Top sci-fi movies and TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime in November

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(Image credit: MGM/Amazon)

A veritable treasure trove of sci-fi is available to watch on Amazon Prime; much is free to view with your standard subscription and even more is available if you feel like paying a little more. So settle back and soak up some superb sci-fi from the safety of your sofa. 

Movies

1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Not a classic by any means, but you need to watch it for yourself to appreciate why it's both good and bad

Not a classic by any means, but you need to watch it for yourself to appreciate why it's both good and bad (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Synopsis: Set in the not-too-distant future, melting ice has caused sea level to rise and while New York City is under water, strangely, Haddonfield, New Jersey is not. Nonetheless, the population has withdrawn to the interior of the continent and technology has reached a point where realistic-looking robots now serve them. David is one such artificial child and is the first to have real feelings, in particular for his "mother" — a woman who adopted him as a substitute for her real son who is in cryogenic-stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. Everything is going swimmingly until her real son returns home after a cure is discovered and everything changes.

Why you should watch: Originally, this movie started out as a Stanley Kubrick project, before Steven Spielberg took over and there's evidence of both film maker's styles here. Thankfully, this is much more than just a glorified interpretation of "Pinocchio" however, the pacing suffers from the two director's different styles, especially towards the end, which is a shame, as the story suffers and it drives a wedge between you and the cinematic experience, so characters you were once heavily invested in, no longer really seem to matter. That said, as a Saturday afternoon matinee, you could do a lot worse. Stellar performances from Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law and Frances O'Connor carry the movie as far as it can go. 

Free with Amazon Prime

2. Alien

The crew of the USCSS Nostromo commercial towing vehicle, Kane, Parker, Dallas, Brett, Ripley, Brett and Ash

The crew of the Nostromo commercial towing vehicle, Kane, Parker, Dallas, Brett, Ripley, Brett and Ash (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: The crew of a deep space commercial hauling ship is unwittingly re-routed while in hypersleep to investigate the origins of a mysterious transmission. Once awake, they travel to the surface of a desolate planet and discover a giant derelict spacecraft…and a thoroughly unpleasant alien parasite. Things get progressively worse after that.

Why you should watch: Simply put, "Alien" is not only one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, it's one the best movies ever made. Period. The production design is extraordinary, the story is simple but brilliantly effective, the tension is built up flawlessly and the performances from every member of the cast are incredible. Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton and Ian Holm star in what is probably Ridley Scott's finest film. 

Free with a STARZ trial on Prime Video

3. Alien 3

The confined setting of the double-Y chromosome prison facility sets up some impressive chase sequences

The confined setting of the double-Y chromosome prison facility sets up some impressive chase sequences (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: Written as a direct successor to the epic sequel "Aliens," this picks up the story of the USS Sulaco survivors, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Hicks (Michael Biehn), Bishop (Lance Henriksen) and Newt (Carrie Henn). Unfortunately — and er, somehow — an alien facehugger made it aboard the Conestoga-class troop transport ship, causing an electrical fire the automatic emergency escape procedures to activate. Consequently, Ripley et al crash land on Fiorina 161, a maximum security prison. When a series of strange and deadly events occur shortly after her arrival, she realizes that she too has unwittingly brought along another unwelcome visitor.

Why you should watch: The production of this movie was fraught with problems, to say the least, so much so that director David Fincher wanted his name removed from the credits. And despite some slightly suspect events in the first few minutes that weren't necessary really, if there was actually going to be a third "Alien" movie, it actually has a mostly solid story, strong cast and ingenious set pieces. The special edition features an extended chase sequence through the maze of tunnels within the prison facility, but this theatrical release is still worth a watch.

Free with a STARZ trial on Prime Video

4. Alien: Resurrection

Despite going off the rails a bit at the end, this movie is worth watching at least once if you haven't already seen it

Despite going off the rails a bit at the end, this movie is worth watching once if you haven't already seen it (Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Synopsis: Two hundred years after the events of Alien 3 and [spoiler alert] Ripley's death, she is cloned onboard a military vessel, outside of any borders or jurisdiction, from blood samples taken from Fiorina 161, specifically to grow a Ripley that has the alien queen inside her. It's surgically removed and lays eggs. Since this grand experiment hasn't exactly been authorized, a band of smugglers provides the hapless crew of a hijacked commercial transport in stasis as fodder for the facehuggers. Needless to say, the aliens get loose and the military ship begins its automated return back to Earth. 

Why you should watch: This foray into the "Alien" franchise is by far the weirdest. The third act climax is pretty…out there. A great cast — including, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Michael Wincott, Winona Ryder and Sigourney Weaver — sadly can't stop this from also being the weakest entry into the anthology (we're not including the disappointing prequels in that assessment). There are however, some nice set pieces and the production design is of the high standard we've come to expect from "Alien" movies. 

