February 21, 2024

One way to almost guarantee interest in a TV drama is to place life or death bets. If a character isn’t safe and anyone of any importance can die at any moment, there’s inherent suspense. Because of this, many TV shows revolve around war, crime, survival, or action/adventure, and it’s easy to see how much controversy was generated by character deaths on popular and deadly shows. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.


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However, constant death – or the threat of it – isn’t the only way to make a dramatic TV show compelling week after week, season after season. Some dramas manage to be engaging, suspenseful, or even tense without constant life-or-death stakes, and generally feature characters who feel out of The Grim Reaper’s grasp. These subsequent shows aren’t necessarily death-free, but they often find drama in ways that don’t involve characters who aren’t in danger, showing that a huge body count isn’t necessary to make a series believable.

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10 ‘Sequential’ (2018-2023)

Succession Season Three Roman and Shiv
Image via HBO

Inheritance It’s wrapping up with its fourth season in 2023, but given the progress it’s made so far, it’s highly unlikely that things will end in a bloodbath. It can take inspiration Shakespeare’s King LearGiven that it was a show that started out wondering how to split a dynasty, a similar violent end will likely be avoided.

Instead of violence and physical conflict, Inheritance he sees his characters engaged in constant verbal battles. The stakes are high, the characters constantly win – or sometimes lose – billions of dollars, but it’s rare that someone’s physical well-being is at stake. The personal wealth and professional reputation of the characters, on the other hand? They are constantly in danger, doing Inheritance a surprisingly intense show at times.

9 ‘Mad Men’ (2007-2015)

Mad Men - Don Draper

Maybe it was created Matthew Weinerwho stood out for being a writer the sopranosbut Crazy men It was a very different show from HBO’s hit gangster series. Sure, both followed flawed and complex male leads who have to juggle their professional and family lives, but each time the game was different.

the sopranos it was known to be full of death, but Crazy men it does not deal with organized crime, and much of its drama centers on the struggles between family and professionals. If someone died, it was usually sudden, with characters rarely feeling like they were in danger of harm. It was still a fantastic character-driven show, and more than compelling thanks to the cast and interesting depictions of life during the 1960s.

8 ‘Six Feet Under’ (2001-2005)

Peter Krause in Six Feet Under
Image via HBO

Actually, there were a lot of dead people there Six feet under. Its powerful opening episode began with the main characters losing someone close to them, and its iconic ending memorably showed how death can eventually come to everyone. In between, there’s usually one death per episode, given that the main characters work at the funeral home, but it’s almost always the death of a single character.

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Six feet under it normalizes death, to the point where it is so inevitable that it ceases to feel as if the tension is building. Add to that, the main characters are rarely in physical danger (aside from, perhaps, the awful Season 4 episode “That’s My Dog,” where David is terrorized by a disturbing hitchhiker).

7 ‘The Newsroom’ (2012-2014)

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It is not surprising of the news station title, that it’s a series without much traditional action or excitement. It’s actually about a (fictional) newsroom, and it’s based on a group of characters who work in such a high-intensity work environment and struggle with all the challenges it entails.

Thank you by Aaron Sorkin popular quick chats, Editorial it manages to feel thrilling and exciting through the interactions between the characters. It’s also a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the kind of team dynamics that industry outsiders probably aren’t familiar with that makes Sorkin’s pre-series for newsrooms. West wingHe did it for The Oval Office.

6 ‘The Bear’ (2022)

Jeremy Allen White, Lionel Boyce and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Carmy, Marcus and Richie in The Bear
Image via FX

If there is bear It teaches viewers one thing, that working in a restaurant kitchen is incredibly hard and often intense. There are physical dangers, of course, but even if you’ve never been physically hurt, there are likely to be many other things that can make working in such an environment nerve-wracking.

Employee conflicts, customer complaints, the financial stress of running a small business, bear manages to wring plenty of drama from its seemingly simple premise. He is known for being a a stomach-churning, anxiety-inducing showand that he can extract so much tension from a fairly ordinary scenario is remarkable.

5 ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ (2020)

Beth Harmon seated and turning left in The Queen's Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit It was a Netflix miniseries that got a lot of attention when it premiered. It follows a woman who has become a chess expert at a young age and has gone on to compete professionally at a young age, all while battling her personal demons.

It’s a show that at first glance seems to be about chess, which isn’t exactly the most cinematic game out there. Still, it was enough to hook the audience, and of course it was more than just playing chess, as it also explored Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) as a deep character.

4 ‘The Leftovers’ (2014-2017)

Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon in 'The Leftovers'
Image via HBO

In the beginning Trash, a vast and mysterious tragedy takes place. Two percent of the world’s population suddenly disappears, and with no clue as to where they have gone or if they are still alive, the remaining 98% are left wondering what happened and how to continue life after the disappearance. So much

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Maybe those who disappeared died, or maybe they didn’t. The show isn’t so much about answering the mystery as it is about those on Earth. It’s a compelling and often emotional show that explores grief, loneliness, and the difficulty of finding purpose in life, and it does so without the action/adventure/horror elements that often (somewhat) appear in comparable post-apocalyptic shows.

3 ‘Scenes from a Wedding’ (2021)

scenes-from-a-wedding-jessica-chastain-oscar-isaac_1-social
Image via HBO

Based on the Swedish miniseries of the same name, Scenes from a wedding At the end of the day, it’s all about the slow, long process of going through a divorce. The husband and wife, both middle-aged, realize that they want to separate, and so begins a mini-series mainly discussing their feelings and issues together, as well as what will happen in their lives going forward.

It’s all based on dialogue, but verbal battles can be just as intense as any physical battle in an action-packed show. It helps that the miniseries has great source material, as well as two great actors – Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac – both can always give passionate and emotional performances.

2 ‘M*A*S*H’ (1972-1983)

The soldiers who greet each other in the final episode of MASH,

In 11 seasons and roughly 250 episodes, only one major character has died M*A*S*H. It’s harrowing and affecting, but it’s surprising that a show about medical personnel set in an Army hospital during the Korean War could see most of its characters survive the conflict.

However, it also makes sense that the characters are rarely engaged in actual combat, and are generally taken to patients for surgery and treatment. Those patients and other minor characters have a fairly high mortality rate, but as for the main characters, the drama comes from the show exploring their psychological well-being and the taxing nature of their high-pressure job. M*A*S*H it was also very funny when it needed to be, but it was serious enough (especially in later seasons and the finale) to be as effective a comedy as a drama.

1 “The West Wing” (1999-2006)

President Jed Bartlet sits in the Oval Office
Image via NBC

Before Editorialwas created by Aaron Sorkin West wing, and wrote an incredibly large number of episodes in its first four seasons. Josiah Bartlet was a drama series that followed several employees working for a fictional President of the United States, and the show also spent some time on Bartlet himself as a character.

It is a behind-the-scenes look at the world of politicians, albeit a fictional one, presenting an idealistic view of politics in general and how it works. It’s not all smooth sailing, with a lot of personal conflict between some of the characters and the tension of whether or not they’ll achieve their various goals, but it’s a show where death – or the threat of it – is pretty rare, especially for its boss. the characters

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