As the popularity of dark academia aesthetics increases, more people find themselves searching for dark academia TV shows, movies, and books to be able to fully experience what the subculture is really about. Many followers of the aesthetic know that dark academia is usually found in books and movies, but TV shows with dark academia aesthetics have also been on the rise recently. Needless to say, this newly-emerging popularity of dark academia TV shows hasn’t been on the same level as the books and movies so we felt the need to provide viewers with a list of TV shows that would be best for people who have dark academia as their aesthetic.
1 series with a dark academia aesthetic is Ares (2020), a Dutch horror drama series about a young woman named Rosa, who has just become a medical student in Amsterdam. As Rosa joins a secret student society that has existed since the Dutch Golden Age (1600s), she is shocked to learn what they really are. And she soon must decide how far she is willing to go to rise in the ranks of this dangerous society.
2. Da Vinci’s Demons
Da Vinci’s Demons (2013-2015) is a historical fantasy focusing on the early years of the famous Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci. The series follows Leonardo as he tries to find a mystical text called the Book of Leaves, and his quest for the book leaves him in conflict with a cult known as the Sons of Mithras. But this is not the only conflict Leonardo gets involved in. He also finds himself in a political conflict between the Medici and Pazzi families and the Catholic Church.
3. The Irregulars
The Irregulars (2021) is another recommendation for dark academia fans. The series is based on Baker Street Irregulars, fictional characters who appear in a few Sherlock Holmes stories. In the novels, the Irregulars are boys hired by Holmes as intelligence agents. In the series, the characters work for Dr. Watson and try to save London from supernatural forces.
4. The Queen’s Gambit
A must-see TV series for anyone looking for dark academia TV shows is The Queen’s Gambit (2020). The series title refers to a chess opening move called the “queen’s gambit.” Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the lead character Beth Harmon, a fictional chess prodigy who is left an orphan at 8. Harmon is moved to an orphanage, where she is taught how to play chess by the orphanage’s custodian. In the same orphanage, Beth also becomes addicted to tranquilizers, frequently given to the girls.
The Queen’s Gambit is the story of a great chess player who has to face the world’s greatest chess players and her addiction to pills and, later, alcohol.
5. A Discovery of Witches
Another great series on our list is A Discovery of Witches (2018-2022), a fantasy TV series based on novels written by Deborah Harkness. The main characters of the series are a witch and a vampire. The former is a historian studying at the University of Oxford, where she finds a bewitched manuscript. The latter is a Professor of Biochemistry who offers help to the witch to protect the book. Although there is a long-held mistrust between vampires and witches, they nevertheless form an alliance to solve the mysteries hidden in the book.
6. The Magicians
The Magicians (2015-2020) is also widely believed to fit the dark academia aesthetic. It follows students at a secretive magic school who learn about the danger of the magical world. When Quentin is enrolled at the school and discovers many things, his childhood best friend is denied entry, which leads her to search for magic elsewhere.
7. The Alienist
The last dark academia TV show on our list is The Alienist (1018-2020), set in 1896. The series follows a group of 3 people searching for the perpetrators of gruesome child murders. The group consists of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, an alienist (psychiatrist), John Moore, a newspaper illustrator, and Sara Howard, secretary to the police commissioner. The 3 of them form an unlikely duo to look for the meaning behind the murders of male child prostitutes.