For Sony PlayStation gaming fans, there’s nothing quite like the steady barrage of bullets, missiles, burnt rubber, and mayhem that unfolds in a Twisted Metal video game. The Twisted Metal series has long been a gladiatorial match-up between the most colorful characters and their gnarly vehicles stacked with munitions and weaponry. Forget racing. Explosions, smoke, and blood are the rules of this game and the live-action realization of this video game pastime is hitting the Peacock streaming service.
As longtime fans and newcomers to this brand of vehicular combat embrace the Twisted Metal series, there will surely be an interest in other shows with similar themes and narratives. The thing is, there’s not much in the TV landscape quite like Twisted Metal. It’s an experience built off the backs of epic post-apocalyptic cinematic adventures like Mad Max. Yet, there are still existing TV series that are dark and visceral and play host to a cast of wild and colorful characters, possibly in a post-apocalyptic environment that might fit the bill.
Into the Badlands (2015-2019)
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This series can be found streaming on Netflix. It initially aired on AMC in 2015 and wrapped up in 2019. It’s a strong contender for an epic dystopian world that manages to pull together pieces of Mad Max, A Fistful of Dollars, and Enter the Dragon. This post-apocalyptic world is a colorful tapestry woven by influences from Western and martial arts films.
It takes place in the distant future where civilization has degraded after many wars into regions run by men and women who have seized power among their people. These rulers maintain a tenuous relationship with their cohorts in other regions with bloodshed always still being a real possibility. The series follows an elite warrior known as a “clipper” by the name of Sunny (Daniel Wu) who aims to put these feudal nations behind him and live a life of peace. Only that’s not what fate has in store for him.
This short-lived post-apocalyptic zombie world is one that, over time, has been proven an underrated sleeper hit. Netflix hasn’t deemed the series worthy of a second season beyond its first. The series focuses on high school students who have managed to survive the zombie apocalypse. The characters often make light of their situation through dark and meta humor including references to some of pop culture’s biggest hits.
The undead are ultimately secondary to this wild adventure as the teens break off across their desolate town into different factions who often clash with one another. For instance, the jocks embrace a Mad Max-esque approach to physical challenges and football gear that has been reformed into spiky armored duds that you’d expect to see from bandits in the Mel Gibson-led film series. One outsider, however, must navigate these social clicks-turned-gangs and bring his peers together for the good of all. The series is layered with humor, action, and heart – much like Twisted Metal.
Knight Rider (1982-1986)
Let’s rewind the clock to 1982 for this next selection. This action series centers around Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff), a sanctioned crime-fighting vigilante of sorts. As an agent for the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), Michael is tasked with taking on various missions in the fight for justice using one particularly valuable tool: KITT. This artificially intelligent car built under the hull of a Trans Am, is Michael’s partner in crime. It’s built like a fortress on wheels to withstand the heat of combat and the rigors of high-speed chases. Furthermore, KITT has a voice and personality of his own often giving Michael advice or a dose of sarcastic wit when he makes ill-advised choices.
One of the major draws to the Twisted Metal video game series is the spectacular vehicles and their prowess in turbulent chases and combat. There aren’t many TV series that have a combat-ready vehicle at the core of its narrative, but Knight Rider is an iconic series from the ’80s where some of pop culture’s best vehicles were conceived (the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, Doc Brown’s DeLorean, Mad Max’s V8 Interceptor, etc). The show could help fill the void if slick vehicles pique your interest.
Imagine a post-apocalyptic world teeming with bandits, clans, and families who simply want to survive. But the catch is that they’re all blind. Set in the distant future, humanity has lost the ever-crucial sense of sight due to apocalyptic events of the past. The Apple TV+ series begins with the idea that two children, a set of twins, are born with the gift of sight in this dangerous, future world. Some clans see their ability to see as witchcraft, while others understand what it could mean for the future of humankind.
DC superhero and Fast X villain Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, a highly-skilled warrior who leads a tribe of men and women to safety from warring bandits and a corrupt Queen in a larger part of the land. Voss falls in love with Maghra Kane (Hera Hilmar) who had birthed the two sighted children from a previous relationship. Voss takes on the role of their surrogate father and endeavors to protect them. The series features a litany of colorful, heroic, and unsavory characters in this post-apocalyptic landscape. While the tone is serious and the core narrative of See is drastically different, it shares some themes and a wild post-apocalyptic setting with Twisted Metal.
The Last of Us (2023)
Perhaps you’re a PlayStation gaming fan and that’s what attracted you to the Twisted Metal series. Sony has launched an initiative that brings many of their most beloved gaming properties to live-action serial formats. The Last of Us aired on HBO in early 2023 and re-acquainted gaming fans with Joel and Ellie and their struggle for survival in a world ravaged by the Cordyceps plague that has turned much of humanity into mindless, rabid cannibals.
Like any post-apocalyptic world, there are those who would be allies and others who have more sinister intentions. The Last of Us and Twisted Metal both share a vast fanbase from their time as award-winning video games on PlayStation consoles. If the HBO adaptation of The Last of Us is any indication, Sony is aiming to produce quality live-action entertainment from its best properties.
Twisted Metal season one is now streaming on Peacock.