20 best sci-fi TV shows that aren’t Star Trek

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11. The Twilight Zone

It’s hard to properly categorize The Twilight Zone. Is it fantasy? Horror? Science fiction? In truth, it’s all of those things and more. Even decades after its premiere, this series still has storylines and plot twists to rival modern anthology series like Black Mirror.

That’s more or less all thanks to Rod Serling, who served as one of the main writers and host during the 150-plus episode original run. Viewers surely remember Serling strolling in after the latest cold open, calmly and perhaps a little smugly lending his opinion on the situation at hand. Then, of course, there follows the creepy and classic theme song.

Where, exactly, are you supposed to start with such a large series, and one with such a big cultural impact? You might consider “Terror at 20,000 Feet,” where a plane phobic man (played by a young William Shatner) sees “some…thing… on the plane!” That something is a gremlin that’s busy tearing up the aircraft. Naturally, the flight crew won’t believe the passenger’s absurd explanation, even if it seems that their plane is experiencing some unusual malfunctions.

Or perhaps you would rather check out “Little Girl Lost,” the episode written by horror great Richard Matheson, based on his own short story. In that tale, a married couple wakes up to hear their daughter crying, but can’t find her. They accordingly freak out, between hearing her cries echo through the house and not being able to locate their daughter.

Eventually, it becomes clear that the girl has fallen through a portal into the fourth dimension. How that happened or where that portal came from isn’t all that important to the story. What’s more interesting is how this ordinary family deals with a bizarre and possibly dangerous situation. Yes, this 1962 episode predates the Poltergeist film by two decades. There’s also a pretty good take on the story in The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror VI” episode, in the “Homer3” story.