The 5 Best TV Shows Ever To Get Lost In Space

Take a bunch of random people, stick them on a space ship and make sure that they have no way of getting home any time soon, and definitely not without some level of discomfort and entertaining – to other people, of course – adventures. Yes, it’s a classic TV trope, and one that keeps producing greatness. Welcome to the five best lost-in-space shows.

Lost In Space
The original, and if not still the best, then definitely one that’s still pretty iconic decades later (Dr. Smith! Robbie the Robot! Those are things that stick with you, even if the rest of the show can seem more than a little hokey at times). Taking twists on both a Gold Key comic book and entirely-non-space-related novel The Swiss Family Robinson (Being shipwrecked in the East Indies was clearly too passe for the mid-1960s, with the space race making headlines in the real world), the CBS TV series ran three seasons between 1965 and 1968, and accidentally created a whole new genre: Spacewrecked television. Who knew what would follow?

Star Trek: Voyager
It’s no surprise that, as Star Trek kept spinning off new series in the 1990s, each one requiring a spin on the accepted formula, that a “starship lost” series would turn up. What is a surprise is that it’s stood the test of time as well as it has. At the time, it was often seen as the redheaded stepchild of the franchise – this was before Enterprise demonstrated how bad things could get – but I’d argue that there’s a lot more value in revisiting this series than there is The Next Generation, for example. Part of that comes from the ways in which the writers, many if not most Trek veterans by this point of their careers, worked to keep things fresh for themselves and subvert formulas, resulting in gleeful attempts to mess with viewers’ minds or run subplots throughout multiple episodes without an easy end after 45 minutes. Yes, Seven Of Nine overtook the show in later years, but in terms of spacewrecked series, this is worth revisiting.

Red Dwarf
Like Lost in Space, Red Dwarf was a series that almost accidentally ended up as a spacewrecked show, ending up with the formula as a way to update the “situation” part of this particular sitcom while keeping down costs and upping character interaction: Three men and a computer stuck on a spaceship after the potential end of humanity? It doesn’t get much better than that. Luckily, creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor did everything they could to make the formula work, including alternate realities, time travel and just plain throwing the formula away when it looked like it might get stale. For a sitcom that was barely even a science fiction show for its first couple of years, Red Dwarf ended up showing just what you can do within the lost-in-space genre without breaking it, and created a show so entertaining that you can even forgive their overuse of the word “smeg.”

Battlestar Galactica
Admittedly, destroying the characters’ homes and forcing them to go and find a new one seems like an extreme version of ensuring that your characters can’t just change their minds and skip home once they get bored, but it did lead to what might be the ultimate spacewrecked series – even if it’s better if you forget those last few episodes. BSG took the genre to new places, and suggested the realities that would follow if a society really did find itself adrift in space, separated from everything it had ever known. Deeply moving, deeply depressing, but one of the best science fiction stories from the last few years, BSG redefined a lot of SF cliches, and in doing so, demonstrated once again how much mileage you can get out of a simple story about people stuck in space with no easy way out.

SGU: Stargate Universe
I’m tempted to say that SGU was Voyager done right. While dark, it lacked (thankfully) the misanthropy and downright despair of Battlestar Galactica, while still giving weight and thought to what it would actually mean on a practical level to be in that kind of situation (What happens when you run out of fuel? Food? Parts to repair the spaceship? This was the first show that really took those subjects seriously, even moreso than BSG, I’d argue) and the loneliness of those trapped in a situation they never saw coming. It’s particularly sad that the series got cancelled without any resolution, because it robbed the characters of either getting home, or never getting the chance to. It left the viewers as powerless and lost as the characters… and that’s something that is never as much fun to feel as it is to watch.

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Comments

  • Anonymous

    Gilligan’s Planet.

    Peter David and Billy Mumy’s Space Cases

  • percane

    farscape.

  • RunnerX13

    Besides the Borg, there really is nothing good about Voyager.  Worst story lines, worst characters.  

  • ZB

    What a shocker that Graeme once again shows that he knows nothing about what he’s talking about while trying to be “in the know” and exhibit his geek cred. “Robbie[sic] the Robot is awesome, right guys!”

    Robby the Robot is from Forbidden Planet. The robot in Lost In Space had no name.

  • Paul

    Actually the Robot was called “Robot” and it was model B9.  But technically it had no name.

  • Paul

    Forgot the wikipedia cite: 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot_B-9

  • Doug

    What, no Farscape?

  • Shaun

    So if the mostly awful Voyager made this list, let alone the hideous Lost In Space (which at least had camp appeal, and you can excuse it somewhat for the time period ), then there just can’t be many of these types of shows to begin with.

    So what was the point of this list?

