The 100 Best Sci-Fi TV Shows of All Time

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75. The 100 (2014-)

Creator: Jason Rothenberg
Stars: Eliza Taylor, Eli Goree, Thomas McDonell
Network: The CW

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama is set 97 years after a nuclear war wiped out almost all life on Earth. Survivors are living in a space station orbiting the Earth, hoping to one day return to their home. As resources on the ship become scarce and oxygen levels enter critical condition, the leadership decides to send 100 juvenile prisoners to Earth to see if the land is inhabitable. The “Lord of the Flies”-esque drama series follows these teens as they uncover surprises of what is left of mother earth. If you’re a thrill-lover, The 100 will keep you pressing “next episode.” —Jane Snyder

74. The Man in the High Castle (2015-)

Creator: Frank Spotnitz
Stars: Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls, Joel de la Fuente, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rufus Sewell, Brennan Brown, Callum Keith Rennie, Bella Heathcote
Network: Amazon

The Amazon original series, based on the 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, could have landed on a number of other networks—or perhaps even in cinemas—at any other time. But the dystopian drama, set in an alternate history where the United States loses World War II, seems destined for now. the show depicts a not-so-United States in the years following World War II. Germany has taken over the Eastern states. Japan has the West Coast. In between is the neutral zone set along the Rocky Mountains. When Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), a woman in San Francisco, comes into possession of a newsreel-style film that depicts victory for the Allies, it sets her on a journey that will impact everyone around her. But the strangest thing about The Man in the High Castle is what happened in the U.S. less than six weeks before the second season’s premiere. Donald Trump won the presidential election. A stunned nation is now wrestling with “fake news” and “post-truth.” For anyone who woke up on Nov. 9, 2016, feeling as though they slipped into a parallel universe, the show took on new meaning. —Liz Ohanesian

73. Lost in Space (2018-)

Creator: Irwin Allen
Stars: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Maxwell Jenkins, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Ignacio Serricchio, Parker Posey
Network: Netflix 

Lost in Space’s Molly Parker and Parker Posey generate much the same excitement as the series’ (many, mostly effective) action sequences. Its motor isn’t the force of the soldier, as represented by Toby Stephens’ gruff John Robinson, but the logic of the scientist (Parker), the guile of the con woman (Posey), the problem-solving acumen of Will (Maxwell Jenkins) and his older sisters, Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Judy (Taylor Russell). From using magnesium to melt ice and commandeering a “chariot”—a cross between a Jeep and a tank—to determining the cause of engine distress, the Robinsons are at their best untangling dilemmas, rather than blasting through them. At one point, facing a more complicated calculation than she expected, Maureen quips, “I’m gonna need a bigger whiteboard,” and it resounds as Lost in Space’s central proposition: That there’s room in the genre, and indeed on television, for the “science” in science fiction to be more than the expression of humankind’s worst instincts. In fact, though it’s been (not unreasonably) described as “darker” than Irwin Allen’s original, which aired on CBS from 1965 to 1968, the most important changes in Netflix’s remake—Parker’s top billing, Posey’s casting—reflect more depth than darkness, at least not darkness for its own sake. The series premiere aside, Maureen is John’s equal, if not, at times, the dominant figure in their relationship, one that turns out to be much thornier than it might seem. —Matt Brennan

72. Smallville (2001-2011)

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Creator: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Stars: Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, Sam Jones III, Erica Durance
Networks: The WB, The CW

So, 15 year-old Clark Kent is played by a 24 year-old man (Tom Welling) who doesn’t wear glasses and isn’t all that mild-mannered. Assuming he eventually becomes Superman, wouldn’t his high school friends all recognize him? With that as a premise/set-up, Smallville started off with both arms tied behind its back and still managed to make it 10 years as a (mostly) quality show. This is a hell of an achievement and only 36 non-daytime soap series have lasted longer. As a series set in high school (for the first four seasons), Smallville might have benefitted either by casting the lead younger or by skipping through high school at an accelerated rate. Still, Smallville managed to bring all the necessary high-school trimmings: first love, prom, rivalries with the jocks, spirit possession, mind-control and lots and lots of murder… you know, the usual. Season Four went off the rails when Clark became the school quarterback (seriously, did no one at The WB read a comic book?) but for most of the run, I was able to deal with the non-canon moments. That said, Smallville may be one of those shows that was “of its time” insofar as television programming (especially geek TV) has improved significantly over the last 5-10 years. It’s not that it wasn’t a good show, but I’d argue that 218 episodes was far too many to get where we all knew it was going, and it prolonged Superman’s Superboy period to an absurd length. —Mark Rabinowitz

