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Some of the coolest sci-fi and horror series we thought we’d never see again have benefited big time from the dawn of the TV streaming era. Peacock, Netflix and other streamers have been a boon for fans who’ve pined for the chance to properly binge a slew of awesome shows, dating all the way back to the 1980s (or before); shows that might’ve been relegated to a neglected DVD buy list or even lost to time for good.
But with binging comes the ups and downs of knowing when to watch, and even relatively recent fan favorites like Hannibal don’t always linger long once they’ve made their streaming return. Streaming platforms’ ongoing commitment to keep-it-fresh programming, plus an ever-changing game of leapfrog to stay on the right side of licensing deals, means it’s easy to miss out when a dearly departed sci-fi series does get its long-awaited window back in the spotlight. Here are some sci-fi and SYFY shows that deserve a second chance to give us new episodes.
1. SGU: Stargate Universe
Any excuse to spend more time in the Stargate universe is a good one, and when that universe is SYFY’s Stargate Universe, it's a no-brainer.
SGU went above and beyond the call of duty for a spinoff, leaping light years away to strand the wayward crew of the Ancient vessel Destiny an unfathomable distance from Earth. The series arrived in 2009 with space-ready production values that trumped most of what TV viewers were accustomed to at the time. Even though it only ran for two seasons, it’s the spinoff series that definitively showed just how expansive and franchise-worthy the world of Stargate always was. Thanks to the production team of longtime Stargate veterans Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, the lore integration with the series’ larger canon was seamless, and plying the galaxies that rimmed the outer reaches of the known universe offered the chance to expand on it in ways that felt fresh for fans who’d been hooked on Stargate from the start.
Not many sci-fi shows come with the kind of knockout concept Sliders boasted as part of its built-in premise: Take an unlikely group of people, give them devices that wormhole to parallel universes, and then throw a glitch in the mix that keeps them locked out of the one they call home. Sliders stranded its ensemble cast (anchored by Jerry O'Connell) in an endless series of blind-faith leaps to different times and places — all in the hope that the next jump would be the one that takes them back to their normal lives. Through five seasons, it made the most of its trippy sci-fi setup with enthralling alt-history takes that came ready-made for weekly episodic drop-ins. In recent years, O'Connell and fellow founding cast member John Rhys-Davies have both hinted they’re game to revive the series, and not a moment too soon: At its best, Sliders was an addictively wild sci-fi ride.
3. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Take one of the greatest sci-fi characters ever in Sarah Connor, pick things up where Terminator 2: Judgment Day left off, and ditch the slow serial melodrama for a fast-paced episodic romp that shows killing one Terminator is never enough, and you’ve pretty much got the formula for how to do The Terminator right on TV.
As John and Sarah Connor (respectively played by Thomas Dekker and a pre-Game of Thrones Lena Headey) put a different yet fresh spin on the always-on-the-run energy that fans had come to expect from their big-screen counterparts, and the lore kept it real in continuation with the movies. Yes, Skynet’s unstoppable cyborg creations really are that relentless — they just picked the wrong 20th-Century family to mess with.
4. Nowhere Man
Originally airing on the now-defunct UPN network, Nowhere Man only ran for a single season. But even that was enough to deliver both a killer standalone story, as well as what could’ve been just the opening salvo in a much larger, more ambitious series.
Viewers were instantly sucked in as voyeuristic avatars for protagonist Thomas Veil (played by Bruce Greenwood), a guy whom the rest of the world seems to have forgotten in an instant, with every evidence of his existence seemingly erased as if he’d never been born at all. That kind of bad day tends to make you more than a little paranoid, but Veil’s theory that a massive conspiracy may have been behind it all came close to being vindicated by the end of the the show’s first and only season. By the end, Veil’s almost uncovered the whole story — but that story comes with a backstory of its own; one so incredible that the answers he finds put him right back at square one. This time, however, he Veil finds himself at the heart of a whole new mystery concerning his photograph, "Hidden Agenda," and his perceived role in a government project.
5. Pushing Daisies
It’s crazy to think Pushing Daisies only ran for two seasons — that’s how much of an impact Bryan Fuller’s Emmy-winning fantasy drama made in its short time on TV. The modern-day fairy tale centered on a knockout cast anchored by Lee Pace as Ned, a man endowed with the gift of bringing the dead back to life. Of course that’s an enviable trick if you’re in the murder mystery-solving trade — but Pushing Daisies’ charm comes from the way it tapped Ned’s abilities as a homicide drama while veering delightfully far from the typical tropes of the hard-boiled whodunnit genre. Fuller kept the story going in the comics after the series was canceled, but TV is where Pushing Daisies, with its Tim Burton-esque visual trips and endearing character ensemble — really belongs. It’s a shame Ned can’t apply his magic touch to revive one of our favorite series ever — but we'd happily settle for the original to find its way back to Netflix.
V, the original 1980s NBC miniseries, luxuriated in a lack of irony.
Here was an audacious show that put sentient space lizards on TV with no attempt to diminish the screen impact of their outrageously ambitious agenda: Perching epically stylized UFOs in the skies over Earth and hatching a global control scheme to bend humanity to their will. V returned in 2009 with a series that, for two seasons, followed the slower unfolding of the alien Visitors’ long game — an insidiously deceptive PR campaign (one with touches of John Carpenter’s mind-manipulation classic They Live) aimed at getting the Earthlings to freely volunteer their servitude. Both the 1980s and 2000s versions came from creator Kenneth Johnson (the creative mind behind TV’s The Bionic Woman and Alien Nation), and both used big, broad sci-fi strokes to make sure the us-versus-them stakes of dealing with invading aliens never succumbed to subtlety.
No one could’ve guessed that anyone else could live up to Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning portrayal of cerebral serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. But that was before the world got a fava bean-flavored taste of the show that creator Bryan Fuller and star Mads Mikkelsen had in store.
Through three seasons at NBC, Hannibal dove deep into the psyche of one of the movies’ most fascinating villains, mining its source material (author Thomas Harris’ horrifically captivating novels) to explore the innermost workings of the mind of an impeccably empathetic madman. Like the character itself, Hannibal held up a mirror to human nature, starkly confronting what can happen when an enlightened player in society’s game decides to share his bleak self-honesty with the rest of the world — especially when the world is nowhere close to ready.