There was a time when there was a definite line distinguishing television actors from those on the silver screen, with almost a status stigma in the eyes of the public and filmmakers alike. However, networks like Showtime and HBO are proving that even the biggest A-list actor can become a sensation and further their career through television.
HBO has helped to further the careers of a number of different actors, launching them into their transition to film. Yet, it’s not just up-and-coming actors that choose to work with HBO for a position on television. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson signed on for the first season of HBO’s True Detective, and have since been showered with awards and accolades.
With network shows gaining the attention of those in the entertainment industry, the standards continue to rise and the quality becomes something that is quite comparable to what can be seen on the big screen. For HBO, Game of Thrones is the series to watch, bringing in millions of viewers with each new episode. Trying to compete as a network that can create quality series, Showtime has a number of shows that are binge-worthy. Recently, Penny Dreadful’s creator, John Logan, announced that the series will not return for another season. While it only aired for three seasons compared to Game of Thrones already heading to Season 7, it’s surprising how many similarities are within both shows.
Whether you’re looking for a show to binge-watch on Netflix or just interested to see how the story-lines and characters relate to one another, check out our list of the 15 similarities between Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful.
15. Presence Of Wolves
Wolves are very common in fantasy dramas, from the werewolves in True Blood to the larger-than-life wolves in The Twilight Saga. Yet, both Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones have decided to put a twist on the standard wolf theme onscreen. Josh Hartnett portrays a werewolf in Penny Dreadful that isn’t exactly the same old wolf the public is used to seeing. The look is more like a wolfman than a typical shape-shifter style, but it comes with the superhuman strength of the mythological creature. Game of Thrones has their own twist on the wolf aspect, with the creation of a completely mythological creature, the Direwolf. Although it is bigger than a standard wolf, it still isn’t the cartoon-style computer generated look of the wolves from The Twilight Saga. Whether it’s the ferocity of the animal or the intrigue surrounding their mythological features, the wolf is a prominent aspect in both of these hit shows.
14. Spirit Guide
Depicting communication in a period drama is difficult enough, since it’s not like all the characters will be carrying around their mobile phones and tablets. Yet adding a fantasy aspect to a series can actually work in the show’s favor in regard to communication options. Penny Dreadful utilizes this with the emergence of Kaetenay, the Chiricahua Apache that acts as a spiritual guide for Ethan Chandler. This is very similar to Bran’s spirit guide, the Three-Eyed Raven, who helps him to see the past, the present, and the future.
Proving this type of character can help with communication between characters, it also proves that it can help further the story-line and tell aspects of the plot that can’t be achieved otherwise. How else would the show be able to explain some of the flashback scenes of House Stark’s rise to power or the true nature of the relationship between Ethan Chandler and Kaetenay?
13. The Death Come Back
One of the biggest storylines on Penny Dreadful revolves around Victor Frankenstein and his ability to create life from the dead. John Clare was Frankenstein’s first creation, and was named “the Creature” for much of the series. Oddly, his look is similar to what Lady Stoneheart is described in the Game of Thrones book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. From the pale skin to the crudely stitched flesh, the two have both been resurrected from the dead.
Frankenstein continued to create life from the dead, and one of the favorite characters from the series was brought back by him. Lily’s rebirth was a bit different than Jon Snow’s rebirth by The Red Woman, but it was glorious all the same. Returning from death, both of these resurrected characters have gone on to further the story-line of the show, even though their character has been changed by the experience.
12. Ageless Beauty
Evelyn Poole, otherwise known as Madame Poole, was a character that was far more than just a parlor show medium. Dealing with dark powers, her sorcery is very similar to that of Melisandre’s (The Red Woman) in Game of Thrones. While she isn’t centuries old like Melisandre, she has lived for hundreds of years without seeming to age. Just as Melisandre would use her sexuality as a means of unleashing her powers on men, Poole did the same with Sir Malcolm Murray.
The two characters aren’t exactly alike, since Melisandre definitely has the look of youth on her side. However, Poole looks damn good for a woman that is a couple of hundred years old. While you could argue that the two are polar opposites since one worships the Devil and the other the Lord of Light, it is interesting that the Lord of Light is so fascinated with fire and burning people alive (sounds a bit familiar, eh?).
