The best and worst of sci-fi TV for 2011

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

It was indeed the best of times and the worst of times, and much of it showed up on our TVs. From thrilling storylines to characters we can't wait to forget, there was a lot to chew on this year. So we've put together a list of the best, the worst and all things in between, along with some thoughts and a few quotes from other sources.

There maybe spoilers ahead, so beware!

Here's our Best and Worst List of all things sci-fi, fantasy, reality and spy-fi:

Best New Show Of The Year:
Game of Thrones, HBO
Sure, it took its time to tell the story, but it ended up being great TV. According to Yahoo TV: "Included in every critic's Best Of list, HBO's epic drama Game of Thrones has done what no other fantasy show has done before: deliver on mass appeal. Intricate plotlines, dazzling production values, and impressive performances all add up to one of the year's finest, most brilliant television series and a totally satisfying one at that. We look forward to the return of Game of Thrones in April 2012 as the fight for the Iron Throne continues."

Best Returning Show We Still Love The Most:
Fringe, Fox
The ever-fascinating Fringe continues to reinvent itself and be the best thing on TV. We'll also give it the award for "Best Manipulation of the Space/Time Continuum." It made the number three spot on EW in Ken Tucker's Top 10 Shows of 2011: "Fans fearful that following Olivia, Walter, and the ­elusive Peter into a third timeline might result in a trip down an unsatisfying narrative rabbit hole need not have worried. Fringe remains fearless -- in a time when cutting-edge television is supposed to be dark, edgy, or pessimistic -- about asserting the notion that life is a never-ending wonder capable of healing souls and bringing people together in inexplicable ways. Fringe works in the speculative-fiction sci-fi genre to deal with themes of unity and duality, the spirit and the soul, love, and the agony of love's absence."

Best Horror Show That Is Truly Scary:
The Walking Dead, AMC

Biggest Non-Event:
The Event, NBC
Interesting characters, but there was just too much going on. And then there was the...

Worst Decision By a Network:
TIE: NBC for The Event and ABC for V
While the decision in both cases was actually made in 2010, we're going to slam both NBC and ABC (which should have known better after FlashForward) for ruining any momentum either show had by taking them off the air for several months.

Most satisfying series finale:
Smallville, The CW
Oh, Clark, we'll miss you, buddy!

Hottest Character:
Sexy Moira from American Horror Story, FX
She was two memorable characters wrapped up on a maid's uniform. But the guys aren't likely to forget those garters anytime soon.

Most Inconsistent Series:
Terra Nova, Fox
We love Stephen Lang's Taylor, but those kids! And there was so much that just didn't work. As Ryan McGee from HitFix wrote after the season finale: "Everything appeared to change tonight, but almost nothing did... I'll say this for the last time: that's a shame, because underneath all the dino-trappings are the makings of a smart sci-fi show here. But Terra Nova never wanted to be smart. It's unclear what it ever actually intended to be. As such, something that was designed for everyone ended up working for almost no one."

Best Captain Hook:
Rhys Ifans in Neverland, Syfy

Best cancellation:
The Cape, NBC
Except for Summer Glau's Orwell and the hero's magical cape, there wasn't much to love in this superhero series. As TV Guide's Matt Roush wrote: "It's devoid of new ideas. This isn't a catastrophe, mind you. It's not Knight Rider-Bionic Woman awful. It's merely forgettable. Which is just sad."

Character We Were Most Happy Got Eaten By an Alien:
Tyler Evans from V, ABC
And we would have loved to see how his FBI/resistance fighter mom, Erica, would have handled her son's death. If ABC had renewed V. Which it should have.

Character We Wish Would Get Eaten By a Dinosaur:
Josh Shannon from Terra Nova, Fox
Many of the characters were underdeveloped and forgettable. Josh was just annoying.

Best Dinosaurs:
Primeval, BBC America
Forget Terra Nova, which is easier to do than it should be. Primeval managed a couple of terrific mini-seasons and plenty of awesome creatures from the past and the future. And on an ITV budget! Too bad it's unlikely to get another season.

Best Snarky Character:
Faye from The Secret Circle, The CW
Love her!

