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

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6. Babylon 5

Okay, admit it. You’re starting to miss Star Trek a bit. Maybe you’ve even found yourself reaching for whatever equivalent of a television remote sits within your reach. Ah, but wait! Within the completely fictional and arbitrary restrictions of this list, you’ve agreed to steer clear of that franchise.

Here’s a dirty little secret to calm those shakes: what if I told you there was a series so Star Trek adjacent that it only would take a bit of alternate universe-style tweaking to make it fit in with the rest?

That’s not really the best summary for Babylon 5, but it’s a lot closer than the creators of that or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would probably like you to think. Both are about the adventures of a mostly human group from a militaristic organization. Said humans cross paths with different groups of aliens, some of whom prove to be helpful and troublesome in equal measure. They all must deal with a larger conspiracy of some sort involving ancient and hostile forces. Plus, both series takes place aboard large, orbiting space stations.

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski alleged that Paramount Television already knew about his concept for a space station-set drama as early as 1989. He pitched his idea to Paramount that year, where he provided them with a series bible, episode synopses, artwork, and lengthy character profiles. Sure makes it weird when, only a few months after Warner Brothers picked up Straczynski’s project, Paramount announced its latest Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine.

Eventually, despite the similarities, the two series began to develop their own distinct identities. Frankly, you might enjoy Babylon 5 and its long-running, well-plotted stories as much — if not more — than another certain series.