Movies and shows like Shadow and Bone
Fantasy is escapism, but the genre doesn’t shy away from real-world issues. In fact, they often inform the narratives constructed in these universes full of unparalleled power. The Netflix original series Shadow and Bone is the latest show to join this storied tradition, taking Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and bringing it to life for a new audience.
However, with the series done for the time being, that leaves behind a void, a need for more content. A desire for more fantastical stories and worlds to fall headfirst into and explore. That’s where this list comes in, Netflix Lifers.
We’ve compiled 10 fantasy movies and shows like Shadow and Bone just for you. While the series is unique in its own right, it’s not dissimilar from other stories that share its genre. The themes found in fantasy often circle back to what it means to belong, a hero’s journey, and the responsibility that comes with great power.
Whether it’s a young man who comes across a fallen star or a young girl with otherworldly abilities, fantasies aren’t only about what sets someone apart. They’re also about being a part of something bigger than yourself.
In Shadow and Bone, we saw the beginning of Alina Starkov‘s journey. As the Sun Summoner, she is the hope of her people both Grisha and non-Grisha alike. Her story has just begun on Netflix, but she isn’t alone in her quest to find her place and understand her power.
There are other stories just like hers on the streamer. More even than the ten we’ve collected here. But this is a starting place for any newcomers to fantasy or those looking to go on yet another twisting ride full of adventure, power, and worlds alike and unlike our own.
Here’s to going off the deep end into more fantasy! Let’s start with the modern classic Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Shows like Shadow and Bone: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Nickelodeon is home to many childhood favorites from Hey Arnold! to Spongebob Squarepants but when it comes to fantasy, the network’s masterpiece is Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The fantasy action-adventure series created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino ran from 2005-2008. In that short time, the show amassed a huge following as fans fell in love with Aang’s quest to master the elements in preparing to stop Fire Lord Ozai’s tyranny.
Though Aang was but 12 years old, the fate of the world rested on his young shoulders as he struggled to come into his own not just with his abilities but in his understanding of a world that had changed over the 100 years that he was trapped in a glacier.
But thanks to Katara, the last waterbender in the Southern Water Tribe, and her brother Sokka, Aang’s journey turned out to be full of adventures taking him around the world to meet new friends like the earthbender Toph and discover a way to bring an end to the Fire Nation’s reign of terror without compromising the values the Air monks instilled in him.
Friendship, forgiveness, and redemption are huge themes in Avatar: Last Airbender. The latter can especially be seen in Zuko, the abused son of the Fire Lord who travels with his Uncle Iroh in search of the Avatar. He hopes that capturing Aang will renew his father’s faith in him.
All three seasons of the series are available to stream on Netflix. The platform is currently developing a live-action adaptation of the show that is rumored to have major changes for the story fans know and love.Next: No. 2
Shows like Shadow and Bone: Cursed
It seems virtually impossible to dive into fantasy without coming across a work based on or influenced by Arthurian legend. While it’s not true that everyone knows about Arthur, Excalibur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table, the mythic story has been told so many times in pop culture that it’s practically ubiquitous.
Netflix, however, took the legend down a path not often traveled with Cursed, a series based on the graphic novel by show creators Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler. Instead of Arthur being at the front of the tale, there’s Nimue, a young fae girl who will one day become the Lady of the Lake.
Charged by her mother to deliver a powerful sword to Merlin, Nimue travels the countryside desperately trying to avoid the attention of the crusaders. Pious and cruel men, the Red Paladins believe it is their God-given duty to eradicate magic from the world.
They set villages on fire and crucify fae, violently spreading their faith and bringing “order” to a world they see as corrupted by magic and the beings capable of wielding such power.
Along her journey, Nimue meets Arthur, a mercenary with a bit of a cocky streak and an interest in both her and her sword. Their alliance is the first of many Nimue will forge as her quest to find Merlin turns into her becoming a leader and protector in her own right.
Cursed has yet to be renewed. The first season of the series is available to stream now.Next: No. 3
Shows like Shadow and Bone: Fate: The Winx Saga
Media focused entirely on fae, or fairies, is unfortunately rare in fantasy. Fate: The Winx Saga, the live-action version of the popular children’s animated series The Winx Club, is one of the few expanded into a television adaptation.
