Peter Jackson's masterful Lord of the Rings trilogy, which concluded 13 years ago, marked the final step in the evolution of the fantasy film from its campy origins to a serious cinematic epic. Television took longer to follow suit, but it finally happened with Game of Thrones, perhaps LOTR's spiritual small screen successor, which is altogether a far cry from beloved but light-hearted nineties fare like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
TV fantasy's low-budget image had finally been thoroughly erased. In fact, while Game of Thrones is undoubtedly in a class of its own, it might come as a surprise that television fantasy didn't just evolve from poorly rendered CGI and stilted dialogue overnight. High fantasy isn't the only sub-genre which has undergone a resurgence, and the last decade has produced some excellent shows which defied the stereotypes and pushed the boundaries of the fantasy genre as a whole.
While the wait goes on for Game of Thrones Season 7, we're taking a look at the most underrated fantasy series in recent memory. Only live-action shows which premiered in or after 2006 are eligible, and while both low fantasy (supernatural drama, etc) and high fantasy appear, science-fiction, however dubious the science may be, has been excluded. Whether you're a newcomer to the genre or a long-time fan, these shows are well worth seeking out.