The Absolute Best Sci-Fi TV Shows on Netflix
The Absolute Best Sci-Fi TV Shows on Netflix
Netflix sits on a wide array of sci-fi series, from stranger things to black mirror to the OA. It also operates excellent international content, including German sci-fi dark — one of the best series on Netflix, period — as well as hidden gems, such as Canadian Sci-Fi Travelers.
Scroll down to find hopefully the best Netflix sci-fi for you, plus some great international deals.
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While Charlie Brooker’s dark tech anthology series can be random, at its best, Black Mirror packs its mini-movies with an exploration of futuristic technological ideas through painfully human stories. One of them is San Junipero, which follows two women in the 80s (cue banging soundtrack) as they fall in love in ways they couldn’t in their “real” lives outside of of the seaside town. The technical aspect is revealed with brilliant timing and, in general, the show explores the consequences of our wired lives in disturbing and sometimes uplifting ways.
Stranger Things (2016—)
It wouldn’t be a better list without Stranger Things. If you somehow missed the Duffer Brothers’ ode to ’80s horror and Steven Spielberg, things are about to get tubular. We follow El, a nearly mute girl who has been the subject of scientific experiments. She develops telekinetic powers, which she uses to fend off monsters invading from a creepy alternate dimension. The world of Indiana Hawkins is lovingly detailed for anyone in need of a nostalgic 80s hit and the misfit characters, played by a stellar young cast, are part of everything that makes this show a feat.
Hilary Swank is the big star at the heart of Away’s space drama. She plays Emma Green, a NASA astronaut and commander of a Mars expedition. Things start badly and Emma’s international team fills her with doubts about her ability to command. With time split between Earthbound drama and dependable entertainment above the stratosphere, Away mostly manages to land a full trip.
Netflix cancellations don’t get any more criminal than The OA’s cancellation. This wildly unique story follows Prairie Johnson, a blind young woman who returns after being missing for years, now with the ability to see. She claims to be the “original angel” and convinces a small group of townspeople to listen to her impossible story, involving kidnappings and grand escapes. The OA is the genre of grounded sci-fi that catches you and its heroes completely off guard when it presents its fantastical concepts. Watch the flawless first two seasons on Netflix and cross your fingers the third is picked up elsewhere.
Full disclosure: Netflix unfortunately canceled Travelers after its third season, but this well-plotted sci-fi out of Canada manages to end with an ambitious bang. We start with Marcy, a disabled woman who is beaten after helping a friend escape thugs. She dies – then comes back to life. This strong, character-driven sci-fi reveals its secrets in clever ways, following agents from the future tasked with preventing the collapse of society, but also navigating the tricky territory of living a double life.
From the creators of The Matrix comes another story that plays with reality. Sense8 follows eight strangers from around the world who discover they are mentally and emotionally connected. Not only do these windows into vastly different lives teach tolerance, but “sensates” can also tap into each other’s skills in the face of a sinister organization hunting them down. If you like the diverse characters of Sense8, you’ll fall head over heels in love with this serious and sultry sci-fi drama.
Modified Carbon (2018-2020)
Altered Carbon is set in a cyberpunk world where human consciousnesses can be transferred into different bodies. This sees investigator and ex-soldier Takeshi Kovacs transported in the body of Joel Kinnaman in season 1 and Anthony Mackie in season 2. Initially, Kovacs’ story involves solving a murder, before he embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his own Lost. love. Altered Carbon can be clunky at times, but its visual candy and entertainment value hoist you through the exposition and overbearing social commentary.
Lost in Space (2018-2021)
The reboot of the 1965 series of the same name takes us to the year 2046, two years after humanity found itself on the brink of extinction. The talented Robinson family sets off with a crew to colonize a new planet. Along with unmissable family drama, they face strange new environments and a strange alien robot who befriends young Will. The mystery, heart, and a memorable villain in Parker Posey’s Dr. Smith give Lost in Space plenty of fuel to get off the ground (Seasons 2 and 3 are much improved over Season 1).
Yeah, Gong Yoo from Squid Game is in. What else do you need to know? This South Korean sci-fi mystery follows a crew of astronauts on a mission to an abandoned research facility on the moon. Their target: a sample of an unknown substance for unclear purposes. Betrayal, government lies and personal secrets rock this addictive space journey.
Sadly, this sci-fi series doesn’t have a second season – another Netflix victim who was killed way too soon. Two timelines, cults and a mystery are wrapped up in Archive 81’s tantalizing package. The genre-bending show stars Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an archivist who takes a gig to restore a collection of videotapes. damaged parts of the 90s. He gets way more than he bargained for, drawn into an investigation into a mysterious cult and a young woman who may or may not be dead. A supernatural thriller with horror, noir, and sci-fi seeping into its spooky atmosphere, Archive 81 has it all.
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If The 100 sounds like your standard teen drama, get ready to exceed your expectations. There’s a reason this post-apocalyptic series has scored seven seasons: The 100 brings rich world-building and moral dilemmas that push stereotypical characters into unique and fascinating places. The 100 in question are a generation of juvenile inmates sent to Earth to determine if it is habitable after the apocalypse. 100 percent try this one.
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Love, Death + Robots (2019—)
This adult animated anthology series spans a range of genres, with many episodes hitting the Black Mirror comparison button. Robots in a post-apocalyptic city, farmers piloting mechanical suits, and a space mission gone wrong all appear in the first season. Although the episodes can be hit or miss (some have been criticized for their treatment of women), you’ll find plenty of awesome and thought-provoking animations.
A DNA researcher claims it’s possible to match people based on genetics and founds a matching service. A murder investigation takes a turn. The One is based on a book of the same name by John Marrs, published in 2016.
Germany’s response to Stranger Things deliberately takes its time before getting into some completely intriguing and quirky locations. A sci-fi noir, Dark weaves together time travel, conspiracies and estranged families in an intergenerational story sparked by the disappearance of a child. If those kind of meticulously crafted layers are what you’re looking for in your storytelling, settle in. All three seasons of Dark’s meditative look at time travel and its effects on human nature are waiting to hit you hard.
This apocalyptic sci-fi from Belgium will probably stop you flying anytime soon. Set on an airplane, Into the Night sees a red eye hijacked by a soldier who, along with the rest of the passengers, ends up surviving a deadly world event on the ground. Can they get the plane moving long enough to get them to safety? This premise alone should be enough to entice you to catch this excellent, tense thriller.
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