Once upon a time, to watch shows that are now off the air you had to buy DVDs, or illegally stream poor quality videos. (Or, if you're really old school, dig through the old VHS tapes you recorded off the TV.) Thankfully, now is a new era of binge-watching, and we have Netflix to provide us with all the classic TV we could hope for.
They have a very impressive collection of shows, and when it comes to scifi, Netflix has definitely got you covered. Check out the best SciFi TV shows on Netflix below!
Coming Soon: Dark
This new show from Netflix seems to ere on the eerie side of #scifi, following on from the likes of Twin Peaks and Stranger Things to weave a web of disturbing conspiracy set in a small town in Germany. Following the disappearance of a young boy, a disturbing mystery unravels, and time travel definitely seems to be involved. The show is a joint production between Netflix and a German TV network, so there will be subtitles.
'Dark' will premiere in late 2017.
Netflix has all six Star Trek show available to stream, even the bizarre and meme-worthy Star Trek: The Animated Series. Considering Star Trek is one of the giants of the genre, it's essential for any collection of scifi shows. Whether you love Kirk's unstoppable zest for adventure, Picard's ponderous diplomacy, Sisko's empassioned speeches, Janeway's quest for coffee, or Archer's determined optimism, Netflix has the show for you.
Star Trek: Discovery will also be available from September 2017 for international Netflix subscribers. Sorry, USA.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Douglas Adams' work is not easy to adapt to the screen, but Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency takes the concept of the original books and runs with it. This show is a real rollercoaster with a thrilling, surprisingly hilarious, non-linear plot, as ordinary guy Todd gets swept into this chaos thanks to his new "best friend" Dirk, and they try to prevent the murder of someone who is already dead.
The players in this game — a gang of maniacs, a bodyguard, the CIA, a creepy cult, the FBI, two detectives, a holistic assassin, and several pets — seem to be thrown into this mess completely haphazardly, but look closer because everything is connected... but probably not in the way you'd expect. Oh, and Elijah Wood is in it because of course he is.
Note: This title is available on Netflix internationally, but not in the USA, as it is distributed by BBC America.
Premiering on SyFy in early 2016, The Expanse is the successor of dark, grounded scifi shows like Battlestar Galactica, and has received positive reviews. After the first season ended, Netflix's deal with SyFy means Season 2 is currently streaming on the online platform. The Expanse follows Detective Miller as he investigates the death of a young woman — and unravels a conspiracy that threatens the life of everyone on Earth, Mars, and Venus.
If you haven't already heard about Stranger Things, you probably spent most of 2016 in the Upside Down. A fantastic new show from Netflix, Stranger Things became a cult hit almost immediately after all the episodes were released at once. The series is an homage to '80s classics like E.T. and Stand By Me, with a good dose of X-Files and Twin Peaks style cryptology as the characters try to rescue a young boy from a terrifying monster. With stand out performances from just about everyone — keep your eye on Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven — this show deserves its critical acclaim.
Supergirl Season 2
Moving to The CW after premiering on CBS, Supergirl Season 2 saw the show really expand on its scifi elements, as the alien population on Earth faced civil difficulties and immense prejudice. Supergirl and the DEO face off against many foes in Season 2, but none are more fearsome than the ominous Project Cadmus, a military splinter group who are dead set on evicting all aliens from Earth — or, failing that, killing them all.
Strictly speaking, this is more supernatural western than scifi, but these genres often blend together, and this exciting and lighthearted show is well worth checking out. When Wynonna Earp turns 27 she inherits the curse laid on her great-grandfather Wyatt Earp — complete with his "big-ass gun." Tasked with ridding the world of "revenants" — the reincarnated demons of the people Wyatt killed — Wynonna recruits her sister, the immortal Doc Holliday, and a shady government agent to her cause.
Wynonna Earp takes on a classic story with modern vigor, and a tongue-in-cheek style that matches its alcoholic, quipping heroine. Season 1 premiered on SyFy and is coming to Netflix in April 2017. Season 2 will premiere sometime in summer 2017 on SyFy.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
Spinning off from Arrow and The Flash, this show follows a group of misfits in a delightful genre-mashing blend of superheroes, time travel, and space opera. In a mission to take out the world's most dangerous dictator (the immortal Vandal Savage), the Legends travel through time and mess up just about everything they attempt to do.
Arguably the most fun of all the Arrowverse shows, Legends of Tomorrow doesn't take itself to seriously but still manages to weave a compelling plot arc through Season 1. The next season finds the Legends redefining their core mandate, which makes for tighter storytelling as they team up with the 1940s based Justice Society. Season 2 of The CW show will arrive on Netflix in April 2017.
The Defenders Shows
If you haven't already, you need to check out Netflix's Marvel empire, now comprised of four shows — with a fifth on the way. If you like crazy martial arts and legal jargon, Daredevil's your jam. If you're all about those dark noir thrillers, it's gotta be Jessica Jones. Think Marvel's lacking a grounded, personal touch? Luke Cage protects the mean streets of NYC. And now, Iron Fist is also there.
