Science fiction on television: Wikis


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Science fiction first appeared on television during the golden age of science fiction. Special effects and other production techniques allow creators to present a living visual image of an imaginary world not limited by the constraints of reality; this makes television an excellent medium for science fiction, which in turn contributes to its popularity in this form.

Because of its visual presentation mode, television uses much less exposition than books do to explain the underpinnings of the fictional setting. As a result, the definition and boundaries of the genre are less strictly observed than they are in print media. Because of the relatively high cost of creating a television show compared to the cost of writing and printing books, television shows are obliged to appeal to a much larger audience than print fiction. Some writers and readers believe that a lowest-common-denominator effect lowers the quality of science fiction on television relative to that in books. With the genre boundaries being weaker, screenwriters and viewers must use more inclusive standards than authors and readers. So the category of science fiction on television is considered in many contexts to include all the speculative genres, including fantasy and horror; in Britain this group is referred to as "telefantasy".

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Films ·  Television


Science fiction television history and culture

US television science fiction

Science fiction has been a popular genre with television viewers in the United States almost since its inception, and the country has produced many of the best-known and most popular sci-fi shows in the world. Most famous of all these – indeed, perhaps the most famous science-fiction program of all – is the iconic Star Trek and its spin-off shows, comprising the Star Trek franchise.

The first popular science-fiction program on American television was the children's adventure serial Captain Video and His Video Rangers, which ran from June 1949 to April 1955.[1] ABC's own attempt to cash in on the success of Captain Video was a small screen version of Buck Rogers in 1950. Other important live-action space adventure series of the early 1950s included Flash Gordon, Space Patrol, and Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers.

Science Fiction Theatre was an early anthology series, running from 1955 and 1957. It was followed by The Twilight Zone in 1959 and The Outer Limits in 1963. Lost in Space, a space opera which aired from 1965 to 1968, became popular with audiences. It was followed by the influential Star Trek, conceived by Gene Roddenberry and produced by Desilu Productions on the former RKO lot, which later was acquired by Paramount; it aired on NBC. When NBC tried to cancel it in early 1968, the show was so popular among fans that a campaign organized by Bjo Trimble successfully demanded its return, redefining the relationship between television networks and audiences. However, the eventual cancellation of Star Trek led to a decline in science fiction on American television.

During the late 1970s, Star Wars reignited interest in science fiction. This led to the production of shows including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Battlestar Galactica (1978–1980).

In 1983, the miniseries V used both Cold War and World War II allegories about totalitarianism, propaganda, collaboration, and resistance. In 1987, enduring fan interest led to the development of the Star Trek sequel Star Trek: The Next Generation, which became extremely successful, and led to the later sequels Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and finally Star Trek: Enterprise, which ended in 2005.

In 1993, seaQuest DSV explored environmental themes. In the same year, Babylon 5 began, set in a detailed universe, using a multi-threaded multi-level story arc. Although ratings were weak among general audiences, Babylon 5 had unprecedented support within science fiction fandom. It raised the bar expected by audiences and led to a broad increase in the quality of science fiction on television in the late 1990s. The time travel drama Quantum Leap used contemporary settings to find a broader audience.

The X-Files tapped into popular conspiracy fears and generational angst to find great commercial success throughout the decade. Shows with fantasy and horror elements drew much influence from The X-Files, and generally attracted large audiences, most notably Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and spinoff Angel.) Its influence on the sci-fi genre was still greatly felt throughout the 2000s decade.

Near the end of the decade, some comic science fiction shows were popular: 3rd Rock from the Sun, and the animated series Futurama.

In the 21st century, shows with paranormal themes like Medium and Ghost Whisperer had appeared on mainstream networks. Many shows popular with American audiences are now produced outside the US, including Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica.

In recent years, the much lower costs of reality television shows have hit all television dramas, but especially those with unusual cost requirements such as science fiction shows. This has led to a sharp decline in production since 2003, though shows like the 2004 reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, NBC's Heroes, and ABC's Lost attract strong audiences.

First run syndication was the most important venue for science fiction television between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s. After this period, specialty channels such as Syfy have replaced first run syndication as a significant venue for new shows.