Guiltiest Pleasure:
True Blood, HBO
Sex, blood and supernatural goodness.

Freakiest Show Since Twin Peaks:
American Horror Story, FX

Best Character From a Freaky Series:
Jessica Lange's Constance from American Horror Story, AMC
Talk about the neighbor from hell! This cigarette-smoking, murderous neighbor of the Harmons ended up being one of the most fascinating characters on TV this fall. From giving Vivien brains to eat to further her pregnancy to Constance's devastation at the death of her Mongoloid daughter to convincing others to kill for her whenever it suited her, this mother of a character is one we won't soon forget.

Worst Killing Off of a Main Character:
Castiel from Supernatural, The CW
Castiel went off to a watery death, we think, and vanished. After the buildup of last season and the great opening that set up the former angel as God, what a letdown to have him vanish in favor of the only-OK Leviathans. Yes, he's coming back for a visit, but what a waste of what could have been a great showdown between the Brothers Winchester and their former angelic friend.

Best Superhero Show:
Alphas, Syfy

Worst Superhero Show:
No Ordinary Family, ABC

Hottest Moment:
Sookie and Eric finally did the deed on True Blood, HBO
Smokin' hot!

Best Hero:
Rick from The Walking Dead, AMC
Is there any other hero you'd rather have your back if there was a zombie apocalypse?

Best Vampire on TV:
Damon from The Vampire Diaries
Sure, Eric from True Blood is a close runner-up, but our heart belongs to Damon. At least until he rips it out.

Best Character From a Canceled Show:
Laura Innes' Sophia from The Event, NBC

Show We're Most Grateful Still Is On The Air:
Doctor Who, BBC America
Matt Smith is a delight as the latest Doctor Who, and we love his companions, too, Amy and Rory.

Most Shocking Death:
Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, HBO

Most Shocking Death #2:
Sheriff Graham from Once Upon a Time
While the preview all but gave away this twist, it was still a great moment that has huge repercussions for the show.

Most Shocking Death #3:
Violet Harmon from American Horror Story

Cast of Characters We'd Most Like to Know For Real:
The gang at Warehouse 13, Syfy
Assuming we weren't being attacked by an artifact, that is.

Bloodiest Series Finale:
The most inconsistent TV show on the air (at least until Terra Nova took over that title this fall) finally got its act together and killed off the characters who didn't work and some who did. Tyler got eaten during sex with his fake girlfriend, Morris Chestnut's Ryan bought it via his hybrid daughter snapping his neck with her tail, and more tail action took out Anna's mother, Diana, when she attempted to lead their people to a more enlightened path. It was a fantastic finale that finally embraced the show's potential.

Most Bizarro Happy Ending:
American Horror Story, FX
The Harmons, all dead now, having dealt with all their issues, happily look at a Christmas tree while the vengeful ghosts look on.

Biggest Dirtbag:
Shane from The Walking Dead
He sacrificed Otis so he could distract the zombies and escape, and we don't really think it was to save young Carl.

Best Actor in Dual (and Occasionally Multiple) Roles:
Nearly everyone in Fringe, Fox
Dual universes, dual timelines, multiple Olivias and Walters and Lincolns and ... oh, the list goes on. And we don't ever think we'll forget Olivia as Leonard Nimoy's William Bell.

Most Addictive TV Show:
The Vampire Diaries, The CW

Best Reality Show:
Hollywood Treasure, Syfy
For sure, Joe Maddalena needs to shave his endless stubble. But who knew sci-fi and fantasy TV and movie stuff was worth so much money?

Best Head Shot:
Tara in True Blood, HBO

Worst Waste of an Actor:
Summer Glau in The Cape
Summer Glau's Orwell was easily the best thing about this terrible series. Let's hope she finds a worthy role soon.

Best Title for a Syfy Movie:
Snowmaggedon, Syfy

Silliest Concept for a Syfy Movie:
Snowmaggedon, Syfy
A mysterious snow globe arrives in an isolated town and when it's shaken, so is the town. OK ...

