There’s only one place where you can get aliens, dinosaurs, space combats, robot rebellions, time travel, and ultra-advanced technology hacking. It’s the incredible world of science fiction! This infinitely creative genre has been an immense hit on the big screen. But where do you get your sci-fi film fix if you want to watch from your home? Well, look no further because Netflix is a huge repository of films and shows of the genre. Here are the 25 best sci-fi movies on Netflix that you should watch.
Inside This Article:
- What Is Considered a Sci-Fi Movie?
- 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix You Should Watch
- The Martian (2015)
- I Am Legend (2007)
- Ready Player One (2018)
- Inception (2010)
- The Hunger Games Series (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
- The Jurassic Park Trilogy (1993, 1997, 2001)
- Jurassic World (2015)
- Bird Box (2018)
- Aliens (1986)
- Snowpiercer (2013)
- The Spider-Man Trilogy (2002, 2004, 2007)
- World War Z (2013)
- The Matrix (1999)
- Matrix Reloaded (2001)
- Matrix Revolutions (2003)
- Transformers (2007)
- Planet of the Apes (2001)
- Godzilla (1998)
- Annihilation (2018)
- Hello World (2019)
- The Divergent Series (2014, 2015, 2016)
- Man of Steel (2013)
- Space Sweepers (2021)
- X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
- Independence Day (1996)
- Sci-Fi Movies: Sub-Genres
- How to Get Netflix to List Sci-Fi Movies
- Is Netflix the Best Streaming Service to Get Your Sci-Fi Fix?
- Final Thoughts on the Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix
What Is Considered a Sci-Fi Movie?
Science fiction typically explores imaginative ideas that revolve around the question, “What if?” This is why it’s also referred to as speculative fiction. It explores what’s possible as opposed to fantasy, which deals with the impossible, although the two genres often cross. This is why a lot of fantasy TV shows are also categorized under sci-fi. It also often crosses other genres like horror and superhero fiction.
Sci-fi movies take us to adventures—from galaxies far far away to underwater worlds and all dimensions in between. But it can also take us to a version of Earth that’s been disintegrated or to a reality where the world as we know it is not even real, like in The Matrix. The first scenario is often present in dystopian sci-fi and the second is common in action-adventure sci-fi. To create an easier distinction, it would be helpful to know some of science fiction’s sub-genres.
25 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix You Should Watch
This list also includes sci-fi movies based on books, video games, and TV shows. It includes both animated and live-action films, classics, and modern sci-fi. It also includes some Netflix originals.
1. The Martian (2015)
You know the running joke: Matt Damon always needs to be rescued in his movies. You can say the same in The Martian, but that doesn’t make the film any less entertaining! Here, he plays an astronaut stranded on Mars but has been presumed dead for some time. He struggles to survive on the red planet but because he is also a botanist, he devises some ingenious ways to make it back alive.
2. I Am Legend (2007)
A plague has wiped almost all of humanity and the rest who’ve been left behind have been turned into some superhuman monsters. Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a military scientist who is also the sole survivor in a deserted New York City. He fights not only to survive but also to find a cure.
3. Ready Player One (2018)
A film to feed your ’90s nostalgia, Ready Player One will take you back to the golden age of home video games. It’s definitely one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. Society is now living most of its lives inside a virtual reality called OASIS, stopping only to eat, drink, and take care of other biological needs. When the creator of OASIS dies, people discover a challenge he’s made for the gamers. Inside this virtual world are Easter Eggs which, when completed, will give the winner control of the world and an incredible fortune.
4. Inception (2010)
Not only is Inception one of the best sci-fi films, but it is also one of the best hacker movies on Netflix. This movie is highly mentally stimulating and is also action-filled. It stars Elliot Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Leonardo Dicaprio, making up a team of extraordinary thieves. They steal secrets inside the minds of people. Their last job: plant an idea within the subconscious of their final target.
5. The Hunger Games Series (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
That’s right—the entire trilogy including parts one and two of the last installment of The Hunger Games is available on Netflix! This trilogy is a great example of dystopian sci-fi. Each year, two teenagers from each of the 12 districts of Panem are randomly selected to fight each other in an arena. This is called The Hunger Games and only one victor lives.
Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, volunteers in place of her sister during her first time in the arena. But as it happens, she and her friend, Peetah Melark seem to keep finding themselves in the same predicament; as seen in the sequel, Catching Fire, and the third in the series, Mockingjay, divided into two parts.
6. The Jurassic Park Trilogy (1993, 1997, 2001)
What’s more sci-fi than a top-secret theme park teeming with cloned dinosaurs? One of Steven Spielberg’s finest works, Jurassic Park is definitely one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix and of all time! Its sequel, The Lost World, as well as the third movie, Jurassic Park III, are both available to watch on Netflix.
It starts with a paleontologist visiting the theme park with his family. But as most theme park visits in sci-fi films go, this is bound to be an out-of-this-world trip. One power failure is enough to make everything in the park go haywire; the dinosaurs run loose and all the work that the team of scientists has put into the project is at risk of being put to waste.
In The Lost World, the park gets another visit, this time from a research team. They are tasked to study an island inside it. And in the 2001 installment, the island gets an unexpected aerial tour which ultimately takes a turn. Once again, it’s a battle for survival between visitors and inhabitants.
7. Jurassic World (2015)
We’ve separated this movie from The Jurassic Park trilogy since it came out over two decades after the first one and quite unexpectedly. It still has the same feel and theme as the first movie but this time, the dinosaurs are getting even stronger and smarter. They have created a genetically modified hybrid which—you’ve guessed it—escapes!
The dinosaur threatens everyone as it goes on a killing spree and only Owen, played by Chris Pratt has the remotest idea on how to remedy the situation.
8. Bird Box (2018)
Here’s a Netflix original that has become quite a sensation when it came out. The movie definitely borders more on horror but the phenomenon driving the story poses medical and scientific questions. There has been an ominous presence that drives the people it comes in contact with to suicide. Is it a virus? Is it a shared psychosis? No one has a clear answer since there are no “survivors” to interview.
Five years after this mayhem started, a mother and her two kids set off to find a safe haven… if there’s any left.
9. Aliens (1986)
One of the best and most popular classic sci-fi movies, Aliens is available to stream on Netflix. Officer Ripley has been asleep in a fugue for over 50 years in her spaceship. Before that, it was under attack by vicious space monsters. She wakes up with the urge to warn whoever will listen about the predators. But who will believe her? She ends up joining a fleet of marines on their mission on the planet where she first came in contact with one of the said alien predators.
The franchise also spawned one of the most immersive horror games with the same name.
10. Snowpiercer (2013)
In this action-packed sci-fi movie, the world is now covered in snow after a climate-change experiment fails and messes up the entire climate system of the planet. This kills off all of humanity save for a few who have boarded the Snowpiercer train. The train is an invention of the great Mr. Wilford. He designed it to be so fast that it can travel around and around its route, year after year, to provide energy and heat to its passengers.
Only the richest of the rich are originally permitted to board this train but some non-elite members of society have made it inside. Directed by Bong Joon Ho, Snowpiercer is a glaring social commentary and a thrilling action-filled sci-fi film!
11. The Spider-Man Trilogy (2002, 2004, 2007)
Yes, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is available to stream on Netflix. So, if you’ve missed any of these amazing movies before, you can now catch them at home! All three movies star Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Marvel fans will truly love the platform for all its superhero sci-fi offerings. The Spider-Man franchise is just one of many.
12. World War Z (2013)
This movie is probably one of the best among those that cross the zombie and sci-fi genres. If you think you’ve seen the scariest zombies in other films or video games, think again! The zombies in this film are fast and incredibly evolved. It stars Brad Pitt as the UN employee Gerry Lane, who is on a mission to find a cure to stop this zombie pandemic. Does humanity stand a chance?
13. The Matrix (1999)
“What is real? How do you define real?” So goes the quote from one of the best sci-fi movies ever, and it’s available to stream on Netflix! Even if you’ve seen it before, The Matrix is the kind of movie you can watch over and over, and it will always be exciting.
What would you do if you find out that the world as you know it is just a simulation? That is what Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, discovers after being “woken up” from the world created by robots. Can he really do his part to liberate the others?
14. Matrix Reloaded (2001)
The fight against the army of intelligent machines continues. This time, Neo is beginning to accept his fate as “the one.” This movie is action-packed with more bullet-bending, kung-fu, and lots of guns. Neo must come to the source to save humanity from total destruction. But in the end, he has to make an impossible choice.
