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11 Of The Best Sci-Fi Television Shows Of The Last 15 Years

Updated on October 21, 2013
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Denis is a freelancer addicted to football (yeah...it's not soccer!). He thinks POLITICS and REALITY TV were invited to dumb us down.

Antonia Thomas
Antonia Thomas | Source

Over the last decade or so, many sci-fi shows have graced our screens. Ranging from the space dramas to futuristic adventures, these have greatly improved in their visual qualities. However, even the best special effects cannot make up for poor writing and casting. The TV dust bin is full of projects that didn't meet the required standards.

Here are 11 shows that have stood out, some even acquiring cult status.

11. Misfits (UK)

The UK series chronicles the lives of a group of delinquents as they carry their court mandated community service. One day, the group endures an electric storm and inadvertently acquire special powers.

The comedy sci-fi tells of their struggles as they try to adjust in their new circumstances. They also encounter people who have also been blessed/cursed with varied types of supernatural powers.

10.Torchwood

The British series is a spin-off of the very famous Dr. Who series. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman who also plays The Dark Archer on CW's Arrow) leads a group of alien hunters at Cardiff's branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute. Torchwood's team of specialists defends Earth, in secret, by tracking and cancelling out alien threats. Unlike Dr. Who, Torchwood has much more adult-oriented themes. In its fourth installment, Torchwood acquired a much more American element when Alexa Havins (All My Children's Babe Carey), Mekhl Phifer (ER and Lie To Me) and Bill Pullman (played the president in both Independence Day and 1600 Penn) joined the cast.

9. Farscape

The Australian sci-fi series chronicles the adventures of John Crichton (Ben Browder of Stargate SG-1), an American astronaut, as he gets accidentally pulled into a distant part of the galaxy via a wormhole. Crichton ends up in a militaristic world controlled by peacekeepers, and among a group of fugitives escaping the clutches of the show's main antagonist, Scorpious. On the biological space ship called Moya, Crichton is the company of various allies one of whom is Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black, a future cast-mate on Stargate SG-1 ).

8. Eureka

Eureka, Oregon is a unique and secretive town where almost every resident is a certified genius. The residents all work for an advanced research facility known as Global Dynamics (under the Defense Department) where new, extraordinary discoveries occur and major inventions are conceived.

US Marshall Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) stumbles upon the hidden town while taking his rebellious teenage daughter, Zoe, back to her mother. Carter ends up being offered the job of sheriff when his predecessor is incapacitated by an experiment gone wrong. Reluctantly, Carter accepts the job of protecting the town from outside influences; but also, from the scientists themselves.


7. The 4400

A ball of light deposits 4400 people on the shores of a Seattle lake. Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch) and Diana Skouris (Jacqueline Mckenzie) are assigned the task of finding out who these people are. They discover that the 4400 were systematically abducted from Earth since the 1940s and have been sent back with no memories of their experience in captivity

Moreover, all the abductees haven't aged a single day since their abduction. Homeland Security's NTAC division is tasked with rehabilitating the 4400 hundred as some experience a culture shock - having been abducted as far back as 1946.

6. Stargate Atlantis

The Stargate SG-1 spin-off tells the story of the 'lost city of Atlantis' and its discovery in the far off Pegasus Galaxy. The city was supposedly built by an ancient human race: Ancients. A link is set up through the famous wormhole device known as the Stargate, but with one problem: the wormhole can only sustain a single trip.

Volunteers are recruited from the different nations that are part of Stargate Command to make the one-way voyage into uncharted territory. Led by Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) and LT Colonel Jack Shepherd, the team makes its way to Atlantis on to find the city abandoned and submerged under water.

The team also encounter the powerful race known as the Wraiths whose presence forced the Ancients to submerge and abandon Atlantis. With no way back home, the crew struggles to survive while also fending off the persistent Wraiths.

5. The X-Files

The X-Files is a cult show that inspired such later shows like Fringe, Supernatural, Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Warehouse 13.

Special Agent Fox Mulder is a true believer of the existence of extraterrestrial beings and their presence on Earth. His convictions are emphasized by the fact that believes his sister was abducted by aliens when he was 12. This is his main source of motivation as he tries to validate his claims.

His beliefs land him a post in the little known department of the FBI - known as the X-Files. Once there he teams up with his future partner and friend, Special Agent Dana Scully. She is a skeptic and the polar opposite of Mulder; a needed anchor for Mulder as he tends to get lost in his own conspiracy theories.

The two developed a very close friendship that is the basis for the whole show.

As they try to solve puzzling that end up at their doorstep, Scully becomes more convinced that her partner may be right. The two stumble upon a conspiracy for the enslavement of Earth by a superior alien presence. The aliens use a secretive government group to advance their agenda. The group, known as The Syndicate, has agreed to betray Earth in exchange for their own lives. Mulder and Scully make it their mission to stop the traitors.