Prior to recent years, science fiction television shows were normally centered around a premise and characters were defined essentially based on what they did or encountered in the course of their adventures. However, the growing trend (or, paradigm shift,) towards character-centered drama and naturalistic plots and settings has replaced the episodic action-adventure format that was once standard for television science fiction. Cosmic themes, sense of wonder, exotic settings, so-called technobabble, psychedelic imagery, and "two fisted action" have been mostly phased out in favor of human content and contemporary themes. Also, the demographic audience for science fiction has changed from mostly male to a significant female presence demanding more human elements and stronger female character representation.[citation needed] The aforementioned reimagined Battlestar Galactica is one of the most noted examples of the naturalistic approach towards television science fiction. Although television science fiction has always frequently addressed moral and social themes, recent series have done so with less subtlety and with more blatantly political themes. The anthology format popularized by Rod Serling rarely appeared in science fiction television after the 1980s, though aspects of this were used in both The X-Files and the 90s reincarnation of The Outer Limits. The current format, which was unintentionally popularized by Chris Carter of The X-Files, is toward long story arcs and season long plots with character oriented subplots.

At one time, prominent science fiction authors were frequently recruited to write episodes of various series, such as William Gibson's and Stephen King's work on The X-Files. Other writers include Larry Niven who wrote for Land of the Lost. The last major involvement of a science fiction writer was Harlan Ellison who served as a creative consultant on Babylon 5. This has also largely disappeared due in part to the logistics of writing for television and the reality of proper television drama taking precedence over good science fiction.

British television science fiction

The first known piece of television science fiction anywhere in the world was produced by the BBC on February 11, 1938. The piece was a thirty-five-minute adaptation of a section of the play R.U.R..[2]

In the summer of 1953, BBC staff writer Nigel Kneale created The Quatermass Experiment, leading to further Quatermass serials and feature film adaptations from Hammer. Unlike the US practice, British SF on television was mainly broadcast live until the early 1960s, and then mainly on videotape until the 1980s.

In the 1960s, Britain's independent television network, ITV, influenced by Canadian producer Sydney Newman produced the science-fiction serials Pathfinders In Space (1960) and its sequel Pathfinders to Venus (1961).

In 1961, the BBC produced A for Andromeda about a supercomputer artificial intelligence created from instructions received from an alien transmission.

In 1963, the BBC began production of the longest-running science-fiction television series ever, Doctor Who, about a time travelling alien called the Doctor. It lasted for twenty-six seasons in its original form, and has been revived twice, training a generation of writers, producers, and actors.

Gerry Anderson was keen on making science fiction for the independent companies. He wanted to make live-action series but did not have the money, so used puppetry instead. His science fiction shows such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Stingray became successful and are still well-known to this day. Later he was allowed to develop live-action shows like UFO, then Space: 1999.

Doctor Who alumni had moved on to produce their own genre programmes, such as Doomwatch, Survivors, and Blake's 7.

In the 1970s, ITV began to produce youth-oriented genre programmes, such as Timeslip (1970–71), The Tomorrow People (1973–79) and Children of the Stones (1977), as well as shows aimed at a wider audience such as the time-travel drama Sapphire & Steel (1979–82). The BBC responded with the 1975 adaptation of The Changes, which featured the quest of a teenage girl, Nicky Gore, to discover the cause of the shift back to the pre-industrial and pre-technological age, and bring it to an end.

In the 1980s, the BBC adapted novels such as The Day of the Triffids, The Invisible Man and Child of the Vodyanoi (adapted as The Nightmare Man), also beginning an adaptation of The White Mountains novels, under the name The Tripods. The BBC's Edge of Darkness was a popular and cultural hit. Later, Star Cops ran for nine episodes before being cancelled, despite critical approval. The BBC also aired science fiction comedy series such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf. Doctor Who was finally cancelled in 1989, although it was revived as a 1996 television movie (intended as the start of a new series), and in 2005 as a television series.

In the 1990s, Russell T Davies began working in the BBC children's department. His first sci-fi serial was Dark Season; two years later he wrote Century Falls. The BBC also produced the action adventure series Bugs, and co-produced Invasion: Earth with the US Sci Fi Channel. Davies was finally able to revive Doctor Who in 2005, with some financing from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Since then, the show has spun off two series: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Other 21st century British science fiction shows have included the time travel drama Life on Mars on the BBC and Eleventh Hour and Primeval on ITV. For children Britain has the BBC spy spoof M.I. High. As we reached the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, the UK showed that they could still produce good science fiction for television with shows such as Misfits, a show about a series a group of misfit teenagers who get superpowers and Paradox, a crime series in which evens from the future are downloaded from a satellite in space.

