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5 best Science Fiction Shows of the Last 25 Years

Updated on October 19, 2016

The Shows Every Scifi Fan Should Watch

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today - but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all. -Issac Asimov

Science fiction has been around as long as there has been fiction. Since 1900 science and technology have been driven by the imagination and stories of science fiction writers. Buck Rogers, one of the iconic scifi TV shows of the 1970s, first showed up in comic strips in 1929. He went on to show up in movie serials, and TV shows.

The 1950s and 1960s were ripe with scifi shows. Star Trek and Lost in Space are two of the most popular shows to come out of those decades. Star Trek is still a popular franchise, with 5 series and 12 movies, which includes the 2009 reboot of the series and 2012 sequel in pre-production, as well as 3 rebooted movies taking place in an alternate timeline.

These days science fiction is so popular that it has its own channel on cable TV. Syfy produces its own original series and movies, as well as running syndicated shows and movies. Some of their shows are so popular that even people who don't watch scifi shows know about them.

With so many science fiction shows and more all the time, it can be hard to narrow down the best shows. But here is a list of the 5 best science fiction shows from 1985-2010.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

This was the first spin-off of the Star Trek franchise. It ran from 1987-1994. It takes place 100 years after the first series, picking up the original Enterprise's 5 year mission to boldly go where no one has gone before. This series includes women in ranking positions, as the doctor and head of security; as well as a Klingon, formerly enemies of the Federation, as the security chief; and an android. Gene Roddenberry had a very idealized view of the world. His view was that in the future all human conflict would be ended and there would be no reason for money or war and everyone would have a lasting peace. Roddenberry saw no color or gender lines. In fact, in the original Star Trek he wanted the first officer to be a woman, but it was nixed by the network as “too controversial”. Another bit of trivia is that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a big fan of the original show, and his encouragement to Nichelle Nichols kept her going in the role of Uhuru.


From utopia to dirty, gritty and real. From the mind of Joss Whedon, who brought the world Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel , came a new series. This series takes place 500 years in the future, after Earth-that-was had been used up and other planets and asteroids were terraformed and colonized. Firefly combines western and science fiction, taking the best of both. The series takes place 6 years after a war between the Alliance planets and the Independents. The Independents, also known as the Browncoats for the color of the jackets they wore, were the losing side. They wanted to have self-determination and less government intrusion into their lives. The captain of the ship Serenity, Mal Reynolds, was a sergeant in that war, and survived the worst battle of the war, Serenity Valley. The rest of the crew is made up of Zoe, his second in command and war buddy, Wash, the pilot and Zoe's husband, Jayne, mercenary, Kaylee, mechanic, and Inara, a Companion. In the first episode, Shepard Book, a missionary with a mysterious past, and Simon Tam and his sister River join the crew. The series revolves around what it takes to be free in an ever more regulated world. This series only aired 14 episodes but has a devoted following, even more than 5 years after the series ended. In fact, the fan base is so strong that a movie, Serenity, ended up being made, and Firefly instantly entered geek history.

The strong fan base that is the Browncoats have driven fan-made movies, comic books, and numerous cosplayers. No one can stop the signal.

Doctor Who

Dr. Who : This series comes out of the U.K. For most Americans their first introduction to the Doctor was as fill-in shows on their local PBS station. But, it is much more than that. This series is the longest running science fiction series. It ran continuously on BBC 1963-1989. In that time 8 people played the Doctor. This happened because the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords and can regenerate instead of dying. The show stopped production in 1989, but no one stopped loving the Doctor. In that time numerous books were written as well as least 1 television movie. In 2005, a successful relaunch of the Doctor happened. In the spring of 2011 the 5 season of the new Dr. Who will begin, with the 3rd actor of the new run, Matt Smith, as the 11th Doctor. The original series had very poor special effects, which was one of the things that made it so beloved by fans. The new series depends on better effects, but has managed to bring back some of the most iconic villains of the series, including the Daleks, with no significant change. The American public has gotten more interested in the relaunch, partly because it is more accessible to them. This is because it was shown on BBCAmerica and the Syfy Channel picked up some of the early seasons and widespread DVD distribution. The 10th Doctor, David Tennant, surpassed the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker, as the fan favorite. There was some backlash in the last season with Matt Smith joining the cast, but any doubts were allayed, and fans are eagerly awaiting his 2nd season.

Since Matt Smith's tenure ended, we have gotten Peter Capaldi as the 12? Doctor. The 50th anniversary brought together the 10th and 11th Doctors to help with their previous incarnation, the War Doctor, as played by John Hurt. At a pivotal moment in the episode, we catch just a quick glimpse of Peter Capaldi who would be joining the show. As of late 2016, we are eagerly awaiting the new season and a new companion.

