Fantasy/paranormal shows that aren't gory/miserable?
December 6, 2017 9:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a new series to watch that has fantasy or paranormal elements but isn't super gory and doesn't leave me feeling depressed. I'm not having a lot of luck.

All I want is a show where weird shit happens, but it's not full of people getting their hands cut off or chests ripped open and everyone isn't miserable all the time. Gave up on Supernatural a while ago, tried The Magicians and LOVED most of the first season—then it turned into misery, misery, misery every episode. Got two episodes into Penny Dreadful, was able to overlook some of the gore, then the only pure and good character on the show died completely out of nowhere and I said nope.

I can handle some violence and gore, some sad bits, some character death, but when that's ALL there is or just seems to be played for shock value then I just get tied of it. Are there any good fantasy/paranormal shows that I haven't watched that aren't miserable? Assume I know about Buffy and will get around to that one eventually--hoping for newer suggestions but am still open to older shows.

Shows I've liked:
- Pushing Daisies
- The 10th Kingdom
- Stranger Things (some gore and character death but it was handled well and didn't feel like misery misery misery)
- Quantum Leap
- The 1st season of Supernatural
- Merlin except then I didn't finish it because I heard it has a miserable ending

Shows I'm interested in but wary of misery/unnecessary character death:
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell
- Sleepy Hollow
- Sense8

Any suggestions and/or can anyone shed light on the above three shows?
posted by brook horse to Media & Arts (70 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
The Good Place, it’s a bit like Pushing Daisies.
posted by rip at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2017 [26 favorites]

You may enjoy The Good Place. It's about the afterlife and all the characters are already dead, so you have nothing to fear there. Lots of surreal events, bizarre visual humor, and the worldbuilding is increasingly complex and often very funny. What I like about it is that, though it has tension and moral stakes, it's still basically centered around people becoming friends and trying to overcome things together.
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:13 PM on December 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

(Jinx. Seriously, The Good Place tho.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 9:15 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Gallivant, though it’s fantasy-humor.
posted by corb at 9:19 PM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I should note that I'm not really looking for a comedy though it seems like that's the only place I can ever get fantasy without misery these days. I'll still put them on my list, though! Just would like a nice action/adventure or drama right about now.
posted by brook horse at 9:22 PM on December 6, 2017

Best answer: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell -- should be fine for you. I think the ending doesn't work as well in the show as in the book (but watching the show might get you sucked into reading the book, which is great)

Sleepy Hollow -- I wouldn't bother. It started out great, but after the first season Fox underwrote and disrespected co-star Nicole Beharie to the point that she left the show, and they wrote her out in an extremely insulting way.

Sense8 -- should be fine. There is a lot of violence/action, but it's very stylized. However, season 2 ended with a total cliffhanger, and then Netflix announced it was canceled, but then relented and approved a final movie to resolve the show. You may want to wait and see what the fandom reaction is to whenever the movie comes out before you dive in, or maybe just go into it knowing you're going to be left hanging at the end of S2.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:23 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Worst Witch?
posted by tan_coul at 9:24 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: iZombie.
posted by zoetrope at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2017 [11 favorites]

Have you tried The Librarians? It's not great, but it has its moments, and is generally light-hearted/goofy. Season 4 starts next week, so, I expect I'll be posting Fanfare threads again.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:34 PM on December 6, 2017 [11 favorites]

posted by vers at 9:43 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding iZombie. It has some angsty moments, but it's not nearly as dark as Supernatural later becomes.

tbh, it's hard to find what you're looking for. I've watched just about every genre tv show it's possible to see on US networks or Netflix and most of it depends on violence and angst and the occasional major character death for high stakes drama. Even the campy (but awesome) Xena: Warrior Princess dabbled in major character death to raise stakes.
posted by xyzzy at 9:52 PM on December 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: How do you feel about super heroes? If you're open to that idea, try Supergirl. It does have episodely fight scenes but they are mostly gore free, it's all about Doing the Right Thing and most episodes have upbeat endings (exception: cliffhangers). Even the bad guys don't usually die. It's a fun, light watch with engaging characters.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:53 PM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: How do you feel about more sci-fi, comic-book type stuff? If you're willing to try it The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow might be something you'd enjoy. The Flash definitely did take a slightly more somber tone in season 3, but they course corrected and it's back to it's more lighthearted ways. Legends is just a crazy time bending weird fest, but really fun. Think Quantum Leap but with a crew of misfits.

