Looking for COMPLETED awesome sci-fi TV shows
January 7, 2019 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Been annoyed by a couple shows we got into (Firefly, Dark Matter) that got cancelled with no plot resolution. Can you recommend either shows that got to complete their story arc, or that are episodic enough that completion is a non-issue? More preferences inside.

We have liked: Firefly, Dark Matter, Deep Space Nine, Defiance. I can handle the level of violence/gore in those shows but no more (e.g. Altered Carbon is out). Not into horror or anti-heroes. We stream on Amazon/Netflix and also can get some shows from the library (KCLS, yay). Ideas? Thanks!
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Stargate: SG1.
posted by jillithd at 11:49 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The Twilight Zone (old version.) Space Family Robinson, Star Trek Next Generation, X-Files.
posted by Oyéah at 11:54 AM on January 7


Have you watched Star Trek TNG or DS9 yet?
posted by forbiddencabinet at 11:55 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Futurama!
posted by bleep at 11:55 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Orphan Black?
posted by BungaDunga at 11:57 AM on January 7 [11 favorites]


Battlestar Galactica
posted by mmascolino at 11:57 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Battlestar Galactica!

Edit: THERE ARE MANY COPIES
posted by jozxyqk at 11:57 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Lexx

It's so awesomely Canadian-German.
posted by BenevolentActor at 12:00 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Thirding Battlestar Galactica (2004 – 2009), adding to say:
Start with the 3-hour miniseries, then go on to the regular series starting with the episode titled “33.”
(Post on viewing order, including associated webisodes, TV movies & Caprica spinoff)
posted by D.Billy at 12:01 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Perhaps Person of Interest. It has a tonal change from "victim/baddie-of-the-week" to a larger over arcing plot (which is indeed concluded) but might be a little more bloody, at times, than you're looking for.
posted by mce at 12:02 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Firefly has a film!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:04 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


They do a really poor job of wrapping it up, but technically Farscape has a conclusion. It's just not a very good one.
posted by sardonyx at 12:04 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Have you seen Fringe? If not, then absolutely Fringe.
posted by superfluousm at 12:09 PM on January 7 [18 favorites]


Seconding (and thirding) Fringe!
posted by Jairus at 12:13 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


nthing Fringe. Great sci-fi premise, well-executed, and has a legit arc and ending. Also: Olivia Dunham. If Olivia Dunham tells you to drop it or she will shoot, you will either drop it within the space of a breath or you will die of a gunshot wound. She does not equivocate.

Also seconding Person of Interest, but I'd give it a different caveat than mce did. I don't think it's bloody at all, not above the level of any other network drama. BUT... it does not seem to begin as a sci-fi show. In the beginning of the series, it's pitched like it's a case of the week procedural in which the sci-fi elements are just a MacGuffin. Over time, it turns out the sci-fi elements were the entire purpose of the show. By the end of the series, it is operating on a semi-cerebral hard sci-fi level that you might expect when I mention that the creative team behind Westworld was behind it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:16 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Seconding any and of all the Star Treks, although I haven't seen Discovery.

However Fringe is insanely gross and gory at times, especially the early seasons.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:17 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Babylon 5?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 12:17 PM on January 7 [12 favorites]


Dollhouse gets a bad rap because of its horrifying premise (which is supposed to be horrifying), but it was a damn good science fiction show with a very definitive wrap-up. There were only two seasons, and the first six episodes of season one are pretty bad due to the network trying to make it a different kind of show, but if you can power through them you’ll be rewarded.
posted by ejs at 12:18 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


However Fringe is insanely gross and gory at times, especially the early seasons.

It dabbles in body horror which might unnerve some people, but it was also a US network prime time tv show. I don't think it ever really went that far at all.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:20 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Continuum has 4 seasons and a satisfying conclusion.

Also seconding Babylon 5 (though you can skip the last season) and Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (Sisko is captain of my heart).
posted by esoterrica at 12:36 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


The Leftovers had a powerful, extraordinary finale. It's weird sci-fi rather than spaceship sci-fi.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:41 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


The film, The Army of the 12 Monkeys was turned into a film, 12 Monkeys. I still need to watch the 4th season, but as they went into it knowing it would be the last one (to my understanding) it should be complete. If nothing else, it's worth watching to get to the point in the 3rd season where 99 Luftballons is used ;) .