11. Vault Of Faces
Evelyn Poole wasn’t just a woman that could practice dark magic in her basement. She had powers befitting a woman that worshipped the devil, from psychokinessis to necromancy. Yet it was her vault of fetish dolls that truly creeped out fans of Penny Dreadful. Looking very life-like, the scenes involving this room were quite similar to something seen in the House of Black and White in Game of Thrones. Although this was the headquarters of the Faceless Men, the faces within the walls were to be used in service of the Many-Faced God.
The same can be said for the dolls created by Poole, since she was able to make one that resembled Vanessa Ives. This doll was used in service of the Devil, since he was able to speak to her through the mouthpiece of the doll. Although the faces within the House of Black and White do not speak on their own, they are definitely carrying out the messages of the Many-Faced God.
Witchcraft comes in many different forms in both Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful, with witches having varying degrees of ability. While Evelyn Poole and her daughters were definitely practicing witchcraft through dark magic, the Cut-wife of Ballantrae Moor was a witch that was seeking to help Vanessa Ives. Joan Clayton was actually the sister of Evelyn Poole, but it wasn’t just the sibling rivalry that haunted her. Taking the role of a “hedge witch,” she used herbs and elements of nature in ways that are similar to some of the Wildlings in Game of Thrones.
Clayton’s character came to an end when she was the victim of a witch hunt, but that didn’t stop the showrunners from recasting Patti LuPone to play the role of the therapist for Vanessa Ives. While you can argue that, because they are from the same lineage, it is just a similarity that the two look so identical, it also opens up the possibility that perhaps Joan Clayton was a more powerful witch than you originally thought.
9. Characters Swing Both Ways
Nothing is ever clear when it comes to sexuality in either of these shows. While it’s nothing new for a series to show a bit of girl-on-girl action, it is quite rare for some of the show’s hottest and manliest characters to have man-on-man action. Oftentimes, male homosexuals are depicted as ultra feminine and easily categorized in their sexual preference, but both Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful are able to maintain a sexual ambiguity that doesn’t take away from the masculinity of their characters.
Josh Hartnett’s character has a homosexual moment with Dorian Gray and Oberyn Martell made no apologies for wanting to take part in both male and female partners during his time on Game of Thrones. Rather than diminishing their portrayal onscreen, both characters were able to not only hold onto their masculinity, but also create a depth in their portrayal that isn’t often seen in television or film.
8. Hard Life For A Street Walker
As the oldest profession in the world, both Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones have prostitutes throughout the series. Oftentimes the prostitutes are strewn around in almost every scene, almost as if they’re part of the background. Helping to tell the story and create living and breathing environment for the main characters, these working women don’t typically have a large story-line beyond a few words and maybe a quick death. Yet both series have gone out of their way to tell the story of two particular prostitutes.
Ros was a prostitute that headed off to King’s Landing when she foresaw the coming of war in Game of Thrones, and Brona Croft was an Irish immigrant working as a prostitute in Penny Dreadful. Audiences followed these characters on their life’s journey, but both ended in tragedy. Croft died of tuberculosis and became Frankenstein’s experiment, while Ros became Joffrey’s experiment when he wanted to try out his new crossbow.
7. Loneliness In The Journey
Although both shows have more than their fair share of characters, it’s the individual story-lines that carry the most weight with audiences. While many shows have characters going on a journey through their life, struggles, and triumphs, Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones feature characters that have a deep sense of loneliness in their journey through the series.
Penny Dreadful’s main character, Vanessa Ives, and Game of Throne’s character, Arya Stark, have both had a similar story in their solitude. While both have had different companions that have helped them through certain struggles, the actual fight and turmoil comes from within and must be conquered by them alone. Ives went on a journey and sought out the help of the hedge witch, while Stark went on a journey to seek out the help of The Faceless Man. Both characters came out stronger for it, and gained even more respect from the audience.
6. Sacrifice To Further A Witch’s Powers
Although both of these series are thought of partly as period dramas, neither are exactly from barbarian times. It’s not as if either of the shows take place in some sort of tribal community with nothing but spears and loincloths, but yet both of the series depict some sort of sacrifice to further their mystical powers. Melisandre has been a huge fan of sacrifice ever since she first appeared in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, and Evelyn Poole even bathed in the blood of her kills (making good use of her ageless beauty).
While Charlize Theron bathed in milk to keep her ageless skin at its finest, Poole opted for blood. The ironic part of the sacrifices is the fact that they didn’t really help further their powers, and often hurt their chances at achieving their end goal. After Shireen Baratheon was sacrificed to the Lord of Light, many of the supporting soldiers abandoned the fight and Stannis’ wife committed suicide the next morning.
