Spartacus: Vengeance
After a prequel season to fill the space between Blood and Sand and the series' return, Spartacus was back with a Vengeance this year, picking up where the first season left off, with Liam McIntyre stepping in to take over the titled role. Celebrating the return of some of our favorite characters was short-lived as the writers eventually killed a number of them off in spectacular fashion. But the bloodbath that was Spartacus: Vengeance's season finale isn't the only reason the Starz series makes the list for Best Dramas in 2012. As anticipated from Blood and Sand's finale, Vengeance took the story away from the arena and began a successful transition from gladiator-fighting show to the start of a rebellion of slaves against the Romans.

And then they killed everyone off. Well, not everyone, but a lot of the main characters were given some gloriously violent and disturbing send-offs as Vengeance wrapped up, reminding us of just how high the stakes are in a series like this. It's difficult to picture the series without many of the characters who were lost this year, but their exits, (spoiler alert!) which include one character swallowing a sword, another being subjected to a forced caesarean section, and another tipping backwards over the cliff while clutching a baby, are surely burned into our minds. Vengeance took Spartacus to the next level, setting the series up for the upcoming final season and delivering some of the most exciting, suspenseful, bloody and action packed drama on television.

Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones came to television with a couple of major challenges to face: the first, proving to fans of the books that the show would live up to them, and the second was proving that high fantasy on a Tolkien scale could translate to the small screen. If the first season overcame those challenges, the second season left absolutely no doubt.

In 2012 Game of Thrones became one of those shows that goes beyond its pre-determined fan base of loyal readers. It proved itself a drama of depth, with incredibly nuanced performances from a cast that is huge but talented right down to the least of the roles. The series took on epic battle, magic, betrayal and love and did it all without become trite or cheesy as a fantasy series is always in danger of doing. Somehow, in spite of the fantasy world in which it is played out, Game of Thrones provides characters that are relatable, loveable and hateable as well, which is what any drama needs to succeed.

Led by the inimitable Peter Dinklage in the role of Tyrion Lannister, a character who came into his own during the 2012 season in a spectacular fashion, Game of Thrones was easily one of 2012’s best dramas. The wait for the third season and the coming of a new threat hasn’t been an easy one for any fan.

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