Seconding Haven. Major character death is used sparingly (although some of the locals usually get killed in each episode, but it's mostly people you've never heard of until right then so it's not really heartbreaking). It has a weird quirky humor to it too.

I also think that if you liked season 1 of Supernatural, you might like Wynonna Earp. It's like Supernatural but with female main characters and minus all the misogyny. Again, death used sparingly, very funny, great characters.
posted by katyggls at 10:01 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, maybe? There's some gore but only in furtherance of the plot, and weird/wacky happenings galore. How about Dr. Who?
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:07 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dirk Gently? More of a mystery than strictly fantasy, but a fantasitcal fantasy mystery or something. Also it's amazing.
posted by GuyZero at 10:07 PM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

You definitely want The Good Place. It’s a half-hour comedy, true, but extremely thoughtful, overtly philosophical, hilariously fantastical (you will fall in love with Janet), and continually surprising.
posted by ejs at 10:09 PM on December 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, the TV films of Pratchett books?
posted by runincircles at 10:12 PM on December 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I thought Haven had a pretty high body count, and a lot of the ‘troubles’ were pretty gruesome - not Magicians/Penny Dreadful level grim, but I felt like it was a slog to get through by the end, and I was unhappy with the finale.

Wynonna Earp — I love this show, but it does have a fair amount of gore/torture at times (more in S1, I think).
posted by oh yeah! at 10:21 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I totally agree with you. I hate gore and I hate most of the shows you listed. I recently watched a very good series from Korea on Netflix called Secret Healer which I thought was great. There is a little gore but for someone who hates that shit, I found it manageable.
posted by bleep at 10:23 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

What about Being Human?
My husband watched the series so I caught a few episodes. I remember it as being about a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf trying to be as human as possible and don't remember a lot of gore.
Perhaps someone else can chime in about it?
posted by SLC Mom at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

The first season of Being Human UK was good but the 2nd season premiere was way, way, way too gory and I had to turn it off.
posted by bleep at 10:30 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely Sense8. Not gory, but action-y, and pleasantly uplifting to watch. I was disappointed by the cliffhanger, but yeah there's supposed to be a movie that wraps it all up later on.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hello my people! Seriously every time someone waxed on about it being The Golden Age of Television it just makes me sad that even Star Trek has to be all grimdark now. Not cool; not what I need in 20fucking17, thank you.

Some things I’ve enjoyed recently in spite of the moderate to high amounts (for me) of tension and terribleness they threw their characters into:

A Series of Unfortunate Events
Dirk Gently

Both of those have second seasons on the way, I believe. Low gore, quirky comedic sense, high supernatural weirdness, but not misery free.

For uplifting & non miserable we’ve added Steven Universe of late. No regrets, though cartoons may not be your thing.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:42 PM on December 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is based on a character by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) It is a mystery with seriously weird fantasy elements. There is violence but it is mayhem but with a light touch. (More like 1960's Batman than the Dark Knight). Being a holistic detective means that somehow the universe puts Dirk in the right place at the right time because "everything is connected". This means that you know that everything will be resolved with an amazing coincidence several times in each episode. At a time when so much of the news is negative, I find it really rewarding to watch a show where I know things will turn out - the fun is finding out how because the plot twists are fantastical and bizarre.
posted by metahawk at 10:50 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Since you liked Pushing Daisies, I think you should try Dead Like Me (which I thought was fantastic) and Wonderfalls (which was the tiniest bit too twee for me).
posted by janey47 at 11:06 PM on December 6, 2017 [12 favorites]

If you're at all interested in cartoons and enjoy media intended for all ages there's a lot to dig into. I have just the same issues as you (the ending of Merlin killed me, you made the right choice) and have dug through various streaming services' offerings of action adventure cartoons to get my fantasy paranormal fix.

Steven Universe has incredible world building and a really specific sense of style with layers of relationships that really grab adult viewers, and the music is deeply memorable. Even if you're not into kid's cartoons I'd say this is the current top runner.

I recently watched Troll Hunters on netflix - I didn't think I'd like it but it turns out the characters are designed by Guillermo del Toro, the fun troll world is super cohesive, and the show is surprisingly not very episodic! Extremely watchable and a great villain with super creepy motivation. There's a "spunky perfect smart friendly beautiful" girl character that the main guy has a crush on and I was SO not there for that but she quickly gets wrapped up in the plot in other ways and I'm happy about what they do with her.

