Black Sails: 8 Similar Historical Shows You Should Add To Your List

Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine’s dramatic world of ‘Black Sails’ is set during the Golden Age of Piracy and follows the notorious pirate Captain Flint and his crew as they embark on a ruthless fight for the existence and survival of New Providence Island after they are declared the enemies of humanity. It is packed with brilliant performances by Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Tom Hopper, and several others.

Released in 2014, the show is driven by a compelling narrative and explores various themes such as maritime wars, gore, sex, and corruption in abundance. If the historical adventure drama show caught your fancy and you’ve enjoyed the ride, here are a few shows like ‘Black Sails’ you must watch.

8. The Borgias (2011-2013)

Created by Neil Jordan, ‘The Borgias,’ set during Renaissance Italy, is a historical series worthy of a watch. The series follows the Borgia family, under the tutelage of the patriarch Rodrigo Borgia, in their quest for their libelous accession to the papacy. The family climbs up the pinnacles of power and success and makes numerous enemies along the way. The Borgias are notorious for choosing to use deceit and treachery along with intimidation and murder to get their way and serve their relentless quest for absolute authority. Like ‘Black Sails,’ ‘The Borgias’ also draws historical relevance in its narrative, and apart from the intriguing plot, also showcases the brutality of the aristocratic classes.

7. Medici (2016-2019)

‘Medici’ is a historical drama series that was created by Nicholas Meyer and Frank Spotnitz. The ensemble cast includes Richard Madden, Toby Regbo, Annabel Scholey, Guido Caprino, Bradley James, and Matteo Martari in pivotal roles. The series follows Cosimo de Medici as he finds himself at the helm of his affluent family after his father Giovanni de Medici passes away. When Cosimo learns that his father has been killed, he decides to step up and protect his family from a similar fate. Both shows draw similarities in their historical contexts and in dealing with the theme of power struggle when external forces threaten to take over.

6. Spartacus (2010-2013)

‘Spartacus’ is another Starz drama, helmed by Steven S. DeKnight, starring Andy Whitfield and Liam McIntyre in the titular role of Spartacus (in different seasons). The story follows Spartacus, a real-life Thracian warrior who eventually becomes a gladiator and is responsible for leading a major uprising of the slaves against the ruthless Roman Republic, which leads to large-scale chaos and destruction all around, while also embarking on a quest to locate his wife Sura, who is condemned to a life of slavery. Similar to ‘Black Sails,’ ‘Spartacus’ also deals with the theme of violence and sexuality in abundance, and both talk of heroics, albeit in different capacities.

5. House of the Dragon (2022-)

‘House of the Dragon’ is a fantasy-based drama and is the prequel to the cult-hit show; ‘Game of Thrones.’ The series was created by George R.R. Martin and is based on his book, ‘Fire & Blood’ and was helmed by Ryan Condal and Martin. The stellar ensemble features quite a few well-known names, such as Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, and Emma D’Arcy. The story is set 100 years after the Seven Kingdoms were merged by the Targaryen Conquest and is close to 200 years prior to the happenings of the events in Game of Thrones. The narrative talks of the events that lead up to the start of the decline of House of Targaryen; a catastrophic war of succession called the ‘Dance of the Dragons.’ Much like ‘Black Sails,’ ‘House of the Dragon’ also traces a quest for power and the desire to go all the way to ensure it comes in hand.

4. Outlander (2014-)

Image Credit: Aimee Spinks/Starz

‘Outlander’ is another series that comes from the house of Starz. The narrative is developed by Ronald D. Moore and based on the book ‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon. The star cast includes Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies in titular roles. The story follows Claire Beauchamp Randall as she is mysteriously transported back in time, to Scotland in the 18th century from her life as a nurse during the Second World War. While there, Claire finds love in Jamie Fraser and must deal with the predicament of choosing the direction of her life. Like ‘Black Sails,’ Outlander, too, deals with two different periods in history, simultaneously, and can be a good watch if you’re into history with a touch of adventure and romance.

3. Rome (2005-2007)

‘Rome’ is a historical drama that was created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald, and Bruno Heller, starring Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson in titular roles. The story focuses on the creation of the Roman Empire after the fall of the Roman Republic, as seen through the eyes of two soldiers; Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, who manage to survive warfare, assassinations, and treacherous political ploys that plague Rome. The series, like ‘Black Sails,’ also has several significant historical characters, such as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Mark Anthony make appearances in the narrative. Both shows have overlapping themes of history and show the fall of one power and the rise of another.

2. The Last Kingdom (2015-2022)

If you fancy historical dramas, then ‘The Last Kingdom,’ which is set between 866 AD and 918 AD during the Medieval Ages, is what you should add to your list. Developed for the screen by Stephen Butchard, the story is based on Bernard Cornwell’s ‘The Saxon Stories’ and follows Uhtred, who is born to an Anglo-Saxon nobleman who gets captured and raised by the Danish Vikings. As Uhtred grows up, he keeps finding himself struggling to choose between the Danes who raised him and the Saxons to whom he was born. Although the show isn’t quite historically accurate like ‘Black Sails,’ it does speak of a specific time period in history and also draws relevance to quite a few real-life rulers.

1. Vikings (2013-2020)

Vikings‘ is a Nordic folklore-based series that can be watched on Amazon Prime Video. Helmed by Michael Hirst, the series has a huge ensemble, including Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Gustaf Skarsgård, Clive Standen, and Jessalyn Gilsig in pivotal roles. The series follows the exploits of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok and his rise from the farms of Kattegat to become the all-powerful Scandinavian king, after raiding England, along with the support of his family and fellow warriors. Both ‘Black Sails’ and ‘Vikings’ involve a lot of seafaring and warring and add historical relevance to the narrative, in different capacities, intriguing viewers to a history of warriors and rulers that’s got so much to explore.

Read More: Black Sails: The Real Story Behind the Show’s Portrayal of Pirate Life