Best Sci-Fi Shows To Watch On HBO Max

HBO Max was one of the best streaming services available before its rebranding into just MAX. Even though the service faces a tremendous amount of competition from rival services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, the company is still moving forward with the rebrand. Fortunately, HBO Max’s most popular sci-fi series aren’t going anywhere. For now, at least.



The Max catalog features a great deal of sci-fi series inherited from HBO, from foreign options like Dream Rider and classics like Fringe to incredible book adaptations like His Dark Materials and Station Eleven.

Updated on November 23, 2023 by Mayra García: Most of Max’s shows were HBO series at the time, but this doesn’t mean they’re bad. Especially when it comes to sci-fi, Max series are some of the best, and sci-fi fans know it. This list has been updated to comply with CBR standards.


30 Stargirl Introduces A Young Hero

Brec Bassinger on the Stargirl Poster

Stargirl

Teenager Courtney Whitmore joins the Justice Society of America. Based on the character from DC Comics.

Release Date
May 18, 2020

Cast
Brec Bassinger, Trae Romano, Amy Smart, Luke Wilson, Anjelika Washington

Main Genre
Superhero

Rating
TV-PG

Creator
Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Related

Stargirl Season 4 Would Have Crossed Over With Titans For a Major Multiverse Story

Stargirl’s Brec Bassinger reveals that there were plans for Season 4 to crossover with other DCTV shows like Titans and The Flash.

In Stargirl, Brec Bassinger stars as Courtney Whitmore, a high schooler who finds Starman’s Cosmic Staff after her mother marries the hero’s sidekick, Pat Dugan. Together with Pat, Courtney starts a new incarnation of the Justice Society of America to fight the Injustice Society of America, a villainous group currently in control of her Blue Valley.

Stargirl is a great option for audiences who don’t want their superhero media to be too serious. Stargirl is packed with adventure, but it also has amusing jokes and wholesome characters. Long-standing DC fans and new watchers will love it.

29 Sealab 2021 Is Sci-Fi Comedy

Captain Murphy on the Sealab 2021 Promo

Sealab 2021

The drama of an oft-doomed aquatic colony and its personnel, who hate each other.

Release Date
December 21, 2000

Main Genre
Comedy

Rating
TV-14

Creator
Adam Reed and Matt Thompson

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Main Cast
Harry Goz, Erik Estrada, Ellis Henican, Brett Butler, Bill Lobley and Kate Miller

Created by Adam Reed and Matt Thompson for Adult Swim, Sealab 2021 follows the crew of an underwater research base, guided by Captain Murphy. The series is a parody of Sealab 2020 that uses the original series’ footage with new dialogue.

Sealab 2020 is a fine show, but Sealab 2021 takes things to the next level by mixing old science-fiction tropes with satirical comedy. The series’ hilarious sense of humor combined with its eccentric cast make Sealab 2021 a great Adult Swim experience.

28 Superman & Lois Shows A New Version Of The Man Of Steel

Superman and Lois TV show Poster

Superman & Lois

The world’s most famous superhero and comic books’ most famous journalist face the pressures and complexities that come with balancing work, justice, and parenthood in today’s society.

Release Date
February 23, 2021

Cast
Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Erik Valdez, Inde Navarrette

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Drama, Superhero, Adventure, Action

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
3

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Originally an Arrowverse series, it took no time at all for Superman & Lois to establish itself as its own show. The series follows Clark Kent and Lois Lane — now married and with two kids — after they move to Smallville.

Here, they have to balance parenthood with the inevitable battle against iconic villains going after Superman. Superman & Lois combines family drama with the best parts of any Superman comic, making it a great option for the whole family.

27 Samurai Jack Is An Animation Gem

Samurai Jack in front of a monster holding a blade

Samurai Jack

A samurai, sent through time, fights to return home and save the world.

