What is so charming about history? We know what happens when watching a historical re-enactment, but that doesn’t stop us from eagerly awaiting the outcome. In addition to being wonderful, heartbreaking, and sometimes disturbing, history reminds us of where we came from and the growth and hardships we overcame.
Maybe that’s what makes them so attractive — we can look back and see how far we’ve come as a society or as individual human beings, or we can try to avoid the tragedies of history. This is probably why history is so important as a school subject, university discipline, and entertainment genre.
Updated on July 7, 2023, To keep this article fresh and relevant by adding more information and entries, this article has been updated by Gaurav Krishnan to feature more great historical TV series.
Does history repeat itself? It can almost literally, by watching historical TV shows. As George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” It seems that by remembering history, people prevent themselves from falling into the same repetition, so by experiencing history again through visual media such as great television, perhaps humanity can continue history by reviving it artistically.
From epic adventures to heartbreaking romances, cruel betrayals, and everything in between, History has it all, and so do television’s best representations of it. So, get ready and get ready to relive history as we take a look back at some of the best historical shows that have ever graced our TV, computer, and phone screens.
13 ruling era
ruling era It tells the story of Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, as she navigates a 16th-century throne and manages love and loss, war and betrayal. The show ran for four seasons from 2013 to 2017, with a total of 78 episodes. Adelaide Kane plays the character Mary and is supported by an all-star cast that includes Toby Regbo, Megan Tellez, Torrance Combs, and Anna Popplewell.
From start to finish, ruling era She captivated her viewers and kept them engaged until the final moments of the show when Queen Mary was beheaded for plotting against her cousin in England, Queen Elizabeth. Historical art is interesting – no spoilers exactly because everyone knows history; What matters is how well this date is portrayed.
Vikings Originally aired on the History Channel in 2013, the show’s story is based on Nordic myth and folklore. The series follows the journey of central character Ragnar Lothbrok from his humble beginnings as a farmer to how he became one of the greatest Viking warriors of his time. The show is an intriguing depiction of the Nordic legend and is a tremendous cinematic exploration of the concept made for the small screen.
Netflix will continue to produce Vikings: Valhallaa follow-up to the original series, which also performed admirably, and the show remains one of the most comprehensive and well-imagined depictions of the Vikings legend on par with other mythological and historical TV shows of its era.
11 The last kingdom
The last kingdom It is a British television program based on Saxon A series of novels by Bernard Cornwell that explores the story of how King Alfred of England defends his country against Viking invaders. The protagonist Uhtred is a Saxon raised by Danish Vikings, who then sets out to aid King Alfred in his battles against his enemies in hopes of regaining power over the kingdom of Bebbanburg, which is his birthright. The show is packed with action and drama with often compelling depictions of war in the mythical age and is a dramatization of centuries-old British-Danish history that is in some ways captivating.
10 band of brothers
Cinema legends Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks co-created the critically acclaimed war drama series band of brotherswhich tells of the heroic deeds of the brave soldiers of the US Army’s “Easy Company” during World War II, who embarked on such dangerous missions as the Normandy landings, the Battle of Carentan, and the Battle of the Bulge.
With a sizable cast including Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Michael Cudlitz, and Neil McDonough, the stellar show is an adaptation of historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s book and was at one point the most expensive TV series ever, with a reported budget of $125 million.band of brothers It currently holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has won multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe Award.
Poldark It tells the story of British Captain Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), who returns from the American Revolutionary War to find his life in shambles. After losing the war and returning home tired and exhausted, Poldark discovers that his father has died, and that the love of his life and childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth (Hedda Reed), is engaged to be married to his cousin, Francis.
Now, Poldark must forget the shame of a lost war, bury his feelings for Elizabeth, and make a new life for himself in Cornwall. The Five Seasons saga may be soapy and funny at times but it was one of the most enjoyable historical dramas on TV, with The Spectator calling it “undeniably fun.”
8 the crown
the crown is an award-winning Netflix novel about the life of Queen Elizabeth II in the 20th century and the difficulties surrounding her reign. The show was initially based on the award-winning play The audience It was created by showrunner Peter Morgan and stars Claire Foy as the title character in her youth before gradually progressing over the seasons to include Olivia Colman. In addition to being loved by critics, it has garnered a whopping 63 Emmy nominations with 21 wins, and the show is also popular with fans, with an audience score of 91% for the first season.
