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'Game of Thrones': What to Recommend When Your Kid Wants to Watch, Too

You love GoT but it's not exactly family-friendly. Try these 10 tamer alternatives

Published on: July 13, 2017

Photo credit: Common Sense Media | "Game of Thrones"

There's nothing quite like "Game of Thrones." That's why it's held such a tight grip on its audience for six seasons. Based on the George R. R. Martin book series A Song of Ice and Fire, its complex bloodlines, twisted relationships, political strife and fascinating character studies all reside in a dark world where dragon eggs are treasured and winter is always on its way.

But the realistic, relentless violence and graphic sex make it age-inappropriate for many kids. If you're not ready for your teen to watch it, try something "Game of Thrones"-ish.

Not all these teen-friendly alternatives are perfect matches to the GoT canon, but they're set in universes rich with fantastical histories, epic mythologies, deep characters and adventures that the whole family can enjoy together.

Photo credit: Common Sense Media | "Avatar: The Last Airbender"

1 & 2. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "Legend of Korra"

9+, streaming

Beloved by tweens, teens and parents, these wonderfully written intertwined tales have rich characters and a mystical plot that references legends of long-ago cultures rooted in unity with Earth's elements. Sound pretty deep for a cartoon? It is, and it's also tons of fun.

​How it's like GoT: Rich storytelling, headstrong heroines and elemental battles (Khaleesi's dragons breathe a mean fire, but they're nothing compared to Korra's water-bending skills).

3. "Doctor Who"

10+, BBC America

The Doctor has been around since the '60s, and his history goes back way further. He is a Time Lord, after all. The show is more sci-fi than fantasy, but its scope and quality make it a GoT peer. Kids will like all the action and perilous predicaments, though the main character always manages to escape his own demise (unlike many GoT characters).

​How it's like GoT: It's got a nimble sense of gallows humor that teens will appreciate and an epic catalog of threatening entities that must be defeated.

4. "The Librarians"

10+, TNT 

A goofy adventure with an Indiana Jones vibe, this series follows a group of librarians tasked with caring for the world's magical objects. Pretty cool job, right? The Librarians doesn't take itself too seriously but is still packed with great characters, fantastical plots and daring exploits.

​How it's like GoT: Lots of fun action and choreographed fights, with just a hint of magic.

Photo credit: Common Sense Media | "Once Upon a Time"

5. "Once Upon a Time"

12+, ABC

Disney versions of classic fairy tale characters face challenges in Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in a parallel world filled with magic and mystery. While it's a little too mature for young kids, teens should love seeing these alternate versions of their childhood heroes deal with all kinds of decidedly grown-up problems.

​How it's like GoT: Conflicts among characters are often solved by sword fights, death threats and murder — and much of the story is clouded in a sense of peril and shifting loyalties.

6. "Xena: Warrior Princess"

12+, streaming

With a reboot coming up soon, kids can get to know this powerful, independent gal a little early. Like Arya Stark, she's got sword skills and some serious inner strength. A fun mix of history and fantasy, this cult classic has stuck around for a reason.

How it's like GoT: It's set in a mythical world with lots of swordplay and its fair share of bare midriffs and sexual innuendo (think "Star Trek"-level, not GoT).

Photo credit: Common Sense Media | "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

7. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

13+, streaming

It's still a bit violent at times, but this supernatural teen classic has a fun, campy tone and its many relationships and motivations are much more in line with what teens can handle compared to GoT.

​How it's like GoT: The constant threat of evil and a core crew of characters with magical powers who don't always get along.

8. "Lost"

14+, streaming

This drama set on a mysterious island should have teens on the edges of their seats with that "what the heck's gonna happen next?" feeling (without surprising them with a gory beheading or mass murder). The cast's quest to discover where their plane crashed, who the elusive Others are and why there's a polar bear in the tropics remains riveting through many seasons.

​How it's like GoT: Ever-changing loyalties and realism countered with a heavy dose of mysticism, and the shocking deaths of beloved characters.

Originally published by Common Sense Media

9. "Shadowhunters"

14+, Freeform

When you live in a world where werewolves, fairies, and vampires are real, teen troubles are a little different. In this fantasy series based on the popular books, main character Clary learns how to navigate her new life dealing with various creatures, intriguing romances and universal teen drama.

​How it's like GoT: Lots of family secrets and their aftermath, supernatural battles and compelling characters.

10. "The Shannara Chronicles"

14+, MTV

On a postapocalyptic future Earth, humans have evolved into numerous races, including trolls, elves and gnomes. All live in harmony until an ancient demon brings magic back into the world and, along with it, trouble that only the young protagonists can stop.

​How it's like GoT: Also based on a series of fantasy novels, this show definitely isn't violence-free, but it's milder, and the trio of heroes is always fighting for good.

Originally published by Common Sense Media, written by Polly Conway

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2016, and updated in July 2017.

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