The 10 Most Underrated Action TV Shows Of The 2010s


The 2010s were a time when the industry was basking in the glory of action blockbusters. With Marvel’s expanding universe and the domination of the Star Wars franchise once again, it was easy for the audience to direct their focus on the big screen rather than the small screen. Which is simply where some quality action TV shows slipped through the cracks.


While shows like Game of Thrones, The Punisher, and Peaky Blinders gained widespread recognition, some others thrived outside of the mainstream glare, but cultivated a loyal fanbase because of their creative storytelling and nuanced narrative. Starring lesser-known leads in the most complicated roles, these shows produced incredible action sequences and kept viewers glued to their escapist stories.

Across the genres of science fiction, drama, war, and fantasy, the most underrated TV shows of the 2010s presented the kind of stories that were undeniably interesting, but didn’t get the attention they deserved. It goes without saying that the decade is remembered as the era of action and adventure. But buried beneath headlines are lost heroes with brilliant and exciting stories waiting to be celebrated. Here are the 10 most underrated action shows of the 2010s.


10 Berlin Station (2016 – 2019)

Set in the intense world of espionage during the height of the genre within the 2010s, Berlin Station remains highly underrated despite its solid storytelling and charismatic cast. It follows Daniel Miller, who is tasked with a clandestine mission that requires him to move from the USA to the CIA station in Berlin. He’s supposed to uncover the supply chain of information that ultimately reached a now-famous whistleblower, Thomas Shaw, and in the process, he is pulled deep into field work and combat.

Why It’s Worth Watching

More cerebral and deceptive than you’d imagine, Berlin Station plays out like a game of chess, where manipulations and allegiances help you win, but one wrong move and you’re dead. The show distinguished itself by offering a more realistic look at its characters.

Whether it is the dense storytelling or the moral dilemmas, the series took pride in maintaining tension and high-stakes action across three seasons. It is a shame that the show was canceled after three seasons because, with Richard Armitage’s conflicted lead, the show could have easily dominated the era.

Stream Berlin Station on Fubo

9 Nikita (2010 – 2013)

Nikita

Release Date
September 9, 2010

This action thriller/spy fiction revolved around the titular character, who is an exceptionally skilled assassin and spy trained rigorously by Division, a secret government agency that recruited her when she was a troubled teen. They brainwashed and manipulated her into “serving the country” by sending her on countless dangerous missions across the world. However, when Nikita’s humanity gets the best of her, she comes out of hiding and vows to take Division down.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Of course, even before Nikita, the action landscape had seen strong female leads showcasing their talents on the big and small screen. Which is why it is surprising that this intricately plotted, complex tale, of one woman’s transformation from a victim to an empowered fighter failed to earn the recognition it deserved. Across four seasons, we witness Maggie Q’s captivating performance as Nikita, balancing both covert action and character development to influence and inspire everyone.

Stream Nikita on The Roku Channel

8 Bosch (2014 – 2021)

Bosch

Bosch

Release Date
February 6, 2014

Pairing procedural drama with action, Bosch is a show based on Michael Connelly’s series of bestselling novels. The main character is Harry Bosch, an LAPD homicide detective working on two cases — the murder of a 12-year-old boy and that of a Hollywood reporter.

Meanwhile, Harry himself is on trial for shooting a suspect. As he tries to navigate these cases, he finds himself continually at odds with the higher-ups. It doesn’t help that Harry encounters Raynard Waits, the man who killed the young boy and claims to have unfinished business with Harry.

Related: The Most Visually Stunning TV Shows Ever Made

Why It’s Worth Watching

Few shows offer a cinematic experience with their visual storytelling and direction style. In Bosch, Connelly’s richly crafted character comes to life in a brand-new format.

Connelly himself has mentioned that the show is inspired by several cops he’s met in his life, which means there’s a certain twisted reality to the brooding investigations and complex action. Moreover, Titus Welliver’s Harry is something of a renegade for moving in quiet confidence and still managing to evolve persistently.

Stream Bosch on Prime Video

7 Legion (2017 – 2019)

legion

Legion

Release Date
February 8, 2017

Only the most underrated superhero TV show to ever exist, Legion dives deep into the life of David Heller, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to a mental facility. There, he meets Syd Barrett, a fellow patient with psychic powers who convinces Heller that he may actually be the most powerful mutant the world has seen.

As the two escape, they realize that they’re being pursued by a government agency called Division 3. Legion chronicles Heller’s journey of self-discovery as well as his war against nefarious villains.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Legion is a collaboration between FX and Marvel Television, and thus harbors innovative elements from both studios. The show creates a visually stunning saga that immerses the audience into Heller’s surreal mind. With the kind of story it’s telling, the series takes a non-linear approach and examines Heller’s past and present as a troubled mutant.

Both Dan Stevens and Rachel Keller are phenomenal in their roles, and the supporting cast is excellent as well. With three seasons, the surreal Legion is underseen and underrated.

Stream Legion on Hulu

6 Black Sails (2014 – 2017)

black sails

Black Sails

Release Date
January 25, 2014

Cast
Toby Stephens , Luke Arnold , Hannah New , Jessica Parker Kennedy , Toby Schmitz , Tom Hopper , Clara Paget , Ray Stevenson

With Netflix’s One Piece ending up as a delightful adaptation, now is the perfect time to take a look back at this outstanding pirate TV show. Set 20 years before the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1883 novel Treasure Island, Black Sails follows the feared Captain Flint and his motley crew of pirates as they battle to protect New Providence Island. The series focuses on Flint settling old scores and taking on new adventures, with the second season diving into how and why exactly Flint got into piracy.

