One of life’s biggest mysteries – and most interesting, divisive debates – is the question of whether life exists in outer space.
There’s no shortage of stories of other peoples’ experiences with the extraterrestrial, not to mention actual UFO sightings! They’re all just stories, sure, but is there enough scientific evidence to debunk the existence of other life forms outside of our own?
As for me, I think the universe is too big for there not to be others out there somewhere. We are but a teensy, tiny blip in the bigger scheme of things, so small that it seems almost implausible that there isn’t other life in the universe.
No doubt the ideas that we have about aliens are borne out of what we’ve consumed through various forms of media: books, movies, TV shows.
Any portrayal of extraterrestrials came from pure imagination, too, so the possibilities are endless! They could be actual physical beings like in Alien vs. Predator, Mars Attacks!, or they could be something a little more mysterious like in Arrival. They could look terrifying like in Independence Day, or a little more endearing like in E.T. Who really knows?
Point is, it’s never too late to broaden your arsenal of ideas as to what aliens may be like.
With that in mind, we’ve put together an exhaustive list of TV shows about aliens – all facets of them. Whether we’re the ones seeking them out, or they’ve come to Earth to either live amongst us or attack us, these shows have got them all!
TV SHOWS WHERE THE ALIENS LIVE AMONGST US
Have you ever thought about what it’d be like if you suddenly found out that aliens not only exist but also that they’ve been living amongst us humans this whole time? Imagine living in a world like that in the Men in Black franchise!
The following shows are just a small sample of what it could be like.
Resident Alien, Syfy (2021 – present)
We’re starting things off with a newly premiered comedy-drama from Syfy, Resident Alien, which is based on the comic book series of the same name from Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse. With just ten episodes so far, fans can look forward to a second season as confirmed in March of 2021!
In the series, Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball) plays an alien who was sent to Earth in order to completely wipe out humanity. Unfortunately for him, his spaceship crashes into the Colorado mountains and derails his entire mission.
He kills and assumes the identity of Dr. Harry Vanderspiegle, a pathologist, and learns to hide himself amongst the people of the remote town. As he spends more time there, however, he begins to learn more about and develop human feelings and behaviors (though not without a few mishaps), causing him to doubt his original mission.
On top of that, he meets a young 9-year-old boy who seems to be the only one who can see his true alien form.
Roswell, The WB/UPN (1999 – 2002) and Roswell, New Mexico, The CW (2019 – 2022)
Roswell was based on a book series titled Roswell High, and ran for three seasons at the turn of the 21st century – 90s kids will probably remember it well!
It followed three human-alien hybrids with extraordinary powers. They were sent to Earth in the hopes that one day they would be able to fulfill their destiny: to return to their home planet and save their race.
On top of that, the show also showed the personal relationships between these alien hybrids and the humans that they eventually learned to love.
In 2019, The CW launched a reimagining of the series titled Roswell, New Mexico and though the third season still has yet to premiere, it’s already been renewed for a fourth.
In this adaptation, many of the same characters we saw in the original have returned, albeit different versions. The human-alien hybrids are still residents of the city, just trying to hide their supernatural abilities and live a normal life – and even build relationships with humans.
However, the threat of a more sinister alien presence slowly begins to expose their secrets, and they must do whatever it takes to protect themselves.
Mork & Mindy, ABC (1978 – 1982)
We’re taking it way back now with a 70s TV show called Mork & Mindy, which is a gem of a series for several reasons!
We love it as a spin-off from the popular classic Happy Days, where the episode that served as Mork & Mindy’s backdoor pilot was hugely successful on its own. On top of that, we love it because it stars Robin Williams who was then still relatively unknown!
Williams plays the titular Mork, an alien from the planet Ork who has come to Earth in order to study human behavior. He lands in Boulder, Colorado, where he eventually crosses paths with Mindy.
Much of the show’s events revolve around Mork’s attempts to grasp human life and understand the way our world works. In the process, however, Mork discovers his own human emotions in the personal relationships he forms.
