11 of the Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time, Ranked

We love science fiction for its expansive plots and limitless universes. The genre charismatically uses the backdrop of space or advanced technology to explore big ideas, such as the value of life and what it means to be human. What better place to explore the genre’s infinite possibilities and difficult themes than in a long TV series?

shows like Eureka and lost are famous for providing thought-provoking character development along with sophisticated storylines. Science fiction TV shows range from the ridiculous and funny to the serious and scary. Whether you are looking for a show to make you laugh or want to stretch your brain, here are 11 of the best science fiction shows of all time to satisfy your craving.

eleven The Jetsons


The Jetsons Family going for a trip in their flying car
Word Vision Enterprises / Screen Gems

Yes, it’s a cheesy cartoon from the ’60s, but there is still something heartwarming and fun about this classic cartoon that makes it a joy to watch. The Jetsons is not for the serious hard science-fiction fan, but can act as a gateway for kids and families looking to enjoy more of the genre together. The sitcom follows the daily life of a family living in 2062, 100 years after the show aired, and captures the optimistic feeling of scientific possibility that was so present in the ’60s and in a lot of sci-fi before starwars.

The science obviously does not accurately depict what we expect to see in the next decades, but the ridiculous ease of technology makes for a lot of jokes that have influenced science fiction; for example, George Jetson works a 9-5 job where all he does is push a button to turn on the machines. we love The Jetsons for its innocent sense of humor and old Hanna-Barbera style animation.

10 timeless


Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus board a time machine in Timeless
National Broadcasting Service

This show only has a small cult following, and did not bring in great big numbers of viewers when it aired, but we still love timeless for its humor, creative premise, and relatable characters. It allows viewers to completely step into American History in a way no other time travel show does. In timeless, a historian, scientist, and solider team up to stop a time-traveling terrorist. The terrorist seems to be intentionally changing the timeline to destroy reality as we know it.


9 Star Wars: Clone Wars


Star Wars: Clone Wars cast with guns and lightsabers
Lucasfilm/Disney

This cartoon is a little more serious than The Jetsons. With intense lightsaber duels, intricate stories about political intrigue, and timeless characters, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is sure to interest children and adults alike. Under the careful direction of George Lucas himself, Clone Wars its place into starwars Canyon.

Related: Star Wars: Why Jedi Should Utilize The Force More in Combat

Its episodic story structure allows the show to explore both familiar and new characters all over the galaxy far, far away. A lot of the newest TV shows and movies within the starwars universe are still drawing from this show for ideas and material, and is arguably the best of every starwars TV series so far.

8 Firefly


Nathan Fillion and the Firefly cast
20thTelevision

In the space western FireflyNathan Fillion stars as a captain on the titular ship in Joss Whedon’s colorful universe. He and some members of his crew fought on the losing side of the war, and now try to stay off the government’s radar. They mainly take jobs stealing and smuggling materials. Firefly is a cult classic for its attention to detail, creepy villains, and surprising heroes; its hilarious ensemble of characters and the chemistry among the actors who play them is delightful. Ultimately, Firefly really highlights the strength of the everyday hero.

Unfortunately, Firefly did not receive a lot of positive reviews and remained one of the most underrated TV shows until home media and streaming created a massive fan base. Joss Whedon did receive funding to finish out the story in the follow-up movie, serenity. An expected reboot from Disney+ will create a new story, without the involvement of Whedon, who has been accused of workplace harassment.

7 stranger things


The young cast of Stranger Things outside a movie theater
Netflix

stranger things became one of the most popular streaming shows around because of the writers’ abilities to combine multiple genres. The show has something for everyone with its science fiction, coming of age, and horror elements. It draws on just enough ’80s references to bring in nostalgia while keeping the magic of modern special effects. Set during the Cold War, stranger things tells the story of members of a small town trying to unravel the mystery of a missing boy. As they investigate, they discover sinister secrets and operations and come of age, paying tribute to ’80s horror along the way.


