Action is often interwoven across different types of shows; almost all shows have an element of it. Although exciting and captivating, audiences sometimes find that the genre is too exaggerated and overdone. The action genre has quickly gained notable cringe-worthy tropes, including heroes hanging out of helicopters, pulling out multiple guns, and yelling poorly-written catchphrases.
While it is nearly impossible to avoid action altogether, some viewers prefer more nuanced portrayals. Authenticity can often be found in shows where takedowns and battles naturally occur as a part of the organic trajectory. Conversely, if the series is satirical, some audiences can tolerate over-the-top fight scenes and explosions. Either way, there are plenty of action TV shows for those who don’t like the genre.
10 Barry Parallels The Struggles Of New Actors With Those Of An Assasin (Barry)
Questioning the trajectory of his life, hitman Barry Berkman (played by Bill Hader) joins an acting class while on a job in Los Angeles. Although officially labeled a dark comedy, Barry is an eclectic medley of genres. This combination enriches the show and makes it appealing to all audiences.
The writing, directing, and acting brings out the authenticity behind the absurdity. As the story progresses, Barry does something rare; it turns its fans against its protagonist. The series depicts Barry as the cold-blooded killer that he is.
9 An Action Series For Nostalgia Lovers (Cobra Kai)
Fans of the original The Karate Kid films will enjoy its sequel series, Cobra Kai. It continues Johnny Lawrence’s and Daniel LaRusso’s rivalry 34 years later as Johnny reopens the Cobra Kai dojo.
Despite its occasional predictability, Cobra Kai successfully builds up to the main events and keeps fans engaged. Unlike other action shows that draw a clear line between good and evil, Cobra Kai leaves all its characters in a morally-gray area. Everyone is flawed yet redeemable, allowing fans to choose who to root for and why.
8 It Goes Beyond Its Educational Premise (Carmen Sandiego)
Carmen Sandiego is a captivating animated series suitable for all ages. It’s based on an educational video game that fueled a franchise. Carmen Sandiego contains action, humor, and educational elements as it follows the titular character, a world-renowned thief. She travels the world fighting and stealing from V.I.L.E. Academy, the institution that trained her to become a master thief.
Carmen Sandiego tries to equip its protagonist with depth and dimensionality from the very beginning. Viewers are provided with Carmen’s backstory, but the information she doesn’t know is left out. It explains her involvement and departure from V.I.L.E., depicting the ups and downs of the character.
7 An Underrated Superhero Show (Black Lightning)
Despite the prevalence of superheroes and metahumans, the action in Black Lightning is very grounded and tasteful. The show’s premise makes all the powers and fight scenes believable. While the action is over the top in some series, especially those supposedly mirroring reality, this is not the case with Black Lightning.
It follows Jefferson Pierce as he reclaims his role as Black Lightning to protect his city, Freeland. His daughters Anissa (Thunder) and Jennifer (Lightning) are also metahumans who soon join the fight against other metahumans and criminals.
6 Person Of Interest Starts Complex Conversations (Person Of Interest)
Person Of Interest is the right choice for sci-fi lovers who enjoy watching a slow burn series unfold. Billionaire Harold Finch enlists John Reese to join him in saving people that “the Machine” predicts will die. “The Machine” is Finch’s sophisticated computer program that was initially designed to prevent terrorist attacks.
However, the program evolved to recognize potential civilian victims and provide their information to the team. In addition to its action-packed sci-fi premise, Person Of Interest provokes complex discussions regarding the balance between privacy and security.
5 An Action TV Show That Leans Into Its Absurdity (Chuck)
Chuck knew that its premise was absurd, making it perfect for fans who are tired of typical spy thrillers. Chuck Bartowski is swept into the life of covert affairs after opening an email containing spy secrets. Now the only person with a copy in his brain, Chuck must work with the NSA and CIA.
Leaning more toward a comedy, Chuck still has compelling fight scenes and shoot-outs. Additionally, it has well-developed characters that bounce off each other, making character interactions appear organic as they embark on entertaining missions.
4 Viewing Time Travel As A Social Issue (Timeless)
Timeless is a masterpiece that was cut short due to cancelation. It can be enjoyed by a broad audience, especially sci-fi and history enthusiasts. The government recruits a professor, soldier, and engineer to travel in time and stop Rittenhouse, an unknown organization changing history to further their interests.
The characters deal with changes in the timeline and the moral dilemma of letting tragedies occur to preserve history. Timeless portrays time change as a method of gaining social and political power that can further marginalize segments of society, treating time travel as a social issue.
3 The Blacklist Is Smart And Sophisticated (The Blacklist)
Considered one of the best procedurals of the past decade, The Blacklist follows criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington, who offers the FBI a list of the most wanted criminals. In return, he demands to team up with profiler Elizabeth Keen. Together, they chase a different criminal on his list in each episode.
The Blacklist contains well-executed takedowns that give the show a sense of realism. However, The Blacklist is about much more than action-packed chases; it is about pulling back the layers of different characters. As the show progress, secrets are strategically revealed, giving audiences a larger mystery to follow.
2 By Parodying Spy-Thrillers, It Includes Plenty Of Action (Archer)
Archer has spectacular animation and is a must-watch for those who are tired of action tropes. The espionage parody follows operative Sterling Archer and the intelligence agency headed by his mother, Malory Archer. Alongside, Archer works a handful of incompetent agents.
Each character is heavily flawed, serving as a satirical comment on human nature. Moreover, they each deliver a different form of humor, allowing various viewers to find their niche. Unlike most other animated series, Archer uses continuity to build on past episodes, showing character and plot development.
1 By Mixing A Few Genres, This Action Show Has Something For Everyone (Legends Of Tomorrow)
Legends Of Tomorrow is brilliantly well-rounded and contains elements for every viewer. It has sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural elements in addition to time travel and superheroes. While viewers may feel a bit lost, especially during the crossover specials with the greater Arrowverse, it is very easy to watch Legends Of Tomorrow as a standalone.
The show follows a mismatched group of heroes and villains as they travel in time to fight new threats every season. Aside from epic fight sequences, the show also has amazing pop culture references and often makes light of itself. Even in the most action-filled scenes, the Legends always add humor. Legends Of Tomorrow is suitable for fans who enjoy dismantling action tropes.