One of the worst things about falling head over heels in love with a television series are those long stretches between seasons. When a show delivers such a compelling story or has an irresistible mystery at its core, it’s hard for viewers to keep from speculating on what may happen next. At the moment, several current series have inspired this addictive fandom from seemingly everyone you know. Shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have a tendency to conquer social media during and immediately after each episode ends, leaving fans aching to get their next fix.
However, one show that’s busy generating a laundry list of fan theories is undoubtedly HBO’s sci-fi drama Westworld. The series — based on the titular 1973 film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton — concluded its first season in late 2016, and while it has been renewed for a sophomore year, fans of the show have to wait until April 2018 for its return.
Here are some cult sci-fi shows that we recommend catching up on in the meantime. For the record, we’re focusing in on series that lasted less than five seasons, in order to ensure that you’re able to wrap them up before Westworld Season 2 begins.
1. Space: Above and Beyond (1995–1996)
While this Fox show (get used to hearing that network mentioned alongside ill-fated sci-fi classics) was originally envisioned for a five-season run, it only made it through one, despite Emmy nominations and the promise in its focus on space-set military branches.
2. Dark Skies (1996–1997)
After The X-Files struck a chord with audiences, this NBC show tried to capture the same attention. Like the adventures of Mulder and Scully, this one centered on UFO conspiracy theories and assorted alien mysteries. Despite its apparent lack of originality, the show has since developed a cult following of its own.
3. Dark Angel (2000–2002)
Future big-screen star and entrepreneur Jessica Alba first rose to fame as the genetically engineered super-soldier leading this series. Co-created by James Cameron, the show only lasted two seasons but remains notable for the talent involved both behind the camera and in front of it.
4. Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005)
At first, including a Star Trek TV series on a list of cult favorites may seem bizarre. After all, the franchise is pretty mainstream, right? Well, this prequel to the original series is often considered the black sheep of the live-action Star Trek shows, as it only ran four seasons. Still worth a look for fans of its sister series.
5. Firefly (2002–2003)
Firefly is another Fox show and the first of two entries on this list that were created by Joss Whedon for the network. This sci-fi/Western genre mash-up developed such a rabid fanbase that it ultimately led to the production of a 2005 film adaptation written and directed by Whedon. If you still haven’t seen its mere 14 episodes, you’re seriously missing out.
6. Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009)
One of the few shows on here to actually end on its own terms, this beloved Syfy reboot of the 1978 television series is perhaps one of the most cherished and influential examples of serious sci-fi storytelling to hit the small-screen in decades. Genre veteran Ronald D. Moore has since moved on to current series Outlander, but this remains his crowning achievement.
7. Torchwood (2006–2011)
The Doctor Who franchise has long been one of the most popular entries in sci-fi television history. So a spinoff of the 2005 revival of that series proved to be an easy slam dunk. Across four seasons, the show — led by John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness — touched on a number of powerful themes and proved to be a worthwhile endeavor indeed.
8. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009)
Despite the popularity of the Terminator film franchise, this TV adaptation — which aired on, you guessed it, Fox — failed to gain the ratings it needed to survive more than two seasons. Nevertheless, it remains the most beloved live-action part of the franchise outside of James Cameron’s initial two films.
9. Dollhouse (2009–2010)
Created by Joss Whedon, this Fox series (we know … ) tackled a ton of heady topics involving identity, human trafficking, and what it means to be human. Led by Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Eliza Dushku, the show barely earned a Season 2 renewal before being canceled. Thankfully, at least the creative team was able to tie up its narrative loose ends with the remaining episodes first, offering some hint at what fans could have expected from additional seasons.
10. SGU Stargate Universe (2009–2011)
After the 1994 film proved to be a box office success, the Stargate universe (pun intended) found new life on TV. Yet, by the time this third series made it to the air, the franchise’s life seemed to wane. Syfy canceled the show after two seasons, leaving fans with an unresolved cliffhanger.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado.
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