Canadian science fiction television

Science fiction in Canada was produced by the CBC as early as the 1950s. In the 1970s, CTV produced The Starlost. In the 1980s, Canadian animation studios including Nelvana, began producing a growing proportion of the world market in animation.

In the 1990s, Canada became an important player in live action speculative fiction on television, with dozens of shows like Forever Knight, Robocop, and most notably The X-Files and Stargate SG-1. Many shows have been produced for youth and children's markets, including Deepwater Black and MythQuest.

In the early 2000s, changes in provincial tax legislation prompted many production companies to move from Toronto to Vancouver. Recent popular shows produced in Vancouver include The Dead Zone, Smallville, Andromeda, Stargate Atlantis, The 4400, and the revised Battlestar Galactica.

Because of the small size of the domestic television market, most Canadian productions involve partnerships with production studios based in the United States and Europe. However, in recent years, new partnership arrangements are allowing Canadian investors a growing share of control of projects produced in Canada and elsewhere.

Australasian science fiction television

Australia's best known Science Fiction show was Farscape; made with American co-production, it ran from 1999 to 2003. Early shows made in the 1960s included The Interparis (1968) Vega 4 (1967), and Phoenix Five (1970). A significant proportion of Australian produced Science Fiction programmes are made for the teens/young Adults market, including The Girl from Tomorrow, the long-running Mr. Squiggle, Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left, Ocean Girl, Crash Zone, Watch This space, and Spellbinder.

Other shows like Time Trax, Roar, and Space: Above and Beyond were filmed in Australia, but used mostly US crew and actors.[3]

In New Zealand, the production of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess created an entire industry, building the foundation for The Lord of the Rings movies and other productions.

Japanese television science fiction

Japan has a long history of producing science fiction series for TV. Only a few of these series are aired outside Japan and even when aired, they tend to be heavily edited.

Live-action television science fiction

Tokusatsu (特撮), lit. special filming or more commonly SFX is the loose term used to describe the televised science fiction.

In 1958, Gekkokamen (月光仮面) became the first science fiction series to be aired. Tsuburaya Eiji, the producer of Godzilla films, produced Ultra Q in 1964 and Ultraman in 1966, using wireworks and firecrackers for special effects and suit actors for aliens and monsters. In 1971, Ishimori Shotaro produced Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー), based on manga. The single-hero series had commercial (merchandising) limitations among the youth audience (hard for group play), so the first Sentai series was produced in 1975, based on a secret battle team of five rangers.

TV dramas including science fiction elements are too numerous to list. Satorare (サトラレ) in 2002 featured genetic geniuses who broadcast thoughts telepathically.

Science fiction in anime

Osamu Tezuka played a major part in the history of science fiction anime with Astro Boy, an adaptation of a manga that began in 1952. Since then, anime has always been associated with elements from science fiction, particularly in the West.

Early science fiction anime strongly influenced Japanese live-action works, and vice versa. Gatchaman (1972) had five members, like most sentai (combat team) tokusatsu (special effects) series that followed it.

Tetsujin 28-go (鉄人28号) or Gigantor started another trend called Robottomono (ロボット物), lit. robot stories or Mecha. Mobile Suit Gundam (機動戦士ガンダム)) (1979) by Tomino Yoshiyuki brought verisimilitude for characters and setting to Robottomono.

During the 1980s, character development, even romance, grew in importance. Later episodes of Armored Trooper Votoms (装甲騎兵ボトムズ)) focused mainly on politics and relationships, while in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (超時空要塞マクロス) humanity was saved with the help of a Bubblegum pop singer.

The space opera genre is best represented by Morioka Hiroyuki's Crest of the Stars. Common anime subgenres include magical girl anime, Bishōnen, and Bishōjo.


Continental European science fiction series

Because English quickly became the language for big television productions after WWII, and because of Europes cultural climate, most speculative series where made to be historical, fantastic or mysterious rather than futuristic. European science fiction is produced in several languages most notable English, French and German and are usually children's series as well.

Northern European series

Among the notable German language productions is Lexx and Raumpatrouille, a German series first broadcast in 1966. Also well remembered in Germany are the movies by Rainer Erler, including the miniseries Das Blaue Palais. Danish television broadcast the children's TV-series Crash in 1984 about a boy who finds out that his room is a space ship.