Release Date
August 10, 2001

Cast
Phil LaMarr, Mako, Greg Baldwin

Main Genre
Animation

Genres
Action-Adventure

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
5

Creator
Genndy Tartakovsky

Samurai Jack is a sci-fi/fantasy show that follows the titular samurai, who is sent back in time from feudal Japan to a dystopic Earth. This dystopia is ruled by Aku, Jack’s archenemy. Now, the hero must find a way to defeat Aku using the magic sword that his mother commanded him to find when he was younger.

Samurai Jack, by Genndy Tartakovsky, is a true gem when it comes to animation. Samurai Jack’s first four seasons are appropriate for a family watch, but the fifth season, which premiered in 2017, is much darker.

26 The Social Satire Is Amazing In Random Acts Of Flyness

The Cast on a Random Acts of Flyness Promo

Random Acts of Flyness

Late-night series from artist Terence Nance featuring a mix of vérité documentary, musical performances, surrealist melodrama and humorous animation as a stream-of-consciousness response to the contemporary American mediascape.

Release Date
August 3, 2018

Genres
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Rating
TV-MA

Creator
Terence Nance

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Main Cast
Terence Nance, Austin Smith and Alicia Pilgrim

Created by Terence Nance, Random Acts of Flyness criticizes current America in the format of a late-night sketch comedy series. The show goes the extra mile to discuss this country’s most important news through several stylistic choices, like dark and meta humor.

Random Acts of Flyness isn’t just science fiction, but the genre serves as a tool for Terence Nance to share his ideas about race, society, and the media. Random Acts of Flyness is full of celebrity guest stars, like Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Hamm, and is a must-watch for anyone who wants thought-provoking TV.

25 Ballmastrz: 9009 Offers Great Voice Acting & Ridiculous Comedy

The Cast on the Ballmastrz 9009 Promo

Ballmastrz: 9009

After a scandalous fall, one of the greatest players of “The Game”, Gaz Digzy, must guide the worst team that ever participated to prove herself to the crazed ruler Crayzar.

Release Date
April 8, 2018

Cast
Natasha Lyonne, Jessica Di Cicco, Dana Snyder, Eric Bauza, Dave Willis

Main Genre
Action

Rating
TV-14

Creator
Christy Karacas

Streaming Service(s)
Max

In a post-apocalyptic world destroyed during the Rad Wars, society follows a bloodsport called “The Game” in which players try to score points using sapient balls. Ballmastrz: 9009 (Natasha Lyonne) focuses on Gaz Digzy, a former MVP who tries to make her way back to the top with a team full of losers.

Although Ballmastrz: 9009 mostly focuses on “The Game,” it never clarifies its rules, which makes it very confusing to follow. Instead, the series’ main goal is to be a sci-fi parody and a great social satire. The sport mostly serves as an excuse for all of this, which is hilarious.

24 Every Superhero Fan Should Know About Static Shock

Virgil Hawkins / Static Shock (Phil LaMarr): An ordinary teenager who gains the ability to control electricity

Static Shock

In the city of Dakota, a teenage boy with electricity based powers, with the help of his inventive friend, fights crime as a superhero.

Release Date
September 20, 2000

Cast
Phil LaMarr, Jason Marsden, Kevin Michael Richardson

Genres
Animation, Action, Adventure

Rating
TV-Y7

Seasons
4

Creator
Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek Dingle

Production Company
Warner Bros. Animation

Number of Episodes
52

Related

10 Best DC Comics Starring Static Shock

From his origin and New 52 rebirth to his time with the Teen Titans, discover the best DC Comics starring Virgil Hawkins, aka Static Shock.

Virgil Hawkins is a 14-year-old boy who develops electromagnetic abilities after being exposed to a mutagen gas. He takes on the Static mantle and becomes the protector of Dakota City. Created by Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan, Static is the first African-American superhero to star in his own animation.

Static Shock was eventually merged into the DCAU alongside other shows like Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League. While nowhere as popular, Static Shock is just as good as its sister series.

23 Clone High Follows A Weird Governmental Experiment

The Cast on the Clone High Promo

Clone High

The greatest minds of the world have been cloned, and are now attending high school together.

