There is an astronomical number of historical TV shows that have been created over the years. The shows on this list focus primarily on ancient and medieval periods and are some of the most fascinating shows to ever grace our television screens. So if you’re looking for shows, which will take you back in time and give you a glimpse of what life might have been like for our ancestors, then this list of top 10 Historical TV shows of all time is for you.
First up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have Attila, the 2001 miniseries, which depicts the life of Attila the hunt from his childhood to his eventual death, while he is at the peak of his power and one of Rome’s greatest enemies and rivals. This is an amazing TV show that does a great job of really bringing to life the unique warfare and military strategies that the Huns implemented to become a dominant invading force. But it also does a great job of highlighting the declining power of the Western Roman Empire and how Valentinian III, his incompetence and lack of skill as a ruler caused a weakened western roman empire to be threatened by enemies on all sides. This tv show has an all-star cast, including Gerard Butler and Tommy Flanagan, an amazing plot, with lots of political intrigue and corruption, and some great battle scenes as well. So if you’re looking for a show which has a strong leader and a magnificent king who will go to any lengths possible to ensure a better future for his people, then Attila will be the perfect TV show for you.
2. Marco Polo
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows, we have on Netflix's original series focusing on the exploits of Marco polo during his time at the court of Kublai Khan and the various political intrigues, military coups, and internal court politics. He has to contend with it during his time there. This show is perhaps one of the most expensive historical TV shows ever created, and this high budget is evident in the production quality of the show, with set pieces, costume design, and battle scenes all being of the highest quality. What is not the highest quality, though, is the pacing of the plot, which stumbles at many points, especially in the first season, but midway through, Marco polo finds its footing, and it transforms into a thrilling historical adventure. The cast here is amazing, especially Benedict Wong, as Kublai khan. The character development of Marco polo is also great to witness, and the war between the Chinese and Mongol Empire is also exhilarating and brutal to watch. So, if you’re looking for a show that will introduce you to the Mongol empire in all its glory and give you an overdose of some amazing, martial arts and military battles at the same time, then this is the show for you.
3. A.D. Kingdom and Empire
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have A.D. Kingdom and Empire a biblical TV series that focuses primarily on the journey of Peter and the other disciples shortly after Jesus's crucification and return to life. The show highlights the obstacles and hurdles peter and his brethren had to overcome to begin spreading Christianity and Jesus's teachings in Jerusalem and other nearby cities, this show is easily accessible to all audiences, regardless of their religious inclinations. As religious elements of this show are effectively utilized to drive the story forward and do not steer into the realm of being an over-the-top religious TV show, a secondary plot, is also well developed throughout. This series is about the influence and power of Rome on Jerusalem and the Jewish religious leaders, as they are forced to bend the knee to Rome and the various demands it places on the populace of Jerusalem. So if you’re, looking for an easily accessible, well-acted, and well-paced tv show with a strong mix of religious and historical elements, then the A.D. Kingdom and Empire is my recommendation for you.
4. Black Sails
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have Black Sails, a tv show that is based around pirates at providence island and is a prequel to the popular novel treasure island. This show has a cast of fascinating and morally grey characters, similar to the game of thrones or Vikings. This makes captain flint and his crew an amazing set of characters to watch and see develop. Pirates are some of the most interesting and popular figures in history, but for some reason there has been a limited number of pirate-based TV shows that have made it into mainstream popularity. So I’m really glad that black sails got developed and I believe this will be a fantastic watch for any fan of historical tv shows. A tv show that I feel is so unique and different from any other pirate tv show that I had to include it on this list.
5. Rise of Empires: Ottoman
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows, we have Rise of Empires: Ottoman a tv series that shows in great detail the siege and fall of Constantinople. This show will be of particular interest to fans of historical military tv shows, and this entire show is based on the military tactics and stratagems needed to successfully maintain a siege against a well-fortified city. It deals with the number of obstacles and struggles to get past the impregnable defenses of Constantinople, while also simultaneously having to contend with betrayals disease, and a constrained amount of time to finish the siege before reinforcements come to the aid of the Byzantine Empire. If you enjoy the more military and war-like elements of historical tv shows, then rise of empire’s ottoman is a great recommendation for you, as the show has a magnificent cast amazing use of commentary by historians, which I’m usually not a fan of, but it is done very, very well in this show, and a surprisingly accurate level of realism regarding siege tactics and stratagems. So if you’re looking for a show that is brutal entertaining and will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, then rise of empires is my recommendation.
