The Best Science Fiction Shows Without “Star” in the Title Available on Netflix Watch Instantly | The Mary Sue
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The Best Science Fiction Shows Without “Star” in the Title Available on Netflix Watch Instantly

If there’s something to be said about streaming video instantly via Netflix, it’s that the ability to pick up and watch shows that long ago saw their final credit sequences is almost magical. There’s nothing quite like hitting a few buttons to have a show that went off the air years and years ago back in pristine condition. I suppose having the discs in whichever format that is currently preferred comes close.

But we’re a people that have grown accustomed to instant gratification and, well, this is instant streaming. Why go out and buy full seasons of older shows when you can just sit back and enjoy them without ever changing out of your pajamas? Why even put pajamas on?

Some of the best that Netflix happens to be streaming currently comes in the variety of science fiction television shows. Lots and lots of them. That said, there are obviously the classics. Just about anything with the word “star” in the name would automatically make any normal list of this kind.

So, ignoring anything with the word “star” in it, I present the science fiction shows you should be watching right now.

1. Firefly

Though short-lived, Firefly remains one of Joss Whedon’s greatest contributions to the geek culture at large. Pitching a spaghetti western set in space was likely difficult. Memorable characters filled a gorgeous, albeit dusty world. During the course of 14 episodes, sometimes aired out of order, and a single movie, folks got the chance to spend some time with Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew, and that’s just alright.

Often, writers will lift quotes from the material in order to gain more interest for a specific item in a list. In this case, I intend to include no quotes because it would be best served to hear them from the original actors and not via a block of text.

2. Sliders

Jerry O’Connell, likely known mainly from Stand By Me at the time, stars as Quinn Mallory in a series that closely resembles another on this list. Unlike the other, however, this one also happens to co-star the one and only Gimli. That’s right, John Rhys-Davies. The premise is fairly simple: It involves wormholes.

Though it lasted five seasons, the cast was constantly changing with only one original cast member making it to the end. Bet you can’t guess which one.

3. The X-Files

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson set the stage from 1993 to 2001 in The X-Files for what Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson would later revive in reverse on Fringe: The believer and the skeptic. With nine seasons and two movies on the scoreboard for The X-Files, however, Fringe still has quite a way to go. They play as two FBI agents who investigate paranormal activity. That’s the general idea, anyway. Then it gets complicated, as anyone who has tried explaining this type of show before knows all too well.

The X-Files is what came to define science fiction for the generation that grew up watching it. Even now, a decade after the last season, shows that fall in the same wheelhouse can’t help but get compared to it. This is a seminal series that any serious fan of sci-fi wouldn’t miss.

4. Farscape

Ben Browder and Claudia Black started here and eventually moved to Stargate SG-1 once Farscape was over. Obviously, they were doing something right if they were both included in what was the channel’s most popular show at the time. That said, Farscape is far preferable, but maybe that’s just me.

Don’t let the generic name of Browder’s character—John Crichton—fool you. This is one series that doesn’t let go once it sinks its teeth in. Be it running from Peacekeepers, attempting to “meld” with alien species or trying to explain Earth’s pop culture, Farscape is one of the heavy hitters. But I guess you never know what you got ‘til it’s gone.

5. Doctor Who

The newest incarnation of Doctor Who from the BBC is simply brilliant. Though there have already been three Doctors in the five seasons that this newest incarnation has been around, all three had their own quirks, fans and detractors. It’s not often you can say that a show has had three different actors fill in for the protagonist and still kept momentum.

So far, David Tennant has provided the role of the Doctor for the majority of this new series. Matt Smith only recently filled his shoes. I may or may not have shed tears at that occasion.

6. Babylon 5

Babylon 5 is here because… it’s Babylon 5. The plot hinges on a galactic meeting place of sorts. This leads to obvious political intrigue and everything that goes with it. Beyond that, however, Babylon 5 is probably the most standard fare of anything suggested here. But then that just makes it awesome instead of totally awesome.

7. The Twilight Zone

In much the same way as The X-Files defined science fiction for its generation, The Twilight Zone defined it for its own respective generation. Without The Twilight Zone, it’s possible that many of the other shows on this list would have never been made. Though it’s often hit and miss from episode to episode, it is for this reason alone that it is a required watch.

8. Quantum Leap

Before he played in Star Trek or Chuck, Scott Bakula was hopping around time trying to make things right in Quantum Leap. With his buddy Al, who only existed as a hologram in these time periods, he’d try to correct the mistakes of the past while hoping that the next leap… would be the leap home. It’s not his fault that he came in at the end of the line for Star Trek. (This is my excuse and I am sticking to it.)

9. 3rd Rock From the Sun

Yes, I realize 3rd Rock from the Sun is a comedy. Yes, I realize I specifically said “science fiction” when formulating this list. I also realize that this only barely counts. But barely counts still means it counts! They are a bunch of aliens, after all. The show also just so happens to be hilarious. John Lithgow and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, among others, make this a must-see. Plus, I’m the one writing this list so I get to say when I follow the rules and when I don’t.

So there.

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