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12 Sci-Fi Shows That Fans Of The Expanse Should Watch Next

"The Expanse" debuted in 2015 on Syfy and was briefly canceled by the network in 2018 before being revived by Amazon Studios. The dramatic, big-budget sci-fi adventure was met with limited fanfare but received a strong response from critics for its intriguing story and stellar cast. 

Based on the book series by James S. A. Corey, the adaptation stars Thomas Jane and takes place in a future where the entire solar system has been colonized by different political factions who vie for power. Full of outer space action and mystery, the series was seen as a return to classic space opera adventure with a gritty sci-fi twist. Rife with social commentary and a healthy dose of serious character drama, "The Expanse" became a too often overlooked science fiction stalwart that deftly threaded the needle between political drama and action-adventure.

As noted by The New Tork Times, "The Expanse" was often overshadowed by bigger names despite receiving rave reviews. As such, Amazon Studios announced in 2020 that the sixth season of "The Expanse" would be its last. We'll never know if it might have lasted longer if it had received wider recognition, but there's no denying it has earned its place in the pantheon of great sci-fi. With that in mind, here's a list of thirteen sci-fi dramas fans of "The Expanse" should check out if you're looking for something to binge.

The Killjoys

"The Killjoys" stars Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, and Luke Macfarlane as interstellar bounty hunters and mercenaries for hire working for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition. The team spends their days chasing down warrants on criminals and stolen property in the planetary system called The Quad. They are told to remain neutral in conflicts, but when this trio of guns-for-hire finds themselves inserted into clashes between opposing groups, that's easier said than done. 

The series provides the kind of escapist sci-fi that veers more towards the breezy adventure series of the '80s and '90s than the dark and brooding dystopian stories often seen today. Beyond that, the show offers tons of action, fun characters, and plenty of humor while still delivering enough drama and intensity to satisfy viewers.

Full of social commentary and political allegory, "The Killjoys" ran for five seasons, airing every summer from 2015 through 2020. The series proved itself an underrated smash hit with critics, receiving consistently high marks on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Noted critic Maureen Ryan of Variety called the show "a light, well-made, zippy TV show that knows what it is and delivers solid action, adventure and character development despite its limited budget."

Extant

The CBS sci-fi series "Extant" was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and starred Halle Berry and Goran Visnjic, giving it a superstar pedigree. In the high profile, big-budget production, Berry starred as Molly Woods, an astronaut living aboard the space station Seraphim for an extended 13-month tour. However, when she returns home to Earth, Molly makes two shocking discoveries. First, after a lifetime of infertility and more than a year alone in space, she finds herself somehow pregnant. While Molly processes this discovery, her husband reveals he has invented a lifelike robot named Ethan, who he wants to raise as their child.  

Molly must uncover the truth behind her impossible pregnancy while keeping it a secret from the private space firm that sent her to the Seraphim. At the same time, she struggles to navigate the waters of her new unconventional family, which includes contending with the shadowy corporate figures at the firm who were also involved in Ethan's creation. It all adds up to a tense and gripping space thriller with another great mystery at the heart of its story. 

In "Extant," nothing is quite as it seems, as Molly's investigation leads her in directions you might not expect. The two-season series received positive reactions from critics and viewers alike, per Rotten Tomatoes, and the second season added Jeffrey Dean Morgan and David Morrissey — who both played memorable villains on "The Walking Dead" — to the cast. 

Star Trek: Discovery

If you think you know what kind of show you're going to get because it has "Star Trek" in the title, think again. In a series that has more in common with modern sci-fi fare like "The Expanse" and "Dark Matter," the revival series "Star Trek: Discovery" is more serious, intense, and dark than any of its '80s and '90s forebearers. To diehard Trekkies, this has not always been a welcome change, as noted in a review on Fan Film Factor, but for newer viewers who were never enamored by older "Star Trek" adventures, it could be a reason to tune in. 

Season 1 follows the adventures of a highly advanced starship with an experimental warp drive — the U.S.S. Discovery — under the command of Captain Gabriel Lorca, who recruits a disgraced former officer Michael Burnham to be a mission specialist. Hidden secrets and vast conspiracies lie between their attempts to end a war with the Klingons.

The second season sees the introduction of a new captain played by "Hell on Wheels" star Anson Mount, who leads the crew on a new and critical mission, along with the arrival of iconic franchise star Spock. The third season would see the show vastly altered with a new setting and additions to the cast. Annual shakeups have kept the show fresh, which has helped it garner strong reviews from critics, per Rotten Tomatoes, despite some criticism from longtime Trekkies. 

Dark Matter

A space adventure series that launched the same year as "The Expanse," in 2015, "Dark Matter" ran for three seasons on Syfy. Based on a deep mystery that runs through the series, "Dark Matter" opens with the crew of a starship awakening from stasis with no memory or identities. They are soon joined by an android assistant sent on a mission to discover who they are and how they ended up drifting in space. 

