Sci-fi movies and shows take place in a wide variety of times, dimensions, and galaxies, and with Amazon Prime's diverse sci-fi catalog, you can explore many of them. If you’re partial to comical portrayals of the world’s wackiest extraterrestrials, there’s something for you. If you’re a fan of serious, suspenseful sci-fi dramas, they’ve got you covered. Craving a good old fashioned space western? They've got that, too. So sit, back, relax, and stream yourself to a different time and place with the best sci-fi on Amazon Prime.
A parody of classic sci-fi films like Star Wars, Spaceballs takes place on the planet Spaceball. Planet Spaceball is entirely out of fresh air, and its residents are forced to rely on bottled Perri-Air. Their leader, President Skroob, has a plan to save his planet: He’s going to hire Dark Helmet, a powerful villain, to kidnap Princess Vespa of Druidia.
Druidia has an excess of fresh air, so Skroob intends to trade the princess back in exchange for it. His plan seems perfect until the arrival of Lone Starr, a pilot, and Barf, Lone Starr's loyal half-dog, half-human partner-in-crime. Lone Starr is deeply in debt to a gangster and desperate for cash, and has been hired by King Roland of Druidia to save the princess.
The Running Man (1987)
The year is 2019. The United States, a totalitarian police state, is obsessed with a show called The Running Man. Contestants on the show, all of whom are convicted criminals, attempt to outrun hitmen. If they somehow manage to escape with their lives, they are pardoned by the government.
After a conviction for a massacre in which he had no part, Ben Richards escapes from a labor camp and comes face-to-face with Damon Killian, the nefarious host of The Running Man. For Richards, an innocent man framed by his own government, The Running Man is his only hope — but Killian is determined to do whatever it takes to ensure that Richards leaves the show in a body bag.
Star Trek (2009)
The first film in the rebooted Star Trek film franchise, Star Trek is a prequel that follows a young Kirk and Spock. When they meet at the Starfleet Academy, the cadets quickly become rivals. On an emergency mission, the two must put aside their differences to save the USS Enterprise and Spock’s home planet, Vulcan.
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It’s not quite as simple as it sounds: The young men struggle to relinquish their rivalry, and a lot of destruction is left in their wake. The Romulan vessel Narada and Nero, its commander, wreak havoc on Vulcan — and when Nero turns his attentions to Earth, Kirk attempts mutiny.
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
The USS Enterprise is sent on a rescue mission when an occupied escape pod is stranded on Altamid, a planet in an uncharted nebula. When the Enterprise is ambushed while on the mission, the surviving crew members seek refuge on Altamid.
The survivors are quickly captured by Krall, the dictator who orchestrated the initial attack. Krall is searching for a relic named the Abronath that Kirk recently acquired. Stranded on a strange planet and under attack from an alien race, Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew struggle to find a way back to safety. Although never quite as fun as the 2009 film, Star Trek Beyond is notable for featuring Stark Trek's first explicitly gay character (Sulu, played by John Cho).
Based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, Arrival is a twist on the traditional alien invasion story. When twelve alien spaceships land on Earth, the world begins to panic. The twelve nations where the ships have landed form a precarious allegiance, working together to decipher the extraterrestrials’ language.
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Louise Banks, a linguist, and Ian Donnelly, a physicist, are recruited to communicate with the aliens that have landed in the United States. The pair race against an impending war to decipher the foreign creatures’ complicated written language. Louise succeeds in making a shocking discovery about the power of the extraterrestrials’ language, but risks her life in the process.
Loosely based on an illustrated sequel to Jumanji, Zathura is about two brothers named Walter and Danny. When their parents leave their older sister Lisa to babysit, the two boys come across an old space-themed board game called Zathura in their basement. As the siblings begin to play, they realize Zathura is no mere game: each card comes to life, catapulting their house into space.
With each new card, something else changes within the house. Lisa, who had been napping and was blissfully unaware that her house had left Earth, is suddenly frozen when the bathroom turns into a cryonic chamber. The boys must contend with an outrageous series of events, including an attack by a group of dangerous aliens. But with the help of a friendly astronaut, they may just win the game and return to Earth.
Calling fans of Black Mirror: Electric Dreams is an anthology series based on the works of Philip K. Dick that offers an exciting glimpse into a variety of different universes. In the pilot, a group of humans with telepathic powers are social pariahs living apart from the rest of society. A telepath who works for the police must investigate a mysterious figure who is distributing telepathy-proof hoods.
The remaining episodes explore a variety of different futures. In one, there’s an idyllic village where traumas simply disappear from the inhabitants’ minds. In another, reality and a video game have begun to mix, creating a deadly world whichever way you view it. There’s even a futuristic North America where a presidential candidate employs subliminal messages inciting citizens to commit murder. The series has some big star talent behind it as well, perhaps most notably singer/actress Janelle Monáe.
