Top 10 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of All Time: The Ultimate Countdown

top 10 sci-fi tv series

Sci-fi TV shows have always held a special place in the hearts for many including my own, captivating audiences with mind-bending concepts, futuristic technologies and otherworldly adventures.

In this article, we’ll explore the Top 10 Best Sci-fi TV Shows that have left an indelible mark on the genre, attracting legions of devoted fans and redefining the way we experience television.

The 10 Best Sci-fi TV Shows

Their are the shows that redefined entertainment, so buckle up, as we embark on an intergalactic journey through the greatest sci-fi series of all time!

10. Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)

Stargate SG-1
Image Credit: MGM

Following on from the successful 1994 movie starring Kurt Russell and James Spader was the Stargate TV series, Stargate SG-1. The mains cast included, Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge.

Interesting both Ben Browder and Claudia Black, of Farscape fame, appeared in the last few series of SG-1.

The Stargate is an otherworldly device capable of creating stable wormholes, allowing interstellar travel to distant planets.

The show’s follows a top-secret team, SG-1, which is comprised of a skilled military personnel and a brilliant archaeologist. Led by Colonel Jack O’Neill, the team embarks on thrilling missions through the Stargate, encountering alien civilizations, ancient gods and intergalactic threats.

If you’re into science fiction, the chances are you’re probably going to enjoy this one.

Stargate SG-1 Cast

  • Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neill
  • Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson
  • Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter
  • Christopher Judge as Teal’c
  • Don S. Davis as George Hammond
  • Ben Browder as Cameron Mitchell
  • Beau Bridges as Hank Landry
  • Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran

9. Farscape (1999–2003)

Farscape
Image Credit: The Jim Henson Company

Farscape, fast became a cult classic among science fiction enthusiasts during the late 90s and early 2000s.

The series takes viewers on an extraordinary cosmic odyssey following the adventures of John Crichton, an astronaut who is accidentally flung through a wormhole during an experimental space flight. Stranded in a distant part of the universe, he finds himself aboard a living ship named Moya, accompanied by a diverse group of alien escapees.

Where Farscape excels is with the characters and casting. John Crichton played by Ben Browder, serves as the audience’s relatable entry point into the alien world. His Earthly perspective regularly clashes a with his fellow crew members.

One of the other central characters is Aeryn Sun, played by Claudia Black. She’s a tough no-nonsense Peacekeeper soldier who arrives on board Moya at the same time as Crichton. The relationship between Crichton and Sun is at the heart of why Farscape works so well. Their chemistry is simply amazing, their exchanges are both funny and heart-warming.

There’s plenty of wit and humour to be had, and that leads me to Dominar Rygel XVI, a rather cunning and treacherous creature. Rygel provides plenty of laughs along the way, along including some rather unpleasant personal habits.

The Farscape TV show was a trailblazer in the realm of visual effects, particularly with its imaginative alien creature designs and groundbreaking puppetry. The Jim Henson Company, renowned for its puppetry expertise, brought the show’s non-human characters to life. The extraordinary puppetry of characters such as Pilot and Rygel was an impressive feat that set Farscape apart from other science fiction series of the time.

Farscape remains a shining star in the vast cosmos of science fiction television. With its unforgettable characters, imaginative world-building and entertaining storytelling, the series has rightfully earned its place as a beloved cult classic.

Farscape Cast

  • Ben Browder as John Crichton
  • Claudia Black as Aeryn Sun
  • Anthony Simcoe as Ka D’Argo
  • Virginia Hey as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan
  • Gigi Edgley as Chiana
  • Wayne Pygram as Scorpius

8. Battlestar Galactica (1978)

Battlestar Galactica 1978 Cast Photo
Image Credit: Universal Pictures

I have to be clear, this is for the Battlestar Galactica (1978) TV series, not the 1981 or the 2004 series. Battlestar Galactica (1978) was a groundbreaking science-fiction television series that provided outstanding space battles that both entertained and captivated audiences for generations. Created by Glen A. Larson, the show ran for one season, consisting of 24 episodes and a theatrical release, its impact on the sci-fi landscape continues to be felt today.

The series revolves around the last remnants of humanity’s twelve colonies, which are devastated by an all-out attack from the Cylons, a cybernetic race created by humans. With only one surviving Battlestar, it proves impossible to defend the remains colonies. The decision is taken for the survivors to embark on a desperate quest to find the 13th colonies, named Earth.

The ragtag fleet of ships is led by the Battlestar Galactica, the sole surviving military battleship, which is commanded by Commander Adama.

