The 24 Best Sci-Fi Shows to Binge on Netflix
The 100 started off as yet another generic dystopian teen soap with a far-too-attractive cast, but within five episodes had become something much darker and much more interesting. Now, it's less known for its shippers (although they're definitely a thing) than its gritty violence, complex themes, and controversial deaths. Take our word for it: it's the feminist version of Game of Thrones.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also overcame a rocky start, and eventually found its footing as an endlessly entertaining and well-acted Marvel show, which supplements the films without being hampered by them. And now, with Ghost Rider coming next season, there's even more reason to be excited for Marvel's sole network show to return.
Arrow has gone downhill in the last few seasons, but the first two seasons are a shining example of entertaining, well-written superhero television. So maybe just pause your binge-watch after the second season finale and see if something better comes along.
Better Off Ted
Better Off Ted was a criminally underrated black comedy, but it was also completely overlooked as sci-fi. This irreverent little corporate satire (which sadly only lasted for two seasons) explored futuristic tropes like cryogenic freezing, lab-grown animal meat, and killer robots, which places it squarely in the realm of sci-fi, but was also just a hilarious show.
Black Mirror has become the new—and even darker—Twilight Zone, exploring the insidious and uncomfortable ways that technology has encroached on every aspect of our lives. Add notable guest stars like Jon Hamm, Hayley Atwell, Domhnall Gleeson, and more, and you have a show that you should definitely catch up on before the highly anticipated third series.
Chuck was a weird blend of comedy, action, sci-fi, and—silliness, and it was all the better for it. It had its share of flaws, but it was always entertaining and sweet, and unlike any other sci-fi show you've ever seen.
By far Joss Whedon's most underrated show, Dollhouse was an intelligently written and innovative sci-fi series that's worth a second (or third, or fourth) look. The show really finds its footing when it becomes more of an ensemble, but it's a compelling exploration of free will and ethics from the very beginning.
If The Dark Knight demonstrated that superhero movies could be prestigious, Daredevil showed everyone that dark, gritty superhero TV shows were a force to be reckoned with. Between the standout performances from the cast, particularly from memorable antagonists Vincent D'Onofrio and Jon Bernthal, and the flawless fight choreography, Daredevil has already made its mark as groundbreaking television.
Years before Guardians of the Galaxy came on the scene, Farscape showed a group of misfits and petty criminals getting into funny and poignant scrapes in space. It's one of the classics, and a rite of passage for any true sci-fi fan.
The classic cancelled-too-soon show, Firefly has become a cult phenomenon after only one 13-episode season and a movie. It still stings a little that we'll probably never see the crew of the Serenity again, but on the bright side, its brevity makes it the perfect binge-watch.
Get ready for Flashpoint by catching up on the amazing, hilarious, and heartwarming first seasons of the best superhero show on network TV. And with the constant twists and turns, if there's one show you should probably catch up on before you get spoiled (aside from Walking Dead and GOT), this is it.
Fringe floundered a little at the beginning, but once parallel universes came into the mix, it became one of the best sci-fi shows around. And although Lost is more popular and iconic, Fringe was J.J. Abrams sci-fi at its best.
This weird and wonderful cartoon is one of the most critically acclaimed sci-fi shows around, hilariously portraying a parodied future and effectively comparing it to the present. It may not be the first show you think of when you're looking for sci-fi, but it's certainly worth a binge-watch.
We all know the deal with Heroes. The first season is amazing, the rest of it is terrible. Even the biggest purist will want to quit in the second season. But luckily, the first season finale doubles quite nicely as a series finale, so our advice is to just quit while it's ahead.
iZombie may technically be a zombie show, but rather than emulating the dour aesthetics of The Walking Dead or World War Z, it's the proper successor to female-led, snarky genre shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars. This under-appreciated show is definitely worth a watch.
Jessica Jones is not only one of the best Marvel or sci-fi offerings out there right now, but one of the best shows on television (it garnered the only A+ grade on our 2015-2016 television report card). Daredevil was groundbreaking, but I would argue that Jessica Jones is even better, with sharp writing, pitch-perfect characterizations, and a terrifying performance from David Tennant as Kilgrave. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until at least 2018 to get another season, but we can just watch season one over and over until then.
For all of its flaws (particularly the famously terrible series finale), Lost was a trailblazer in sci-fi television, breaking into the mainstream like no other sci-fi mystery show had. And although the mythology doesn't quite hold up in the end, it has one of the most coherent portrayals of time travel of all time, and is worth watching for the characterizations alone.
Quantum Leap also boasts a controversial ending, but there's no denying that it's a classic, and Sam Beckett's timey wimey adventures hold up decades later. With its mixture of humor, hard sci-fi, and social commentary, it has become one of the most celebrated cult shows of all time.
Star Trek: The Original Series
For variety's sake, we limited ourselves to only one Star Trek series, although almost any of them could have made this list (TNG, Enterprise, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, etc). But TOS was the original and the classic, and as seen with the publicity surrounding Star Trek Beyond, all the subsequent installments have been trying to recapture the optimism, sense of adventure, and innovation of the original series.
Star Wars: Clone Wars
If you were wondering why everyone got so upset at the end of Star Wars Rebels Season 2, you should watch Star Wars: Clone Wars. If you're a fan of beautiful animation, great characters, and intense sci-fi action, you should watch Star Wars: Clone Wars. If you're in any way interested in Star Wars, you really should watch Star Wars: Clone Wars. There's six whole seasons to binge on Netflix, but by the time you're done, you'll realize the show could have gone on for far longer than it did.
Stranger Things is the ultimate binge at a lean eight episodes, and after only a few weeks of streaming, is already becoming a modern sci-fi favorite. With 80s references galore, plenty of Spielberg and King homages, and a mystery that gets more complex each episode, this is the new show everyone should be watching this summer.
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone was arguably the original nerdy show, and has influenced all of sci-fi that comes after it. We have Twilight Zone to thank for X-Files, Black Mirror, and so much more, and the show itself is just as good as you remember it.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead started sliding downhill in the fourth season, culminating in that ridiculous cliffhanger at the end of season six. But the first three-and-a-half seasons were the perfect blend of zombie action, gore, and great drama, so do yourself a favor and stop watching once the Governor's era has passed.
With its convoluted mythology, self-referencing humor, and perfectly cast leads, The X-Files became a cult classic and one of the best science fiction shows of all time. The revival couldn't quite recapture the magic of the original series, but that's a pretty tall order, and all the more reason to just binge the first nine seasons on Netflix (or really just the first seven, let's be honest).