If you’re looking for more shows like Netflix’s Altered Carbon, look no further.
The first season of Altered Carbon has been available on Netflix for a few weeks now, and whether you binged it all in a weekend or tried to space it out, you’re likely finished with the season now and looking for more sci-fi content to fill the void.
In case you haven’t noticed, the last few years have been pretty good to genre fans, with more science fiction movies, books and TV series than anyone could consume in a lifetime. So we thought we’d cherry-pick a few series, both old and new, that feel thematically similar to Altered Carbon.
Ranging from some of the biggest sci-fi shows on air right now to (very) hidden gems, hopefully this list of shows like Altered Carbon has something for everyone.
‘Dark Matter’ (2015-2017)
First, let me just state for the record that Dark Matter was one of the most underrated sci-fi shows on television. Period. Chances are that you probably hadn’t even heard of it until now. I know I hadn’t heard of it while it was airing until I found it on Netflix. And this was only two years ago.
The premise of Dark Matter is simple: Six individuals wake up on a spaceship with absolutely no knowledge of who they are, who the others are, why they’re there, or why they can’t remember all of the above. Because they can’t remember their names, they number themselves off and call each other by their numbers. Their mission is to slowly put together what happened to them and who they are while also dodging the “space police” and the large corporations that essentially own the galaxy.
I love this show. In fact, I love it so much that I will be putting it in the running for a future round of our ReWatchable podcast.
First of all, the character dynamics on this show are unlike any other show. Dark Matter features a diverse cast, both in terms of gender and gender roles. The ship’s captain is a woman (and she’s fierce as HELL). The men range from soldier-like to contemplative and sensitive. The cast is just perfect and the way the show pairs and develops the characters is fascinating.
But, unlike other sci-fi shows that can be super serious, Dark Matter has the perfect balance of humor, playfulness, action, and drama. The show never gets too dark but never feels cartoon-y. It’s just a fun and interesting space romp with each episode leaving you wanting more. And the season finales? Man. Let me just say that when I caught up on Dark Matter and had to start watching it live, the season/series finales KILLED me.
If you’re a fan of Altered Carbon, Firefly, or Star Wars, you’re going to want to give this show a try. (And the entirety of the show is on Netflix currently, so, if you’re watching Altered Carbon, you really have no excuse not to switch over and try Dark Matter.)
Written by Danielle Zimmerman.
The most underappreciated Whedonverse show, Dollhouse, shares similar key characteristics with Altered Carbon that viewers of the latter might appreciate.
Dollhouse, which starred both Dichen Lachman (Rei Kovacs) and Tahmoh Penikett (Dimitri Kadmin), focused on a group of humans — or ‘dolls’ — whose personalities were stored on memory cards very much like stacks. Controlled by a greedy corporation, these dolls were imprinted with a variety of personalities, some of them fabricated and some of them based on real people.
Most similar to Altered Carbon was the season 1 episode “Haunted,” in which main character Echo (Eliza Dushku) was imprinted with the personality of a dead woman, who then set about trying to solve — you guessed it — her own murder.
Dollhouse was an ambitious sci-fi show that explored the ethics of futuristic technology, asking what exactly makes a human being in an age where our minds and bodies are programmable and interchangeable. Through its dolls — who began to develop unique personalities apart from the consciousnesses of the people they used to be — it raised questions of identity and autonomy, and gave us glimpses of the broken, chaotic and aimless future this new technology would eventually wring.
While Altered Carbon is definitely a lush, visual masterpiece, Dollhouse will provide what is perhaps a more introspective and thought-provoking experience.
Written by Selina Wilken.
Do you like spaceships, badass antics, and general good time silliness? Then you’re in luck because I have the show for you. Killjoys is one of those sci-fi shows that should really have a million more fans than it does. It’s primed and ready for your fanfic ideas and it’s beginning to he cosplayed.
The initial premise for the show started out pretty simple. There’s a group of three friends, brothers John and D’avin Jaqobis and their best friend Dutch, who work for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC). The organization allows them to spend their time swanning through space reclaiming criminals with warrants on them; essentially making them modern day bounty hunters.
Basically, Killjoys is incredibly fun. Although the show gets progressively darker as the series goes on, it never takes itself too seriously. The show is chock full of sarcasm, tomfoolery, and hijinx. And to be completely upfront, there are definitely times when the plotlines get a little convoluted and I don’t even really know what’s going on. What keeps me a dedicated viewer however is the relationships between the main three. Dutch, John and D’avin is what the show hinges on and makes the investment worth it.
