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The 50 worst sci-fi shows of all time

The 50 worst sci-Fi shows of all time

The best science fiction TV is incredibly imaginative, allowing the audience to be completely absorbed by a foreign world. Whether that means conversing with a new species, exploring the possibilities of technology, or diving deep into the far reaches of space, a science fiction universe beckons the viewer into a place that is all at once fantastical and unknown.

Successful science fiction shows are not just defined by ratings or critical acclaim. They also give rise to fandoms, whose passion and knowledge is as boundless as the stories and worlds they love. But not all sci-fi shows reach those levels.

Maybe it’s the fault of overused tropes or one too many manic plot twists. Whatever the reason, the 50 sci-fi shows discussed on this list each have their shortcomings. In order to form this ranking, Stacker collected data from IMDb. All shows listed received at least 1,000 user votes; the lower a show’s number is on the list, the worse it is. Without further ado, join us as we take a trip through the 50 worst sci-fi shows known to humanity.

Related: The 50 best sci-fi shows of all time. 

#50. Tremors

IMDb score: 6.7
IMDb votes: 2,149
Years on the air: 2003

“Tremors” picks up exactly where the 2001 straight-to-video film “Tremors 3: Back to Perfection” left off, following the residents of Perfection Valley as they reckon with mad scientists, experiments gone rogue, and monstrous sandworms known as Graboids. In 2017, Syfy announced it would be reprising the show, with Kevin Bacon returning to his role from the original Tremors movie, but the deal was subsequently cancelled. However, hardcore "Tremors" fans can get their fill with a leaked trailer showing what could have been.

#49. Z Nation

IMDb score: 6.7
IMDb votes: 26,278
Years on the air: 2014–Present

“Z Nation” begins in the wake of a zombie apocalypse that has killed off most of humanity. Among the small group of survivors is Alvin Murphy, who unwillingly received an experimental vaccination prior to the zombie outbreak, and is the only person known to have survived a zombie bite. While most acknowledged it’s no “Walking Dead,” the show isn’t quite awful enough to be laughable.

#48. Revolution

IMDb score: 6.7
IMDb votes: 76,442
Years on the air: 2012–2014

In the “Revolution” universe, a 2012 worldwide blackout led to the end of all technology and electricity, and therefore a total collapse of government and social order. The show begins 15 years after this event, following both the heroes and villains who seek the answers as to why “The “Blackout” occurred. The show starred Billy Burke and Tracy Spiridakos, and the pilot was directed by Jon Favreau.

#47. Iron Fist

IMDb score: 6.7
IMDb votes: 82,191
Years on the air: 2017–Present

This Netflix series is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and follows character Danny Rand, also known as Iron Fist. Danny, played by Finn Jones, has been missing and presumed dead for more than a decade, but returns to New York having mastered martial arts—with the aim of taking back his family’s company and putting an end to corruption. Even though virtually anything Marvel has a fan base, many were displeased with the show’s poor writing and racial politics.

#46. Under the Dome

IMDb score: 6.7
IMDb votes: 92,838
Years on the air: 2013–2015

One day, a massive, clear, impenetrable dome descends on the town of Chester’s Mill, cutting it off from the rest of the world and forcing the confused inhabitants to strive for survival. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the show did incredibly well in its first season. However, the show declined in its following seasons and was eventually cancelled.

#45. Return to the Planet of the Apes

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 1,186
Years on the air: 1975–1976

This animated series, which ran for one season in the 1970s, was based on Pierre Boulle’s novel “Planet of the Apes.” The 1968 film adaptation of the same name is widely regarded as a classic, and gave rise to many more film iterations and sequels—but the animated version did not do well enough to earn more than 13 episodes.

#44. Manimal

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 1,224
Years on the air: 1983

With only eight episodes, “Manimal” ran for a single season in the early 1980s. The show starred Simon MacCorkindale as Jonathan Chase, a doctor who could shapeshift into any animal and used this ability to fight crime. The bizarre, short-lived show was rumored in 2014 to return in movie form, helmed by Will Ferrell.

#43. Dimension 404

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 1,532
Years on the air: 2017–Present

“Dimension 404” gets its name from the 404 error, which signifies that a webpage cannot be found. The anthology-style show explored technology in ways similar to “Black Mirror,” with self-contained episodes in a variety of tones and genres. Featuring narration by Mark Hamill, the show featured players such as Joel McHale, Lea Michele, and Sarah Hyland.

#42. Man from Atlantis

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 1,693
Years on the air: 1977–1978

Like other shows on this list, “Man from Atlantis” was only allowed to grace television screens for a total of 13 episodes. The series starred Patrick Duffy as the singular, superhuman survivor of the lost city of Atlantis. Even the cast have acknowledged the show’s shortcomings, with Duffy quipping, “It’s a wonder I ever worked again.”

