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14 TV Shows Like Narcos About The Highly Organized But Bloody Drug Trade

shows like narcos

Seeing the characters in shows like Narcos, one might be forgiven for thinking that these are fictional characters due to some of their ruthless actions. But set in the very real backdrop of narco-ridden Medellin, you have no choice but to understand that these are very real people, with very real choices, and very real consequences, although with some dramatic flair added into the mix.

This perceived realism would not be the case had it not been for the great and grounded performances given by actors like Wagner Moura, who plays Medellin cartel boss Pablo Escobar, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, among many others. The plot is centered around these characters, giving us a look at various perspectives of the drug trade in the 70s and 80s.

Narcos is a real show which uses a good blend of archival news and documentary footage to drive home the reality of the times that it is set in. If you’re interested in more series like Narcos centered on the bloody drug trade and those that try to extinguish it, then here are 14 shows like Narcos.

List of TV Shows Like Narcos

1. Narcos: Mexico (2018)

Where better to start than the spinoff to the show we’re talking about in Narcos: Mexico. Narcos: Mexico is an American-Mexican crime drama which focuses on the illegal drug trade in Mexico, especially the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel, headed by Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (Diego Luna), and an American DEA agent who goes the extra mile to have his empire dismantled. 

This show has been praised for expanding the franchise’s impact by expanding into new territories, literally. While it was feared that losing the presence of someone as magnetic as Pablo Escobar, would result in a show of much lesser quality, Narcos: Mexico was actually able to hold its own, and secured a place among the pantheons of great cartel shows like Narcos.

2. Power (2014)

Power is a modern hit executive produced by 50 Cent, and among the series similar to Narcos which tells the story of the rise and fall of a drug cartel Power is centered on the story of James St. Patrick, played by Omari Hardwick also known as Ghost. Things all come to a head when he decides to leave the game gradually and go legit.

This series is one that teaches viewers about actions and the consequences that are borne out of them. Filled with frantic action setpieces, sly maneuvers and scandalous romantic flings, Power has it all, and if you’re looking for something to keep you occupied then this is definitely it.

3. Miami Vice (1984)

Miami Vice, similar to shows like Narcos, follows two partners who are hellbent on fighting crime, especially drug trafficking in early 80s Miami. The episodes were loosely based on real life crimes that occurred over the years, mixed with personal drama surrounding the detectives’ family lives and relationships/marriages.

This show was one of, if not the most visually striking shows of the era, with a distinct stylization, and heavy rock music that served as the soundtrack for a lot of Miami Vice. According to People magazine, it was the “first show to look really new and different since color TV was invented”.   

4. Pablo Escobar, the Drug Lord (2012)

Pablo Escobar is an infamous character, and it’s little surprise that a lot of cartel shows are aimed at going in depth into the person that he was, and the decisions that he made. One of this myriad of shows like Narcos is Pablo Escobar, the Drug Lord. The show focuses on Escobar, dealing with how various factors like his mother influenced him to be the man he eventually became. 

This show is a Colombian telenovela which takes some liberties with its historical accuracy, but is nevertheless entertaining, bringing the usual telenovela flair to a gritty and bloody crime story. If you’re looking for something out of the usual, then why don’t you try this.

5. The Last Narc (2020)

The Last Narc is a docuseries centered on the events immediately preceding the death of US DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. It posits a theory based on witnesses coming forward, who blame his death on a conspiracy between Mexican drug lords and the CIA. 

The show has been viewed by critics as a “wide-ranging expose” which brings to light the entanglement between the CIA, the Mexican government and secret police, as well as the cartels. It has been endorsed by multiple real life agents who live through the events portrayed in the show.

6. Ozark (2017)

On the other side of the border, it might seem it is quite difficult for the cartel to harm U.S citizens. But this is not the case, as seen in TV shows similar to Narcos asthe hand of crime, power and money reaches far and wide, and it lands on Marty Byrde.

Marty Byrde is a financial advisor who is forced to set up an even bigger money laundering operation after a smaller one which he runs with a partner is compromised due to the latter’s greed. He has no choice but to take on this challenge to make amends and to protect his family.