Free with a STARZ trial on Prime Video

5. Armageddon

The wrong stuff; how hard is it to become an astronaut anyway? If these guys can do it, there's hope for us all

Talk about the wrong stuff; how hard is it to become an astronaut anyway? Nasa will hire anyone these days (Image credit: Touchstone Pictures)

Synopsis: NASA detects an extinction level event-sized asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth and even if every single nuclear missile on the planet were to be simultaneously launched, it would have no effect. Consequently, a plan is hatched to land a shuttle-like spacecraft on the hurtling asteroid and drill into it to plant a nuke and detroy it that way. And so a team of roughneck deep core drillers are trained to become astronauts because in the mind of director Michael Bay, it's easier to teach a blue-collar oil rig worker the ups and downs of arguably the most difficult job in the world…as opposed to the other way around.

Why you should watch: NASA detects an extinction level event-sized asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth and even if every single nuclear missile on the planet were to be simultaneously launched, it would have no effect. Consequently, a plan is hatched to land a shuttle-like spacecraft on the hurtling asteroid and drill into it to plant a nuke and destroy it that way. And so a team of roughneck deep core drillers are trained to become astronauts because in the mind of director Michael Bay, it's easier to teach a blue-collar oil rig worker the ups and downs of arguably the most difficult job in the world…as opposed to the other way around.

Free with Amazon Prime

6. Attack the Block

A fun, popcorn-style action-thriller that makes the perfect first flick of a night spent watching sci-fi-horror

A fun, popcorn-style action-thriller that makes the perfect first flick of a night spent watching sci-fi-horror (Image credit: Film4)

Synopsis: Set during the uniquely British celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, so lots of fireworks going off, a teenage gang in South London inadvertently stumble across what appears to be an alien invasion. When they manage to kill one, they are unaware that their clothes are tainted with pheromones of the dead creature and thus attract more. Now they're running for their lives and struggle to defend their housing estate block from an all-out invasion of these blind wolf-apes. It is only when they hide in a marijuana grow room with UV lights, that the pheromone contamination becomes visible. Old rivalries and territorial disputes must be put aside as the surviving gang members hatch a plan to lure the creatures into an ambush. 

Why you should watch: This movie is great fun...and that's about it. It's not a big-budget, Michael Bay blockbuster, it's a small-scale independently-made feature that more or less launched the career of John Boyega. It's well-written and thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously, plus there are a couple of fun cameos too. In essence, this is a great warm up flick, for a night-long marathon of sci-fi horror movies for Halloween.

Free on Amazon Prime

7. Battle Beyond the Stars

This big-budget B-movie from 1980 plays an important part in the history of science fiction cinema

This big-budget B-movie from 1980 plays an important part in the history of science fiction cinema (Image credit: New World Pictures)

Synopsis: In what is to all intents and purposes "Seven Samurai" set in space, a young farmer, Shad (Richard Thomas) sets out to recruit a band of mercenaries to defend his peaceful planet, which is under threat of invasion by the evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon) and his army of Malmori mutants. Sador possesses a deadly "stellar converter" beam weapon on his formidable warship and threatens to use if the people of Akira don't surrender to his rule. 

Why you should watch: This B-movie with a bigger budget than most has an important part to play in the history of sci-fi cinema. It launched the career of James Cameron, who was working in the art department and this is where he met his future production partner and wife Gale Anne Hurd, which resulted in "The Terminator" and "Aliens." Producer and director and B-movie maestro, Roger Corman, sadly had to use much of his budget just to pay overpriced stars George Peppard and Robert Vaughn, but the end result is still good fun, plus the James Horner soundtrack is great (this was his first major motion picture score).

Free with ads on Amazon Prime

8. The Blackout

Written by Ilya Kulikov and directed by Egor Baranov, "The Blackout" is an action-packed sci-fi thriller that's worth a watch

Written by Ilya Kulikov and directed by Egor Baranov, this is an action sci-fi thriller that's worth a watch (Image credit: TV3/Central Partnership Sales House)

Synopsis: The Earth has been attacked by a mysterious force from space, but it's not like any attack you might imagine. The whole planet has been robbed of power and plunged into darkness; nothing works, anywhere…with the exception of a random circular area of eastern Europe, encompassing part of western Russia, southern Finland, Belarus and northern Ukraine. It turns out that the position of the Moon relative to Earth shielded this part of the world from the deadly energy weapon fired from far outside the range of lunar orbit. Now, as the actual alien invasion begins, military forces gather inside the "circle of life" in a desperate effort to save all life as we know it.

Why you should watch: This is a Russian indie sci-fi flick that is extremely enjoyable. It has high production values despite not having a blockbuster budget, the performances are good, and an unusual story with a good twist at the end makes this a solid sci-fi movie worth making time for. 

