9 of the Best TV Space Operas You Can Dive Into Right Now

As the poet said, space may be the final frontier, but it’s made in a Hollywood basement. And Hollywood has given us plenty of space to explore, with faraway worlds full of thrilling adventures, space warfare, exciting characters and their even more exciting relationships. If you’ve found yourself in the mood for some of the finest made-for-your-TV space operas you can dive into right now, then you’ve come to the right place.

This article will showcase a number of outstanding TV shows of the space opera variety that have stood the test of time and can provide you with plenty of entertainment. Due to the article’s nature, the shows listed here are more entry-level and can be enjoyed by just about anyone, regardless of their background and previous interest in space-related topics. Which basically means, don’t expect to see deep cuts like Lexx or Blake’s 7 here. If you’re looking for those, chances are you know your bird-of-prey from your warbird and don’t really need our help.

In case you foresee a lot of free time in your near future and just want to watch it all, here’s a quick list of the shows (and franchises) we heartily recommend and will be discussing in more detail below:

  • Star Trek
  • Andromeda
  • The Orville
  • Babylon 5
  • Farscape
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Expanse
  • Dark Matter/Killjoys
  • Firefly

Star Trek

  • Focus: Exploration/Diplomacy
  • Style: Hopeful/Philosophical
  • Length: Hundreds of episodes and a dozen movies across multiple shows

This is the big one. At its core, Star Trek (IMDb) is a show about exploring space, meeting new alien cultures, and learning the value of cooperation and striving toward a better future. And the great thing about Star Trek is just how much there is of it. Having begun in 1966, Star Trek is still going, with plenty of TV shows, movies, video games and other tie-in properties. So no matter what your preferences are, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy at least some Trek. Be it the stoic and imaginative Original Series, the endlessly clever Next Generation, the almost standalone Voyager, the darker Deep Space Nine, the more grounded Enterprise, or even one of the modern Paramount Treks like Discovery – there’s something in there for everyone.

star trek tos poster


  • Focus: Adventure/Crew Dynamics/Rebuilding Civilized Society
  • Style: Pulpy/Gritty
  • Length: 5 seasons

Also known as Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda (IMDb), this show is based on some unused material left by Gene Roddenberry – the visionary creator of Star Trek – after his death. If you watch Andromeda and are at least somewhat familiar with Star Trek, it shouldn’t take you long to notice certain similarities between the settings. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that even though they’re not officially connected, Andromeda explores what would happen to the world of Trek should the United Federation of Planets, so central to those shows, ever collapse. This makes it a great “what if” scenario.

andromeda poster

The Orville

  • Focus: Exploration/Crew Dynamics
  • Style: Comedy/Action
  • Length: 3 seasons

If you keep pulling on the thread of shows with a strong connection to Star Trek but not officially part of the franchise, you arrive at The Orville (IMDb) – a show that’s Star Trek in all but name, infused with plenty of humor thanks to its creator, Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame. When it premiered in 2017, The Orville was seen by many as a better alternative to Discovery – the current installment of Star Trek at the time – that felt much closer to the spirit of the original Trek even despite its numerous juvenile jokes. Thanks to the fact that MacFarlane is a long-time Trek fan (he even had a bit part in Star Trek: Enterprise), The Orville can be enjoyed even by those who don’t hold his other creative output in particularly high regard.

the orville poster

Babylon 5

  • Focus: Politics/Metaphysics
  • Style: Story-driven/Philosophical
  • Length: 5 seasons

If you have to pick just one show from this list, Babylon 5 (IMDb) is the One. In our expert opinion, it stands head and shoulders above its competition when it comes to storytelling, characters, and worldbuilding. It was one of the pioneers of combining episodic storytelling with a big overarching plot which results in a much tighter viewing experience. J. M. Straczynski’s (the show’s creator) ability to seed the seemingly standalone episodes with hints, important plot developments, and foreshadowing rivals that of Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan. The rivalry between Londo Mollari and G’Kar should be studied by TV writers everywhere as the masterpiece it is. The show is even believed by many to have a real-life curse placed on it, resulting in its actors meeting their demise in a rather alarmingly untimely manner.

