The Sci Fi Shows On Netflix You Really Should Be Watching

Back when there was a Blockbuster in every strip mall, the idea of Netflix seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie. A cache of near-endless movies and shows that can be instantly beamed to the TV? Come on.

But here we are. Welcome to the future: You have arrived. It’s 2019, and Netflix is full of TV shows that imagine what might be next, after this moment.  


Is the “next” any better than the “now”? Is another world any better than our own? These sci-fi shows are getting at big questions like that using progressions like robots and time travel — and each show has a different answer. 

Escape into another world with these shows. 

Photo: Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock.

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? The Twilight Zone is the precursor to so much of modern sci-fi. Each episode played out a different futuristic or uncanny scenario, ranging from cyborg nannies to alien invasions. By using sci-fi plot devices, The Twilight Zone was able to comment freely about modern society.

Watch It If You Like: Watching episodes out of order, talking dolls, good old-fashioned fun.

Black Mirror (2011-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? When new episodes of Black Mirror drop, the internet convenes to discuss them in a way that is, frankly, straight out of Black Mirror. The ground-breaking British show, originally on the BBC, explores how different technologies might affect the way we live. 

Watch It If You Like: Keeping up with the zeitgeist, binge-watching The Twilight Zone, paranoia, contemplating moving off the grid
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

The OA (2016-2019)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? After disappearing seven years ago, Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) returns to her adoptive family with a story that nobody believes. Miraculously, Prairie regained her ability to see — and now can travel between dimensions, or so she says. The OA is a show that defies classification. It was big-hearted and controversial, a show for dreamers and a show that will never see its full arc finished. The show appeared overnight without interruption and was cancelled after the second season, just as unexpectedly. 

Watch It If You Like: Intricate storylines, dance routines, interdimensional time travel theories
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Sense8 (2015-2018)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? The Wachowski Siblings, the visionary duo behind The Matrix and Cloud Atlas, helmed this beloved (and underrated) show that follows eight psychically connected people. Beyond its complicated sci-fi mechanism, Sense8 is a show about a friend group with radical empathy — they feel for, and with, each other. 

Watch It If You Like: A diverse cast, progressive sensibility, knowing about hidden gems.
Photo: Courtesy of Syfy.

The Magicians (2015-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? Pause for a moment. Is this show about a magic academy sci-fi, or is it fantasy? If we count magic abilities as a technological progression, we can include The Magicians, an acclaimed show about Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), a 20-year-old who discovers magic is real and studies it in college. Now that is a practical degree. 

Watch It If You Like: Writing Harry Potter fan-fiction, hexing your enemies.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Stranger Things (2016-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? Something is up with the town of Hawkins, Indiana, and a group of middle-schoolers are the first to find out what. Stranger Things is the closest thing Netflix has to a blockbuster. 

Watch It If You Like: Endearing kids, monsters at the border of cheesy and scary, ‘80s nostalgia, Jim Hopper (line up), reading trailers for clues.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.

Dark (2017-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? The premise of Dark sounds like quintessential sci-fi: A wormhole opens up in a small German town connecting 2019 and 1986. But this German series is more brooding than, say, Stranger Things,. It’s the mood of an English police procedural with the complexity of theoretical physics. With increasingly complicated paradoxes, Dark demands you pay complete attention. 

Watch It If You Like: Solving puzzles, searingly intelligent shows, juggling the same character in five different timelines (looking at you, season 2).

Altered Carbon (2018-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? Imagine if you could live forever. Now imagine if everyone could — how would that change society? The super-rich in Altered Carbon are sequestered in high rises so tall they’re nestled in clouds, and can sustain their bodies forever. Poorer people wait until relatives save up and re-upload their mines into new bodies. After years in prison, rebel fighter Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) awakens in this world and is tasked with solving a billionaire’s murder. The complicated pays off.

Watch If It You Like: Staying up late and discussing income inequality, shows that require glossaries, and plot twists that make your head go “kaboom.”


Living With Yourself (2019-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? Miles (Paul Rudd) visits a spa that promises to make him into a better version of himself – but only after the procedure goes awry does he discover how the spa really works: two technicians clone him and bury his old body. Old Miles accidentally survives, and now competes for dominion over his life with a sparklier, more charming self. 

Watch It If You Like: Paul Rudd performing dance routines, sci-fi premises grounded in everyday humanity, thinking about Barbra Streisand’s cloned dogs.

Better Than Us (2019-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? In this Russian show, robots have penetrated Moscow society — and made it better. Robots are involved in all aspects of life. Then a fraying family comes into possession of a robot that’s too good, too human. 

Watch It If You Like: Rooting for the androids in movies like Ex Machina and AI, foreign-language shows,

Raising Dion (2019-present)

What’s So Sci Fi About It? Dion (Ja'Siah Young) has a complicated childhood. On top of the usual middle-school pains, Dion has to learn to use his superpowers. Dion's mom, Nicole (Alisha Wainwright), has to guide her son through this experience on her own after her husband (Michael B. Jordan) dies.

Watch It If You Like: Shows you can watch with the whole family, comic books.
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