The show takes Bloom’s story and spins it for an older audience, embracing a darker tone that has been criticized by fans of its previous iteration as falling prey to the Riverdale effect. Fate: The Winx Saga also came under fire in a whitewashing controversy that is a part of the show’s legacy now.
Still, like Shadow and Bone, the series features elemental magic. Bloom is a powerful wielder of fire but struggles with control. Aisha is skilled in water manipulation but smaller quantities of the liquid are difficult for her to shape. Terra’s talent is based in plant work and earth-based magic. Stella controls light but pressure from her mother the queen can cause her powers to be erratic. And Musa is an empath who can’t turn off her ability to feel everyone’s emotions.
They’re at Alfea College to learn how to control and weaponize their powers in order to work alongside specialists in their effort to defeat the Burned Ones and a dark force threatening their way of life. Though with spies among their fellow fairies, it may be too late to stop the destruction barreling their way.
Fate: The Winx Saga has been renewed for season 2. The first season is available to stream now.Next: No. 4
Shows like Shadow and Bone: The Legend of Korra
The Legend of Korra is the series sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, return fans to the world of ATLA decades after the events of the first series.
Our protagonist this time is Korra, an avatar who hails from the Southern Water Tribe. Korra has been able to bend earth, fire, and water since she was four years old. Air, however, is an element that’s elusive to her. With her mastery of all four elements incomplete, Korra steals away from the protection of the White Lotus to find Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang and Katara.
Tenzin is an airbender, the first to be born in 100 years, and is the only one capable of teaching Korra how to move past what’s blocking her from mastering the element. Spoiler alert: it’s her impatience and inability to be still. Korra is cocky, confident, brash, and hotheaded when air bending requires calm and a connection to one’s spirit.
But Republic City isn’t just Tenzin’s home, it’s a thriving metropolis with a people ripe for the picking as benders and non-benders clash and tensions rise. While Korra spends her nights fighting alongside her new friends–Mako and Bolin–on a pro-bending team, the city’s unrest is being stoked by an anti-bending movement.
It’s a plot that will introduce Korra to Asami, a young engineer who’s unaware just how close she’s tied to the Equalist movement.
All four seasons of Legend of Korra are available to stream on Netflix.Next: No. 5
Movies like Shadow and Bone: Seventh Son
In Netflix Life’s interview with Ben Barnes, he spoke to General Kirigan being a departure from “the traditional protagonist boy with sword” role he’d played several times in his career. Done with narratives involving “trying to win the girl and defeat the monster and find your way in the world,” here was a character who knows who he is, what he’s about, and how powerful he is in the world around him.
But for those curious about Barnes’ earlier work in fantasy outside of his turn as Prince Caspian in the Narnia franchise, consider watching the 2014 film Seventh Son.
Based on The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney, the movie sees Barnes playing the role of Tom Ward. As the seventh son of the seventh son, he’s recruited by Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) to help him defeat Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore).
The queen of evil witches had been defeated and imprisoned by Master Gregory decades ago but when she makes her escape, Mother Malkin kills his apprentice, leaving Master Gregory to count on Tom who never expected to be dragged into a battle between good and evil.
Still, if he doesn’t want the world to fall victim to Mother Malkin’s nefarious plans then he’ll have to pick up his sword and fight for his life and the lives of everyone he cares for.Next: No. 6
Shows like Shadow and Bone: The Shannara Chronicles
Based on the Sword of Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks, The Shannara Chronicles is a fantasy series that aired from 2016-2017.
Originally airing on MTV, the show brought the fantasy genre to a network known mostly for its reality television, and its genesis as a music channel, before moving to Spike for its second season, which would be the last.
The series follows a trio of disparate characters who are thrust into a fight against demons slowly being released due to the Ellcrys dying. The ancient tree is the one force that has kept the demons locked away, but as each leaf from the tree falls, a demon is let loose in the world.
