Top 13 Enthralling Sci-Fi Shows Like 'Altered Carbon'

Updated on June 20, 2020
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Rahul is a TV addict who can't get enough of twisted, gasp-inducing shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Black Mirror".

What Shows Are Like Altered Carbon?

Created by Laeta Kalogridis, this Netflix original blew everyone away when it sneakily landed on the digital platform. Slowly but certainly this show started generating buzz, becoming a phenomenon in no time. The visual grandeur imbued with some nail-biting dystopian storytelling cemented the place of Altered Carbon as one of the best contemporary sci-fi shows on the TV landscape.

With the second season still far away, let's take a look at some other shows like Altered Carbon to satiate your cravings till then.

Series Similar To Altered Carbon

  1. Travelers
  2. The Expanse
  3. Black Mirror
  4. The 100
  5. Dark Matter
  6. Colony
  7. The Handmaid's Tale
  8. Dollhouse
  9. Battlestar Galactica
  10. Westworld
  11. Sense8
  12. Timeless
  13. Lost

1. Travelers

Travelers takes place hundreds of years into the future when the last surviving humans have found a way to embody people of the 21st century. It's all for a noble mission as humanity is on the brink of collapse, or so they claim. In their attempt to alter the future, they risk everything, including their relationships. Things soon go sour as these time-travelers realize that they have bitten off more than they can chew.

Time travel rarely has made for an excellent TV premise. My expectations, understandably, weren't high when I tuned into to this Netflix original. A couple of episodes in, and it was apparent that Travelers isn't just another sci-fi show.

Without spoiling anything, each episode builds upon the previous one, expanding the horizon all the time. It starts off with a narrow focus but becomes so much more by the advent of the second season. At present, the show's waiting for your binge-attention. Give it a shot.

2. The Expanse

The Expanse takes you hundreds of years ahead in the future, a time when Mars is finally colonized. At each other's throat, Earth and Mars are inches away from descending down the path of mutual destruction. As both planets prepare for a possible all-out war, a sinister conspiracy is unveiled by two detectives - one that'll change everyone's lives on both the planets.

It's insane how criminally underrated Syfy’s The Expanse is! Despite garnering critical acclaim from professional critics and the public, it could only muster a small fervid fanbase, resulting in an early cancelation of the show by SyFy. Thankfully, Amazon has picked it up, at least for another season. Here is hoping that there's more to come. Meanwhile, go check the first season out. It's totally worth your time.

3. Black Mirror

Technology has changed everything, especially over the course of the last few years where the sudden eruption has transformed our lives. This Netflix original, however, doesn't focus on the positive facet of the coin.

Where would be the fun in that anyway? Instead, Black Mirror revels in its dark and suffocating storylines, emphasizing upon the negative aspects of gadgets around us.

Every episode stars new cast with disparate storylines, sometimes loosely connected with one another. The only thing in common is that every story takes place in a dystopian future. You gasp for breath as things take an eerie turn in the blink of an eye. This hard-to-digest show will prod you, toy with you, and compel you to think about our increasing reliance on technology.

If you're looking for some thought-provoking shows like Altered Carbon, Black Mirror should be right up your alley.

4. The 100

Earth has been decimated by all-out nuclear attacks, wiping out almost all the humans except for those left in space. In Earth’s orbit, they live in peace and harmony under a strict regime. With dwindling resources, however, they soon need to find a way to get back to Earth.

It has been 97 years since the last nuclear detonation. To check if it's inhabitable, 100 teenagers are sent down on Earth where they find out that they're not alone after all.

The first few episodes give an impression of just another teenage CW (CBS-Warner Bros.) show. Stick to it though asThe 100 broadens its territories with time. Beneath its flashy exterior is a sci-fi show plumbing the depths of humanity.

The first season is good, but fireworks begin in the second season where the conflicts are properly established. Just when you think they can't come up with anything else to keep the show going, the showrunners pull another trick up their sleeves, raising the stakes once again. Here is hoping that there's more goodness to come.

5. Dark Matter

Six people wake up on a wayward spaceship in the middle of nowhere. With no recollection of their past or how they got there in the first place, they set out on the quest to find out more about the trouble they're in. With threats lurking around every corner, they must band together before it's too late.

Dark Matter doesn't bring anything new to the table. It's not groundbreaking, not by a long shot. However, the tried and tested formula is refined to create a suspenseful, enigmatic show that'll hook you right away.

Its penchant for violence and gore aside, the show’s saving grace is the dynamics among all the characters. It's goofy for the most part but gets heavy-handed at times. Like most of the shows with a small following, Dark Matter was axed, way before it could flourish. Reasonably, fans were furious with the network for not giving it another chance. Let's hope we at least get a short movie to conclude the storyline.

6. Colony

In the near future, the city of L.A. is captured by extraterrestrial forces. Some have given up and joined the forces while others are still rebelling against the regime, hoping to overthrow them against all odds. Sitting in the middle of a brewing war is an idyllic family who just wants to survive in the new world order.

Alongside Mr. Robot, Colony was one of the very few excellent shows on the USA Network. Canceled just after three seasons, and that too without concluding its multi-threaded storylines, this show ended before it could peak. Nevertheless, you still have three spectacular seasons to binge upon. Give it a go.