#41. Hard Sun

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 3,337
Years on the air: 2018–Present

This BBC production features Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn as a pair of London police officers who discover a horrible secret: the apocalypse is only five years away. The show was poorly received and considered “impressive” only for its overstuffed plot.

#40. Birds of Prey

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 3,746
Years on the air: 2002–2003

Set in a post-Batman Gotham, two other superheroes known as Oracle and the Huntress have taken over to protect New Gotham City from superpowered criminals known as “metahumans” and other iconic villains like Harley Quinn. Ultimately, its cheesy writing and unconvincing CGI led to the show’s cancellation.

#39. Primeval: New World

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 3,867
Years on the air: 2012 – 2013

This Vancouver-set science fiction story revolves around a team who must reckon with animals that have arrived in the present from both the past and future. While not as successful as the original “Primeval,” the show was granted 13 episodes before being taken off the air.

#38. Relic Hunter

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 5,054
Years on the air: 1999–2002

Tia Carrere stars as Sydney Fox, an archaeologist tasked with the mission of tracking down lost relics at the request of a museum or private collector. Chaos usually ensues, and Sydney has to use both her wit and athletic abilities to succeed. The show is generally seen as a lesser version of "Tomb Raider."

#37. Andromeda

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 10,433
Years on the air: 2000–2005

Set several thousands of years in the future, Andromeda explores a multi-galaxy republic known as the Systems Commonwealth. The show was based on notes left behind by the creator of "Star Trek," but didn’t receive quite the same legacy or appreciation.

#36. Extant

IMDb score: 6.6
IMDb votes: 21,906
Years on the air: 2014–2015

This Halle Berry-led summer drama is about a woman who embarks on a 13-month solo space mission. Upon returning home, she learns she is pregnant, which is inexplicable due to both her time in space and her diagnosed infertility. Despite involvement from Steven Spielberg, the series was cancelled after two seasons.

#35. Intruders

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 1,081
Years on the air: 1992

Taking a cue from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” "Intruders" in 1992 follows a group of people seeking immortality by taking refuge in the bodies of others. The show wasn't particularly popular and only two episodes aired. Glen Morgan created a remake of "Intruders" in 2014, but as “The Guardian” pointed out, no one seemed to be watching this John Simm-led sci-fi vehicle either, and as a result only eight episodes aired.

#34. Night Stalker

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 1,194
Years on the air: 2005–2006

Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union star in this 10-episode remake of the 1970s show “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Townsend plays Carl Kolchak, who is looking for clues about his child’s murder and investigating other mysterious murders along the way. But despite the best efforts of Townsend and Union, the show did not survive.

#33. Dinotopia

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 1,255
Years on the air: 2002–2003

Based on James Gurney’s books of the same name, this 13-episode series aired in the early 2000s. A father and his two sons survive a plane crash, landing on an island where dinosaurs and people happily coexist. What was just as shocking as the dinosaurs? The show’s poor visuals.

#32. Ghostbusters

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 2,173
Years on the air: 1986–1987

“Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” refers to the 1984 movie, not this short-lived TV show. The company that produced this show originally owned the concept of a team working to rid the city of evil ghosts; Columbia Pictures had to purchase the rights from them in order to make the film.

#31. Falling Water

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 2,453
Years on the air: 2016–Present

“Falling Water” stars David Ajala, Lizzie Brochere, and Will Yun Lee as three strangers who realize they are each experiencing different parts of the same dream, which holds clues to help them solve personal mysteries. The show definitely has ambition—but maybe too much.

#30. Mortal Kombat: Conquest

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 3,571
Years on the air: 1998–1999

This TV show, based on the “Mortal Combat” video game franchise, aired for a single season in the late '90s. The story centers around Kung Lao (Paolo Montalban), who sought to train a new generation of warriors to protect the Earth from the evil Shang Tsung. Unlike the game, the show never took off.

#29. Blade: The Series

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 4,548
Years on the air: 2006

“Blade: The Series” takes its inspiration from the Marvel comic book character and movie trilogy of the same name. In this live-action TV show, Krista Starr (Jill Wagner) investigates her brother’s death with the help of vampire hunter Blade (Sticky Fingaz). The strong pilot led to a show criticized for its “uneven tone” and “too much story.”

#28. Black Lightning

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 11,586
Years on the air: 2018–Present

Black Lightning has retired from the superhero life, but is drawn back to the front lines when local gang violence reaches new heights. The character Black Lightning, portrayed in the TV series by Cress Williams, first appeared in DC comics; the show is one of the few to portray a queer black character in a leading role.

#27. Supergirl

IMDb score: 6.5
IMDb votes: 82,594
Years on the air: 2015–Present

“Supergirl” is centered on Kara Zor-El, who escaped planet Krypton at age 12 and was raised on Earth with a foster family. A cousin of Superman, Kara eventually reveals her powers and becomes the city’s protector. Melissa Benoist stars at the title character in a show that has lately taken some too-wild turns.

