With Netflix one of the largest streaming platforms worldwide, their content is ever-changing and incredibly diverse. There is something for everyone to watch, and sitting down to pick something can be a challenge. From nostalgic series of older era to brand-new originals, Netflix’s science fiction selection is a treat to any sci-fi fan, whether new to the science fiction genre or having loved it for decades.
Some are tried and true classics that many are revisiting, but some are Netflix originals, meaning a Netflix subscription is the only way to watch them. With the variety on the platform, however, there’s plenty of material to make it worthwhile for any sci-fi fan.
Updated by Sage Ashford on August 31st, 2023: Netflix’s selection of science fiction series continues to expand. Whether people are looking for superheroes or more traditional sci-fi, short series or long-runners, they’ve got it all. We’ve updated this list to add a few more great sci-fi series available on Netflix’s platform.
With Sense8, Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski and the Matrix’s Wachowski Sisters teamed up to make what should’ve been the next big sci-fi classic. The series focused on eight people across the world who suddenly became linked, able to feel what the others were thinking and feeling.
A show focused on empathy and the things that unite humanity, Sense8 was a smash hit from the jump. Unfortunately, the rising cost of filming everything on location on a global scale caused Netflix to cancel the series after two seasons. It’s still very much worth checking out though for its bold approach to covering politics, sexuality, and more in a world where far too much media can be toothless.
Legends of Tomorrow
Take a bunch of spare characters from different CW superhero shows and throw them all on a team together. What happens? One of the most popular superhero television series of the last decade. Legends of Tomorrow takes a ragtag group of anti-heroes and villains and sends them across time to stop a threat to their future.
However, viewers weren’t tuning in for the superheroics, and the characters weren’t all that good at being heroes to begin with. Instead, fans came to love Legends for its character writing and wacky hijinx. Especially as it became more unencumbered by all the DC Universe references.
Netflix did a surprisingly good job at adapting Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s indie superhero comic The Umbrella Academy. A twisted take on the X-Men, Umbrella Academy is set in a world where an eccentric billionaire named Hargreeves, who adopted seven children that were all born at the same time. When they developed superpowers, Hargreeves turned them into a super-team to solve crime.
Over a decade later, Hargreeves has passed, and the team has split up. But when one of them comes back from the future, the group comes together again to try to save the world. For people who want something more off-beat than the average superhero stories, one not tied down by tons of continuity, Umbrella Academy is a great option.
When Jefferson Pierce, the retired superhero Black Lightning, begins to see too much violence in his community, he decides to put the costume back on. However, his actions wind up having consequences not just for the streets, but for his family and the school he runs as well.
Black Lightning isn’t just a great superhero series with some amazing performances. The series also delves into social commentary, including how scientific experimentation has always hurt marginalized communities the most. It’s willingness to push boundaries along with all-around better writing elevated Black Lightning beyond all the other CW superhero series.
The Imperfects represent another Netflix show canceled far too soon. The series follows a group of adults who find themselves transformed into monsters with superpowers. Tilda, Abbi, and Juan all develop powers similar to classic monsters like banshee, succubi, and werewolves thanks to a mad scientist experimenting with their genetics.
Enraged, the group all agree to track down the scientist in the hopes of becoming human again. Along the way, they put their powers to use protecting people from other dangerous monsters. While this show only ran for a season, that means it would make a great binge-watch for a weekend.
Reminiscent of The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror is a series of anthologies, and each episode features its own unique and individual storyline. A look into what could be the near-future, this series explores the effects of high-tech advancements on a human population unprepared for the ramifications. Often featuring a star-studded cast each episode, Black Mirror is edgy, satirical and fresh every episode.
With ever-increasing technology in the real world, Black Mirror is often eerily on the nose, even if set in a dystopian universe. After spending years on hiatus, the series is finally returning with its sixth season. With the series often reflecting real-life events, there’s certain to be plenty of fresh material in the show.
Altered Carbon makes death inconsequential and impermanent — for those who have the money. Based on the book by the same name by Richard K. Morgan, the events in Altered Carbon happen more than 300 years in the future. Main character Takeshi Kovacs is the only rebel left of a group that resisted the new order, and he’s been dead for years. That is until filthy rich business executive Laurens Bancroft plants Kovacs consciousness in a new body and hires him to solve a murder — Bancroft’s own.
With the technology to switch consciousnesses into different bodies, Altered Carbon has a unique ability to switch main characters without actually switching main characters, and Kovacs is portrayed by no less than six different actors, including Marvel Cinematic Universe actor Anthony Mackie. Fast-paced with an excellent storyline and stunning visuals, Altered Carbon is an exciting look into life without true death. Though canceled due to rising costs of production during the start of the pandemic, Altered Carbon has two seasons still on Netflix to stream.
Lost in Space
A reboot of the 1965 series of the same name, Lost in Space is an optimistic sci-fi series for a change. Fans of Star Trek installments will enjoy this bright survival story featuring the Robinson family after they crash-land on an alien planet while trying to reach a space colony. Unlike much of the sci-fi that seems to be around these days, Lost in Space is also family-friendly, making a fun night for all.
The series doesn’t shy away from the dangers of space travel though, and there are many thrilling plots for the Robinson family to work through. The show premiered its final season in 2021, and wrapped up nicely, meaning new fans don’t have to worry about any annoying cliffhangers.
The Silent Sea
A Netflix original, Korean sci-fi series The Silent Sea relies on a lot of tried and true sci-fi tropes. From crash-landed spaceships to an untrustworthy government and rapid infection, these tropes add up to a series that science fiction fans think they’ve seen the likes of before, but it still produces something fresh.
The first season follows a handpicked team sent to a government base on the moon, in search of something they are told is vital to their world in crisis. Their mission, however, isn’t as simple as it sounds, and the secrets being kept from the team may prove fatal. The Silent Sea starts off shaky, but it grows into a beautifully scored collection of cultural relevance and completion of classic science fiction storylines.
Tribes of Europa
Set over fifty years in the future Tribes of Europa follows three young siblings fighting for survival. After an event referred to as Black December, where the entire world’s electrical systems crashed, the world descended into primitive chaos. The first season sees three siblings separated from one another after discovering a mysterious cube, and their struggle to get back to each other, all while unraveling the mystery of the cube.
Though dystopian, it has a fantasy feel to it due to the lack of power and the reversion to a pre-electricity world, with sword-fighting and horse-riding, making it a unique addition to the genre. From producers of Dark, this Netflix original has neither a confirmation of a second season, nor a cancellation announcement, so there might be more of this series to love in the future.
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