Release Date
January 20, 2003

Cast
Will Forte, Phil Lord, Michael McDonald, Christa Miller, Christopher Miller, Nicole Sullivan, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn

Main Genre
Comedy

Rating
TV-14

Creator
Bill Lawrence, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Clone High is set at a high school in the fictional town of Exclamation, USA. The school is both a high school and a governmental experiment on clones, where all the students are clones of historical figures, living their lives as if they were regular students.

Created by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Bill Lawrence, Clone High was widely unappreciated in 2002 when it premiered, but it developed a cult following. 21 years later, HBO Max ordered two new seasons for its revival, which premiered on May 23. The first 13 episodes are already available on the platform for viewers to get a head start.

22 Avenue 5 Is Full Of Emotionally Complex Characters

The Cast on the Avenue 5 Poster

Avenue 5

The troubled crew of Avenue 5, a space cruise ship filled with spoiled, rich, snotty space tourists, must try and keep everyone calm after their ship gets thrown off course into space and ends up needing three years to return to Earth.

Release Date
January 19, 2020

Cast
Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, Zach Woods, Rebecca Front, Suzy Nakamura, Lenora Crichlow, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Andy Buckley, Ethan Phillips

Main Genre
Science Fiction

Rating
TV-MA

Creator
Armando Iannucci

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, and Rebecca Front star in Avenue 5 as members of a stranded space cruise ship crew. The ship changes course by accident and delays their return by several years, and they only have eight weeks’ worth of supplies. The whole crew – which is full of complicated, flawed people with well-written personalities – must work together to survive.

Even though the characters are in a very complicated position, Avenue 5 is mostly a comedy series. The show’s blend of comedy and sci-fi makes Avenue 5 a great watch, even for those who don’t like sci-fi.

21 Doom Patrol Has Some Of The Best Superheroes On TV Ever

Doom Patrol TV Show Poster

Doom Patrol

The adventures of an idealistic mad scientist and his field team of superpowered outcasts.

Release Date
February 15, 2019

Cast
Brendan Fraser, April Bowlby, Matthew Bomer, Timothy Dalton

Main Genre
Superhero

Genres
Superhero

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
4

Creator
Jeremy Carver

Streaming Service(s)
Max

Related

10 DC Heroes Who Should Join The Doom Patrol

The Doom Patrol houses many of DC’s strangest superheroes. However, there are plenty of heroes who could still use a stint on the team.

Created by Jeremy Carver, Doom Patrol follows DC’s bizarre superteam as they deal with different threats. The show is mainly inspired by Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, so it also puts special attention to their inner conflict and the pain of being shunned by society.

All the members of the Doom Patrol gained their abilities through botched scientific processes, but they made the best out of the situation and now they fight villains just as strange as themselves. Sci-fi and superhero fans will immediately love Crazy Jane, Robot Man, and Elasti-Woman, among others.

20 The Jetsons Is Simply A Classic

The Jetsons 1962 Hanna Barbara Cartoon

The Jetsons

The adventures of the futuristic Jetson family living in Orbit City

Release Date
September 23, 1962

Cast
Mel Blanc, Janet Waldo, George O’Hanlon

Main Genre
Animation

Genres
Sitcom, Science Fiction

Rating
TV-Y7

Seasons
3

Purists of the genre can’t decide if The Jetsons is science fiction. On one hand, it takes itself as seriously as a 1960s cartoon could, but on the other, it does exactly what classic sci-fi should. It imagines the future under the pretense that technology will be humanity’s best ally or greatest demise.

Older members of the audience will love The Jetsons from a place of nostalgia. However, the show it’s also hilarious and wholesome at the same time. This cartoon is also a great opportunity to compare how reality actually looks and how people in the ’60s imagined it.

19 Gen:LOCK Has A Unique Premise

Golshifteh Farahani, Michael B. Jordan, Kôichi Yamadera, Asia Kate Dillon, and Maisie Williams in Gen- Lock (2018)

Gen:LOCK

Earth, 2068. City by city, free society is being forcibly absorbed into a vast autocracy. One military force holds the line. One pilot could turn the tide.

