Tony Soprano and the rest of the ensemble in The Sopranos changed television forever. Not only does the series sit on countless “Best Television Series Of All Time” lists for its dramatic stories, intelligent dialogue, and intense action, but thanks to leads James Gandolfini and Edie Falco it includes some of the best acting ever seen on the silver screen. In short, The Sopranos is a miracle of television, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t numerous shows that scratch a similar itch.
The success of The Sopranos didn’t necessarily lead to a massive number of mafia television shows being greenlit, but it did kickstart a new era for prestige television that put more emphasis on long-term storytelling and complex character arcs. Next time you’re ready to binge a prestige television series, grab some gabagool, and dive into one of these 25 Shows like The Sopranos!
Set in Miami, Florida right after the Cuban Revolution, Magic City follows Ike Evans (Jefferey Dean Morgan), the owner of the city’s most luxury hotels, as he is forced to enter a deal with a local mob boss. As Ike does whatever he can to keep his business and family life afloat during a chaotic time, he suddenly becomes intertwined with a number of gangsters with a lot of sway in the slowly changing city and falls ever deeper out of control. The show tragically only lasted for two seasons and has a potential movie tie-in on the horizon, but that means it’s an incredibly quick and easy binge right now!
Long before Tony and the gang were brutalizing wise guys or chilling in explicit strip clubs on TV, HBO cut their teeth in premium, mature television with Oz. Set inside the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility for men, Oz explores the lives of different people inside the dangerous prison and explores how the traumatic surrounding impacts their mental and emotional health. Show creator Tom Fontana actually wrote or co-wrote all 56 episodes of this intense series, giving it a cohesive voice and approach throughout the whole show.
Just like Tony Soprano, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a bad man motivated, at least to a degree, to ensure his family is supported and comfortable in case he ever suddenly dies. Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is suddenly diagnosed with cancer, as he transforms himself into a meth-creating and selling Kingpin known as Heisenburg who turns the Albuquerque, New Mexico drug world upside down. The five-season-long show went on to win numerous Emmys, including accolades for all three members of the core cast (Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn) and back-to-back wins for the Outstanding Drama series in 2013 and 2014.
Set in the chaotic aftermath of World War 1 in Birmingham, Endlang, Peaky Blinders follows the exploits of the Peaky Blinder gang and its ambitious and ruthless leader Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). The ensemble show features an incredibly talented cast and is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates 20th-century history and learning about how the slow creep of modernity impacts working-class individuals and organized crime. While many of the characters in the series themselves are fictitious, the Peaky Blinders actually existed and the show does a wonderful job at showing just how cut-throat and violent the gang-filled era was.
Forget the Bluth Family, in Ozark Jason Bateman plays Martin Byrde, a financial advisor whose mistake laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel leads him to relocate his entire family to the Ozark region in Missouri to start an even bigger laundering operation. In the intense Netflix original, Martin and his wife Wendy Laura Linney) have to keep their kids safe and outmaneuver local criminals as they slowly become embedded inside a dangerous organization.
Co-created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, The Deuce is an ensemble series that follows the evolution of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. A story filled with gangsters, pimps, and people just trying their best to make it to the next day, The Deuce doesn’t pull any punches in the way it shows how crime and sexual violence can impact people. For any ONE37pm readers who enjoy learning about porn—and hey, we’re not judging—The Deuce will be especially enjoyable as one of its sub-plots follows the birth of the burgeoning industry and how it intertwined with the pre-existing world of sex workers.
Taking place inside the world created by the Coen brothers in the 1996 movie Fargo, this FX original series is an anthology, black comedy series that always revolves around crime and eccentric characters. Similar to how The Sopranos jumps forward a few years in between seasons to change things up a bit, Fargo shifts eras and locations—and even follows a brand new ensemble—every season to keep the tone and feel slightly different despite all of the season’s connective tissues.
When you have a problem, you go to Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber), a professional fixer who will go to extreme lengths- everything from threatening someone to cleaning up a crime scene- for his PR-sensitive clients in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Ray, even though he may be adept at making other people’s problems disappear, he has to deal with a stressful family, mainly his recently incarcerated father Mickey (Jon Voight), which seemingly only makes things more complicated for him. For any fans of the now-canceled show, Showtime announced that a feature-length film will be released sometime in 2022 to wrap up the story of Ray Donovan.
Tony Soprano and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) may be in completely different industries and live in different eras, but the two of them would likely get along pretty well. Don Draper is the main character in Mad Men, a 1960s set series that follows a group of advertising executives who work on the luxurious and patriarchal Madison Avenue. As the years progress and the ensemble of characters all grow and change, Don seems to be stuck in his self-destructive, womanizing ways and can’t escape his past traumas no matter how badly he wants to or his kids need him.
The HBO comedy Barry and The Sopranos may not have a lot in common on the surface, but the gangster-filled series can be just as dark and dramatic as The Sopranos. Co-created by and starring Bill Hader as Barry Berkman, a former marine turned hitman who is trying to put that life behind him in favor of acting classes, Barry is a hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking series that also has some of the best-choreographed action on TV.
A prequel (and sometimes sequel) to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul follows Jimmy McGill, a.k.a. Saul Goodman, (Bob Odenkirk), as he transforms from a financially struggling public defender to a criminally-connected dirty lawyer. Conceived and run by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, the same team behind Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is just as entertaining and tragic as its predecessor and stands as an incredible, must-watch show all on its own. Kim Wexler, one of Saul’s best friends who doesn’t appear in Breaking Bad, is one of the most interesting characters on TV and played wonderfully by the Emmy-snubbed Rhea Seehorn.