The crew takes on the names of numbers One through Six and sets out on a quest to learn who they are and how they came to be drifting in space. Driven by this objective,"Dark Matter" puts a new twist on the age-old space opera premise of a rag-tag group of renegades. Set in a hostile galaxy and beset by enemies on all sides, the team must navigate the complex landscape, ferret out a possible traitor, and deal with the sinister secrets they uncover about themselves.

Something of a mixture of "The Expanse" and "Firefly," the series was well-received and earned excellent reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the series may frustrate new viewers as it only received a half-hearted ending before its surprise cancellation in 2017. Though most of the show's most important questions were resolved, there's been constant talk of an attempted revival to round out the series, including a hint from series creator Joseph Mallozzi in 2021 that he was working on a possible miniseries. Unfortunately, nothing has materialized just yet.

Altered Carbon

Premise-wise, the original Netflix series "Altered Carbon" may have a bit more in common with a movie like "Blade Runner" than "The Expanse." However, the series focuses on drama in a future world of political intrigue that should appeal to sci-fi fans across the board. 

Based on the novel by Richard K. Morgan, "Altered Carbon" is set in the futuristic megalopolis of Bay City, where a person's consciousness can be encoded to disc, also called a cortical stack, and implanted in a new body. The series was headlined by "Suicide Squad" star Joel Kinneman as the latest sleeve, or body, of Takeshi Kovacs, a highly trained member of a militant group called The Envoys. The Envoys lost a bitter war more than two centuries earlier in a bid to take down the world government, and Kovacs is curious to find out exactly what happened. 

When his cortical stack is released from prison and put into a new body, Laurens Bancroft — one of the world's wealthiest elites — offers to give him a new life if he'll use his skills to solve his murder. Once out, Kovacs also hopes to track down people from his past, including surviving members of The Envoys. With a premise that allows for body swaps, Season 2 sees the exit of Kinneman and the introduction of Anthony Mackie, who takes over as the lead role as the new sleeve of Kovacs, allowing the story to continue. Though the second season would be its last, it remains a must-watch for sci-fi fans.

Another Life

"Another Life" is a classic high concept sci-fi series set in a near-future where a massive alien artifact arrives on Earth, bringing with it questions about life outside the solar system. Series star Katee Sackhoff, of "Battlestar Galactica" fame, makes her return to the genre as Niko Breckenridge, the astronaut assigned to lead a team to investigate the craft and its mysterious origins. 

Niko, along with the motley crew of the Salvare, embarks on a cosmic adventure to the furthest reaches of space, opening up a universe of interstellar mystery. The series features classic episodic sci-fi adventures, as the ship and crew encounter all manner problems along their journey into deep space. From wormholes and supernovas to mysterious ailments and tensions among the crew, each episode highlights the mission's high stakes, compounded by the search for answers to the alien artifact.

Though the first season of this Netflix original series didn't go over terribly well with critics, audiences seemed to respond favorably to the space adventure series, as the streaming giant greenlit a second season that aired in 2021, which fans seemed to feel improved on the first year of stories, per Rotten Tomatoes. Full of human drama and scientific discovery, "Another Life" is definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed "The Expanse."

Lost in Space

Like "Star Trek: Discovery," the Netflix series "Lost in Space" was the revival of a decades-old sci-fi franchise. It was the third revival of the series after a failed film in 1998 starring Matt LeBlanc and an unaired pilot directed by John Woo in 2004, via Collider. However, this time Netflix got the reboot right with a ground-up reinvention of the family-friendly series, turning the show into an epic adventure. 

The newest iteration of "Lost in Space" puts a modern twist on the classic premise while still holding to its 1960s origins. Once again, the series follows the Robinson family, outer space colonists on their way to settle a far-off planet. Unfortunately, things go awry when their ship seemingly malfunctions and careens off course, forcing the family and their friends to survive alone in the depths of space. The original series' robot, B-9, is reimagined as an alien artificial intelligence that joins them after their first crash landing, befriending the young Will Robinson.

Each week the family encounters new dangers and cosmic threats as they search for a new home while also contending with a saboteur in their midst. The series has been a hit for Netflix, receiving praise from critics, per Rotten Tomatoes, and completing three strong seasons, with its final episode airing in 2021.

Salvation

While it may not quite be the sci-fi action series fans are looking for after "The Expanse," the CBS series "Salvation" offers up similar political drama amidst a cosmic threat. In "Salvation," governments, scientific bodies, and ordinary individuals are all coping with an impending cataclysm from a coming asteroid that will wipe out all life on Earth. 