The half-Elf Wil Ohmsford, the Elven princess Amberle Elessedil, and Etria, a human woman raised by a group of thieves called Rovers, must band together to protect the Ellcrys and banish the demons back to the Four Lands. It’s a mission that will require everything from the trio and could cost them their lives..
Both seasons of The Shannara Chronicles are available to stream on Netflix.Next: No. 7
Movies like Shadow and Bone: Stardust
Tristan Thorn is no Matthew Murdock. For one, the Catholic guilt and gravelly voice is nowhere to be seen. But he is a determined young man whose mundane life turns into a fantasy the moment he comes across a fallen star.
However, in the world adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book, a star isn’t a gaseous ball of energy. They’re magical beings, and the one he happens across is named Yvaine.
Discovering this puts a kink in Tristan’s plan to retrieve the star as a token of affection for Victoria, a woman who clearly doesn’t love him but who he loves. Determined to win her hand, Tristan intends to bring Yvaine to Victoria despite this hiccup even if it means bringing the star against her will.
Meanwhile, a trio of witch sisters are plotting to steal Yvaine for themselves. Eating her will return their youth and power to them, something they want desperately as the centuries they have lived are catching up to them.
Ben Barnes also stars in the film as a young Dunstan Thorn, Tristan’s father who meets a princess beyond the wall and gets wrapped up in a brief dalliance that changes his life forever.Next: No. 8
Shows like Shadow and Bone: Stranger Things
If you’re looking for another female-fronted ensemble cast whose world is steeped in its own lore, combining action sequences with a compelling story about family and finding where you belong then Stranger Things is the series for you.
At this point, it feels like everyone has seen the show, but if you haven’t, do know it’s a science fiction fantasy ride that’ll have you thinking of the X-Men crossed with The Wonder Years and Alien.
In the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, not much happens, at least that’s how it seems. But the town houses a facility where secret experiments are being conducted. Most notably on a young girl who goes by Eleven as that’s the number tattooed on her arm. She is telekinetic and linked to a world called the Upside Down.
It’s a dark, bleak place overrun with creatures called Demogorgons and a giant spider-like malevolent being referred to as The Mind Flayer. The Upside Down is also where a young boy named Will has been dragged.
When Eleven escapes the lab, she becomes the one person Will’s friends Dustin, Lucas, and Mike can trust to bring Will back even if the strange circumstances surrounding her appearance in town put them directly in the path of the evil seeping from that awful place.Next: No. 9
Shows like Shadow and Bone: The Witcher
Inevitably, Shadow and Bone is going to be compared to The Witcher, and it makes total sense. They’re both epic fantasies centered on the main character stepping into a role they’re destined to inhabit.
Based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher follows Geralt of Rivia. He’s a monster hunter for hire whose solitary existence is challenged by the bard Jaskier, the powerful sorceress Yennefer, and a young girl named Ciri. In their world, monsters plague the hillsides and the graveyards. They come in many forms, including the very people who see themselves above everyone else.
The first season of the series serves as an origin for the characters, with the exception of Geralt, as their lives intersect at various points in time. It makes for an interesting viewing experience as the audience isn’t cued entirely into where in the past certain events take place. However, each piece of the story revealed weaves a tale of struggle, love, and the potential for a found family.
Season 2 of The Witcher is expected to debut on Netflix sometime in 2021. Production on the second season wrapped in early April. The first season of the series is available to stream now on the platform.Next: No. 10
Shows like Shadow and Bone: Zero
It’s an apt power for a young man who feels overlooked in his community and in love. But Omar’s ability opens the door to his confidence. It’s hard to keep yourself on the sidelines when you’re capable of doing something incredible.
When Omar shares his gift with his trio of friends–Inno, Momo, and Sara–the group becomes focused on taking back their neighborhood from a man determined to make it his by any means necessary.
The young artist also connects with Anna, a fellow artist, who he’d been too shy to truly pursue previously. Though there’s something he doesn’t know about the girl that’s sure to make his life more complicated than he could have guessed.
Zero is less of a teen superhero drama and more of a coming-of-age story that’s focused on community and believing in your ability to change your life to how you want it to be.
The first season of the series is available to stream now on Netflix. A season renewal has yet to be announced.Next: Best Netflix shows coming in 2021