6 Battlestar Galactica


McDonnell-Battlestar-Galactica-2004-NBC
NBC

The 1978 version is classic, but it is fun to watch a timeless premise re-imagined with more modern technology and storytelling. Battlestar Galactica the story of the only surviving military ship in deep space after the attack from advanced robots called Cylons, which have been developing the ability to appear remarkably human. As the crew struggles with drama on board and the waging war outside, they fight a battle on two fronts. Few shows tackle the ‘man versus machine’ conflict as perfectly as Battlestar Galactica, which also creates fascinating allegories for the war on terror and politics from the 21st century. Its complicated intellectual themes with a dark and steamy plot make this show enjoyable for the hardcore science fiction fan.

5 Stargate SG1


The Main Cast from Stargate SG-1
MGM TV

Stargate SG-1 it became so successful that it paved the way for six other spin-off tv series and movies (not including the non-canon French animated series). It is loved for its expansive universe tied to realistic elements of our world. The stargate is an ancient Egyptian artifact that turns out to open wormholes to other stargates throughout the universe. The military team protecting and operating the stargate face threats both from their own government and from aliens across the universe. The show is filled with great action sequences and is just downright fun, with its greatest element being the winning humor and chemistry between characters.


4 Babylon 5


The Main Cast of Babylon 5
Warner Bros.

Babylon 5 is beloved for its expansive universe, vast and diverse array of characters, and its interconnected plot. The first season runs like many other science fiction episodic shows in order to establish the in-depth characters, but the second season picks up with an intricate story arc that brilliantly develops throughout. Babylon 5 may have ended a season too soon, but it still acts as an iconic story within the science fiction genre.

Related: Explained: Dune & Why We’re Enthralled by Science Fiction

In this series, Babylon 5 is a space station that acts as the universe’s hub for diplomacy and interplanetary relations. The show follows the crew of the space station as they work with aliens and humans alike to bring peace, though there is political intrigue and a great threat brewing. The show is incredibly meticulous in its writing, inserting small details in some episodes that have massive payoff down the line, expertly plotting its trajectory.


3 The Mandalorian


Mandalorian Star Wars
Via: Lucasfilm

starwars has one of the oldest fan bases in science fiction, and it’s no wonder that more than one of their TV shows made it on this list. The Mandalorian takes place after the collapse of the Empire, as the galaxy struggles to maintain order. The Mandalorian works as a bounty hunter, but when The Empire asks him to find and capture Grogu (Baby Yoda, who blew up the internet), the Mandalorain is forced to deliberate between his religious code and personal ethics. We love this show for the nostalgia it brings to fans of the original trilogy. The references to old westerns, dry humor, and of course Baby Yoda all add to its excitement as well.

two Doctor Who


The doctors in Doctor Who
BBC

As one of the longest-running series of all time, Doctor Who is a science fiction staple. The series that originally set out to teach children about history, has now become sophisticated entertainment that people of every age can enjoy. Fans of the franchise love Doctor Who for is quirky humor and creativity throughout the plot. The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time causing trouble and preventing catastrophe everywhere he/she goes.

If The Doctor dies in the heat of battle, he/she actually “regenerates” and takes on a new human form (hence why the show has been able to continue for so long). With a built-in premise that could ostensibly go on forever, the show is an epic delight to sci-fi fans of all ages.

one star trek


Captain Kirk and Spock in Star Trek
CBS Paramount Television

star trek has rightfully earned its place as number one on the list; while The Next Generation may be more beloved, the original is more important, credited with forming one of the first fandoms and modernizing sci-fi as we know it. The TV show has inspired countless comic books, satires, movies, and spin-off shows. star trek features an expansive universe full of exciting characters, romance, and action. The friendship between the overly logical Spock, and the incredibly optimistic Captain Kirk (not to mention the kind Bones) makes for not only exciting stratagem and fight sequences but great chemistry which would extend into some wonderful films. Star Trek‘s larger than life heroes overcome challenges big and small, and infuse all of its viewers with hope for humanity’s future.


Paul McGann as Dr Who in front of the TARDIS

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