    I think people (verbally) beat up on Graeme a bit too much here (really, no one’s forcing anyone to read this blog), but this entry is total filler with no apparent reason for exisiting in the first place.

    Anyhow, Farscape should’ve made the  (pointless) list.

  • Shaun

    Getting back to Voyager… Graeme, you honestly think it’s held up well? True, I haven’t watched it in a long time (I finally gave up sometime in season five, I think, and never went back) but it was such a missed opportuity.

    After an excellent pilot episode, the show quickly fell apart due to some terrible casting choices (not just Mulgrew, but she was certainly miscast) and lots of behind the scenes fighting between that idiot Brannon Braga, Jeri Taylor, and the late Michael Piller over the direction the show should take. It was schizophrenic, often lazy, and once Braga won out the show became nothing more than a watered-down copy of TNG (note how the Borg showed up so much and how many TNG cameos there were) and a showcase for Jeri Ryan’s, er, “assets.”

    Then, later, you refer to SGU as “Voyager done right,” so even you must not think much of your convictions, Graeme.

    If you wanted a smart Star Trek, with (usually) strong writing and interesting, diverse characters and actual surprises, Deep Space Nine was the show to be watching. Once DS9′s run ended, Star Trek was pretty much dead. TNG was (mostly) good stuff too, but the show seems dated now. Partly because it’s two decades old, partly because  it’s been re-run to death, and partly because the show held back too much. It rarely took chances, and the perfect little society TNG presented could sometimes make for bland storytelling.

    TNG had plenty of great episodes, sure, but DS9 was just an epic series all the way around. It wasn’t perfect, but I still go back and revisit the show from time to time and it amazes to see how well it holds up. Of all the Treks (even the original) DS9 was the most daring, and the most ahead of its time. I think it easily takes a spot at  or near the top of the greatest sci-fi shows ever.

  • Dr Empirical

    Far Out Space Nuts
    Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
    Fonz and the Happy Days Gang in Space

    What was that one with Jim Neighbors and the horse-headed dog?

  • Rod G.

    What? No mention of Space:1999?

    I mean, the whole freakin’ MOON wanders into the universe!

  • Adam Garcia

    Farscape?

  • Paul

    The Lost Saucer.  Jim Neighbors and Ruth Buzzi.

  • Seamus McClernan
  • Jackschnerk

    fonz and the happy days gang weren’t lost in space….they were lost in time. i should know, as i was an animator on that series. loved josie, as my pal alex toth designed pretty near everything on that one.far out space nuts………..well, two outta three ain’t bad! (lol) i’d also add h-b’s 1973 animated ‘lost in space’ pilot to the tally too.

  • Jgjones

    no Doctor Who? the original lost in space [and time]?

  • Hugo Sleestak

    Yeah! I wasn’t a huge fan of that show, but I was still surprised that it didn’t make the cut.

  • Hugosleestak

    Gilligan’s Planet. Yeah, it was only one planet, but they were still lost in space.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilligan%27s_Planet

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    He’s not lost.

  • Hugo Sleestak

    I’ve seen a number of comments shooting down Voyager and praising DS9, but I have to say that DS9 often bored me to tears. Mulgrew was what you’d hope a female commander of a starship to be like: attractive, mature, and authoritative. No problems there. Certainly better than Genevieve Bujold would have been if she’d kept the part. I didn’t care for the Borg presence, but we’d never really seen a “redeemed” Borg before, so Seven of Nine was not just eye candy, but something brand new. The Doctor was also something brand new – unless you’d watched Red Dwarf, but there the too-human holograph was just played for laughs. The only episode I’ve hated with all of my heart and which I wish I could mindwipe to this very day is the one where Janeway and Tom de-evolve into little water weasels and have a litter together. Holy cow, that was truly awful. Fortunately, that was the exception, and as time went on, the series got better and better. At least through the rearview mirror of my memory 80)

  • Anonymous

    Farscape.  You gotta count Farscape.

    Also Doctor Who does count… in the Classic Series he was pretty much lost and it has always been unspoken, until recently, that the TARDIS took him where he needed to go, not where he wanted.

    I would love Voyager more if the ship had deteriorated and/or looked more patched up over time.  Instead they complain about shortages but still manage to spend massive amounts of time on the holodeck…

    and about the Holodeck: the worst thing ever to happen to Star Trek.  So many pointless episodes… it just became a crutch for “we can’t think of how to fill in 44 minutes”… this is why Enterprise was a breath of fresh air – NO holodeck.  Seriously, think about it.

  • Anonymous

    Wow you really can’t let go of the fact that you don’t like the last few eps of BSG.

  • Michael P

    Actually, even the Borg suck in Voyager.