If you thought squabbling for power was dangerous inside the world of organized crime, clearly you haven’t seen how far the members of the Roy family are willing to go in Succession. A dark satire show created by Jesse Armstrong, Succession is an ensemble story that focuses on the scheming and maneuvering of the Roy family after they learn that the family patriarch Logan (Brian Cox) is declining in health and may step away from the global media empire he created. Rather than rush to their father’s side, everyone in the family starts slyly competing for prominence as they fight for control of the family company.
If you thought Succession was the only petty billionaire drama on TV, clearly you haven’t heard of Showtime’s extremely entertaining Billions. Set inside the dramatic and competitive world of high finance, Billions focuses on the rivalry between hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and a U.S. Attorney in New York named Charles Rhoades, Jr. (Paul Giamatti) who is trying to pin the wealth-seeking magnate down for his financial crimes. While the show itself is fictional, many of the plot threads in the five-season long show are based on real-world financial prosecutions, making it a great show for anyone interested in the high-dealing world of Wall Street.
If Tony Soprano made it easier to love twisted protagonists, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) surely owes him a debt of gratitude. Originally based on Jeff Lindsay’s book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dexter follows Morgan, a forensic specialist for the Miami police, who moonlights as a serial killer that targets murders who have somehow escaped judicial justice. The series is incredibly dramatic and follows how Morgan’s job impacts his relationships with people around him, but it deserves a lot of praise specifically for constantly making the twisted protagonist so likable despite everything audiences see him do.
The gangsters in the prohibition era set the stage for people like Tony Soprano. In the HBO original series Boardwalk Empire, audiences get to see how gangsters interacted with political machines and bootlegged their way around the rules. Starring Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, a fictionalized version of a real-life official who served as the Treasurer of Atlantic County as well as an organized gangster himself, Boardwalk Empire is an entertaining and at-times brutal show that doesn’t shy away from just how corrupt the often romanticized world of mafia crime can be.
A Netflix original series based on the notorious ascent and life of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura), Narcos is an action-packed and incredibly dramatic series. With DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) on his trail, Pablo has to outmaneuver the law, and other gangs, while constantly growing his global cocaine empire. The show is incredibly acted, emotionally tender at times, and does a wonderful job telling certain aspects of the real but very crazy story of Escobar’s life.
Rather than follow groups of Italian-American gangsters on the East Coast, Sons of Anarchy focuses on motorcycle crews in California’s Central Valley. Created by Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy explores themes of vigilantism and loyalty as Jackson “Jax’ Teller (Charlie Hunnam) slowly starts to question his position in the motorcycle organization and his relationships with those around him. The FX original lasted for seven seasons and was so successful it even spawned a 2018 spin-off called Mayans M.C. that is also extremely entertaining.
In Lilyhammer, a Norwegian-American co-production that lives on Netflix in the U.S., a former New York gangster named Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt) suddenly has to create a new life for himself in the small town of Lillehammer, Norway. Van Zandt actually auditioned for the role of Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, but the producers felt like he wasn’t quite experienced enough at the time to carry a show and cast him as the charismatic consigliere, Silvio Dante, instead. Years later though, after The Sopranos wrapped, Van Zandt was more than prepared to lead the gangster-filled show in the entertaining Lilyhammer.
Forget Italian mobsters, if you want to see a polite murderer, watch Hannibal. Developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC, Hannibal is based on iconic characters featured in Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon novel and follows the early days of forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and FBI investigator Jack Crawford’s (Hugh Dancy) relationship. Mikkelsen excels as the iconic serial killer and gives the character a different sense of depth as he assists the FBI to investigate a string of murderers and slowly probes Graham’s overly empathetic mind.
Despite current tensions between the U.S. and Russia, for all intents and purposes, the Cold War is done. In the FX original The Americans, set between 1981 and 1987, the Cold War is still raging, though and its potentially dire implications weigh heavily on the minds of most Americans. Following Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet agents placed deep undercover in a Washington D.C. suburb as a married couple, The Americans is an intense story that sees the two characters do everything they can to support mother Russia- think targeting American spies in the states or collecting valuable intelligence- while ensuring that their cover is never blown.
Loosely based on Elmore Leonard’s novel of the same name, the Epix series Get Shorty follows mafia muscle man Miles Daly (Chris O’Dowd) as he tries to exit Las Vegas’ world of organized crime to become a Hollywood producer. Alongside the washed-up and somewhat crazy Rick Moreweather (Ray Romano), the two of them have to maneuver Hollywood politics while making sure they can avoid any criminal prosecution as they attempt to launder money through their productions.
Based on a series of stories by Elmore Leonard, Justified stars Timothy Olyphant as the no-nonsense, independent-minded U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Primarily set in the Appalachian region, the show follows Raylan as he goes about defending the region with his own twisted sense of “Old West” justice. Even though the two protagonists are on opposite ends of the law, Raylan and Tony Soprano are both charismatic individuals who do what they want when they feel it’s right no matter what the consequences could be.
The Wire and The Sopranos stand at the top of a lot of hardcore HBO fan-favorite lists. While the two shows have very different story-telling styles, both shows are largely ensemble-based and show how crime impacts people throughout a community. Influenced by years worth of Baltimore reporting from showrunner David Simon, The Wire is an intricate, character-driven story about the city of Baltimore and how different institutions in the city, whether it’s organized crime, the city council, or police department, impact people’s lives and interact with corruption on a daily basis.
The Sopranos shows the grip Italian mobsters have on certain areas in the United States, but Gomorrah examines just how intense mafia rule is in Naples. Created by and based on the investigative reporting of Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah follows Ciro Di Marzio (Marco D’Amore), a member of the Savastano clan, as he maneuvers a leadership upheaval inside the organization and tries to navigate the dangerous Naples underworld. Brutal and engaging in all the best ways, the show is incredibly well acted and is a must-watch for anyone who considers themselves a fan of crime dramas.