In the mood to watch a genre series? Fantasy, sci-fi, superheroes, or a touch of horror? Well we (and Netflix) have you covered. From classics like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: the Next Generation to quirky series The Magicians and Legends of Tomorrow — not to mention great Netflix originals like Jessica Jones — below you’ll find a list of shows that might make for great discoveries or are just fun to watch again and again.
Like with our list of the Best TV Dramas on Netflix, we will keep rolling out more lists of TV subgenres on the streaming giant, including the Best Comedies, Best Crime Dramas, and more. So if you don’t see you favorites here, keep checking! And of course, for a full list of everything Netflix has to offer TV-wise that we recommend, you can head over to our master list of The Best TV Shows on Netflix.
This list will continue to grow, but for now check out our list of the best fantasy (and supernatural and superheroric and sci-fi) shows on Netflix below, and let us know some of your other favorites in the comments:
Created by: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
Cast: Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Eamon Farren, and Anya Chalotra
The Witcher is an absolute blast and a half. The fantasy series is indeed very fantasy—it’s more Lord of the Rings than Game of Thrones—but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously and whole-heartedly embraces all aspects of fantasy storytelling and gaming, including fun side-quests, POV battles, and even a bard who follows Henry Cavill’s titular human/creature hybrid around singing songs about his glories. The show’s first season follows three stories destined to converge: Cavill’s Witcher is a muscle-for-hire monster hunter who begins to question why so many princesses have been turning into creatures; Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is a powerful sorceress in training who struggles to keep her emotions in check; and princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is on the run after the sacking of her city, but harbors secrets of her own. Steeped in lore and world building but always engaging, The Witcher is a perfect kind of binge-viewing show. – Adam Chitwood
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Created by: Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews
Cast: Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel, Simon Pegg, Mark Hamill, Jason Isaacs, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
It’s hard to overstate how amazing The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is. You don’t have to be super familiar with Jim Henson’s original movie that created a cult following back in 1982, but it certainly helps to understand what goes on in this prequel series. However, you could come into the Netflix show blind and still walk away with an appreciation for the solid fantasy story, the incredible production value, and the world’s top puppeteers plying their craft in one of the best suspensions of disbelief ever seen on TV.
But if you need a little plot nugget to get you going, essentially The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance sees the elf-like Gelflings overcoming their tribal differences in order to escape from under the oppressive rule of the villainous and reptilian Skeksis. The 10 currently available episodes introduce compelling characters from all walks of life on the alien planet of Thra and have already inspired a whole new generation of The Dark Crystal fans. And this is only phase one; there’s hopefully more to come, but if you can’t get enough from the series itself, be sure to seek out the behind-the-scenes documentary, also available on Netflix. – Dave Trumbore
The Umbrella Academy
Created by: Steve Blackman and Jeremy Slater
Cast: Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige, Colm Feore, and Justin H. Min
The Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy is the perfect antidote to those fatigued by the glut of superhero movies and TV shows. Based on the graphic novel series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, the story revolves around seven children with extraordinary powers who were adopted by a strange (and very rich) man who trained them to be heroes. Their troubled upbringing drove them apart, but they reunite at the beginning of the first season when their estranged father turns up mysteriously dead. Not only that, but their brother — who’s been missing since they were children — appears via time travel and warns them the apocalypse is coming in a matter of days. This show is extremely joyful and funky and weird, giving weight each of its disparate characters while carrying on a compelling serial mystery all its own. If you want a show that’s fun and mysterious and a little spooky, check this one out. – Adam Chitwood
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, and Chance Perdomo
There is no trick to the treat that is Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s adaptation of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s comic of the same name, starring Kiernan Shipka as the titular teen. The updated story is a far cry from the days of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and yet, it encompasses many of the same themes of the original Archie comics and other iterations. It’s just that this time, the story is wrapped up in a moody, dark, funny, and stylishly atmospheric package that could be not be a better herald of fall and the Halloween season.
The series picks up just before Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday, which will be marked not by a traditional celebration, but an old tradition: a Dark Baptism under a blood moon where Sabrina will sign over her soul to the Dark Lord. Except, Sabrina isn’t so sure she wants to do that. She’s only half a witch (on her father’s side), and she’s spent her entire life living at home with witches and going to school with mortals. But that baptism — and whether or not she’s ready to tether herself to the Dark Lord — is just the start of Sabrina’s adventures, not the end, as she finds a way to honor both her mortal and supernatural heritage. Ultimately, it’s a delight and an obsession, and the scariest thing about it is just how good it is. — Allison Keene
Legends of Tomorrow
Creators: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Phil Klemmer
Cast: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, Tala Ashe
Two years ago you could not have convinced me that one of the best shows on television would be The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, but by God it is. The series has truly come into its own in its third season (after a still very good second season), finding a wonderful rhythm in both weekly adventures an overarching villains — including the rehabilitation of Damian Darhk from his time on Arrow, as well as the introduction of magical creatures where time travel isn’t always a cure-all. Plus, it’s opened the door for Constantine!