Even if you don't normally care for anime, Little Witch Academia is unbelievably charming and enchanting. It's also deeply funny without belittling any of the young girls, nor does it sexualize them. It's taken one of my top spots for animes to rec to people who don't like anime.

Gravity Falls is one of my favorites. It's chock full of paranormal things and truly shudder-worthy bad guys, as well as riddles and mysteries that continue through the whole show. It was very "what a tweest!!" when it was airing so I thought it wouldn't be great to rewatch but I did last year and if anything it was better when I knew what would happen, so much foreshadowing! So if you've already been spoiled for it you should still watch it.

Over the Garden Wall is like a poem that also happens to be a cartoon show. It's creepy and enveloping and funny and super short - you can watch all of it in like three hours.
posted by Mizu at 11:15 PM on December 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: If you're cool with anime, Mononoke is a gorgeous series about a man who travels feudal Japan, seeking out malevolent spirits, discovering their Form, Truth, and Reason, and finally exorcising them. It was available on Netflix last I checked.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:19 PM on December 6, 2017

TV Shows:
-Limitless (the TV show) was a good romp - it is a shame it was canceled after 1 season, but still well worth investing the time in. Streams on Netflix
-No Tomorrow - also a good one season romp - also canceled after 1 season - Also streams on Netflix.
-3rd Rock from the Sun - Streaming on Amazon Prime

Seeking a Friend for the end of the world - awesome - Netflix
Saftey Not Guaranteed - streamable, but you'll have to pay for it. (Worth it)
Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel - HBO/HBO Go
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:42 PM on December 6, 2017

Lion's Gate out of Canada did a version of Stephen King's Dead Zone which I thought was pretty faithful to the spirit of the book without repeating the plot, and which was very engaging.

The first 3 seasons were amazingly good, and the rest were fairly good. Each episode wrapped up the action of that episode except for the season-ending cliffhangers, but the overall arc of the series as a whole was not fully resolved.

I bought it from YouTube.
posted by jamjam at 11:49 PM on December 6, 2017

Best answer: Dead Like Me is so freakin' good and very whimsical, even though it's obviously about death to a good degree. Charmed has its share of misery and sagas of various sorts eventually, but it also has a sense of humor. I don't recall it being gory. Medium and Twin Peaks might be good watching, but it's been a while, so I can't quite recall the ratio of misery involved in each; I know there's some, but I also know that I really enjoyed the ensemble cast and the sense of humor of each. You also might like the anime Mushi-Shi, which involves supernatural stuff, but also is cute and involves mini mysteries each episode. The anime Little Witch Academia is also delightful. And ditto iZombie and Being Human (I watched the U.S. version of the latter). I don't usually like zombie stuff, and iZombie does inevitably involve some brains, but the portrayal of the whole eating-brains thing is almost like a cooking show, oddly enough. I really didn't expect to like it, because zombies, but I devoured it this past summer. In all of the shows I've mentioned, the characters start to feel like a group of friends; I even recommended several of these in the current Frasier thread for that reason.

Witches of East End and Ghost Whisperer both have a lot of longing, so they may be too drama-filled for your tastes. But I liked them a lot. The Good Witch is just lame and takes forever to get to anything sufficiently witchy; I didn't have the patience for it, and I've watched almost every witch show out there. Same with The Worst Witch; it's marginally better, but generally another case of low production values and scarcely engaging scripts.

I'm always looking for new shows like this, so I'll definitely be watching this thread with interest myself!
posted by limeonaire at 11:59 PM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh right, and I just watched True Blood recently, and while it's great, it's also quite gory and involves tons of character death. So I'd warn you against that one.
posted by limeonaire at 12:01 AM on December 7, 2017

Oh, you know what's a lot of fun, actually? Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I revisited it a while back and I felt like it actually held up fairly well for what it is. It's super goofy and teen-oriented, but actually rather well-written.
posted by limeonaire at 12:04 AM on December 7, 2017

posted by exquisite_deluxe at 12:05 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

OK, one more recommendation, if you can do the whole superhero thing: Supergirl! It's another good one in the canon of "women learning to deal with having powers, holding down a mundane job, and needing to run off and save the world all the time," which is an incredibly common theme throughout all of these series, even if the mechanics of the supernatural things in play differ.
posted by limeonaire at 12:12 AM on December 7, 2017

Just another vote for Troll Hunters — it’s definitely a kid’s show, which isn’t really what I’m normally looking for, but it was well-made enough that I ended up watching the whole thing. And at least you know it won’t get too dark or at all gory.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:30 AM on December 7, 2017

If animation is an option, Adventure Time would very much seem to fit the bill.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:22 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I enjoy Dirk Gently, but I disagree that the gore is light - it seems pretty hardcore to me.

Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes is light fantasy.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 3:12 AM on December 7, 2017

Best answer: TV:
Reaper (Kevin Smith TV series) might be up your avenue. Series one was pretty good, series two less so.
The X Files
Dr Who
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Taboo (might be a touch depressing for your tastes, I am unsure)
Grimm (Not great writing but easy watching)
Star Trek
The Addams Family
Black Mirror (be selective in the episodes you choose, can be hard watching)
Once Upon a Time (think this is YA but might be suitable for you)

Super 8
Song of the Sea
Pan's Labyrinth
posted by TheGarden at 5:17 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was really into Lost Girl for a while. It's a Canadian fantasy show with a good supportive female friendship. It's definitely campy and I don't remember a ton of gore, although there was probably some. It's on Netflix.
posted by carolr at 6:01 AM on December 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

These were both on Netflix a while back.

The Almighty Johnsons - NZ comedy about a family who find out they're descended from Norse Gods on their 21st birthday. A little nudity but really full of odd and funny twists and turns.

Strange Calls - Aussie comedy about cop sent to a small town who gets stuck on the night shift when all the supernatural stuff that no one believes happen, happens. It's kind of sweet and quirky.
posted by stray thoughts at 6:12 AM on December 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sliders? Possibly a bit old school (1995-2000), but entertaining and while there are some deaths, certainly not that many and people manage to figure out some way out of their current problem every episode.

Primeval an older (2007-2011) British sci-fi with portals that open between different times. Some minor deaths but no gore at all.

The 4400 again a bit older 2004-2007 but rather interesting with good character development.
posted by koolkat at 6:14 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not seeing any mention of Warehouse 13 and I think it would be really up your street. Some slightly darker plots in the last season but definitely not super gory or depressing (and one of my all-time favourite shows).
posted by *becca* at 6:35 AM on December 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

If you're going to watch cartoons (and I think you should try a few), *definitely* see Avatar: The Last Airbender. (I can't vouch for Korra since I haven't seen it yet).
posted by itesser at 6:52 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The AMC series Preacher ( is very good. I've read a lot of the comics and it is BANANAS. I've watched the first season on DVD and enjoyed it.

Dead Like Me
Reaper (first season)
Limitless (TV series, movie's good too.)
The Good Place - is wonderful.
Warehouse 13 is ok in small increments. Their cute conceits really jump out if you binge it.
posted by turkeybrain at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2017

Legend of the Seeker
Xena: Warrior Princess
Agent Carter - sort of retro sci-fi, sort of fantastical but not really Fantasy
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:57 AM on December 7, 2017

Best answer: Pan's Labyrinth? I've yet to see it because the impression I had from various internet comments is that it is guttingly sad at points, with some traumatically creepy creature effects. Has my impression that it's a downer been wrong?

Preacher? I quit a few episodes in, too much horror for me, and I made it all the way through Penny Dreadful and am still watching The Magicians despite nearly quitting after how grim the S1 finale was, Preacher is not going to be something the OP will enjoy.

Once Upon A Time -- I loved the first few seasons, but it gets really tiresome eventually, and I quit halfway through one season after the umpteenth time a certain character went evil again after being redeemed. If you liked The Tenth Kingdom, you'd probably like it at the beginning, but, just know that at whatever point you start feeling like it's gotten worse/you're not invested in the main love story/stories, you should probably just quit watching because it's not going to recover.

Charmed - Aw, yes, I love this stupid show. The second-to-last-season finale had to serve as a season finale in case they were canceled, so the last season is pretty godawful (Kaley Cuoco was brought in to be the 'new hotness', but the budget was slashed so they couldn't afford to pay for her unless they cut time for another recurring character, who gets shunted off to being frozen in time for the majority of the season), but I think it's worth slogging through to get to the finale, which was a satisfying wrap-up. (I watched the show as it aired, and I've rewatched it more recently on Netflix.)