15. Matrix Revolutions (2003)
It’s round three of the revolution between humans and robots. Neo needs to think of a more creative way to win the war and save Zion, the only human city in the real world. To make matters worse, the infamous Agent Smith would not leave our hero alone. What kind of schemes does he have up his sleeves? This movie is one fun ride and is undoubtedly one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.
16. Transformers (2007)
How about robots that transform into cars? Based on the classic animated show, this movie features amazing computer-generated imagery (CGI) to make our beloved Autobots come to life! The Decepticons are still out there, trying to control the Earth’s resources, and a young man named Sam Witwicky holds the key to stop them. Watch Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and Megatron, among other Transformers, in a live-action, incredibly thrilling film!
17. Planet of the Apes (2001)
This futuristic sci-fi film will take you to a planet dominated by evolved, talking apes. The planet where the astronaut, Leo Davidson crashes his spaceship. He also meets other humans and an activist chimpanzee who take him with them to be part of their rebellion.
18. Godzilla (1998)
One of the best sci-fi movies in the late 90s, Godzilla is available to stream on Netflix. A giant reptilian monster is on the loose in New York. Who would save the city but a team of unlikely heroes? Among them, an earthworm scientist played by Matthew Broderick.
19. Annihilation (2018)
Another Netflix original, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman where she plays a biologist who goes on a secret expedition in a bizarre region that’s been sealed by the government. In this place, the laws of nature don’t apply. How dangerous can this mission be?
20. Hello World (2019)
This anime is a hidden gem and is one of the best animated sci-fi movies on Netflix. Those who have seen it will say that it’s a must-watch. A high school lad meets a much older man who claims to be his future self. The older version of him says that he has hacked into their past in order to save their first sweetheart.
21. The Divergent Series (2014, 2015, 2016)
Where does a young woman fit in a world that’s already divided into factions? Tris decides that she is a Divergent and discovers that there is a plot against people like her. She joins the Four on a mission to find out what really makes Divergents dangerous in order to save herself and the others. The sequels: Insurgent and Allegiant are also available to stream on Netflix.
22. Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel is one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix depicting our beloved Superman, played by Henry Cavill. His home planet, Krypton is about to be destroyed. In order to save him and preserve their race, his parents send him, merely an infant, to Earth. His craft lands on a farmer’s land, he gets discovered by the humans living there, and the rest is history.
23. Space Sweepers (2021)
This movie will take you to the year 2092. A crew of young misfits collects space debris aboard a ship called The Victory. In their misadventures, they inadvertently come across a secret humanoid robot that has destructive powers. Unable to resist curiosity, they soon find themselves in the middle of a risky trade deal.
24. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
All your favorite mutants are in one film, set in the 80s. Professor X and the young X-Men must fight Magneto and Apocalypse to save humanity’s future. It is said that Apocalypse is the most powerful mutant among them. Can they stop him and Magneto with their powers combined?
25. Independence Day (1996)
One of the most popular alien movies of all time and one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix, Independence Day follows the story of a pilot and a goofy scientist. They must come up with a plan to save humanity from an alien invasion. They have one goal and that is to destroy Earth.
Sci-Fi Movies: Sub-Genres
The world of science fiction is rich and complex. It has dozens of sub-genres and each is unique and interesting. Here are some of them.
A piece of literature or film is considered hard sci-fi when technology takes the center stage in the story. It is when the scientific ideas are explored in detail. In these types of films, character development sometimes suffers but not always. Some hard sci-fi films also have rich characters like in The Matrix Trilogy, all of which are listed above.
In soft sci-fi, technology and scientific concepts are more in the background. These stories are character-driven but the scientific concepts are still very important to the plot.
As the name suggests, these stories are set in space but that is not the only qualifier for a work of fiction to be considered as a space opera. Literature and films under this genre have stories that span in a long series with overarching plots. They involve travel across planets and the plot is large-scale or epic, meaning the fate of the world or universe rests on a set of characters or series of events. Common themes that are usually incorporated in space operas are politics, war, rebellion, and large explorations.
Not all movies with aliens in them involve an invasion plot. That’s why this is a genre on its own. These stories also often depict an interaction between the human government and an alien species, kept secret from the public. War of the Worlds is a great example of this sub-genre.
