Similar to The Strain
Much to the sorrow of sci-fi/horror fans everywhere, FX's TV series The Strain is ending on Sept. 17. Based on a trilogy of novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the show became a horror sleeper and lasted for four seasons on the network. If you're looking for other, similar series to check out to fill the void in your heart (and your DVR), here are just a few that might appeal to you. Read on for intense horror, supernatural elements, or anything and everything involving vampires.
A relatively new show, Preacher is an AMC offering that is also based on books — comic books. The show follows Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a small-town preacher who discovers a unique superpower that allows him to command others to do as he says. What he does with that ability is at the center of the drama. Jesse's best friend is Cassidy (Joe Gilgun), and not only is he a vampire; he also happens to be hilarious. If you liked the comic series, definitely take a look.
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If you liked the whole "viral infection that leads to a brave new world" aspect of The Strain, you might also like Containment. This CW series is about an epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta. The illness leads to a part of the city being sectioned off and put under quarantine, and the show explores what those left inside have to do to stay alive. It ran for one fairly short season, and since the CW didn't renew it, it's easy to breeze through the whole series.
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And now, for something that younger viewers might enjoy. Shadowhunters is another supernatural television series that's based on a book series. But the books and the show are meant for the young-adult set. The series is about a young girl named Clary, who learns that her parents were Shadowhunters, angel-human hybrids who work together to hunt demons while the world remains blissfully unaware of their existence. Clary is meant to become a Shadowhunter, too. The show also features vampires — fairly attractive ones, at that.
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Zoo is another series for fans of shows where a pandemic changes everything. This time, it's animals that are affected by the virus. And, naturally, it's based off of a novel. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) This time around, the pandemic affects humans because it causes animals to attack them. As you might imagine, that's a bit of a worldwide problem. The premise is a little out there, but the show is in its third season, so clearly, it's got its loyal fans in spite of that.
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Maybe you're a fan of anything involving zombies. Or maybe you already know that you'll like anything produced by Rob Thomas of Veronica Mars fame. In either case, you should check out iZombie. It's on the CW, and it just completed its third season, with a fourth already ordered. iZombie is about a med student who is turned into a zombie and, to satisfy her need to consume brains, takes a job at a morgue. There, she can eat the brains of cadavers after she performs autopsies on them. Sound fun yet?
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Another zombie-related series, Z Nation came out just months before iZombie. Clearly, network producers had a theme in mind around that time. Z Nation starts three years after the beginning of a zombie apocalypse caused by a virus. The action centers on a team of men and women tasked with transporting the only known survivor of the virus across the country, from New York to California. Z Nation is a comedy-drama, so it's a good choice if you like some laughs along with your postapocalyptic action.
The Last Ship
Based on a 1988 novel, The Last Ship follows the crew of a Navy ship after — what else? — a worldwide viral pandemic wipes out much of the world's population but leaves them untouched. Together, they have to try to find a cure for the virus, or mankind is basically doomed. No pressure, though. The show has a very strong pro-military tone to it, if that's your thing, and it stars Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin and Bridget Regan, among others.
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Are you a sucker for Syfy shows? Then Helix may be right up your alley. The science-fiction drama follows a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They go to a research facility in the Arctic to investigate the spread of a disease. As you might imagine, they have to find a cause and cure for the outbreak before it can affect the world at large. Fair warning: Most reviews of the now-canceled series say it's incredibly bizarre, so don't go into it if you're looking for a superserious TV fix.
Back to vampires! There have been countless adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula over the years; this is just one of the most recent selections. It's a British-American horror drama that ended up on NBC and stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the title character living in London. It's a gorgeously shot series but one that didn't quite take off with viewers; it was canceled after only one season. But that makes it easy to binge if you're a fan of the vampire genre!
Speaking of gorgeously shot series, Hannibal was another NBC offering that was almost too pretty to believe. The show was based on the characters and story of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon and Hannibal novels. However, it focuses on an FBI special investigator named Will Graham alongside the notorious Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The critically acclaimed series starred Hugh Dancy as Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as Lecter, but despite getting stellar reviews and gaining an extremely loyal fandom, the show was canceled after just three seasons. If you like horror, give this one a shot.
Another postapocalyptic drama, Falling Skies was a TNT series about the aftermath of an alien attack on Earth and the people who come together to fight back against their invaders. It's got science-fiction and supernatural elements, if that's something you liked about The Strain or other series on this list. Furthermore, Falling Skies stars Noah Wyle of ER fame as the main character, in case you've missed seeing Dr. John Carter on your TV. The show ran for five seasons, with more than 50 episodes.
The Walking Dead
How could I write a list of horror shows and not mention The Walking Dead? It's easily the most popular zombie-related TV series ever, and an easy point of comparison for The Strain. But with a slew of award nominations and wins, it definitely deserves the attention it gets. Based on a comic book series by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is about a world overtaken by zombies (though they're called "walkers" here, and I've gotten in trouble before for not making the distinction) and the people struggling to survive in it. But really, it's so much more. If you haven't yet, check it out.
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Probably one of the most popular modern vampire shows, True Blood was an HBO series that also received a lot of critical praise and awards. It follows a woman named Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress living in Louisiana after the invention of synthetic blood, which lets vampires live openly among mortals. In the series, she falls for a vampire — a pretty common thing in recent vampire stories — and deals with her own telepathic abilities. With seven seasons in all, it'll give you plenty of episodes to fill the time after The Strain ends.
If you're a fan of Joss Whedon's work but have somehow never seen Angel, it's time to give the show another look. Angel was a WB series that consisted of five seasons and followed the life of Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire who is more than 200 years old. Angel has been cursed with a soul, which leads to a whole lot of heartache after his many years of murder and mayhem. Don't write this one off just because it was on the WB; it received a lot of praise, and fans still regard it fondly among supernatural genre TV.
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If you want to give a show from across the pond a chance, Ultraviolet might be worth a shot, especially if you like anything having to do with vampires. Ultraviolet was a television series that premiered back in 1998, and starred Jack Davenport and a young Idris Elba. In the show, a vampire-hunting organization recruits Davenport's character after his best friend goes missing, and Elba is an agent of said organization. If you're a fan of Elba, it's definitely fun to see him in an early role.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
You didn't think I'd mention Angel but not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, did you? Buffy, of which Angel is a spinoff, is probably one of the biggest cult-classic TV shows of all time. Even people who know very few vampire series or films know about Buffy. The show follows the title character (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), a young women chosen to be a "slayer," who fights vampires, demons and other dark creatures. It ran for seven seasons, and launched careers for many of the actors, producers and writers involved in its production.
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Finally, for the oldest selection on our list: The X-Files. A science-fiction series that originally ran on Fox, The X-Files is about special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Together, these FBI agents investigate unsolved cases that involve paranormal phenomena. One is a believer, and one is a skeptic. How wacky! Well, the premise clearly worked, because the series ran for 10 seasons, and it's returning for an 11th season revival in 2018. If you're a sci-fi fan and still haven't seen The X-Files, what are you waiting for?
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