Star-Crossed, The CW (2014)
The CW’s Star-Crossed was a sci-fi teen drama that aired for one season before being unfortunately canceled due to low ratings.
Central to the show’s plotline is an alien race called the Atrians, who land on Earth only to get caught up in an ugly battle that ends with the aliens captured in internment camps. In the midst of this, a young Atrian named Roman forms a friendship with then-six-year-old Emery, but that ends with Roman’s capture.
Ten years later, the two are reunited when Roman and a handful of fellow teenaged Atrians are enrolled at a high school in order to test whether the two species could live together in peace.
From the show’s title, it seems that Emery and Roman’s relationship was doomed to fail because of the antagonistic relationship between their kinds, but will they find a way to prevail?
3rd Rock From The Sun, NBC (1996 – 2001)
I suppose from an outsider’s perspective, Earth really is nothing more than the third rock from the sun. It would seem only natural that if there were other species out there, they’d be curious, right?
NBC’s 3rd Rock From The Sun is kind of hinged on that since the show follows the comedic exploits of an extraterrestrial research team – albeit one that thinks of Earth as just your average, inconsequential planet.
Upon landing, the team assumes the role of a seemingly normal family: Dick Solomon as a physics professor and the family patriarch; two young adults in their 20s but still living at home and relying on part-time jobs; and a teenage son in high school (and later, college).
Their mission is initially to learn about and gather information on human society, but this soon takes a backseat as they become more personally invested in living their lives as actual humans.
Lightning Point, Network Ten (2012)
Lightning Point was a one-season teen drama from down under, set in the beautiful seaside town of, well, Lightning Point in Australia. In the United States and the United Kingdom, Lightning Point was broadcasted under its international title, Alien Surf Girls.
Two young girls named Zoey and Kiki leave their planet Lumina and find themselves in Lightning Point, where all they want is a chance to see the ocean and surf its waves. However, unforeseen circumstances cause them to lose their spaceship and become castaways in the quiet coastal community.
Staying undercover proves too daunting a task on their own so they seek the help of a human girl, Amber. As they slowly start to build lives and blend into the local life, their longing to return home starts to fade and they wonder if life on Earth perhaps wouldn’t be so bad after all.
People of Earth, TBS (2016 – 2017)
People of Earth starts with a premise quite unlike those of the shows listed above; we’re not immediately introduced to an alien race at the onset of the series. Instead, we meet Ozzie Graham, a human journalist who’s chasing a story about alleged alien encounters.
He meets the members of StarCrossed, a support group for alien abduction survivors and at first, just can’t seem to wrap his head around their outrageous stories. Over time, however, he begins to second guess his own skepticism when their stories stir up memories of his own similar encounters.
Later on, he discovers that there is in fact an alien race already living among us with the intention to one day conquer our planet. However, there are those amongst them who no longer believe in that cause and need the humans’ help to expose the truth.
Defiance, Syfy (2013 – 2015)
Defiance is a sci-fi western drama from Syfy. It aired for three seasons before it was canceled due to financial reasons.
Incredibly, its legacy lived on in a highly popular companion video game that still runs to this day – though they recently announced closure beginning this April 2021.
Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, Defiance shows an Earth now divided into the human Earth Republic and the alien Votanis Collective. Joshua Nolan is a veteran of the war that caused this divide and he along with his adopted alien daughter Irisa have arrived at the titular town.
Defiance has a mix of both human and alien cultures and with Joshua appointed as their new sheriff, he fights to maintain the peace between both species and keep the town neutral between the two major factions. In the process, he investigates conspiracies surrounding both Defiance and Irisa, including how her past may connect to the town’s history as well.
The X-Files, Fox (1993 – 2002, 2016 – 2018)
You don’t have to be a fan of the sci-fi genre to know of the absolute classic that is The X-Files.
Not only did it produce two spin-offs during its original run, but it also branched off into two feature films in 1998 and 2008. On top of that, The X-Files was brought back for a tenth and eleventh season, with the original creator, cast, and characters!
FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully partner up to investigate mysterious paranormal phenomena across the country.
Mulder is a firm believer in the supernatural and the existence of extraterrestrials while Scully is on the opposite end: a staunch skeptic who relies purely on science.
As the series progresses, the duo becomes embroiled in the investigation of a government conspiracy proving that aliens not only exist but are collaborating with the government covering up their existence.
Alien Nation, Fox (1989 – 1990)
Adapted from the movie of the same name released the year before, Alien Nation was a detective procedural drama that follows the professional partnership between Matt Sikes, a human detective, and his alien partner George Francisco.
George was part of a race of aliens who crash-landed in the Mojave Desert as they fled slavery on their planet.
They are accepted as immigrants to the United States and are determined to co-exist peacefully with humans. However, through the experiences of George and his people, the show also acts as a commentary on the many various social issues their species face as a discriminated minority in society.
Isn’t it troubling that now even over two decades later, these are still issues that the world contends with?
TV SERIES WHERE THE ALIENS HAVE COME TO TAKE OVER
Having aliens make their presence known to us only to have them try and completely take over our planet is a pretty terrifying thought.
Who knows what their intentions might be? Do they want our planet’s resources? Do they want to live together in peace? Are they coming here to warn us about something bigger and more sinister yet to come?
Check out these shows below to see why aliens would ever consider coming to Earth.
Falling Skies, TNT (2011 – 2015)
What would you do if our planet was taken over by aliens? Would you just submit to their demands and try to live as normally as possible, or would you do anything to fight and take our planet back?
Similar to the abovementioned Defiance, TNT’s Falling Skies takes place in a post-alien invasion society, but just six months after they landed on Earth. In those six months, the remaining 10% of the world’s population that survived have had to live in a post-apocalyptic world with no power and technology, no military to defend them, and no goal except to survive.
A group of survivors called the Second Mass forms and plans to fight back, and they are later aided by another alien race that has its own personal vendetta against those that raided Earth.
As the show goes on, more and more information is revealed about the invading alien race, why they came to Earth in the first place, and how they can be beaten once and for all.
V, ABC (2009 – 2011)
Though there is the 1984 original series of the same name, we’re talking about the 2009 ABC remake of V, a sci-fi drama about the invasion of Earth by an alien race we called the “Visitors”.
They originally say they come in peace, negotiating an exchange of a few Earth’s resources for their race’s advancements in medicine and technology. Everything seems well and good until FBI counter-terrorism agent Erica Evans discovers that this open descent upon Earth is the final part of their plan; they’ve already been disguising themselves as humans, slowly infiltrating society from the inside out.
A rebel movement called the Fifth Column then comes into play, where both humans and Visitors alike band together to put a stop to the sinister plans. This is made all the more challenging when humanity is hesitant to go up against the aliens who have provided so much aid in curing illnesses and advanced technology.
Debris, NBC (2021 – present)
Debris is a sci-fi drama from NBC that only had one season making it a perfect quick binge if you want to consume some alien content but can’t commit to a multi-season show.
In Debris, we meet two government agents from different countries: CIA agent Brian Beneventi, and MI6 operative Finola Jones. Though different in personality and investigative method, the pair make a great team as they investigate hundreds of pieces of debris from a mysterious alien spacecraft that have fallen all across the Western Hemisphere.
Amidst their investigation, they find that each piece from the spaceship has different effects on its surroundings and those that find it, including cloning, mutations, terraforming, and even opening portals and wormholes.
Invasion, ABC (2005 – 2006)
If you’ve seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, then ABC’s sci-fi series Invasion may strike some similarities.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, a strange species of aquatic extraterrestrials find their way into a small town in Florida. Slowly, these creatures start to completely take over the bodies and lives of the town’s human inhabitants through cloning – first they would merge with the bodies and then eventually take over completely.
Unfortunately, the show premiered too soon after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, causing unexpected changes in the show’s promotions.