5. Religious Fanaticism
Religion often comes into play in period dramas, and even more so when it includes a fantasy element. While there are those that simply follow the guidelines of their religion, there are others that become complete fanatics in a way that creates its own story-line. While Vanessa Ives didn’t exactly ask to be touched by the Devil, Evelyn Poole definitely didn’t wait around to have the devil summon her before she started with her fanaticism over the dark powers.
Vanessa Ives did have quite a few moments where she did nothing but pray incessantly (without showering or eating) for days, but when the Devil is trying to make you his bride what else are you going to do? Similarly, Game of Thrones has numerous religious fanatics throughout the series. From the Red Priestess sacrificing a little girl to the Lord of Light to the High Sparrow imprisoning and torturing those without the Faith of the Seven, their moral compass isn’t exactly running on full tilt.
4. Locked Away
Imprisonment is a huge element in both of these shows, both in actuality and metaphorically. Vanessa Ives was trapped in her own body on numerous occasions when invaded by a spiritual force, and she was even institutionalized due to the disbelief that she had truly been touched by the Devil. Since Game of Thrones deals in an almost-medieval type of environment, imprisonment is more than just a white padded room; Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell can give a firsthand account of how difficult solitary confinement and imprisonment is on Game of Thrones.
Both storylines were similar in that, and both Vanessa Ives and Cersei Lannister had to do a convincing job of proving they were “well” in order to break free. Penny Dreadful didn’t exactly have the same naked “Walk of Atonement” that Cersei had to do in order to finally go home, but Ives did have a similarly graphic strip scene with the orderly.
3. Bad Things Come In Threes
It isn’t exactly a new concept for a group to contain three people, from the Three Musketeers to Charlie’s Angels. Yet not all threesomes are fighting on the side of the righteous. Penny Dreadful proved that bad things come in threes when Evelyn Poole unleashed her coven of “Nightcomers” on Vanessa Ives. The interesting thing is the Nightcomers are often compared to snakes, similar to the Sand Snakes in Game of Thrones. There are actually seven Sand Snakes in the series, but only three that are depicted in depth in the HBO depiction.
Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria Sand are the daughters of Ellaria Sand and Oberyn Martell in the show. Fans were introduced to their ruthlessness in the Season 6 premiere where they took part in the death of both Doran and Trystane Martell. Penny Dreadful differed slightly in their threesome group, since certain members could be interchanged (and Evelyn Poole killed one because she was forgetful). This difference might be the reason why things didn’t turn out well for Poole, but Dorne is getting stronger and stronger with their Sand Snakes.
2. Demon Monsters
Vanessa Ives either has the worst luck in the world, or she truly is cursed like so many characters have proclaimed in Penny Dreadful. Being touched by the Devil and pursued by Dracula, her character has stayed in turmoil throughout the entire series. Even from the start of Season 1, Ives has been pursued by demon monsters with all of them coming in different forms. From the normal looking vampires to the demon monsters, not all of them have the exact same look.
This is similar to the different monsters in Game of Thrones, since it has both White Walkers and Wights. The White Walkers have a very similar look to some of the earlier characters on Penny Dreadful, but have ice blue eyes rather than red. Just as the White Walkers created the Wights, the Devil and Dracula created their own monsters to act as their army of the dead to fight on the side of darkness.
1. Graphic Battle And Nude Scenes
While relationship dynamics and elements of power struggles help to move the story-line along, it’s the shock factor that really help to draw in viewers and maintain popularity in a show. Just as The Sopranos would have to spontaneously throw in someone getting “whacked” and The Walking Dead always has a few graphic zombie scenes to keep things interesting, both Penny Dreadful and Game of Thrones leave audiences on the edge of their seat when it comes to provocative and exciting scenes.
Penny Dreadful delivers carnage through Ethan Chandler’s ability to rip men to shreds with his werewolf power, and also throws in a few nude scenes involving almost every female character on the show. Game of Thrones often use sex scenes as a way to help show the depth of the relationships within the series, and the graphic nature of the injuries and deaths are almost unparalleled. While some of the deaths have been swift and clean, not everyone gets the simple beheading like Eddard Stark. For those craving a more exciting and graphic depiction in what they watch on television, either of these shows will ensure a captivated audience.