Free with ads on Amazon Prime

9. Cowboys & Aliens

Given Craig's dreadful American accent, the movie benefits greatly from his character being the "strong, silent" type

Given Craig's dreadful American accent, this benefits from his character being the "strong, silent" type (Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Synopsis: Set in 1873 in the New Mexico Territory, a stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. He quickly discovers that the townsfolk don't welcome strangers and everyone lives under the ruthless rule of Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the town is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation.

Why you should watch: Based on the graphic novel published in 2006, this is an entertaining mix of two very disparate genres. Despite being well worth a watch, with Harrison Ford possibly giving his best performance since "The Fugitive," this movie didn't exactly set the box office on fire. It has however, slowly gathered a cult following since its theatrical release in 2011. Jon Favreau directs a strong cast including Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde and Daniel Craig, who tragically, still hasn't mastered an American accent.

Free with ads on Amazon Prime

10. Encounter

Synopsis: Malik Khan, a decorated Marine (Riz Ahmed), goes on a rescue mission to save his two young sons from an strange, alien threat. As their journey takes them in increasingly dangerous directions, the boys will need to leave their childhoods behind. However, is this this threat real, or is it all in Khan's mind?

Why you should watch: If you have a thing for extreme close ups of insects, then this movie is definitely for you. If you enjoyed Invasion then you'll probably enjoy this; it's a beautifully filmed, character-driven sci-fi. OK, it has a few plot holes, and it even suffers from a few clichés, but thankfully, these can be fairly easily overlooked. You'll soon get drawn into the enthralling "is-he, isn't-he" plot, which is boosted further by phenomenal performances from Ahmed and Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada, who portray his two sons.

Free with Amazon Prime

11. Fire in the Sky

An engaging drama about an alien abduction keeps you thrilled right up to the end…when it will shock you

An engaging drama about an alien abduction keeps you thrilled right up to the end…when it will shock you (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Synopsis: On an evening in early November, 1975, a group of loggers saw a bright crimson light in a forest in White Mountains, Arizona. Curious, Travis Walton goes out for a closer look and is pushed to the ground by a blue-green energy beam. His co-workers escape in terror and they inform the police that Travis has been abducted by a flying saucer. For the next five days, Travis remains missing and the loggers endure ridicule and contempt as they are accused of murder. When he is found alive, Travis is unable to account the missing days, but the amazing ordeal slowly begins to emerge.

Why you should watch: While the details of the abduction vary a little bit from those of the real Travis Walton, this is mostly a true story. And the reason you should watch is because this movie has the scariest alien abduction scene of any movie, ever. The amount of artistic license taken is thankfully kept to a minimum however and the story is genuinely terrifying. In fact, the real story is equally as fascinating and everyone involved has passed lie detector tests, some of them on more than one occasion. Director Robert Lieberman has surpassed himself and allows the pacing to move only as fast as it needs to ... until that scene. D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick and the legendary James Garner, all make this a perfect movie to watch on Halloween. 

Free with Amazon Prime

12. Good Night Oppy

Synopsis: The film follows Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover affectionately dubbed Oppy by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days, but it ultimately explored Mars for nearly 15 years.

Why you should watch: This is an inspiring documentary by Ryan White and for those that aren't aware of this fascinating story, it will almost certainly prove to be insightful. Opportunity and Spirit were identical probes and travelled for over six months to reach Mars. Spirit was launched on July 7, 2003 and Opportunity followed three weeks later. Angela Bassett provides the narration and frankly her voice is like autonomous sensory meridian response and will effectively provide any calming sensation that might be required at the end of a particularly hard day at work.

Free with Amazon Prime

13. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

This classic sci-fi movie is mandatory viewing and frankly, should be taught on the national curriculum

This classic sci-fi movie is mandatory viewing and frankly, should be taught on the national curriculum (Image credit: Allied Artists Pictures)

Synopsis: Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. At first he's skeptical, especially when the alleged doppelgangers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim's lives, but he's eventually persuaded that something peculiar is going on and becomes determined to find out what it is.

Why you should watch: This is truly classic science fiction and should be held in similar regard to other epic, groundbreaking sci-fi movies of the late 50s, including "The Day The Earth Stood Still," "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" and "The Thing From Another World." It's actually based on a serialized story by Jack Finney that appeared in Collier's magazine in November 1954 and was published in book form the following year. An uncomplicated plot together with incredible performances from McCarthy and the angelic Dana Wynter make this a case study in how to produce a thrilling sci-fi/drama screenplay featuring an early and extremely effective example of flashback storytelling.

Free with a EPIX trial on Prime Video Channels

14. Moonraker

Cinema's first, and not too shabby, depiction of EVA combat. Just think about all that orbital debris though…

Cinema's first, and not too shabby, depiction of EVA combat. Just think about all that orbital debris though… (Image credit: Amazon/MGM Studios)

Synopsis: For no real reason other than he believes mankind has squandered its chance for life on Earth, billionaire bad guy Hugo Drax, plans to kill off all of humanity — no animals would be hurt — with the super-deadly toxic nerve gas. Mass-produced from a rare orchid, the gas would be launched in torpedoes-of-sorts from an orbiting space station, which forms part of Drax's new space empire. Naturally, perfect physical human specimens would later return to Earth and form the foundation of a new race that will worship Drax as their god. British Secret Service agent James Bond must do everything in his power to prevent this.

