Think tanks in the Nordic countries are now frequently referred to in national media, among decision‐makers as well as in academic communities. Based on the literature on think tanks, a consensual and adversarial perspective on their development is advanced. In support of a consensual perspective, the special issue shows that a number of policy think tanks, which play consensual roles in different policy niches, have emerged in the Nordic countries in recent decades. In support of an adversarial perspective, think tank landscapes in the Nordic countries now include advocacy think tanks from both sides of the political spectrum. The mixed think tank landscapes found in the Nordic countries do not constitute a break with consensual policy‐making traditions. Nevertheless, a number of privately funded think tanks, which have increased competition for funding, media visibility and political influence, have supplemented established publicly funded think tanks in particular in Scandinavia.