The series focuses on a group of time-traveling rogues, mostly cobbled together from elsewhere in the Arrow-verse. The first season isn’t great, but it lays the groundwork for the friendships that define the show. But if you need to skip ahead and start with Season 2 or even 3, I don’t blame you. Another thing that has made the series so successful is its willingness to change up its storylines and its cast. If something doesn’t work, or a dynamic doesn’t take, they scrap it and try something else. And meanwhile, the show also brings back what does work — like Beebo, everyone’s favorite fuzzy blue savior.
There were so many fantastic episodes and moments in Legends’ third season, which was also just fun. Grodd vs Barack Obama! Time loops! Pirates! Mick Rory’s book! Themyscira! John Noble! That’s what a superhero show about a ragtag bunch of time travelers should be about: bonkers fun. And yet, the series also has great emotional arcs that really resonate. It does it all, folks. — Allison Keene
Deep Space Nine
Created by: Rick Berman, Michael Piller
Cast: Avery Brooks, Rene Aberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor, Michael Dorn, Nicole de Boer
Fair warning: You’re going to have to tough out two seasons of this series as the show fought to find its own identity. Although it already stands apart from other Star Trek series by being based on a space station rather than exploring the cosmos, many of the episodes from the first two seasons feel like leftover scripts from Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It wasn’t until the show started interacting with the Dominion and moving towards war that Deep Space Nine created an absolutely captivating identity. Seasons 3 – 5 are great Star Trek, and the final two seasons are great television, period. The show gets surprisingly dark, but it’s always mature in its approach to warfare and the sacrifices that must be made during wartime. — Matt Goldberg
Love, Death and Robots
Created by: Tim Miller
Executive produced by Tim Miller (Deadpool) and legendary filmmaker David Fincher, the animated anthology series Love, Death & Robots is kind of the perfect catch-all for sci-fi fans. Each episode hails from a different writer and director, and the theme holding them all together is the idea of sci-fi technology. As a result you get a wide range of tone from uber-violent to romantic to hysterically funny. All in all, though, there’s just some really great sci-fi storytelling in here. – Adam Chitwood
The Shannara Chronicles
Created by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Cast: Austin Butler, Poppy Drayton, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett
Based on Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (which only scratches the surface of his mythical book series), The Shannara Chronicles is the closest thing TV had to an RPG fantasy adaptation. The series follows a half-human/half-elf, Wil Ohmsford, who is destined to save the Four Lands from the return of demons banished in the Forbidding. He journeys with an Elven princess, a tough rover girl, and a powerful Druid, as they go up against warlocks, trolls, dwarves, and more. But as Wil is learning to wield the magical elf stones passed down to him as a Shannara, the politics of the Four Land start to interfere with his mission to beat back the demon horde.
The series’ isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s fun, immersive, and has a serious commitment to its world-building (the practical effects and costuming are particularly swoon-worthy). The young cast improves quite a bit between the first and second (final) season, as the story itself also matures. Though the show bounced from MTV to Spike (later renamed the Paramount Network), wrecking havoc on it ratings, Shannara is an underrated and very solid fantasy series that’s accessible even for those who don’t own 20-sided dice. — Allison Keene
Created by: Rob Thomas and Dianne Ruggiero
Starring: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders
Loosely based on the comic by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, iZombie stars Rose McIver as Liz, a medical resident with the perfect job, perfect fiancee, and perfect life, who loses it all one night when she’s transformed into a zombie. But this isn’t a Walking Dead situation. Her hair may be chalk white, and her heart may only beat twice a minute, but she can still walk, talk, act, think and feel like a human – as long as she regularly feeds on human brains. The good news is that Liz uses her medical degree to land a job at the local morgue where she has a regular supply. Bad news is she temporarily inherits the memories, personality, and skills of anybody she eats, which puts her on the scent of a series of murders enacted by some less morally-sound zombies. Working under the guise of a psychic, she uses her visions to work with a local detective (Malcolm Goodwin) in order to solve the murders and give her new life a sense of purpose.
