14 great sci-fi TV series you could be watching on Netflix now

Oh, technology.

It wasn’t that long ago that we gorged ourselves on TV seasons piled together on DVD, but now Netflix has made that old practice obsolete. Entire eight- and nine-season runs of our favorite sci-fi shows are all available at our fingertips now, but where to start?

With content contracts always shifting, the offerings on Netflix are always in flux. There’s some awesome stuff on there for subscribers, sure, but where does a self-respecting sci-fi fan need to start?

We took the time, combed through the sci-fi TV catalog, and cherry-picked 14 great sci-fi classics (new and old!) well worth some couch-potato binge viewing.

[Possible spoilers ahead.]

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    One of Joss Whedon’s most underrated series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s darker cousin still stands as one of the best TV shows ever. It tackled more mature story lines, never strayed from Whedon’s trademark wit, took its motley crew to hell and back more than a few times. But, more than anything, it never faltered. It’s five glorious seasons of unstoppable awesomeness, something it’s hard to even say about Buffy itself.

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    One of the few shows to ever be brought back to life by a fan campaign (albeit briefly), this short-lived CBS series about residents of a small-town trying to survive in the wake of a nuclear attack struck the perfect balance of family drama and life-and-death stakes. The first season is arguably the best, with the residents eventually facing war with a rival town. The abbreviated second season ramped up the action to a national scale and tried to tie up all the drama in just seven episodes, with mixed results, but the series still stands as one of the best sci-fi series out there.

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    Earth 2

    This mid-90s sci-fi series was ambitious as hell, and launched with solid ratings that eventually slid into cancellation territory by the end of its one and only season. It followed an expedition into deep space to establish a new Earth colony, filled with some great action and politics. The show is beloved to this day by the hardcore fans, and is ripe for exploration by a new generation.

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    Stargate: Universe

    There aren’t a ton of options on the Stargate front these days on Netflix, but the final installment (for now) in the series is available in its entirety. The series feels like a mix of BSG meets Stargate: Atlantis, and it’s worth watching just to see the Stargate franchise take itself serious. It’s dark and morally grey, which is a stretch for Stargate, but for all its stumbles it's still one of the most ambitious sci-fi series to ever make a run into the other side of the universe.

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    The X-Files

    Despite its failings, Chris Carter’s magnum opus is one of the most influential sci-fi series to ever grace the small screen. It wrote the book that Fringe would eventually expand on, and if you’ve never seen it before, or just want to go back in and see some of the greatest stories ever told, the entire nine season run is here and ready to go.

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    Better Off Ted

    One of the best sitcoms of the past decade, this cult hit set at a massive corporation tackled a ton of great sci-fi tropes in the guise of a workplace comedy. From cryogenics to insane sci-fi weapons, they were all filtered through a lovable group of goofs. It has the wit of early community, with all the geeky touchstones of The Big Bang Theory. Trust us, you’ll love it.

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    Yes, Firefly is the obvious choice for another Whedon option here, but what respectable geek doesn’t already own it on DVD? No, if you’re looking to mix it up a little, check out his short-lived Fox series that hit its stride in season two and didn’t let up until the entire world came to an end. Then it kept going, anyway. It included beautiful people, cutting edge tech, and fantastic stories of what it means to be human. The first season was a little uneven, but it’s worth the investment for those final 13 episodes in year two.

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    Battlestar Galactica

    Arguably one of the best reboots in the history of sci-fi television, you can stream the entire run of Syfy’s acclaimed reboot right now. From the opening miniseries to the controversial finale, it’s all here. The series was great on a weekly basis, but those dense plots are a lot easier to follow when you’re rolling along a season at a time.

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    It’s a miracle this criminally-underrated series even had its full 13 episodes make it to air, and it sadly hasn’t found much life after NBC pulled the plug. But, it was a fantastic ride. The series followed a detective who was in a car crash, and flips between realities every time he falls to sleep. In one, his wife is dead, and in the other, his son. Which is real? We don’t know, but it’s a tense trip down the rabbit hole to try and figure it out.

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    Doctor Who (Classic)

    Sure, the new run is available, too, but why not dig into 18 classic Who stories and see how it all got started? There’s a whole generation of Who fans who don’t know much about the original stories, and these 18 collections of stories circa 1964-1989 are a great way to dig into the longest-running sci-fi series in existence.

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    Hemlock Grove

    A Netflix original, this is the service’s first foray into sci-fi/fantasy/horror. Reviews have been a mixed bag, but viewers are apparently checking the series out in droves. It’s a creepy, NSFW story of werewolves, sex and murder, all wrapped up in the drama of a freaky small town.

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    Twin Peaks

    The definition of a cult hit, the show probably gets name-dropped more in recent years than back when it was actually a (brief) hit. Might as well get a refresher on what all the fuss was about, right? It practically created the mysterious small town trope, and still stands as one of the smartest series to ever make it onto the small screen. Plus, murder mystery!

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    Think of this one as The Walking Dead without the zombies. And British. It sounds weird, yes, but it really does work. This BBC series, a remake of 1970s show, follows a small group of survivors left behind after a deadly flu strain decimated the population. If you’re looking for some great character drama to fill the void while we wait for season four of Walking Dead, you could do a lot worse than these two tense seasons.

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    Star Trek: The Original Series

    With J.J. Abrams Trek revival lighting up the box office these days, it’s the perfect time to dig back into the original series and see how it all started. You know, before Vulcan was destroyed and the timelines split, of course. The effects may not stand up very well, but you can’t beat the classic ambiguity of those original morality stories.

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