Why you should watch: Roger Moore is arguably the weakest Bond out of the bunch and many of his seven servings as Britain's super spy look somewhat dated upon rewatching. That said, if you're Gen X or older, they do occupy a unique and special place in cinematic culture. "Moonraker" marked the first outing to space for James Bond as the franchise fell over itself to capitalize on the sudden interest in everything sci-fi following the recent runaway success of "Star Wars." (Although Sean Connery nearly made it to low Earth orbit in "You Only Live Twice.") Incidentally, all of the Bond movies are now on Amazon Prime…because they own them now.

Free with Amazon Prime

15. Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

"Galaxy Quest" is truly an epic, multi-layered movie that succeeded as much by accident as by design

"Galaxy Quest" is truly an epic, multi-layered movie that succeeded as much by accident as by design (Image credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

Synopsis: Filmmakers and stars discuss the filming and social effects of "Galaxy Quest," a parody-of-sorts of "Star Trek: The Original Series" with insightful and entertaining commentary not only on science fiction, and the success of "Star Trek" itself, but on the real-life actors themselves.

Related: 'Galaxy Quest 2' is 'a fabulous script' according to Tim Allen

Why you should watch: Who isn't a fan of "Galaxy Quest"? It's often called the second best "Star Trek" movie ever made (after "The Wrath of Khan" of course) and you might think you know all the trivia connected with the making of "Galaxy Quest," but this documentary made by the Screen Junkies team will still surprise you. The cast talk about their experiences making the movie and how close the TV series actually came, before the tragic, untimely departure of the great Alan Rickman. You'll laugh and you'll cry a little bit, but most of all, you'll enjoy the best movie about fandom in another, new way as a result of watching this documentary. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, Justin Long, Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Rainn Wilson, Missi Pyle and Dean Parisot, all share their thoughts on this epic sci-fi comedy.

Free with Amazon Prime

16. Prometheus

Sadly, style wins big over substance in this disappointing so-called prequel to "Alien," but it looks really nice

Sadly, style wins big over substance in this disappointing so-called prequel to "Alien," but it looks really nice (Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox)

Synopsis: Upon discovering evidence in a cave in the Hebrides that life here began out there, an accomplished archaeologist (Noomi Rapace) along with her partner (Logan Marshall-Green) and a 17-man crew embark on an ambitious, deep-space scientific expedition funded by Peter Weyland himself (played to perfection by Guy Pearce). The team sets foot on the rocky terrain of a desolate exomoon to investigate the existence of the extraterrestrial species known as the "Engineers." But a terrifying discovery threatens not only the outcome of the mission but also the very future of humankind.

Why you should watch: Ridley Scott's "Alien" prequel looks incredible, but sadly, a terrible story sucks all the substance from the stunning visuals and incredible production design that one has come to expect from Scott. As a standalone movie, it's enjoyable, but as far as actually making any sense whatsoever within the "Alien" or universe or timeline…well, forget it. Despite their best efforts, the phenomenal cast can't save it either. Along with those already mentioned, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba also star and Benedict Wong once again plays Benedict Wong.

Free with an AMC+ trial on Prime Video 

17. RoboCop (2014)

There were some nice ideas in this remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original, but they weren't developed

There were some nice ideas in this remake of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original, but they were sadly dismissed (Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Synopsis: In the not too distant future, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Now the giant corporation wants to incorporate their controversial technology to the domestic market and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy — a loving husband, father and honest cop doing — is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

Why you should watch: This movie should've been a worthwhile remake, at least as good as the original. However, ludicrous amounts of interference from Sony studio executives ensured that it would never reach its full potential, despite the best efforts of director José Padilha, who has publicly talked about the experience. He wasn't even allowed to produce an R-rated movie, this is PG-13; a far cry from the original. Even a frankly mind-blowing cast, including Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley and Gary Oldman, tragically couldn't save it. But, it's still worth a watch, not least for the interesting reinterpretations that have been woven into the fabric of story.

Free with Amazon Prime

18. The Time Machine (2002)

0 to 800,000 years in 1.2 seconds. Guy Pearce dips his pinky into the realm of science fiction once more

0 to 800,000 years in 1.2 seconds. Guy Pearce dips his pinky into the realm of science fiction once more (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Synopsis: Based on the classic sci-fi novel by H.G. Wells, scientist and inventor, Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), is determined to prove that time travel is possible. His determination soon becomes desperation as he's beset by a personal tragedy that now drives him to want to change the past. Testing his theories with a time machine the he creates, Hartdegen is hurtled 800,000 years into the future, where he discovers that mankind has become both the hunter and the hunted.