71. Red Dwarf (1988-)

Creators: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Stars: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Chloë Annett, Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge
Network: BBC Two

The British have a unique way of turning the end of the human race into a laugh. And like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf sees the human race reduced to a population of one with hilarious results. More of a riff on the Odd Couple than is typical of spaceship crews, Dave Lister wakes up three-million years after the rest of the Red Dwarf’s crew are killed by a radiation leak only to find himself alone in a titanic mining ship except for a hologram, a cat and a robot. Lister and his inhuman companions navigate too many twists and turns on their way back to Earth (or to get his girlfriend, whichever happens first) to recount here, but at least the working-class Liverpudlian gets his long-sought chicken vindaloo. The series lasted five years before its first hiatus, and has been revived three times since. —Ellie Decker & JD Jordan

70. The Rain (2018-)

Creators: Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen, Christian Potalivo
Stars: Alba August, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Lukas Løkken, Jessica Dinnage, Sonny Lindberg, Angela Bundalovic, Lars Simonsen
Network: Netflix 

If you’ve seen the one show about the telegenic young blonde who barely survives a near-apocalyptic event and now has to overcome her naïvety to fight off both the harsh post-catastrophe elements and humanity’s other remaining survivors in order to protect the last of her family AT ALL COSTS!!!, then you’ve seen The Rain, Netflix’s first Danish original series. This isn’t to say The Rain isn’t worth watching, necessarily; any viewer with the fortitude to overcome subtitles will enjoy, if nothing else, some really sharp cinematography and acting and just general atmospherics. Plus, watching this story play out in a non-North American, non-English speaking country is engaging for its novelty. The emotional arc of the story, too, for all it is a mashup of the seven thousand YA-adjacent dystopian/post-apocalyptic/survival thriller shows and films that have come before it, isn’t bad. After what is essentially an anxiety-fueled bottle episode weirdly positioned as the pilot, the two main characters encounter the rest of the season’s principals in a dire, gripping way, and the circumstances that force the lot of them both into cahoots and into taking the particular trip that they do make enough sense to keep you interested—especially as each subsequent episode turns its lens to a new secondary character to follow back in time to when the apocalyptic implications of the viral rain were still making themselves known, and that character was just becoming the hardened person they are in the present. All of this, remarkably watchable. —Alexis Gunderson

69. ALF (1986-1990)

Creators: Paul Fusco, Tom Patchett
Stars: Paul Fusco, Max Wright, Anne Schedeen, Andrea Elson, Benji Gregory
Network: NBC

Somehow, like Full House, this series also featured a family named “The Tanners,” but that’s where the comparisons end. A bizarre show in retrospect that featured a puppet as the titular character, ALF was about an alien named “Gordon Shumway” who crash-lands in the backyard of a suburban family and then proceeds to work his way into their hearts while waiting for his cohorts to stop by and pick him up, occasionally attempting to catch and eat the family cat along the way. Most episodes play out as a cross between Perfect Strangers and Growing Pains, as ALF learns about various human customs and the family attempts to shield him from the public and the government officials hunting for him. It all builds to one of the most insane TV finales of all time, as Gordon is captured by the government and brought to a lab, with the implication that he will be dissected alive in the name of science. Seriously, that’s how ALF ended. It was meant to be a cliffhanger ending, but because a fifth season of ALF was never produced, one of the weirdest sitcoms of the decade ended in one of the weirdest ways. —Jim Vorel

68. 3% (2016-)

