Top 12 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of the 21st Century

Top Sci-Fi TV Shows of the 21st Century

Science fiction television has seen remarkable growth and creativity in the 21st century, giving us a diverse array of captivating shows that have expanded the boundaries of storytelling. From thought-provoking explorations of the human condition to mind-bending concepts that challenge our understanding of reality, these shows have pushed the genre to new heights. Here’s a list of the top 12 sci-fi TV shows of the 21st century that have left an indelible mark on the small screen.

12. The Expanse: A Political Space Epic

“The Expanse” stands as a testament to the power of good storytelling and passionate creators. The space opera takes us into a future where humanity’s expansion across the Solar System highlights both progress and lingering inequalities. The show, which began on SyFy and concluded on Prime Video, skillfully navigates intricate political dynamics, thanks to its original creators Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, and showrunner Naren Shankar. A diverse and talented cast, including Cara Gee, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Frankie Adams, and Dominique Tipper, brings this epic tale to life. The series reminds us that striving to help others matters more than seeking personal validation.

11. Rick and Morty: Animated Sci-Fi Comedy

“Rick and Morty” brilliantly blends family sitcom dynamics with outrageous sci-fi concepts. Creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon craft a unique blend of futuristic technology, alternate dimensions, and philosophical musings, all delivered with a dash of irreverence. Following the adventures of mad scientist Rick and his grandson Morty, the show captures both the absurd and heartfelt moments of their intergalactic escapades. This animated gem consistently surprises and entertains viewers with its humor and inventiveness.

10. Foundation: A Centuries-Spanning Saga

“Foundation” brings Isaac Asimov’s classic novels to life, immersing us in a vast Galactic Empire. The series, set in a future of impending dissolution, centers around psychohistorian Hari Seldon’s efforts to preserve knowledge and guide the empire’s future. Despite its complex narrative, the show’s lavish production and compelling storytelling draw viewers into its sprawling universe. “Foundation” proves that even intricate and expansive sci-fi concepts can captivate audiences when brought to life with dedication and creativity.

9. Fringe: Blurring Boundaries

“Fringe” seamlessly blends science fiction with investigative drama, making it a worthy successor to “The X-Files.” The show’s central trio, led by Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, and John Noble, carries the weight of bizarre and often chilling cases with remarkable chemistry. As the series delves deeper into its mythology, exploring parallel universes and alternate timelines, it becomes a must-watch cult classic that balances the bizarre with the relatable.

8. Firefly: A Space Western Classic

“Firefly” transcended its single season to become a beloved space western that still resonates with fans. Created by Joss Whedon, the show follows the crew of the Serenity led by Nathan Fillion’s Captain Mal. Despite its premature cancellation, the series delivered memorable characters, a mix of genres, and an adventurous spirit that continues to captivate audiences. The show’s blend of humor, action, and drama make it a timeless gem in the sci-fi landscape.

7. Russian Doll: A Mind-Bending Time Loop

“Russian Doll” takes the concept of a time loop and infuses it with a unique and unsettling twist. Natasha Lyonne’s exceptional performance as Nadia, a woman trapped in a continuous loop on her birthday, drives the show’s exploration of personal growth and self-discovery. The series skillfully balances its weirdness with emotional depth, creating a perfect blend of intrigue and introspection.

6. Orphan Black: Clones and Identity

“Orphan Black” stands out for its exploration of identity within a complex cloning conspiracy. Tatiana Maslany’s remarkable portrayal of multiple identical characters adds depth and authenticity to the show’s themes. The series proves that even heavy sci-fi concepts can resonate on a personal level when anchored by exceptional performances and thoughtful storytelling.

5. Lost: A Gripping Tale of Survival

“Lost” captivated audiences with its mysterious island setting and intricate character dynamics. Despite its showrunners’ uncertainty about the show’s direction, “Lost” became a cultural phenomenon that blended character-driven storytelling with supernatural elements. The series’ ability to keep viewers guessing while exploring themes of fate and interconnectedness solidified its place as a sci-fi TV classic.

4. Stranger Things: Nostalgia and Adventure

“Stranger Things” channels ’80s nostalgia into an engaging sci-fi/horror narrative that follows a group of kids navigating supernatural mysteries. The Duffer Brothers skillfully mix elements of friendship, mystery, and suspense, creating a show that resonates with audiences of all ages. Through its captivating characters and exciting storytelling, “Stranger Things” captures the essence of adventure that defines great sci-fi.

3. Doctor Who (2005): Timeless Adventures

“Doctor Who” defies ranking due to its diverse history and ever-changing nature. The show’s revival in 2005 reintroduced audiences to the enigmatic Doctor, who travels through time and space with companions. The show’s ability to reinvent itself while maintaining its core themes of adventure and exploration has made it a beloved fixture in sci-fi television.

2. Black Mirror: Technology’s Dark Side

“Black Mirror” stands as a chilling anthology that explores the dark consequences of technology and human behavior. Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones craft thought-provoking stories that reflect our increasingly interconnected world. The show’s ability to examine our relationship with technology through different lenses, from dystopian nightmares to heartfelt tales, has solidified its reputation as a must-watch series.

1. Battlestar Galactica: A Game-Changer

“Battlestar Galactica” redefined sci-fi television with its gritty and emotionally charged narrative. This remake of a ’70s series took humanity’s survival against robotic enemies to new heights of complexity and depth. The show’s exploration of morality, identity, and the consequences of war resonates deeply, while its intricate storytelling and memorable characters make it a hallmark of modern sci-fi TV.

Honorable Mentions

While the list above highlights the cream of the crop, several other sci-fi shows also deserve recognition for their contributions to the genre. “Torchwood,” “Colony,” “Dollhouse,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Lost in Space” (2018), “Dark Angel,” “Snowpiercer,” “Counterpart,” “Dark Matter,” “Killjoys,” “Avenue 5,” and “Raised By Wolves” have all left their mark on the diverse landscape of 21st-century sci-fi television.

Author Profile

Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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