The 19 best sci-fi shows of all time, according to fans

by insider@insider.com (AbMonteil) | INSIDER

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson costar on “The X-Files.”

Fox Broadcasting Company

Sometimes, it’s nice to escape the day-to-day and get immersed in the futuristic worlds of science fiction. But what TV shows do sci-fi fans consider to be the greatest in the genre?

To compile this list, Insider scoured a few different Reddit threads, including “In your opinion, what are the greatest Sci Fi TV shows ever?,” “What is your top 5 best sci fi shows?,” and “Sci-fi TV series recommendations?.” If the same show kept popping up again and again in the comments, we included it on this list.

The results included several different titles, such as “The Expanse” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

Here are the 19 best sci-fi TV shows of all time, according to fans.

Insider has many movie and TV show lists to keep you occupied. You can read them all here.

“Babylon 5” is a space opera following the personal and politica drama that unfolds on a space station.

"Babylon 5" aired for five seasons.
“Babylon 5” aired for five seasons.

TNT

Where to watch: Available to buy on Amazon Prime VideoGoogle PlayiTunesVudu, or YouTube

Synopsis: Unfolding over a span of five years, “Babylon 5” tracks the personal and political drama that occurs between residents of the show’s titular 23rd century space station. All the while, a war looms between two rival alien races: the Centauri and the Narn.

On the cult classic “Battlestar Galactica,” what’s left of humankind fight for survival and look for Earth.

"Battlestar Galactica" ran for four seasons.
“Battlestar Galactica” ran for four seasons.

NBC Universal

Where to watch: Available on SyFy

Synopsis: “Battlestar Galactica” follows what’s left of mankind, as they contend with murderous robots called Cylons, and attempt to return to Earth.

The show is based on the ’70s sci-fi series of the same name.

“Black Mirror” tackles how people’s lives are affected by constantly evolving technology.

Letitia Wright stars on an episode of "Black Mirror."
Letitia Wright stars on an episode of “Black Mirror.”

Zeppotron

Where to watch: Available on Netflix

Synopsis: Each episode of Netflix’s popular sci-fi anthology series takes inspiration from recognizable techno-social phenomenons (like social-media influencers, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence), using them to tell futuristic, twisted stories about humans’ constantly changing, often questionable relationships with technology.

“Cowboy Bebop” is an anime classic about a crew of bounty hunters.

"Cowboy Bebop" aired for one season.
“Cowboy Bebop” aired for one season.

Bandai

Where to watch: Available on Hulu

Synopsis: Each episode of “Cowboy Bebop” details the futuristic misadventures of a crew of happy-go-lucky bounty hunters, who are known as “Cowboys.” They travel around the universe, catching criminals to earn rewards.

“Dark” takes place in a small German town, where two children’s disappearances reveal a supernatural secret.

"Dark" is a German Netflix original series.
“Dark” is a German Netflix original series.

Julia Terjung/Netflix

Where to watch: Available on Netflix

Synopsis: In a small German town, two children disappear. As the local residents search for them, the town’s supernatural elements and troubled, time-bending history are revealed through the stories of four interconnected families.

We strongly recommend you watch it with the original audio and subtitles (not the dubbed version Netflix defaults to).

“The Expanse” takes place far into the future, after humans have colonized the larger universe.

"The Expanse" began as a SyFy show, but now airs on Amazon Prime.
“The Expanse” began as a SyFy show, but now airs on Amazon Prime.

Syfy

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: In the futuristic universe of “The Expanse,” human beings have colonized the solar system, and Mars has grown into an independent military power. As Earth and Mars prepare for an impending war, a detective searches for a missing woman and uncovers a vast conspiracy.

“Farscape” sees an American astronaut team up with a band of intergalactic rebels.

"Farscape" aired for four seasons in the early 2000s.
“Farscape” aired for four seasons in the early 2000s.

SyFy

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: On this Australian-American series, astronaut John Crichton becomes stranded across the universe when an experimental mission goes awry. He soon teams up with a band of rebels caught in an interplanetary war, while plotting a course back to Earth in the meantime.

“Firefly” is a short-lived but beloved sci-fi western from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon.

Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and Gina Torres costar on "Firefly."
Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and Gina Torres costar on “Firefly.”

Fox

Where to watch: Available on Hulu

Synopsis: “Firefly” is set 500 years in the future and follows the small renegade crew of a transport spaceship, as they are pursued by authorities and complete jobs in dangeorus, unexplored parts of the galaxy — where flesh-eating humans called Reavers also await.

On “Fringe,” an FBI agent is assigned to a division that investigates unusual crimes, and discovers a parallel universe.

Anna Torv leads the ensemble cast of "Fringe."
Anna Torv leads the ensemble cast of “Fringe.”

Fox Broadcating Company

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: On “Fringe,” FBI agent Olivia Dunham joins the Fringe Division, which investigates strange crimes often related to science. Through their work, the team discovers a parallel universe with distinct, threatening connections to their own.

The long-running animated sitcom “Futarama” revolves around a pizza delivery boy who is accidentally transported far into the future.