Also Read: Shows like Breaking Bad 

7. Cocaine Coast (2018)

Cocaine Coast is a Spanish crime drama similar to TV series like Narcos. It is set in Galicia, Spain, in the 1980s, and follows the story of a young fisherman who goes from a nobody to becoming one of the biggest cocaine suppliers in Spain, through his South American connections.

It’s a show that gives us a usually overlooked story which is the drug war which raged on in the 80s in Spain, with stories usually being focused on Colombia and to a lesser extent Mexico. It’s definitely a good show for you to try out once you’re done with Narcos.

8. Dopesick (2021)

America’s opioid crisis has gone on for a while now, and Dopesick tries to draw a line in the sand, to find out where it all started from. It tells a story about the start of the opioid crisis which emanated from the manufacture of OxyContin and the prolonged battle to ensure it is shut down.

The show tackles a weighty topic just as in TV series like Narcos, thanks in no small part to performances by Michael Keaton and Kaitlyn Deaver. It features very real people in very real situations trying their best to save their community from an impending doom.  

9. Vinyl (2016)

Vinyl is set in the debauchery and drug-filled decade of the 70’s, quite similar to shows like Narcos. Its story centers on Richie Finestra, who aims to revive the glory days of the once behemoth American Century Records, a music label which he founded, and is the President of.

This show contains a collection of great music recordings from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and has been praised for the eclectic mix of genres curated by the showrunners. Vinyl has been praised for its historical accuracy in terms of setting, and the detail present in its costume and set designs. 

10. Snowfall (2017)

Snowfall is set a decade later in 1980’s LA, and follows the story of a young drug dealer by the name of Franklin Saint, who hits it big after a chance encounter with CIA operative Teddy McDonald, putting him and his ‘business’ on a different level entirely. 

The show does a good job creating distinct storylines which form back inevitably into a singular whole. Like many anti-heroes on TV today, Damson Idris’ Franklin Saint slowly but surely falls into the trap that money and power have set for him. This show is good enough to add to your watchlist if you’re looking for more stories crafted  in a similar way to shows like Narcos.

11. The Pharmacist (2020)

Set in 1999, after a man loses a son to a drug-related shooting, and with the police not making any headway in the case, a pharmacist named Dan Schneider decides to go out all on his own to find those that are responsible for his son’s death, methodically gathering the evidence necessary to bring the, to justice.

Similar to series like Narcos, we get to see the real consequences of the illegal drug trade, and how it cuts lives short at its prime, leaving the families of the deceased to pick up the pieces. The Pharmacist is a grounded portrayal of these realities all packaged neatly into this short miniseries. 

12. Breaking Bad (2008)

Walter White in Breaking Bad is one of the anti-heroes previously mentioned in previous recommendations on this list, many of which can be found in series similar to Narcos. Breaking Bad is about Walter White a frustrated Chemistry teacher, who gets diagnosed with cancer, and decides to manufacture and sell meth to secure his family’s future, or so he thinks at first. If you’ve already seen it, check out our list of shows like Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad with its ensemble cast full of fascinating and entertaining characters, is a consensus classic, and regularly named among the best TV series of the current millenia. A regular presence on our recommendations, if you haven’t seen this yet, I have only one question for you. Why?

13. Queen of the South (2016)

Queen of the South is a story about Tersa Mendoza, a woman who comes from nothing, but fights to change her trajectory in life. Things indeed begin to change when she marries a cartel member, but this new life is threatened to be taken away from her when her boyfriend is murdered.

She has no choice but to cross into the United States and start all over again. She soon begins to build something of her own, but with more power comes more responsibility and more threats, as characters in series similar to Narcos would attest to. 

14. The Corner (2000)

Reminiscent of shows like Narcos and The Wire, The Corner is actually a predecessor to both shows, having been created by David Simon and Ed Burns who both worked on The Wire which would debut two years later.

The story is centered on the life of a family living in the slums of West Baltimore, a place known as “the corner”, which is the junction of West Fayette Street and North Monroe Street. If you’re a fan of any of The Wire or Narcos, then this should definitely get a watch from you.

Honorable Mentions

Here is a list of TV shows like Narcos that didn’t make it, which you can also watch regardless:

  1. The Wire (2002)
  2. Better Call Saul (2007)
  3. The Knick (2014)

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created.

With the mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch, I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted!  If you are in search of TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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