Creators: Pedro Aguilera
Stars: Bianca Comparato, João Miguel, Michel Gomes, Rodolfo Valente
Network: Netflix 

U.S. shows have long been a part of Netflix’s offering in foreign countries, and the streaming service has brought a handful of foreign TV shows to America. But 3% is Netflix’s first original Brazilian production. Set in a dystopian future where only 3% of the population is chosen to live in a Utopian society, while the rest of humanity struggles in destitution, the show follows a group of 20-year-old candidates competing to be among the chosen, some of whom may be part of a revolutionary group called The Cause. Part pyschological thriller, part sci-fi morality play, the eight-episode series is full of characters on both sides of the test, struggling to win a chance at a better life without abandoning their principles. —Josh Jackson

67. Continuum (2012-2015)

Creator: Simon Barry
Stars: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, Stephen Lobo, Roger Cross
Network: Showcase

I’m starting to grow suspicious: Do Canadians plug into the walls at night? Orphan Black has made its mark in the U.S. (with Tatiany Maslany finally winning an Emmy), but it’s far from the first noteworthy Canadian sci-fi import. Continuum rises above both the usual fare we find on Syfy and on network television. The show follows the efforts of Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) to thwart the ambitious and destructive terrorist group Liber8. The hook: Cameron and the terrorists are accidental transplants from the year 2077, where corporations subsidized global debt with the subordination of the world’s governments. The collision is not about the obliteration of one perspective, but the slow formation of compromised strengths. The political disconnect encourages us to remain impartial. The show’s character development can come in waves, but Nichols remains capable of carrying whatever material she’s handed to evocative, substantial places. Plus: She takes down do-badders towering over her like ogres more convincingly than any other actress on television. —Kyle Burton

66. Lexx (1997-2002)

Creator: Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff, Jeffrey Hirschfield
Stars: Brian Downey, Eva Habermann, Michael McManus, Xenia Seeberg, Jeffrey Hirschfield, Tom Gallant
Network: Global TV, Sci Fi

The crew of Lexx (a plant-ship shaped like a dragonfly that can blow up worlds) is a motley one: a human courier, an emotionless undead assassin, a renegade love slave and a robot head that thinks it’s a love slave. If you think George R.R. Martin’s spins a high body count, check out Lexx. Aside from being oddly sex-charged for a B-grade space opera, Lexx sees the population of two whole universes wiped out (including our Earth), all while half the crew of this insect-shaped ship are on-again-off-again trying to kill (or eat) the other half. And they’re not even all alive to start with! After premiering on CityTV in Canada, the show was eventually picked by by the Sci-Fi Channel, where it ran for four absolutely bizarre seasons. —Ellie Decker & JD Jordan

65. Max Headroom (1987-88)

Creator: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, George Stone
Stars: Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, Chris Young, W. Morgan Sheppard, Charles Rocket, Jeffrey Tambor 
Network: ABC

One of the most indelible images of the ’80s was that of Max Headroom, a glitchy, computer-generated spokesperson/TV host with stuttering speech patterns. Throughout the decade, the character (played by actor Matt Frewer, stuck in a foam and Plexiglas costume) seemed to get reinvented every couple of years from TV movies in the UK to pimping New Coke here in the States. For a short stretch in the late ’80s, though, Headroom was the titular character in a dystopic series that ran briefly on ABC. Built off the same presence as the UK film, the show depicted a future that doesn’t seem that impossible today, a world is ruled by TV networks that use their technology to track the actions and thoughts of viewers. When an investigative reporter (Frewer) uncovers a scandal and is injured trying to escape with the information, a hacker uploads his mind into a computer and Max Headroom is born. The online figure helps his fellow reporters dig into the nasty work their employer Network 23 is up to. It’s a preposterous premise but the show has proven to be strangely prescient some 30 years after its premiere, and its dark undercurrent paved the way for other series like Twin Peaks and Dark Angel. —Robert Ham

64. Helix (2014-2015)

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Creator: Cameron Porsandeh
Stars: Billy Campbell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kyra Zagorsky, Mark Ghanimé, Matt Long