Why you should watch: This is a not unreasonable adaptation of the original novel. Yes, one or two small elements have been tweaked or changed, but all things considered, this is quality, classic sci-fi. A stellar cast led by Guy Pearce helps as he's joined by Jeremy Irons and Samantha Mumba to name just two. Perfect Sunday afternoon science fiction.

Free with Amazon Prime

19. The Tomorrow War

Synopsis: Set in the present day, a group of time-travelling soldiers from the future appear during the Qatar World Cup final and announce that in just 30 years in the future, all of mankind is on the brink of annihilation by race of particularly unpleasant aliens. Among those chosen to travel forward in time is former soldier (naturally) and schoolteacher Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) who teams up with both seasoned veterans and raw recruits to save the human race.

Related: 'The Tomorrow War' won't win any awards, but it's watchable

Why you should watch: This is very much a popcorn sci-fi blockbuster, equal to the likes of "Independence Day" or "Battle: Los Angeles," and in fact you will notice the influence of other sci-fi movies like "The Thing" or "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Millennium" throughout. And while this won't win any awards for the story writing, it's wanton destruction on a massive scale. 

Free with Amazon Prime

20. War of the Worlds (2005)

The story of Tim Robbins' character, loosely based on the Artilleryman, is a definite highlight in this movie.

The story of Tim Robbins' character, loosely based on the Artilleryman, is a definite highlight in this movie (Image credit: Dreamworks Pictures)

Synopsis: Tom Cruise plays a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father, but not long after his ex-wife and her new husband drop off his teenage son and young daughter for a weekend visit, a peculiar and powerful lightning storm suddenly starts in the skies above New Jersey. What follows is the extraordinary battle against Martian invaders seen through the eyes of a dysfunctional American family struggling to stay alive in this contemporary adaptation of H.G. Wells classic sci-fi story. 

Why you should watch: Here's the thing: once you get past the absurd part of the plot that has the Martian tripod war machines having been buried on Earth, then this is actually a pretty good movie. Cruise is frankly brilliant and so is Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins, it's just such a shame that Justin Chatwin's character is so incredibly annoying. There is a massive underlying theme reflecting on the events of 9/11, but thankfully it's not too obvious and Steven Spielberg handles the set pieces as you'd expect, with creative cinematography and masterful direction.

Free with a Paramount+ trial on Prime Video 

21. What We Left behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Writers from "DS9" including Ira Steven Behr and Ron Moore create a hypothetical new series first episode

Writers from "DS9" including Ira Steven Behr and Ron Moore create a hypothetical new series first episode. (Image credit: Paramount+/455 Films)

Synopsis: Showrunner Ira Steven launched the fundraising campaign a couple of years ago and what followed was an incredible tribute documentary looking at the history of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" that features interviews with almost every member of the cast, including Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Rene Auberjonois, Alexander Siddig and Andrew Robinson. Sadly though, Avery Brooks' contribution is limited to archive footage.

Why you should watch: If you're a fan of "DS9" than this is a must-watch; not only are the insights intriguing and often emotional, but the fictional first episode of a hypothetical new series, crafted together in a writers room packed full of the best writers in "Star Trek" is inspired. There's a look back at the early reviews (and how negative they were), the casting decisions and the issues faced throughout production. This documentary also marks the first time any footage from "DS9" has been remastered in high definition including a portion of the main battle sequence from "Sacrifice Of Angels" (S06, E06).

Free with ads on Amazon Prime

TV shows

1. The Expanse

Synopsis: A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter, and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Along the way, evidence of alien life is discovered and a series of ring gates located near Uranus are unlocked that lead to totally new locations through the universe. Meanwhile, the major factions in the Solar System (Earth, Mars, the Outer Planets Authority and the Belters) fight amongst themselves and ultimately threaten all life on Earth.

Why you should watch: "The Expanse" has well and truly earned its place among the titans of TV sci-fi, up there along with "Battlestar Galactica" and "Babylon 5." It's by far the most cerebral sci-fi currently on television. You can catch up on everything that happened in Season 1 to 3 here, and a lot happened. Then you can catch up with everything that happened in Season 4 here. Personally, we believe seasons 1 and 2 were ever so slightly better than 3 and 4, but that doesn't in any way mean they're not worth watching. Then along came Seasons 5 and 6 and blew everyone's socks off. It is brilliant. The plot is incredibly complex and engaging and the individual performances are exceptional. 

Free with Amazon Prime

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Still one of the most quoted sci-fi shows ever, watch this, then read all the books. You owe it to yourself (Image credit: BBC)

Synopsis: Arthur Dent's house has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new bypass, but this is the least of his problems as it turns out that the planet Earth has been scheduled for demolition to make way for a new hyperspace express route. Thankfully though, it also turns out that his friend Ford Prefect isn't from Guildford after all, but in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and has been long aware of the Earth's impending demise. Together they manage to escape and along the way learn the true history of the universe.

