Netflix sci-fi series 


Some people just like to see the world burn. And that is us: fans of dystopian shows.

Lucky for us, Netflix has a wealth of dystopian series – plenty of which are so binge-worthy, you’ll give up sleep just to watch that “one more episode”. For all your stay-home nights, here are 12 sci-fi series on Netflix exploring twisted, dark futures that’ll keep you gleefully hooked:

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1. Snowpiercer – adapted from Bong Joon Ho’s film


Netflix Sci-Fi - Snowpiercer
Image credit:
Syfy

For those who’ve binged through most apocalyptic films, this one is a relatively new one to feast your eyes on. 

Adapted from the original Snowpiercer film by Parasite’s Bong Jong Ho, Netflix’s Snowpiercer is a steampunk, sci-fi series that’s pretty cool. And by that, we mean it takes place in a world that’s so cold, it’s frozen to the core – a result of climate experiments to reverse global warming gone wrong. 

The remnants of humanity live onboard a 1,001-carriage train, the only place that can sustain life in such harsh conditions. But while the outside world is problematic enough, passengers and crew onboard are caught up with issues of their own, including class conflict. Talk about getting derailed.

Snowpiercer | Official Trailer | Netflix
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Snowpiercer | Official Trailer | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 1(ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 62%
How likely it is to happen: Cloud seeding, check; trains, check. Now we just have to wait. 


2. Into The Night – Belgian apocalyptic drama set on a plane


Netflix Sci-Fi - Into The Night
Image credit:
Netflix

If you enjoyed the movie Non-Stop, you’ll love the critically acclaimed Into The Night, both based on plane hijackings and thrilling to no end. 

The Belgian series begins with a seemingly crazed man, Terenzio, barging onto a plane with a gun and demanding to head West. But as it turns out, this isn’t your classic plane hijack scenario – the world crumbles below as everyone exposed to the sun dies, leaving the gang on board as one of the few remaining humans alive with limited fuel to escape daybreak.

Into the Night I Official Trailer I Netflix
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Into the Night I Official Trailer I Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 1 (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 88%
How likely it is to happen: While radioactive gamma rays from the sun are the cause of death in the show, we experience a similar phenomenon called magnetic solar storms in real life as well. They’re much weaker and don’t have the potential to kill us. At least not yet.


3. DARK – chilling German time travel sci-fi


Netflix Sci-Fi - DARK
Image adapted from: Netflix

DARK is a mind-bending one that will send chills down your spine right from the very start. After children mysteriously go missing in a small German town, things point towards a spooky cave beneath a nuclear plant. If you’re thinking “this sounds a hell lot like Stranger Things,” you’re pretty much right, except it’s darker and more complex.

Skilfully weaving in time travel – and inadvertently various timelines and logical paradoxes – this series is one you’ll want to pay close attention to as every little detail matters. Grab a coffee if you have to, and enjoy the ride.

DARK Season 1 Official Trailer # 2 (2017) Netflix Mystery TV Series HD
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DARK Season 1 Official Trailer # 2 (2017) Netflix Mystery TV Series HD

Video credit: One Media

Seasons: 1 on Netflix | 3 seasons in total (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 94%
How likely it is to happen: Pretty unlikely, but we can’t guarantee that you won’t have nightmares.


4. The 100 – popular YA series that rivals Game of Thrones


Netflix Sci-Fi - The 100

Image credit: Wallpaper Flare

On its 7th season running as testament to its popularity, The 100 excels at believable world-building and you’ll sooner find yourself obsessed with its post-apocalyptic setting. Often compared to Game of Thrones, this enthralling series is one of the most binge-worthy ones you can find, not just within the genre but among all the listings on Netflix.

The plot evolves a lot throughout its 80+ episodes, but in Season 1, it’s a thrilling rediscovery of the Earth 97 years after a catastrophic nuclear apocalypse. Residents of a space station called The Ark are presumably all that’s left of humanity. As they run out of resources, they send a hundred juveniles back to Earth to test if it’s habitable for return.

The 100 Trailer
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The 100 Trailer

Video credit: IGN

Season: 5 on Netflix | 7 seasons in total (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 93%
How likely it is to happen: *cautiously glances at North Korea*


5. Osmosis – if a Black Mirror episode were a series


Netflix Sci-Fi - Osmosis
Netflix sci-fi – Osmosis
Image adapted from: Netflix

What’s love? What’s a soulmate?

The technology in Osmosis has seemingly got it all down to a science and shows promising signs of being able to match you to “The One” with 100% accuracy. No more bad dates or fruitless swiping through Tinder.

12 participants agree to join in on the trial in hopes of finding true love, but as we can guess, things don’t quite turn out as planned, and they soon find out that the choice comes at a painful price.

Osmosis | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
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Osmosis | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 1 (complete)
Tomatometer rating: 100%
How likely it is to happen: Since love is blind, we might just walk right into this without realising.


6. Psycho-Pass – cyberpunk anime inspired by Blade Runner


Psycho-Pass
Image credit:
The Outer Haven

It may be an anime, but this is not for kids. Set in 22nd century Japan, Psycho-Pass is a cyberpunk sci-fi series inspired by Blade Runner. It explores a world where people have chosen to give up their privacy in exchange for security; but what seems to be a zero-crime utopia is actually something much more sinister.

Technology rules this world as the authorities use a mind scanner, called the Sibyl System, to analyse the criminal potential of its citizens. Exceed the threshold in this criminal potential index and you’ll be taken down. It may sound like a great idea to keep the country crime-free until you realise that a remotely violent thought can get you arrested or killed.

Psycho-Pass Season One - Official Trailer
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Psycho-Pass Season One - Official Trailer

Video credit: Madman Anime

Seasons: 2 on Netflix | 3 seasons in total (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 64%
How likely it is to happen: At the rate AI is advancing, we might have to watch out.