7 Little house on the prairie
Little house on the prairie It is the longest running show on this list and has created a bit of history itself. Spanning over nine seasons (204 episodes in total) from 1974 to 1983, the series follows the real-life Ingalls as they navigate wild life in late 19th century America. In addition to offering a great cast and story, the show has a tremendous amount of heart and is filled with both endearing and tear-jerking moments. A staple of television among families for decades, Little house on the prairie It shows that the family is immortal, regardless of the historical conflicts that occur.
6 Young Knights
Young Knights is an epic western drama that follows the lives and friendships of six pony riders, fictionalized versions of famous Western legends such as “Wild Bill” Hickok (Josh Brolin), “Buffalo Bill” (Stephen Baldwin), and Billy “The Kid” (Ty Miller). In addition to the great acting by its up-and-coming cast and its fast-paced, action-packed plots, the series has done a great job representing the vast and dirty freedom of the Wild West. The show also featured a great premise and overall score, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music.
5 the chosen
After it was first shown in 2017, the chosen It is the newest offering on this list. It is a biblical account of the story of Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples and followers. In addition to being the first multi-season show about Jesus, the chosen It is also the most successful crowd-funded show. Even for non-Christians, this is a well-realized glimpse into the historical Middle East that was dominated by the Romans during the first century, a fascinating period in which history was irrevocably transformed.
If you’re a Christian, this is a must-watch series that depicts Jesus and his followers in a whole new way and shows viewers just how human these characters can be. The show was created, co-written, and directed by Dallas Jenkins and stars Jonathan Rommy, Elizabeth Tabish, Paras Patel, and Shahar Isaac.
4 Corridor Empire
An immersion in America during the Roaring Twenties and Thirties, HBO’s Corridor Empire It is the most accurate presentation of the Prohibition era. Charting the lives of the most prominent mobsters who rose to power during that era in American history, including the likes of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, and more, the show is an essential depiction of all the glitz, glamor, and crime from those forgotten years.
Boardwalk Empire centers around main character Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who is based on Enoch L. taking over all of America with some added panache. Given that the show is produced by Martin Scorsese, it remains a highly rated and exceptional HBO production in the historical crime drama genre.
3 dead wood
Erotic western period drama dead wood It stars a fantastic group led by Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane and follows real-life residents of the mining town of the same name as Seth Bullock and the Swearengens find themselves on opposite sides of the law during the 1870s in a rapidly growing settlement.
The thriller is widely regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time, winning eight Emmy Awards throughout its three seasons and a Golden Globe Award, being praised for its strong writing, compelling dialogue and stellar performances. Due to its overwhelming popularity and success, a follow-up titled Deadwood: The Movie It was released in 2019 to rave reviews.
border It is probably one of the most underrated Netflix shows. championship game of thrones Casting Jason Momoa including Landon Liboiron, Zoe Boyle, and Evan Jonigkeit, this historical drama should have been an even bigger hit than it did. Set during the 1700s in Canada (and with appropriately gorgeous glacial scenery) the show follows a dispute between outlaw Declan Harp (Jason Momoa) and high-ranking officer Lord Archibald Benton (Alun Armstrong).
All three seasons feature great acting, an interesting and fast-developing storyline, and plenty of action scenes to keep the viewers on their toes. While Netflix hasn’t officially canceled the show, it’s unlikely that there will be a fourth season, as it’s been nearly four years since the third season was released. Fortunately, streaming keeps the past alive, and the series can still be revisited.
1 Turn: Washington’s Spies
Turn: Washington’s Spies It’s all–love, hope, friendships, betrayals, and a poignant depiction of the birth of a country. In this historical drama, we follow the lives of the real-life best friends who made up the Culper Ring (the nation’s first spy ring) during the American Revolution.
In addition to the great intrigue in the plot, the show is packed with action-packed battle scenes, passionate romance, and quirky characters that inject the seriousness of 18th-century politics with a good dose of humor. As the cast fights for America’s freedom, the series gives life to history and lifts it from the past to the present as only the best art can do. This is one of the greatest historical dramas on television.