For years, our televisions were lacking for new shows set in the world of Star Trek — fortunately, thanks to Paramount+ (previously known as CBS All Access) things are very different. Animated charmer Star Trek: Lower Decks‘ second season is set to premiere this August, Star Trek: Discovery will return for a fourth season later in 2021, as is kids spinoff Star Trek: Prodigy, and production on Picard Season 2 is underway for a 2022 launch.
Unfortunately, with those productions halted or delayed, right now we’re stuck without new Trek once again. But that’s not to say you can’t enjoy some excellent science-fiction adventures outside the United Federation of Planets. Shows set in space have been around forever, though some have been forgotten. These shows have vastly different tones and production values, and every viewer will have their own favorites. If you love Star Trek, or episodic adventures in space, then you may want to catch up with these seven shows while you wait for Trek to return.
An astronaut from Earth finds himself aboard the living spaceship Moya as the ship and its crew fight to escape a fascist military operation known as the Peacekeepers. Farscape aired in the early noughties, in an attempt to capture audiences who were losing interest in Star Trek, but unlike Star Trek the central crew aren’t always upstanding citizens. The protagonist, John Crichton (Ben Browder), is a great audience stand-in, with his pop culture retorts and easy-going air about him keeping him relatable. His perfect match turns out to be Aeryn Sun, played by Claudia Black, a no-nonsense former soldier who thaws into a compassionate character by the end of the series. Their dynamic is a big appeal of the show, as are the visuals and animatronics that bring this sci-fi universe to life.
Set aboard the titular space station, the space opera Babylon 5 focuses on what happens when humans and aliens must work together to bring peace to a galaxy that’s still learning diplomacy. Babylon 5 doesn’t hold back on the horrors of war and the toll that it takes, while the show even touches on humanity’s darker aspects with plot lines featuring Xenophobic groups as well as the impact of political and religious influences. Parts of the show echo the atmosphere of Deep Space Nine, not only with its space station setting (there was some controversy around how similar the settings were) but also by showcasing how large-scale galactic events can affect the most ordinary of individuals.
Stargate is a sprawling franchise of shows based on the Roland Emmerich film, beginning with Stargate SG-1, which debuted in the late 1990s and remains a favorite among genre fans. Later shows added to the canon of the franchise — the main premise revolves around Earth’s discovery of a “Stargate,” which is a cosmic portal that can ferry humans across vast distances. Of course, human beings decide to exploit this discovery for potential resources, which results in humanity battling aliens, especially the snake-like Goa’uld. Stargate is heavy on lore for sci-fi fans to immerse themselves in, but more importantly the show serves as “comfort viewing,” with a fun and likable cast of characters.
In the future, six people wake up on a spaceship with no knowledge of who they are and how they got there. They have to work together to discover the truth, but how can they trust each other? Based on the comic series of the same name, one of the most comparable aspects of Dark Matter to Star Trek is the introduction of The Android (Zoie Palmer), a character who is the smartest person in the room but knows little about human interaction. Though the show was canceled after only three seasons, it did develop a loyal fanbase, thanks to its combination of humor and darkness, with a diverse cast and a seemingly omnipresent villain. Dark Matter was less about the epic part of sci-fi, and more about the dynamics between people — something Star Trek fans will enjoy, since that franchise also emphasizes eclectic partnerships and friendships.
Killjoys deserved a lot more love than it received. This underrated sci-fi adventure followed Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Johnny (Aaron Ashmore), and D’avin (Luke Macfarlane), three bounty hunters who bungle every mission they’re on and still survive to tell the tale. The three protagonists have great chemistry and riff off each other perfectly. There’s a lot of quips mixed in with the brawls and space-hopping. What especially works for this Canadian show is that it’s a little more LGBTQIA+ friendly than Star Trek used to be, making for welcome change within the space opera genre. The show began with more episodic storytelling like older Trek, before introducing season-long villains like Deep Space Nine and Enterprise had. Also, one theme that appealed to fans of Killjoys was the concept of a found family — a quintessential theme of all Trek properties.
Star Wars and Trek are sometimes pitted against each other as franchises, which has never made sense. Now that Star Wars has debuted its own live-action series on Disney+, the differences between the franchises have decreased even more. You want an adventure in space? The Mandalorian has that as our hero flies from system to system to protect his young charge. You want aliens, betrayal, new and unconventional bonds formed? All of that can be found aboard the Razor Crest. What about epic battles, duels, and scheming villains — it’s in there! The Mandalorian is its own show, with a unique visual style, but the two seasons definitely fill the void whenever you’re craving more Star Trek content and you don’t feel like re-watching your favorite installment yet again.
If you’re a Trekkie, Battlestar Galactica has most likely been on your watchlist for a while. The reboot of the 1970s show is set aboard the titular spaceship, which leads the fleet carrying the last remaining humans in the universe. Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) oversees a crew consisting of fan-favorite characters like Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck and Jamie Bamber’s Apollo, among others, alongside the newly-appointed President Laura Roslin (two-time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell). Adama has a destination in mind, but his hopes may be dashed as the fleet battles an old enemy in new form. The Cylons are like the Borg, insidious and relentless. Worse, the Cylons in the reboot can look like humans, so trust is at a premium in the show. Some of the storylines and character arcs on the show were controversial up to and including the series finale, but Battlestar Galactica continues to be thought-provoking, and the characters will easily become some of your favorites.
KEEP READING: The Best Fantasy and Sci-Fi Shows on Netflix
Our handy, extensive guide is updated weekly with all-new picks.
About The Author