Whether it is the kind of game where you sit at a table with pen, paper, and a close circle of friends, you control a digital avatar using buttons and switches, or that involves you literally playing dress up in an open field, RPGs have inspired startling devotion in our pop culture. Even the high and mighty screen entertainment industry recognizes this.
Either by accident or by design, a lot of television shows have tried to capture the magic of RPGs. So even if you cannot be a part of the role-playing community for whatever reason, the ever-present TV and streaming services can still grant you as close an experience as you can get. Put on your elf ears, grab your pals and some snacks, and get ready to press X or roll for a good time with these great series.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-08)
It is truly baffling that this show took so long to get RPG material in its franchise, since everything about it seems primed for such expansion. Avatar: The Last Airbender tells the story of a resurfaced messianic youth who, alongside the many friends he makes, must complete a journey to ultimately free his world from imperial oppressors.
Adventure, magic, action, heart, powerful character arcs, and a sense of worldbuilding that is one-of-a-kind… What more could an RPG enthusiast ask for in television? Go right ahead and log on to Netflix to soak it all in.
Sword Art Online (2012-Present)
During the official launch of Sword Art Online (SAO), a massive multiplayer online RPG that utilizes a fully immersive VR headset, the game’s creator traps all the players within the virtual world, forcing them to complete all the levels to escape or genuinely die trying. Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya, one of SAO’s top players, fights to beat the game with the help of his lover Asuna and their allies.
This anime presents viewers with an honest and dark look at the possible implications of virtual reality gaming technology when the stakes are real while still being an exciting and sincere salute to the realm of gaming. Full dive into the action and drama now on Netflix.
The brainchild of the late Monty Oum of network vs. Blue fame, RWBY follows the escapades of a quartet of young women and their colleagues, the majority of whom are inspired by familiar fairy tale figures, as they fight to defend their world from dark beasts and villains.
People have diverging opinions about RWBY‘s later seasons, which is perfectly fair. And the animation style may not win newcomers over at first glance. Still, the series, particularly early on, is full of charming dialogue and exceptionally well-choreographed action that wears its video game inspirations nicely. Hop onto Rooster Teeth and check it out.
Critical Role (2015-Present)
RPG fans will love this web series for obvious reasons. A party of professional voice actors, such as Ashley Johnson, Laura Baileyand Travis Willinghamplay Dungeons & Dragons and stream their campaigns out for people to join in the fun.
It is always nice to see celebrities engage in relatable activity, and even more so to watch them not be afraid to laugh at themselves. The cast is having a ball as they sling dice and act out their quests across the continent of Exandria, and we, the audience, cannot help but enjoy them too. Sign up to be a “Critter” yourself and go adventuring with the rest of the family on YouTube.
The Shannara Chronicles (2016-17)
Based on a book series by Terry Brooks, The Shannara Chronicles centers on Wil Ohmsford (austin butler), an aspiring physician and last descendant of an ancient magical bloodline who is recruited by a powerful sorcerer to help stop a race of demons from invading their homelands.
everything that d&d fans would want to see on TV can be found here: A band of adventurers with personal baggage questing to prevent the apocalypse, elf royals ruling in ostentatious trappings, magicians firing off spells at gnarly-looking creatures, and quite a bit of money to bring it all to life. The show probably takes itself too seriously in certain respects, but there is an allure to its commitment. Decide for yourself by purchasing it on Apple TV.
In what honestly amounts to a parody of RPG tropes, Kazuma Sato, a teen shut-in, dies embarrassingly in the real world and is given the choice to reincarnate in another one that follows video game rules and logic. However, when he gets there, he ends up stuck with a party consisting of an air-headed and whiny goddess, an irrationally prideful sorceress obsessed with blowing things up, and a masochistic female knight.
KonoSuba focuses more on comedy than adventure and action, with the main characters often worrying about earning enough money over vanquishing monsters for a righteous cause. Yet it is so offbeat and shamelessly risky that your attention is constantly hooked in spite of any reservations. Surrender to the craziness today on Crunchyroll.
The Dragon Prince (2018-Present)
War looms over the horizon for the continent of Xadia. Humans and elves are at each other’s throats due to the supposed death of the dragon king and his offspring from him at the hands of humanity. But an opportunity to avert disaster presents itself when the human princes discover that the dragon heir is alive, and they attempt a perilous odyssey to return him to his family from him with the aid of an elf assassin.
Not the most original or subtle in its narrative and thematic elements, Dragon Prince however boasts unique animation, interesting characters, a fun world, and a fascinating system of magic. See it all on Netflix.
The Rising of The Shield Hero (2019-Present)
Young Naofumi Iwatani is unexpectedly transported to a magical domain where he learns that he is one of the chosen heroes destined to save it from malevolent interdimensional beings. But after Naofumi is falsely accused by his ella patron kingdom’s princess of trying to sexually assault her, he becomes a pariah and develops a jaded attitude. He regains his resolve as he acquires companions, upgrades his abilities from him, and earns the trust of the people through gallant deeds.
Like Sword Art Online, The Rising of the Shield Hero puts a more mature spin on the RPG narrative without dishonoring its influences, offering a compelling underdog tale carried by a group of sympathetic and endearing protagonists for you to relish on Funimation.
A tie-in to the League of Legends online multiplayer phenomenon, Arcane details the events leading up to violent conflict between the technologically advanced city of Piltover and the squalid underground Zaun, primarily through the eyes of two sisters.
It is remarkable how beautifully this show is written, performed, and crafted, especially for a video game adaptation. though Arcane may be more heavy on pensive storytelling than action-packed adventuring, it is no less exhilarating. Choose your side in the battle of champions now on Netflix.
The Legend of Vox Machina (2022-Present)
Adapted from critical role‘s inaugural d&d campaign, The Legend of Vox Machina recounts the exploits of a mercenary crew as they go up against various entities that threaten the kingdom of Tal’Dorei.
This began as a Kickstarter project that received far more funding than intended, an investment that was not wasted. All the original cast members return to reprise their respective roles, and their zeal has not diminished, except we actually get to see the story fully realized in colorful animation and topped with a ton of irreverence and self-awareness to make for a rollicking affair that you can stream on Amazon Prime Video.
NEXT: Dungeons And Dragons Podcasts To Listen To After ‘The Legend Of Vox Machina’