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5 Shows like Banshee: A Wail of a Time!
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5 Shows like Banshee: A Wail of a Time!

Nicola Griffiths itcherFlipping the dynamic of cops and robbers on its head, ‘Banshee’ is an unflinching and unrelenting show – as wickedly calculating as it is gratuitously violent. If ‘Banshee’ is your particular brand of poison, then the likes of ‘Justified’, ‘Deadwood’ and ‘Castle’ should be right up your dimly lit alley. ~ Nicola Griffiths

What’s under the Hood?

Set in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, the small town of ‘Banshee’ has had more deaths, maiming, sex and betrayals than a ‘Game of Thrones’ marathon. An enigmatic ex-con makes his way to the town for reasons then-unknown and, through a series of unfortunate (and gory) events, ends up impersonating murdered sheriff Lucas Hood.

A highly skilled and heavily armed thief with a less-than-rigid view of right and wrong, he sets to cleaning up the town (and robbing it blind). Originally airing in 2013 and approaching its final fourth series, Native American gangs, bikers, Ukrainian mobsters and a special forces team end up going through the blender of ‘Lucas Hood’, with hide-your-face-behind-the-cushion results as ‘justice’ takes on a multitude of meanings. Beautifully and imaginatively shot (one episode is shown from the viewpoint of security cameras and head-cams), there’s even a David Lynch-ish dreamy quality amidst the hard-talking and shotgun-shooting. If you’re on the hunt for more TV shows like ‘Banshee’, then look no further. 

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Shows Similar to ‘Banshee’…

‘Justified’ (FX, 2010-2015)

“I shot people I like more for less.”

Good guys in Westerns might not wear white any more, but it turns out that they do still sport a stetson, as is the case with Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens in ‘Justified’. A quick-drawing cowboy that’s part John Wayne and part Mel Gibson in ‘Lethal Weapon’, Givens is sent home from Miami to his native Harlan County, a backwoods slice of America slowly drowning in meth production and redneck mafia.

Hillbilly hitmen, blackmailing revivalist churches, corrupt mining officials and white supremacists are swiftly added to the mix. Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, the six seasons of ‘Justified’ chart the development between Givens and his ‘frenemy’ Boyd Crowder. Playing fast and loose with the rules in an attempt to keep up with the bad guys, how low will Givens go to get his man?

Similarity Match: 80%
With both ‘Banshee’ and ‘Justified’ featuring a rogue lawman, they might be two very different vehicles but underneath the hoods of each both engines roar with a similar power.

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‘Deadwood’ (HBO, 2004-2006)

“The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man… and give some back.”

This TV series like ‘Banshee’ is led by the star quality and hilariously foul mouth of former ‘Lovejoy’ star Ian McShane as pimp and palm-greaser Al Swearengen. ‘Deadwood’ also stars ‘Justified’s’ Timothy Olyphant as sheriff, hardware store owner and yes, former U.S. Marshal Seth Bullock.

Set in the 1870s as civilisation comes to the wild, untamed reaches of Dakota, ‘Deadwood’ garnered eight Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Immersive entertainment of the highest order, there’s a sense of realism to ‘Deadwood’, with many of the characters taken from real life (Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane also appear).

Similarity Match: 75%
A treat for the eyes as well as the head, for fans of good-looking television, ‘Deadwood’ and ‘Banshee’ are closely matched, but for more fanciful fiction I would look to ‘Deadwood’.

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‘Blindspot’ (NBC, 2015-Present)

“These tattoos are as big of a mystery as Jane Doe is. We have no way of knowing where they’ll lead.”

Utilising the same approach as ‘Banshee’ when it comes to pilot episodes, ‘Blindspot’ introduced one of its main protagonists with an air of mystery. Or, in this case, heavily tattooed, zipped up in a bag and dumped in the middle of New York’s Times Square. Starring Jaimie Alexander as ‘Jane’ (as in Jane Doe, the police term for an unidentified female) and Sullivan Stapleton as FBI Special Agent Kurt Weller, ‘Blindspot’ sees ‘Jane’ used as a map of sorts to the locations and culprits of crimes that threaten the country.

The link between the two? She mysteriously has Weller’s name tattooed on her back. Threading together psychology, brain-washing, terrorism and forensic science, ‘Blindspot’ is a tense, unforgiving thriller.

Similarity Match: 65%
While both ‘Blindspot’ and ‘Banshee’ feature badasses in the main roles, ‘Blindspot’ offers a surprisingly different take on what could be mistaken for a standard cop show.

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If You Like ‘Banshee’, You Will Like…

If you like ‘Banshee’, but like your crime thrillers to be a little more on the lighter side then these might be the shows you’re looking for.

‘Castle’ (ABC, 2009–Present)

“There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better.”

Returning ‘Firefly’s’ Nathan Fillion to the small screen, he stars as the titular crime novelist Richard Castle, who ends up being paired with New York Police Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). How did they meet? That old ‘boy suspected of murder, meets girl detective investigating and badgers her into letting him draw inspiration for his next book by following her around on the case’ chestnut.

Now eight series old and showing no signs of letting up, it’s down to the chemistry between Castle and Beckett (or ‘Caskett’ as their fans have christened them) to keep the castle’s flame going. With a grisly murder to solve each week and a hefty dollop of comedy and flirting to boot, what’s not to love?

While ‘Banshee’ and ‘Castle’ are completely different beasts, they both play with the traditional tropes of police and thieves. While in ‘Banshee’ it’s the criminal pretending to be a cop, ‘Castle’ sees the writer turned detective and detective turned muse.

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‘Ray Donovan’ (Showtime, 2013-Present)

“Do you think you’re the first person I’ve dealt with woke up with a dead body…”

A ‘fixer’ (somebody employed to pay off corrupt police and government officials to get criminals off the hook) by trade and stoic by nature, Ray Donovan, played by Liev Schreiber, might live and work in California, but his soul is as dark and stormy as Boston.

Juggling the return of his estranged father with family problems and the FBI attempting to bring him down, ‘Ray Donovan’ has, so far, given us three seasons of stylish problem-solving, betrayals and more plot twists and turns than an excitable snake.

Sitting at completely different ends of the spectrum, on the face of it ‘Banshee’ and ‘Ray Donovan’ make for unlikely bedfellows. However, dig deeper and, along with the cutting edge filming techniques, both shows have a sense of impending doom about them, ratcheting the tension up to breaking point.

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Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…

If you’re looking for more series similar to ‘Banshee’, then classics like ‘Breaking Bad’ featuring the ultimate anti-hero Walter White might be up your street. Alternatively, for another direction into the real nitty-gritty of crime, forensic thriller ‘Bones’ could be what you’re on the hunt for?

Think we’ve missed any TV shows like ‘Banshee’?

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