Netflix’s slate of sci-fi programming in September have a whole lot to offer beyond new seasons of popular television series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead. So we’re really reaching when we also recommend The Lake House as a pseudo-sci-fi movie that’s “so bad it’s good.” At least there’s some essential viewing to be had from movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Her, and Ex Machina, right?
If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this September, here are the 11 best pieces of science fiction on Netflix, with a focus on new, exciting, and original shows and movies.
11. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
The soon-to-be abandoned oldest TV child of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, will end after its upcoming seventh season. The superhero spy program originally spun off from the very first Avengers movie, starring Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson. The first season in 2013 struggled to feel relevant with its small stakes and lack of superheroes — but that was only in the beginning.
Over time, the show carved out a bold niche in the MCU by adding beloved characters like Quake and Ghost Rider into the mix. Though it never tied directly into the MCU as much as many fans probably would have liked, it still makes for a fun superhero show — perhaps the only notable one on television that isn’t in The CW’s DC Universe.
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 6 will be on Netflix as of September 1.
10. The Walking Dead
Soon, all nine complete seasons of The Walking Dead will be on Netflix, where they’ll probably remain until the end of time, bolstering the platform’s growing library of decent zombie content. Say what you will about lackluster ratings and dwindling quality over time, but nobody can argue against how crucial The Walking Dead is to the zombie genre. The series debuted just as zombie saturation peaked in the zeitgeist. Nevertheless, it has continued to boast some of the best ratings on television.
Season 9, which chomps its way onto Netflix September 1, explores the aftermath of Season 8’s “All Out War” and most notable includes the departure of Andrew Lincoln from the show, who had played protagonist Rick Grimes since the very beginning. He’s supposedly getting some kind of spin-off movie, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
- The Walking Dead Season 9 will be on Netflix as of September 1.
9. Wu Assassins, Season 1
At the cross-section of sci-fi and action fantasy lies Wu Assassins, a new Netflix original magical kung fu series with an almost entirely Asian ensemble cast.
In it, one young San Francisco Chinatown chef discovers he’s the avatar of the ancient “Wu Assassin.” He’s destined to take down a mysterious criminal organization that boasts its own supernatural powers. With a hip-hop track boasting the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wu Assassins has a distinct style reminiscent of the Fast & Furious series with supernatural elements.
8. The 100, Season 6
One of The CW’s best non-Arrowverse programs, The 100 is a veritable YA dystopian drama with a hard sci-fi premise. Following the nuclear apocalypse, a portion of humanity took to a series of connected space stations to survive the radiation. Almost a century later, supplies are diminishing, and a group of 100 delinquent children is sent down to test survivability on Earth’s surface.
That premise doesn’t sound sustainable for six full seasons, and yet The 100 continues to thrive. Season 6 ended in early August and hit Netflix a week later, exploring a new life for the violent cast of characters on a brand-new planet. Will the people adapt to a drastically new lifestyle? Hint: Nope.
7. Stranger Things
‘80s nostalgia never looked as cool as it does in Netflix’s Stranger Things, a sci-fi dark fantasy series set firmly within the decade of arcades and power ballads. Cold War conspiracies unfurl in the otherwise generic town of Hawkins, Indiana. There, in a government lab where questionable men tried to weaponize a young psychic, they ripped open a portal to a dark dimension called the Upside Down.
Stranger Things follows a broad cast of characters, mainly a group of young D&D-loving kids who get swept up into an adventure that will see them fighting for their loves against a demonic new enemy.
In Season 3, they discover that the sinister Mind Flayer from the Upside Down lingers in the real world, exerting its influence in a way that could be more dangerous than ever before.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
One of the most famous and beloved anime of all time landed on Netflix in late June. For the first time since its debut in 1995, all 26 original Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes are now available to stream in one place, along with The End of Evangelion film and the bonus extended episode EVANGELION: DEATH (TRUE)². Altogether, the series is a must-watch for any anime fan.
This complex sci-fi universe grapples with heady philosophical and existential concepts in familiar mecha anime trappings: a group of high schoolers must pilot giant robots to fight monstrosities, but it takes an enormous toll on them mentally and emotionally. Neon Genesis Evangelion tweaks the mecha and slice-of-life genres to explore how religion influences culture, particularly in a society on the brink of apocalypse. Perhaps more importantly, this hugely influential sci-fi epic established tropes you’ll recognize from across anime and even live-action sci-fi.
Two companion films, The End of Evangelion and EVANGELION: DEATH (TRUE)², are also available on Netflix.
5. The Lake House
Hear me out: The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock may have a measly 36 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — and it’s more of a melodramatic romance than sci-fi or anything else — but the weird time travel adjacent plot set-up is compelling enough to be thought-provoking. It also lands squarely in the “so bad it’s kinda good and fun to laugh at category.”
Sandra and Keanu live in the same lake house, but she’s in 2006 and he’s in 2004. They begin corresponding via letters through an unexplained mechanism and fall in love. A really cute dog also gets involved. The story is goofy and heartfelt, and the chemistry these actors bring to their roles is charming. Watch this one late at night when you’re settling in for some “Netflix and Chill.”
4. V for Vendetta
Everybody’s comparing the final Joker trailer to The King of Comedy, but nobody’s talking about how the activist revolution Joker seems to inspire feels deeply reminiscent of V for Vendetta, one of the most important action films of the early 2000s. If Joker is an agent of chaos and madness seeking to destroy the world that tortured him for years, then the titular V in V for Vendetta exemplifies how heroes rise above trauma to build a new world — villains just want to burn it all down.
In this dystopian political thriller fueled with sci-fi elements, a masked vigilante and anarchist freedom fighter seeks to undermine the neo-fascist totalitarian regime that has taken over the U.K. Though labeled a terrorist, his controversial — and yes, often terribly violent actions — inspire a much-needed revolution in an action-packed and thoughtful adventure.
3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
We’ve gotten more Spider-Man movies in the last 20 years than any other superhero, yet somehow Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was able to do something surprising and totally fresh. Spider-Verse functions as an origin story for Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic teenager who’s bitten by a different radioactive spider than the one that gave Peter Parker his powers.
Netflix just added this Oscar-winning animated feature in June, and it’s a must-watch for all superhero fans, especially for its exploration of the science behind the multiverse.
In Her, the always-excellent Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a disembodied A.I. voice — a hyper-advanced Alexa who sounds like Scarlett Johansson and can learn at an exponential rate. Set in near-future Los Angeles, Her explores the depression of a sensitive guy looking to fill an emotional void following the end of a long-term relationship.
What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze with nothing short of delicate tenderness. Her won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards, making it a must-see for any fan of science fiction.
1. Ex Machina
A programmer wins a contest to visit his company’s brilliant billionaire founder on his remote compound. As it turns out, that founder’s been developing an A.I. with a realistic synthetic body and needs someone else to help … test it. Ex Machina goes from quirky to strange to creepy to horrifying with enough cerebral tension to make you question whether you’re a human yourself.
I didn’t know what “edge of your seat” really meant in terms of thrillers until I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Anyone who enjoyed Alex Garland’s Annihilation will probably like this, his previous feature, even more — it’s a master class in pacing and tension for any fan of good film.