Season 4 will be premiering sometime this year and season 5 has already been confirmed. After that though, the show will be ending. The nice thing about the forewarned cancellation is that the writers will be able to tie up the arc they’re currently working on and there won’t be any last minute scrambling to change things. So don’t sleep on Killjoys! You have a warm hearted complete show waiting for you!
Written by Brook Wentz.
‘The 100’ (2014-)
One of the sci-fi shows flying under the radar (despite my best efforts) right now is The 100, entering its fifth season in April on The CW. The series, which is also available to stream on Netflix, walks in the footsteps of its genre parents Battlestar Galactica and Lost, marrying mystery science fiction elements with a rich, complex narrative that explores human nature and morality.
At first glance, the two series don’t seem to have much in common aside from taking place in (wildly different) dystopian futures. Where Altered Carbon depicts a future in which humanity has colonized the entire galaxy, The 100 follows a group of space refugees who believe themselves to be the only surviving members of the human race following a nuclear apocalypse 97 years previous.
When they return to Earth, however, they find it very much still inhabited, and what follows is not just a battle for the surface, but an ideological conflict between two (or more?) peoples who each believe that their version of society is superior.
Despite following a fantastic, complicated group of characters, the story of The 100 is definitely more of a macro exploration of how humanity and society might evolve than the claustrophobic Altered Carbon.
Nonetheless, the futuristic concept lends itself to the exploration of similar themes, particularly pertaining to questions of free will in an age when human minds are (under certain circumstances) more or less programmable. Altered Carbon fans will also recognize Dichen Lachman, Katie Stuart and several picturesque Vancouver locations.
Four seasons in, The 100 is shaping up to be can’t-miss science fiction television. So if you’re a fan of that sort of thing… don’t miss it.
Written by Selina Wilken.
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (2016-)
If you’ve seen all of Star Trek, one iteration, or nothing of the sort, you should seriously consider checking out Star Trek: Discovery. Taking all the things that make Star Trek great – intergalactic diplomacy, alternate universes, science, SPACE — Discovery carries the mantle of a generation’s worth of nostalgia, while also creating something entirely new.
Discovery’s first season takes place following the start of the war between the Federation and the Klingons. The mutineer, Michael Burnham, willingly surrenders to serve time for her crimes. But the Captain of a science vessel turned war ship has other plans for this first officer. What follows is a tale of a crew adjusting to war, growing close as a unit, and, of course, some epic space age science and technology discoveries.
Slightly more serialized than most of the chapters in Trek’s canon, Discovery still manages to make each episode stand apart from the last. I’d argue that it is not “bingeable,” but is more well-suited for a long first watch.
Some may be critical of whether or not this piece of Trek fits in with the rest of the universe. The Original Series, DS9, Voyager, all defined their place in the galaxy. Discovery is working to do just that with its first season. The second season is destined to further that mission. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait quite a bit until the series returns to CBS All Access.
Written by Brittany Lovely.
‘Dark Angel’ (2000-2002)
The best show you never watched, Dark Angel, is strikingly similar to Altered Carbon both visually and thematically. Yes, one was produced by Netflix at a dizzying budget and the other was James Cameron’s short-lived foray into genre TV on Fox in the early 2000s, and yet. You’d be surprised how little those differences matter.
Perhaps it’s the similar cyberpunk aesthetic and the apathetic, nihilistic attitude of their characters. Perhaps it’s the big concept narrative diluted with semi-procedural episode-by-episode cases. Perhaps it’s the lead character — Takeshi Covacs in Carbon, Jessica Alba’s Max in Dark Angel — as a rootless, aimless, Godless protagonist in search of his/her own identity and purpose in a world they didn’t choose.
While Altered Carbon follows a man who wakes up in someone else’s body, Dark Angel follows a woman whose body was engineered; she is the perfect super soldier, an escapee from the prison of her life and living in squalor as she searches for her ‘siblings’ (the other supersoldier children).
It’s just a great story with a big, mind-boggling mythology, a diverse cast tackling identity stories way ahead of its time. If you can stomach the clumsy made-up futuristic slang and the ’90s iconic take on futuristic fashion, Dark Angel will definitely tickle your fancy.
Written by Selina Wilken.
Those are just a few of the many sci-fi shows you might consider as your next binge-watch! (Honorable mentions include Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Expanse.)
Let us know in the comments what shows you recommend fans of Altered Carbon check out next!
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