What sets this apart from many other series, is its action packed space battles, entertaining stories and excellent cast.

Battlestar Galactica Cast

  • Richard Hatch as Captain Apollo
  • Dirk Benedict as Lieutenant Starbuck
  • Lorne Greene as Commander Adama
  • John Colicos as Baltar
  • Herbert Jefferson Jr. as Lieutenant Boomer
  • Laurette Spang as Cassiopeia
  • Maren Jensen as Lieutenant Athena
  • Anne Lockhart as Lieutenant Sheba
  • Terry Carter as Colonel Tigh
  • Jane Seymour as Serina
  • Noah Hathaway as Boxey
  • Tony Swartz as Flight Sergeant Jolly
  • Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain

Battlestar Galactica (1978) stands as a timeless sci-fi classic that has earned its place in television history. With its gripping storylines, memorable characters, groundbreaking special effects and enduring cultural impact, the show continues to captivate audiences across generations.

Whilst a new generation grew up with the 2004 re-boot, it’s the Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict Battlestar Galactica, that really shook up the television landscape. Those groundbreaking special effects didn’t come cheap, and ultimately was the main factor behind the decision to cancel the show.


7. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)

Star Trek The Next Generation
Image Credit: Paramount

The Next Generation really did capture the spirit of the original Star Trek for an entirely new generation.

One of the distinguishing features of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was its focus on ethical dilemmas and complex moral issues. As the crew ventured into uncharted space, they often encountered enigmatic beings and civilizations, forcing them to grapple with profound questions.

Themes of diplomacy, cultural understanding and the consequences of advanced technology on society were regularly explored, prompting viewers to reflect on real-world challenges.

Led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, portrayed by Patrick Stewart, the crew of the USS Enterprise represented a utopian vision of the future. Each character brought their unique strengths and perspectives, fostering a sense of unity and cooperation that transcended cultural and species boundaries.

From the android officer Data, yearning to understand humanity and experience emotion, to the empathic counsellor Deanna Troi and the Klingon warrior Worf, the show brilliantly showcased the richness of its ensemble.

Just like the original series, TNG has left its mark on an entire generation of science fiction lovers. Whether you prefer the TOS or TNG is probably down to the era in which you grew-up in.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast

  • Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
  • Jonathan Frakes as Commander William T. Riker
  • LeVar Burton as Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge
  • Brent Spiner as Lieutenant Commander Data
  • Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
  • Marina Sirtis as Lieutenant Commander Deanna Troi
  • Denise Crosby as Lieutenant Tasha Yar
  • Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
  • Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher

6. V (1983-1985)

V 1983 Mini-series
Image Credit: Warner Bros

“V” took viewers on a thrilling journey into a world where alien visitors descend upon Earth under flag of friendship. However it soon becomes clear the visitors are far from friendly and so begins the resistance against them.

The story was told firstly in, V (1983 miniseries) and V: The Final Battle (1984) and then continued in V: The TV series (1984-1985)

One of the reasons “V” remains etched in the annals of television history is its unforgettable characters. From the enigmatic and manipulative Visitor leader, Diana, to the charismatic yet conflicted resistance fighter Mike Donovan, each character well written, acted. The special effects for the time worked exceptionally well.

V” Cast

  • Jane Badler as Diana (Supreme Commander of the Visitors)
  • Marc Singer as Mike Donovan
  • Faye Grant as Juliet Parrish
  • Robert Englund as Willie
  • Michael Ironside as Ham Tyler
  • Michael Wright as Elias Taylor
  • Michael Durrell as Robert Maxwell
  • Blair Tefkin as Robin Maxwell

In 2009 a re-imagined series aired but this was a poor effort. Trust me, watch the original series instead, it’s well worth re-visiting.


5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV Series
Image Credit: BBC

This cult classic TV series from 1981, has left an enduring legacy on science fiction enthusiasts and pop culture alike. Adapted from Douglas Adams‘ brilliant radio series and novel, this beloved series takes viewers on a cosmic journey filled with plenty of humour, wit, and philosophical musings.

The series answers one of life’s most important questions, what is the meaning of life? As it turns out the answer is 42!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy appeared on our screens on the 5th January 1981.