Eureka is a small town in Oregon, but don’t be fooled by its size — the humble hamlet is home to most of the world’s scientific geniuses. Closely watched by the United States Department of Defense, Eureka is camouflaged by a giant shield. Global Dynamics, a company working with the Department of Defense to provide technological innovation to the world, runs the town and employs most of the residents.
The entire town is top secret, but U.S. Marshal Jack Carter manages to accidentally stumble across it. After the sheriff is injured in an accident, Carter takes over the position, helping the residents to solve a variety of mysteries across town, despite his comparatively average intellect.
In 2257, the Earth is ruled by one government, which is part of an international union called the Earth Alliance. Alongside its intergalactic allies, Earth maintains diplomatic relations with other species. In the Babylon 5 space station, an assortment of aliens and humans handle diplomatic matters and facilitate trade between governments.
In the beginning, the Humans, the Minbari, the Narn, the Centauri, and the Vorlorns are the primary civilizations in the alliance. As the series progresses, it focuses largely on developing the individual characters and a variety of species. Throughout its five seasons, the multiple Hugo Award-winning show addresses a variety of serious issues, including discrimination, racism, and terrorism.
Based on James S. A. Corey’s book series of the same name, The Expanse is set in a solar system colonized by humans. Chrisjen Avasarala, a United Nations, executive; Josephus Miller, a police detective; and Jim Holden, a ship captain, find themselves at the heart of a conspiracy. Chrisjen is on a diplomatic mission to maintain peace. Josephus is searching for a missing young woman. James is in an accident on the ice hauler on which he’s an officer. The incident has the potential to destroy the diplomatic relations that Earth has built with Mars and the asteroid belt.
It quickly becomes clear that the disappearance of the woman is related to the ice hauler disaster, and it is up to the three officials to foil the plot and save the universe. After the third season, Syfy cancelled the series, but it was immediately picked up by Amazon for a fourth season.
Sarah Manning, an orphan who bounced from foster home to foster home, is a skilled con artist. When she witnesses the suicide of Beth, a woman who looks just like her, she sees an opportunity. Sarah assumes Beth’s identity–taking her boyfriend, her money, and everything else.
Sarah quickly realizes that she and Beth didn’t just look alike. The products of an illegal experiment, they are two of a handful of clones. Even worse, Beth’s death is a lot more complicated than it seemed. Beth was a cop caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy — and someone is hunting the clones.
Featuring a mind-blowing performance by Tatiana Maslany as the twelve clones, Orphan Black gained a cult following during its five seasons. Binge them all now and see why the series' fandom, known as the Clone Club, is so devoted.
The Doctor Who reboot, which premiered in 2005, is a continuation of the original series, which premiered in 1963. The iconic series is a staple of British culture, with an international fandom. Both installments of the series follows a Time Lord from a planet called Gallifrey. Called “the Doctor,” the Time Lord travels around the universe in the TARDIS. The TARDIS is a time-travelling space ship that looks just like a British police box, and is bigger on the inside than it is on the ouside.
Five different actors have portrayed the Doctor in the reboot, each one entering when the Doctor’s body is so badly damaged that he must regenerate in a new body. The most recent actor to accept the role of the Doctor is Jodie Whittaker. She is the very first woman to portray the legendary character. Gender fluidity is not a concept new to the series, but the announcement that the 13th Doctor would be female was met with a mix of positive and negative reactions.
Synths are high-level robots who appear eerily human, and they’re all the rage. Anyone who’s anyone positively must have a synth around to help out at home. Some synths, like Niska, are conscious and have a contentious relationship with humans. Others are loyal, obedient synths who know only the directions of their owners.
Joe Hawkins decides it's time that he buys one for his family’s home, but his wife, Laura, can’t quite get comfortable with the humanlike appliance. Dr. George Millican, on the other hand, is deeply attached to his caregiving synth, who has stored many memories of his late wife. Millican is desperate to fix his malfunctioning synth and will do whatever it takes to keep him functioning.
3rd Rock from the Sun
A hilarious sitcom, 3rd Rock from the Sun follow four aliens who are on a mission to Earth. In order to observe humans, the aliens assume human forms and pretend to live as a family. Their leader is Dick, who has taken a job as a physics professor to be closer to humans and to provide for their supposed family. Tommy, who is a teenage boy on Earth, is actually the oldest member of the team and hates puberty with a passion.
Sally and Harry round out the rest of the team. They are both twentysomethings who can never seem to hold down a job. Together the four aliens explore humanity, eventually finding love interests and growing more attached to their new home than their mission.
Featured still from "Arrival" via Paramount Pictures
This article was originally published on July 12th, 2018.