Check out these extraordinary sci-fi shows today: While we still get a fair amount of big budget sci-fi stories in movie theaters, most sci-fi stories today seem designed for television. The episodic, lengthy nature of TV storytelling allows sci-fi creators to truly explore the ideas behind their characters and their adventures.
Television also seems to be more open to a variety of concepts, so we can have a retro family sci-fi series Strange things at one end of the spectrum and a dark sci-fi anthology Black mirror on the other hand. And in between the two great shows? Much more, each with their own personality and high concepts.
Star Trek: Discovery
Let’s start with a big gun (or a big phaser, if you prefer). Discovery‘s journey began as a prequel for most Star Trek stories, years before the original series. Three seasons into its run and on its way to a fourth, the crew of the Discovery is now in the furthest future, where no tour show has gone before. It was a rather unpredictable journey, with the ship having a new captain every season.
Star Trek: Discovery has all the references to Trek lore an old sci-fi fan could want, while also keeping things accessible and fresh for newcomers to the mythos. You can stream the show on Paramount +.
Based on the 2013 film of the same name and the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, TNTs Snow Picker is where science fiction and Broadway fans meet. The show stars Daveed Diggs, known worldwide as Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette in the hit musical Hamilton
Just like the movie and the graphic novel, Snow Piercer is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the remnants of humanity live in a gigantic train that endlessly circles the world. As well as the source material, the show explores class warfare, social injustice and the politics of survival – all within the separate confines of its titular train. You can stream Snow Piercer on TNT.
Raised by wolves
‘Produced by Ridley Scott’ should be enough to incentivize sci-fi fans to go to a new sci-fi show (unless they hated Prometheus Alien: CovenantAnd Raised by wolves isn’t just produced by the legendary filmmaker – Scott also directed the first two episodes of the series.
Raised by wolves has a classic sci-fi premise: In a grim future where Earth was devastated by a major war, two androids are tasked with raising human children on another planet. To say that the droids have a hard time doing their jobs would be an understatement. The show premiered on HBO Max last year and has already been renewed for a second season.
You can’t make any of these sci-fi lists without at least one cyberpunk pick. Altered carbon may have died an early death on Netflix, but it left us at least eighteen episodes (and an anime prequel movie) to remember. Should be enough to inspire people to check out the 2002 novel the show is based on.
Set hundreds of years in the future, Altered carbon offers its characters a path to immortality – if they can afford it. In the show, a person’s consciousness can be downloaded to a special device and transferred to a new body. Our protagonist is a political agent trying to solve a murder, with the promise of a new body as a reward. Both seasons of Altered carbon (and the prequel film) are still on Netflix.
The United States
This sci-fi thriller miniseries comes to us courtesy of Alex Garland, the writer and director behind the sci-fi movies Ex-Machina DestructionOver the eight episodes, the show explores the idea of free will versus determinism, something that Garland has certainly touched on in some of his earlier work.
The United States is also an exploration of Silicon Valley and its culture. The show follows a software engineer who becomes entangled in her friend’s mysterious death – a tragedy that takes place on that friend’s first day as part of a mysterious quantum computer team. The story is a slow fire, but well worth it. You can stream The United States on Hulu.
JK Simmons as the lead in a sci-fi show about parallel earths? How did this series last only two seasons? Simmons may even play two versions of the same character!
Oh well. The title actually says it all. Counterpart is a sci-fi thriller about the Cold War-esque tension between our reality and a parallel version of it. Simmons plays a gentle, quiet office worker on one Earth and a ruthless intelligence agency on the other. Spy hijinks follow! You can stream Counterpart on Amazon Prime.
Do you have any favorite science fiction shows to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!