Supergirl - While I loved the positivity of S1, there was a major tonal shift in S2 when the show moved from CBS to CW, and when now-fired-for-sexual-harrassment producer Andrew Kreisberg took over and original show creator All Adler quietly left mid-season. I have not been watching the current S3 and will wait to see what fandom consensus is at the end of the year to see if they pulled up from the nose dive.

Dirk Gently - I do love this show, but S1 had some bummer character deaths, and ends pretty cliff-hangery. Season 2 is airing now, only 2 episodes to go until the finale, so it's indeterminate yet what the body count will be or how screwed the surviving characters will be. I am hoping for the best but bracing for the worst.

Limitless - Yes! Only one season, and it starts off as seemingly yet another "Cop/Not A Cop" procedural, but there are some fantastic visual and comedic moments once the show gets going.

Grimm - Loved this show. They do go for the gross-out horror from time to time, but it's usually pretty clear when it's coming so you can look away in time. It had a really great camaraderie in the ensemble, and a decent finale. (It's not on Netflix though, I don't know where people can watch it now. I miss it though.)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:02 AM on December 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Pan's Labyrinth is sad for sure, but beautiful and the sad parts are less depressing in the sense I assumed the OP meant. I don't want to spoil it, because it is an incredible film, but my view is essentially that the sad parts can be taken in more than one way. I personally found the film very clever in how it deals with the sadder events. The outcome is not black and white.

But naturally. If you are sensitive to any sadness whatsoever this may not be for you.
posted by TheGarden at 8:20 AM on December 7, 2017

Farscape? It is nominally sci-fi, in that it is set in space, but there is no actual science involved and there is sure as hell a lot of wacky. Wonderful characters, muppets you will fall in love with, a lot of found family feels, the show looks gorgeous, and has a wonderfully surreal sense of humor.

There is gore (and grossout humor at times) and there are dark/sad bits but generally after a sad episode there's one where there's bodyswapping or someone dresses as the Easter Bunny or everyone is inexplicably a Roadrunner cartoon.
posted by darchildre at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Since cartoons have been brought up, how about Avatar? Much more fantasy than paranormal, but I loved the character development and humor, the fights are not gory, and any sadness is generally gentle and justified.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:34 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The French show Les Revenants fits this bill. In a small mountain town, a bunch of recently deceased people suddenly wander back out of the woods, apparently alive and well. No gore that I recall – the tone is eeriness over scariness. The first season was quite good.
posted by Beardman at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

How is it that no one has suggested Buffy? You want Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
posted by tangosnail at 9:14 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Very Old School TV:

The Munsters
The Addams Family
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
I Dream of Jeannie
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2017

The OP mentioned Buffy in the question, tangosnail (and though I watched it back when it aired, I think it fails the "everyone isn't miserable all the time" test overall, and the feminism hasn't aged well, what with the Whedon of it all).
posted by oh yeah! at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, oh yeah!
Apologies for my reading comprehension issues...
posted by tangosnail at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2017

I'll second Adventure Time. The first few seasons are silly but have some humanity, later seasons (like six more of them) are written like really fulfilling, smart, socially well-adjusted and insight-based YA novels.

In a similar but less goofy/absurd vein, the Legend of Korra might be appealing. I couldn't really stand Avatar but I think a large part of that was because the show was geared specifically for younger folks. Korra's much more in the YA territory.

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime that I think has held up pretty well even with my adult eyes. There are sad moments and character deaths but it's never done in a manipulative way. There are a lot of lighthearted moments and a surprising amount of tenderness in the way it depicts even it's 'evil' characters. It also nicely avoids the rampant sexism that seems to pervade a lot of anime - there are lots of strong female characters and accomplices and it's fairly destitute of objectification. Just avoid the one that doesn't have Brotherhood in the title - that's the not-as-faithful adaptation that came out before the manga was even half finished.
posted by runt at 10:09 AM on December 7, 2017

If you're open to comedies, Ghosted is pretty fun.
posted by General Malaise at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions! To those suggesting cartoons, I am totally open to cartoons, but I actually posted this question because I've been watching pretty much nothing but cartoons for the past couple of years due to the aforementioned problem, and I was hoping to start branching out again. I've watched and loved all the ones listed (except Korra and Brotherhood, which are both on my watch list but not what I'm in the mood for right now)!