It begins with Arthur Dent attempting to prevent his house from being demolished. Soon after he unwittingly finds himself travelling through space after Earth’s demolition to make way for a galactic highway. Fortunately he accompanied by his friend and alien, Ford Prefect. Ford is working for the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Armed with a towel and a knack for getting into peculiar situations, Arthur’s escapades lead to encounters with a quirky cast of characters, including the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox, the pragmatic Trillian, and the highly intelligent but depressed robot Marvin.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Cast

  • Peter Jones as The Book (Narrator)
  • Simon Jones as Arthur Dent
  • David Dixon as Ford Prefect
  • Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox
  • Sandra Dickinson as Trillian
  • David Learner as Marvin the Paranoid Android
  • Stephen Moore as Marvin (Voice)
  • Richard Vernon as Slartibartfast

4. Red Dwarf (1988 – Present)

Red Dwarf
Image Credit: Grant Naylor Productions

Simply put, Red Dwarf has to be the best sci-fi comedy ever made. Created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, the series revolves around Dave Lister, the last human alive. He awakens from suspended animation on the spaceship Red Dwarf to discover he’s three million years into deep space.

His only companions are a hologram of his dead bunkmate Arnold Rimmer, a humanoid feline named Cat and the senile ship’s computer, Holly.

Whilst Lister is probably best described as a likeable bum, Rimmer on the other hand is charmless, cowardly, pernickety, career-focused underachiever. They both worked on Z Shift where their duties included cleaning the gunk out of the chicken soup machines.

With its witty writing, endearing characters and unforgettable adventures across the cosmos, this sci-fi comedy which began in 1988 is still going strong today.

It still has a very passionate fan base, despite the series taking a break for most of the noughties.

The series initially ran from 1988-1999 on BBC2 in the UK, whereupon a film version was planned. The film never materialised and subsequently the series returned to our screens via the “Dave” TV channel in 2009.

Red Dwarf Cast

  • Craig Charles as Dave Lister
  • Chris Barrie as Arnold Judas Rimmer
  • Danny John-Jules as Cat
  • Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
  • Norman Lovett as Holly
  • Hattie Hayridge as Holly

3. The X-Files (1993-2002), (2016, 2018)

The X-Files
Image Credit: 20th Century

“The X-Files” revolutionized sci-fi television during the 1990’s by blending paranormal mysteries with government conspiracies. Mulder and Scully’s iconic partnership in “The X-Files” along with unforgettable storytelling captivated audiences, ensuring its place as one of the most influential sci-fi shows in TV history.

It managed to blend the “monster of the week” format” with a long running alien government conspiracy storyline which kept viewers hooked.

It’s a show that struck a chord with many at time when interest in UFO’s and government conspiracies was at an all-time high. That’s not to say the series was an overnight success, it wasn’t it took at change in the schedules before it really took off.

The X-Files strength is in great storytelling along with the outstanding chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson aka Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. One’s a believer and the other a sceptic.

The X Files Cast

  • David Duchovny as Fox Mulder
  • Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
  • Mitch Pileggi as Walter Skinner
  • William B. Davis as Cigarette Smoking Man
  • Bruce Harwood as John Fitzgerald Byers
  • Tom Braidwood as Melvin Frohike
  • Dean Haglund as Richard Langly
  • Jerry Hardin as Deep Throat
  • Steven Williams as X
  • Nicholas Lea as Alex Krycek
  • Laurie Holden as Marita Covarrubias
  • Peter Donat as William Mulder

2. Star Trek – The Original Series (1966–1969)

Star Trek - The Original Series
Image Credit: Paramount

Star Trek: The Original Series has left an enduring mark on society, entertainment and technological innovation. Whether it’s the technological foresight or entertaining stories and social commentary, the series set a precedent for science fiction on television.

Remember flips phones, the first time round? Well Star Trek had them back in the 1960s and the series continues to inspire tech companies around the world. Just wait until they crack the transporter!

The series, which ran between 1966-1969, produced a set of iconic characters, from Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy (Bones), Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov, all of which became household names.

Whilst the Star Trek series came to an end, it simply moved to the big screen with six movies.

As we continue to explore the uncharted territories, the legacy of Star Trek lives on. It’s always looking to a hopeful and peaceful future. To boldly go where no one has gone before!

Star Trek Cast

  • William Shatner as James T. Kirk
  • Leonard Nimoy as Spock
  • DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard McCoy
  • James Doohan as Montgomery Scott
  • Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura
  • George Takei as Hikaru Sulu
  • Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov

1. Doctor Who (1963 – Present)

Doctor Who
Image Credit: BBC

A timeless classic, with a devoted fan base spanning generations, “Doctor Who” has become a cultural phenomenon. This long-running British series features the Doctor, a time-travelling Timelord who explores the universe and saves civilizations.