Arguably The Travelers (on netflix) could be perfectly finished where it is at the end of Season 3.

Seconding Orphan Black and Continuum as finished. Orphan Black was the better show, but Continuum had more fun time travel thoughts. The ending of Continuum some might find a bit brutal, but I think it's the way it needed to end.
posted by nobeagle at 12:58 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


In the "weird sci-fi" not "space sci-fi" vein there's the OA which is some of the most unusual TV I've seen.
posted by Iteki at 1:09 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Babylon 5 for sure. They had the story planed out from the start...its surprising all the little details that were dropped in season 1 ended up being important later in the series.
posted by Captain_Science at 1:10 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


It's not the strongest by far of the Star Trek offerings, but just a note that that there's a Fanfare rewatch of Star Trek: Enterprise going on right now. I haven't been part of it (scheduling has precluded catching up on the episodes), but it's a good conversation to track. I liked the series better than most people did.
posted by General Malaise at 1:13 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Legion is one of the best recent examples of the sci-fi art form that I've seen, and the first season feels complete as a story arc. You may also enjoy the Outer Limits and Night Gallery - both are episodic.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:21 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


If The Expanse gets canceled (again), it's not caught up to the books yet so you wouldn't be left hanging, plot-wise. The books and show diverge in the small, but the larger story has tracked pretty close between them. The book series isn't done either, but it has wrapped up large story arcs already.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:22 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Do you like anime? Because there is so much, and most of it intentionally has an ending.

The places I'd recommend starting at are Cowboy Bebop and/or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I think they're both on netflix in the US.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:35 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I personally think Steven Universe qualifies as a sci-fi show, though it doesn't reveal itself until 12 half-hours in. It's ongoing but has over 100 episodes to go through and probably only 1-2 seasons to go, and is basically guaranteed to not be cancelled.

Watch Steven and the Stevens (only 11 minutes), and if you like it go back and watch the whole thing. Also, if you like that, consider Gravity Falls too. Both are on Hulu.
posted by thelastpolarbear at 1:52 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


BSG has some really, really dark themes, including genocide, rape, and a lot of people getting shot at close range (I know DS9 has a whole war, but BSG felt way more violent). It also (to me) had a really unsatisfying ending. I don't want to harsh anyone's yum, but do want to caution that there are some traps. :)

Warehouse 13 was a delight, finished up nicely (if on a short season), had nice character development and diversity, and skipped the violence. I really, really liked it.
posted by joycehealy at 2:00 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Seconding the Canadian series Orphan Black. Five great seasons and an actual resolution at the end. Tatiana Maslany is just amazing as she plays several different female characters, often at the same time! I've watched the whole run twice and likely will watch the five seasons again in a couple of years.

I like Legion as well, it's just so dreamy and weird.
posted by Agave at 2:11 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Seconding Warehouse 13 (on the lighter side and (possibly) a little too hand-wavey about the "science" part of sci-fi), and adding Eureka, which is very similar, exists in the same universe as W13 (there were at least a couple of crossover episodes), and is a little more "sci-fi."

Both series definitely end and admirably well considering both (IIRC) got bounced around on the "renewed or not" rollercoaster and had to pull off endings relatively last minute.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:21 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Warehouse 13 is great. Has a somewhat diverse cast, strong female roles and stories of the week supporting overall arcs. IT's not very hard science but it is at least as much "science" as Star Trek in that the unexplained is explainable and internally consistent.

The Eureka pilot is kinda weak so give it at least till episode 2 if you try it.

Captain_Science: "Babylon 5 for sure. They had the story planed out from the start...its surprising all the little details that were dropped in season 1 ended up being important later in the series."

B5 is a funny one in that the series was planned for five years; was cancelled during the fourth season (so time to wrap things up but not to the degree planned) and then extended to the 5th season.
posted by Mitheral at 2:45 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all the recommendations! I think that will keep us going for a while. I'll update if I end up having strong opinions on any of the above.
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 4:10 PM on January 7


> joycehealy:"BSG … had a really unsatisfying ending.