It was canceled after just one season, though its creators had originally plotted it out for five. Later on, they revealed that Invasion was meant to branch into the conception of evolution vs. invasion (which sounds awesome, to be honest!).
Invasion, Apple TV+ (2021 – present)
Among the newest shows of this list of best TV series about aliens is Apple TV+’s sci-fi drama Invasion.
Not to be confused with the previous ABC show, Apple TV+’s Invasion follows five ordinary people from different parts of the world as they experience an invasion by an alien species.
As strange events start unfolding all around the world, these five people are struggling to understand what’s happening and how to survive it.
Among them are a small-town sheriff, an American soldier in Afghanistan, an English teen, a Syrian immigrant, and a member of mission control in Japan’s space program. And as the show unfolds we get to see the impact that the invasion has on their lives and the ways they are trying to cope with the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in.
Taken, Sci-Fi Channel (2002)
Taken was a ten-episode miniseries that premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2002.
A young Dakota Fanning, then around 8 years old, narrates the series and stars in the leading role of Allie Keys, a human-alien hybrid who holds the answers for the aliens’ future on Earth.
Taken tells the stories of three families: the Keys, the Crawfords, and the Clarks, over the period of 1944 to 2002 as they have various different involvements with aliens and alien abductions.
The Crawfords know of the existence of aliens due to their finding of a mysterious Artifact from a spacecraft crash in Roswell, and they are conspiring with the government to cover up their existence.
The Clarks are in on the secret, but they are harboring one of the alien survivors.
The Keys, on the other hand, have been subjected to alien abductions and experimentation throughout the five-decade period outlined in the show – one of which resulted in the creation of Allie Keys.
Colony, USA Network (2016 – 2018)
Just based on the series title itself, we’re already given a vague idea as to what the show is about. USA Network’s science fiction drama Colony is set primarily in Los Angeles, in a dystopian future where the city and its surrounding areas are called, well, colonies, of the invading alien race.
A year before the onset of the series, extraterrestrials came to Earth and dropped large blocks to form walls around the cities, controlling the entry and exit of both people and goods.
These “Hosts”, as they’re called, use handpicked members of the human population to maintain control and for the most part, not a lot is known about them. However, a resistance group soon starts to form as more and more families want to rebel against the aliens.
Colony primarily follows the Bowman family: Will, who is forced to join the collaborators, and his wife Katie who is a secret operative in the resistance group. Together, they trade information in order to help save humanity.
First Wave, Space/Sci-Fi Channel (1998 – 2001)
First Wave was a sci-fi drama from the Canadian network Space Channel. In its first year, it was picked up and expanded into three seasons by the Sci-Fi Channel before being cancelled.
Unlike most of the alien invasion shows out there, the infiltration in First Wave is a lot more subtle – not giant spaceships, no reptilian or humanoid creatures, no major battles that changed our planet and society.
No, just Cade Foster, a security specialist with a perfect life – until he unknowingly becomes a subject in an alien experiment, turning his entire world upside down.
The aliens, called the Gua, are hiding amongst us and these experiments, designed to test the human will, are just part of the first wave of their plan to enslave and eliminate the human race. Cade Foster is the only one so far who has escaped the experiment, and he joins forces with a computer hacker and a Gua defector named Joshua to stop the aliens’ second wave.
SHOWS WHERE ALIENS AND HUMANS EMBARK ON SPACE EXPLORATIONS
Somewhat connected to our first category where aliens and humans are coexisting in peace (or at least trying to), we now move on to our last group: where space explorations are conducted by humans and aliens together!
The Orville, Fox (2017 – present)
After all the dramas previously mentioned, we’ve got a change of pace now with another comedy series, The Orville! With Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted, and Ted 2) behind the show, you just know it’ll be rife with all sorts of humor.
The Orville is named after the main starship of the show, the USS Orville – an exploratory vessel commanded by Captain Ed Mercer (also played by MacFarlane himself!) and with a diverse crew composed of humans and aliens alike.
