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These are the 11 best sci-fi shows on Netflix right now
Don't know what to watch on Netflix? We've got you covered.
Netflix has almost 2,000 shows currently available to stream on its platform. That is a lot of content. You can’t possibly watch all of it (unless you’re a really dedicated TV viewer and, honestly, we would respect that).
Out of those 2,000 shows, there are hundreds that belong to, or could be labeled as, “science-fiction.” That is still an overwhelming amount! But don’t worry – we here at SYFY have got you covered.
Here are 11 of the best science-fiction shows that are available on Netflix right now. From classics like Star Trek to modern hits such as Stranger Things, to underrated series like Dark and Travelers, there's plenty of quality TV to watch for the first time or revisit for a second or third viewing. Engage.
1. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 - 1994)
What better show to start off with than this all-time classic?
Created by Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry, The Next Generation warps us into the 24th century where we meet the crew of the starship Enterprise-D led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by the immeasurably talented Patrick Stewart) and assisted by Commander Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge (LaVar Burton), and Lieutenant Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). The Next Generation was the first new run of live-action Star Trek on the airwaves since the iconic Original Series ended in 1969. TNG ran for seven seasons and an impressive 178 episodes. It was a ratings smash, netting in millions of viewers each week, and inspired numerous spin-off series, such as Paramount+’s Picard and… the next show on this list.
2. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 - 1999)
Quite the segue, huh? Sort of like how Star Trek seamlessly transitioned from The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine in 1993 (I apologize). DS9 focuses on the titular space station manned by a new, and very rough-around-the-edges crew led by Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks). The crew, a mix of Starfleet and non-Starfleet personnel, quickly discovers a nearby wormhole that connects their Alpha Quadrant with the unexplored (and dangerous) Gamma Quadrant. This inspired set-up led to seven seasons and 176 hours of some of the best, character-driven Trek ever. Although DS9 wasn’t quite as popular as TNG, it was certainly darker and included more battle scenes than the first two live-action series. While this tonal shift proved to be polarizing for some, on the whole, DS9 is another strong entry in the Star Trek canon that is well worth the watch.
3. Stranger Things (2016 - Present)
One of Netflix’s biggest original hits, Stranger Things is still going strong after three seasons (with a fourth expected to be released Summer 2022). The popular genre entry has firmly established itself as one of Netflix’s signature shows, and one of the most popular entries in the genre ever.
Set in a very Amblin-like 1980’s, the series is heavily inspired by many of the prolific creative forces of that decade – think Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King – as well as by the hot cultural topics of the time, such as the Cold War, video games, and comic books. Stranger Things takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, where the local laboratory has been performing secret government tests in the paranormal/supernatural range that have accidentally opened a portal into another dimension known as the “Upside Down.” One of the lab’s test subjects, a young girl simply known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), escapes from the facility and befriends three local boys whose best friend, Will Byers, has been mysteriously abducted by a creature from the Upside Down. And that's just the set up for the first season.
Stranger Things has been an addictive series from the jump, so if you haven’t watched it, now’s as good a time as any before the new season drops. Just be wary of any potential nosebleeds.
4. Black Mirror (2011 - 2019)
Black Mirror is basically if The Twilight Zone and Lars von Trier had a baby, and that baby grew up to really hate technology. This British import, along with FX's Fargo, helped revitalize the anthology series format in the 2010s, with each episode being its own singular story with a new cast. (Though some episodes bleed into others with Easter eggs, establishing a Black Mirror connective universe). The heady and gripping show comments on current social issues and usually centers each storyline around a cautionary tale involving technology and our fears/abuses of it. For example, one of the series’ most acclaimed episodes, “USS Callister,” uses a popular online role-playing game to comment on the male toxic abuse of power in contemporary society, particularly against women. Other notable episodes include: The exceptional “San Junipero,” about a same-sex couple struggling with, and ultimately transcending, the limits of their simulated reality, and the interactive, "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style Bandersnatch.
