Dangerous Visions in the 2010s: The Science Fiction That Defined a Decade

As the 2010s have now drawn to a close, it’s high time we reflected on the past decade. And what better way to celebrate the 2010s than to talk about some of the brilliant works of sci-fi we’ve been graced with? The list below is in no particular order and covers a whole range of mediums. We’ll definitely be missing some greats of the decade, so feel free to chip in down in the comments with your faves!

Stranger Things

Let’s start with the obvious – Stranger Things. Created by the amazing Duffer Brothers, this Netflix hit simply cannot be missed from this list.

What’s it about?

The year is 1983 and young local boy, Will Byers, has disappeared. The first season of the series follows his misfit group of friends and a mysterious girl, Eleven, who they found in the woods. The twist? Eleven has telekinetic abilities and has busted out of Hawkins Laboratory. The story, across its current three seasons, has a rich narrative, combining sci-fi, horror and coming-of-age elements.

Why is it so great?

Since it was gifted to our screens in 2016, the show has quickly become a cult classic. With the charming 1980s backdrop, our loveable gang of characters represents the best that science fiction has to offer – not to mention the spooky vibes and pretty darn terrifying Demogorgons.

On a wider level, Stranger Things encapsulates the ‘80s nostalgia’ trend we’ve seen develop across cinema/TV as a whole. It seems that modern life has left audiences longing for a ‘simpler time’ and this has definitely reflected in the media we are currently consuming.

The Hunger Games Series

The Hunger Games, originally written by Suzanne Collins and directed by Gary Ross, symbolises the shift from sci-fi focusing on fantastical imaginings of the future to pure dystopia. It also represents the move towards younger audiences, with a lot of popular science fiction now being in the young adult genre.

What’s it about?

In a dystopian society called Panem, the totalitarian ‘government’ maintain their power by requiring each of the nation’s twelve districts to offer up a boy and girl to compete in the televised ‘Hunger Games’ – a gruesome fight to the death. The story follows Katniss Everdeen who, when her younger sister is chosen to compete, volunteers to take her place and accidentally triggers a revolution.

Why is it so great?

The enormous success of both the films and the books are enough to earn them their place on this list. However, what has really captivated audiences is their central premise that one ‘nobody’ can have a huge impact and make real change. There is certainly also an argument to be made that the overall themes of The Hunger Games resonate with the never-ending political chaos we have seen in the past decade.

Black Mirror

Another Netflix great, Black Mirror really has changed the sci-fi game.

What’s it about?

Black Mirror is a show that presents a series of standalone episodes that examine modern society through the lens of our ever-developing technology. In an article in the Guardian, show creator Charlie Brooker sums it up best:

“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone”

Why is it so great?

Drawing on modern fears of ‘technology vs man’, the show has received acclaim from critics and fans alike. Particularly of note is the revolutionary episode Bandersnatch, written by Charlie Brooker. The interactive film provides a cool 80s setting and explores the darkest depths of the human psyche. Incredibly written, beautifully shot and with an innovative ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect, what’s not to love?

Star Trek: Discovery


It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a new generation of Star Trek, and damn, was Discovery worth the wait. Since the end of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, Trekkies have been starved of new Trekternainment, but the launch of Star Trek: Discovery changed the game.

What’s it about?

Discovery is a prequel to the original series and follows much the same format as every incarnation of the sci-fi franchise, with the show being primarily based around the adventures of the star ship, the USS Discovery.

Why is it so great?

Admittedly, the first season has had a mixed reception while the series found its feet. However, as it progresses, the narrative really takes off, presenting classic Trek tropes and engaging storylines. There is very little else that can be said on this series other than watch it – just watch it.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

You simply cannot talk about the best sci-fi of the decade without discussing the superhero phenomenon that swept across our screens in the 2010s. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or just ‘MCU’, absolutely dominated the box office over the past ten years. In fact, since 2010, there have been twenty-one films that fall under the MCU, and it’s easy to see why they’ve been packing out theatres this decade.

What’s it about?

The MCU tells the stories of Marvel’s greatest comic book superheroes. While the majority of the films focus on individual heroes, the Avengers sub-series shows us how they all intertwine.

