Cowboy Bebop: 10 Other Shows To Watch If You Liked The Anime Live-Action Series
Space westerns, fantasy worlds, and baby Yoda.
When it was announced that Netflix was going to be developing a new Cowboy Bebop live-action series as part of the new upcoming Netflix shows, it was met with a bit of skepticism from long-time fans. Thankfully, the adaptation of the popular anime series has proved to be successful, and many fans have said that it’s a worthy watch, even for people who aren’t familiar with the original product.
The Cowboy Bebop live-action show on Netflix isn’t that long, and one could go through those episodes very quickly - as I did. However, if you’re looking for a show that might be similar in tone or in themes to that of Cowboy Bebop, be sure to check out this list for some awesome choices to pick from.
The Original Cowboy Bebop (Netflix)
I feel like this should be a no-brainer. This popular anime from the 1990s, titled Cowboy Bebop, is set in the year 2071, and follows a crew of bounty hunters aboard their spaceship - aptly named “Bebop,” as we follow their adventures through space.
You know, to me it’s surprising that there are only twenty-six original episodes of this fantastic series, because I could easily see it turning into one of those extremely long anime, because it’s seriously that good. Cowboy Bebop incorporates so many genres, from super cool sci-fi effects to western themes, while also providing depth and emotion to these characters that we really come to love over the show’s short timespan. While I do wish there were more episodes, it’s truly one of its kind, and deserves to be watched just as much as the live-action.
Stream Cowboy Bebop on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
I knew I had to mention The Mandalorian on here. This show, taking place in the Star Wars universe, follows Din Djarin, a bounty hunter whose life is suddenly changed when his path crosses with a lost child (looking awfully familiar to Yoda).
This is perfect for Cowboy Bebop fans because The Mandalorian feels very much like the show. Din Djarin is a bounty hunter for hire, hopping from planet to planet in hopes of another gig while trying to keep him and the people he cares about safe. The cinematography is amazing, and the story is so much fun and especially entertaining if you’re a fan of Star Wars. But as someone who started watching The Mandalorian just for fun as a Disney+ show, it’s definitely up your alley to view.
Stream The Mandalorian on Disney+. (opens in new tab)
I will never forgive Fox for cancelling this amazing show before it could live to its full potential. Firefly is a space western set in the year 2517, following the adventures of the crew of Serenity, a spaceship that is in the “Firefly-class” of ships.
For fans of Cowboy Bebop, this show is perfect for you due to its characters. What really drives Cowboy Bebop is the familial relationship between the main characters and how much they care for each other, which is very similar to what Firefly does with its main characters. They are as heroic as they are flawed, and the show isn’t afraid to talk about that, just like Cowboy Bebop. There’s just something about these outlaws that make me want to cheer for them - much like what the characters in Cowboy Bebop make me feel. While it was a short-lived series, it’s worth every second to watch.
Stream Firefly on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Space Dandy (Hulu)
You want to hear the most basic premise in the world? Space Dandy is literally a space opera about a dandy guy in space. He is an alien hunter who is searching for the rarest of them all with his robot and his feline-friend - named Meow.
Believe it or not, Cowboy Bebop creator, Shinichiro Watanabe, also created Space Dandy. And while the premise is much simpler than some of his other shows, Space Dandy is so much more once you dive into it. Each episode shows different planets, fascinating aliens, and weird animation that is absurdly awesome. It’s incredibly impressive that with each new area Dandy and his team visit, it looks completely different. And while it’s not as action packed as Cowboy Bebop, the story is just as engrossing as ever.
Stream Space Dandy on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Outlaw Star (Hulu)
Next up, we have Outlaw Star, a show that actually aired during the same time as Cowboy Bebop. This space opera follows Gene Starwind, a captain on his spaceship, called Outlaw Star, as he and his crew search around the galaxy for a treasure trove that is called “Galactic Leyline,” running into hilarities and adventures as he does so.
I’ll always feel that Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop have a certain connection to each other since they aired so closely together, and to be honest, it’s the perfect short series to watch that’s pretty similar in tone to Cowboy Bebop. There’s space pirates, assassins, bounty hunters - the whole nine yards, all of which probably sound quite familiar (*cough, Cowboy Bebop, cough*). Gene Starwind is an easy person to root for, and with each episode showing a new adventure, you’ll never get bored.
