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Sci-fi brings us elements like imagined futures, space travel, advanced technologies and life on faraway planets. A sci-fi television series allows us to see that there’s much more to the story. Week after week, we have the opportunity to get to know the characters and the story itself in far more depth and detail, which has peaked interest and introduced a whole new audience to the science fiction genre. Hell, there's an entire cable network devoted to sci-fi TV. The following sci-fi television series are some that paved the way to make the science fiction genre more popular than ever.
Quantum Leap (1989-93)
That’s one small step for man, and one giant leap, week after week, for Dr. Sam Beckett. Dr. Beckett led a group of top scientists into the desert to research his theory that a man could time travel within his own lifetime. Unfortunately, in order to save his funding, he was forced to enter the accelerator prematurely and vanished. He then found himself in someone else's body with partial amnesia. His only contact from home is Al, a holographic image only he can see and hear. Setting right, things which once went wrong, Sam leaps from life to life, hoping each time that this is the final leap home.
Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)
The first thought that might occur in your mind is that it's a cheap TV rip-off a mediocre movie. Incorrect. Stargate SG-1 is set around an interstellar gate that’s capable of creating wormholes to other worlds. The show centers around the first recon team to travel through the Stargate, who explores the universe, and contacts other worlds to befriend other races. They also search for technology on how to defeat a parasitic, snake-like race that takes a human host and use his/her body for their own dark purposes.
A humorous program that had fun, fought bad guys and harbored extremely dark secrets, this show was science fiction with a western flair. This show takes place following a galactic civil war and tracks a group of mercenaries who fought for the losing side. Unfortunately, while being a great show, for some reason its episodes were aired out of order and the show was canceled before the first season ended.
In Fringe, it's all about science, more specifically, the show is based around the concept of “fringe science.” An investigation team researches cases where high tech inventions that border on the supernatural are being used to commit crimes or for unknown purposes. These weird crimes are seemingly part of a larger pattern. While some cases seem to be uncomfortably similar to what we already experience in daily life, other cases are more fantastical.
The Twilight Zone (1959-64) (1985-89) (2002-03)
With a new and unique story each episode, this show definitely kept you on your toes, biting your fingernails, and sometimes, embarrassingly, covering your eyes. Whatever form, whichever decade, there was always something to look forward to with its great use of imaginary story lines and ideas. The original series may have been a little cheesy at times, but as the series ripens you get some pretty memorable and genius tales of suspense, fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Battlestar Galactica (2004-09)
Being the highest-rated show on the Sci-Fi Channel, Battlestar Galactica is proof that a classic and somewhat mediocre show can successfully be remade into a hit series. This is a prime example of a remake done right. This time around, the emotion and conflict of the show was captured, as the crew of the Galactica protects a small civilian fleet — the last of humanity — as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.
Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005-?)
The longest-running sci-fi series to date, this is the story about “The Doctor” who is a renegade Time Lord, an eccentric and highly-intelligent scientist from a distant planet. He travels through time and space in the TARDIS, which always appears as a blue British police box. The show chronicles the adventures of “The Doctor” who wanders the universe battling evil conquerors, ruthless corporations, and other exploiters of the innocent and oppressed. Every few weeks, the Doctor would travel to a different planet or time, allowing the show's cast, setting, and tone to constantly change. Even the Doctor himself was periodically replaced by a new actor, "regenerating" his body whenever he was on the verge of death. This format gave the show an amazing freshness and allowed it to last for over a quarter of a century without becoming stale.
Star Trek (1966-69)
One of the biggest and best in American science fiction, the series follows the USS Enterprise as it voyages through the galaxy to explore and discover new worlds. It will always be remembered for its iconic and beloved cast of characters, as well as being “the” series that spawned one of the largest and longest-lasting pop-culture fan bases, EVER. Need I say more?
The X-Files (1993-2002)
The X-Files will forever be remembered as a true hit TV show, a breakout accomplishment for the Fox Network, and one of the most defining shows of the 90s. Those who haven’t watched the show still know who Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are. The show brought on a whole new level of TV entertainment in 1993, with its different, moody atmosphere, intriguing lead characters, and mind-bending plots. The show’s two FBI agents work in an unassigned detail of the bureau called the X-Files investigating cases dealing with unexplained paranormal phenomena. Mulder, a true believer, and Scully, a skeptic, perceive their cases from standpoints of science and the paranormal. Hey, the truth is out there...
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94)
The original series was one of greatness, but this show took the series to all new heights never dreamed of in the 1960s. Set in the 24th century and decades after the adventures of the original crew of the starship Enterprise, this new series was the long-awaited successor to the original Star Trek (1966). Under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the all new Enterprise travels out to distant planets to seek out new life and to boldly go where no one has gone before.
With the commercial success of the original Star Trek movies and its continued rise as a pop culture phenomenon, along with the increased popularity of science fiction overall, the idea of resurrecting a Star Trek TV series was a logical step to take. However, the original Trek was a hard act to follow. Fortunately, with the Next Generation we did not get a re-hash of the original series, but a logical continuation of the original. This series would survive a rocky first season and began to come into its own near the end of the second. What comes after is some of the best science fiction ever made, television or otherwise, and to many, including myself, it eclipses the original series.