The 14 Best Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy TV Shows of 2022

The 14 Best Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy TV Shows of 2022

io9 picks the best of the best, and comes up with robots, dragons, vampires, superheroes, and more.

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What We Do in the Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows
Photo: Russ Martin/FX

Thanks in no small part to the epic array of streaming services now available, 2022 was a particularly robust year for genre TV—filled with shows that elevated the viewing experience with drama, humor, and emotional thrills we can’t stop thinking about. Here are io9's top sci-fi, horror, and fantasy series of the year.

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Andor

Andor

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Image: Lucasfilm

Imagine a Star Wars show that’s more about the wars and less about the stars. No lightsabers, all foot soldiers. That’s Andor, Tony Gilroy’s gripping, character-driven, multi-layered story of soon-to-be rebel, Cassian Andor, and how his life helps created the Rebel Alliance. The Disney+ show was wonderfully written and delightfully nuanced, proving Star Wars can be a force even without the Force.

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The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself

The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself

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Photo: Teddy Cavendish/Netflix

YA done right, The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself followed a sentimental, brutal, and fast-paced cat-and-mouse game amid an inter-clan witch war. It centered love and kindness even as the characters had to fight for their lives against their families, abusers, and evil stepmoms. It had fantastic pacing, dialogue, and characters—the whole deal. It was sweet, sexy, scary, and a really fantastic series that was cancelled far too soon.

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House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon

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Photo: Liam Daniel/HBO Max

After the divisive final season of Game of Thrones, people weren’t sure what to expect when the prequel series House of the Dragon came to HBO in August. What we got was a soapy, sexy Targaryen history lesson packed with the franchise’s trademark political intrigue and messy relationships, but also one that extended its scope over more than a decade and avoided the sexual violence that Thrones seemed to unfortunately revel in. Anchored by killer performances by Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, and Paddy Considine, House of the Dragon became appointment television instantly. And even if it isn’t the best TV series of the year, it’s definitely the blondest.

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Interview With the Vampire

Interview With the Vampire

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Image: AMC

The first episode is a masterclass in introducing a new series, and every episode thereafter ups the stakes more and more until the bloody, horrific finale. With dialogue that is both baroque and sparse, every actor fully inhabits their character, developing a layered story through their nuanced, delicate interactions that are cleverly informed by seven books of increasingly absurd lore and worldbuilding. The interview frame allows for a deeply considered discussion of memory, trauma, and love, and even if you’ve never cared for vampires or Anne Rice, this sexy interpretation of her debut novel is an incredible prestige drama that nails every doubter’s coffin shut.

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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

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Photo: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

Amazon had a lot to live up to when it announced it was making a lavish, insanely expensive prequel to the beloved world of The Lord of the Rings with a licensing deal that kept a good chunk of J.R.R. Tolkien’s equally lavish worldbuilding off the table. But while it had its storytelling faults, The Rings of Power delivered one of the most gorgeous fantasy worlds rendered on TV this year, or perhaps ever, and an earnestly sincere tale of good and evil that touched on the heart of what makes Lord of the Rings so beloved in the first place.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

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Image: Crunchyroll

It had been years since Gundam had made a new series for television, as it chased the OVA and movie formats with nostalgic re-explorations of its prime timeline, the Universal Century. Witch From Mercury had a lot to live up to even before it hoisted upon itself the status of the first series in the franchise with a primary female protagonist on top of that too. But the series, on the cusp of ending the first half of its debut season, has smashed away expectations to deliver a fascinating approach to Gundam’s core political ideas in a new light, and a refreshing, adorable, yet incredibly compelling hero in Suletta. It’s opened the doors to a whole new generation of fans to explore one of anime’s most enduring titans.

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Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel

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Image: Marvel Studios

With an incredible team led by showrunner Bisha K. Ali with directors Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy,and Meera Menon, the Marvel Studios adaptation of Ms. Marvel was a cosmic success. Iman Vellani—who has her own real-life Marvel nerd pedigree—turned in a star-making performance as Kamala Khan, and we can’t wait to see more of her adventures not just on the small screen but on the big one as well in The Marvels. We loved the relatable approach to her story, relationships with her immigrant family, and the incorporation of South Asian history to her origin—not to mention the fact that Kamala gets to experience actual joy on her path to being a Young Avenger.

