If someone were to look up the best television shows on the planet right now, they would find Breaking Bad amongst the elite. With a superb IMDb rating of 9.5 out of 10, it’s bound to accommodate a large audience. Sometimes. television shows go down the drain after a few seasons, but not this one. What was so intriguing about Breaking Bad was its cast of anti-heroes. Viewers wanted to hate them, but they couldn’t because they feel for them in some sort of way; Walter White and his partners are the ultimate example. After binging the series for the first or tenth time, viewers will probably want another show to fill the void and that’s where the below list comes in.
An anti-hero has become somewhat of a trend because it strays off the path of the typical story of Hero vs. Villain, where the morally upright hero always has the best intentions and remains that way until the end. These recommendations, however, are the exact opposite. Here are ten old and new shows about anti-heroes to watch after Breaking Bad.
The Wire (2002-2008)
HBO’s The Wire is an older show but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a viewer’s while. It might come off as another cheesy cop show, but it’s much more than that. Some viewers like all action and no substance, so this might not be the show for them. For viewers that want an honest and “real” look at the constant struggle between cops and drug dealers, this is it.
There’s deep yet realistically uncouth writing here and characters that have a purpose in the show are dissected for viewers to really get to know them. Per IMDb, viewers have given it a 9.3/10 review, so that’s a good indication it’s good.
Better Call Saul (2015- )
The obvious pick after watching Breaking Bad is to head on over to Better Call Saul, which stars Saul Goodman. Since viewers got used to seeing this wacky lawyer dig his clients out of a rut, so it won’t be too hard of a transition. There will be no need to miss favorite characters such as Gus or Mike, because this is a pre-Breaking Bad era and things are just as crazy.
This will also give viewers a chance to dig into the backgrounds of Mike and Saul’s characters and see where this attorney started it all, while the help of a few friends. As of this writing, Better Call Saul is just one season away from its finale so there’s no better time than now to catch up.
Peaky Blinders (2013- )
Some television shows are lengthy in the sense that a single season may or may not run on too long, but Peaky Blinders isn’t one of those. With just six-episodes per season, this tight show gets right to the point.
Peaky Blinders sets its viewers up in a different era, specifically the post-World War I era, making it stand out all the more in a crime genre dominated by contemporary tales. Led by Thomas Shelby (actor Cillian Murphy), he keeps it in the family and runs a gang of arms dealers. It’s shot beautifully and the acting is spot on. As a bonus, Tom Hardy is a supporting character who simply cannot be missed.
Jokingly referred to as the comedic foil to Breaking Bad, the darkly comical Weeds comes off as a show that might make some questionable decisions, but its main premise is golden. This is another example of a main character, Nancy Botwin, wanting to do right by their family and will do just about anything to achieve it. And so, Nancy does the most logical thing possible: she turns to the illegal marijuana trade.
Weeds gives viewers a sobering realization that everyone has a limit to what they can handle. These characters are pushed to their limit and blur the lines of good and bad, just as the Breaking Bad characters do.
Ozark (2017- )
First off, Jason Bateman is a main character in this dark and twisted show, so that’s one reason to watch. It also involves a run-in with a Mexican drug lord and after that, this seemingly picture-perfect family has to move to the Ozarks.
Similar to the set-up with Walt and Skylar’s scheme with the car wash, Jason Bateman’s character Marty and his wife begin a money laundering scheme in order to pay back their debts. Another loose similarity is that Marty, develops a partnership with a rough-around-the-edges partner that sounds all too familiar.
Speaking of one of the best shows to date, Dexter is definitely one of them for many reasons. Navigating through Dexter’s complicated life with his early memories to his every day life is a rollercoaster ride as he is constantly teeter-tottering on the line of good and bad. By day he’s a brilliant forensic scientist specializing in blood splatter patterns but by night, he has an urge to kill people that are doing extreme harm to those around them.
As selfish as Dexter can be at times, viewers have a sense to feel bad for him, because he’s different from those around him and wants to do good, but doesn’t know how to do it in the right way.
Sons Of Anarchy (2008-2014)
Running for seven seasons and never faltering once, Sons of Anarchy was without a doubt a screen-stealer the moment it premiered. It’s one of those shows that might need a slight push in the beginning, but not much. The motorcycle club that is made up of gritty, rough men from a wide age range has their share of dark moments and bad decisions, but for the most part, they’re good men… Jax especially.
Throughout the show, he becomes an anti-hero in a way that he needs to protect his territory and prove himself, but also doing the right thing because he’s a decent guy.
The Blacklist (2013- )
Raymond “Red” Reddington was one of the most wanted men on the globe, until he agreed to work with the FBI to tackle mobsters, spies and terrorists. His condition is to work with a specific female profiler, to “teach her his ways”.
It’s often easy to want to throw a tomato at the television screen when Red opens his mouth, but he’s also doing good and his character is witty and smart. There’s a certain charm about him that makes him a good anti-hero and he’s always flipping back and forth of good vs. evil.
Nurse Jackie (2009-2015)
The uniquely offbeat Nurse Jackie entertained fans with comedic relief as well as a darker side to television. This runs loosely on the same thread as Dexter, but in a hospital setting and the anti-hero is female. Jackie is a passionate ER nurse that dedicates her life to her practice, but she also hides a heavy addiction to painkillers.
Viewers watched as she continued to go downhill and yet continue to do right by those around her in the best ways that she knew how. Addiction is a tricky subject to cover, but this show carries that topic with a real and up front view of what it’s like.
House Of Cards (2013-2018)
Netflix’s House of Cards revolves around Frank and Claire Underwood: the most dedicated people on a show who will do anything to get to first place. They won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, they’re smart and they don’t care who they stomp on to get what they want. This is why they’re the perfect stars for a show centered around the ruthless race to the White House.
While they sound like terrible people, Claire softens the blow. Claire wants what her husband wants, but the hardened shell she surrounds herself around with often cracks for viewers to see her vulnerable side at times. It’s clear that she’s not as merciless as her husband, which makes her the perfect female anti-hero.