovering it on Netflix. As the title suggests, the series follows the Arthurian Legend (albeit loosely), focusing on Merlin and King Arthur.
As a reimagining of Merlin’s legend, it follows a much younger version of the enchanter as he becomes a servant – and later, friend – to Arthur, who’s beginning his journey to become the King of lore. Additionally, those who are caught practicing magic are immediately sentenced to death, so Merlin has to be sure not to arouse suspicion.
2 The Magicians
Running for five seasons from 2015-2020, Syfy’s The Magicians is based on the novel of the same name by Lev Grossman. It follows Quentin Coldwater, who attends Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy.
There, he learns that the world of magic is much more vast than he had previously imagined, and that it can potentially cause major problems for humanity. When an incident occurs at the school, Quentin and his friends have to deal with the fallout. Although the series has ended, it remains 65 solid episodes of fantasy entertainment.
1 Into The Badlands
AMC’s Into the Badlands premiered in 2015 and ran for three seasons, ending in 2019. The show is notable for its heavy emphasis on martial arts, and applying various fighting techniques throughout its run. The series follows Sunny (Daniel Wu), an Incredible warrior, who decides to mentor a teenage boy named MK (Aramis Knight).
Together, the two enter the Badlands, a realm ruled over by warring groups. The show is vast, and meticulous in world-building, following the intertwined destinies of many intriguing characters – who each have secret motives and goals.
NEXT: The 10 Most Courageous Characters In Fantasy Television