Helix is a claustrophobic quarantine thriller that begins with a throwback virus running wild in a Greenland research station. The show takes a couple of episodes to generate the momentum needed to override its missteps. Two days into its outbreak, Helix just about keeps ahead of its logical inconsistencies and muted performances by ratcheting up the horror quotient. The most intriguing aspect of the series may actually be the contagion itself, a kind of “contained rage” virus that promises an intelligent (and equally malevolent) version of the enemies found in The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later. The show skips any initial mystery about who’s behind the infection, with the lead villain—Hiro, the head of the Arctic Biosystems lab—identified in the opening scene. Hiro comes across one of his scientists, Peter, in the grotesque throes of the disease, which he coolly calls “Progress.” As the show progresses, it delves deeper into paranoia, hallucination and self-mutilation. If you like your sci-fi with a slice of madness and horror, Helix may be for you. —Andrew Westney

63. Astro Boy (1980, 2003)

Creators: Osamu Tezeku, Noboru Ishiguro
Stars: Billie Lou Watt, Esperanzita Martinez, Mari Shimizu, Ray Owens
Network: Nippon TV, ABC

Negligent and absent fathers are universal across all forms of anime, though especially in the “shonen” genre of action-adventure and martial arts-focused series. Of all the most disreputable and horrendous dads worthy of condemnation in anime, Dr. Tenma ranks among the worst by dint of his seniority. A legendary scientist and pioneer of robotics engineering, Tenma is the creator and “father” of Atom, or “Astro,” the titular protagonist of Osamu Tezuka’s landmark 1980 manga and anime series of the same name. In the depths of his despair following the death of his son Tobio in a car collision, Tenma pours the sum total of his grief and genius into resurrecting him in the form of a robot, Atom, who he then adopts and raises as his own. However, after several seemingly happy years living together, Tenma becomes despondent—sullen and resentful that no matter how advanced his intelligence and empathy, the boy robot could never grow or age like a real child, thus making a painful reminder of Tenma’s own inability to fill the void of his son’s death. Of no fault of his own, Astro is abandoned by his father and sold to a robot circus, where he is then later adopted by the kindly Professor Ochanomizu and given a true home. Astro would later confront his crazed father and fight against his army of malicious robots, besting them time and again before eventually convincing Tenma to repent and renounce his evil ways. Tenma’s actions serves as not only the catalyst to Astro’s growth as a sentient being, but the spark to his maturation into true hero. —Toussaint Egan

62. Warehouse 13 (2009-2014)

Creators: Jane Espenson, D. Brent Mote
Stars: Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, Genelle Williams, Simon Reynolds, Allison Scagliotti, Aaron Ashmore
Network: SyFy

SciFi rebranded to SyFy in early 2009, with the aim of being more inclusive of all parts of the genre television spectrum. Cue that July’s premiere of Warehouse 13, the South Dakota-based sister series to Eureka which focused on a tiny team of irrepressibly quirky federal agents whose job it was to track down supernaturally empowered historical artifacts to store safely away from humanity in a remote and extremely top-secret storage facility. Death and destruction and the total annihilation of the known timestream and/or universe were always on the table—and major characters did die—but, like with Eureka before it, Warehouse 13 was far more interested in the jokes and sight gags and arrestingly odd interpersonal shenanigans its endlessly game cast could always be depended on to deliver. That cast, which originally included Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock as classic odd couple co-lead Agents Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer, Saul Rubinek as grumpy Warehouse guardian Artie Nielsen, Allison Scagliotti as punk teen hacker Claudia Donovan, and Genelle Williams as aura-reader Leena, added two bold doses of LGBTQ representation in later seasons with Aaron Ashmore as Claudia’s new partner, the proudly out human lie detector, Steve Jinks, and Jaime Murray as Myka’s new romantic foil, the proudly bisexual, proudly chaotic neutral classic science fiction writer, lady H.G. Wells. Every part of this show was over the top and ridiculous—Lewis Carroll’s mirror, Mata Hari’s stockings, and Lizzie Borden’s compact all played pivotal roles in early seasons, while the marquee from 42nd Street from the Mark Strand Theater trapped the whole main cast in an endless tap dancing routine in the series finale (see above)—and the wild twists of artifact magic were executed, generally, with bluntly obvious CGI effects, but that was what made Warehouse 13 so fun, and such a great legacy for the all-inclusive SyFy rebranding. —Alexis Gunderson

