Science fiction has become one of the most popular TV show genres in recent times. Netflix has truly pushed the boundaries of this genre and has come up with a number of brilliant sci-fi projects. With the streaming giant creating this renewed surge of interest in such shows, it was only a matter of time before other networks threw their hats inside the ring as well. Probably in an attempt to tap into this phenomenon, NBC came out with its own series, ‘Timeless’, in 2016.
The story of ‘Timeless’ follows three individuals — a historian, a scientist, and a police officer — who desperately look for a thief who has stolen a time machine and now plans to use it to change the world’s history as we know it. It is now upon these three central characters to retrieve the machine before the criminal causes irreversible damage. ‘Timeless‘ has gone through many ups and downs throughout its run, having been canceled twice by NBC before being renewed again. The series did receive critical acclaim, but still got canceled after a couple of seasons, probably due to the high production costs. If you enjoyed watching ‘Timeless’ and are looking for more shows that are thematically and stylistically similar to it, then you have come to the right place. Here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘Timeless’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘Timeless’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
Dr. Sam Beckett is the central character of this NBC science fiction series. After successfully creating a time machine, Beckett himself gets trapped within it and is sent to different time periods in history. During his travels, he comes across several events in history which have been detrimental to man, and Beckett takes it upon himself to right these wrongs. ‘Quantum Leap’ became a huge phenomenon during its time, receiving both critical acclaim and love from the audience. The show never stops at just being an escapade of a scientist, but finely weaves within its narrative a layer of social commentary which develops as we slowly come to know of Beckett’s thoughts about numerous events and personalities from history. There is also an abundance of dramatic and humorous moments in the show, that make for a memorable experience.
7. The Ministry of Time (2015)
In most shows which incorporate the elements of time travel within their narratives, we usually find one or more characters using a time machine to visit other points of time in history or the future. But the Spanish TV series ‘El Ministerio del Tiempo’ takes an interesting road less traveled. Here, just like all other ministries of the government, there is also a ministry of time whose job is to make sure that nobody manages to time travel to this period and change the course of history. It is always important to push the boundaries of storytelling and not stick to conventions, in whatever form that might be. ‘The Ministry Of Time’ comes out with flying colors in this regard. In addition to this, the fact that the series is a period drama adds to its distinctive flavor.
6. Future Man (2017-)
Just because you manage to play a shooting game better than everyone else does not mean that you can fight in the army. Right? Wrong, if you ask the men from the future in the Hulu series ‘Future Man‘. They have traveled back in time to meet Josh, a janitor who manages to win at a game nobody else has. Josh hardly knew that winning this game will make him come face-to-face with real-life violence. But these men from the future insist that only him and nobody else can manage to help them in their war. ‘Future Man’ shows a great knack of using humor to lighten the load which science fiction might tend to create at times. The character of Josh is the lifeline of the series, as it is his life and adventures, and not the futuristic gizmos around him which is the main attraction of the series.
5. Dark (2017-2019)
Never has a science fiction TV series been as intricately plotted and narrated as this seminal German show which shall always be remembered as among the genre’s most ambitious shows ever in terms of the plot-line. The story of ‘Dark‘ is set in a small German town called Winden where the fates of a few families get tangled up with each other when a sinister portal is discovered at the edge of the town, under a nuclear power plant. Time travel in ‘Dark’ is a rather sinister affair, and here the fun element is replaced by the grim realities and repercussions of such an act. Noirish elements are found in abundance throughout the series, in terms of mood, camerawork, and a constant sense of dread lingering throughout each episode.
4. 11.22.63 (2016)
Hollywood biggie James Franco stars in this Hulu original miniseries about a man who finds his place in the world at some other point in time. The story of ‘11.22.63’ is based on a Stephen King novel, which, reportedly, Franco loved so much that he desperately wanted to adapt it. However, the rights to the book being sold already, Franco couldn’t get ahead with his idea and instead ended up starring in this eight-part series when the producers came to know of his interest.
Franco plays the character of an English teacher whose life has lost all purpose since the death of his wife. He has a chance at spicing things up in his life when he gets an opportunity to travel back in time and change the course of history. The only problem is that the meaninglessness in his life finds a purpose in the past, and now he doesn’t want to return. What stands out for ‘11.22.63’ is the performance of each member of the cast. In its essence, ‘11.22.63’ is a story of love and finding purpose in one’s life. There is a lot of humanity in this show, and that is what has helped the audience fall in love with it.
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3. Continuum (2012-2015)
‘Continuum’ stands out as a unique TV show which creates a broad horizon for itself in terms of the ambitious plot, and does commendable justice to it. The story of ‘Continuum’ is set in a dystopic world where certain powerful oligarchs rule the land and use the police to inflict brutal torture upon the common citizens. Naturally, this extreme form of oppression gives birth to a group which wants to earn freedom for themselves and the people. This rebel group, the Liber8, in order to avoid punishment and certain death, steal a time machine and go back to the past where they also get a chance to change history. What they do not realize is that they’ve mistakenly taken a policewoman along with them. The series beautifully weaves together a science fiction and a dystopic tale and does equal justice to both. ‘Continuum’s’ concept and the great attention to detail paid in every episode brought huge praise for the showmakers.
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2. 12 Monkeys (2015-2018)
The Syfy series ‘12 Monkeys‘ is based on the 1995 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. If you have not checked out this film yet, do so at the earliest. The series also reflects the film’s qualities and does enough justice to the story. The story of ’12 Monkeys’ is set in the future when human life is slowly perishing because a sinister group called “Army of the 12 Monkeys” had spread a virus in 2017, killing off most humans. Aaron Stanford plays James Cole, a person chosen by a group of scientists to go back in time and prevent the Monkeys from spreading their virus in the first place. ’12 Monkeys’ does not look at time travel like our usual films and shows, and instead raises questions regarding predestination and the logic behind time travel. The way it plays on the trope on which it stands is indeed remarkable. Both audiences and critics showered their love on this series. During its run, critics constantly regarded ’12 Monkeys’ as one of the finest sci-fi TV shows.
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1. Doctor Who (1963-)
One of the most influential shows in television history, ‘Doctor Who‘ has achieved a status which very few forms of art can even attempt to. The story of the series centers around the eponymous Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who can travel to any point in time and to any planet (s)he wishes. But the Doctor has taken a liking to the earth and often takes humans on various adventures with him. His time machine is known as the TARDIS (“Time and Relative Dimension in Space”), and always appears as an English telephone booth. The show has spun off films, books, museums, and boasts of a strong cult following not only in its country of origin (England), but all over the world.
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