The only major blemish on Babylon 5’s otherwise spotless record is the fact that the show’s creators believed it was getting canceled after 4 seasons, forcing them to scrap their 5-season plan and cram a lot of developments into a handful of season 4 episodes, only to then get renewed for a final season. This led to a fairly uneven and rushed season 5 only saved by its outstanding finale. Another thing to keep in mind is, unlike with Star Trek, you should treat all Babylon 5 spin-offs and connected media as your personal Z’ha’dum and not go there. Trust us, no matter how much you like the original show, none of them are worth your time.

babylon 5 poster


  • Focus: Adventure/Crew Dynamics
  • Style: Pulpy/Story-driven
  • Length: 4 seasons and a mini-series

At first glance, Farscape (IMDb) may seem like Star Trek with serial numbers filed off. Once you get into it, though, you’ll quickly realize that it’s anything but. It’s a show that’s primarily about adventure. Its characters are reckless in a very entertaining way. And thanks to the efforts of the Jim Henson Company, it even has two puppets among its main cast that are played so well, you’ll keep forgetting that they’re actually puppets. It also has a contemporary Earth human as its protagonist, which adds an air of irreverence and a layer of relatable comedy absent from most other shows like this. And while the show’s first two seasons have their moments but aren’t too spectacular, once you get to season 3, you’ll be treated to what’s easily the finest single season of sci-fi ever put to film.

And once you’ve finished Farscape, you might also want to know that two of its leads, Ben Browder and Claudia Black, later reunited in the later seasons of Stargate SG-1 – a show that isn’t quite a space opera but should still get an honorary mention on this list as one of the finest sci-fi series out there.

farscape poster

Battlestar Galactica

  • Focus: Survival/Intrigue
  • Style: Gritty/Dramatic
  • Length: A mini-series and 4 seasons

You might be surprised, but enjoying Battlestar Galactica (IMDb) does not require you to also enjoy either bears or beets. That is of course if we’re talking the 2004-2009 show and the 2003 mini-series that preceded it. The show’s earlier iterations should only be approached by weathered fans of the genre and those curious about sci-fi history. The, relatively at this point, modern show on the other hand will excite you with endless tense moments, constant guesswork as to who can be trusted, and some very weighty and bulky space battles. If you stick around till the later seasons, be advised that the show takes a bit of a metaphysical turn and starts dealing with more esoteric topics, which results in a finale that’s far from everyone’s cup of tea.

battlestar galactica poster

The Expanse

  • Focus: Politics/Crew Dynamics
  • Style: Gritty/Action
  • Length: 6 seasons

Continuing with the trend of the bulkier and grimier sci-fi is The Expanse (IMDb). This show can be considered the Game of Thrones of space operas. Both in its style and the fact that it’s based on a series of novels. Many of its fans praise its realism and complex politics. While some viewers initially bounce off the first few episodes and the hard-to-like detective character, those who stick with it will be rewarded with a deep, well-paced narrative that takes the viewer from Earth to the edges of the solar system. If you’re looking for a show set in space that’s the most down-to-earth, this is the one.

the expanse poster

Dark Matter/Killjoys

  • Focus: Adventure/Crew Dynamics
  • Style: Pulpy/Action
  • Length: 3 seasons for Dark Matter, 5 seasons for Killjoys

Technically, Dark Matter (IMDb) and Killjoys (IMDb) are two completely separate series. Dark Matter is a show about a group of people who find themselves stuck on a spaceship with no memories but dangerous pasts. And Killjoys is all about a group of bounty hunters who just try to make a living but end up involved in a major “chosen one” style narrative. But due to the fact that both these shows started airing at the same time on SyFy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel), you’d be hard-pressed to find a science fiction enthusiast who watched one and not the other. Both of these shows know exactly what they are and aren’t trying to be anything but. They offer plenty of exciting adventures and likable characters. And some days, that’s all you need.


  • Focus: Crew Dynamics/Dialogue
  • Style: Space Western/Comedy
  • Length: 14 episodes and a movie

Including Firefly (IMDb) on this list feels like cheating, as you can’t exactly get lost in it in any meaningful way. After all, the show merely had 14 episodes and a sequel movie. In a way, that works to its advantage, as it didn’t get a chance to get bad or boring. The 14 episodes we did get are all gas no breaks – clever, well-made, and masterfully acted. And then the movie, while it doesn’t answer every question, at least provides a conclusion of sorts. If you want something quick and good, and the idea of space cowboys excites you, Firefly should be your choice.

firefly poster
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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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