Shock and Awe: Here Are 10 Provocative Shows Like ‘The Boys’

By Louie Fecou
Published: June 22, 2024
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10 Provocative and Shocking TV Shows like 'The Boys'
The Boys | Image via Prime Video

The Boys became a hit series for Prime Video by taking the tropes of comic book superheroes and subverting them into a shocking often ultra-violent black comedy satire. Based on the comic book of the same name, The Boys captured the zeitgeist of the time, but it wasn’t the first TV show to be provocative in its use of shock tactics and subversion. Here are ten more TV shows like The Boys that operate on a similar level.

Peacemaker (2022)

Here’s an obvious start, with another darkly comedic superhero take, starring John Cena in the titular role and spinning out of DC’s The Suicide Squad.

Although not as ultra-violent as The Boys, it’s easy to make comparisons, and James Gunn seems to be fully committed to the character, so expect to see more of this property in the rebooted DC film universe too.

Preacher (2016)

Here is another iconic comic book, written by Garth Ennis, who is also behind The Boys, but with a supernatural fantasy vibe rather than actual superheroes.

The comic would tell a complete tale, with a beginning middle, and end, and be adapted into a chaotic TV series, featuring Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, imbued with mysterious powers, on the hunt for God with the help of his assassin ex-girlfriend and best friend, who happens to be a vampire.

The Strain (2014)

When you get a show featuring a viral epidemic, vampirism, body horror, and imminent extinction and Guillermo del Toro is on the creative team, you know you are in for a wild ride.

This grisly and shocking horror series embraced the visceral aspect of the screenplay, making it an often unsettling watch, but a favorite for horror fans.

Spartacus (2010)

Riding on the coattails of films such as 300, which was another comic adaptation, Spartacus would lean into the green screen extreme violence, and pepper it liberally with gratuitous sex and nudity, to provide a shocking and wild look at the exploits of rebellious gladiators fighting against the tyranny of their Roman emperors.

Over the top and shocking on its initial release, Spartacus would find a voracious audience and would revel in its own outrageousness, providing some late-night entertainment that is still fondly remembered.

Dead Set (2008)

Way before Charlie Brooker found huge fame for Black Mirror, he would shock British TV viewers with his satirical take on reality TV and zombie horror, with Dead Set.

The show, set in the Big Brother house, would see the housemates slowly starting to realize that not everything is OK as a zombie outbreak has devastated the world, and has made the set of the reality show one of the last safe havens left.

Shocking and often hilarious, you can see the seeds of Black Mirror being planted in every episode.

Masters of Horror (2005)

This underrated anthology show would push the boundaries of TV terror, with self-contained episodes from some of the greatest horror directors ever.

John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, and Dario Argento would all step up to the plate, and present some truly heart-stopping moments of shock and horror. However, one episode, brought together by Takashi Miike, would prove to be so over the top that it would not be allowed to air after completion, as the violence was regarded as too shocking even for a pay-to-view cable channel.

Eventually, the episode, entitled “Imprint”, would see the light of day, so if you are intrigued, check it out.

Gen V (2023)

Thought it best to mention this series, a spin-off from The Boys which embraces the same kind of tone.

Gen V follows a group of young heroes in training, aware of their powers and their origins, and trying to find their way in a corrupt and violent world. There are plenty of exploding bodies mixed with teenage angst in this comedy thriller that takes all its beats from the OG series.

Dexter (2006)

It was never going to be easy to get the audience to root for the serial killer, but with the right casting and script, Dexter managed to pull it off, making the show iconic and, for a while, must-see TV.

The long-running series would have a total of ninety-six episodes, and make Michael Hall a household name. With plenty of gruesome set pieces and buckets of blood, this is surely one of TV’s most shocking shows.

Daredevil (2015)

We didn’t know we had it so good back in 2015, with Charlie Cox nailing Matt Murdoch in the Netflix series, which used every trick in the book to bring comic book fans a gritty and violent depiction of ground-level superheroics, featuring some of the most exciting, and shocking, action set pieces ever seen on TV.

From the grueling cruelty of The Kingpin to DD’s harrowing beatings in the line of duty, this was Marvel at its peak.

Hannibal (2013)

TV viewers were not ready for the sheer brutality and horror of Hannibal, spinning out of the classic Silence of the Lambs, and featuring murder, cannibalism, and undiluted horror.

It was rumored that some networks in the US refused to finish showing the series, and others would censor episodes, ironically butchering the show in the same way Hannibal dissected his victims.

What’s your suggestion for provoking and shocking TV shows like The Boys? Let us know in the comments below.

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