61. Misfits (2009-2013)

Creator: Howard Overman
Stars: Iwan Rheon, Robert Sheehan, Lauren Socha, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Antonia Thomas, Joseph Gilgun, Karla Crome, Nathan McMullen, Natasha O’Keeffe, Matt Stokoe
Network: E4

The plot: A handful of juvenile delinquents experience a strange universal shift during an electrical storm that causes each of them to gain various super powers. Thus, they become “superhoodies.” On the surface, it seemed like the plot of a science fiction show and that’s not incorrect. The early episodes of Misfits were some of the most underrated and low-key, sci-fi episodes on television—it was sci-fi for people who weren’t sure they liked sci-fi. Admittedly, Misfits often doesn’t get a fair shake, thanks to the cast turnover and lack of satisfying story follow-through in later seasons. That said, the one thing Misfits got exceedingly right was their look at the lives of working class, high school-aged kids who are often shrugged off or labeled “trouble.” While you’d never see the likes of Simon (Iwan Rheon, currently crushing it on Vicious alongside Ian McKellen), Kelly (Lauren Socha) or Nathan (Robert Sheehan) sitting in a history class, viewers still witnessed their struggle with every day teenage life. The closest you’d find to a stereotypical goody two shoes on Misfits was Simon. Rheon’s portrayal of the shy and often overlooked Simon was one of the most captivating parts of the show. When Simon, faced with Alisha’s super sexual appeal, would mutter his darkest fantasies, you saw a completely different, but very real side of the average boy. The things that came out of his mouth could only come from a porn-obsessed teen. His foil came in the form of Nathan, a goofy, loud-mouthed jokester who seemed to think his greatest gift was his ability to have a smart answer for absolutely any topic… that is until he discovered his super power. The superhoodies of Misfits were without a doubt to sort of kids you’d roll your eyes at on the street. Yet, creator Howard Overman (Atlantis, Dirk Gently) turned the miscreants into humans who, though they were flawed, were absolutely worth rooting for. —Deirdre Kaye

60. Invader Zim (2001-2002)

Creator: Jhonen Vasquez
Stars: Richard Steven Horvitz, Andy Berman, Rosearik Rikki Simons, Melissa Fahn, Rodger Bumpass, Lucille Bliss, Wally Wingert, Kevin McDonald
Network: Nickelodeon 

At a time when original Nickelodeon cartoons included Rocket Power and The Fairly Oddparents, Invader Zim was the network’s attempt to attract the slightly older Cartoon Network crowd. They wanted something edgy and a little bizarre. They got it tenfold with Jhonen Vasquez, a comic-book writer and cartoonist whose previous projects included the hyper-violent comic series Johnny: The Homicidal Maniac, Squee and I Feel Sick. His concept for Nickelodeon was simple: Invader Zim was the story of naive but psychotic Zim, the smallest member of an alien species in which social hierarchy is determined by height, who is assigned to conquer an insignificant planet on the outskirts of the universe: Earth. Although dispatched simply to collect undercover surveillance and stay out of the way, Zim—along with his malfunctioning erratic robot drone, GIR—decides to conquer our planet himself. However, all his attempts to take over are either thwarted by his own inexperience or by Dib, a young paranormal investigator who realizes Zim is an alien. This backstory is quickly summed up in the packed intro, which shows Zim traveling to Earth, setting up his house and literally consuming the planet under the might of his machines—if only in his dreams. We also see the strange and fantastical spaceships and technology that creator Jhonen invented for his world, along with a hint at the show’s humor and art style—all of which help demonstrate what made Invader Zim the cult cartoon hit it still is today. —James Charisma