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Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death

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Photo: Aaron Epstein/HBO Max

“Oh, Taika Waititi’s doing a pirate comedy? That should be wacky and fun!” That’s what we told ourselves as we sat down to watch Our Flag Means Death. And indeed, it was wacky and fun—and then it started infusing all that wacky, fun stuff with wonderfully emotional layers we didn’t see coming. It’s a hilarious, bawdy pirate comedy that’s somehow also an earnest queer romance that practically became its own cultural movement, and we cannot wait for season two.

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Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty

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Screenshot: Adult Swim

Adult Swim’s perpetual standout showed no signs of diminishing returns in its sixth season, which introduced a new foe for Rick—the dreaded “Rick Prime”—and spent a good deal of the season leaving the title duo working through their adventures without the use of portal travel. Along the way we also met some wild new characters (Piss Master forever) and faced some unbelievably surreal situations (you’ll never read a fortune cookie the same way again), while learning the extreme importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions—including, but not limited to, always rinsing off one’s dirty dishes.

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Severance

Severance

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Image: Apple TV+

We’re still shaking from the tension in the final episode of Severance. Apple TV+’s sci-fi mystery comedy is about a world where people can choose to compartmentalize their personal lives from their work lives and all the intrigue and complexity that creates. Episodes range from hilarious and heartfelt to edge-of-your-seat exciting, all wrapped together with incredible performances (Turturro! Walken!) and stunning production design.

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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

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Image: Marvel Studios

Using John Byrne’s fourth wall-smashing Sensational She-Hulk and Dan Slott’s “superhero legal drama” comics as inspiration, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was a self-aware delight from start to finish. Whether it was Jennifer Walters busting through the Disney+ menu to get to Marvel Studios’ office to debate her own show’s finale, or Mark Ruffalo showing up as Bruce Banner to say he was “a different guy back then—literally” during the events of 2008’s Edward Norton-starring Incredible Hulk movie, She-Hulk was wonderfully self-aware and delightfully funny. It’s not just the best MCU TV series of the year, but of all time.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

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Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

It’s rare to see a highly demanded show match expectations, but Strange New Worlds didn’t just deliver on the Captain Pike/Young Spock/Number One spinoff fans have been craving since Discovery’s second season—its debut mix of modern visuals and drama with riffs on classic episodic Star Trek tropes led to arguably the strongest first season of any show in the Trek franchise, ever. A great crew lead by effortlessly charming leads, it was a joy to check in on what the Enterprise team was up to each week, a perfect balance of nostalgia and newness that has cemented the series as a crown jewel in Paramount’s plans for a Star Trek streaming empire.

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Stranger Things

Stranger Things

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Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things season four marked the beginning of the end for the Netflix sensation. Our Hawkins heroes faced a formidable foe in Vecna, who left the kids in a very Empire Strikes Back-style cliffhanger with one of our favorites in a coma. While some of the episodes felt disjointed—and extended runtimes made some feel more like movies—we loved the real threats presented by Vecna and how it all came together in the end, with everyone reuniting to prepare for the ultimate battle in season five.

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What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows

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Photo: Russ Martin/FX

What else is there to say about What We Do in the Shadows, which just wrapped up a fourth season as delightfully brilliant as the ones that came before? This year, we saw Nadja open a nightclub, Nandor get married, Laszlo become weirdly obsessed with home renovations, and Colin Robinson grow up in the oddest (and yet most musical) way possible. But special props, as always, go to Guillermo, who not only continued to kick ass and be under-appreciated, but got an especially nice moment when he nervously came out to his human family... who accepted it with a cheerful shrug, though they weren’t so excited to learn about his vampire-related ambitions, something we’re very curious to get into when season five arrives.

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