This is also sometimes called space Western. These stories have settings that are similar to that of the American West. You might imagine space cowboys, complete with hats and guns, and that is not far from the truth. It’s about travelers exploring hostile landscapes where locals have their own agendas.
This sci-fi genre is one that is often blended with alternate history. A lot of the machinery and aesthetics are taken from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It focuses on the age of steam—where computers and other machines are powered largely by steam and cogs.
Likewise, cyberpunk also features machinery but instead of focusing on steam-powered engines, it delves more into the science of cybernetics. This is the idea that nature is a series of mechanical systems. Cyberpunk explores these technologies alongside biological systems. These stories often have characters like cyborgs.
Not all superhero movies are automatically science fiction. Some superheroes, like Wonder Woman, have gotten their powers or extraordinary abilities from gods. This makes them more fantasy than sci-fi. Another example is Thor who is a Norse god himself. Stories featuring characters with superpowers that came from scientific experiments or phenomena are considered sci-fi. Spider-Man, which is listed as one of our best picks for sci-fi movies on Netflix, got his power after being bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider. This puts him in the sci-fi category.
The Netflix original film, Bird Box, is an example of this. Its main goal is to scare or frighten the audience but the sci-fi aspect is still in the background. Other sci-fi horror films include some zombie movies like World War Z and Train to Busan.
The most popular sub-genre of science fiction, sci-fi fantasy, explores both the impossible and the possible. These are stories set in futuristic worlds or in space, mixed with magic or magical realism. Star Wars is a great example of sci-fi fantasy. Even though the setting is mainly sci-fi, it still has elements of fantasy such as some higher power, referred to as “the force.”
Where would science fiction be without the concept of time travel? This sub-genre often crosses alternate history and usually involves parallel universes.
This is when historical events within a fictional story are “altered” or take a different course. As mentioned above, these stories often involve time travel as a way for the characters to get to that particular point in time.
Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
You’ve probably seen more of these than you realize. It’s the end of the world or after the end of the world. It involves the decline of the Earth or the human race. There are one or a few survivors. What happens then?
Dystopian and Utopian Fiction
Dystopian fiction depicts a very oppressive society. Morality is perverted as in The Hunger Games where kids are sent to kill each other in an arena. Utopian fiction, on the other hand, has a setting that is nearly perfect.
How to Get Netflix to List Sci-Fi Movies
If you want to find similar films to those on our list of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix, you can simply go to the sci-fi movie category.
- When you log in to Netflix, select your profile name if there is more than one on the account.
- From the top menu, click on Movies.
- Once you are on the Movies page, click on Genres beside Movies and select Sci-Fi from the dropdown.
- You will now see several movies under different sci-fi sub-genres.
- Netflix will also recommend other sci-fi films based on the ones you’ve watched in a separate panel.
Is Netflix the Best Streaming Service to Get Your Sci-Fi Fix?
Netflix may not be the best all-in-all streaming service but it is top-notch when it comes to sci-fi content! You can search competitor websites for the movies listed above and you won’t even find half of them. It is a huge repository of the genre, with movies ranging from the classics to modern blockbusters. Plus, it includes Netflix original sci-fi films, which have proven to be quite excellent!
Below are other reasons why Netflix is able to provide plenty of high-quality sci-fi shows and movies.
How Does Netflix Get License to Movies and Shows?
Aside from partnering with other content providers to get streaming rights, Netflix also acquires exclusive rights to some content. This is why there is a wide variety of shows and movies on the platform.
How Long Do Movies and Shows Last on Netflix?
Netflix does not outright say how long a show or a movie will remain on the platform. But if you are a regular viewer, you may notice that little notification from time to time. It might say that you can watch a particular show or film until this particular date. That means the show or film is leaving Netflix soon. This is because a license for a title is expiring or there may be seasonal factors involved.
The great thing is you will almost always know when a show or movie is about to leave. That at least gives you a heads up to watch them now so you can make the most of your subscription.
Final Thoughts on the Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix
Netflix truly is a great place to get your sci-fi fix. It has a great collection of films and shows of the genre, plus it’s a great value for money. You have the option to download movies from Netflix, you can create multiple profiles in the higher tier subscriptions, and most of all, the platform has a huge selection of shows and movies of every genre you can think of! And as you’ve seen, it’s also very generous when it comes to including all parts in a movie series. So, take your pick from our list above, and happy watching!