One of the most popular TV show genres for many years has been science fiction. It goes back to when television was just getting started, with anthology shows giving sci-fi fans everything they wanted, and then space opera sci-fi becoming the king of the genre ever since. decades now.
While space opera remains the most-watched sci-fi subgenre on TV and dominates top lists on sites like Ranker, there are a few other versions of sci-fi that remain popular. From the continued success of anthology shows to horror and sci-fi mashups, sci-fi television is as popular today as it was 50 years ago.
The Expanse (2015-2022) – Stream on Amazon Prime Video
The new sci-fi show that Ranker fans love debuted in 2015. It was The extent and is based on the novels by James SA Corey. In the tradition of classic space opera series, The extent humanity colonizes the rest of the solar system, but still with the same prejudices and hatred that exist on Earth.
This is a political thriller about a cold war between Earth and Mars, which soon attracts other planets. Between world-building and political intrigue, the series does what any successful sci-fi series tries to accomplish, and it shows real-world issues unfolding in fantasy settings.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) – Stream on Paramount+ and Netflix
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine it’s not talked about as much as other shows in the franchise, but it’s still loved by core fans. The spin-off series ran for seven seasons, from 1993 to 1999, and starred Avery Brooks as the captain of the space station Deep Space Nine.
It made him different from the others star trek shows because it was not about exploring distant worlds, but rather being placed in a single location on the space station. It was also notable for featuring the franchise’s first black captain.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) – Stream on Paramount+
When it comes to sci-fi TV shows that Ranker voters love, the oldest show ranked in the site’s top 10 is The twilight zoneaired from 1959 to 1964, ending two years before star trek made his television debut. It was the cream of the crop of science fiction anthologies released over the next few decades.
The show featured a mix of sci-fi ideas mixed with very scary ones blurred area episodes, giving something to everyone. Rod Sterling presenting the episodes remains iconic to this day and some of the biggest names in TV and film have passed on to appear in episodes of the show.
Star Trek: The Original Series (1965-1969) — Stream on Paramount+
It’s hard to find sci-fi TV fans who don’t have at least a fondness for the original. star trek. Starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock, this is a show that even people who don’t care about science fiction know a lot about.
While the later series would take the idea and offer bigger and better storylines, there’s still something about the original series that strikes at the hearts of sci-fi fans everywhere. It’s not as deep as later efforts, but is still a beloved entry in sci-fi television.
The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-2018) — Stream on Hulu
In 1993, Chris Carter pitched a new science fiction TV series to Fox and it was a huge hit. This came as a shock to many as it aired on Friday nights, a death slot for most TV shows. However, X files made essential Friday night television. When he moved to Sunday night, he did the same.
X files were two different shows, basically. It was a pure sci-fi show, with FBI agents investigating things like extraterrestrial life on Earth, which was the main storyline from start to finish. However, it was also a horror show with a Monster of the Week format, the precursor to shows like Supernatural.
Doctor Who (2005-Present) – Stream on HBO Max
Doctor Who is one of the most enduring science fiction shows on television. The British series started in 1963 as an educational children’s show and ran for 26 seasons before going off the air in 1989. However, in 2005 the BBC revived it to huge success with Christopher Eccleston in the lead.
In the modern era, there have been multiple doctors, with the show set up to explain cast changes. Whoever the actor was, from David Tennant and Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whitaker, he remained hugely popular with more than 13,000 people voting him as a favorite on Ranker.
Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007) — Stream on Netflix
stargate was a sci-fi movie that was a big hit when it was released in 1994, but no one could have expected a television show that continued the story to become one of the best shows in science fiction on television. That’s what happened with Stargate SG-1which lasted 10 years.
After discovering the technology that allows people to pass through a stargate, the United States government forms a team that can use these portals to defend the planet against alien threats. There were also sequels to this original series, although they weren’t ranked as highly for viewers on Ranker as the original.
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) – Stream on Peacock
In 1978, Glen A. Larson created a science fiction television show called Battlestar Galactica. It had a solid cast and good design, but it didn’t last long thanks to unfair comparisons with star wars and star trek, both of which were very popular at the time. However, when Ronald D. Moore reimagined it in 2003 as a political sci-fi thriller, it was a huge hit.
The restarted Battlestar Galactica ended up as a beloved, critically acclaimed series that ran for four seasons. With a fantastic cast, including Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer, the series has proven to be one of the best space operas ever to air on television.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) — Stream on Paramount+
While people still hold the original star trek series in high esteem, the truth is that the sequel, Star Trek: The Next Generation, was better in every way. The cast and crew of the USS Enterprise were so popular and beloved that they quickly replaced the original actors in the films, although this marked a downturn for the franchise on the big screen.
However, as a science fiction television show, there is no version of star trek more loved than this. The stories were deeper with more meaning, the action was bigger thanks to a higher budget, and Ranker fans felt that only one sci-fi show in the story was better.
Firefly (2002) – Stream on Hulu
Firefly is still the answer to the long-running debate over which TV show was canceled before its time. The reason the Joss Whedon series did not air was that Fox chose to air the episodes out of order, which confused viewers and turned them away from the show.
However, when the sci-fi series was bundled together after being canceled and aired out of order, it became a massive cult classic and something viewers fell in love with. The space opera mixed with the tropes of the western genre was something people couldn’t get enough of and fans even got a movie to fix the issues. According to Ranker fans, Firefly is the best sci-fi show in history.
NEXT: 10 Best TV Shows That Deserve A Revival, According To Ranker
Young Sheldon Explains the Success of Georgia’s Big Bang Theory
About the Author