Top 20 Best Syfy Channel Shows Ever

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Top 20 Best Syfy Channel Shows Ever

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
If you love science-fiction, these Syfy Channel shows will be up your alley. For this list, we'll be looking at the most popular and most critically acclaimed television series to have ever aired on the Syfy channel. Our countdown includes “12 Monkeys,” “Being Human,” “The Expanse,” and more!
Transcript
If you love science-fiction, then you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Syfy channel shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most popular and most critically acclaimed television series to have ever aired on the Syfy channel. The TV series doesn’t have to have spent its entire run on the network, meaning that if it debuted on it or eventually ended up on the network makes it still eligible.

#20: “Z Nation” (2014-18)


At a time when “The Walking Dead” was dominating the pop culture landscape, Syfy tried getting their own slice of the zombie pie. The result was “Z Nation,” a unique comedy/adventure/action/horror hybrid about a half-human, half-zombie who has the antibodies necessary for a vaccine. It was refreshing to see “Z Nation” trying something new within the overcrowded zombie genre, which included the protagonists’ uncommon situation and the utilization of intentional camp. The show never takes itself too seriously, and that is entirely to its benefit. The series was eventually cancelled after five seasons, but they were five wonderfully bizarre and idiosyncratic ones.

#19: “Van Helsing” (2016-)


Based on a graphic novel entitled “Helsing,” this series follows Vanessa Van Helsing as she deals with vampires in a post-apocalyptic world. Vanessa is a descendant of Bram Stoker’s iconic vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing, and, in a fun little twist on the mythology, she has the unique ability to turn vampires into humans. The show takes place in a future wherein the Yellowstone Caldera has erupted and blocked out the sun, allowing vampires to flourish and take over the Earth. Armed with its unique storyline and strong cast, “Van Helsing” is sure to satiate anyone with a thirst for a different sort of vampire plot.

#18: “The Lost Room” (2006)


If you’re in the market for a great miniseries that has been lost to time, look no further! The titular “lost room” is located in an old motel along Route 66 - only, it’s completely displaced within time and space. Peter Krause and Elle Fanning play Joe and Anna Miller, a father and daughter pairing whose lives become entangled in the strange goings-on of this mysterious motel room. The series is a ton of fun, and the writing remains sharp throughout, offering up a tantalizing plot, dramatic character work, and mind-bending surprises. The only bad thing we have to say about it is that it’s only six episodes long!

#17: “Wynonna Earp” (2016-)


If you ask us, there should be more supernatural Westerns in the world; they make for a wonderfully distinctive blending of genres. Like “Van Helsing,” “Wynonna Earp” follows a distant descendant of a popular figure. Only in this case, that figure was real. Wynonna is the great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp, a famous lawman who served as deputy marshal in Tombstone, Arizona and participated in the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral. In the series, Wynonna is forced to battle the reincarnated revenants of the old outlaws that her great-great-grandfather had killed during his time as deputy marshal. It’s great supernatural fun in the vein of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Melanie Scrofano is fantastic in the title role.

#16: “Tripping the Rift” (2004-07)


Airing at a time when Syfy was not only struggling to be seen as a credible source of comedy, but also as a source of any original content, this animated show about all things science-fiction was just what the doctor ordered. Spoofing “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” and everything in between, it was a hit with the college demo. Fans loved watching the hilarious adventures of Captain Chode McBlob and his crew aboard the Spaceship Bob as they concocted money-making schemes and avoided the Dark Clown Empire.

#15: “12 Monkeys” (2015-18)


1995’s “12 Monkeys” is one of the all-time great science fiction movies. As such, adapting it for TV may have seemed like sacrilege when it was first announced. Luckily, the Syfy series managed to pull it off with surprising grace. Following a similar outline as the film, it’s about a scavenger named James Cole who is recruited to travel back in time and stop the spread of a virus that will cause the human race to go extinct. While the first season received mixed reviews, critical reception grew far more positive as the series progressed. Jam-packed with tantalizing twists and offering up exciting time travel shenanigans, “12 Monkeys” proved far more successful than predicted.

#14: “Defiance” (2013-15)


A post-apocalyptic Earth in the not-so-distant future? Check. A rich setting where humans coexist with alien species? Check. A tie-in MMORPG game? Check. That’s right; this ambitious and unique show which debuted in 2013 follows the denizens of Defiance, a city constructed over the remains of St. Louis. Law-keeper Nolan, his adopted alien daughter Irisa, alien gangster Datak and human mayor Amanda are just a few of the color characters trying to cohabit in the city. With great effects, undeniable science fiction themes and a solid cast, this show gives fans exactly what they want.

