The 12 best sci-fi shows you can stream right now

Contributed by
Jul 26, 2017

Between Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, it can be hard for sci-fi fans to figure out what to actually watch with all that binge-able content just sitting on the interwebs. Luckily, we're here to help.

We've dug through the annals of the Big Three streaming services to pinpoint 12 great sci-fi shows well worth your time. From sci-fi comfort food to award-winning Peak TV, under-the-radar hits, and near-genre shows just too good to pass up, here are the 12 shows sci-fi fans should absolutely be streaming. Right now.

Get to it.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow | The Justice Society of America Scene | The CW

DC's Legends of Tomorrow (Netflix)

This show was a big, fun mess in Season 1 but became one of the best sci-fi shows on television in Season 2. The jump in quality is huge, with Season 2 adding a cabal of baddies played by Arrow and Flash alums, new team members and time-bending stories that revisit and remix some amazing moments in history. From Civil War zombies and the Justice Society of America to nearly getting a young George Lucas to give up on his Hollywood dreams, this series has gone all over the map in the best possible way. But more than the zaniness, it's a rare story of a female hero stepping into a lead role as Caity Lotz's Sara Lance (a refugee from sibling series Arrow) becomes captain of this team of wayward heroes and kicks a whole lot of butt (and kisses a whole lot of ladies) in the process. Check it out here.

Simmons Stranded - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Ep. 5

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Netflix)

Sure, something like Jessica Jones, Daredevil or Luke Cage feels like a more obvious choice (and you should totally watch those, too), but Marvel’s original TV show has quietly become one of its best the past few seasons. S.H.I.E.L.D. has moved beyond being an also-ran and is now telling some of the most compelling stories in the MCU. An arc that found a team member stranded on an alien planet, which comes to a head with the phenomenal episode "4,722 Hours," makes for one of the best hours of television in recent years, regardless of genre, while a recent storyline that introduced Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider was a white-knuckle romp. Don't sleep on it. Check it out here.

Angel Farewell from the WB

Angel (Hulu)

It might've started off a spinoff from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but by the time Angel wrapped its five-season run, it had arguably surpassed the flagship series. Angel followed the vampire with a soul as he became a private investigator in Los Angeles, dealing with more mature cases and tackling more mature themes — but it's the ensemble that really put this series over the top. Angel turned Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, the butt of more than a few jokes on Buffy, into one of the most compelling and nuanced characters ever put to screen. It also only got better as it went along, adding James Marsters' Spike in its final season, and wrapping the series with one of the best finales in genre history (no worries, we won’t spoil it here). Check it out here.

Children of the Gods (Full Pilot Episode) | Stargate SG-1 | LIMITED TIME ONLY

Stargate SG-1 (Hulu)

This long-running sci-fi series doesn't get as much acclaim as that other "Star" show that typically comes to mind, but there's a reason this show persisted for a full decade: it's basically sci-fi comfort food, a throwback to the simpler days of Star Trek: The Original Series, just with a portal to the stars instead of space ships (though space ships definitely came later). It has a charismatic cast with a boatload of chemistry and over 10 seasons builds a gigantic and compelling mythology full of alien races and mysterious worlds. With a prequel web series in the works, it's the perfect time to go back and remember where it all began. Check it out here.

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Stranger Things (Netflix)

We're geeking out waiting for Season 2, sure, but that doesn't make Season 1 of Stranger Things any less great. It's The Goonies meets [Insert a Dozen 1980s Horror Movies] in the best possible way. Creators the Duffer Brothers crafted one of the freakiest little horror shows of the modern age with pitch-perfect call backs to ... well, all the horror flicks you loved from the '80s (a more than a few nods to Stephen King's It). Despite the familiarity, Stranger Things never feels stale, and The Upside Down is a realm worth visiting (and revisiting) year-round. Check it out here.

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Black Mirror (Netflix)

This anthology series has been called the modern day Twilight Zone, and for good reason. It's clever, terrifying and brave in a way few shows try to be — and typically features A-list stars, thanks to the one-off format. The episodes tackle the way technology changes and affects our lives and typically takes those ideas to their frightening (and sometimes weirdly prescient) extremes. It also features plenty of sci-fi with stories set in the near-future, far-future and even bizarre utopias. If you want to get a quick reminder to put the phone down and smell the flowers, this is it ... because the singularity is coming, and it apparently ain’t pretty. Check it out here.

Good Catch | Season 2 Ep. 12 | THE LAST MAN ON EARTH

Last Man on Earth (Hulu)

This near-future sitcom follows a small group of people who manage to survive a global pandemic that kills pretty much everyone on the planet. Sounds hilarious, right? Well, it really is. The cast of Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones and Mel Rodriguez make one heck of an ensemble, and the stories range from Forte's Phil trying desperately to get laid to much heavier arcs about mental illness and loneliness. It sounds like an odd juxtaposition, understandably, but somehow it just works. The show has improved each season as they push the boundaries of what you can do with the format. Check it out here.

Battlestar Galactica | Trailer

Battlestar Galactica (Hulu)

It might be a decade or so old, but Battlestar Galactica is as relevant — and as good — as ever. The series delves into themes such as religion and freedom with subtletly and grace, while also telling one heck of an amazing story about the last scraps of humanity trying to escape utter annihilation. With the series enjoying a resurgence thanks to a recent reunion, it's the perfect time to give it a first (or second, or third) watch. Check it out here.

 

The Big Moment: Episode 1 – “Offred” • The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)

Hulu landed one of its first prestige shows with The Handmaid’s Tale, an acclaimed adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel of the same name. The story is set in the near-future in a world where infertility runs rampant and child-bearing women become the hottest commodity on the planet — to the point that they are subjugated and turned into "handmaids." Critics have raved about the series, and for good reason, as it serves not only as a faithful adaptation of Atwood’s tale but also as a fresh lens to turn back upon our own world. Season 2 is already in the works, so make sure and dive into Season 1 now. Check it out here.

We want the children - Torchwood - BBC

Torchwood (Amazon Prime)

It might've started out as a Doctor Who spinoff, but Torchwood grew into one of the most robust and positively insane sci-fi series to ever grace the airwaves. Focusing on a team of sci-fi cops led by Who alum Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), the show was basically a sexy X-Files with bigger action and more British accents. It also improved as it went along, with an excellent Season 2 that coalesced with an acclaimed third season event "Children of Earth." Season 4, an attempt to revamp the series for American audiences with the "Miracle Day" storyline, was uneven, but taken as a whole this is still one of the best sci-fi shows on either side of the Atlantic. Check it out here.

Supernatural | Risky Business Trailer | The CW

Supernatural (Netflix)

Much like the Winchester brothers at the heart of this series, Supernatural just refuses to die. The supernatural action series has built up an amazing mythology, with a wise-cracking duo that has faced everything from werewolves to vampires to the Devil himself (a few times). The show was originally conceived to end after Season 5 but has been kicking around for more than a decade now with no end in sight. If you're looking for a binge that keep you entertained for months on end, this should do the trick. Check it out here.

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12 Monkeys (Hulu)

It might not be a ratings smash, but this time-twisting SYFY series has become a bona fide critical hit over the past few years — and for good reason. Each season peels back the layers of a smart, surprising drama about the end of the world and how it can (or can't) be avoided. It might be a big story (we are talking about the fate of the world here), but it all comes down to two people: Aaron Stanford's James Cole and Amanda Schull's Cassie Railly. As they jump every-when from the far future to the distant past, their lives become more and more intertwined with no shortage of jaw-dropping reveals. Check it out here.