Dungeons and Dragons is an extremely popular tabletop roleplaying game, and a new live-action movie (also titled Dungeons & Dragons) based on the game is set for release in 2023. In the meantime, though, there are many films and shows out there for players of D&D that share the same basic structure as many fantasy campaigns.
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This structure is a quest narrative, where an individual or party of characters journey to complete their goals, sometimes saving the world in the process. While shows like Stranger Things, Community, and The Big Bang Theory casually reference D&D, they don’t exactly follow this format. However, there is no shortage of quest stories on both the big and small screen.
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Updated on April 19, 2022 by Stacie Rook: It seems that the popularity of D&D only continues to grow as each new sourcebook is released, but for individuals craving an extra helping of adventure between sessions, there are a huge range of movies and shows available to stream, each capturing the magic at the heart of Dungeons and Dragons in their own way.
She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power (2018-2020)
Stream on Netflix
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a Netflix cartoon following protagonist Adora, who discovers that she has the power to transform into a magical hero called She-Ra. Adora uses this power to fight against the evil Horde, an organization that raised her, and an enemy which includes her former best friend Catra.
Adora’s fight brings her into contact with many princesses of the land who each have their own unique abilities, which they use to assist her in her quest. Boasting great relationships and a diverse cast of characters, She-Ra uses both short and long plots to tell its story.
Stream on Disney+
From Disney and Pixar, Onward is a movie that largely went under the radar when it was released in 2020, but it proudly showcases its D&D inspiration in an urban fantasy setting populated with elves, centaurs, and more.
Featuring classic Dungeons and Dragons monsters like the Gelatinous Cube, Onward tells the tale of brothers Ian and Barley, as they journey to find a magical item that will allow them to have contact with their deceased father for a single day.
Spirited Away (2001)
Stream on HBO Max
While many Studio Ghibli films parallel the fantastical nature of a D&D game, it’s Spirited Away that truly reflects the classic quest narrative, as protagonist Chihiro is transported to the spirit world, where she must work hard to rescue her captured parents.
Chihiro meets spirits of all kinds in her story, many of whom have hidden depths that are only revealed when they are paid more attention. Though she faces hardships, Chihiro’s heroic determination and insight help her through many obstacles, and she grows greatly as a result.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Stream on Disney+, Hulu, and IMDb TV
Cult classic movie The Princess Bride is a fantasy story that blends romance, adventure, and comedy with fantastic results, and at its simplest tells the story of Westley, who journeys to rescue Buttercup, his true love, making both allies and enemies along the way.
Featuring dynamic characters who would be right at home in a D&D session, The Princess Bride has gained a devoted following in the years since its release and remains a true classic of the genre for its warmth and playfulness.
The Legend Of Vox Machina (2022-present)
Stream on Amazon Prime
Directly influenced by a Dungeons and Dragons game, The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated series based on D&D actual-play web series Critical Role’s first campaign.
Set in the magical world of Exandria, the show sees its party of heroes, Vox Machina, come up against threats both new and familiar. With Critical Role’s cast of voice actors taking on the roles of their old characters in the show, The Legend of Vox Machina retains the essential D&D spirit of its source material.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
Stream on Netflix and Paramount+
Avatar: The Last Airbender from Nickelodeon is essentially structured like a massive D&D campaign. In D&D terms it involves two sorcerers, Aang and Katara, and a fighter, Sokka, on their journey to restore harmony to the nations of their world by fighting the threat of the Fire Nation.
At its heart Avatar: The Last Airbender is a quest story that puts its expanding cast of characters front and center, exploring serious themes with heart, consideration, and humor. The show’s list of memorable antagonists would make a Dungeon Master jealous, and the best villains from ATLA keep the plot moving at a great pace.
Conan The Barbarian (1982)
Stream on Starz and Starz Play
The title of Conan the Barbarian alone is enough to conjure images of great champions for D&D fans given the existence of the Barbarian class in the RPG. This ‘8os epic is full of familiar tropes for those acquainted with the fantasy genre.