#13: “Alphas” (2011-12)


If you had extraordinary abilities, what would you do? Would you turn to a life of crime, or would you rise up to lead a group to prevent such crimes? In Dr. Lee Rosen’s case, it’s the latter, and this thrill ride sees him and his group of special individuals working for the Department of Defense to investigate the criminal activity undertaken by other Alphas. The show really dialed up the suspense, however, with the introduction of the enigmatic group “Red Flag.” Despite excitement from fans and interesting storylines, the show was cancelled in 2012 after only two seasons, ending on a cliffhanger which angers fans still.

#12: “Sanctuary” (2008-11)


Starting off as a successful web series, this show became the highest rated premiere on Syfy to that point – beating the record previously held by “Eureka.” The plot travels with Dr. Helen Magnus and her team as they try to track creatures and people with supernatural powers. Magnus herself is actually 157-years-old, having grown up in Victorian era England where she was trained by her father to protect the Abnormals. With a werewolf, an invisible man, vampires and Bigfoot, this show features all the unique monsters we’ve come to expect, but in totally new ways. Though it was a darker entry for Syfy, fans took a quick liking to this supernatural creature-fest.

#11: “Lexx” (1997-2002)


“Lexx” is kind of like “Firefly” before “Firefly” was a thing. It’s an action/comedy hybrid that follows an eclectic group of individuals as they roam the universe in their titular spacecraft, Lexx. The crew consists of the ship’s captain, a love slave, an undead ex-assassin, and a lovesick robot head. It’s a very weird show, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But the writing and performances are top notch, and the show alternates between genres with impeccable skill. One episode the series is making a farce of Earth through irony and parody, and the next it’s an exciting space drama in the vein of “Star Trek.” You never know what you’re going to get with “Lexx,” and therein lies the magic.

#10: “Being Human” (2011-14)


A remake of the British show of the same name, this version moves the setting to Boston and features three roommates – Aidan, Josh, and Sally – who just happen to be a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost respectively. And while it could’ve turned into a tired retread of the same old themes, “Being Human” is actually a refreshing take on the supernatural genre, with vampires living in fear of infected blood, warring werewolves, and a ghost who gets turned into a zombie by a witch…didja get all that? This riveting supernatural drama ran for four seasons on Syfy, finally ending its run in 2014.

#9: “The Magicians” (2015-20)


You’ve watched the “Harry Potter” film series a thousand times. Now it’s time to try “The Magicians!” This series stars Jason Ralph as Quentin Coldwater, a grad student who enrolls at a magic school. “The Magicians” is adapted from Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, which in turn was largely influenced by the Harry Potter series. In fact, Grossman’s novel has been described as “Harry Potter for adults,” and that is certainly true of its TV adaptation as well. It’s grim, it’s cynical, and it can be horrifically violent. But it’s also funny, inventive, wondrous, and visually stunning. You could even say that it’s a piece of television magic!

#8: “Eureka” (2006-12)


Telling the tale of reluctant sheriff Jack Carter and his teenage daughter Zoe after they stumble upon a secret town filled with the world’s best scientists, “Eureka” promises to deliver an exciting scientific breakthrough with practically every episode – how many shows can say that? Aside from the gizmos, gadgets and technological wonders, fans tuned in to watch the romantic tension between the Sheriff and Dr. Allison Blake, who happened to be involved with the suave Dr. Nathan Stark. Running for five seasons, “Eureka” was filled with futuristic inventions, mad scientists, and an out-of-place lawman who doesn’t understand any of it…All of which made it a surprise hit that meshed science-fiction drama with comedy.

#7: “Stargate Atlantis” (2004-09)


The very successful spinoff of the long-running “Stargate SG-1,” this Canadian/American Syfy channel adventure was less successful than its parent series but was a hit with fans nonetheless. Airing for five seasons, “Atlantis” told the current-day tale of Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and his crew as they investigated far-away planets thanks to the famous portal known as the Stargate – and, more specifically, focused their attention on the Lost City of Atlantis. A spinoff popular enough to spawn its own spinoff in “Stargate Universe,” “Atlantis” is an award-winning addition to the Syfy catalogue.