7. The Rain – a deadly virus that spreads via rain


The Rain
Netflix sci-fi – The Rain
Image credit:
First Post

Dystopian shows have featured many things – zombies, Big Brother and natural disasters. But this Danish apocalyptic drama deals with something uncomfortably ubiquitous: rain. Every drop of water that falls from the sky is dangerous and carries a virus that guarantees death.

The story follows 2 siblings Simone and Rasmus, whose dad scurries them to a self-sustaining underground bunker, right before toxic rainfall washes out most life in the area. Without any explanation, he soon takes off, leaving the 2 teens with a promise to return and a perplexing parting statement: that Rasmus is the key to curing the virus.

The Rain | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
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The Rain | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 2 (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 82%
How likely it is to happen: Highly unlikely – but you might instinctively flinch when a raindrop hits you.


8. Altered Carbon – immortality 360 years in the future


Netflix Sci-Fi - Altered Carbon
Netflix sci-fi – Altered Carbon
Image credit: Netflix

Dreaming of immortality? Altered Carbon is as close as it gets.

Loosely based off a 2002 novel of the same title, the flashy cyberpunk series explores a world 3 centuries in the future where being immortal is as easy as transferring your consciousness from body to body. Pretty much like how we plug a hard drive into a computer today.

The protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, is a mercenary who’s revived 300 years after he was killed. Held captive, he is promised freedom if he can solve a mysterious murder.

Altered Carbon | Teaser [HD] | Netflix
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Altered Carbon | Teaser [HD] | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 2 (ongoing)
Tomatometer rating: 75%
How likely it is to happen: Can we achieve immortality if we can’t even solve 2020’s problems?


9. 3% – Brazillian series set in a world of extreme inequality


3% Netflix
Netflix sci-fi – 3%
Image credit:
Netflix

3% extrapolates inequality today and takes it to the extremes. The Brazilian thriller series is set sometime in the future, in São Paulo, where society is split into 2 – the impoverished Inland and the opulent Offshore. 

Every year, 20-year-olds from Inland take a psychologically and physically rigorous test called The Process. Pass, and they’re promised a life of affluence on the Offshore. Fail, and they’re stuck in the dreadful Inland for good. The catch is that only 3% of each batch gets through – and you thought the O-level exams were bad.

3% | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
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3% | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 3 (S4 yet to be announced)
Tomatometer rating: NA
How likely it is to happen: One of the most realistically possible on the list, which also makes it one of the most unnerving.


10. Colony – alien invasion theme


Colony
Image credit:
Fandom 

If you love alien invasion themes, you’ll love Colony, an engrossing 3 season-long series set in a future Los Angeles, where aliens have taken over Earth, totalitarian-style. While part of the typical dystopian trope, it sets itself apart by delving into the nuances of human emotion. Even the “bad guys” have their own well-developed backstories here, making it hard to take sides.

The series follows FBI agent Will and his family, thrown into disarray after being separated from their son during an alien attack. Dismayed, Will attempts to search for his son, gets caught, and is offered a tricky deal that would protect his family, but could result in losing the war against the aliens. 

There’ll be plenty of plot twists along the way, but what you can expect is explosions, betrayals and a gripping storyline.

Colony | official trailer from Comic-Con 2015 Josh Holloway
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Colony | official trailer from Comic-Con 2015 Josh Holloway

Video credit: MoviemaniacsDE

Seasons: 3 (completed)
Tomatometer rating: 84%
How likely it is to happen: If intelligent aliens were to exist, we probably don’t stand a chance, even with Area 51. 


11. Steins;Gate – anime about sending messages to the past


Steins;Gate
Image credit:
Den Of Geek

We deal with emails every day, but as protagonist Rintaro Okabe finds out in the anime series Steins;Gate, D-mail is where the real deal is.

In an accidental discovery with his friends, Okabe finds a way to send messages back in time by connecting his phone to a microwave. Messages sent that way are called D-mail – but “D” might as well stand for doom as things escalate quickly and they eventually find themselves wrapped up in problems bigger than they can handle, including an unfurling World War 3.

Steins;Gate | Anime Trailer [HD] | 2011
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Steins;Gate | Anime Trailer [HD] | 2011

Video credit: Mark Kristensen

Seasons: 1 (complete)
Tomatometer rating: 100%
How likely it is to happen: Time travel, maybe. But through a microwave-phone? Nah.


12. Leila – dubbed “India’s most political show”


Leila Netflix
Netflix sci-fi – Leila
Image credit:
Netflix

In Leila’s near future of 2047, India is under a totalitarian rule and things are a dystopic mess. 

The country is obsessed with the concept of purity and the protagonist Shalini, having married a man of lower caste, is violently separated from her daughter, and is forced to watch her husband get killed. Sent to a re-education centre to cleanse her of her ‘sins’, she defiantly fights back, standing her ground against the tyranny.

Said to be India’s most political show till date, the series is a controversial one that viewers either love or hate – because of the unabashed way it covers sensitive topics like government, religion and the caste system. Watch this show with others as you’ll definitely want to talk about it after.

Leila | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
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Leila | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Video credit: Netflix

Seasons: 1 (Season 2 yet to be announced)
Tomatometer rating: 75%
How likely it is to happen: Even in 2020, we still have tyrannical governments and re-education camps. We’re already not too far away from this reality.


Netflix sci-fi shows to watch


According to Murphy’s law, anything that can happen, will happen – and that’s what makes dystopian shows like these so darn exciting. Some of these are thrilling to no end, while others will scare the bejeebers out of you. But either way, they make for a great way to spend time at home with the fam or your boo, or for great thought-provoking debates.

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Cover image adapted from: First Post, Syfy, Netflix, Netflix