We’re also taken 400 years into the future right into the 25th century where the Planetary Union exists as a cosmic alliance between Earth and many other planets.
As a spacecraft under the union, the USS Orville and its crew pay visits to various parts of the galaxy and encounter different alien races and adversaries, new planets, and even a new civilization – though not without personal problems coming into play, of course!
Lost in Space, Netflix (2018 – 2021)
Lost in Space is a reimagining within a reimagining – and it’s actually pretty cool!
This 2018 adaptation is a revival of the original 1965 series of the same; that, in turn, is a futuristic space-age reimagining of the famous 1812 novel, The Swiss Family Robinson!
Similar to the premise of the novel, Lost in Space tells the story of a family whose journey unexpectedly gets cut short due to unfortunate and completely unforeseen circumstances. However, this Robinson family has been selected – amongst other families – for a space mission that involves colonizing the Alpha Centauri star system to start a better life there.
Before they get there, however, they are attacked by an alien spacecraft and forced to evacuate their main vessel, instead crash landing on a nearby unknown planet. There, they must learn to survive amidst a strange environment and figure out a way to get back to their ship and go on with their mission.
Stargate Atlantis, Sci Fi Channel (2004 – 2009)
The Stargate franchise is huge, and encompasses so many various forms of media such as movies, TV shows, video games, a web series, and an animated series (and a yet-untitled Stargate revival series on the way, too!).
One of the shows within the group was Stargate Atlantis, which followed the events of the preceding series.
Consistent with the lore of the franchise, Stargate Atlantis focuses primarily on Major Sheppard and his team as they embark on various exploratory missions in the Pegasus Galaxy through the Stargate.
Central to the series is the show’s version of the myth of Atlantis, the lost city of an ancient human race called the Ancients. Now buried deep within the oceans of their former planet Lantea, those who seek to find it have come face to face with an ancient enemy that has now set its sights on Earth.
Star Trek: Discovery, CBS (2017 – present)
Like the previous series, Star Trek: Discovery is just one part of a large, science-fiction franchise that only continues to grow, with a huge fan base and many forms of media under its wing.
In fact, Star Trek: Discovery is already the seventh series in the franchise, and it isn’t even the most recent one!
Though obviously modernized, the events in Star Trek: Discovery takes place roughly ten years before those in Star Trek: The Original Series which aired all the way back in the late 1960s!
It centers on the USS Discovery (NCC-1031) and its crew as they take part in a war between a united Klingon army and the United Federation of Planets.
Later on, they undertake more missions that not only have them investigating and facing new adversaries but also sends them unexpectedly traveling through time.
The Mandalorian, Disney+ (2019 – present)
The Mandalorian hails from Disney+ and is the first live-action series set within the Star Wars universe. It has gained such critical acclaim in its two-season run so far that there are already three more spin-off shows in the works!
The Mandalorian takes place after the fall of the Empire but before the First Order. Starring Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) as Din Djarin, he roams the outer galaxy and is a Mandalorian bounty hunter for hire.
When we meet him, he is hired by some Imperial forces to retrieve Grogu, a toddler from the unnamed species we know Yoda to come from (fans have taken to calling him Baby Yoda).
Instead of turning him over, however, Din Djarin decides to protect him and attempt to return him to his kind.
The Expanse, Syfy/Amazon Prime Video (2015 – present)
As opposed to aliens taking over our planet, The Expanse veers us in the opposite direction. Based on the novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey, the series from Syfy and Prime Video has garnered critical acclaim as well as a number of notable awards.
Set a hundred years in the future, humanity has now taken over the entire solar system. There are now three major superpowers: the United Nations (controlling Earth and Luna), the Martian Congressional Republic (a military power) on Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance composed of the asteroid belt and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn (where resources are rich).
However, not unexpectedly, war is on the verge of breaking out between the factions and it is up to the protagonists from each alliance to unravel the conspiracy that could put an end to the rising tensions.