"Futarama" aired for 10 seasons.
“Futarama” aired for 10 seasons.

SyFy

Where to watch: Available on Hulu

Synopsis: “Futurama” protagonist Fry is an ordinary pizza delivery boy who suddenly finds himself in the 31st century. He’s soon taken in and taught to adjust to his new life by his only descendant, a wacky, elderly scientist.

On “Orphan Black,” Tatiana Maslany plays several women who discover that they’re clones.

Tatiana Maslany plays multiple roles on "Orphan Black."
Tatiana Maslany plays multiple roles on “Orphan Black.”

BBC AMERICA

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: As “Orphan Black” opens, troubled drifter Sarah Manning witnesses a woman who looks just like her commit suicide, and attempts to take over her seemingly enviable life. But Sarah soon discovers that she is a clone, and is forced to team up with others like her to get answers from the mysterious figures seeking to control them.

“Killjoys” centers on three intergalactic bounty hunters.

Aaron Ashmore, Hannah John-Kamen, and Luke Macfarlane star in "Killjoys."
Aaron Ashmore, Hannah John-Kamen, and Luke Macfarlane star in “Killjoys.”

Syfy

Where to watch: Available on SyFy

Synopsis: “Killjoys” follows a carefree trio of bounty hunters, who attempt to complete missions and remain impartial as an interplanetary class war looms within their galaxy.

The original “Star Trek” series follows the crew of the spaceship USS Enterprise, as they complete missions across the universe.

The original "Star Trek" ran from 1966 to 1969.
The original “Star Trek” ran from 1966 to 1969.

Where to watch: Available on Netflix

Synopsis: The original “Star Trek” series is set in the 23rd century and follows the crew of the spaceship USS Enterprise as they complete missions across the galaxy.

The show went on to spark a massively successful sci-fi franchise of the same name, which is still popular today. Later versions of the series (such as “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Voyager”) are also available on Netflix.

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” introduced the “Star Trek” franchise to a new generation.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" aired from 1987 to 1994.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” aired from 1987 to 1994.

CBS

Where to watch: Available on Netflix

Synopsis: Like the original series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (which is set almost 100 years after the first show’s conclusion) follows a crew of humans and aliens aboard the spaceship USS Enterprise, as they explore the far reaches of space.

Sir Patrick Stewart leads the show, reprising his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

The explorers at the heart of “Stargate SG-1” use an ancient portal to travel to new planets.

"Stargate SG-1" is based on the 1994 film "Stargate."
“Stargate SG-1” is based on the 1994 film “Stargate.”

Double Secret Productions

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Synopsis: Based on the 1994 film “Stargate,” this series unfolds as a team of explorers travel through Stargate, an ancient portal connecting them to other planets. In doing so, they explore new worlds and civilations in an attempt to protect Earth from threatening interplanetary forces.

“Stargate: Atlantis” is a spinoff of “Stargate SG-1,” and centers on a team who enter a distant galaxy to find the titular lost city.

"Stargate Atlantis" aired from 2004 to 2009.
“Stargate Atlantis” aired from 2004 to 2009.

YouTube/SciFi

Where to watch: Available on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Synopsis: On this spinoff of “Stargate SG-1,” a team of explorers travels to the distant galaxy where the legendary city of Atlantis has been rediscovered.

In doing so, they accidentally awake a lethal, vampiric alien species known as the Wraith.

“The Twilight Zone” is a quintessential American anthology series that blends horror and sci-fi.

Rod Serling created "The Twilight Zone."
Rod Serling created “The Twilight Zone.”

CBS

Where to watch: Available on Netflix

Synopsis: Hosted by creator Rod Serling, each episode of  “The Twilight Zone” tells a spooky supernatural tale that tends to carry an underlying social or moral lesson.

Although there are over 150 stand-alone episodes to choose from, “And When the Sky Was Opened” and “The Hitch-Hiker,” are often said to be the show’s scariest offerings.

On “The X-Files,” a skeptic and a believer work to solve unexplained, often paranormal FBI cases.

"The X-Files" ran for 11 seasons.
“The X-Files” ran for 11 seasons.

Fox Broadcasting Company

Where to watch: Available on Hulu

Synopsis: “The X-Files” follows two FBI partners — Dana Scully, a medical doctor who rejects the idea of supernatural activity in favor of scientific explanations, and Fox Mulder, who fervently believes in the existence of alien life.

The two work on the titular “X-Files,” a series of cases related to unexplained, seemingly paranormal events that have occurred across the United States.

“Westworld” was inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, and takes place in a futuristic theme park populated by robotic “hosts.”

Thandie Newton plays Maeve on "Westworld."
Thandie Newton plays Maeve on “Westworld.”

HBO

Where to watch: HBO NOW

Synopsis:  Very loosely based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, “Westworld” takes place in a not-so-distant future where lifelike robots (called “hosts”) populate a theme park that humans visit to fulfill their wildest fantasies.

But the hosts inevitably begin to malfunction, as they question the nature of their reality and what it would mean to be free.

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