HBO Max: The best sci-fi TV shows to watch
You may have heard of Warner Bros. Discovery dropping shows from HBO Max – and you’d be right to worry. The greatest victim is Westworld, arguably one of HBO’s most recognizable series. Before it disappears from HBO Max, it’s worth catching up on all four seasons, even if the show died down later.
Other, HBO Max offers a wide range of sci-fi series, including originals, older titles, and great international offerings. What sets HBO Originals apart is a seal of quality marked “prestige TV.” station eleven is the typical example of a prestigious salon. With long episodes, high production values, and an excellent Metacritic score (81), the unconventional post-apocalyptic series is the epitome and pinnacle of HBO Max’s sci-fi offerings.
For more excellent and noteworthy sci-fi series on HBO Max, scroll down.
This spin-off series from Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who centered on Captain Jack Harkness and his team of alien hunters. While it may not have fully achieved its goal of becoming the “adult” Doctor Who, it has found its footing with its shorter story arcs. Season 3, known as Children of Earth, notably produced a truly gripping sci-fi drama. If anything, watch these five episodes.
Photograph by Coco Van Oppens
Raised by Wolves (2020-22)
Raised by Wolves will satisfy those who want to spend a plot of time (nearly 10 hours, not counting the second season) in a world brought to the screen with the help of Ridley Scott. Two androids, Mother and Father, attempt to establish an atheist human colony on a new planet, after a war with a religious order destroys Earth. But they soon discover that controlling the beliefs of humans is a tricky business. Directing the first two episodes, in addition to pulling the strings as executive producer, Scott sets up a provocative exploration of AI and religious beliefs. There’s blood, great performance and a powerful lead in Amanda Collin’s mother. (Unfortunately, despite a stellar second season, the series was canceled.)
Despite being 90% a superhero show, Peacemaker features visitors from another planet, so it lands on this list. The Suicide Squad spin-off series centers on the titular peace, an outrageous John Cena who explores where his catchphrase – “I cherish peace with all my heart. I don’t care how many men, women and children that I kill to get it” — comes from. Swearing, gory, and bouncing to a rock soundtrack, the James Gunn-penned series is a turbulent time with a surprising heart.
The Leftovers (2014-2017)
Maybe it’s considered more supernatural than science fiction, and it’s certainly far from hard science fiction, but come on. It’s Leftovers. It’s Damon Lindelof, the genius who turned Watchmen into an acclaimed television show. The Leftovers follows what happens after the inexplicable disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. Amid the emergence of a number of cults, all three seasons focus on two families, the Garveys and the Murphys, and how the “Sudden Departure” event turns their lives upside down.
Photography by Macall Polay
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2022)
It may have been canceled after one season, but it was one hell of a (weird) season. The Time Traveler’s Wife revolves around an absurd concept: a man (Theo James) spontaneously jumps back and forth in time – without taking his clothes with him. In other words, he finds himself naked in front of oncoming trains, in the middle of the street and in forests where he meets his future wife (Rose Leslie). Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s popular novel, which spawned a 2009 movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife will satisfy fans of the book and entertain those who are able to look past the slight ick factor. Doctor Who fans note that Steven Moffat writes the series, bringing his wit and time-traveling complexity.
Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET
At this point, new fans might be hard to find when it comes to this long-running British show. But if you’re interested in diving into wildly inventive, genre-bending, barnstorming adventure, try Jodie Whittaker’s latest episodes. Whittaker takes the place of the Doctor, an alien adventurer who travels through time and space with a kind heart and an offbeat sense of humor. Serious fun.
Screenshot Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET
Five seasons of this sci-fi procedural await you. Immerse yourself in parallel universes and alternate timelines with the Fringe Division, a team of agents tasked with investigating unexplained phenomena. After a lackluster first season, Fringe found its way, delivering inventive ideas and a stirring emotional core.
Photograph courtesy of HBO
His Dark Matters (2019-2022)
This television adaptation of His Dark Materials is the second attempt to bring Philip Pullman’s classic fantasy novels to the screen. (The 2007 flop The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, was grounded in a slow, shallow storyline.) Set in a world where people’s souls manifest as pets, the source material isn’t exactly simple. Launch into parallel universes, talking polar bears and a wildly imaginative story about growing up, and you’re on an exciting philosophical adventure. Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Dafne Keen bolster this smoother, more mature attempt. Season 3 premieres on HBO Max on December 5.
HBO Max/YouTube screenshot
This action-adventure out of Spain is fun and fun. The titular Garcia (Francisco Ortiz) is a classic endearing action hero with the twist that he was reanimated from cryogenically frozen sleep. Hailing from the 60s, Garcia must navigate modern-day Madrid – where oat lattes are also a thing – amidst all the spy antics.
Alice in Wonderland meets a lot of robots. The truly mind-bending sci-fi western might be spinning in complex circles by Season 3, but its exhilarating first season kicked down the barn door. Set in a violent and sinister amusement park, where wealthy guests can shoot, kill and rape the android hosts in various ways, the focus is on Dolores, a host who begins to become sentient. No, she’s not happy with the way she was treated. Addictive and challenging, Westworld asks you to figure out the pieces of its puzzle. Unfortunately, while Season 4 could have been a return to form, it was also announced to be the series’ last.
Screenshot Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET
Person of Interest (2011-2016)
This sci-fi crime drama, created by Jonathan Nolan, has earned a place among the best sci-fi TV shows of all time. The series centers around some of the Precog-esque technology used by the government to predict terrorist attacks. The machine can also warn of smaller, but still deadly crimes, and a splinter team of undercover investigators set out to help related persons of interest. Dealing with delicate issues such as the concept of “the greater good”, Person of Interest is a fascinating, spectacular and comprehensive espionage procedure.
Photograph by John P. Johnson/HBO Max
What would you do if your husband installed a chip in your brain to monitor your every move? Hazel Green (Cristin Milotti) faces this dilemma and quickly goes on the run with the not entirely helpful help of her father (Ray Romano). Traverse tricky territory in this satirical relationship drama with a Black Mirror side and a helpful dolphin. Yes, Made for Love is as full of surprises as it is ultimately disturbing.
Warner Bros Television.
An influential legacy show, Babylon 5 may have dated edges to the present day, but it would be blasphemy to ignore it on this list. The basic premise sees a group of humans and alien species working together on the Babylon 5 space station as Earth carves out a place for itself in the galactic community. Political intrigue, character studies, and the threat of war ensue.
Falling Skies (2011-2015)
Starring executive producer Steven Spielberg, this post-apocalyptic sci-fi brings family drama to alien invasions. Falling Skies centers on a group of survivors who plan to defend themselves after a global invasion by aliens. Five seasons introduce multiple alien races, space travel, and a satisfying final showdown.
If you were blown away by Russell T. Davies’ It’s a Sin, Years and Years is a must. The ambitious sci-fi series spans 15 years, skipping forward each episode to capture the ups and downs of the eclectic Lyons family. From technological developments to jaw-dropping life upheavals, Lyonnais navigate the ringtone without ever giving up a heartwarming sense of humor.
Photograph by Ian Watson/HBO Max
Believe everything you hear about Station Eleven. One of the best shows of 2021, the meditative dystopian thriller (that last descriptor can only apply to certain episodes) is prestige television that takes you on a journey to surprising, moving, and unique destinations. After two timelines, the main focus is on the brilliant heroine Kirsten (Mackenzie Davis), a woman who survived a world-destroying pandemic and now roams the remains with a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony. Created by Patrick Somerville, whose writing work on The Leftovers can be felt here, Station Eleven takes an optimistic look at the end of the world.
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