I would like to take the opportunity to suggest to all of you who love cartoons to watch Legend Quest (Gravity Falls-esque and generally pretty positive) and Young Justice (only one major character death and it's handled well + suggestions the character might come back) as well. ;)
posted by brook horse at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


- Dead Like Me. Mandy Patinkin is great in this show, as are all the other actors. The character Daisy broke my heart.

- Sense8. I am a fan of everything the Wachowskis do, and this is one of my favorites. It is beautifully filmed. It is an ensemble show for sure, and the way the characters support each other is wonderful, and is sort of the point of the whole show. Some of the characters are couples, and the love they have for each other is beautiful. (I'm having trouble using words that aren't platitudes about this show, but tl;dr, it is amazing.)

- Being Human, UK version. I loved every moment of this show. The main character (the vampire) is played by Aiden Turner (I also watch him on Poldark), and wow, he's amazing. But this is another ensemble show, and all the main crew are terrific.

And a few recommendations that I don't think have been mentioned here:

- People of Earth, on TBS: Quirky, fun, and touching. I love it.

- Crazyhead, on Netflix, is kind of a UK version of Buffy. It was fun.

- Future Man, on Hulu, is mostly a comedy, but I enjoyed it. It's more sci fi than fantasy, but it might work for you.

- The Shape of Water, a new movie, is in theaters now. It is directed by Guillermo del Toro, who also directed Pan's Labyrinth, which has been recommended in this thread. The Shape of Water is the best movie I've seen in quite a while.
posted by merejane at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You say you can handle some violence so Sense8 might be fine for you, but just so you know, it is just bonkers gory in a way that is extra revolting considering what a basically silly show it is (and it is; it's a rather pleasant though thematically superficial psychic friends show that I think you might like.) but there are buckets of blood, interminable stabbings, bludgeonings, detailed shootings, and some very special machete dismemberment.

if you check out the fanfare threads you will see that many people found a sentimental birthing montage to be more upsetting than any of the above, for reasons I cannot fathom. even though I don't like montages either. but everybody has a different threshold for super gory, and while you might still like the show you should be warned. the ultraviolence is taken lightly in a way that is more upsetting for some people than taking it seriously would be.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:23 PM on December 7, 2017

Best answer: I'm going to throw in for Once Upon a Time with the caveat it is not really a good show. Amusing and reasonably entertaining? Sure. Good? Nope. There are a lot of bad wigs and questionable make up and choices that make you think "Uh, but ...?" before you realize you're devoting way too much thought to this dumb show.

But it's simple, mindless fun, if you're OK with watching someone's Disney/LOST fanfiction (I actually really liked the Frozen plot, though. I'm not sorry). I enjoy it because 9-year-old me would've thought this show was the best thing ever.

If subtitles aren't a dealbreaker, there are a lot of Korean dramas that involve supernatural plotlines, but not necessarily in the same way Western shows do. I don't have one to recommend specifically, but while there's "drama" in many of these, it's generally not in a way that leaves you depressed. This seems like a decent roundup of recent ones. (I can't attest to the gore level in a lot of these but I did watch some of Vampire Prosecutor and it did not seem that bad & I'm pretty squeamish overall.)
posted by darksong at 2:34 PM on December 7, 2017

Late to the party here, but Firefly is brilliant, and I kept looking for it in the comments. Also Fringe, which has fabulous characters and a very weird plotline, but not gross ( and Leonard Nimoy shows up eventually). Having read Dirk Gently, I and Husband hated the movie. Pan is frightening, and one watch is quite enough. A good movie is Moon, with Sam Rockwell starring (Hitchhiker's Guide). Brilliant, in fact. For fun, watch Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver - assuming you haven't already. Also Shaun of the Dead, and I must add that I passionately hate zombies, but it was good, and had Bill Nighy in it.
posted by Enid Lareg at 3:54 PM on December 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Eureka was a mostly-light-hearted SyFy series (that technically exists in the same "universe" as Warehouse 13 - there were a few crossover episodes & guest appearances) that pops on & off Netflix.

If you're still down for cartoons/all ages stuff, there's the "How Train Your Dragon" series currently produced by Netflix.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:05 PM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The French show Les Revenants fits this bill. In a small mountain town, a bunch of recently deceased people suddenly wander back out of the woods, apparently alive and well. No gore that I recall – the tone is eeriness over scariness. The first season was quite good.