Why It’s Worth Watching

When it comes to portraying the “Golden Age” of piracy on screen, Black Sails remains surprisingly authentic, and includes iconic appearances by real life pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Israel Hands, and Ned Low. Whether it is the intimate character interactions or the beautiful set designs, there is much that is unmissable about the series.

The violence and the action also feel less over-the-top and more impactful in the corrupt world of the show. Dark in tone and darker in its plot progression, Black Sails is a must-watch.

Stream Black Sails on Starz

5 The Last Ship (2014 – 2018)

This post-apocalyptic action drama is adapted from a 1988 novel written by William Brinkley, which is interesting because it talks about a global pandemic in an almost predictive way, just years before the COVID-19 pandemic. In The Last Ship, 80% of the world’s population has been wiped out as a result of a sickness, and now, the 218-person crew inside a U.S. Navy destroyer must face new adversaries while finding a way to secure their uncertain future. At the center of it all is Tom Chandler, the former commander of the ship.

Why It’s Worth Watching

The Last Ship was produced on an enormous scale. As a special ops-style action show mixed with character drama, it balances the thrills and emotions brilliantly. The show has five seasons, and even though it loses sight of the plot in some places, its apocalyptic setting, excellent writing, and overall atmosphere of tension and urgency keeps it ever-so-compelling. Unfortunately, The Last Ship is not as renowned as it should be.

Stream The Last Ship on Max

4 Banshee (2013 – 2016)

Banshee

Banshee

Release Date
January 11, 2013

Cast
Antony Starr , Ivana Miličević , Ulrich Thomsen , Frankie Faison , Matthew Rauch , Lili Simmons , Matt Servitto , Ryann Shane

Anyone who’s familiar and obsessed with Anthony Starr in The Boys must check out his other show, Banshee. Set in a small town in Pennsylvania, it follows Starr’s mesmerizing former swindler assuming the identity of a murdered sheriff named Lucas Hood in order to hide from a certain crime lord.

In the process, Hood reunites with his ex-lover, and also uncovers unsettling truths about his mysterious past. From gangsters to tycoons to federal agents, Banshee turns every stone over to reveal a darker scheme at play.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Undoubtedly one of the best shows of the decade, Banshee will keep you relentlessly entertained with its action and drama. The show has four seasons and over 30 episodes, and yet it is perfect for binging over a weekend, because the stylized fights and shootouts are so appetizing that it’s easy to lose track of time. That said, Banshee left an impact on the genre and streaming platforms’ potential for pushing boundaries with its gritty story and Starr’s dynamic performance, both serving as a prediction for his excellent later role in The Boys.

Stream Banshee on Max

3 The Pacific (2010)

Kicking off the decade with an unflinching portrait of the Second World War, The Pacific tells the true story of three U.S. Marines who were in different regiments of the 1st Marine Division, as they engage in front-line combat and struggle to survive across the vast Pacific theater. In just 10 episodes, the show portrays the harsh realities of a brutal war against the Japanese empire in a grand and prestigious manner.

Related: 20 Best TV Miniseries You Can Watch Right Now

Why It’s Worth Watching

As a sequel and companion to the critically acclaimed show Band of Brothers, the series did a fantastic job at transporting the audience into an experience that was lived and survived by the three protagonists. A huge part of the show encompasses taut action and narrative intimacy, but it also dives into individual, heartfelt stories, which makes the impact of this sprawling epic even greater.

Stream The Pacific on Netflix

2 Into the Badlands (2015 – 2019)

Combining martial arts, extreme gore, and a substantial amount of special effects, Into the Badlands guides you across the American landscape 500 years in the future, where feudal barons rule in specific areas. With technology taking over and firearms having been banned, there’s little one can do to protest. Amidst it all is Sunny, a skilled warrior who finds himself on the run with a young boy who has a mysterious past.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Despite ABC canceling the show without ending it properly, there is a lot about Into the Badlands that deserves praise and is worth the watch. From the phenomenal martial arts action to the in-depth power struggle, the show can easily satisfy fans of the genre. Daniel Wu and Aramis Knight lead the series with their impeccable performances, bringing a multi-layered complexity to their characters and dazzling as a pair.

Moreover, its flawless use of the setting and the background score also helps with the overall thrill. This series is one that remains criminally underrated and underseen to this day.

Buy Into the Badlands on Prime Video

1 Strike Back (2010 – 2020)

Lastly, we have Strike Back, an eight-season-long series based on a story by novelist and former Special Air Service soldier Chris Ryan. It follows Section 20 agents as they consistently chase terrorists and criminal masterminds across the globe. The first season centers on John Porter, who was forced to drop down the ranks after he spared the life of a teenager affiliated with terrorists. Seven years later, Porter is called to investigate a kidnapping case led by the same boy, As’ad.

Why It’s Worth Watching

With its fast-paced and neat action, Strike Back raised the bar for spy thrillers on television. The show delivered a spectacle that was nothing short of a big budget movie. Every stunt and every set piece was expertly choreographed and placed to invite the viewers into the story. The show also uses a serialized method of storytelling where every season packs a fresh, tightly-wound narrative.

Stream Strike Back on Cinemax

For more action you may have missed, here is a video about underrated action movies with female leads:



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