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows, we have Borgia. A historical TV show based around several key figures from the house of Borgia such as Lucrezia, Cesare, and Rodrigo Borgia. Although there are a few other TV shows based around these historical figures, I feel that Borgia is the most historically accurate and interesting version to watch in a TV show that I cannot recommend highly enough. The Borgia family is some of the most notorious figures in history and with such interesting characters to portray this show does a fantastic job of gripping audiences, with a story that is fast-paced, interesting, and full of lots of plot twists. The acting in the show is also top-notch with the entire cast doing a spectacular job of bringing their characters to life, but I will admit that I hated the strong American accent that the pope has, but you do eventually get used to it. If you are looking for a historically accurate show, that has a cast of diverse and talented actors and a plot that’ll keep you engrossed from beginning to end, then Borgia is my recommendation for you.
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows, we have Vikings, which follows the rise of Ragnar Lothbrok from a lowly farmer to a king and an eventual legendary figure in Viking history. Vikings can perhaps be recognized as being the show that is single-handedly responsible for reviving audiences' interest in historical TV shows and Viking culture in general, which is due in large part to the amazing cast and storylines of the first few seasons, which saw the exploration of New lands and kingdoms by Vikings. The story of religious tensions between Christians and pagans, and the development of Ragnar from an ambitious farmer to a troubled and conflicted king Travis Famel does an amazing job of bringing Ragnar to life, and Ragnar is perhaps one of the most interesting and best developed central characters for a TV show that I’ve ever seen. This show does stumble a bit in later seasons, and a large number of episodes per season means that there’s a large amount of filler which causes the story to not progress as quickly as I would have liked. But these are small criticisms that do not stop Vikings from being one of the best historical shows ever created, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have Rome. A historical TV show which follows events, beginning with the civil war of Rome in 49 bc to Julius Caesar’s strides as a dictator of Rome to his eventual downfall and assassination. The second season follows the trajectory of Octavius from a sickly boy to becoming the first emperor of Rome. The majority of the show is depicted through the viewpoint of two fictional legionaries called Titus polo and Lucius Brenes, who do the various often comedic actions, get involved in situations that lead to very important events from roman history. I rate this show so highly because I feel this is the closest a TV show will ever get to accurately replicating ancient Roman culture, politics, and the day-to-day lives of Roman citizens of all classes on our screens. The cast and characters here are amazing as well. The story develops at a good pace and is interesting from beginning to end and the costume design is accurate, as I have ever seen. The pacing and depiction of roman military tactics can leave a lot to be desired at times, but these flaws are minor and the positives far outweigh the negatives. So if you’re looking for a tv show, that is a bit slower, the pace tries to be historically accurate to a good degree, and is a show that is fun entertaining, and educational. Then this is the show for you.
9. The Last Kingdom
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have The Last Kingdom. A TV show based on the Saxon Stories novels by Bernard Cornwell. The last kingdom follows a central character named Uthred, a Saxon raised by Dane, making him a useful tool to be used by leaders and kings of both cultures for their political and personal ambitions. The story has a range of amazing secondary and primary characters, a fantastic plot with minimal filler and a tight-knit story, and amazing military tactics and battle scenes as well. This is a fantastic show which makes great use of its historical backdrop, political settings, and the religious contention between pagans and Christians to create a show that gets better with each season. The last kingdom can continually keep the show interesting, as is able to bring in new characters and story elements effectively, which provides longevity to the show in a great way. The small criticism I do have with this show is that the first season starts quite slow and seems a bit rushed and struggles with its pacing, which might deter viewers from reaching the second and third seasons, which are the last kingdom at its peak. So, if you’re looking for a show that is similar to Vikings, as epic as the game of thrones, and is a fantastic watch from beginning to end, the last kingdom is my recommendation for you.
Next up on our list of Best Historical TV shows we have Spartacus an action-filled historical TV series about a gladiator named Spartacus and his rise from a lowly slave to one of the most feared enemies of the roman republic. Spartacus has everything that fans love about historical TV shows and puts it into overdrive, as there are only 10 episodes per season, meaning there’s little to no filler. This small episode count results in Spartacus, telling a tight-knit story about an inspirational leader who encourages his followers to fight for a better future and put an end to the tyranny of Rome and the roman republic. The character development of Spartacus is great, and his rise from slave to rebel leader is believable and interesting. The plot here is also amazing, with truly mind-blowing plot twists and the fight scenes and choreography in this series is of the highest quality as well. So if you’re looking for a TV show with great characters, amazing battle, scenes and fight scenes, a story that hooks you from beginning to end then Spartacus is my recommendation for you, and this is also my recommendation for the best and most entertaining historical TV show of All time.
Thanks for reading.