Science fiction is a fascinating and exciting genre in both literature and film, but the genre has a unique advantage in the medium of television — the advantage of time. Given the extra time allowed by even a single season of a weekly series, a quality sci-fi show can explore its world, its characters, and its ideas with far more depth and detail than is usually allowed in other mediums. Predictably, the formula of television has hosted many of the greatest achievements in storytelling in the history of the enduring genre, giving us unique series that can stand among the best that have ever aired.
While it’s impossible to cover every quality sci-fi TV show ever produced in one short article, we’ve nonetheless done our best to make the following list of the greatest sci-fi TV series of all-time. In no particular order:
Joss Whedon’s space Western series Firefly was only allowed to air 14 episodes before it was canceled, but those 14 episodes were enough to generate a loyal fan base clamoring for more. Thankfully, the series creators produced a follow-up movie Serenity to tie up the series’ loose ends. In such a limited run, Firefly managed to create a unique frontier world populated with a core cast of lovable outcasts rubbing against one another.
Nowadays, viewers are likely to love the series equally for the complex mythology of a dystopian, interplanetary government and for Whedon’s trademark witty banter, which is at its best coming from the mouth of series star Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). Partially due to its cancellation, Firefly is one of the most perfectly realized and consistent television shows ever produced.