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The Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 1980s

Updated September 23, 2019 24.8k votes 1.5k voters 45.3k views185 items

List RulesVote 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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  • 1
    Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    548
    127

    Released1980

    Directed byIrvin Kershner

    The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    Aliens
    546
    118

    Aliens

    Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton

    Released1986

    Directed byJames Cameron

    Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Back to the Future
    533
    150

    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

    Released1985

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Marty... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    The Terminator
    509
    135

    The Terminator

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton

    Released1984

    Directed byJames Cameron

    The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James... more on Wikipedia

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  • 5
    Blade Runner
    474
    175

    Blade Runner

    Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah

    Released1982

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
    398
    140

    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak

    Released1982

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    Ghostbusters
    427
    130

    Ghostbusters

    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver

    Released1984

    Directed byIvan Reitman

    Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan... more on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    Predator
    419
    114

    Predator

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was... more on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
    430
    162

    Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

    Released1983

    Directed byRichard Marquand

    Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    335
    120

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    Kirstie Alley, William Shatner

    Released1982

    Directed byNicholas Meyer

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 sci-fi film written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    The Abyss
    273
    107

    The Abyss

    Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

    Released1989

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 12
    RoboCop
    348
    117

    RoboCop

    Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller

    Released1987

    Directed byPaul Verhoeven

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  • 13
    The Thing
    419
    164

    The Thing

    Kurt Russell, Keith David

    Released1982

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    The Last Starfighter
    285
    119

    The Last Starfighter

    Wil Wheaton, Robert Preston

    Released1984

    Directed byNick Castle

    The Last Starfighter is a 1984 American space opera film directed by Nick Castle. The film... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    WarGames
    252
    97

    WarGames

    Matthew Broderick, William H. Macy

    Released1983

    Directed byJohn Badham

    WarGames is a 1983 American science-fiction film written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F.... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Back to the Future Part II
    319
    144

    Back to the Future Part II

    Clint Eastwood, Michael J. Fox

    Released1989

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 American comic science fiction film and the second... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Mad Max 2
    287
    125

    Mad Max 2

    Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence

    Released1981

    Directed byGeorge Miller

    Mad Max 2 is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Tron
    275
    126

    Tron

    Jeff Bridges, David Warner

    Released1982

    Directed bySteven Lisberger

    Tron is a 1982 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Lisberger, based... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Escape from New York
    278
    130

    Escape from New York

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell

    Released1981

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    Escape from New York is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-scored, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Spaceballs
    290
    124

    Spaceballs

    Joan Rivers, John Hurt

    Released1987

    Directed byMel Brooks

    Spaceballs is a 1987 American parody film co-written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
    250
    123

    Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

    Keanu Reeves, George Carlin

    Released1989

    Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    The Running Man
    237
    107

    The Running Man

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown

    Released1987

    Directed byPaul Michael Glaser

    The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    They Live
    274
    129

    They Live

    Roddy Piper, Keith David

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    They Live is a 1988 American science fiction film written and directed by John Carpenter. The... more on Wikipedia

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  • 24
    Weird Science
    254
    122

    Weird Science

    Robert Downey Jr., Kelly LeBrock

    Released1985

    Directed byJohn Hughes

    Weird Science is a 1985 American teen sci-fi comedy film written and directed by John Hughes... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Highlander
    100
    25

    Highlander

    Sean Connery, Clancy Brown

    Released1986

    Directed byRussell Mulcahy

    Highlander is a 1986 British-American cult fantasy film directed by Russell Mulcahy and based... more on Wikipedia