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20 sci-fi movies and TV shows to binge watch on Netflix right now

netflix quarantine shows
Sit out the coronavirus storm safely on your sofa and soak up some sci-fi on Netflix.
(Image: © Netflix)

Strange things are afoot on the planet Earth. In a series of events that could themselves form the plot of a sci-fi nightmare, we find ourselves in the middle of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Residents across the US, like many countries, are being encouraged to work from home and enforce a self-quarantine inside their homes and apartments. 

For the foreseeable future then, the television is going to be our best friend and ticket to salvation. 

So that you don't have to spend hours searching with a less-than-perfect UX through thousands of movies, some good, some bad and everything in-between, we've compiled a list of the best science-fiction movies and television shows currently on Netflix.

Movies

Blade Runner (The Final Cut)

Blade Runner netflix quarantine

This is "the final cut," the one where Ridley Scott finally stopped tinkering with it, so it's more polished than previous versions (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Synopsis: In the smog-choked dystopian Los Angeles of the future, a specialist cop, called a "blade runner" is called out of retirement to hunt down a four "replicants" who have escaped to Earth seeking their creator for a way to extend their short life spans.

Why you should watch: Quite frankly, this movie should be on the national curriculum; it's one of the best films ever made and inspired a whole new sub-genre of sci-fi: cyberpunk. Harrison Ford is at his broodiest and consequently produced one of the best performances of his career. Sean Young, Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah also star.

Moon

Moon netflix quarantine

 'Moon' is a stylish, bare-bones sci-fi drama that proved Duncan Jones' worth as an up-and-coming writer and director (Image credit: Sony Picture Classics)

Synopsis: With only three weeks left in his three-year contract, Sam Bell is getting anxious to finally return to Earth. He is the only occupant of a lunar-based manufacturing facility along with his computer and assistant, called GERTY. When he has an accident however, he wakens to find that he is not alone.

Why you should watch: The directorial debut of Duncan Jones, this is not a big-budget sci-fi, because it doesn't need to be. It's beautifully character driven story with an exceptional solo performance from Sam Rockwell. 

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer netflix quarantine

When it was released, "Snowpiercer" went largely unnoticed, but it has since built up a cult following (Image credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Synopsis: In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine.

Why you should watch: It took the recent success of "Parasite" at the Academy Awards for the work of Boong Joon-ho to be bought to mainstream attention, but "Snowpiercer" is also one of his and it's really very good. Chris Evans leads an amazing cast that includes John Hurt, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton and Alison Pill.

Hellboy (2004)

Hellboy netflix quarantine

Ron Perlman was born to play Hellboy, John Hurt, Doug Jones and Selma Blair rounded off an excellent cast.  (Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Synopsis: In the final days of World War II, the Nazis attempt to use black magic to aid their dying cause. The Allies raid the camp where the ceremony is taking place, but not before a demon, Hellboy, has already been conjured. Joining the Allied forces, Hellboy eventually grows to adulthood, serving the cause of good rather than evil.

Why you should watch: The first attempt to bring the legendary Dark Horse Comics character to the big screen is still the best. Writer and director Guillermo del Toro did an outstanding job and together with excellent casting, makes for a high-quality and enjoyable sci-fi-fantasy film.

John Carter

John Carter netflix quarantine

Jump Virginia! "John Carter" is an all-round, good-fun family sci-fi of old-school epic proportions.  (Image credit: Disney)

Synopsis: John Carter is a war-weary, former military captain who's inexplicably transported to the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars) and reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict. It's a world on the brink of collapse, and Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

Why you should watch: Like many under-valued sci-fi franchises ("Tron," "The Last Starfighter" and "Buckeroo Banzai" to name just three) the potential of "John Carter" was never truly realized and as a result of politics within Disney, this movie wasn't promoted properly and suffered as a result, which is a shame, because it's an epic adventure and thoroughly enjoyable. 

Event Horizon

Event Horizon netflix quarantine

'Event Horizon' is gruesome in parts, yes, but the production design is truly excellent. (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Synopsis: In 2047 a group of astronauts are sent to investigate and salvage the starship Event Horizon, which disappeared mysteriously seven years before on its maiden voyage. With its return, the crew of the Lewis and Clark discovers the real truth behind the disappearance of the Event Horizon – and something even more terrifying.

Why you should watch: Not your family sci-fi this one, more of a sci-fi horror, but that's not to say it isn't thoroughly enjoyable. Sam Neill leads an impressive cast that also includes Jason Issacs, Laurence Fishburne and Sean Pertwee.