Early Dutch television series are Morgen gebeurt het (tomorrow it will happen) broadcasted from 1957 until 1959 about a group of Dutch space explorers and there adventures, de duivelsgrot (the devilscave) broadcasted from 1963 until '64 about a scientist who finds a map about a cave that leads to the centre of the earth and Treinreis naar de Toekomst (trainjourney to the future) about two young children who are taking to the future by robots who try to recreate humanity, but are unable to supply the cloned humans a soul. All three of these television series where mostly aimed at children but became popular with adults as well.

later television series are Professor Vreemdeling (1977) about a strang professor who wants to make plants speak and Zeeuws Meisje (1997) a nationalistic postapocalyptic television series where the Netherlands has been build full of housing and the highway are filled with traffic jams. The protagonist a female superhero wears tradition folkloric clothes and tries to save traditional elements of Dutch society against the factoryowners.

French series

French series are Highlander: The Series French science-fiction/fantasy television series (both co-produced with Canada) and a number of smaller fiction/fantasy television series, including Tang in 1971, about a super secret organization that attempts to control the world with a new super weapon. Another French-produced science fiction series was the animated series Il était une fois... l'espace (English: Once upon a An interesting phenomenon has been the continuing collaboration between French and Japanese animators, resulting in a series of French-Japanese cartoons/anime, including such titles as Ulysses 31 (1981), The Mysterious Cities of Gold (1982) and more recently, Ōban Star-Racers (2006).

Eastern European series

Serbia produced The Collector (Sakupljač), a science fiction television series in the style of The Twilight Zone, based upon Zoran Živković's story, winner of a World Fantasy Award. Several science-fiction series were also produced in various European countries, and never translated into English.

Speculative genres on television

Because of the need to market television to a wide audience, shows outside the loose realm of science fiction will often tend to gravitate to established tropes, such as time travel or superheroes.

Science Fiction

The classic mode of science fiction on television is space opera, in which a protagonist or a group of brave men and women venture into the black unknown. Starships are a conventional setting in this category, with Star Trek being the definitive example. Because the spacecraft environment is by definition limited, a very small number of sets can be heavily used, lowering production costs and allowing producers to focus on character development, setting detail, or sometimes simply to keep a production in the black so it can stay on the air. Variations on this are space station series, notably Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, based on an open-port paradigm in which trouble comes in through the airlocks. Rarer are shows based on space travel without vehicles; Stargate SG-1 is the prime example.

Near-future settings work well for science fiction on television; shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, TekWar, Quatermass, Star Cops, Mutant X, and Fringe allow budget conscious producers to use street clothes and contemporary locations, using only minimal props and effects to foster viewers' suspension of disbelief.

Using stock sets for other shows results in odd subcategories like the science fiction western; some established shows also have the occasional episode.


Fantasy is less common on television due to higher production costs. Stories with animalistic or otherwise non-human characters, scientifically impossible talents, and settings that evoke awe and wonder are more expensive to film on a regular basis, making true high fantasy shows like Robin of Sherwood or Legend of Earthsea rare examples. Fantasy seems to lend itself to comedy with shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and Wizards and Warriors. As noted, to control costs, fantasy on television is often presented as finite mini-series such as Merlin or The Odyssey. As with science fiction, contemporary settings reduce costs in shows like Beauty and the Beast or Nanny and the Professor. Shows may be based on fairy tales, e.g. The 10th Kingdom, or mythology, like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, or divine intervention like Touched by an Angel or Joan of Arcadia, two shows that are also examples of the current paradigm shift towards character drama and away from action-adventure. Encounters with ghosts or the paranormal are a popular category, with shows like Medium, Ghost Whisperer, or Dead Like Me.