Considered to be one the best series of the 90s, the X-Files lasted 9 seasons, spawned two movies and a spin-off series, The Lone Gunman.

Which couple had the best on-screen chemistry?

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4. Firefly

Set in 2517, Firefly is an American sci-fi series with a strong cowboy element. A part of Earth's population migrates to a far off star system as the planet nears its capacity. The new worlds are terraformed in order to support human life. The core planets are governed by the Alliance (formed by the merging of the only remaining superpowers - China and the United States).

On the outskirts of the star system and out of the reach of the Alliance's reach, the planets are dry and barely habitable. In this open space, a rogue 'Firefly class' spaceship, Serenity, becomes home to a group of rogue travelers led by their captain, Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds. Mal and his crew survive by smuggling contraband through Alliance space.

Firefly is considered to be one the best ever to be cancelled in its first season. A lot of blame goes to the fact the episodes were televised in a disorderly manner.


3. Fringe

The sci-fi procedural drama that follows the Fringe Division of the FBI as they try to solve strange events relating to an extreme form of science - fringe science. The team of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), Walter Bishop (John Noble) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) encounter cases that push the boundaries of human understanding.

Cases involve subjects like human mutation, and the over-arching main themes of parallel universes and alternate timelines. The shows main selling points include a strong cast and fantastic visual effects that only Fox can offer.


2. Stargate SG-1

Considered to be the longest running sci-fi show on American TV, Stargate SG-1 is based on a premise that space travel is possible through wormhole devices known as Stargates. When co-ordinates of many more Stargates are found, Stargate Command becomes the base of an exploratory mission around the galaxy.

The first team through the wormhole is SG-1 and is comprised of the lead characters Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Daniel Jackson (Micheal Shanks) and Teal'c (Christopher Judge). The pioneer exploration team encounters an alien enemy in the form of the Goa'uld, symbiotic creature that enslaves humans by taking over their bodies. They save Earth from this superior enemy without the rest of the world knowing.

One of the biggest achievements of the series was exploiting the chemistry between Amanda Tapping and Richard Dean Anderson thus giving rise to one the greatest on-screen romances never to have happened. The writers used such themes as alternative universes to exploit these two characters' feelings towards each other. These kept viewers on edge as it became a case of 'will they' or 'won't they'.

The show, created from a rather average movie, spawned two spin-offs and a couple of movies thus creating the Stargate franchise.


1. Battlestar Galactica

Probably one the greatest shows in terms of themes relevant to us humans; even though the show is set in a distant part of space and Earth is seen as the promised land.

The human colonies, whose capital is Caprica, suffer a surprise attack from their former creations-turned fierce enemies: the machine race known as the Cylons. Caught unawares, the human is nearly wiped out and only a handful of survivors escape in ships. The military ship (Battlestar), Galactica becomes their only defense against the superior Cylon force.

Looking for a reason to stay alive, the humans place their hope on finding their long lost ancestors on a far off planet known as Earth. The human voyage begins with Cylon forces hot on their trail.

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Thank you a good list. I like Battlestar Galactica and was impressed at how much the remake improved on the original series. I don't understand why they pulled the plug on Firefly so early.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I think I saw random episodes of The X-Files back in the day, but I don't remember them that much. I also remember seeing the original Battlestar Galactica back in the 80's, but don't remember it either. Been meaning to check the new version.

      I saw all of Fringe and can say I enjoyed it, more or less; but I agree with IslandBites, the shift the show took during season 4 wasn't very good.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing I think I was able to watch only X-files .

    • IslandBites profile image

      IslandBites 4 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I used to watch the X-files. I really liked Fringe, but stop watching after the 3 season. I didn't like the first episodes of season 4, so I stopped watching it. Nice hub!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      It is interesting that there are so many English languages programs out there that Americans rarely see, but I am sure are of high quality. It's a shame we don't get more options in this area. Nice hub.

    • Resident Weevil profile image

      Resident Weevil 4 years ago

      I'm with Mitch. How in the world could Dr. Who be excluded from such a list? That's like meat without potatoes, strawberries without cream, fish fingers without custard.

    • Mitch Alan profile image

      Mitch Alan 4 years ago from South Jersey

      I've seen many and others on the "to see" list...good picks all around...But, where is Doctor Who? Caprica?

    • HeatherH104 profile image

      HeatherH104 4 years ago from USA

      I loved Farscape!

      Great suggestions, I've seen most if them but there are a couple new ones to look up.

    • peterstreep profile image

      peterstreep 4 years ago

      loved Torchwood - great sci-fi suggestions

    • profile image

      Michelle Widmann 4 years ago

      Firefly will always be the number one sci-fi show in my heart, even if it did only last a fraction of a season. Also loved Misfits. Great list! I think I'll do some research on some of the other shows you mentioned that I haven't watched yet...