Science fiction, in the words of American author Ted Chiang, is “a way of using speculative or fantastic scenarios to examine the human condition.”1 It includes stories that explore how we might react to aliens arriving on Earth, ask what we’d do if we could travel through time, follow great missions of space exploration, or chronicle the rise and fall of future civilizations. Many science fiction stories promote rational, life-serving ideas such as exploration, curiosity, and freedom. Others, however, by and large promote life-destroying ideas such as nihilism and anti-industrialism.

Science fiction television is replete with examples in both categories. Some of it has been tremendously influential, inspiring people to become inventors, astronauts, writers, or simply to believe in a better future. Here are ten quality science fiction television shows that advocate life-serving ideas, particularly respect for reason, individualism, and liberty.

10. Andor (2022–present)

Star Wars was originally a story about good triumphing over evil, pitting the Rebels, who value life and freedom, against the Empire, which murders people by the millions to prolong its totalitarian rule. Later Star Wars productions have drifted from this premise and swamped the moral clarity of the original trilogy, but Andor is an outstanding return to form in this regard. A prequel to the film Rogue One, it follows gun-for-hire Cassian Andor, who is disinterested in the cause of the Rebellion—until a series of painful encounters with the Empire teaches him the true value of freedom. This is not only a story of good versus evil, but of one man discovering what it means to be good.

9. Star Trek: The Original Series (1964–1969)

The original 1960s version of Star Trek follows the crew of the USS Enterprise as they conduct a five-year mission “to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before.” It presents an optimistic future in which racism, war, and poverty are things of the past, and people work together as equals to explore the universe—a radical idea in 1960s America. Moreover, it presents a commentary on the roles of reason and emotion in a person’s life through the interplay of the three main characters: The emotional, quick-to-anger Doctor McCoy; the emotionless, rigorously “logical” Mr. Spock; and the balanced—rational yet passionate—Captain Kirk.

8. Sanctuary (2007–2012)

The Canadian sci-fi/fantasy series Sanctuary follows Helen Magnus, the head of a sanctuary for strange—and, in some cases, intelligent—life forms known as “abnormals.” . . .

Science fiction is at its best when it conveys the values of reason, curiosity, and freedom. Savor them in these ten fascinating explorations of what that future might hold.
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1. Mayumi Tsutakawa, “Ted Chiang Offers Science Fiction as a Doorway to Possible Futures,” International Examiner, June 20, 2019,

2. Tiffany Vogt, “Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne Preview Sanctuary Season 4,” The TV Addict, October 7, 2011,

3. Charlotte Higgins, “The BBC Informs, Educates and Entertains—But in What Order?” The Guardian, July 1, 2014,

4. “Tom Baker: Doctor Who,” IMDB,

5. “Equinox, Part 2,” Star Trek: Voyager, UPN, September 22, 1999.

6. “Space Fall,” Blake’s 7, BBC Television, January 9, 1978.

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