Battlestar Galactica (2004)

This is a reboot of the popular 1970s series, but with a much darker view. The premise is the same, destruction of the 12 colonies of mankind by their robotic creations, the Cylons. All the military spaceships, except for one, are destroyed. Most of mankind is killed. In both series the one surviving military spaceship, or Battlestar, is the Galactica, along with her fighter complement. The differences between the 2 series start at that point. One big difference is the reason that the Galactica wasn't destroyed. In the new series she was due to be stood down, because she didn't have the current technology, but it was that lack of technology that saved her. Another difference is how the remaining humans are ruled. In the original series they were governed by a council of 12, one representative from all the colonies. The new series, they do eventually have a council, but the show starts out and remains with a president. While the reboot kept most of the main characters, there was some gender bending, for example Starbuck and Boomer both became women. It also added in many new characters, including Caprica 6 and President Laura Rosin. The original series was very clean, without a lot of soul-searching. The 2004 reboot was dirty, and gritty, and very realistic. The show itself is dark, because of the way it was lit and shot. It also a very deep show. It spends a lot of time examining spirituality, from the multiple gods of the humans to the 1 god of the Cylons. It also examines exactly what it is to be human. Although it appears that the show isn't optimistic, it does end on a mostly happy note.

The prequel Caprica fits here because you get an idea as to what drives the characters in BSG,


This show isn't as well known or as popular as some of the others. Part of the reason for this is that it was filmed in Australia with primarily Australian actors. It was never given as much publicity as some of the other shows. This show features several Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson, puppets, including 2 of the main characters. The basic premise is that an astronaut from Earth, John Crichton, is trying a new maneuver in space and ends up creating a wormhole. He then ends up in the middle of a prison escape. Crichton and the escaping prisoners get away in a Leviathan, a living ship. They then end up chased through the galaxy by Peacekeepers, who the prisoners escaped from. Peacekeepers are a human-looking race called Sebacean. One particular Peacekeeper keeps up the chase for Crichton, Scorpious. He wants the wormhole knowledge that is in Crichton's head. Over the 4 seasons, Crichton and his shipmates are tortured and hounded for that knowledge. The show ended rather suddenly after 4 seasons. There was enough warning for the producers and writers to come to an ending that mostly tied up the loose ends, but there was enough of an outcry that some years later a mini-series FarScape: The Peacekeeper Wars was made to bring the show to a more satisfactory ending. This show, like most other science fiction shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s was very gritty and realistic. There were glimmers of hope, but in general, it was very dark. The main character often trod the line of madness. He was a man taken from his own place, trying to make sense of the insane world he ended up in.

Babylon 5

This series lasted for 5 years. Unlike other series that is how long it was planned to last. From the very beginning, the show was set up to have a 5 season long story arc, and everything was planned. J. Micheal Straczynski , comic book and science fiction writer, was the principal creator of the show. Instead of having his crew go out and experience the world, his characters would have the world come to them. This series takes place in 2257-2262. Earth is in a 10-year peace, after barely surviving a war with an alien species called the Minbari. There is internal unrest in Earth politics, with the Mars colonies rebelling. But, EarthGov has built a space station, Babylon 5. It is actually the 5th one of a series to be built, but the first 3 were destroyed before becoming operational, and Babylon 4 completely disappeared. Earth military runs the station, as a military outpost. However, it is also a diplomatic station, as ambassadors of 4 major alien species, the Minbari, Centauri, Narn, and Vorlon, are all based there, as well as members of the League of Non-aligned Worlds. Unlike other series, which have a basic theme that goes throughout, Babylon 5 was planned with a strong theme of Good vs. Evil, Order vs. Chaos. While there are enemies within, the larger enemy are the Shadows, who also influence the enemies within. The Shadows stand for all that is evil and chaotic, and it takes the combined might of all the species to overcome it. While at times this show appears to be very bleak and grim, it is optimistic. It holds that Good will always overcome and win out. It says that no matter what you have to go through, whatever the hard times are if you stand strong and do what is right you will overcome.

Science fiction is what tells us what we hope to be in the future. Whether it is utopian or post-apocalyptic, cheerily optimistic or darkly bleak, it is the story of us. Without science fiction, there are no dreamers and no push to become better than we are.


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    • c brotherton profile imageAUTHOR

      c brotherton 

      9 years ago

      I will. :)

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Write on!

    • c brotherton profile imageAUTHOR

      c brotherton 

      9 years ago

      That's for another article that I'm going to write in a couple of weeks.

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Cheers for FIREFLY and BABYLON 5. I might humbly also suggest LEXX, a very weird series set in a decadent human future about a bunch of misfits who steal an enormous living insectoid spaceship called the Lexx from the tyrannical emperor called simply His Shadow, and fly it around looking for one of the last-remaining pleasant planets to settle in. Four two-hour movies launched it as a mini-series and then there were 4 seasons of TV episodes.


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