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5 movies and TV shows to watch if you like Starfield

Promotional art for Bethesda's Starfield.
Bethesda Softworks

Who wants to go exploring in space? It’s been over five years since Bethesda announced Starfield, but it’s finally here and players can find over 1,000 worlds to visit, with new adventures and intrigue. There’s so much to find that players have only scratched the surface so far, but it’s a brand new universe that should keep gamers busy for a long time. Yet if you need to give your hands a rest, there are a few movies and TV shows that may appeal to anyone who loves Starfield.

When making our choices for this list, we stayed away from the obvious space operas like Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Farscape. Those are some fantastic shows and films, but all of them primarily feature alien characters. Starfield is about a universe that is largely populated by humans, and so we decided that our picks should reflect a similar sensibility. These are all sci-fi stories, but they share certain themes and similarities. That’s why we believe that these are the five movies and TV shows that you should watch if you like Starfield.

The Expanse (2015-2022)

The cast of The Expanse.
Amazon Studios

Although The Expanse and Starfield are completely separate properties, they have a lot in common. Both are set in future settings where humanity has expanded into the galaxy and yet people are still at each others’ throats even decades after the last major war. The Expanse is also refreshing in that most of its drama comes from the tensions between Earth and Mars, as well as the Belters in the solar system who feel exploited by both sides.

As another potential war threatens to break out, James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) stumble across a conspiracy that may upend the entire galaxy. An alien protomolecule created by a long-dead race has been discovered, and it may prove to be more than just a weapon. It could also open the door for humanity to move even further out into the universe than ever before.

Watch The Expanse on Prime Video.

Interstellar (2014)

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathway curiously stare next to each other in a scene from Interstellar.
Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures / Paramount/Warner Bros.

If Starfield is about the height of humanity’s exploration of space, then Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is about the beginning of that journey. And there’s a much greater sense of urgency in this story because Earth is dying and humanity will go extinct if Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), and their team can’t find a new inhabitable world.

Leaving Earth behind has a high cost for Cooper, as he misses the formative years of his children, Tom (Timothée Chalamet) and Murphy “Murph” Cooper (Mackenzie Foy), both of whom grew up in his absence. As an adult, Murph (Jessica Chastain) becomes a scientist whose keen mind may be able to solve the puzzle of how to relocate humanity. But first, Cooper will have to find a way to reconnect with Murph despite the gulf of time and space between them.

Watch Interstellar on Paramount+.

Firefly (2002) & Serenity (2005)

The cast of Firefly.
20th Century Studios TV

The backstory of Starfield includes a war between the two major factions, the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective, two decades in the past. Firefly also takes place in the shadow of an interstellar civil war between the Alliance and the rebels who want to live free from Earth’s control. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), was on the losing side, but he never gave up on the dream of living in space on his own terms. That’s why he assembled a starship crew of like-minded people including Zoe (Gina Torres) and Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite), the mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), and a companion named Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin).

Mal’s attempt to stay under the Alliance’s radar is upended when he reluctantly shields Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his sister, River (Summer Glau), from nefarious agents who experimented on her. The crew of the ship is also joined by Sheppard Derrial Book (Ron Glass), a man whose past may be even more checkered than Mal’s. Firefly did a masterful job of exploring the drama between this crew in its one and only season on Fox. Thankfully, the feature film, Serenity, allowed these characters to get some closure on the big screen.

Watch Firefly on Hulu. Rent or buy Serenity on Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, and Apple TV+.

Foundation (2021-Present)

One character pilots a ship as two characters stand behind in Foundation.
Apple / Apple TV+

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels are a bit dry, but they’re full of big ideas that have influenced decades of science fiction stories that came after it. Apple TV+’s adaptation of the books has livened up the story quite a bit, but the premise remains intact. In a universe under the control of the Galactic Empire, mathematician Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) has created psychohistory, an innovative way to accurately predict the future. And what Seldon sees is the fall of the empire and a dark age for humanity.

Seldon can’t prevent the eventual end of the empire, but he does predict that the dark age can be shortened if he and his followers dare to defy the empire. This quest falls to Seldon’s protégée, Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell), and her daughter, Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey). But even now that they’ve joined forces, the odds remain stacked against them.

Watch Foundation on Apple TV+.

Stargate Universe (2009-2011)

The cast of Stargate Universe.
MGM Television

There’s a strong argument that could be made for the Battlestar Galactica reboot’s inclusion on this list. But Stargate Universe feels a lot more like Starfield especially when the crew of the Destiny desperately searches for planets that can replenish their food and water supplies. This show was clearly influenced by BSG‘s more serious approach to sci-fi, which stands in contrast to Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis‘ lighter touch. And yet the tonal shift really works for this show without divorcing itself from the two series that came before it.

Robert Carlyle leads the cast as Nicholas Rush, a manipulative scientist who uses a powerful stargate to open a portal to an ancient starship called Destiny in order to escape an alien attack. Everett Young (Louis Ferreira) is supposed to be in charge of this group, but he finds it difficult to rein in Rush. A pre-Mandalorian Ming-Na Wen has a supporting role on the show as Camile Wray, one of the civilians trapped on the Destiny. But most of the focus falls on the younger members of the crew, including Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith), Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque), Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman), Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith), and Eli Wallace (David Blue), a genius who may hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of Destiny.

Watch Stargate Universe on Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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