#26. Extinct

IMDb score: 6.4
IMDb votes: 1,390
Years on the air: 2017

This single season, post-apocalyptic show was first written to be a film, but was edited for a television format. Several centuries in the future, aliens have taken over, but have decided to resurrect a small portion of human society; the show had “gone the way of the woolly mammoth.”

#25. Cleverman

IMDb score: 6.4
IMDb votes: 2,751
Years on the air: 2016–Present

This show explores the Cleverman, who is an Aboriginal Australian cultural figure. An Australian subculture reveals themselves to the world for the first time, leading to complications. Starring Hunter Page-Lochard, it was suggested that the show could benefit from a little more logic.

#24. Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files

IMDb score: 6.3
IMDb votes: 1,640
Years on the air: 2010–2012

Former FBI agent Ben Hansen led this “real life” exploration of paranormal events. Hansen, along with a team, investigated various documentations of alleged paranormal activity. However, the show was criticized for “questionable” research methods and survived for only two seasons.

#23. Earth: Final Conflict

IMDb score: 6.3
IMDb votes: 3,377
Years on the air: 1997–2002

Like another show on this list, “Earth: Final Conflict” was based on notes left behind by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. The show is set in the future, where a race of aliens have taken up residence on Earth, and have seemingly used advanced technology to cure many of humanity’s ills. The show was infamous for its cast’s high-turnover rate, leading to few characters lasting for an extended period of time.

#22. Ghosted

IMDb score: 6.3
IMDb votes: 3,434
Years on the air: 2017

This supernatural comedy stars Adam Scott as a paranormal believer and Craig Robinson as a skeptical former detective. They are an unlikely pair recruited to help investigate the supernatural. Somehow, not even aliens were enough to keep this show from being “boring.”

#21. Blue Thunder

IMDb score: 6.2
IMDb votes: 1,084
Years on the air: 1984

Another one-season wonder, “Blue Thunder” featured Dana Carvey and James Farentino as officers fighting crime with the help of an intelligent helicopter. The series was based on the film of the same name, even using stock footage from the movie––not a great sign for success.

#20. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show

IMDb score: 6.1
IMDb votes: 1,126
Years on the air: 1997–2000

Based on the 1989 film “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids,” this TV adaptation follows the Szalinski family’s scientific anticsbeyond the aforementioned child shrinking. Starring Peter Scolari and Barbara Alyn Woods as the family’s parents, the show lasted three seasons before cancellation.

#19. The Lottery

IMDb score: 6.1
IMDb votes: 1,846
Years on the air: 2014

This sci-fi series is a far cry from what one usually expects to find on Lifetime—it’s set in a dystopian future in the midst of a global fertility crisis. Starring Marley Shelton as a doctor who had managed to fertilize eggs—which are then taken by the government—the show struggled in execution despite its interesting premise.

#18. Mutant X

IMDb score: 6.1
IMDb votes: 3,365
Years on the air: 2001–2004

A genetically engineered group of people known as “New Mutants” exists as the result of government experiments. The members of this group must protect the other victims of this experimentation and help them understand their power. Changes in the production company led to abrupt cancellation of the show.

#17. Somewhere Between

IMDb score: 6.0
IMDb votes: 1,361
Years on the air: 2017

Mother Laura Price (Paula Patton) knows, inexplicably, that her daughter is going to be murdered. And yet, her attempts to keep her daughter safe put them both in more danger. The show was based on a Korean drama, with a genre chillingly described as “dead-child time-travel mystery.”

#16. Cleopatra 2525

IMDb score: 6.0
IMDb votes: 1,708
Years on the air: 2000–2001

In an epic case of surgery gone wrong, Cleo (Jennifer Sky) is cryogenically frozen during a botched breast augmentation, only to be awakened more than 500 years later. She then joins two female warriors fighting off evil robots. Not so subtly targeting the teen boy demographic, “Cleopatra 2525” was more flash than substance.

#15. Between

IMDb score: 6.0
IMDb votes: 6,679
Years on the air: 2015–2016

Jennette McCurdy from “iCarly” stars as a pregnant teenager in this tale of a town where all people over the age of 21 die of a mysterious illness. Some critics have posited that it might have simply been boredom killing off both the town’s inhabitants and the show’s viewers.

#14. Metal Hurlant Chronicles

IMDb score: 5.9
IMDb votes: 1,379
Years on the air: 2012–2014

Based on a French comic book series, “Metal Hurlant Chronicles” is an English-language anthology series. Each episode features a new set of characters and is located on a different planet, with the unifying factor among episodes being the passage of an asteroid. Sci-fi it is, beautiful or charming it was not.