  • Paul

    Maybe because they weren’t science fiction *at all* but religious crap.

  • Anonymous

    Lol yeah as opposed to the “I’m a prophet I’ll help us find Earth” religious stuff that was in the show from the very beginning.   The last eps were well done and wrapped up the story, not sure what people want.

  • Rollahardsix

    I do quite enjoy the last few episodes of BSG, it wraps up the story and give an end to the characters.

    I find the assertation that SGU is a better portrayal of survival than BSG rather insulting seeing as from what I’ve seen a lot of their issues seem to be solved by having the ship into a sun. And the food issue they solve by making a greenhouse, so unrealistic.

  • demoncat_4

    actully star trek ds9 is the one considered the red head step child not voyager . though at times the show got a little  off track. and red dwarf proved nothing was off limits for trying to be a stranded in space show.

  • Nschornhorst

    Also, while Robby wasn’t ‘the’ Robot in Lost in Space, he did appear in an episode as a  rival to the Lost in Space Robot.

  • CaseyJustice

    Space Cases!

  • H. P.

    No love for Lexx?

  • Dan Tyson

    Hmm..would Earth-2 qualify? ..wait, I can’t remember whether they were ‘lost’ or not..

  • http://www.facebook.com/Rugor Dave Robinson

    For all its popularity, I’ve always hated that trope – something about the characters not being in control of their destinies.

  • Kick Press

    Chaotica was brilliant and Seven of Nine was hot!

  • ATK

    I’ll admit I began reading this because the title confused me for a moment. I get that it was referring to shows that depicted being “lost in space” but to designate to them as a sub-genre was a little absurd. Plus it leaves out similar sci-fi products like Sliders or I think in the 60′s it was Time Team and Land of the Lost. Are these not similar themed and also a less narrow view of the sci-fi world. Plus to give a top five of the space themed shows is narrowing down what, like 8 shows. (Comments helped as I had forgotten a couple, Thankx everybody) All I’m saying is why not cover more instead of a top five. Pointless countdowns went out with the Noughties, though IGN has yet to realize this. (That and you can display more than one item per page)
     
    That being said, Loved all of Star Trek – Even Enterprise had its moments. The Two part Mirror, Mirror episode was classic. Between Voyager and DS9 Voyager is my favorite. Though DS9 had some awesome battle scenes towards the end.
     
    Never got into Lost in Space, little before my time and the few times I watched it never held my interest. Same with Red Dwarf.
     
    Battlestar Galactica (21st Century) was awesome. The god stuff was there from the beginning. It wasn’t perfect but I like it, ending and all. Same applies to Lost, my only theory there is they intentionally left stuff out so they can expand it further in the future if they decided to. Again not perfect but a great ride.
     
    SGU – Where to begin. The finale left me as lost as anything I have ever watched on TV. Watching Destiny sail into the distance made it all the more painful as I have a bad feeling this will be the last Stargate series for a while. I’d like to be proven wrong though. I think it failed for some of the reasons Graeme liked it. I’m not picking on Graeme for once as I like the show for many of the same reasons. But I think some of that tedious detail dragged the show down. It was a great show but it was very much a Drama where the other shows focused on action/adventure with drama mixed in. If we had a little more progression in the first season I think it may have lasted longer. Will miss it terribly.
     
    Farscape – So awesome and so unremembered. I say that not because it isn’t memorable, it is. It just has little exposure compared to other sci-fi shows. The series was great and I hope someday they decide to do something more with it. Would be nice to see it in syndication more.
     
    Sliders – A great show that didn’t know when to quit. If they had wrapped the show when Jerry O’Conn… left they could have ended it with some dignity and a concise story. Instead they had to let it bleed to death trying to rewrite its own history.
     
    Exiles – ok Not a TV show but as far as lost in Time/Space/dimension stories go it was the best X-Men Comic book ever. Take Blink from the age of Apocalypse and throw in a Sliders mentality in the Marvel Universe and you get a wonderful story for the first 80 issues and then Chris Claremont kills it.

  • Doctor Smegith

    Oh, the pain… the pain…

  • Tory

    Doctor Who, as others might have stated, in the original premise, The Doctor kidnaps Barbara and Ian and refuses to take them home then later finds he couldn’t even if he wanted to. It has also been said the Tardis takes him where he is needed rather than where he aims to go. The 3rd Doctor was an alien stuck on earth, he couldn’t go to space anymore, shoot, the Doctor was on the run from his own people before that, he couldn’t go home. For a period in the 4th Doctor’s reign things were deliberatly randomized so as to hide their actions from the Black Guardian.

  • nik

    I liked the Q and Borg stuff, everything else I just tuned out.