Its enduring popularity has solidified its place as the best sci-fi TV shows ever made.

The TARDIS is known all round the world, but what does it stand for? Well the answer is, Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

The Doctor has been played by so many actors, all of which have brought something different whilst remaining true to the character. Well that was certainly true up to the twelfth Doctor.

  • William Hartnell – First Doctor (1963–1966)
  • Patrick Troughton – Second Doctor (1966–1969)
  • Jon Pertwee – Third Doctor (1970–1974)
  • Tom Baker – Fourth Doctor (1974–1981)
  • Peter Davison – Fifth Doctor (1982–1984)
  • Colin Baker – Sixth Doctor (1984–1986)
  • Sylvester McCoy – Seventh Doctor (1987–1989)
  • Paul McGann – Eighth Doctor (1996)
  • Christopher Eccleston – Ninth Doctor (2005)
  • David Tennant – Tenth Doctor 2005–2010
  • Matt Smith – Eleventh Doctor 2010–2013
  • Peter Capaldi – Twelfth Doctor 2014–2017
  • Jodie Whittaker – Thirteenth Doctor 2018–2022
  • David Tennant – Fourteenth Doctor 2023
  • Ncuti Gatwa – Fifteenth Doctor

Sadly after decades of great writing and entertainment, things took a turn for the worse in 2018 when showrunner Chris Chibnall took the helm. Russell T Davies has since returned as showrunner in time for the 60th-anniversary specials, so there’s a chance the writing may improve.

In any case for more than 50 years Doctor Who has been telling fantastic entertaining stories. It’s also posed the question, who was the best Doctor? For me the best actor to play the Doctor has to Tom Baker with Jon Pertwee a close second.

The series has proved that it’s a timeless classic, and that’s why it takes the number one spot on my list of the best sci-fi shows.


Noteworthy Sci-fi Series

There are plenty of other sci-fi series that could have easily made the Top 10 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows list, these are few well worth a mention.

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

This sci-fi-horror anthology series really deserves to in the top 10, after all it’s another one of my personal favourites. But in the end I decided to leave it out and give it a noteworthy mention instead.

The Twilight Zone ran for five seasons between 1959-1964 and featured a good mix of science fiction and horror.

The Outer Limits (1963-1965)

The Outer Limits was a groundbreaking sci-fi television series that aired from 1963 to 1965, and remains an enduring classic that continues to captivate audiences even today.

Created by Leslie Stevens, this anthology-style show delivered a unique blend of imaginative storytelling and thought-provoking themes.

Babylon 5 (1993–1998)

I’ll admit Babylon 5 was never my favourite show, but it was incredibly popular during the 90s, which is way I’ve included it here. In fact there’s a new animated special titled, Babylon 5 The Road Home, which releases in August 2023 on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001)

Probably the only other Star Trek series that really feels like Star Trek should. It had some good characters, lots of space battles and was overall a highly enjoyable series.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981)

Although it ran for two seasons, the two feel like completely different shows. The first series was fun, action packed in which Buck Rogers, an astronaut from the 20th century, is accidentally frozen in space and wakes up 500 years later.

He finds himself in a world vastly different from the one he knew, where Earth is now governed by the Earth Defence Directorate, a collective governing body responsible for safeguarding the planet.

Unfortunately when season two arrived the showrunners changed everything that was good about the show, and unsurprisingly it was cancelled.

Dark Skies (1996–1997)

Following on from the success of The X-Files, came Dark Skies. Set in the 1960s, a young couple are out to expose a government cover-up concealing the existence of aliens from the public.

I’ve only ever watched this series once, but I remember enjoying it, so I think this one’s well worth a mention.

Final Thought: The Best Sci-Fi TV Shows

Whether you’re a die-hard sci-fi fan or someone looking to embark on an exciting genre journey, these Top 10 Best Sci-fi TV Shows of all time are guaranteed to entertain, captivate and inspire you.

From time-travelling adventures to dystopian realities, each sci-fi series offers a unique and compelling experience that will leave you craving more.

Will you be streaming or purchasing any my best sci-fi TV series list? Most are available on either on Blu-ray or DVD. Streaming services are constantly adding and removing some of these top sci-fi series, so it can be a little more frustrating trying to find a particular sci-fi series.

So, grab some popcorn and get ready to immerse yourself in the best of what sci-fi television has to offer!

What Do You Think?

These are what I consider to be the 10 best scifi tv shows, but are they yours? Let me what you think are the best sci-fi series of all time.

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