By the 1980s, science fiction had become a much less niche proposition. Several major movies had proven that it was possible to make popular versions of these stories, and TV followed suit shortly after that.
While there were several immensely popular sci-fi series airing during this period, a few also fell under the radar. These three shows are perfect examples of why sci-fi storytelling became much more popular in the 1980s across a wide array of different formats, whether it was in the U.S. or the U.K.
A great example of a British sci-fi comedy, Red Dwarf ran for a staggering 12 seasons, and followed the adventures of the last man on Earth and his various companions. The show is immensely popular in the U.K., and new seasons still debut there every once in a while.
With clever writing and an enduring premise, Red Dwarf is both bleak and endlessly charming. It has the kind of cynicism that has often been a definitive feature of British science fiction. It may not be quite as adventure-oriented as its American counterparts, but that’s part of what has allowed Red Dwarf to endure.
Red Dwarf is streaming for free on Tubi.
If you’re looking for something short and sweet, V may fit the bill perfectly. The show was only a two-part miniseries when it originally aired in 1983, Following an invasion of Earth by humanoid aliens, the series tracks the slow realization that the aliens who claim to come in peace are in fact much more interested in becoming a conquering army.
The series ends on an admirably bleak note, with the alien conquerors dominating Earth, and a band of resistance fighters looking to space for an answer. It’s a nice, compact watch, and one that was a major deal when it was first released.
V is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.
The kind of sci-fi series that has become more popular in retrospect than it was when it actually aired, Quantum Leap follows a scientist who finds himself traveling through time, hopping into a different body in a different period for every episode.
The show was light, science fiction joy, and it was exactly the kind of show that most people loved watching just to see what would happen next. The stakes are almost always incredibly low, but the charm of Quantum Leap is the unique adventure that comes with each and every episode.
Quantum Leap is streaming on Peacock.
- 3 great Christmas action movies you should watch right now
- 3 best Prime Video movies to watch for Thanksgiving
- 3 best Hulu shows to watch for Thanksgiving
- 3 movies leaving Prime Video in November you have to watch
- 3 movies and TV shows like the hit Max series Julia you should watch right now