#6: “Dark Matter” (2015-17)


Love shows set on a spaceship? We’ve got another one for you! “Dark Matter” is based on a comic book series of the same name, and it follows six people with amnesia who wake up from stasis aboard an abandoned spacecraft. They don’t know who they are, and they don’t even know their own names. They subsequently name themselves One through Six and go about trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding their identities, their lives, and their unique situation. It’s kind of like “Lost,” only on a spaceship instead of a remote island. The mysteries are intriguing, the characters are complex and three-dimensional, while the story is marvelously exciting. Unfortunately, it never attained a devout following and was cancelled after three seasons.

#5: “Warehouse 13” (2009-14)


Explained by some as a combo of “The X-Files,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Moonlighting,” this show was a breakout success for Syfy, garnering huge ratings with its premiere and running for a total of five hit seasons. This record-setting dramedy follows Secret Service agents Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer on their assignment at a secret warehouse in Middle-of-Nowhere, South Dakota, which contains supernatural artifacts and gadgets from historical figures, like Lewis Carroll’s looking glass or Edgar Allen Poe’s pen. A Syfy standout not only because of its own accomplishments, “Warehouse 13” also succeeded thanks to crossover episodes it shared with other Syfy hits like “Alphas” and “Eureka.”

#4: “Farscape” (1999-2003)


An Australian/American creation of Jim Henson Productions, this odd show was notable for featuring many animatronics and puppets designed by Henson’s Creature Shop. The quirky space opera finds American astronaut John Crichton in a distant part of the galaxy via a wormhole. The lost space-man quickly finds himself caught in a conflict with the militant Peacekeepers, residing aboard a living ship called Moya while fleeing from his newfound enemies. A cult favorite with unsubstantial ratings, “Farscape” was abruptly cancelled after four seasons, leaving fans on a cliffhanger. But fortunately, an impressive fan campaign convinced Syfy to give the show’s loyal audience the conclusion they needed by way of “The Peacekeeper Wars” mini-series.

#3: “Stargate SG-1” (1997-2007)


It’s rare for a science fiction show to breach the mainstream, but “Stargate SG-1” is one of the few exceptions. Originally premiering on Showtime before switching to the Sci Fi channel halfway through its run, the series was nominated for numerous awards, was enormously popular in Europe and Australia, and spawned a devoted fan following that participated in Gatecon and the fansite GateWorld. Set after the events of the movie, the series centers on SG-1, a special ops team who defend our planet from alien threats. They explore the galaxy using the Stargates, a series of portals that allow for quick interstellar travel. The series’ relatively realistic approach, combined with its basis in ancient mythology and Arthurian legend, help elevate “Stargate SG-1” above its contemporaries and give it undeniable personality.

#2: “The Expanse” (2015-)


Some shows are instantly successful. Others take time to find their footing and an audience. When “The Expanse” debuted on Syfy in 2015, it didn’t receive a lot of attention. The reviews were relatively mixed (at least compared to the later seasons), and it seemed like no one was talking about it. As the show progressed, however, it garnered ever stronger praise from critics, began winning major awards, and generated a very strong and dedicated fanbase that helped save it from cancellation and get picked up by Amazon Prime Video. “The Expanse” boasts rich worldbuilding, marvelous visuals and realistic political intrigue. Add truly gripping character development, and you’ve got one of the best sci-fi shows of our time.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Krypton” (2018-19)
A Great Second Season Was Not This Show’s Kryptonite

“Nightflyers” (2018)
Unsettling Sci-Fi from the Mind of George R.R. Martin

“Haven” (2010-15)
A Small Town Supernatural Drama Based on a Stephen King Novel

“The Dresden Files” (2007)
A Fantasy Drama About a Private Investigator Who’s Also a Wizard

“Happy!” (2017-19)
Syfy’s Most Bizarre Comedy Will Certainly Leave Viewers Feeling Something

#1: “Battlestar Galactica” (2004-09)


Whoever says the original is always better has clearly never watched this Syfy channel remake. This version of the ‘70s classic started with a successful mini-series in 2003, before becoming a full series in 2004. Though some fans of the original were initially skeptical of the modern twist, they quickly warmed up to it, as each riveting new episode trailed the crew of the Galactica as they fled the killing machines known as the Cylons. Known for its far-reaching themes that spanned politics, religion, psychology, adventure and more, this successful remake also spawned its own prequel series “Caprica.” Needless to say, this epic space story was the perfect show for the 21st century. So say we all.
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