From superhero shows to space opera, the greatest small-screen sci-fi of all time are here.


1. 'Humans' (2015-Present)

Set in a near future where lifelike androids function as humanity's servants, the series cuts between enlightened rogue robots and the mechanically aided government agency trying to capture them, with frequent stops in the household of a dysfunctional flesh-and-blood family caught in the middle. It's brainy and thrilling, balancing fantasy, drama, and trippy "Who's the real automaton, man?" philosophizing.

2. 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' (2013-Present)

S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mission is to dance between the raindrops of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's constant stream of big-screen blockbusters, reflecting changes to the status quo while still telling an engaging story about a team of super-spies in its own right.

3. 'Jessica Jones' (2015-Present)

It just so happens that Jessica, a world-weary, hard-drinking P.I., happens to have advanced reflexes and an out-of-this-world strength, and that she's squaring off against a mind-controlling megalomaniac. It's a gritty fiercely feminist noir with just a dusting of sci-fi around the edges — which ends up being the perfect combo to hit a genre fan right in the gut.

4. 'Life on Mars' (2006-2007)

One of the damnedest cop show that's ever been, this British series concerns a comatose Manchester cop who's slipped through time — or is perhaps just hallucinating — and finds himself solving crimes in 1973. Like the best speculative fiction, Life on Mars features a hero who questions what's happening to him and why, all while exploring a strange alien world.

5. 'The Flash' (2014-Present)

Although Grant Gustin's scarlet speedster gets his powers from a particle-accelerator meltdown, the show's perfect mixture of giddy adventure and heart-tugging drama feels less like a matter of science than magic.

6. 'Torchwood' (2006-2011)

Doctor Who's earthier spinoff started simple, tracking the two-fisted alien-hunting exploits of polysexual immortal Captain Jack Harkness, his Cardiff-based lover Ianto and his right-hand woman Gwen. But as the series developed — and moves into the complex multi-part stories such as "Children of Earth" and "Miracle Day" — it turned into something like a tense, taut political thriller with laser-guns.

7. 'Lost' (2004-2010)

From teleporting polar bears to time-hopping super-islands, Lost's core creative team of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse kept coming up with ideas that sent fans scrambling to the Internet to theorize. All the while, the writers divvied a rich mythology into memorable individual episodes, telling stories filled with wit, awe, and heartbreak.

8. 'Orphan Black' (2013-Present)

Orphan Black's true secret weapon is virtuoso actor Tatiana Maslany, who's slipped into the skin of 11 different characters and counting, from a cockney con artist to a tightly wound soccer mom to a fanatical serial killer.

9. 'Black Mirror' (2011-Present)

Maybe we won't one day be able to download images from our brains like recordings from a DVR, or block people in person the way we do on social media. But the show's extrapolations feel logical, even inevitable: It's less a matter of if they'll happen, but when.

10. 'Doctor Who' (1963-Present)

Longevity is the name of the game for this 52-year-old BBC series. Despite decades of lore, the premise is winningly simple: A charming alien travels through time and space in a dinged-up blue box, doing his level best to save the day. He picks up traveling companions along the way, and every so often he regenerates into a brand-new body.

11. 'Star Trek' (1966-1969)

Nearly every word of its opening monologue entered the popular parlance. Nearly every nuance of its actor's performances became (in)famous. Nearly every science-fiction series to come afterwards owes it a huge debt, up to and including the oh-so-similarly titled Star Wars. May the Starship Enterprise never stop boldly going into the hearts and minds of the sci-fi faithful.