When I submitted ‘the greatest sci-fi show of all time’ as a possible article topic, my fellow Nerds on Earth writers derided me. Rather than support me, they mocked me, saying that it couldn’t be done, that the task was too difficult.
Creating a list of the greatest sci-fi shows was ‘a tall order’ they said, and they questioned if I’d be able to whittle the list down.
Well, that’s red shirt thinking; loser talk! All I do is win! So I’m going to make this list to spite my fellow writers, just to prove that it can be done.
[brainstorms a preliminary list of worthy sci-fi television shows, finding it to be 43 shows long]
Dear heavens, what have I done?!?
Well, I’ve committed now, so here is my list of the 7 greatest sci-fi shows of all time, with my deepest apologies to numbers 8-43.
The 7 Greatest Sci-fi Shows of All Time
And even though I’m not all in on Who, millions are, to the point that they break the internet when a new Doctor or companion is cast. Besides, I can appreciate that good time travel stories exist, even if I haven’t watched all 100,000 episodes.
6. The X-Files This was the show that showed that weird sciencey genre stuff could work on TV and find and audience to boot. It was a great blend of freak-of-the-week and season long meta plots, plus had a compelling chemistry within a cast of interesting characters.
It was difficult to leave off The Twilight Zone for its role in paving the way and Twin Peaks for truly dialing up the weird, but in the end, The X-Files in my opinion is simply one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time. I’m glad it’s coming back.
It is doubtful that Stargate would ever makes anyone’s top spot for favorite science fiction show, while most of the others on this list very well could claim to be someone’s absolute favorite. But what Stargate lacks in flashiness, it easily makes up in steadiness.
It’s the comfy blanket of the science fiction community and it shouldn’t be overlooked for its longevity and success in spawning spin-offs.
4. Star Trek (Original and TNG) I cheat, because I’m a cheater. I realize I lumped two Star Trek series into one, but this is a hard list, so cut me some slack. Besides, it is difficult to choose between the two.
While it is difficult to ever go against Kirk and Spock, The Next Generation earned its place right beside them, if not for the cast (is there really a standout after Picard?), then for the depth of storytelling.
3. Battlestar Galactica Before The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones could be hugely successful, they needed a genre show to prove that not only could genre television find an audience, it could also be one of the best written shows in TV. Battlestar Galactica was that show.
The depth of characterization and intrigue the show produced was amazing, and that’s before it was layered with intricate political subplots. Battlestar truly was science fiction at its best.
2. Firefly I will forever be a Browncoat and count the cancellation of Firefly as one of TV’s greatest tragedies. While many of the other shows produced great characters, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that Firefly doesn’t have the greatest cast of characters on this list.
And not just that, the dialogue of Firefly was unmatched and the setting was just getting started in terms of the adventures it could have told. You can’t stop the signal.
1. LOST Many will point to the ending of LOST and use it as rationale to dismiss the entire series. But to do that is to forget how truly magical it was. LOST is the only show on this list that can challenge Firefly for compelling characters, it’s the one show that can challenge X-Files for weird, and that island was a setting that could rival even Star Trek.
Sure, it stumbled a few times under the weight of maintaining its mysteries, but that is only because it had set a bar that was impossibly high. Don’t forget that LOST was the show that solidified serialized storytelling on TV and kickstarted the internet trend of frantically discussing theories.
And, oh, those cliffhangers.
Again, my apologies to numbers 8-43 (I’m looking at you, V miniseries from the 80s). When you stop to think about it, TV has truly spoiled us with great science fiction.