I admit it: I’m a huge Potterhead. From my mom reading me the series aloud at age 6 to attending midnight release parties as a preteen, it’s a story that’s very dear to my heart. I still return for a nearly annual repeat, although I change it up by rotating the books, audiobooks, and movies. I wouldn’t like to count the times I’ve searched “similar films to Harry Potter” to find content that gives me the same cozy, nostalgic sense of escapism.
If you’re in the same boat, this is the list for you. It’s the result of my own lifelong search, as well as input from the geeks of the internet. Of course, there are eight “Harry Potter” movies and three films in the spinoff prequel series, “Fantastic Beasts.” But if that’s not enough content for you, the following shows and movies capture the same special feeling and are equally binge-worthy as “Harry Potter.” We’ll let you know where to find them on major streaming services so you can cozy up and get watching right away.
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Although “Matilda” is a lighter story than the “Harry Potter” series, it contains many of the same themes: An exceptional child, misunderstood by her family, discovers unknown powers inside herself. Once she learns what she’s capable of, she must work to fully come into her own strength to fight the injustices in her life. Matilda’s world has less of the fantastical magic of “Harry Potter” and more of the whimsical magic of childhood. Also based on a beloved children’s book, “Matilda” perfectly encapsulates the inner world of every child who’s ever felt different but special.
Catch the family-friendly classic on Max.
‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)
“The Lord of the Rings” is universally regarded as the greatest fantasy series of all time and was a big influence in the writing of the “Harry Potter” series. This is another movie series I rewatch almost every year, making an event out of it by cooking a Middle Earth recipe and playing the iconic soundtrack. Although this is more grown up than “Harry Potter,” both stories reflect similar values. The bonds of friendship are the driving force behind the hero and what keeps him going in his darkest moments. Middle Earth is a world threatened by dark forces that would see people hurt, enslaved, and exiled, but a single person can fight it with a good heart and determination.
If you haven’t seen it yet or haven’t seen it in decades, check out all three movies of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy on Max and Amazon Prime Video.
‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (2005)
During World War II, an unsuspecting girl passes through a doorway at the back of a wardrobe to a magical world filled with fantastic creatures and unknown dangers. There’s a wicked witch who would keep the world enchanted to suit a select few, and our child heroes must fulfill a prophecy in their battle against evil forces. “The Chronicles of Narnia” book series was the most popular children’s fantasy series of the 20th century until “Harry Potter” came along, and it was another influence on its creation. If one of the things you love about “Harry Potter” is the idea of a fantastical world that exists parallel to our own, “The Chronicles of Narnia” is a good choice for you.
You can watch all three films in the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise with a Disney Plus subscription.
‘Dr. Who’ (2005 - Present)
An immortal reincarnating alien with a time-traveling spaceship solves crimes and fights bad guys throughout the universe. Although it sounds pretty different from “Harry Potter” on the surface, the cultural significance of “Dr. Who” as a quintessential piece of Britishness earns it a spot on this list. One of the best things about the “Harry Potter” series is the wacky, quirky, and very British telling of the story. “Dr. Who” has a similar tone and humor that will hit all the right buttons for the Anglophiles among us. It also has some very touching moments that drive home the themes of friendship essential to the “Harry Potter” series.
Although it has been on TV in Britain since 1963, we recommend starting with the rebooted series from 2005 to keep it manageable. The reboot is on Max, and the original series is on Amazon Prime Video with a premium subscription.
‘The Expanse’ (2015 - 2022)
When I first watched “The Expanse,” it felt like the story I’d been waiting for for years. Although set in a scarily realistic future world rather than a magical one, this story contains the most important themes of the “Harry Potter” series: a world divided by elitism, a galaxy-spanning mystery, a lovable found family, unknown forces beyond human understanding, and the battle between good and evil. If you’re a fan of “Harry Potter,” you won’t be disappointed by “The Expanse.” The TV series is solid from beginning to end, with incredible attention to detail, and is the best sci-fi show I’ve seen.
Get sucked into the absorbing world of “The Expanse” by streaming the TV series on Amazon Prime Video.
‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ (2017)
Although there are several Studio Ghibli films that could fit this list, “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” is a better one. Made by Studio Ponoc, which is considered by many to be Studio Ghibli’s spiritual successor, this story is perfect for fans of “Harry Potter.” A young girl goes to live in the English countryside and befriends two cats who lead her to a patch of magical flowers. She bursts one with a broom, which enchants the broom and enables her to fly to a magical castle in the sky known as the Endor College for Witches. Although not a real witch, Mary (voiced by Ruby Barnhill) enrolls herself in the school and sets out to prove her magical worth.
‘His Dark Materials’ (2019 - 2022)
Another beloved book series from my childhood is finally complete in theatrical form. Precocious Lyra (Dafne Keen) lives in an alternate Oxford where everyone has an animal dæmon that contains their soul. She discovers something she shouldn’t about Dust, a mysterious substance that the tyrannical religious order controlling her world is keeping quiet. A shadowy group is taking children. When Lyra’s best friend goes missing, she embarks on an adventure that will take her to the ends of the Earth and beyond to get him back. An academic backdrop, the bonds of friendship, the power of bravery, and the quest for the truth make “His Dark Materials” a perfect watch for “Harry Potter” fans.
Get the best deals on Max so you can catch the now-completed three-season TV series.