Science fiction (often shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, spaceflight, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas”.
If you’re a fan of Sci-fi TV shows and are in need to fill the void, check below some of the best Sci-fi series that you should be watching right now.
An adaptation of a popular cyberpunk novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is set a few hundred years in the future, by which point humanity has developed the technology to download a person’s consciousness into computers. People can now transfer themselves into new bodies, called “sleeves,” effectively making themselves immortal — provided they have the money. Into this world steps Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), a former soldier who has spent the last 250 years in cold storage. He is back, in a new sleeve, courtesy of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), a wealthy man who wants Takeshi to find the man who killed Bancroft’s previous body. Altered Carbon draws on classic noir elements, as Takeshi explores a grimy city where everyone seems to have a hidden agenda.
Although it drew a lot of comparisons to Stranger Things (due to the small-town setting and teenage protagonists), the German Netflix original Dark is its own thing, a strange, high-concept story set in a town where everyone has their secrets. Dark begins in Winden, a small, wooded town near a nuclear reactor. Teenager Jonas (Louis Hoffman) returns to school, having spent time getting therapy following his father’s suicide, only to find the town in a state of shock over a new tragedy: The disappearance of his fellow student, Erik Obendorf. Erik is not the first child to go missing in Winden’s history, nor will he be the last, and Jonas and his friends soon find themselves on the edge of a mystery that spans generations. Dark is an eerie drama, dense with mysteries and complicated characters.
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation
For those of you unacquainted with perhaps the most popular sci-fi television series of all time, there’s not much we can say, other than Netflix has all seven seasons of Star Trek: Next Generation. Created in 1987, 21 years after the original series, the show follows the exploits of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his space-faring crew upon the new USS Enterprise. Despite Netflix’s omission of the rest of the Star Trek library and Paramount’s decision to end the show prematurely, there’s still 187 episodes lined with Romulans and the Borg, not to mention an entire world of adventure with which to expand your cult-classic knowledge. After all, it did manage to live long and prosper.
4. Black Mirror
Each episode of Black Mirror tells a single story, with a theme of modern and near-future technology running through each unnerving tale. It’s often compared to The Twilight Zone for its episodic nature, and just like that classic series, some of the stories will leave you sitting and staring at a blank television, wondering what you just watched. Beyond all of the thought-provoking, mind-bending, and world-building, the acting and aesthetic is smart and nuanced, and will leave even the best spoiler guessers out there reeling from the sharp twists and turns in every episode.
Yet another television show drawing from the pages of popular comics, CW’s Arrow takes its influence from the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Actor Steven Amell tackles the lead as playboy billionaire Oliver Queen, who soon takes up the role of the Green Arrow to subdue crime in the fictional setting of Starling City. Netflix offers the first four seasons of this highly regarded show.
From the — sometimes — brilliant science fiction minds of Andy and Lana Wachowski comes Sense8, a sci-fi drama concerning eight strangers who suddenly find themselves connected to one another. After enduring an awakening of sorts, these strangers now have the ability to communicate and share knowledge and skills with one another. A much different take on the sci-fi genre and one featuring a diverse lineup of characters, Sense8 continues to show the Wachowskis’ and J. Michael Straczynski’s incredible knack for dense storytelling.
7. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
You could call this Amazon Prime’s Black Mirror, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Show is an anthology sci-fi series based on stories from the late science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose work inspired Blade Runner and Amazon series The Man in the High Castle. Electric Dreams‘ first season explores injectable consciousness, mind readers, humans beings replaced by robots, and a genocidal presidential candidate, to name a few.
The production value is impressive, with Hidden Figures and Moonlight actress Janelle Monae playing an artificially intelligent robot in a metallic suit that looks convincingly realistic. Like Black Mirror, Amazon’s sci-fi series employs some major stars, including Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, and Anna Paquin. Those looking for a gripping dose of dark sci-fi will definitely find it here.
8. Doctor Who
Doctor Who revolves around a Time Lord, referred to as “The Doctor,” who travels through time and space in his TARDIS, a ship disguised as a British police box. Along with his human companions, he battles villains using his boundless imagination and intelligence while attempting to prevent history from being changed. The Doctor Who episodes available on Amazon Prime Video are part of the series revival that began in 2005, which are based on the original series that ran from 1963-1989.
Since the lead character can transform his appearance, the audience gets to watch a musical chairs of lead actors unfold, with The Doctor being played most recently by Peter Capaldi. You never know who or what you may come across when The Doctor hops out of that time machine, but the results are always enticing.
9. The Expanse
Imagine a future in which humans have colonized every part of the solar system. The Expanse turns that hypothetical future into a powerhouse sci-fi drama. The series is set 200 years from now, and centers on a conspiracy that threatens to wipe out the human race. Don’t let the CGI effects and space setting fool you, The Expanse is a riveting drama that tackles the nuances of human conflict in a way that rivals shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld.
The first two seasons of the series are currently available to stream, with the third season likely to become available in the near future, as Amazon picked up the series for its fourth season earlier this year after Syfy canceled it.