Release Date
January 26, 2019

Cast
Michael B. Jordan, Golshifteh Farahani, David Tennant, Koichi Yamadera, Asia Kate Dillon, Maisie Williams

Genres
Animation, Action, Adventure

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
2

Creator
Gray G. Haddock

Number of Episodes
16

Gen:LOCK is set in a dystopian future and follows the battle between The Polity, an international coalition, and the fascist Union, using the gen:LOCK program. This technology allows the warriors to use their minds to control the Holons, a series of mecha armors.

Gen:LOCK is an underrated animated sci-fi series with an incredible cast, including Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning, and Maisie Williams. Gen:LOCK also boasts a unique premise, action-packed scenes, and innovative lore. The first season is better than the second, but it’s all worth a watch.

18 Falling Skies Is A High-Stakes Sci-Fi Drama

Falling Skies

Falling Skies

Survivors of an alien attack on Earth gather together to fight for their lives and fight back.

Release Date
June 19, 2011

Cast
Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Jessy Schram, Maxim Knight

Genres
Science Fiction

Seasons
5

Number of Episodes
52

Falling Skies focuses on the aftermath of an alien invasion that completely ruined the world, while also centering on the personal lives of the refugees. Noah Wyle portrays Tom Mason, a former history professor who becomes second-in-command of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, a group of Earth survivors. Critics and fans praised Falling Skies at the premiere, especially for Noah Wyle’s performance. The series’ narrative grew increasingly epic and raised the stakes in every episode.

17 The Sarah Jane Adventures Is A Doctor Who Spin-Off

The Cast on the Sarah Jane Adventures Promo

The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, with the help of her adopted son, his friends, and an intelligent supercomputer, combats evil alien forces here on Earth.

Release Date
December 31, 2006

Main Genre
Science Fiction

Rating
TV-PG

Creator
Russell T. Davies

Main Cast
Elisabeth Sladen, Daniel Anthony, Alexander Armstrong, Tommy Knight and Anjli Mohindra

A spin-off of Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures centers on Sarah Jane Smith, a journalist who served as the Doctor’s companion in her younger years. Now she investigates paranormal events on Earth, often defending the planet against them with her allies.

In comparison to Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures is aimed at a younger audience, but this doesn’t mean it’s a boring watch for older viewers. Whovians and sci-fi lovers in general will have a great time with Sarah Jane.

16 Lovecraft Country Mixes Lovecraft’s Works With Social Criticism

Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett on Lovecraft Country Promo

Lovecraft Country

In Lovecraft Country, a young African-American travels across the U.S. in the 1950s in search of his missing father.

Release Date
August 16, 2020

Cast
Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett, Courtney B. Vance, Michael Kenneth Williams, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Wunmi Mosaku, Abbey Lee, Jamie Chung, Jada Harris

Main Genre
Horror

Rating
TV-MA

Creator
Misha Green

Lovecraft Country features Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett as Letitia Lewis and Atticus Freeman, respectively. Together, these two characters take a road trip across America in the 1950s while dealing with racism and encountering Lovecraftian monsters.

An interesting reflection on America’s political scene merged with a horror story straight out of Lovecraft’s books, Lovecraft Country was widely praised for its topics and its cast’s performances. Unfortunately, it was canceled after one season, but 10 episodes are enough to make anyone a fan.

15 The Third Day Is All Drama & Mystery

The Cast on the Third Day Promo

The Third Day

A man and a woman make separate journeys to a mysterious island off the British coast in The Third Day.

Release Date
September 14, 2020

Cast
Jude Law, Naomie Harris, John Dagleish, Mark Lewis Jones, Paddy Considine, Emily Watson, Joe Blakemore

Main Genre
Mystery

Rating
TV-MA

Creator
Felix Barrett and Dennis Kelly

The Third Day tells the story of two different travelers who end up on a British coast island, Sam (Jude Law) and Helen (Naomie Harris). Here, each of them goes through mysterious, life-changing experiences that don’t seem to have an explanation.