When the asteroid is discovered, it kicks off more than just government action and global panic. The disappearance of one of the MIT graduate students who spotted it, along with the mysterious death of a government aide, hints at a larger conspiracy that proves as frightening as any disaster. While world powers begin to devise new technologies to stop the incoming planet-killer, some have doubts about where the real danger lies.

Executive produced by Alex Kurtzman, "Salvation" stars Santiago Cabrera as a billionaire industrialist whose technology firm works with the Department of Defense to find a solution to the crisis. Part disaster movie and part political thriller, the series is an apocalyptic drama that takes the best of multiple genres and mixes them in a satisfying way. It received mixed reviews from critics, but better scores from audiences, per Metacritic.

Foundation

Based on the classic sci-fi novels by visionary author Isaac Asimov that BBC once called "unfilmable," "Foundation" is a thousand-year story of the downfall and evolution of a vast interstellar civilization. 

The series focuses on Hari Seldon, a brilliant and well-respected scientist who has invented a new form of mathematics called psychohistory that he can use to predict the downfall of the vast galactic empire. It's an ambitious series with lavish production values and a dense story. The narrative follows Seldon as he devises a way to save the empire through the Foundations, two objects located on either side of the universe, which are designed to preserve knowledge and history.

Season 1 earned strong marks from critics, per Rotten Tomatoes. Creator and showrunner David S. Goyer revealed in an interview with /Film that if the show continues to prove successful, he has plans for the series that could span seven additional seasons, for a total of eighty episodes. Not surprising, considering the source material consists of 12 novels and dozens of short stories. Fans of "The Expanse" looking for a show that might stick around should give "Foundation" a look.

Battlestar Galactica

The New York Times described "The Expanse" as "the undisputed heir to 'Battlestar Galactica'" in their series catchup in 2020. That's a fair assessment, as much of what is beloved about "The Expanse" carries over from the sci-fi series launched with a TV miniseries in 2003. This modern reboot took a formerly all-ages series and brought it to life as a gritty war drama. It all begins when the colonies of Kobol — a far-off interstellar civilization spread across twelve planets — are decimated by their mortal enemies, the Cylons, a race of sinister robots bent on the colonies' destruction.

The remaining military fleet, led by the titular Battlestar Galactica, rounds up survivors and sets course for what they believe may be their only safe haven: a mythical lost colony called Earth. That mythology is a fascinating starting point to what would become one of the best sci-fi series of the past 30 years. Full of political drama, incredible military action, and war, its biggest appeal was its cast of fully realized, complex characters such as Adama, Starbuck, and Tom Zarek.

It's not an understatement to say that the series — produced by longtime "Star Trek" writer Ron Moore — helped popularize genre television and bring sci-fi back to the mainstream, as discussed by Entertainment Weekly. It ran for five seasons and included a full-length movie, and was even capped off with a prequel series titled "Caprica" that aired after its conclusion.

Defiance

"Defiance" is a multimedia franchise that includes a popular MMO video game released in conjunction with the first season of the Syfy original TV series, per Kotaku, complete with a complex but fascinating backstory that sees alien refugees arriving on Earth. 

After a series of conflicts, the world has been terraformed into an almost unrecognizable landscape where more than a half dozen alien races struggle to live in peace alongside humans. The planet is ruled by several conflicting nation-states, including the Earth Republic, a human-centric government based in New York City. Out west, in one mixed-race city called Defiance, Joshua Nolan and his alien adopted daughter thwart a plot by a nefarious villain that would have destroyed the town, and suddenly Nolan finds himself in charge of keeping the peace.

Now a sheriff in a town inhabited by alien races who don't get along, North takes on criminal cases in Defiance as depicted in this gritty, post-apocalyptic science fiction police procedural. Well reviewed by critics and audiences alike, the show's massive budget couldn't withstand its dip in the ratings despite its positive reception, per Deadline. However, it still managed to run for three solid seasons and 38 exciting episodes, which starred Grant Bowler and Julie Benz.

Stargate Universe

"Stargate: Universe," like "Star Trek: Voyager," is just one series in a much bigger television and film franchise. The series is the third television spinoff of the original 1995 film and stars Robert Carlyle and Ming-Na Wen. 

Set in the established sci-fi world where groups vie for control of ancient portals that allow travel throughout the galaxy, "Stargate: Universe" begins when an ancient craft becomes the last refuge of a human military team. However, the alien ship seems to have a mission of its own, as it appears to stop at far-off worlds as it travels through space, giving the crew the opportunity to explore the galaxy as they search for a way to return to Earth.

"Stargate: Universe" is a tense military action drama with a premise that evokes shades of "Battlestar Galactica." In each episode, the crew of the Destiny finds themselves in a new world with new problems, facing off against terrifying threats while dealing with everyday issues aboard the ship. Meanwhile, their stop-offs at distant worlds allow for a broad expansion of the Stargate universe and series mythology, just as the title implies, with discoveries and adventures awaiting them at every new destination.