5. Stargate: SG-1 (1997 - 2007)
Based on the 1994 movie Stargate, the series significantly upped the stakes and expanded the universe. Stargate: SG-1 tells the story of SG-1, a military unit from Earth sent to protect its home planet from dangerous alien threats throughout the galaxy. Taking inspiration from global mythology – particularly Norse, Egyptian, and Greek – the show utilizes its own history as a way to heighten the conflicts between SG-1 and their primary alien antagonists, the Goa’uld. SG-1 ran for 10 seasons and an astonishing 214 episodes, along with two feature-length movies, and it even inspired four different spin-off series. If you’re looking for a sci-fi show with a massive following that maybe isn’t quite as well-known as Star Trek or Star Wars, SG-1 is certainly worth your while. Equipped with a huge extended universe, you will need months to dig through all of the content that the Stargate franchise has to offer.
6. Dark (2017 - 2020)
Netflix’s German series Dark is part existential meditation on time and history, as well as part classic sci-fi time travel thriller. Intrigued yet? Dark takes place in the German town of Winden, where children mysteriously start to go missing. What unfurls after that is a time-traveling kidnapping scheme that spans generations and centuries and intertwines several different families. Throughout Dark’s short but brilliant run, it continuously pushed the boundaries of what was expected of it – and, in doing so, of what was expected of a science-fiction show. Dark is a deeply emotive series that transcends its own “sci-fi” label without losing focus of its own story.
7. Love, Death & Robots (2019 - Present)
Our second anthology series on this list is the first animated one. Executive produced by Oscar-nominated director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club), each episode of Love, Death & Robots is its own singular story with a different cast of characters and, usually, a different animation crew. Each installment tries to include all three subjects from the series title, though not all episodes touch on all three. Many famous actors and actresses have lent their talents to the show, from Michael B. Jordan to Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Topher Grace, as well as many different directors, from co-executive producer of the show, Tim Miller (Deadpool) to Jennifer Yuh Nelson (the Kung Fu Panda series). Love, Death & Robots is returning for its third season sometime in 2022.
8. Lost in Space (2018 - 2021)
A reboot of the original 1965 series, Lost in Space chronicles the adventures of the Robinson family in the year 2046 after they are forced to evacuate their mothership while en route to a new part of the galaxy that humanity has earmarked for colonization. The family crash lands on an Earth-like planet and must find a way to get back to their ship – but not without a few bumps in the intergalactic road (plus a robot or two for good measure). Lost in Space just recently finished its final third season and, overall, the series received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised its special effects as well as its surprising amount of heart. If you’re looking for something with a big budget and a dose of sentimentality, then look no further.
9. Sense8 (2015 - 2018)
Helmed by Lana and Lily Wachowski (The Matrix), Sense8 is an ambitious series from two of the most prolific creators of the last 20 years. The series is about eight people who are known as “sensates” (hence the title) – humans who are mentally and emotionally linked and can share language and knowledge between each other. These people soon begin to be hunted by the evil Biologic Preservation Organization led by one of its high-ranking members, ‘Whispers.’ Sense8 touches on timely issues such as identity, race, sexuality, and gender, and with the Wachowskis behind the camera, it’s a mind-bend at times, too. For that reason alone, this series is absolutely worth your time – it’s not every day that two of science-fiction’s most vaunted filmmakers decide to make a TV show as compelling and timeless as this one.
10. Altered Carbon (2018 - 2020)
Pour one out for Altered Carbon, a show near and dear to our hearts that was canceled too soon. Based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon takes place in the fictional futuristic Bay City, where a person’s consciousness and memories are stored on hard drive-like devices, called cortical stacks, that get plugged into physical or synthetic bodies known as “sleeves.” The series focuses on Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier-turned-mercenary who is pulled out of prison by a wealthy member of society, Laurens Bancroft, and is tasked with solving Bancroft’s own murder of his former sleeve. The expensive show was unfortunately canceled after two seasons, although a spin-off anime film, Altered Carbon: Resleeved, was released shortly after the completion of Season 2.
11. Travelers (2016 - 2018)
Created by Brad Wright (the Stargate TV franchise), Travelers takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where special operatives known as “travelers” have their consciousness sent back in time into the body of a present-day person with the intent of preventing the collapse of society. Travelers carry out missions in teams of five and are assigned orders by the Director, an A.I. in the future who monitors the condition of the timeline. Similar to Altered Carbon and Sense8, Netflix canceled the series relatively early despite positive reviews from critics and a passionate fanbase. Regardless, Travelers is still readily available to stream on Netflix, and if you’re a fan of the time-travel subgenre, it’s well worth it.