Yessss, I actually thought about suggesting the U.S. version, The Returned, but there was only one season, which was so unsatisfying. It was really awesome while it lasted.
posted by limeonaire at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2017

Best answer: Please do see Jonathan Strange, it's just gorgeous and fantastical and hilarious and brilliant. The sad bit is actually fairly subtle, over pretty quickly and totally manageable - and usually everything breaks me so I can vouch for this one! - it's just a great, great show (that was criminally undersold when it came out IMO).
posted by freya_lamb at 5:16 PM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I actually have to disagree with a previous poster's recommendation of Westworld. Yes, it is a well-written, critically acclaimed show with excellent acting. But IMO it seems to have a fair amount of gratuitous violence.

As for the shows that the OP mentioned, Sense8 does have some violence, but it doesn't feel overly gratuitous to me. Also, it seems to have a good mix of melancholy and lighthearted subplots.

I would definitely recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It's a wonderful blend of fantasy, mystery and period drama. As someone who was also disappointed by the nosedive that The Magicians took partway through season one, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this series.
posted by carnival_night_zone at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

-Dead Like Me
-Dirk Gently
-The Good Place
-Warehouse 13
-Lost Girl
-Witches of East End

I don't think anyone has mentioned Angel yet? If you liked Buffy and haven't seen it, watch it! It's on Netflix and Angel has some sidekicks that add humor and effectively counterbalance his tendency toward gloom.
posted by purple_bird at 11:42 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Haven. Pretty good acting for what was, really, a b-movie TV series.
Also, Grimm. The leads had great chemistry, the storyline was ridiculous but fun, and the SFX, while occasionally cheesy, were pretty well done.
posted by notsnot at 7:48 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Again, lots of great suggestions, thank you all! I just wanted to share a little insight I just had that may help others in finding shows they like. I think another part of the problem I've had with The Magicians, Penny Dreadful, and Supernatural is that the majority of characters are assholes and/or I just plain don't like them. So when one of the only characters I liked died in Penny Dreadful that was it. Nope. Whereas Stranger Things has lots of characters that are decent people and lots of characters I liked survived, even if one of my favorite characters died.

Basically, my three problems are: lots of gore, frequent major character death, lots of asshole characters. A show can pick 1.5 of those and still hold my attention ( e.g. lots of gore (1) is fine as long as there's only one or two deaths (.5) and the characters I'm supposed to care about aren't assholes (0)). Get up to a score of 2 and I'm out.

So for those debating on the gore level of some shows--as long as there's not a lot of major character death and the main characters aren't all assholes I'll probably be fine with it (sounds like the situation of Sense8?). Similarly I'll probably survive some major character deaths if there's not a lot gore and there are a lot of characters I still like left alive. A show where most of the characters are assholes (who still make for interesting characters, I'm not inherently opposed to them!) I could probably enjoy as long as there isn't a ton of gore and non of the few-and-far-between non-asshole characters die but I suspect that's not going to be a frequent case. "Terrible people as main characters" and "gore and death" kind of seem to go hand in hand.

Anyway, just thought that might be useful for anyone else trying to find TV that doesn't depress them. I'll be quiet now. :)
posted by brook horse at 10:33 AM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Forgot to recommend it earlier, but, have you tried Lucifer? It takes a little while into season 1 to hit its stride, but it has turned into a really fun ensemble show.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have thought of a few more possibilities;

Misfits (Very popular British series)
Agents of Shield
Doll House (some violence in that Joss Whedon kind of way and problematic on several levels in relation to feminism but VERY easy watching - essentially it's TV junk food).
Firefly & Serenity (Haven't watched but from what I have been told both are basically what you are asking for)
American Gods (May be too dark for you, but *so* worth a try for the cinematography alone)
Bedlam (Another British series, that is just okay. More TV junk food)
Life on Mars
Futurama (Because it is incredible in all the ways!)
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
The Mighty Boosh
The League of Gentlemen (Another British series, weird and well loved by Brits)
Psychoville (The creators of The League of Gentlemen also made this)

And I second Galaxy Quest as a movie to watch. Sigourney Weaver is such a hero.
Movie wise also try Big Fish and Beetlejuice.

Oh also - not related in any way to the thing you're asking for because it isn't spooky/supernatural - but PLEASE try Spaced. It is a British series that is weird and wonderful and just so great. Brian is forever the strange neighbour we all wish for.
posted by TheGarden at 3:41 AM on December 12, 2017

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