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10 Shows Like 'The Recruit' to Watch Next

If you've already made your way through 'The Recruit' and are looking for more espionage dramas, Metacritic has you covered.

Annie Lyons
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Noah Centineo in 'The Recruit'

Netflix

The Recruit isn't your typical spy thriller. 

After all, protagonist Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is a fledgling lawyer, not a spy. But even though his job title might indicate otherwise, Owen gets himself involved in quite a few spy-like shenanigans after he joins the CIA's Office of General Counsel. 

The Netflix drama follows Owen as he takes on his first big case and inadvertently finds himself tangled up in the high-stakes world of international espionage. During his first week of the job, Owen gets assigned to search through letters sent to the CIA to see if any contain credible threats or information. He seemingly finds just that when he reads a letter from a woman named Max (Laura Haddock) who claims to be one of the agency's former assets. Currently imprisoned for a murder charge, Max threatens to expose CIA secrets unless she's exonerated. 

As Owen begins looking into Max's claims and determining just how dangerous her threats are, he must navigate both her mind games and the complicated internal politics of his new workplace. Unsure of who to trust, the rookie lawyer must learn how to quickly adapt to his new life as he sets off on an investigation that takes him around the globe. 

If you've already made your way through The Recruit and are looking for more espionage dramas, Metacritic has you covered with a list of shows to check out next. The below list features an array of spy shows, including more that feature plenty of action set pieces, complex character dynamics, and witty dialogue. 

Here, Metacritic highlights 10 shows to watch after The Recruit


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Matthew Rhys in 'The Americans'

FX

The Americans

Metascore: 89
Best for: Fans of spy thrillers and period dramas 
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 6

Created by former CIA agent-turned-writer Joe Weisberg, The Americans takes place during the 1980s and follows Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), two KGB spies posing as American citizens in a Washington D.C. suburb. The two only got married for their cover story, making it impossible to separate their work and personal lives. The series explores how their dangerous line of work shapes their complex marriage, sense of duty, and relationship with their two children, who are unaware of their secret identities. The Americans won four Emmy Awards out of a total 18 nominations, which included two nominations for Outstanding Drama Series. 

"Its exploration of identity and loyalty is unmatched, because of how it focuses on the human element so eloquently. Yes the spycraft can be fun and tense and exciting, but it's the emotional conflicts that set the show a cut above." — Allison Keene, Collider


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Tom Hiddleston in 'The Night Manager'

BBC

The Night Manager

Metascore: 82
Best for: Fans of British spy thrillers
Where to watch:

, , ,
Seasons: 1

Based on the 1993 novel of the same title by John le Carré, The Night Manager stars Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who manages a luxury hotel in Cairo. He becomes involved with Sophie (Aure Atika), a local woman who has acquired confidential documents linking billionaire Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) to illegal international arms sales. Though he helps get the information to intelligence officer Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), Sophie is murdered. Four years later, he gets a chance for revenge when Burr recruits him to infiltrate Roper's inner circle. The miniseries won two Emmy Awards out of a total 12 nominations.

"It's more than slick. The spy tale is a great character study built on concerns about how superpowers, intelligence communities and organized crime operate and what the quest for revenge can do to decent people." — Joanne Ostrow, Denver Post


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The cast of 'Slow Horses'

Apple TV+

Slow Horses

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of spy thrillers with characters who are more bumbling than skilled
Where to watch:


Seasons: 2 (so far)

Both a spy thriller and a dark comedy, this British series follows a dysfunctional team of agents working at Slough House, an administrative purgatory for M15 operatives who made career-ending mistakes but somehow weren't fired completely. Nicknamed "slow horses," the agents must deal with paper-pushing drudgery and their slovenly boss Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman), who expects them all to eventually quit. However, when new Slough House agent River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) learns of a young man abducted by a far-right group, he sees a chance to redeem himself. The show is based on the Slough House series of novels by Mick Herron.

"It's hard to say if Slow Horses is a comedy first, a thriller second. It straddles genres deftly, perhaps creating its own in the process." — John Anderson, Wall Street Journal


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Kiefer Sutherland in '24'

Fox

24

Metascore: 79
Best for: Fans of political thrillers and espionage dramas that present ethical dilemmas 
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 8, plus a television film and follow-up limited series 

This action-packed spy series has an innovative format: Each season chronicles a 24-hour period, with each one-hour episode taking place in real time. Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer, an agent of the fictitious Counter Terrorist Unit with an "ends justify the means" approach to his work. The show emphasizes the passage of time with an on-screen clock and often uses split screens to depict Bauer, government officials, and conspirators acting simultaneously. The show won 20 Emmy Awards out of a total 68 nominations. This included nominations for Outstanding Drama Series for each of the show's first five seasons, a prize it finally took home for Season 5. 