The Signal

The signal netflix quarantine

This is the signal. If you hear it, you have been chosen. (Image credit: Focus Features)

Synopsis: Three college students on a road trip across the Southwest experience a detour – the tracking of a computer genius who has already hacked into MIT and exposed security faults. When the trio find themselves drawn to an eerily isolated area, suddenly everything goes dark. When one of the students regains consciousness, he finds himself in a waking nightmare.

Why you should watch: This little known movie is a tense thriller with an epic twist at the end. A great cast – including Olivia Cooke, Brenton Thwaites and Laurence Fishburne – together with a well-written script, add up to an edge-of-seat sci-fi thriller.

Mute

Mute netflix quarantine

In a dystopian, cyberpunk city, an unlikely hero emerges in Duncan Jones' second epic sci-fi. (Image credit: Netflix)

Synopsis: A mute man with a violent past is forced to take on the teeming underworld of a near-future Berlin as he searches for his missing girlfriend.

Why you should watch: The unofficial sequel to "Moon," this was Duncan Jones second major sci-fi motion picture and it does not disappoint. Paul Rudd and Alexander Skarsgård lead the cast and deliver strong performances in this vastly underrated sci-fi thriller. 

Her

Her netflix quarantine

In a poignant vision of the very near future, a lonely city dweller falls in love with his new OS. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Synopsis: In the not so distant future a lonely writer purchases a newly developed operating system designed to meet the user's every needs. To his surprise, a romantic relationship develops between himself and his operating system. This unconventional love story blends science fiction and romance in a sweet tale that explores the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all.

Why you should watch: Just about anything writer and director Spike Jonze is involved with is worth checking out and this is no exception. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson lead an impressive cast in this poignant and prophetic drama that might even pull a few heart strings too.

Ex Machina

Ex Machina netflix quarantine

In essence, a twist on the Turing test, Ex Machina is thrilling story of the emergence of AI.  (Image credit: Film4/Unviersal Pictures)

Synopsis: A young coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when he arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

Why you should watch: Writer and director Alex Garland has several great sci-fi flicks under his belt, including "Sunshine," "Dredd" and "Annihilation" and this is another must-watch movie. It's simple in its premise, but incredibly effective in its execution. Great performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac will draw you deep into this thriller.

Television

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon netflix quarantine

Anthony Mackie stars in the second season of Netflix's improving sci-fi drama, Altered Carbon. (Image credit: Netflix)

Synopsis: After 250 years on ice, a prisoner returns to life in a new body with one chance to win his freedom: by solving a mind-bending murder.

Why you should watch: Season 2 is now available, so if you haven't seen Season 1, you've got 8 hours and 52 minutes worth to get through first. The second season is considerably better than the first, but to get maximum enjoyment, we suggest taking in the first season as well. The production design on this is incredible and thankfully Anthony Mackie helps bring the story up to the same standard of the Blade Runner-esque visual aesthetic. 

Star Trek: The Original Series

star trek the original series netflix quarantine

The crew of the USS Enterprise…after the events of "Discovery," but before the events of "The Next Generation." (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: In the 23rd Century, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise explore the galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.

Why you should watch: This is where it all started; William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly star in the show that changed everything. Rewatch some of the very best episodes, like "Arena" (S01, E18) and "Balance of Terror" (So1, E14), enjoy the overacting in episodes like "The Squire of Gothos" (So1, E17) and "The Way To Eden" (S03, E20), but most of all remind yourself of the episodes that set in place events that were revisited later, in both series and movies, like "Space Seed" (S01, E22) and "Mirror, Mirror" (S02, E04).

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation netflix quarantine

(L-R) LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Jonathan Frakes. (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D on their own mission to go where no one has gone before.

Why you should watch: Way back in October 1986, a sequel series to the original "Star Trek" was announced and met more or less universally with a positive reception. Any lingering doubt was left far behind as it reached almost 12 million viewers in its fifth season. With "Picard" currently showing on CBS All Access, this is a great opportunity to catch up with all the relevant episodes, including "The Measure of a Man" (S02, E09), "The Best of Both Worlds" parts 1 & 2 (S03, E26 & S04, E01) and of course "All Good Things" parts 1 & 2 (S07, E25). 

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine netflix quarantine

"Deep Space Nine" has its highs and lows, but it's worth sticking with 'cause when it gets going, it's excellent. (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: In the vicinity of the liberated planet of Bajor, the Federation space station Deep Space Nine guards the opening of a strategically important wormhole to the far side of the galaxy.