Stream Outlaw Star on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Samurai Champloo (Hulu)
In this anime series set during the Edo period in Japan, Samurai Champloo follows Fuu, a young woman who ends up hiring two samurai after she helps stop their public execution, needing them to find a mysterious samurai that Fuu wants to find, but requests aid in doing so.
While Samurai Champloo isn’t really the same setting as Cowboy Bebop, I think this show is great for fans of the series because it feels like the same sort of vibe. Created by the same man who did Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe, Samurai Champloo is a period piece set to a super cool soundtrack that gets you pumped up from the very beginning. Seriously, the music alone will make you want to watch this. Plus, the Samurai sword fights are some of the coolest animation I’ve ever seen.
Stream Samurai Champloo on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Psycho-Pass (Amazon Prime)
Moving on, we have Psycho-Pass. This anime series follows Akane Tsunemori, who is introduced as a novice inspector to the Division One of Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division (otherwise known as police officers in charge of solving crimes), in a far-off dystopian Japan.
When I think of Cowboy Bebop characters, I always think of Spike Spiegel first, and then I think I really don’t know if the show would work as well if he wasn’t such a well-written protagonist, creating such a contrast in the heroism in him as well as the negatives in his character arc. One of my favorite characters from Psycho-Pass is Shinya Kogami, another well-written male lead, alongside Akane, and their story together is so well-written that it makes me want to re-watch this over and over. If you think you’ve fallen in love with Spike, wait until you meet Shinya.
Stream Psycho Pass on Amazon Prime. (opens in new tab)
Samurai Jack (HBO Max)
If you want an incredibly animated series, check out Samurai Jack. In this series, we follow a Japanese samurai prince with a mystical sword, as he fights to get his kingdom back from the forces of evil, traveling through time to do so.
While Samurai Jack isn’t an anime compared to many of the other animated shows on this list, it’s still such a great series, and the art style is absolutely beautiful. Like Cowboy Bebop, we often watch Samurai Jack fight against several different evil people, drawing the line between good vs bad, and creating some entertaining fight sequences anyone could watch. With five seasons, and not super long episodes, it’s definitely a great binge. This fantasy series is a hit.
Stream Samurai Jack on HBO Max. (opens in new tab)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix)
Hear me out. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel to the 1982 film, The Dark Crystal, known for its special effects and master puppetry. The show lets us see more of the planet of Thra, and follows three siblings who are trying to save their planet from destruction.
I know - a series that stars puppets that look strangely real doesn't seem like it would be an obvious replacement for a crazy intense and badass show like Cowboy Bebop, but there are many moments where I see some good parallels between the shows. Like the justice seekers in the anime and the live-action who are trying to fight against horrible people, the people of Thra are trying to prevent something similar, fighting anyone to prevent what is called ‘The Darkening’ from happening to their planet.
The story is rich with lore and the puppetry is truly astounding. It’s a shame it was canceled so soon, but it’s certainly worth the time to watch now.
Stream The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
Lastly, we have Trigun. Set on a planet that is called “No Man’s Land,” Trigun is all about Vash the Stampede, a gunman who is always on the move and always fighting bounty hunters due to the large bounty that follows him. And as we start to fall in love with his badassery, we start to learn more about his past, and what he’s done.
Trigun is yet another space western - I feel like there are so many on this list, you’ll have content for hours. However, I do feel that Trigun is a fantastic one to watch. Like many of the other anime on this list, the soundtrack is banging and paired amazingly to the gorgeous animation, mixed in with some impressive dubs that will make it easy for anyone to watch. It’s certainly an investment, with several seasons to watch, but it’s worth every moment of your time.
Stream Trigun on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
While a Season 2 hasn’t been greenlit yet for the live-action Cowboy Bebop, I personally think it’s only a matter of time before we see John Cho and everyone else again aboard that spaceship, kicking ass and taking names. But until that’s official, we can spend our time watching some of these awesome shows instead.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!