59. Colony (2016-2018)

Creators: Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal
Stars: Josh Holloway, Sarah Wayne Callies, Peter Jacobson, Amanda Righetti, Tory Kittles
Network: USA

Josh Holloway. Need I say more? Okay, fine. Holloway stars as former FBI agent Will Bowman. He and his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead) live in Los Angeles, where aliens have invaded and now occupy the city. Nothing can be done without their knowledge. Will and Katie were separated from their son at the time of the invasion and now must decide what lengths they are willing to go to in order to get him back. From executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Ryan Condal, the series plays on the tension between protecting your family and rising up against oppressive invaders and what happens when husband and wife find themselves on different sides of that line. —Shannon M. Houston

58. Killjoys (2015-)

Creator: Michelle Lovretta
Stars: Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, Luke Macfarlane
Network: Syfy

This Canadian co-production debuted with minimal fanfare two seasons ago, and turned out to fill the hole left behind by Joss Whedon’s dearly departed Firefly. As the series heads into its third season this summer, it promises even more space bounty hunter action, all wrapped up in a world on the verge of all-out war. Even better, it features breakout star Hannah John-Kamen, who was over the big screen this year in Tomb Raider, Ready Player One and Ant-Man and the Wasp. —Trent Moore

57. Better Off Ted (2009-2010)

Creator: Victor Fresco
Stars: Jay Harrington, Portia de Rossi, Andrea Anders, Jonathan Slavin, Malcolm Barrett, Isabella Acres
Network: ABC

This ABC satire starred Jay Harrington as Ted Crisp, the head of research and development at a soulless conglomerate where nothing is too far-fetched. In between creating suicidal turkeys and freezing co-workers, he often had to compromise his own ethics with that of his employer Veridian Dynamics. The show often broke the fourth wall making the audience more active participants; however, the show never caught on. ABC shocked everyone by renewing Better Off Ted for a second season, before canceling it after just 26 episodes. —Shaina Pearlman

56. Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

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Creators: Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor
Stars: Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Roxann Dawson, Jennifer Lien, Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang, Jeri Ryan
Network: UPN

If the original Enterprise explored strange new worlds, sought out new life and new civilizations and boldly went where no man had gone before, Voyager showed what a woman could do. The unflappable Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) guided her crew home when an energy wave transported them across the Milky Way into the Delta Quadrant, home to plenty of new civilizations and dominated by Star Trek’s best adversary of all time, the Borg. Where the first two series were about exploration by a Utopian society and Deep Space Nine was a more honest look at the difficulties of simple co-existence, Voyager was all about the journey home. The crew, made up of Starfleet and Maquis rebels, were brought together out of necessity but had to rely on each other in part of the galaxy that was strange even to professional explorers of space. In addition to the usual human/Vulcan/Klingon characters, the ship was home to a local Talaxian guide, a holographic doctor who developed self-awareness, and a Borg drone separate from her hive and re-learning her humanity. With only each other to rely on, Voyager was the most interpersonal series in the Star Trek universe. —Josh Jackson

55. Caprica (2010)

Creator: Remi Aubuchon, Ronald D. Moore
Stars: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, Sasha Roiz, Brian Markinson, Polly Walker
Network: SyFy

Few shows on this list were as highly anticipated as this Battlestar Galactica prequel. With a fascinating and timely premise, examining how a world much like ours quickly succumbed to the temptations of rapid technological advancement, and the most compelling sci-fi show to build from, how could anything go wrong? Driven by grief and a desire to bring back a lost daughter, wealthy technocrat Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) creates a virtual intelligence that will eventually lead to the apocalypse of the Cylon attacks. Unlike Battlestar’s grim struggle for survival of the species, Caprica shows us a world high on its own achievements and a hidden alternate virtual reality where any desire can be fulfilled. But the series never found its expected audience and SyFy axed it after a single season. —Josh Jackson

54. The Middleman (2008)

Creator:   George Lucas  
Stars: Matt Keeslar, Natalie Morales, Mary Pat Gleason, Brit Morgan, Jake Smollett
Network: ABC Family

