What is Urban Fantasy? It is a sub-genre of Fantasy where common fantasy conventions are placed in an urban, modern setting. The ‘fantasy’ part can include magic, mythology, and supernatural powers and creatures. The ‘urban’ part does not necessarily mean the story must be set in a large city. An Urban Fantasy can be set in a futuristic or Victorian era location as well. As long as fantasy elements are used in a modern society, as opposed to a medieval one, it is an Urban Fantasy. Stories set more than thirty – fifty years into the future, however, may fall into the Sci-Fi genre.
Some Urban Fantasy tropes include:
- Supernatural creatures roam the Earth – vampires, werewolves, shifters, angles, demons, witches, etc.
- A kickass main character (usually female in novels) – the MC doesn’t know who they are in some way and/or have not developed their true potential in the beginning. They usually have magical powers and can learn how to fight quickly
- A case-of-the-week or monster-of-the-week storyline – the main character must solve a crime or destroy a monster each episode/novel, but there is also a separate over arcing storyline each season or through out the course of a book series
- Quirky sidekicks and/or team members – MC’s need sidekicks, or maybe even a team of helpers with specialized abilities the MC doesn’t have. The sidekicks can sometimes steal the show. They are usually funny and overly supportive to the MC.
Here are my top five favorite Urban Fantasy TV shows:
I think you can guess what this show is about. It follows Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar, a fallen angel living in LA, as he helps a detective solve crimes. The show has ties to The Sandman comic book series. I’m still trying to get into this show. I have a love-hate relationship with it, but I can’t wait for the third season to premiere.
A young man is recruited into a secrete magic school. He and his friends discover that a magical world in a popular children’s story is real. Based on a novel by Lev Grossman. At first, I didn’t like this show. I hated the lead character, Quentin Coldwater, and the entire Brakebills College for whiny brats was a snore. I struck with it through the first season and ended up liking the second season a lot. Even though I’m still not in love with Quentin, everything else about the show will keep me tuning in.
The series is based on the Stephen King novel, The Colorado Kid. The show is about FBI Agent, turned small town cop, Audrey Parker as she tries to help local townspeople afflicted by supernatural powers called the troubles. I miss this program. Haven was under appreciated in my opinion. The characters were sweet. In a genre that is cluttered with grim-dark, I found Haven refreshing.
2) True Blood
Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, True Blood followed Sookie Stackhouse in her home town of Bon Temps, Louisiana as she navigated a world where synthetic blood allows vampires to live out in the open. True Blood was ‘must-see-don’t-even-think-about-f*cking-bothering-me-or-I’ll-slice-your-face-off-with-my-bare-hands-TV’ for me. My co-workers and I would rush in on Monday to talk about this show. I couldn’t wait to go online to read what people were saying in the forums.
The series follows two brothers as they hunt down evil monsters. Supernatural is my favorite Urban Fantasy of all time. I’ve watched if for years and I’ll never get tired of Dean, Sam and Castiel. It’s not perfect and even the most dedicated fan would admit the show has had rocky, uneven seasons, but overall, when it comes to unforgettable characters, great acting and well written storylines, Supernatural is one of the best.
Okay, I know every Urban Fantasy fan is saying ‘What The F*ck?’ to my list. ‘Where is Buffy the Vampire Slayer?’ ‘Where is Angel?’ you might be asking as you seethe at your computer screen. Hear me out! BtVS was hands down the most influential Urban Fantasy program of all time. And, yes, David Boreanaz was smoking hot as Angel and yes, he popped your vampire cherry, making you long to be bitten over and over again by brooding, dark-haired vampires. Stephen Moyer does owe his career in part to Boreanaz, but fourteen years has gone by since Buffy concluded.
There are probably thousands of all-time greatest Urban Fantasy TV show lists on the web. I think more current or overlooked programs should get a chance.
Obviously, this list could have been much longer. Maybe I’ll do a second list of honorable mentions at a later date.
Do you agree with my list? What are your top five Urban Fantasy TV Shows?
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