  • Faust

    Sometimes he is. Or he’ll rock up at a place he wasn’t expecting ;)

  • Faust

    If we’re talking about lost in time.

    Quantum Leap has to be number 1!! :)

  • Esharris

    Here are some more.
    Far Out Space NutsLand of the LostJosie and the Pussycats in Outer SpaceSliders

  • Brian from Canada

    Janeway wasn’t mature and authoritative unless that particular episode called for it; she would be soft and wishy washy as well. Not to mention the whole demotion of Tom Paris despite the fact that others had broken the rules far worse.

    Personally, after that whole fiasco of an ending, the only thing my friends and I could agree on was that Janeway HAD to be made an admiral by Nemesis because, on closer examination, there’s no way that woman should have ever been left in command!

  • Brian from Canada

    Stargate wasn’t cancelled for its content. Stargate Universe was cancelled because it got poor ratings on Tuesdays nights — against network television’s highest rated shows. There was no way SyFy was going to make huge gains numerically on the series, especially with the mid-season gap, and NBC-Universal did that (I think, anyway) on purpose to cut costs.

    There’s nothing really science fiction on SyFy any more except re-runs. (Haven and Sanctuary borrow more from horror than science fiction.) 

  • Cpatmaier

    Yeah, Land of the Lost wasn’t really a space show, but they were of course, ‘lost’ and not on Earth (Although it’s a common misconception made that they went ‘back in time’ when in fact it was a different universe or something)….

  • Ded Duc

    FARSCAPE

  • Jjgerding

    Two words. VOYAGER SUCKED!!!!!! ‘Nuff said.

  • Peter Christopher

    Was there any reason to NOT even mention the ORIGINAL version of ‘Battlestar Galactica’?
    Sure…. forgetting ‘Galactica 1980′ is fine, but never forget the original series!

  • David Fullam

    I loved Robbie in Lost in Space! My fave episode is the one that features Robbie teaming up Mobile Suit Gundam and the Cybermen! LOL :)

  • Andrew

    I’ll second Space Cases. Great show for all ages with Jewel Staite! Great stuff.

  • Nickisgodnaj

    ummmmm FARSCAPE

  • Sijo

    1999 was terrible; it was illogical and pretentious, I could tell that even as a kid. But it was entertaining in its own crazy ways.

  • Kgorman

    What about babylon 5 ??

  • Kgorman

    My 5 picks would be  in order…..  Original Star Trek…babylon 5….battlestar Galactica <remake.
    Stargate SG1 ….Voyage to the bottom of the Sea .

  • Emperorlondo

    Umm..they were on a space station orbiting Epsilon 3. Not only were they not lost..the station never moved.

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

    No mention of The Starlost?
    1) All that remains of Humanity on an out-of-control starship plunging towards incineration in the heart of a star!
    2) Various cliques vying for power!
    3) Being harassed by aliens/robots/sentient computers!
    Great concept.
    Lousy execution!
    Should be given the BSG-remake treatment!

  • http://twitter.com/jleehenderson Jeremy Henderson

    The sad thing is that Voyager had, arguably, the most interesting setup of any Star Trek series, not just the lost in space aspect, but that this was a show crewed by a combination of Starfleet officers and Maquis terrorists. The character and plot potential for that kind of tension should have huge, but it’s largely abandoned early on, and even when they did deal with head on it was usually in the blandest, least interesting way possible.

  • Sugargl1der

    That was “The Lost Saucer” with Ruth Buzzi.

  • Sephy

    Pretty much this.

    Janeway, as a character, should have been thrown in prison the moment Voyager got back to the Alpha Quandrant. She was a terrible commanding officer who quite literally put her own moral beliefs ahead of the lives of her crew and Starfleet policies (I believe there’s an episode that has her say this almost verbatum). Plus there are countless episodes where she violates the Prime Directive (even saying “consider the Prime Directive dismissed”) or tosses it aside like its meaningless. In one of the Q episodes, Q even offers Janeway a chance to teleport Voyager home in exchange for letting the Q deal with a rogue Q (aka: a direct ticket home so long as Janeway stays out of internal Q business.. *ahem*Prime Directive*ahem*).

    So yeah, Janeway pretty much summarizes everything that was wrong with Rick Berman era Star Trek at the time.

    Also, for all the bashing of Enterprise that happens… I have to point out that Enterprise managed to stay on the air longer then The Original Series managed to. Enterprise lasted 4 seasons while TOS only lasted 3, and in hindsight TOS should have stopped after season 2 so we could have avoided the god awful Season 3.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sana-Ahmad/100002611356559 Sana Ahmad

    top20lists.com….This blog contains a similar post

  • http://twitter.com/madbrendan BRENDAN O COINEALINN

    how did they know my twitter name?