Although ABC Family is now mostly known for self-involved teens and their petty problems, in 2008 the network forayed into a new genre when it joined forces with Javier Grillo-Marxuach to bring his comic-book series to the small screen. Starring Natalie Morales (of Parks & Recreation, not the NBC reporter) and Matt Keesler (Scream 3), the pop-culture-reference-infused show followed Wendy Watson (Morales) and the Middleman (Keesler) as they protected the world against villains big and small, human and alien. The show was canceled after 12 episodes, but was given a proper finale in the comic, The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse. —Shaina Pearlman

53. Eureka (2006-2012)

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Creator: Andrew Cosby, Jaime Paglia
Stars: Colin Ferguson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Joe Morton, Debrah Farentino, Jordan Hinson, Ed Quinn, Erica Cerra
Network: Syfy

Set in the quirky, scientist-saturated, totally top-secret Pacific Northwestern town of the same name, Eureka was then-SciFi’s big swing of a counterargument to the gritty seriousness of Battelstar Galactica, which had premiered two years earlier and launched SciFi into the pop culture mainstream. Where Battlestar Galactica was all grays and blacks and cramped metal hallways, Eureka was open sky and lush PNW forests and a cheerful whistling theme song; where Battlestar’s resident geniuses colluded with genocidal humanesque clones, Eureka’s lot over at Global Dynamics tinkered with technological goo and android dogs and pheromonal peptides that cause love stampedes; where Battlestar’s uniformed officers strategized space war against those same genocidal humanesque clones, Eureka’s solitary two—eternally gobsmacked outsider Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) and eternally exasperated insider Deputy Sheriff Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra)—used their practical training and relatively astronomical EQ to save the town’s various head-in-the-clouds quantum physicists from the comedic excesses of their own geniuses. This is not to say that Eureka didn’t deal with complex, dark-ish arcs—long before he was the scheming Papa Pope, Joe Morton nearly set Eureka on fire with Dr. Henry Deacon’s grief at losing his wife—but those more serious stories were always offset with Jack’s banter with his Smart House, or Jo’s flirtatiously combative slapstick with bad boy scientist Zane Donovan (Niall Matter), or bumbling super-genius Fargo (Neil Grayston) doing just about anything—including guest starring on sister goofball series, Warehouse 13. The more serious stories were fine, but it was those effortlessly light, entirely un-self-serious touches that made Eureka’s short five seasons such refreshing fun to watch. —Alexis Gunderson

52. Pinky and the Brain (1995-1998)

Creator: Tom Ruegger
Stars:: Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen
Network: Kids’ WB

America’s favorite genetically altered lab mice first appeared in 1993 on the brilliant Warner Bros. sketch show Animaniacs. The Brain’s myriad plans for world domination are hatched from the dungeon-like Acme Labs with the help of his much more jovial assistant Pinky. The megalomaniac Brain, a cross between Orson Welles and Vincent Price, has no ill will towards humanity; he’s just certain that he’s the best equipped to rule the world. Sadly, his schemes never go exactly as planned. Being ruled by a benign, highly intelligent lab rat doesn’t sound quite as bad as it used to. —Josh Jackson

51. Supergirl (2015-)

Creators: Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, Andrew Kreisberg
Stars:: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Calista Flockhart, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Chris Wood, Floriana Lima
Networks: CBS, The CW

Not since Lynda Carter began deflecting bullets with her bracelets has there been such a high-profile debut of a female superhero on network television. The fact that it only lasted a season on CBS before getting shuffled to the CW can’t be pinned on superb lead Melissa Benoist as the titular cousin to the Man of Steel. The series was a bigger hit with critics than audiences, celebrating the feminine strength and innate goodness of its source character in stark contrast to Zach Snyder’s darker vision of Krypton’s most famous son. Kara Zor-El confronts both the responsibilities of her inhuman powers and the difficulties of working for callous media exec Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), while juggling friendships, romances and family dysfunction of world-ending proportions. That this fun, family-friendly action adventure couldn’t make it on CBS says more about network television than anything else. Thankfully Supergirl found a new place to save National City. —Josh Jackson

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