Why is it so great?

These films manage to balance fast-paced action and drama with genuine, captivating stories. On top of that, they’ve provided us with some heart-wrenchingly emotional moments (Endgame, we’re looking at you).

Space Dandy

Even die-hard Anime naysayers found it difficult to say no to the outlandish fun that Space Dandy served up this decade.

What’s it about?

The series follows Dandy, an alien bounty hunter, through his trials and tribulations in space. Dandy and his team, a robot called QT and a feline-like alien called Meow, spend this episodic series hunting rare alien species, with, of course, bizarre mishaps along the way.

Why is it so great?

With its bright colours and exaggerated action, this episodic comedy revives the surreal, wacky feel of old comics. Don’t get us wrong, the humour is not high-brow, but Space Dandy completely won us over in the 2010s.

Rick & Morty

Another animated series on the list, but one that certainly cannot be overlooked. Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s inter-dimensional animated sitcom Rick and Morty has cemented itself into both pop culture history and the hearts of an army of sci-fi fans.

What’s it about?

Meet Rick and Morty – a genius but reckless scientist with a proclivity to alcoholism and his grandson, a perpetually anxious teenager. The show explores how our title characters balance their ‘normal’ life with adventures across time, space and other dimensions.

Why is it so great?

Loosely parodying sci-fi classic Back to the Future, Rick and Morty brings us a dark humour riddled with sarcasm and wit. Don’t let its apparent absurdity fool you; underneath all the fart jokes and flippancy, there is an interesting philosophy underpinning the show, shot through with nihilism and anarchy. But, also, Pickle Rick and stuff…

Life is Strange

Hard sci-fi nuts may take issue with the classification of Life is Strange as sci-fi. However, we feel that the sci-fi-esque elements and the sheer quality of the storytelling on show here more than earn it a place on this list.

What’s it about?

Square Enix brought us this game in 2015 in five ‘episodes’.  It’s essentially an interactive movie, with lots of cut scenes and player decisions affecting the course of the story. Our main protagonist, Max Caulfield, discovers she can reverse time, and after re-connecting with her best friend Chloe Price, the player begins to unravel the deepest secrets of Arcadia Bay.

Why is it so great?

Just when you think that the game’s plot can’t thicken, it does. Life Is Strange has one of the most compelling storylines of the decade, and the struggles of the characters feel grounded and believable. With the narrative so rich and the characters so lovable, you really can’t go wrong with this one!

Paper Girls

With definite gender-bent Stranger Things vibes, Brian K Vaughan’s 2015 comic series Paper Girls just had to make this list.

What’s it about?

As the title suggests, Paper Girls follows a group of newspaper delivery pre-teens. While on their paper route in suburban Ohio, our four heroes are inadvertently caught up in a war between two groups of time travellers. The comic follows the girls navigating their way through an era-bending conflict they didn’t want to be a part of.

Why is it so great?

A two-time Eisner Award winner, Paper Girls combines a coming-of-age story with sci-fi mystery. Aside from the gorgeous art, we love Paper Girls for many of the same reasons why we love Stranger Things and we would definitely urge fans of the Netflix hit to give this series a shot.

Star Wars (Sequel Trilogy)

When you ask someone to think of science-fiction, likely the first thing to come to mind is space travel and Star Wars. Therefore, this list would be incomplete without talking about the sequel trilogy.

What’s it about?

The sequels follows on from the original Star Wars trilogy. After the fall of the Galactic Empire, those who remained formed the First Order. Despite Luke Skywalker being nowhere to be seen, the Resistance continues its fight. The trilogy follows Rey, a nineteen-year-old orphan, Finn, an ex-Stormtrooper, and Poe Dameron, a Resistance pilot, along with some familiar faces, as they attempt to defeat the First Order.

Why is it so great?

On a superficial level, how can you not love the throwbacks to the original trilogy and return of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Leia? On a deeper level though, this trilogy provided us with a strong female lead, inspiring a whole new generation of female sci-fi fans across the world! For that, it definitely deserves a place on this list.


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