Yeah, I watched the whole thing, loved the first seasons and feel like the show would have been much more satisfying if they'd cancelled it 1 or 2 seasons before the end.
posted by signal at 5:00 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


The ask was for series that ended in a manner that tied up the plot (my paraphrase). Rebooted Battlestar Galactica does not qualify on that basis. The first few seasons were filled with great foreshadowing and stories and so forth, but it turned out that there was no overall story arc to fill out: the writers were just extruding on demand. And it just sort of tapered off, like ... some other extruded products.

The first few seasons were great, though, if you choose to relax the "satisfying completion" requirement.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:09 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Definitely seconding all the Star Treks, Stargate (SG1 mostly, but if you stick through all the seasons, you probably like it enough to watch SG:U, which does not resolve, it just ends, and Atlantis too), and The Expanse. If you enjoy comedy sci-fi, Better Off Ted is really wonderful (it's only just barely sci-fi -- more of an office comedy set at a defense contractor that makes near future tech). If you enjoy that, I'd second Eureka and Futurama too.

Killjoys feels a lot like Dark Matter to me, so you might enjoy it, but I don't think it's been wrapped up yet, so it may wind up not meeting your criteria.

Torchwood: Children of Earth is a great season of TV that you can watch as a standalone series. (I haven't watched all the seasons of Torchwood, so can't tell you how the entire thing wraps up.)

I also love BSG, but agree with everyone who's saying that it ends unsatisfyingly, to put it mildly. I feel the same way about Dollhouse--I like it a lot, but it felt like there was another season planned and the 2nd season ending was tacked on to try to cover up the plot holes.
posted by snaw at 6:48 PM on January 7


The film, The Army of the 12 Monkeys was turned into a film, 12 Monkeys. I still need to watch the 4th season, but as they went into it knowing it would be the last one (to my understanding) it should be complete.

Seconding 12 Monkeys. A few sideplots didn't get fully developed but it's clear the writers knew how the story ended when they were breaking S1E1. There is a fair amount of gunplay involved so you may want to skip it if that's not your thing.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:10 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


> joycehealy:"BSG … had a really unsatisfying ending.

For some. Others, myself included, saw it as satisfyingly consistent with* 1 or more of series-long theme(s) and/or sub-theme(s).

*Ambiguous for the rest of the sentence because stating the number might be a spoiler.

The ending was the show's second major target of controversy from fans. It didn't set well with some that one of the 3 main characters from the original series was recast as a woman.
posted by Homer42 at 7:43 PM on January 7


Came here to say Dollhouse, but ejs beat me to it. The premise is indeed creepy (especially considering what star and producer Eliza Dushku has said about Michael Weatherly) but the science fiction story that grew from it made for an extremely enjoyable two seasons that had a clear and satisfying ending.
posted by lhauser at 7:44 PM on January 7


For Stargate: SG1, you'll want to include the movie Stargate: The Ark of Truth (but I'm pretty certain that's on Amazon) to fully wrap up the TV story lines. (There are two other D2TV movies, but for the most part they stand apart from the TV storylines.)
posted by MikeKD at 7:47 PM on January 7


I'm stunned that no one has mentioned Lost.

Little violence or gore. Not horror. An ensemble of characters that are complicated but not cliched antiheroes. It's not aliens-in-space science fiction but it's no spoiler to say that the marooned-on-an-island storyline quickly turns into mysteries that appear to be science fiction of a sort.

At its best, it has some of the most compelling storytelling in all of American television, sci fi or not. (For what its worth, I don't think I've ever been more blown away by a television episode than by the finale of season 3, nor more emotionally destroyed by any TV show than by a specific episode in season 4.)

And while throughout the course of the show there were criticisms that the show would never wrap up in a satisfying manner, the honest truth is that every essential question the show asks is ultimately answered, and the resolution to the show is internally consistent with both the plot mechanics and the themes of the show.
posted by lewedswiver at 8:00 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I love Farscape and don't think it gets enough love.
posted by Mavri at 1:16 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


The OA (mentioned above) is going to have a second season that has not yet been aired, so the OP might like to wait before viewing it.
posted by Amy NM at 4:55 AM on January 8


There's an element of time travel the original British run of Life on Mars. Very entertaining and the 70s retro theme was really novel when it first aired.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:26 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


Seconding Travellers on Netflix. Season 3 was released recently, and while it's not clear whether there will be a season 4, the story arc of the series thus far certainly completes itself at the end of season 3. I can't say more without spoilers, but it was worth the time spent.
posted by peppermind at 6:26 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Do you like anime? Because there is so much, and most of it intentionally has an ending.
That reminds me to recommend Planetes, which was mostly great, and was completed. Unfortunately, the ending was terrible, but I guess you can't have everything.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:26 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


More votes for Orphan Black and Person of Interest Timeless ran a couple of seasons and then just had a wrap-up double episode that aired last month, so it's got plot resolution.