Why you should watch: The first spin-off series from "The Next Generation" was "Deep Space Nine" that was set at the same time and in fact featured a number of crossover episodes. Granted, it's a slow start, but it's well worth sticking with, throughout all seven seasons and in particular during the Dominian War story arc. "Deep Space Nine" also paid more visits to the Mirror Universe than any other "Trek" series. Avery Brooks is sublime as Capt. Benjamin Sisko and the whole cast is made up of characters that you will end up caring deeply about.

Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager netflix quarantine

Sadly, the USS Voyager remained unchanged through the series run; it might have been nice to battle damage or modifications. (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: Pulled to the far side of the galaxy, where the Federation is 75 years away at maximum warp speed, a Starfleet ship must cooperate with Maquis rebels to find a way home.

Why you should watch: "Voyager" might not be as consistently strong as the other "Trek" shows we've mentioned here, but it certainly had its moments. "Scorpion" parts 1 & 2 (S03, E25 & S04, E01) tell the story of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and "Unimatrix Zero" parts 1 & 2 (S06, E26 & S07 E, 01) is another quality Borg-themed episode. Other good standalone episodes include "Timeless" (S05, E06), "Counterpoint" (S05, E10) and "Blink of an Eye" (S06, E12). 

Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise netflix quarantine

Scott Bakula, while at first considered an unlikely choice, did in fact go on to make an exceptional Starfleet captain. (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: A century before Captain Kirk's five-year mission, Jonathan Archer captains the United Earth ship Enterprise during the early years of Starfleet, leading up to the Earth-Romulan War and the formation of the Federation.

Why you should watch: Without a doubt, the most underrated "Star Trek" show of them all and it was brutally cut down while still in its prime. "Enterprise" looked completely different and it felt more relatable. The engineer might get oil – or some other carbon-substitute lubricant – over his overalls, there was less technobabble and it was the first time we'd seen regular use of critical accessories like environment suits. The augments story arc was brilliant and other great episodes included "Similitude" (S03, E10), "First Flight" (S02, E24) and frankly the best visit to the Mirror Universe in "In a Mirror, Darkly" (S04, E18 & E19).

Lost in Space

Lost in Space netflix quarantine

An incredible cast, high-quality writing and amazing production design make "Lost in Space" one of the sci-fi shows currently on television. (Image credit: Netflix)

Synopsis: After crash-landing on an alien planet, the Robinson family fights against all odds to survive and escape. But they're surrounded by hidden dangers.

Why you should watch: This is where you start; this is the best sci-fi currently on Netflix. Remember how "Battlestar Galactica" was reimagined? The same has been done to the old 1965, black and white show that came from the mind of Irwin Allen. And the result is amazing. The first season is marginally better than the second, but both are worth binge-watching in their entirety. You'll laugh, you'll definitely cry and you'll be on the edge of your seat as you watch John Robinson, his wife, Maureen, their children (Judy, Penny and Will) and Maj. Don West fight to survive against the natural elements of an alien world. 

Black Mirror

Black Mirror netflix quarantine

"Black Mirror" taps beautifully into our contemporary fears about the rapid advance of technology in our lives. (Image credit: Netflix)

Synopsis: A contemporary British re-working of "The Twilight Zone" with stories that tap into the collective unease about our modern world. Over the last 10 years, technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives before we've had time to stop and question it; in every home; on every desk; in every palm – a plasma screen; a monitor; a smartphone – a black mirror of our 21st century existence.

Why you should watch: There are only a few episodes in each season and among those are some truly inspired moments of genius from the show's creator Charlie Brooker. The first episode "The National Anthem" will frankly shock you into watching more and the standalone episode entitled "Bandersnatch" was the world's first interactive television experience, where you determine what happens to the principle character. 

Dark Matter

Dark Matter netflix quarantine

Sadly, "Dark Matter" was cancelled after the third season cliffhanger, so fans really felt robbed. (Image credit: Syfy)

Synopsis: The six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awakens from stasis in the farthest reaches of space. Their memories wiped clean, they have no recollection of who they are or how they got on board. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination: a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone. With no idea whose side they are on, they face a deadly decision. 

Why you should watch: Sadly, this show is yet another example of poor judgment by the studios as it was cancelled while still very much in its prime. Despite there only being three seasons, it's still well worth a watch. The action scenes were enthralling and fun to watch, especially on a nice, big TV screen, but at the heart of the show was the relationship that slowly developed between the characters as they all found themselves in the same position and were forced to work together. 

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone netflix quarantine

You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. Next stop, the Twilight Zone. (Image credit: CBS)

Synopsis: A series of unrelated stories containing drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and/or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist.