Why you should watch: This one is a real treat and will unquestionably appeal to fans of British humor and more specifically, the epic humor of Douglas Adams. Made in 1981, this is still (tragically) the best adaptation that's been brought to either the big or small screen. The visual effects certainly haven't stood the test of time, but that's not why you're watching it; you're watching it because it shows beautifully how the relationship between Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) and Ford Prefect (David Dixon) develops. 

Free with with a BritBox trial on Prime Video

3. Humans

The quality of writing, high production values and stellar casting makes "Humans" an enjoyable sci-fi thriller

The quality of writing, high production values and stellar casting makes "Humans" an enjoyable sci-fi thriller (Image credit: Channel 4 Television)

Synopsis: Set in a parallel present, the latest must-have gadget for any middle-class family is a "synth" — a technologically advanced, a highly-developed robotic servant, eerily similar to its human equivalent. In the hope of transforming the way they live, one strained suburban family purchases a refurbished synth only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences. 

Why you should watch: Based on the Swedish science fiction drama Äkta människor, this was an adaptation written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, that lasted for three, eight-episode seasons before it was sadly cancelled. The concepts in this show aren't particularly groundbreaking, but what makes it compelling viewing is the quality of writing, high production values and stellar casting. It's a compelling analysis of human nature and our reactions to technology and it beautifully reflects so many issues facing us, in the real world, today. 

Free with Amazon Prime

4. The Man in the High Castle

Rufus Sewell, who plays Obergruppenführer John Smith, is a definite highlight of Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle"

Rufus Sewell, who plays Obergruppenführer John Smith, is a highlight in "The Man in the High Castle" (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: Loosely based Philip K. Dick's novel, this alt-history story looks at what the world might look like if World War II had ended differently. In this dystopian scenario, the Axis powers won the war, leading to the USA being divided into three zones: Imperial Japanese, Nazi and a buffer zone between the two. Despite the oppression, hope emerges when some mysterious cans of film turn up that seem to show a parallel world — and even more bizarrely, footage of different versions of the same people. A woman, Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) believes the films contain the key to freedom and is determined to find their elusive guardian — the man in the high castle.

Why you should watch: Alt-history is a difficult genre to perfect without descending into a cascade of clichés. If you're a fan however, you should definitely check out the works of Harry Turtledove (opens in new tab), a writer who nails it every single time. This show can be hard going at times and the Juliana Crain character can be extremely frustrating. That said, Rufus Sewell, who plays Obergruppenführer John Smith, is magnificent to watch. There are four seasons, and yes, the show does dip a little bit in the middle, but it picks up in the fourth season. Stick with it.

Free with Amazon Prime

5. Night Sky

Synopsis: The series centers around Franklin and Irene York, a couple who years ago discovered a chamber buried in their backyard which inexplicably leads to a strange, deserted planet. They've carefully guarded their secret ever since, but when an enigmatic young man enters their lives, the Yorks' quiet existence is quickly upended, and the mysterious chamber they thought they knew so well turns out to be much more than they could ever have imagined.

Why you should watch:  It's very much a character driven story, with almost all the focus on Sissy Spacek's and J.K. Simmons' characters as they struggle with getting old. If you enjoyed "Invasion" on Apple+ last year, then you'll definitely enjoy this. It's slow paced, but the incredible performances easily carry this and it will be interesting to see where exactly the writers take us.

Free with Amazon Prime

6. The Peripheral

Synopsis: Sometime in the near-future in a small town in rural America and focuses on Flynne — a young woman whose only escape from the daily grind is playing advanced video games — and her older brother, Burton. Flynne (yes, it's a nod to "Tron") is such a good player, that her brother often lets her play for him, whenever money is at stake and they need it. But when a mysterious new prototype system, with full body sensory capability, is sent to him, he let's her use it first...and it opens up a dangerous, but exciting, new world full of adrenaline and adventure.

Why you should watch: At the time of writing, only a couple of episodes have dropped, but so far, this does not disappoint. Produced by Amazon, it is based — very loosely — on the 2014 book of the same name written by William Gibson. "Westworld" creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy serve as executive producers — not sure of that's a good thing or not — along with Athena Wickham, Steve Hoban and Vincenzo Natali. Chloë Grace Moretz and Gary Carr take the two lead roles, along with Jack Reynor and Eli Goree.

Free with Amazon Prime

7. Space: 1999

Aside, obviously, from the magnificent Martin Landau, the other star of Space: 1999 was the Eagle transporter

Aside from the magnificent Martin Landau, the other star of 'Space: 1999' was the Eagle transporter (Image credit: Gerry Anderson)

Synopsis: Moonbase Alpha is a research colony nestled in the Lunar crater Plato. Along with scientific study, it also monitors silos of atomic waste from Earth stored on the Moon's far side. On September 13th 1999, disaster strikes; a build up of magnetic energy causes an explosive chain-reaction of the waste, blasting the Moon out of Earth's orbit and off the plane of the ecliptic, out of the Solar System. The inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha are trapped, unable to return to Earth and wander the galaxy on their unique celestial spacecraft. 