These four misfit heroes will finally team up in November, when The Defenders airs. So yeah, you gotta get in on this atypical superhero universe.
In a joint #Netflix/Showcase production, five time travelers from the future journey back to the 21st Century. Their mission: To prevent the total collapse of society and the end of life as we know it. But their plans soon derail thanks to the nature of this version of time travel — the agents are telepathically implanted in a person's brain moments before their recorded time of death. To prevent discovery, the time traveling agents must impersonate their host bodies' personalities and carry out their daily routines. This is hardly simple, and as the travelers make changes to the timeline, events manifest in the future that they never could have predicted...
Utilizing heavily serialized storytelling, The OA follows Prairie Johnson, a formally missing blind person who returned with the ability to see — and an eerie tale to tell about where she'd been. This is conspiracy scifi at its almost-best, as the more we discover about the complex plot, the more questions we have. Perfect for binge-watching, but be warned: The finale doesn't so much wrap up plot threads as it does plant more stories for Season 2 to explore.
After its critical success on Channel 4 in the UK, Netflix ordered a third season of the creepy scifi show Black Mirror. In the vein of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, Charlie Brooker's anthology show poses a series of thought experiments as chilling narratives, uncovering the disturbing realities and unrealities of our daily existence — except the uplifting and optimistic episode "San Junipero", which acts as a mental palate cleanse. Definitely worth checking out, as we seem to be living in a Black Mirror version of reality these days...
The X Files
Continuing in the tradition of The Twilight Zone, this show explores the weird and wonderful, uncovering conspiracies on everything from aliens to Bigfoot. The X Files is iconic, inspiring many other shows and spanning 10 seasons. Before the 2016 reunion series hits Netflix, catch up on the other nine years of the franchise.
Premiering in 2013 to rave reviews, Orphan Black has continued its stellar run with shocking plot twists and enthralling characters. The story kicks off when Sarah, a grifter and small time con artist, witnesses her doppelganger's suicide and decides to steal her identity. This choice unravels a vast conspiracy, revealing family she never knew she had. Pretty much anything else we can say is a spoiler, but this is one of the best shows airing right now, with some incredible by acting from Tatiana Maslany. Catch up before the show ends next year!
Note: This title is available on Netflix internationally, but not in the US, as it is distributed by BBC America.
In the same sort of conspiracy theory vein, Twin Peaks is another iconic show which influenced TV profoundly. It exists in the space between scifi, the supernatural and soap opera, as David Lynch's surreal drama explores the twisted secrets of small-town America. Although Twin Peaks goes to some dark places, it's also fairly tongue-in-cheek, and it's definitely a must see for anyone interested in scifi.
From the makers of The Matrix comes this thrilling scifi tale, connecting eight people around the world in a strange and powerful psychic link that allows them to literally live through each other — and get swept up in each other's trials and tribulations. Of course, it's all a giant web of conspiracy too. Sense8 has earned critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase, though unfortunately Season 2 concludes the show after it was cancelled.
This Canadian miniseries aired in 2014, exploring the lives of those aboard the USS Ascension, a ship bound for a distant planet to ensure the survival of the human race. While this may seem like a fairly straightforward plot, the interesting thing about Ascension is that it's set in an alternate timeline, in which John F. Kennedy's Project Orion actually went ahead. Thus, we join the Ascension 50 years into its voyage, and Cold War tensions are still rife among the crew. Think Battlestar Galactica, but with a strong Sixties element. And speaking of which...
If you love the weird and wonderful aliens in Doctor Who, the frontier-esque crew dynamic of Firefly, but thought the whole thing needed more Muppets, this is the show for you. Featuring a plethora of aliens from Jim Henson's creature shop, Farscape is basically Gulliver's Travels in space.
It truly is an excellent series, following an Earthling astronaut across the galaxy to strange new worlds. Farscape will have you in stitches one episode, and tearfully considering existential angst in the next. Definitely not one to miss, especially considering the show will leave Netflix by early 2017!
Doctor Who is renowned as being the longest running scifi show of all time, but thanks to the BBC losing a bulk of the classic Who episodes to fires, damp storage, and poor record keeping, only the most recent revival of Doctor Who is available on Netflix. From Russell T. Davies' weird and whacky era to Stephen Moffat's bombastic showrunning, you can now watch the Last of the Time Lords save the galaxy — and all of time — over and over again.
Note: This title is available in its entirety on Netflix UK, and from Moffat's Season 5 in Europe, but not in the USA as it is distributed by BBC America.
Joss Whedon's cult show only lasted for one season, but it quickly became one of the staples of the scifi genre. Firefly is a culture-fusing feast, reimagining the future in terms of Old West frontierism, combined with a strong Asian aesthetic. The show may have been short lived, but its engaging characters and thrilling story has earned it many fans.
It's pretty much impossible to be a nerd without someone telling you to watch Firefly. Good thing Netflix is on hand to help you out with that!
Are there any scifi shows on Netflix we missed off our list? Tell us in the comments!