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The Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 1980s 

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Updated September 23, 2019 21.1k votes 1.4k voters 44.5k views 185 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite science fiction films that were released in the 1980s

This 1980s sci-fi movies list includes some of the most beloved science fiction movies of all time, such as The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.  '80s sci-fi movies include obvious genre classics, as well as many films mixing science fiction and comedy to spectacular effect. So what do you think are the greatest 1980s sci-fi movies? Make sure to vote up your favorites and vote down your least favorites in the list below. 

It may be challenging for some to pick the best '80s sci-fi movies because they'll have to choose between the likes of Blade Runner, The Terminator, and Back to the Future. That said, for all of those Star Wars fans out there, this list of 1980s sci-fi movies will finally settle the score once and for all about which is the better movie: The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi. One has gravitas, but the other has Ewoks. 

Another interesting challenge in picking the best 1980s science fiction movies is having to figure out which of these hilarious sci-fi comedies is better: Innerspace, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Short Circuit, or Weird Science. All of these '80s science fiction films took clever sci-fi premises and added a comedic spin, which turned into box office gold. 

So hop into your DeLorean, strap on your proton pack, hunt down some replicants, and have fun voting for the top 80s science fiction films! Feel free to add any 1980s sci-fi films we may have missed.
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Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

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Here's Why The Last Jedi And Empire Strikes Back Are Pretty Much The Same Movie #1 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 1980s
Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Released: 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into ...more

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Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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The Best 'Aliens' Quotes #21 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

Released: 1984

Directed by: James Cameron

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a ...more

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56 Things You Didn't Know About the Terminator Movies #8 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #55 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, ...more

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Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1983

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more

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#11 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #23 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #837 of 1,138 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

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Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

Released: 1984

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as ...more

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Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

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The Dark Story Behind The Canceled Sequel To 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' #50 of 120 Movies That Need Sequelslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers

Released: 1987

Directed by: John McTiernan

Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill ...more

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Killer Details In ‘Predator’ That Fans Have Hunted Down #25 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #153 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

Released: 1982

Directed by: Nicholas Meyer

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 sci-fi film written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer adn directed by Nicholas Meyer.

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#143 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #231 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #25 of 181 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

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Kurt Russell, Keith David, John Carpenter

Released: 1982

Directed by: John Carpenter

The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a ...more

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#95 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #84 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #12 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

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Clint Eastwood, Michael J. Fox, Elisabeth Shue

Released: 1989

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 American comic science fiction film and the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who directed all three ...more

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When ‘Back To The Future II’ Recreated Crispin Glover’s Face, He Took The Studio To Court #12 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #22 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Chris Elliott

Released: 1989

Directed by: James Cameron

The Abyss is a 1989 American science fiction-adventure film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. When an American submarine ...more

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#82 of 120 Movies That Need Sequels #103 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons

Released: 1987

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial RoboCop is a 1987 American cyberpunk action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan, in the near future, RoboCop ...more

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#58 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #247 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #89 of 133 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

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Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells

Released: 1981

Directed by: George Miller

Mad Max 2 is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The film is the second installment in the Mad Max film series, with Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. ...more

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#81 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #347 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #6 of 154 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies

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Wil Wheaton, Robert Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart

Released: 1984

Directed by: Nick Castle

The Last Starfighter is a 1984 American space opera film directed by Nick Castle. The film tells the story of Alex Rogan, an average teenage boy recruited by an alien defense force to fight in ...more

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Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine

Released: 1981

Directed by: John Carpenter

Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in a then near-future 1997 in a distopian United States ...more

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#88 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #20 of 154 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies #382 of 557 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

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Joan Rivers, John Hurt, Mel Brooks

Released: 1987

Directed by: Mel Brooks

Spaceballs is a 1987 American parody film co-written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring Brooks, Bill Pullman, John Candy and Rick Moranis. It also features Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, ...more

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Matthew Broderick, William H. Macy, Ally Sheedy

Released: 1983

Directed by: John Badham

WarGames is a 1983 American science-fiction film written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes and directed by John Badham. The film stars Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, and ...more

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#69 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #502 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on The Very Best Movies About Hackers

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Jeff Bridges, David Warner, Michael Dudikoff

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Lisberger

Tron is a 1982 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Lisberger, based on a story by Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird, and produced by Walt Disney Productions. The film stars ...more

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21
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nick-slade added Keanu Reeves, George Carlin, Jane Wiedlin

Released: 1989

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two slackers travel through time to assemble ...more

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#54 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #158 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #98 of 1,138 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

22
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Roddy Piper, Keith David, Tommy Morrison

Released: 1988

Directed by: John Carpenter

They Live is a 1988 American science fiction film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster. It follows a nameless drifter referred to as ...more

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#185 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #122 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #73 of 154 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies

23
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura

Released: 1987

Directed by: Paul Michael Glaser

The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel The Running Man, written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. ...more

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Robert Downey Jr., Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton

Released: 1985

Directed by: John Hughes

Weird Science is a 1985 American teen sci-fi comedy film written and directed by John Hughes and starring Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Kelly LeBrock. The film's producer, Joel ...more

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25
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William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei

Released: 1986

Directed by: Leonard Nimoy

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a 1986 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the fourth feature film based on Star Trek, and is a sequel to Star Trek III: The ...more

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