Why you should watch: From the mind of Gerry Anderson, who also gave us "Thunderbirds," this one benefitted from an amazing cast, including the phenomenal Martin Landau, together with Barbara Bain and Nick Tate. The first season is currently available to watch and while many of the practical effects look dated today, don't forget that this show — and especially the first season — contained some pretty horrific scenes, in particular, "Dragon's Den" (S01, E08), that mentally scarred many young sci-fi fans at the time. 

Free with ads on Amazon

8. Stargate SG1

Christopher Judge, Amanda Tapping, Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks make up SG1

Christopher Judge, Amanda Tapping, Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks make up the team SG1 (Image credit: Double Secret Productions)

Synopsis: Set a few years after the movie and following the successful mission to the planet Abydos, the Stargate program was shut down. Or it was, until someone dials the stargate and the System Lord Apophis and two Jaffa warriors unexpectedly enter the Cheyenne Mountain complex; they kidnap a poor USAF officer and quickly retreat, suggesting there's a much bigger threat in the galaxy than was first perceived. Col. O'Neill is brought out of retirement to lead a new expedition back to Abydos to find an old friend — Dr. Jackson, a new enemy — the Goa'uld and 214 glorious episodes of Naquadah-fuelled action and adventure.

Why you should watch: This is one of the best, long-running sci-fi shows ever produced for television with an impressive 214 episodes ("Star Trek: The Next Generation" only managed 176) plus two spin-offs, each with characters that you quickly become invested in, great plots, comedy, drama and well-written dialogue. All of which results in all-round, high-quality sci-fi entertainment. In all honesty, you should watch this to enhance your enjoyment of "Stargate Atlantis" (below) as that was really the peak of this franchise. "Universe" too was also exceptional and it took the show in a completely new direction, but it was the success of this show that enabled those two to be made.

Free with Amazon Prime

8. Stargate: Atlantis

Every episode of 'Stargate: Atlantis' is thrilling and several seasonal story arcs are maintained successfully

Every episode of 'Stargate: Atlantis' is thrilling and several seasonal story arcs are maintained successfully (Image credit: MGM/Amazon)

Synopsis: Basically, this is a spin-off from the incredibly popular "Stargate SG1" and incorporates many of the same characters as it takes place concurrently with the events towards the end of the "SG1" series run. More stargate addresses have been found, including some now that are in a completely different galaxy. Upon exploring these, a fantastic city has been discovered at the bottom of an ocean on a planet in our nearest neighboring galaxy. Turns out that it was constructed by the "ancients" — the same race who originally built the stargates. 

Why you should watch: If you thought Jack O'Neill was cool, just wait until you meet John Sheppard. Seriously, this guy has a composure that makes test pilots look like anxiety-ridden teenagers. This second spin-off hits the ground running and only gets better. In particular, the developing relations between Sheppard (Joe Flanigan) and his team, Ronin Dex (Jason Momoa, oh yes), Teyla Emmagan (Rachel Luttrell) and of course Dr. Rodney McKay, played by the brilliant David Hewlett. Every season of this sci-fi surpasses that last, until the very end (season 5) when you'll be left wanting more. This is probably the most rewatchable sci-fi ever made for television. 

Free with Amazon Prime

10. Stargate: Universe

A reaction to the changing sci-fi scene, "Universe" was a masterstroke. Sadly Syfy didn't see it the same way

A reaction to the changing sci-fi scene, "Universe" was a masterstroke. Sadly Syfy didn't see it the same way (Image credit: MGM/Amazon)

Synopsis: Following a surprise attack on the Alpha Site, a group of soldiers and civilians have little choice but to use a stargate address that incorporates the "ninth chevron" taking them to a deserted space cruiser built by the Ancients millions of years ago that itself is billions of light-years away from Earth. With little or no control of the ship, the team encounters new races, new technology and new enemies as the runaway ship travels to the far ends of the universe.

Why you should watch: "Battlestar Galactica" changed sci-fi forever; suddenly dark, gritty and more mature sci-fi was all the rage — it was a renaissance — and the makers of the "Stargate" franchise didn't want to be left behind. The result was a new spin-off totally unlike any other "Stargate" show and it was brilliant. A totally new situation gave the writers the opportunity to lay the groundwork for some extremely complex and captivating relationships set onboard this ancient spacecraft hurtling through the heavens. The ongoing friction between Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) and Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) was just one of many well-written sub plots. Sadly "Universe" was cancelled after just two seasons, but it should consider itself up there with some of the best sci-fi TV has given us.