Based on the Robert E. Howard character of the same name, Conan sees its warrior protagonist journey to enact revenge on those responsible for the death of his parents. On the way he meets several memorable figures and completes smaller quests, strengthening his power and resolve.
Stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu
The Arthurian legends and other English folktales have often inspired fantasy worlds. BBC’s Merlin is a reimagining of Arthur’s story and often feels like a D&D adventure as it sees Merlin and Arthur gaining power while undertaking many adventures.
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With story hooks that feel straight out of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, including an overarching quest to return magic to Camelot, Merlin uses mythological figures to build a world that feels both classic and refreshing.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)
Stream on HBO Max
Of all The Lord of the Rings books and films, The Fellowship of the Ring stands out as the closest to a D&D campaign as it encapsulates the magical sense of questing, which often involves journeying through varied and dangerous lands.
With a compelling party of heroes as its protagonists, Fellowship sees Frodo Baggins answer the call to adventure and start his journey through Middle-earth, one of the greatest fantasy worlds ever created, in order to take the One Ring to Mount Doom.
Stream on Netflix
Disenchantment might not be as widely known as some of Matt Groening’s other cartoons, but that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. It’s an episodic show of blunderous escapades in the not-so-serious medieval fantasy world of Dreamland.
The show’s main trio, Bean, Elfo, and Luci, traverse the kingdom drinking, gambling, and committing all sorts of petty crimes. Simply put, Disenchantment channels the energy of the kind of D&D party that enjoys breaking as many rules as they can get away with, resulting in both chaos and laughs.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Stream on Disney+
Despite its sci-fi setting, Guardians of the Galaxy (and its sequel Vol. 2) follows the quest nature of many D&D adventures, and the titular team’s varied backgrounds are often a fun aspect of a D&D party.
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The team’s clashing alignments and desires are at the heart of the movie’s conflict, but even so, the Guardians gradually come to understand each other as their story progresses, mirroring the found family themes that often arise in a D&D game.
The Dragon Prince (2018-present)
Stream on Netflix
Netflix original The Dragon Prince follows the struggle of three kids as they embark on a journey that could change the fate of two perpetually-warring kingdoms.
With a well-thought-out magic system and plenty of lore enriching its setting, as well as lovable and witty characters in the main roles, The Dragon Prince balances its high-stakes plot with light moments of humor in a way that captures the vibe of sitting at a table and playing D&D.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Stream on Disney+
The movie that kicked off its franchise, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is a space opera that uses the tropes of adventure narratives to its advantage, helped along by its expansive scope and distinctive characters.
Much of the inaugural Star Wars film is about the quest Luke Skywalker suddenly finds himself on after he acquires R2-D2 and C-3PO, and discovers schematics hidden on R2’s drive. Kickstarting a journey that takes Luke across the galaxy, the movie shows that adventure can be found in the most unexpected of places.
Adventure Time (2010-2018)
Stream on Hulu and HBO Max
Adventure Time is like a D&D game each episode, often with just a party of two. Assigned D&D classes, Finn would be a notorious multiclasser, and Jake an often-shapeshifting druid. The pair use their skills as they roam around the land of Ooo, often encountering Adventure Time’s cute characters who are surprisingly dangerous, and taking on new challenges.
The show fits into many genres, but ultimately Adventure Time is, as its title suggests, all about the quest. It also acts as a coming-of-age narrative, and slowly develops the relationships of its characters in a way that feels natural and rewarding.
The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
Stream on HBO Max
While The Fellowship of the Ring is a great D&D-esque story from the work of Tolkien, The Hobbit arguably fits the bill even better due to its episodic nature.
Set before the events of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit living a quiet life which is upended as he sets off on a grand adventure in spite of his better judgment. He may be journeying with far more experienced adventurers, but Bilbo finds himself a key player in their mission.
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About The Author
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Sid Natividad likes movies so much as to choose the risk of urinary tract infection than miss a few minutes of post-credit Easter eggs, that shows the extent of his dedication. He is well-versed in multiple fandoms that gravitate toward the edgy and nihilistic spectrum of the internet culture. Outside of being a writer for Screen Rant, he also works as a journalist and has risked his life for mere warzone photos.
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