When it came on the scene, AMC’s The Walking Dead changed the entire landscape of television. It brought true grit and drama into what had formerly been relegated to B-movie schlock. It gave us a bleak world that was decidedly human, full of people we loved, people we loathed, and people that vacillated between the two extremes. We were given a rich tapestry of characters, ever-changing and usually remarkable.
Then, many fans say it jumped the shark. Or, rather, it jumped the barbed-wire bat to land firmly in the region of trash television full of gross thrills, cynicism, empty misery, and audience manipulation in place of depth, heart, or realism.
Fans have begun leaving TWD en masse after a lackluster 6th season and a pointlessly bloody beginning to the 7th. Millions of eyeballs are now looking elsewhere for how to spend their entertainment time and money. If you’re one of those who is ready to leave The Walking Dead for good, or a fan who wants something else that can fulfill your desire for oddities, deep character arcs, and playful violence, then here’s 18 Walking Dead TV alternatives – and one video game – you might consider.
A show with fight scenes that trump everything else out there – and yes, we know that’s a tall order – Banshee is good for getting your anti-hero fix. A criminal becomes the town sheriff and proceeds to dispense his own particular brand of justice, which can leave you worrying about who to root for. At the end of the day: it’s wicked, brutal action.
A family is thrown into a cult where they must determine what is real, what is belief, and what is human manipulation. Powerful in message and in characterization, it paints a picture of real life that is both as bleak and as hopeful as The Walking Dead in a way that can speak to anyone, from the faithful to the secular.
This is bottled madness about a criminal family with some deeply insane proclivities. Tense, dour, and fascinating, there’s a lot of power behind the characters, with more than enough weirdness to keep anyone who likes American Horror Story as well as TWD coming back to the well.
Forget the supernatural and look at the too-close-to-home realism of Russian spies living among the capitalist dogs of America during the 80’s. You’ll find yourself on everyone’s side at any given time, and part of you will wish the communists had won the cold war.
If you didn’t know there still was a History channel, then you’re missing the boat. Vikings is a stellar drama that brings realistic history into the fold, thanks to the insights of the brilliant minds behind the camera. It’s truth as stranger than fiction, with lots of medieval violence to be had.
Time travel without the Science Fiction of Dr. Who, Outlander follows the works of author Diana Gabaldon where a battlefield nurse is swept back in time. It’s a far more intense version of Sleepy Hollow that keeps the story tight and tense, leaving you guessing.
Surprisingly gorgeous, if you’re familiar with the lore, you know that setting your DVR for this series is a must. Earth is at war with Mars, and even though it’s on the inaptly named SyFy channel, you’ll be surprised at how engaging this is. Plus, read the books by James S. A. Corey.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
When you’re weary of The Walking Dead pulling your strings, this is all the undead horror schtick without the misery-laden gore-porn. It’s fun, campy, and lets you in on the joke instead of insulting your intellect.
Here’s where it gets heavy. Jessica Jones tackled some serious issues about rape and gender, but the spin-off, Luke Cage is going after racial tensions through the eyes of a bulletproof hero. Loads of ass-kicking along with some really vile, yet human characters alongside some superhumans that prove outcasts sometimes bear the most humanity.
Hard to describe, The Leftovers requires a watch to try and fathom what is going on. Rather than giving you a simple world filled with zombies, it paints a landscape as varied and strange as the characters that populate it. Lost and X-Files fans who want a weirdness dose to ease their shakes should find it here. Don’t let The Rapture premise spook you. This isn’t a Kirk Cameron film.
A group of the dead comes back to life in a single small town, leading to questions and mysteries among the joy of reunion. It moves awfully slow, but is a truly high-brown Walking Dead replacement that asks difficult questions while showing rich, powerful characters.
Fear The Walking Dead
The student has become the master in a very short span of time. A wholly different landscape than the one seen on the original TWD, Fear has foes aplenty, and friends who might be enemies as well, all woven with authentic pushing and pulling that harkens back to Carol’s heydey when The Walking Dead was good.
In The Flesh
Taking an interesting swipe at racism, In The Flesh depicts people who are zombies that have been cured. They are now normal, but few can see them as anything but monsters. Some choose to indulge in their darker nature, whether they be “average” or remade undead.
Since no one seemed to watch this stellar police drama, it’s worth revisiting if the name is new to you. One of the best cop shows on TV that has conflict between the men and women in blue as they go through living life in the city of angels.
Forget about zombies, Containment looks at a viral outbreak that is similar to The Strain without the nonsensical vampire elements. Deeply disturbing for both its realism and the fantasy, it’s a conspiracy-theorist’s dream as much as a human tale.
The Night Manager
Creepy and unsettling, The Night Manager might just be a miniseries at this point, but the eerie characters and ugly work done in this adaptation of spy master John le Carré’s books is a master class.
You should already know this one, since it’s hard to escape. Fargo is easily one of the most brutal shows on TV, though it never acts needlessly or tries to wrench the heartstrings of the audience like The Walking Dead has taken to doing. Rather, it proves how savage yet comical regular life is.
Sons of Anarchy
From beginning to end, this series played second fiddle to TWD only because it was a little too accurate to offer the escapism that a zombie apocalypse backdrop provides. If you haven’t tried it, Netflix it up and get ready to have your mind blown.
The Walking Dead Video Game
Here’s the god’s honest: Telltale Games Walking Dead series has developed better storytelling, deeper characters, and a more immersive setting than the ever-degrading Walking Dead has. Even if you aren’t a gamer, there’s limited need for fast-twitch skills, as the fun and play relies more on dialog and making tough choices and then coping with the consequences. It drops you into The Walking Dead world without trying to play you like a cheap fiddle.