Free with Amazon Prime

11. Tales From the Loop

The visual style of the show has been heavily influenced by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and it works extremely effectively

The visual style of the show has been influenced by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and it works effectively (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: A small backwater town has a scientific research facility built underneath it, exactly like the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN facility that lies on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. But the people of this town experience all kinds of weird events and strange phenomena. Each episode follows one townsperson, or a particular group of townspeople, and their experiences with "the loop."

Why you should watch: What an incredibly brilliant idea. Why wouldn't a super-accelerated particle smasher designed to uncover the mysteries of the universe not create super-weird events and interdimensional portals?! The premise of this show is quite possibly one of the most simple and effective we've ever seen. Using the existing notion of a sub-atomic research facility, which we're all already familiar with, as a frame for a "Twilight Zone"-style, "X-Files"-esque, episodic show featuring stories about the "strange and unexplained" is genius. Strong writing and exceptional casting make the week-by-week adventures of the fictional town of Mercer, Ohio addictive viewing.

Free with Amazon Prime

10.  Thunderbirds

Thunderbird 2, a gigantic, gravity-defying aircraft that can carry all manner of specialized rescue machinery in its cargo hold

Thunderbird 2, a gigantic, gravity-defying aircraft that can carry all manner of specialized rescue machinery (Image credit: Gerry Anderson)

Synopsis: In the near future, a billionaire philanthropist has used his extensive knowledge, resources and wealth to create a non-profit, independently operated rescue organization. Using specifically designed, technologically advanced vehicles, including two supersized aircraft, two space vehicles and a submarine, the father — Jeff Tracey and his five sons, Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan — constantly monitor events around the world and then selflessly rush to the scene, wherever it might be, to save lives and avert total disaster. 

Why you should watch: The man behind "Thunderbirds," Gerry Anderson, also gave the world "Space: 1999," "UFO," "Captain Scarlet" and "Space Precinct." Some of his shows were live action and others, like "Thunderbirds," were made using puppets. This was done largely to make the demanding special effects scenes possible and as a result, this show features some of the very best model work ever seen on either the large or small screen. The original "Thunderbirds" show is a classic and should be enjoyed as such. 

Free with ads on Amazon Prime

11. Upload

A straightforward premise, with some, simple well-placed VFX, make "Upload" compelling viewing (Image credit: Amazon)

Synopsis: When a computer programmer Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) dies prematurely, his socialite girlfriend pays the expensive fee to have his consciousness uploaded to the exclusive Lake View resort for the recently deceased. However, depending on what she chooses to accept to pay for, he finds some simple elements of his life are restricted. As Nathan adjusts to digital heaven, he begins to develop feelings for with his customer service representative in the real world, Nora (Andy Allo). She is struggling with the pressures of her job, her dying father who does not want to be uploaded and her own growing feelings for Nathan while slowly coming to believe that Nathan was murdered.

Why you should watch: "Upload" was with a doubt one of the highlights of last year; creator Greg Daniels ("Parks and Recreation" and "The Office") did a phenomenal job of creating a believable, dark comedy, set in the very near future, with so many worryingly realistic plot elements. Sadly though, the second season lacks the less-is-more magic that Season 1 had and takes the story into a very different place. If you were a fan of the first season, this is still worth a watch...but it's not quite as good. 

However, the show has been picked up (opens in new tab) for a third season, so fingers crossed now that the pandemic isn't affecting production schedules quite so much and that the writers can tap into the magic that made the first season so good.

So there you have it! A look at our picks for the best sci-fi movies and TV shows on  Amazon Prime. You can sign up for Amazon Prime here (opens in new tab). After the 30-day free trial, a subscription costs $12.99 per month or $119 for the year.

Follow Scott Snowden on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.  

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When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset ... as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space. You can follow Scott on Twitter @LorumIpsum.
  • Alien8
    Don't bother with The Tomorrow War, we got half way through and gave up, the plot holes are so numerous and huge that it takes complete suspension of your intelligence to watch the whole thing.
    Reply
  • GeoXXX
    “Boy that was a great decision to turn “I, Robot” into a Will Smith movie!”

    Said no one, ever.
    Reply
  • Mergatroid
    Totally enjoyed The Tomorrow War. Great production values, and the acting is second to none. Great twist in the middle. The editing was a little off in one spot as something happened and I didn't see any explanation for it, but other than that is was a great movie.
    Reply
  • Helio
    Mergatroid said:
    Totally enjoyed The Tomorrow War. Great production values, and the acting is second to none. Great twist in the middle. The editing was a little off in one spot as something happened and I didn't see any explanation for it, but other than that is was a great movie.
    Yeah. I liked it because it reminded me of Independence Day.
    I thought it clever how they used the time stream idea to limit time travel to normal time events for both locations.
    Reply
  • Mergatroid
    Oh come now, SG1 was way better than Atlantis.
    Way better.
    Reply