From Rob Thomas and Dianne Ruggiero, the minds that brought us Veronica Mars, iZombie is often oversimplified as “Veronica Mars with zombies”, but that description does a disservice to the originality of both series. To be clear, there is one and only one Veronica Mars, and while there are similarities, Liz is another witty blonde sleuth, for one, they’re largely different shows. Despite dealing in death, the first season of iZombie is mostly lighter fare that leans in on the procedural element. Fortunately, the cases of the week are infinitely fun thanks to McIver’s consistently likable but wonderfully variable performance as she adopts the personality traits of the victims. –Haleigh Foutch
The Twilight Zone
Created by: Rod Serling
Cast: Rod Serling
It’s almost hard to conceive of The Twilight Zone as a TV show anymore, and not just because it spawned a (pretty great) anthology film that gave ample room for the likes of John Landis, Joe Dante, and Steven Spielberg to let rip on their darker impulses. It’s because each episode seemed to unravel like some great genre short, a showcase for major talent to grapple with stories of monstrous creatures, global disasters, societal horror, and the unyielding tyranny of time. In one episode, Burgess Meredith famously plays an intellectual whose physical impairment finally squanders his modest desires, while Dennis Hopper inhabited the role of the leader of the New Reich in another. The Twilight Zone remains the most authentic recreation of the thrill of pulp novels that the television medium ever created, letting Rod Serling’s wild talent for imagination and invention rule over everything. Some of the great pleasures of the 1990s, like The X-Files and Tales from the Crypt, have their roots in The Twilight Zone, as do the very best of modern genre filmmaking, from Attack the Block to Let the Right One In to The Host. Decades after the series ended, each episode still has the intellectual fascination and creative sense of playfulness that trumps nearly every other procedural or anthology series that’s currently being produced. – Chris Cabin
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Rick Cosnett, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin
If you aren’t ready for the entirely crazy, true comic book fever of The Flash, then the CW’s superhero show may not be for you. But for those willing to work with its full embrace of its comic origins — including time travel, alternate universes, and Gorilla Grodd — will be rewarded. The Flash deals with many dark and difficult themes, and yet, more often feels like a light and fun romp through Central City’s chaotic world. It follows the story of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) as he comes to terms with his newly-bestowed super speed, and his city’s need to fight off a myriad of superpowered villains. But, he still has time for dating and unrequited love, as well as some crossover time spent with Team Arrow (the same creative team is responsible for both shows).
The Flash has a instantly lovable cast, a never-ending supply of great hooks, and a myriad of long-form arcs that help anchor its Villain of the Week plots. It’s wholly accessible to non-comic readers (or to those not typically superhero genre fans), but also has plenty of insider references to keep comic fans happy. Above all, it never loses its heart or its mirth — even in the midst of saving the world. – Allison Keene
Created by: Sera Gamble and John McNamara
Cast: Jason Ralph, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Stella Maeve, Arjun Gupta, Hale Appleman, and Summer Bishil
Based on the terrific book trilogy by Lev Grossman, Syfy’s The Magicians could be crudely described as an R-rated Harry Potter. Jason Ralph stars as Quentin Coldwater, a melancholic late-twentysomething who discovers that not only is magic actually real, but he’s a magicians. He goes to Brakebills, a graduate school for magicians of sorts, and soon discovers there’s an even bigger twist involved. The show, like the books, tackles issues of depression, sexual assault, and mental illness in a realistic but entertaining way. Its darkly funny sense of humor keeps things from getting too dark, and the performances are great. The show really comes into its own in Season 2, but the first season is an entertaining introduction into the f*cked up world of The Magicians. – Adam Chitwood
Developed by: Salim Akil
Cast: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar
Just when I was starting to think we had reached peak superhero fatigue, Black Lightning hit the scene and shook things up. The CW’s dynamic series is laudable for a number of reasons, the most obvious one being that it focuses on a black family, and the second most obvious one being that its lead character isn’t a teenager. But the series also might be the superhero genre’s most intelligent; it knows what it wants to say about race and politics without ever being preachy. The first season also made a lot of smart choices about when to introduce the powers of characters other than Jefferson Pierce (a charming Cress Williams), and also didn’t feel the need to dispatch of its Big Bad by the season’s end (though it did take care of a host of more minor villains throughout). The story of a vigilante-turned-principal looking to get back into the game because of drug violence on his streets is a refreshing one, and helped keep Black Lightning grounded and relevant throughout its run. This is a hero to unequivocally root for. — Allison Keene
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine
You’ve no doubt heard the hype, so let us set you straight: believe it. Stranger Things popped up almost out of nowhere as a new Netflix original series that had little buzz surrounding its pre-release. But the 80s-set mystery thriller is equal parts It, Stand by Me, and The Goonies as it mashes up the creepy atmosphere of a Stephen King novel with compelling characters and a strong narrative drive. The true test of Stranger Things is whether the show works without the nostalgia-inducing 80s setting, and the answer is yes. There’s a government mystery, impressive effects, and most of all memorable characters that are a joy to watch, and creators/writers/directors Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer craft each season like one long movie divided into chapters. Indeed, one could easily watch an entire season in one day without feeling like it’s dragging or hitting upon an easy “stopping point,” as this is more television as novel than episodic TV. Which makes it a delightful binge. So have at it! – Adam Chitwood