Horror has advantages and disadvantages in the medium of television. Due to the potentially upsetting nature of horror, many subject matters and themes that are acceptable in films (many of which are Rated R) would be unsuitable for general television audiences or must be heavily tamed, if not removed completely. On the one hand, horror can often be produced with inexpensive techniques: creative cinematography, pacing, lighting, fake blood or other simple props, prosthetics, or costumes. However, horror relies on a definitive resolution, often with a negative result for main characters. The episodic nature of television generally involves a resolution at the end of the episode, with characters surviving to the next episode; over time, this lessens the extreme tension required in horror. This makes horror an excellent genre for films, but much less so for television, though many anthology shows, notably The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Night Gallery, avoid the problem. Investigative shows, related to the mystery genre, such as Kolchak: The Night Stalker, also mostly avoid the issue (though they are hard on secondary characters). Shows with humorous elements, like The Chronicle, relieve tension for viewers but not characters in the show, making things more accessible to audiences. Some horror shows use common horror tropes such as vampires with more conventional dramatic forms like the heroic myth (for example Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or even gothic romance (Dark Shadows). Demonic powers and black magic are common themes in shows like Brimstone, Charmed, Hex, and Supernatural.

Adaptation with other media

Television is used as a medium for the visual presentation of fiction. In order to draw on an established audience, or simply to leverage the existing creativity of an author, television shows are sometimes based on novels or series of novels. The process of converting a print story is called adaptation. Producers, studios, or other intermediaries acquire the rights to produce shows based on a book with a contract known as an option; one might say "the studio optioned the book". Many popular novels are optioned, but only a tiny fraction of these ever materialize as an actual show; often, a producer who is interested in a particular show has to purchase an option from another producer who originally negotiated with the author. Rarely, other media are adapted for film, notably computer games.

The reverse process of adaptation also occurs. Shows may be translated into print novels as novelizations, where an author is contracted to write a prose version of the story line. Just as television series are a collection of episodes, if there is a plan to convert a series to print, that usually is done as a series of novels. A popular series like Star Trek has resulted in hundreds of novelizations over the years. The visual content of a film is an excellent resource for the development of computer strategy or action games. As well, a series, particularly one that has lasted several seasons, has a rich background of character and setting detail that can provide a strong background and an established market for a role-playing game. The most popular series and novels can result in adaptation in many different media.

Science fiction television production process and methods

The need to portray imaginary settings or characters with properties and abilities beyond the reach of current reality obliges producers to make extensive use of specialized techniques of television production.

Through most of the 20th century, many of these techniques were expensive and involved a small number of dedicated craft practitioners, while the reusability of props, models, effects, or animation techniques made it easier to keep using them. The combination of high initial cost and lower maintenance cost pushed producers into building these techniques into the basic concept of a series, influencing all the artistic choices. By the late 1990s, improved technology and more training and cross-training within the industry made all of these techniques easier to use, so that directors of individual episodes could make decisions to use one or more methods, so such artistic choices no longer needed to be baked into the series concept.

Special effects

Special effects (or "SPFX") have been an essential tool throughout the history of science fiction on television: small explosives to simulate the effects of various ray guns, squibs of blood and gruesome prosthetics to simulate the monsters and victims in horror shows, and the wire-flying entrances and exits of George Reeves as Superman.

The broad term "special effects" includes all the techniques here, but more commonly there are two categories of effects. Visual effects ("VFX") involve photographic or digital manipulation of the onscreen image, usually done in post-production. Mechanical or physical effects involve props, pyrotechnics, and other physical methods used during principal photography itself. Some effects involved a combination of techniques; a ray gun might require a pyrotechnic during filming, and then an optical glowing line added to the film image in post-production. Stunts are another important category of physical effects. In general, all kinds of special effects must be carefully planned during pre-production.

Computer-generated imagery

Babylon 5 was the first series to use computer-generated imagery, or "CGI", for all exterior space scenes, even those with characters in space suits. The technology has made this more practical, so that today models are rarely used. In the 1990s, CGI required expensive processors and customized applications, but by the 2000s, computing power has pushed capabilities down to personal laptops running a wide array of software.

Models and Puppets

Models have been an essential tool in science fiction television since the beginning, when Buck Rogers took flight in spark-scattering spaceships wheeling across a matte backdrop sky. The original Star Trek required a staggering array of models; the USS Enterprise had to be built in several different scales for different needs. Models fell out of use in filming in the 1990s as CGI became more affordable and practical, but even today, designers sometimes construct scale models which are then digitized for use in animation software.

Models of characters are puppets. Gerry Anderson created a series of shows using puppets living in a universe of models and miniature sets, notably Thunderbirds. In recent years, shows like Greg the Bunny and Puppets Who Kill have portrayed puppets as an oppressed minority, for which the politically-correct term is "fabricated-Americans" and the racial epithet is "sock". ALF depicted an alien living in a family, while Farscape included two puppets as regular characters. In Stargate SG-1, the Asgard characters are puppets in scenes where they are sitting, standing, or lying down.