#13. RoboCop

IMDb score: 5.9
IMDb votes: 1,509
Years on the air: 1994

The premise of this Canadian television showbased on the film series of the same nameis pretty much summed up in its title: a high tech, robotic cop fights crime. Starring Richard Eden, the show was anything but a hit, with moments of various insanity.

#12. Painkiller Jane

IMDb score: 5.8
IMDb votes: 2,743
Years on the air: 2007

Painkiller Jane, a comic book character designed in the 1990s, is portrayed by Kristanna Loken in this TV spin-off. Jane, beginning as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, eventually discovers her own possession of superhuman abilities, like immediate healing after experiencing an injury. Unfortunately, the show’s title may be its sole point of interest.

#11. Halo: Nightfall

IMDb score: 5.7
IMDb votes: 4,095
Years on the air: 2014

Based on the massively popular "Halo" video game franchise, this TV adaptation follows a group of Naval officers fighting terrorism on a space colony. Starring Mike Colter as the lead agent, the show got off to a very bad start—and only got worse from there.

#10. Bionic Woman

IMDb score: 5.7
IMDb votes: 7,492
Years on the air: 2007

“Bionic Woman” first existed as a television series in the 1970s, and was brought back in 2007 with Michelle Ryan in the title role. Jaime Sommers (the lead character’s name pre-bionic transformation) is nearly killed in a car accident, and the surgery that saves her also gives her bionic powers. The show experienced a massive ratings drop throughout the season, and was subsequently given the boot.

#9. Hunters

IMDb score: 5.6
IMDb votes: 2,368
Years on the air: 2016

Starring Nathan Phillips as Flynn Carol, “Hunters” tells the story of a former soldier whose wife mysteriously disappears. In searching for her, Carol discovers—and ultimately gets roped into—a government group that fights aliens. The series is based on a 2013 best-selling novel called “Alien Hunter,” but the single-season show was not so successful.

#8. Galactica 1980

IMDb score: 5.5
IMDb votes: 2,741
Years on the air: 1980

After the cancellation of “Battlestar Galactica” prompted a public outcry, “Galactica 1980” was brought in as a replacement. In this next chapter, the crew discovers Earth, but learns that the planet has fallen victim to the Cylons. The show has most certainly not gotten better with age.

#7. The Mist

IMDb score: 5.4
IMDb votes: 15,244
Years on the air: 2017

Culminating in a “jarringly nonsensical” finale full of “incest, death, and nonsense,” “The Mist” is based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name. In the show, a deadly mist slowly envelops a small town, leading to various mysteries and phenomena to take place with increasing intensity. Morgan Spector and Alyssa Sutherland star as two of the town’s residents, but the show itself died pretty quickly.

#6. Golden Years

IMDb score: 5.2
IMDb votes: 2,454
Years on the air: 1991

Written and produced by Stephen King, the “Golden Years” is about a janitor who is exposed to toxic chemicals that cause him to age in reverse. This strange event makes the man (Keith Szarabajka) a valuable target for the government; the show itself was not considered valuable to many.

#5. Star Trek: Renegades

IMDb score: 4.9
IMDb votes: 3,138
Years on the air: 2015–2017

Set within the “Star Trek” universe, “Renegades” is set a decade after the USS Voyager returns to its home base. This time, the Federation is in major trouble due to a lack of dilithium crystals. The project was largely funded by crowdsourcing, but it did not seem to be money well spent.

#4. Aftermath

IMDb score: 4.9
IMDb votes: 3,930
Years on the air: 2016

“Aftermath” is set just as civilization is beginning to end due to natural disasters and supernatural beings. The show follows a single family, whose parents are portrayed by Anne Heche and James Tupper. The show was considered a passable guilty pleasure at best.

#3. Flash Gordon

IMDb score: 4.8
IMDb votes: 2,766
Years on the air: 2007–2008

Football players and space travel: a tried and true combo—at least according to the folks behind “Flash Gordon.” This TV adaptation of the 1980 film sees its titular character (Eric Johnson) traveling into space to find the truth about his father; it seems all the “grandeur” of the original film got lost along the way.

#2. RoboCop: Prime Directives

IMDb score: 4.7
IMDb votes: 2,063
Years on the air: 2001

The RoboCop franchise receives the honor of having two different adaptations on this list. “Prime Directives,” a Canadian miniseries featuring Page Fletcher as RoboCop, takes place several years after the film. Four episodes of this concept was more than enough for viewers.

#1. Stargate Origins

IMDb score: 4.0
IMDb votes: 3,269
Years on the air: 2018–Present

“Stargate Origins” is a series comprised of 10 episodes, each running 10 minutes in length. The series expands upon the “Stargate” universe, which revolves around a portal that allows transportation throughout the cosmos; its strange format led to some very unhappy reviews from hardcore “Stargate” fans.