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 sci-fi, Netflix has definitely got you covered. Check out the best sci-fi 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 sci-fi 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.
A cross between Farscape and Dollhouse, Dark Matter follows a crew of criminals and reprobates after they awake on a mysterious spaceship with no idea who they are, but plenty of latent personality traits to make up for their lack of memory. A predictable yet enjoyable show, Dark Matter wants to be a tense sci-fi thriller, but the show's strength lies in its characters and the relationship drama between them. Plus, there's some rare #LGBT representation to boot!
Season 3 arrives on Netflix on September 25th, 2017.
In much the same vein as Dark Matter, Killjoys is another new space opera from the USA's SyFy network and Canada's Space network. This one follows a crew of three bounty hunters as they work to survive in a harsh, oppressive solar system. With plenty of commentary on corporate culture, personal agency, and morality, Killjoys might seem like a heavy show. But it's also the kind of tongue-in-cheek weirdness and surreal sense of humor that has become a hallmark of the sci-fi genre. Easy, fun watching after a hard day at work.
Note: This title is available internationally to stream on Netflix, and by on-demand DVD order from USA Netflix.
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 sci-fi 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.
Note: This title is available internationally on Netflix's streaming service, and as a by-order DVD from Netflix USA.
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.
Following a group of terrorists from the future — and the police officer who's after them — Continuum is a time travel show exploring the nature of subjective dystopias. In its four seasons, Continuum managed to cram a lot of mythology in, and it's definitely one for you if you like the more philosophical side of sci-fi. Although it was cancelled before it could fulfill it's full potential, io9 says that "at its best, Continuum was among the strongest and most thought-provoking science fiction TV shows ever made."
From Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon (plus his brother Jed Whedon, and his sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen) comes this offbeat sci-fi show which is basically a low-rent mixture of Orphan Black and Westworld. And that's not a negative review. Airing shortly after Angel ended, Dollhouse is set in a world where people can choose to become actives or "dolls", allowing their personality and memories to be removed so that new personas can be uploaded, making them the playthings for the rich and powerful — all in exchange for a fat paycheck at the end of their five years in the Dollhouse.
Dealing with issues of personal agency, slavery, capitalism, and how far science should go, Dollhouse is a fun show that really came into its own in its second season. And for all the heavy themes, of course Dollhouse comes with a hefty dose of classic Whedonesque humor. Worth a watch while you wait for Westworld Season 2!
Moving to The CW after premiering on CBS, Supergirl Season 2 saw the show really expand on its sci-fi 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 sci-fi, 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 sci-fi 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 sci-fi 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...
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 sci-fi, 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 sci-fi.
From the makers of The Matrix comes this thrilling sci-fi 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...
Doctor Who is renowned as being the longest running sci-fi 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.
Are there any sci-fi shows on Netflix we missed off our list? Tell us in the comments!