Best New Supernatural Teen Series:
Teen Wolf, MTV
While we're not crazy about the makeup of the werewolves, this series rivaled The Vampire Diaries when it came to addictiveness. Teen Wolf surpassed its silly title and put together a terrific first season.

Most Welcome Absence of a Character:
Kate from Sanctuary
There wasn't anything really wrong with Agam Darshi's Kate, but she just wasn't Ashley.

Worst Twist:
Tara's a lesbian on True Blood, HBO

Space Series We'll Miss The Most:
Stargate Universe, Syfy
The complex characters, including the ever-fascinating Dr. Rush, made for great TV.

Eccentric Series We'll Miss The Most:
Eureka, Syfy
We'll miss this charming little series and its town full of oddball characters.

Worst Cancellation:
See "Worst Decision By A Network Ever" above.

Canceled Series We're Most Sentimental About:
Chuck, NBC
Like Eureka, Chuck isn't done yet. But it will be soon, and we'll miss a world without our favorite geeky spy.

Most Unlikely Success:
Once Upon a Time, ABC
We have to admit we thought this idea was silly and bound to crash and burn. But apparently ABC knew better, and we're thrilled with the Lost-type storytelling. According to Alex Strachan of Postmedia News: "The year's most pleasant surprise, at least in my home. A costume drama about a cast of fairy-tale characters trapped in the real world didn't sound like my idea of happily ever after. My Sunday-night tastes run more to Dexter and Damages. I was won over, though, by its emotional charm, its elegance, the exquisite cast and the almost seamless way it wove its web of tales. You may not care for it. I do! I don't know if there are any happy endings in store for Once Upon a Time. I just hope it ends well."

Favorite Mad Scientist:
Walter Bishop from Fringe, Fox
As if there was any question on this one.

Best Setup for a Midseason Finale:
Sophia walking out of the barn as a zombie in The Walking Dead, AMC
The gang looked for her all season long, and she was right there under their noses. Unfortunately, she was a zombie.

Show Most Deserving Of Only One Season:
Camelot, Starz

Worst Luck With Men:
Sookie from True Blood, HBO

Show That Most Needs to Improve:
Terra Nova, Fox

Coolest Sidekick:
Monroe from Grimm
Not every character could pull off doing Pilates and being the Big Bad Wolf.

Best Animated Series:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Cartoon Network

Show We Feel Guilty We Never Could Get Into:
Caprica, Syfy

Actor We're Most Glad Is Back On The Air:
Michael Emerson on Person Of Interest, CBS

Funniest Animated Series:
Archer, FX
Archer continues to tickle our funny bone. According to EW's Ken Tucker: "I admire the dry tone, the long pauses that serve as the animation version of double-takes, and the sheer commitment to absurdity, grounded in lust and greed, that make this cartoon so much fun."

Best Bad Guy:
Pope from Falling Skies
He's a smart, vicious alien killer who doesn't really like the human race very much. And he makes great bread.

Best Guest Stars:
Chuck, NBC
With several episodes yet to go, it's too early to take a look at how Chuck's going to end. But there's no denying that throughout its run Chuck has had the best guest stars of any series ever. This season alone, so far, we've had Mark Hamill, Craig Kilborn, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jeff Fahey, Rebecca Romijn, Brandon Routh and Stan Lee. And finding out Stan Lee was a spy in the Chuck-verse? Priceless.

Funniest Character:
Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, CBS

Biggest Disappointment:
Torchwood: Miracle Day, Starz
Any excuse to get Captain Jack and Gwen back is a good one. Except the previous season, Children of Earth was so powerful, that Miracle Day came off as weak in comparison. Here's what HitFix's Alan Sepinwall wrote: "The season was too far gone for the finale to do much in the way of redeeming it, but we at least could have gone out on an interesting note. Instead, there were lots of explosions, lots of yelling, and very little that held my attention or made me feel anything in the way that, say, some of the sacrifices in Children of Earth did."

Animated Series We'll Miss The Most:
Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Cartoon Network

Show That Scored The Most Best and Worst Lists Around The Web:
American Horror Story, FX
It's hard to deny a case for either list.