If you’re a fan of both sci-fi and all things supernatural, there’s no doubt you absolutely love TV shows like Stranger Things. This Netflix original series hit us over the Summer, quickly winning acclaim among critics and TV buffs alike. An homage to Stephen King and Steven Spielberg, the plot is set in the 80s in the small-town of Hawkins, Indiana, where all manner of – you guessed it – strange things start to happen. The story delves into plenty of familiar yet refreshingly hybridized genre tropes: illegal government experiments, a terrifying monster, a super-powered kid, a missing son, amongst other things. Everything is made all the more enjoyable thanks to a stellar cast of characters both young and old.
On the flipside, Season 1 of Stranger Things was a mere 8 short episodes. Bad news for you if you binged watched the entire series in a single day, like us!
Thankfully, we’ve put together a special list of 10 Sci-Fi Supernatural TV Shows Like Stranger Things that’ll hopefully tide you over till the next binge-worthy season. Admittedly, none of these shows are exactly like Stranger Things (that’s just not possible). However, we’re confident that you’ll thoroughly enjoy most of our suggestions, all praiseworthy in their own right.
Each of these TV shows like Stranger Things must meet the following criteria:
Selection Criteria of Our List
- This one’s obvious! The TV show must be set to a strong sci-fi or supernatural theme, preferably (but not necessarily) both.
- There should be a central overarching plot filled with intrigue and mystery that leaves you wondering “What happens next?! I NEED TO KNOW!!!”
- A strong cast of characters with core protagonists and arch-villain(s). Some may possess – or, at least be in contact with – sci-fi / supernatural powers and/or situations.
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1. Wayward Pines
We watched all of Season 1 of Wayward Pines in under three days. This took us quite by surprise, seeing as we didn’t expect much from this M. Night Shyamalan co-production. Thankfully, we found ourselves pleasantly teased by a story filled with mysteries that left us guessing just what the heck was going on (in a good way).
Akin to other TV shows like Stranger Things, Wayward Pines dishes out plenty of sci-fi tropes – with a fair dose of horror thrown in. We don’t want to give away too many plot details here for risk of spoilers. But what we can say is, like Stranger Things, the series takes place in a small-town (kinda) with characters and government-types whose true intentions may not be obvious from the start. As a plus, the Duffer Brothers – creators of Stranger Things – actually worked on a few episodes of Wayward Pines. So you know you’re in good hands.
Unfortunately, Wayward Pines’ second season went terribly… wayward, failing to live up to fans’ high expectations. Nonetheless, anyone wanting more shows like Stranger Things will likely enjoy the show’s premiering season.
Co-created by J. J. Abrams, Fringe follows a special task force set up to investigate bizarre happenings occurring across the city. Lead by straight-shooting Agent Dunham, along with mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop and his estranged son Peter, each episode gets increasingly strange as the team sets out to solve each incoming case using experimental ‘fringe’ science
Similar to various TV shows like Stranger Things, Fringe treats us with a healthy dose of “who are they, really?” characters introduced amidst broad conspiracies and cover-ups. There’s also a key sci-fi supernatural element highly reminiscent to the one found in Stranger Things (we won’t spoil it for you). The show does fall into ‘monster of the week’ territory a little. Nonetheless, this doesn’t detract much from an otherwise stellar main plot culminating into a truly bittersweet finale.
3. Twin Peaks
Ah, how could we not include David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surrealist murder-mystery masterpiece! Released way back in 1990, this cult classic follows Agent Dale Cooper as he is called in to investigate the mysterious death of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. All manner of supernatural-ish nightmares soon unfold as Cooper’s investigations bring him deeper into the seedy underbelly of crime lurking beneath the plastic smiles of small-town life.
Twin Peaks is very much a slow-burn meant to be savored – though the show does pick up pace near the end of the first season. As with other shows like Stranger Things, this classic series is all about solving (very, very) weird mysteries where nothing is as it first seems. The good news? Almost more than two and a half decades of waiting, there’s a brand new ‘revival’ season of Twin Peaks set to be released soon.
4. The Returned
The Returned tells the story of small-town folks struggling to come to grips with the sudden return of their friends and relatives. Sounds ordinary enough, right? Except… all of them have been dead for years! However, these returned love ones aren’t rotting zombies. On the contrary, they seem to possess the precise physical appearances and memories of the deceased. So the big mystery here is: are they really who they’re supposed to be? Or is there a more menacing force at work?
Similar to other sci-fi supernatural TV shows like Stranger Things, The Returned unfolds with increasingly unexplained events that will leave you guessing as to what’s truly going on. Fans of foreign TV shows may want to check out the original (and superior?) series, Les Revenants.
Lost tracks the lives of a group of plane crash victims fighting to survive on a remote tropical island. To make matters worse, the island they’re on is far from ordinary… or safe. Without giving away too much, let’s just say that head-scratching strange encounters and weird inexplicable events are a dime a dozen.
Lost has admittedly received some criticism for its over-ambitious story arc, particularly towards the series’s end. However, anyone in search of shows like Stranger Things will find themselves instantly drawn to the show’s alluring premise, fascinating cast of characters, odd supernatural-ish encounters (“What the heck was that in the forest?!”), and conspiracy theories by the truckload.
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