And, yeah, season 3 of Travelers ended in a way that I will not be disappointed if there's a season 4 as far as plot resolution.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:35 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


(I will note that I found Orphan Black to lag a bit in the middle of the run - I missed a chunk of one of the seasons (3, mabye?) and didn't really miss them, but overall, it's good fun stuff.)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:36 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Do you like anime? Because there is so much, and most of it intentionally has an ending.

If anime is on the table, I can unreservedly recommend Space Battleship Yamato 2199. It's a modern remake of a show that was originally made in the era between the original Star Trek going off network TV and into syndication, and before the first Star Wars. The original was phenomenal but had a lot of rough spots, but the remake gives the story line the polish it needed to become the masterpiece of Sci-fi it was always meant to be. There's a second season, titled Space Battleship Yamato 2202, that I haven't watched all the way through yet, but if it adheres to the original's plot as closely as the first season did, it too will come to a satisfying resolution.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:30 AM on January 8


While I abandoned it in the original airing (too many midseason breaks, too much commercial hype), I really enjoyed Heroes as a bingeable, episode-per-night show. Does super hero-y mutant-y etc-y qualify as sci-fi? The story seemed to be reasonably wrapped up by the end.

Blake's 7: Do you like the cheese of classic Doctor Who?
posted by Kyol at 9:19 AM on January 8


Another anime that was sci-fi-y that I really enjoyed was "Trigun" which is streamable. It is about a notorious gunslinger called Vash the Stampede and the two insurance adjusters who are trying to reduce their insurance payouts. (LOL just the absurdity of the description makes me laugh)
posted by jillithd at 9:49 AM on January 8


Been annoyed by a couple shows we got into (Firefly, Dark Matter) that got cancelled with no plot resolution.

In season 2 of Firefly, the hero time-travels to Earth and becomes an LA cop. That's how I like to watch The Rookie, anyway.
posted by w0mbat at 10:52 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Yes, Firefly does have an ending (and it's epic)...it's the movie Serenity. Watch it watch it watch it.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:29 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Seconding Timeless if you're into time travel. Take a look at the the FanFare threads for this season to get a sense of what MeFites like about it.
posted by sardonyx at 1:29 PM on January 8


sexyrobot: "Firefly does have an ending (and it's epic)...it's the movie Serenity. Watch it watch it watch it."

There are _lots_ of serious hooks planted in season one that aren't addressed at all by the movie.
posted by Mitheral at 3:38 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


In season 2 of Firefly, the hero time-travels to Earth and becomes an LA cop. That's how I like to watch The Rookie, anyway.


No, he became a mystery writer who worked with the NYPD.
posted by Pryde at 4:46 PM on January 8


Person of Interest. The best sci-fi on network television in ages, slipping under the radar disguised as a procedural.

Orphan Black. Tatiana Maslany is astounding in it.

The first season of Legion (I've only seen the first and it feels like a complete story to me though there is obviously a hook for the second at the end.)
posted by oblique red at 8:15 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Just one additional point about Battlestar: The post-series movie, "The Plan", does a halfway decent job of retroactively tying a lot of the "making it up as we go" together. It is definitely worth watching after you've finished the series, even if you're in the contingent that was unsatisfied with The Ending.
(Disclaimer: I actually liked the ending, even after being warned that I would not)
posted by jozxyqk at 11:03 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Update in case anybody is watching this topic:

Tried the first few episodes of Killjoys, didn't take (couldn't say why).

Loved Orphan Black, just finished watching. Borderline too violent for me but the BF is good at telling me when to keep my eyes shut and when I can watch again.

Just read that Farscape is coming to Amazon Prime, so we may try that next, or Continuum on Netflix.


Thanks all for the recommendations!
posted by HaveYouTriedRebooting at 11:27 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


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