Why you should watch: This, the original "Twilight Zone" that ran for five seasons from 1959 to 1964, should really be on the national curriculum. The iconic opening narration and music is instantly familiar and the show influenced an entire generation of sci-fi writers, including Harlan Ellison and Gene Roddenberry and other shows, like "The Outer Limits."  In fact, "the Twilight Zone" is a big influence on "Black Mirror" that we mentioned above. 

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  • dfjchem721
    I am already watching the "Twilight Zone" - tons more to go. Of all the "movies" mentioned above, I have not even heard of half of them, but will have to Wiki them and see if I want to watch them. Some of these picks are questionable.

    But the one I want to remark on most is "Star Trek: Enterprise". This was grossly under-rated as the review states. I found this to be better than Deep Space Nine in many cases, and on par with the others in many episodes. You can really relate to so much of this series, and Captain Jonathan Archer is a match for Kirk and Picard in terms of tenacity and heroic performances. Star Trek: Enterprise is a must see. (It will also give you a different impression of those sneaky Vulcans!)
    Reply
  • mcgeearch
    dfjchem721 said:
    I am already watching the "Twilight Zone" - tons more to go. Of all the "movies" mentioned above, I have not even heard of half of them, but will have to Wiki them and see if I want to watch them. Some of these picks are questionable.

    But the one I want to remark on most is "Star Trek: Enterprise". This was grossly under-rated as the review states. I found this to be better than Deep Space Nine in many cases, and on par with the others in many episodes. You can really relate to so much of this series, and Captain Jonathan Archer is a match for Kirk and Picard in terms of tenacity and heroic performances. Star Trek: Enterprise is a must see. (It will also give you a different impression of those sneaky Vulcans!)
    Enterprise was a great show. The last few shows were throw aways. They must've known they'd been cancelled.
    Reply
  • jimbojoneskoolaid
    Nope, Scott Snowden you're way off. I felt compelled enough to create an account to comment on this article. These movies/shows listed are completely hot garbage. Do NOT waste your time on them:
    John Carter
    Star Trek Voyager
    Start Trek Enterprise
    Lost in Space (though not as bad as the Star Treks above)
    Reply
  • Dave
    Enjoyed your selection. There are a few on your list I have not seen yet, and will try to see. Some of the greatest sci-fi is not on netflix, these are the movies I am currently binge watching. 1 The original Planet of the Apes movies.
    2. Silent Running
    3. Soylent Green
    4. THX 1138
    5. Dr. Who and the Daleks
    These are some of the true classics. Enjoy.
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    Must be nice to not have to work and time to watch these shows.
    Reply
  • wangusangus
    Hellboy doesn't appear to be available on Netflix US right now, though someone was just telling me recently that I should watch it.

    I came to Star Trek late, and have been working my way through the different series over the last few years (taking some shortcuts thanks to binge-watching guides). I'm on Voyager now and am enjoying it--not as much as DS9 or TNG, but I think it's better than I expected it to be. Each series seems to follow a similar arc: promising first episode, rocky first season or two, then by S3-S4 it's pretty consistent and interesting. I wonder if Voyager's evaluation was hurt by the fact that DS9 was hitting its groove when Voyager was still rocky, then when Voyager was hitting its groove, DS9 was stellar.
    Reply
  • Dave
    Reading sci-fi never gets old, either. Highly recommend some of the classics. Some of these novels and their message or warning have actually come true, in reality. Take H.G. Wells classic The Invisible Man, recently redone as a movie. It tells the story of a good natured man who when invisible becomes the darker side of himself. Today, the reality can be seen on the internet, as trolling, by so many.
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    Dave said:
    Reading sci-fi never gets old, either. Highly recommend some of the classics. Some of these novels and their message or warning have actually come true, in reality. Take H.G. Wells classic The Invisible Man, recently redone as a movie. It tells the story of a good natured man who when invisible becomes the darker side of himself. Today, the reality can be seen on the internet, as trolling, by so many.
    What about the book 1984? Most of that has come true with government surveillance among many other things in that book.
    Reply
  • AgedWizard
    Dave said:
    Enjoyed your selection. There are a few on your list I have not seen yet, and will try to see. Some of the greatest sci-fi is not on netflix, these are the movies I am currently binge watching. 1 The original Planet of the Apes movies.
    2. Silent Running
    3. Soylent Green
    4. THX 1138
    5. Dr. Who and the Daleks
    These are some of the true classics. Enjoy.
    You definitely picked some of the really good classic Sci-fi movies, Dave. I hope to watch them soon.
    Reply
  • AgedWizard
    From the time children get hooked on Nintendo, they, and their parents, should watch and discuss ST-TNG Season 5, Episode 6, "The Game".
    Reply