7. The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a dystopian future where the US government is overthrown by a handful of religious fanatics. The autocratic regime treats fertile women as second-class citizens with no rights. One such female is June who gets caught while trying to escape the hellhole with her husband and daughter. Forced to bear a child for a government official, she counts down her days to freedom.

Despite not billed as a horror show, I can tell you that this is the real horror. Each episode is nightmarish, toppling previous ones with finesse. It's a world where women's rights are stripped away. A horrific realization indeed! It's hard to imagine that we're always only a few stupid decisions away from descending down the same path of chaos and madness.

Dystopia has never felt this real before. This sly show is shocking, unflinchingly savage, and crude. Don't miss out on it. Experience the brutality first-hand.

8. Dollhouse

Dollhouse is a shady place. It's an organization that uses young people to their advantage by wiping their memories clean and implanting false memories for every assignment. As soon as they return from a mission, the procedure is repeated. Menacing as it may be, it's expeditious and effective. Things, however, go haywire when one of these agents starts regaining memories from her part. Bit by bit, she pieces together her identity, leading her to a harrowing truth.

This taut show was canceled only after two seasons, primarily because Dollhouse never amassed sustainable viewership. The show ends with a cliffhanger, which means you will be left wanting more. It's a shame because, after a slow first season, Dollhouse had evolved into a hauntingly beautiful show. Unfortunately, it never had a chance to shine. Have a go at available seasons nonetheless.

9. Battlestar Galactica

What makes us human? Our higher state of consciousness than other beings on this planet? When androids are more advanced and developed than fragile human species, should they be calling all the shots? This sci-fi adventure tackles these questions head-on.

The story takes place in the near future where the last remnants of humanity are fighting for survival against androids. The doom is inevitable, or so it looks! These replicas know that humans are vengeful creatures. Their mission, therefore, is to annihilate them all. Problem solved.

For the majority of the show's runtime, the focus is on the perpetual battle between humans and replicas. As latter grow in numbers and power, humans find it increasingly difficult to save their race.

Season one is a slow-burn but it soon gets going as soon as audiences are introduced to the plot and the cast. Building on the back of an excellent first season, the rest of the show fires on all cylinders. My only gripe is that it wasn't renewed after the mind-numbing fourth season. Showrunners, apparently, decided to end it on a high note rather than milking the cow dry.

10. Westworld

After some trials and errors, it seems as if HBO has found the replacement for Game of Thrones - a show that has been a flag bearer for HBO since 2011.

The story revolves around a vacation park built for the super-rich. Behind closed doors, they engage in all sorts of sins, without any fear of the consequences. Rape and murder of androids are common occurrences. Nobody bats an eye. But when these AI robots begin malfunctioning, it's no longer a quiet place. The hunted become hunters as bots begin to gain consciousness. Led by a ferocious young humanoid, they start an uprising so astounding, that the tables turn around completely.

This cerebral show feels kind of convoluted, especially in the latter half of the first season. The multiple timelines aren't explained well-enough, sometimes not at all. Pay close attention to every little detail, dresses, and backgrounds. You miss anything, and you'll not understand the majority of its intricate plotlines. Picturesque as the show may be, it can often be an arduous exercise to wrap your mind around this taut series.

11. Sense8

A group of 8 people from all around the world finds themselves interlinked to each other, emotionally and physiologically. With a hunter down their trail, they must band together and figure out the unexplained events unfolding around them before it's too late.

It has got the ambiance of The X-Files yet never feels far-fetched and contrived. Despite the sci-fi premise, it stays grounded to the roots. The story and the characters feel relatable. This is drama at its best. Underneath its lustrous exterior lies a story that tackles serious issues like transgenderism, feminism, and racial abuse, just to name a few. Suffice to say, Sense8 is not for everyone.

Still, if you're looking for a good sci-fi show like Altered Carbon, Sense8 should set your minds racing.

12. Timeless

A professor, an engineer, and an ex-bodyguard journey back in time to prevent the disruption of historical events. With stakes so high, they must go to any lengths to prevent the impending doom.

It's a shame that Timeless only lasted for two seasons. Despite gripping, thought-provoking storylines, this show never found its audience. Don't, however, let it dissuade you from watching one of the best contemporary gems on TV.

Those looking for perfection won't find it here. One could easily pinpoint some plot holes in the time-warping stories, but you'll be missing the point if perfection is all you're looking for. Suspend your disbelief for a short while and you'll love what Timeless brings to the table.

13. Lost

Lost chronicles the lives of a few lucky survivors of a plane crash as they find themselves on a mysterious island - one that starts showing its true colors with time. As they start to get acquainted with the island, these people soon realize that they're not alone out there.

From smoke monsters, ghosts, to Gods; Lost has everything to quench your thirst for an eccentric sci-fi drama not afraid to venture into uncharted territories.

Due to its lack of explanations at times, its multi-layered storyline often feels too intricate for a layman’s liking. The flashbacks, especially, felt like an undue addition by the showrunners just to propel the show as much as possible. Except for introducing audiences to every character’s past, they don't add much to the overarching storyline.

Barring this minor nuisance, Lost is almost perfect - an underrated show that often ends up getting a lot of flak for its capriciousness.

That's about it, for now. Like all the lists, there is only a limited amount of entries one can compile. Did I miss out on any good shows like Altered Carbon? If you have any suggestions regarding this piece, feel free to leave a comment down below. We'll be glad to know your thoughts.


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