Created by: Melissa Rosenberg
Cast: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, David Tennant, Eka Darville, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Wil Travail
It’s now quite clear that Jessica Jones is one of the best things to come out of a Marvel adaptation to date, beating out notable frontrunners such as Netflix’s Daredevil series, the first and third Iron Man films, and Peyton Reed’s rowdy, joyous Ant-Man. Unlike its brethren, Jessica Jones has a sturdy thematic backbone of survival, one that keeps each exchange in the narrative, whether verbal or physical, teeming with insight and sly fascination. It’s not just the titular hardened super heroine (a fantastic Krysten Ritter) who has the wounds of survival on her, but also Mike Colter’s similarly indestructible Luke Cage, making a daily wage as a bar owner, and Rachael Taylor’s Trish Walker, Jessica’s best friend and well-known radio personality. Their interactions are startlingly, subtly expressive in the way they evoke their barely healed pain and their collective desire to live on, but the show becomes all the more enveloping in its final stretch, when its revealed that their great nemesis, Kilgrave, played by a superbly egomaniacal David Tennant, is also a survivor of sorts. This gives the series its final kick of empathy that no one had expected yet adds an entire new dimension to what could have been a simple, enjoyable entertainment, like Age of Ultron or The Winter Soldier. The show’s tremendous triumph is seeing the roots and messy impulses of pain that at once exemplify and push beyond that old saying: hurt people hurt people. — Chris Cabin
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia
Created by: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Charlie Saxton, Jonathan Hyde, Kelsey Grammer, Ron Perlman, Amy Landecker, Steven Yeun, Clancy Brown, Mark Hamill, Emile Hirsch, and Angelica Huston
Guillermo del Toro’s original animated series Trollhunters is an absolute delight. The DreamWorks Animation production takes place in the quiet town of Arcadia, where a young boy named Jim not only stumbled upon an amulet that makes him a “Trollhunter,” but who also discovers that there’s an entire world full of trolls living in secret underground. The show combines the classic Saturday morning cartoon vibe with the serialized narrative drive of something like Breaking Bad, resulting in a series that’s as delightful as it is addicting. – Adam Chitwood
Developed By: Jason Rothenberg, based on the novel by Kass Morgan).
Starring: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Bob Morley, Marie Avgeropoulos
The CW’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi series takes a few episodes to find its footing, but once it does, The 100 ratchets up the stakes and tension to the maximum and never lets up again. The series ostensibly follows a group of 100 juvenile delinquents, sent down from a dying spaceship to the surface of a post-nuclear earth to determine if the land has become habitable again. But the show’s title quickly becomes a misnomer when a huge chunk of the kids are quickly dispatched and the scope of the series expands breathlessly, introducing a host of new settings and characters, each bringing with them a different microcosmic world and culture. Indeed, what makes The 100 one of the best genre series on TV is the way it careens through sci-fi subgenres, pulling them together in a single narrative that has infinite room to grow and explore.
The series also sets itself apart by never giving its characters an easy out. As the stakes continue to escalate, the young survivors are wrapped up in politics and warfare far beyond their realm of knowledge and experience. They are consistently presented with horrifying life or death choices, and they are made to suffer the consequences of their actions. At the center of this is Clarke, the purported hero of the show, who is one of the most ruthless, strategically-minded characters on television, capable of handling morally bleak survival scenarios with a self-assuredness that puts Jack Bauer to shame. There is no other character like Clarke on television — a pragmatic, unyielding, bisexual warrior woman who wields her power unapologetically without becoming an unfeeling “tough chick.” That unique quality expands to the show as a whole in its resolute exploration of the moral contradictions of governing, warfare, and survival. — Haleigh Foutch
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Created by: Gene Roddenberry
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, and Whoopi Goldberg
You can’t argue against this series. One of the most iconic shows in the history of television, this long-running award winner picked up decades after the original series captained by William Shatner. Well Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) makes a strong case for best Enterprise captain in the franchise with his performance in Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the few shows in history to run this long and never “jump the shark,” The Next Generation followed the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D as they explored strange new worlds, sought out new life and civilizations, and boldly went where no space crew had gone before.
For fans of cerebral, philosophical, and slow-burn type shows, TNG is the gold standard. There’s plenty of action to be found, but it’s not the first order of business to fire photon torpedoes as soon as the Enterprise runs up against an obstacle. In fact, there are many instances in which the Galaxy Class Starship is outmatched in terms of weapons and defense, so it’s up to the crew’s cleverness and cooperative abilities to keep them alive, and maybe earn a new ally along the way. Modern TV has yet to see its equal, so it’s a good thing that all 178 episodes are available to assimilate online. – Dave Trumbore
Right now, it’s clear that ‘Star Wars’ will live forever, in some way. But what does that mean for the future?
About The Author