The Third Day is a sci-fi horror series, but its main focus is human drama. Sam and Helen are looking for answers about their own lives, at times grieving their past. In the end, the sci-fi and horror are an excellent excuse for their character development.

14 Fringe Has A Cult Following

Anna Torv on the Fringe Promo

Fringe

An F.B.I. agent is forced to work with an institutionalized scientist and his son in order to rationalize a brewing storm of unexplained phenomena.

Release Date
September 9, 2008

Cast
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown

Main Genre
Science Fiction

Rating
TV-14

Creator
J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

Created by J.J. Abrams, Fringe follows an FBI team as they investigate unexplained phenomena using FBI techniques combined with speculative theories, also known as “fringe science.” The series lasted five seasons and was widely ignored when it aired, but soon gained a cult following.

Fringe is a great show for police procedural fans who would like a twist on their favorite shows. Like CSI or Law & Order, Fringe follows different cases while exploring an overarching narrative.

13 Steven Universe Future Is The Sequel To Steven Universe

The Cast on the Steven Universe Future Promo

Steven Universe Future

The series focuses on the aftermath of the events of Steven Universe, where humans and Gems coexist in harmony after the end of the war between the Crystal Gems and Homeworld.

Release Date
December 7, 2019

Main Genre
Fantasy

Rating
TV-PG

Creator
Rebecca Sugar

Main Cast
Zach Callison, Estelle, Deedee Magno, Michaela Dietz and Shelby Rabara

Set two years after the series finale, following the successful franchise film, Steven Universe Future follows Steven and the Crystal Gems, now living in Little Homeworld, a community where humans and gems can peacefully coexist. The series shows how Steve spends his days helping other Gems to find a new purpose in the galaxy.

Steven Universe Future was widely acclaimed for its writing and its particular approach to important topics, such as mental health and the LGBTQ+ experience. Just like its predecessor, this show is fun for the whole family. Although being sci-fi isn’t its main priority, it’s a beautiful, heart-warming about the possibilities in space.

12 Station Eleven Focuses On Human Nature During The Apocalypse

Station Eleven

Station Eleven

A post apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, telling the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.

Release Date
December 16, 2021

Cast
Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, David Wilmot, Matilda Lawler

Main Genre
Drama

Creator
Patrick Somerville

Seasons
1

Story By
Emily St. John Mandel

Number of Episodes
10

Streaming Service(s)
HBO Max

Related

10 Best Sci-Fi Tropes Star Trek Popularized

Star Trek changed the face of science fiction, and opened up previously obscure genre tropes to a wider audience. Here are ten of the most memorable.

Two decades after a pandemic ended the world, a group of survivors known as the Traveling Symphony moves around the U.S., putting on shows to earn their living. On one of their journeys, they stumble upon a mystical cult that kidnaps children and rejects the world before the deadly flu appeared.

Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s novel, Station Eleven changed the sci-fi genre for good. In most shows, society collapses after a worldwide disaster, but this series attempts to keep it human. It’s refreshing to see that human things, like art, can survive the apocalypse.

11 Torchwood Is Existentialist Sci-Fi

Jack, Gwen and Ianto in Torchwood Promo

Torchwood

The members of the Torchwood Institute, a secret organization founded by the British Crown, fight to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.

Release Date
October 22, 2006

Cast
John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori

Genres
Science Fiction, Action, Drama, Mystery

Rating
TV-MA

Creator
Russell T. Davies

A spin-off of Doctor Who, Torchwood follows a group of alien hunters led by immortal conman Captain Jack Harkness. These alien hunters travel through space while investigating extraterrestrials and defending the planet from various threats.

Torchwood being a sci-fi series is just the tip of the iceberg. This five-season series explores humanity, even when not all its characters belong to this race. The show deals with sexuality, self-identity, and even existentialism. Even when it doesn’t delve into these themes, Torchwood is a great sci-fi series.

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