Basically, Netflix is packed with incredible sci-fi series. stranger things, black mirror and The OA are just the beginning. Netflix offers international content German sci-fi gem Dark – this is also one of the best series on Netflix period.
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Love, Death + Robots (2019—)
This adult anthology series spans a range of genres, with many episodes hitting the Black Mirror compare button. The first season features robots in a post-apocalyptic town, farmers piloting mech suits, and a space mission gone awry. While the episodes can be hit and miss (some have been criticized for their treatment of women), you’ll find plenty of thought-provoking and immersive animation.
This apocalyptic sci-fi from Belgium will probably soon put you off flying. Into the Night takes place on an airplane and sees a red-eye fighter being kidnapped by a soldier who, along with the rest of the passengers on the ground, is surviving a deadly global event. Can they keep the plane running long enough to get them to safety? That premise alone should be enough to entice you into checking out this excellent, suspenseful thriller.
Hilary Swank is the big star at the heart of Away’s space drama. She plays Emma Green, a NASA astronaut and commander of an expedition to Mars. Things get off to a rocky start and Emma’s international crew fills her with doubts about her ability to command. With time divided between earth-based drama and reliable entertainment above the stratosphere, Away mostly succeeds in landing an all-encompassing journey.
Do you enjoy sci-fi series that play with two timelines? Do you have a special place for cults and mysteries? Meet Archive 81. The multi-genre show stars Mamoudou Athie as Dan Turner, an archivist who takes on a gig to restore a collection of damaged videotapes from the ’90s. Getting far more than he bargained for, he becomes drawn into the investigation of a mysterious cult and a young woman who may or may not be dead. Archive 81 is a horror, mystery, noir and sci-fi supernatural thriller immersed in its spooky atmosphere.
It wouldn’t be a leaderboard without Stranger Things. If you somehow missed the Duffer Brothers’ ode to ’80s horror and Steven Spielberg, it’s about to get tubular. We follow El, an almost mute girl who has been the subject of scientific experiments. She develops telekinetic powers, which she uses to fend off monsters invading from a terrifying alternate dimension. The world of Indiana, Hawkins is lovingly detailed for anyone in need of an ’80s nostalgia hit, and the misfit characters, played by an outstanding young cast, are part of everything that makes this show a tour de force.
Full Disclosure: Netflix sadly canceled Travelers after its third season, but this tightly plotted sci-fi series from Canada manages to end with an ambitious bang. We start with Marcy, a disabled woman who gets beat up after helping a friend escape from thugs. She dies – and then comes to life again. This heavily character-driven sci-fi cleverly unveils its mysteries, following agents from the future tasked with preventing the collapse of society while also navigating the tricky terrain of a double life.
During Charlie Brooker’s gritty tech anthology series can be hit and missedAt its best, Black Mirror packs its mini-movies with an exploration of futuristic technological ideas through painfully human stories. One of them is San Junipero, which follows two women in their 80’s (cue banging soundtrack) who fall in love with each other in a way they couldn’t in their “real” life outside of the beach town. The technical aspect is revealed with ingenious timing and in general the show explores the ramifications of our connected lives in a disturbing and occasionally uplifting way.
Screenshot by Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET
If The 100 looks like your standard teen drama, prepare for your expectations to be exceeded. There’s a reason this post-apocalyptic series scored seven seasons: The 100 brings rich world-building and moral dilemmas that push the stereotypical characters into unique, compelling places. The 100 in question are a generation of juvenile prisoners who were sent to Earth to determine if it was habitable after the apocalypse. 100 percent give this one a chance.
Germany’s response to Stranger Things deliberately takes its time before stepping into completely compelling and original places. A sci-fi noir, Dark folds time travel, conspiracies and estranged families into a multi-generational story that begins with the disappearance of a child. If you’re after these kinds of carefully crafted levels when it comes to storytelling, make yourself comfortable. All three seasons of Dark’s meditative look at time travel and its impact on human nature are waiting to hit you in full force.
Netflix cancellations don’t get any more criminal than the cancellation of The OA. This unique story follows Prairie Johnson, a young blind woman who returns after years of being missing and is now able to see again. Claiming to be the “original angel”, she convinces a small group of locals to listen to her impossible story, which involves kidnappings and grand escapes. The OA is the kind of grounded sci-fi that catches you and its heroes completely off guard as it introduces its fantastic concepts. Watch the first two impeccable seasons on Netflix and pray the third will be picked up elsewhere.
Lost in Space (2018-2021)
The reboot of the 1965 series of the same name propels us to the year 2046, two years after humanity is on the brink of extinction. The talented Robinson family sets out with a crew to colonize a new planet. Inevitable family drama aside, they face strange new environments and a strange alien robot who befriends young Will. Mystery, heart, and a memorable villain in Parker Posey’s Dr. Smith give Lost in Space plenty of fuel to take off (seasons 2 and 3 are vastly improved over season 1).
Yes, Gong Yoo from Squid Game is included. What else do you need to know? This South Korean sci-fi mystery follows a crew of astronauts on a mission to an abandoned research facility on the moon. Their goal: a sample of an unknown substance for unclear purposes. Betrayal, government lies and personal secrets spiral this addictive space journey.
Altered Carbon (2018-2020)
Altered Carbon is set in a cyberpunk world where human consciousness can be transferred into different bodies. Investigator and ex-soldier Takeshi Kovacs is transported into the body of Joel Kinnaman in Season 1 and Anthony Mackie in Season 2. First, Kovacs’ story revolves around solving a murder before he embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his own lost love. Altered Carbon can be clunky at times, but its visual sweetness and entertainment value will carry you through the exhibition and heavy-handed social commentary.
From the creators of The Matrix comes another story that plays with reality. Sense8 follows eight strangers from around the world who discover that they are spiritually and emotionally connected. Not only do these windows into very different lives teach tolerance, but the “scythes” can tap into one another’s abilities when faced with a sinister organization hunting them. If you jibe with Sense8’s diverse characters, you’ll fall head over heels in love with this serious and sensual sci-fi drama.
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