"A stylish and innovative thriller that feels like the filmed version of the smartest airport novel you'll ever read." — Steve Johnson


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'Archer'

FX

Archer

Metascore: 79
Best for: Fans of spy parodies and adult animation
Where to watch:

, , , , ,
Seasons: 13 (so far) 

While much more comedic in tone than The Recruit, Archer might appeal to those looking for a more playful take on the spy genre. Created by Adam Reed, the adult animated sitcom takes place in an anachronistic Cold-War-esque universe and features sarcastic humor, running gags, and frequent pop culture references. The show follows a dysfunctional team of agents who work at a fictitious intelligence agency in New York City. At the center of the action is the eponymous character (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), a narcissistic but skilled spy. Archer has won three Emmy Awards out of a total nine nominations so far, including a win for Outstanding Animated Program in 2016.

"Archer hits the comedy bull's-eye with smart, provocative writing." — Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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Sandra Oh in 'Killing Eve'

BBC America

Killing Eve

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of spy thrillers with cat-and-mouse dynamics
Where to watch:

, , , , , ,
Seasons: 4

Based on the Villanelle novel series by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve also features plenty of complicated mind games. The British spy thriller follows Eve (Sandra Oh), an unsatisfied desk-bound intelligence operative who gets a new rush after joining an undercover division at foreign intelligence agency MI6. Recruited because of her interest in female assassins, Eve is tasked with helping pursue the ruthless and enigmatic Villanelle (Jodie Comer). But as Eve learns more about her target, the two women develop a mutual and dangerous obsession. The show earned 21 Emmy Award nominations; its sole win was for Comer's performance. 

"Not only is it way more fun than most assassination dramas, it's also nicely conceived and, you should pardon the expression, executed." — David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle


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The cast of 'Chuck'

NBC

Chuck

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of genre-bending comedies and spy stories
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 5

Created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, Chuck blends together comedy, spy action, and one of those "just go with it" premises. After computer whiz Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) opens an email that's subliminally embedded with government secrets, he inadvertently downloads all the information into his brain, leading the CIA to recruit him. Both a valuable asset and a potential liability for the agency, Chuck must keep his new occupation a secret, face down threats, and adapt to his new handlers. The series received three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Stunt Coordination and won the award twice. (It also picked up a nod for its main title design.)

"Schwartz's good eye for characters and cutting sense of humor makes Chuck a thoroughly enjoyable romp." — Glenn Garvin, Miami Herald


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Jeffrey Donovan in 'Burn Notice'

USA

Burn Notice

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans of action-packed spy dramas
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 7

This spy drama envisions what happens to a special forces operator who unexpectedly gets "burned," meaning that he is identified as an unreliable agent and loses all his connections. After this happens to Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) while on a mission abroad, he ends up back in his hometown of Miami with his assets frozen. Unable to safely leave the city, he begins working as an unlicensed private investigator, while also investigating the truth behind who burned him and why. Burn Notice received four Emmy Award nominations, including a nomination for Sharon Gless for her performance as Michael's mother, Madeline. 

"This show has no illusions of being anything more than a solidly made and terrifically entertaining TV distraction, neat and crisp as citrus soda." — Melanie McFarland, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


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Maggie Q in 'Nikita'

The CW

Nikita

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of spy thrillers led by women
Where to watch:

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Seasons: 4

This spy thriller plays around with the genre's femme fatale trope, revolving on a woman whose relationship with her handlers sours. An adaptation of the 1991 French film La Femme Nikita, Nikita stars Maggie Q as the titular character, an agent for a secret government-funded organization who was first recruited when she was a desperate teenager on death row. After Nikita breaks the rules by falling in love with a civilian, the organization murders her fiancé, causing her to go rogue. Three years later, she begins her plans for revenge by having her young trainee Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) infiltrate the organization as a new recruit. The show nabbed two Emmy noms during its run, both for sound editing.

"It's a well-woven tale, with the different strings hanging together nicely and leading off in a few directions you might not expect." — Robert Bianco, USA Today


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Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham in 'Covert Affairs'

USA

Covert Affairs

Metascore: 66
Best for: Fans of action-packed spy dramas
Where to watch:

, , , ,
Seasons: 5

If you enjoyed watching Owen learn how to adapt to his new CIA job on The Recruit, you might also enjoy this spy drama about another young employee at the agency. Covert Affairs follows Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) as she grows from an inexperienced CIA trainee agent to a hardened spy. The show begins when she is unexpectedly promoted to field agent because of her knack for languages. With help from her handler Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham), a former special operative who was blinded during a mission, Annie must quickly learn the ropes of her high-stakes job. 

"This amiable, entertaining show isn't trying to change the world or strain the boundaries of scripted television, and that's just fine." — Maureen Ryan, The Huffington Post