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The Best Sci-Fi Shows Based On Books

Updated March 12, 2021 222 votes 38 voters 1.2k views16 items

List RulesVote up the best TV series based on science fiction novels or short stories. No comic book adaptations.

The best science fiction series based on books have a big hurdle to overcome: the fans. When other worlds have been living in full color in readers' heads for years, it can be hard to compete as a TV show. Even so, the best sci-fi shows based on books do more than just win over the biggest fans, they bring more folks to the fold who may never have even heard of the books before. Such is the power of the best sci-fi adaptations.

Some of the most popular science fiction shows adapted from books are based on book series, such as The 100, Wayward Pines, and both adaptations of the Roswell High book series. Altered Carbon and The Expanse are also both based on book series, but Altered Carbon mixes themes from all three Takeshi Kovacs novels while The Expanse more tightly weaves itself to the written inspiration by naming the final episode of each season after one of the books. The faithfulness of the adaptation to the original text may vary for each series but each one of these shows was born from a book.

Which of these shows based on sci-fi books is the best? Vote up the best science fiction shows below - whether because they nailed the adaptation or because they were top-notch, quality programming in their own right.

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  • Photo: The 100 / The 100/Warner Bros.

    Based on Kass Morgan's series of four novels (2013-2016).

    The 100 (The CW, 2014) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg, loosely based on the book by Kass Morgan. 97 years after a nuclear devastation has destroyed civilization, a spaceship housing humanity's lone survivors sends one hundred juvenile delinquents back to Earth, in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet....  more
    • Actors: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell, Eli Goree, Marie Avgeropoulos
    • Premiered: 2013
    • Network: The CW
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  • Based on the Expanse series of novels and shorter works by James S. A. Corey.

    The Expanse (Syfy, 2015) is an American science fiction television series developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on the novels by James S. A. Corey. In a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System, a crew unravels a conspiracy that threatens peace in the system and the survival of humanity....  more
    • Actors: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham
    • Premiered: 2015
    • Network: Syfy
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  • Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name.

    The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally subjugated, one woman (Elisabeth Moss) forced to live as a concubine hopes to be reunited with her daughter and be freed from the fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship....  more
    • Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer
    • Premiered: 2017
    • Network: Hulu
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  • Photo: Netflix

    Based on the Takeshi Kovacs book series by Richard K. Morgan (three published since 2002).

    Altered Carbon is an American science fiction television series created by Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Richard K. Morgan. In a future where human minds are digitized and downloaded from body to body, the wealthiest man on Earth (James Purefoy) hires ex-Envoy solider Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) to investigate in exchange for a second chance at life....  more
    • Actors: Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Dichen Lachman
    • Premiered: 2018
    • Network: Netflix
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