As animation is completely free of the constraints of gravity, momentum, and physical reality, it is an ideal technique for science fiction and fantasy on television. In a sense, virtually all animated series allow characters and objects to perform in unrealistic ways, so they are almost all considered to fit within the broadest category of speculative fiction (in the context of awards, criticism, marketing, etc.) The artistic affinity of animation to comic books has led to a large amount of superhero-themed animation, much of this adapted from comics series, while the impossible characters and settings allowed in animation made this a preferred medium for both fantasy and for shows aimed at young audiences.

Originally, animation was all hand-drawn by artists, though in the 1980s, beginning with Captain Power, computers began to automate the task of creating repeated images; by the 1990s, hand-drawn animation became defunct.

Animation in live-action

In recent years as technology has improved, this has become more common, notably since the development of the Massive software application permits producers to include hordes of non-human characters to storm a city or space station. The robotic Cylons in the new version of Battlestar Galactica are usually animated characters, while the Asgard in Stargate SG-1 are animated when they are shown walking around or more than one is on screen at once.

Science fiction television economics and distribution

In general, science fiction series are subject to the same financial constraints as other television shows. However, high production costs increase the financial risk, while limited audiences further complicate the business case for continuing production. Star Trek was the first television series to cost more than $100,000 per episode, while Star Trek: The Next Generation was the first to cost more than $1 million per episode.

The innovative nature of science fiction means that new shows can't rely on predictable market-tested formulas like legal dramas or sitcoms; the involvement of creative talent outside the Hollywood mainstream introduces more variables to the budget forecasts.

The perception, more than the reality, of science fiction shows being cancelled unreasonably is greatly increased by the attachment of fans to their favorite shows, which is much stronger in science fiction fandom than it is in the general population. While mainstream shows are often more strictly episodic, where ending shows can allow viewers to imagine that characters live happily, or at least normally, ever after, science fiction shows generate questions and loose ends that, when unresolved, cause dissatisfaction among devoted viewers. Creative settings also often call for broader story arcs than is often found in mainstream television, requiring science fiction shows many episodes to resolve an ongoing major conflict. Science fiction television producers will sometimes end a season with a dramatic cliffhanger episode to attract viewer interest, but the short-term effect rarely influences financial partners. Dark Angel is one of many shows ending with a cliffhanger scene that left critical questions open when the series was cancelled.

Media fandom

One of the earliest forms of media fandom was Star Trek fandom. Fans of the series became known to each other through the science fiction fandom. In 1968, NBC decided to cancel Star Trek. Bjo Trimble wrote letters to contacts in the National Fantasy Fan Foundation, asking people to organize their local friends to write to the network to demand the show remain on the air. Network executives were overwhelmed by an unprecedented wave of correspondence, and they kept the show on the air. Although the series continued to receive low ratings and was canceled a year later, the enduring popularity of the series resulted in Paramount creating a set of movies, and then a new series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which by the early 1990s had become one of the most popular dramas on American television.

Although somewhat smaller, Doctor Who fandom considerably predates Star Trek fandom. Meanwhile, Star Trek fans continued to grow in numbers, and began organizing conventions in the 1970s. No other show attracted a large organized following until the 1990s, when Babylon 5 attracted both Star Trek fans and a large number of literary SF fans who previously had not been involved in media fandom. Other shows began to attract a growing number of followers.

In the late 1990s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer drew a large mainstream audience into fandom; greater demand allowed (even obliged, for the sake of time management) Buffy actors to charge much higher appearance fees than the Star Trek actors had. This pushed appearances out of the reach of some volunteer non-profit fan groups towards commercial event promoters. At the same time, a market for celebrity autographs emerged on eBay, which created a new source of income for actors, who began to charge money for autographs that they had previously been doing for free. This became significant enough that lesser-known actors would come to conventions without requesting any appearance fee, simply to be allowed to sell their own autographs (commonly on publicity photos). Today most events with actor appearances are organized by commercial promoters, though a number of fan-run conventions still exist, such as Toronto Trek and Shore Leave.

Also in the 1990s, anime fans began organizing conventions. These quickly grew to sizes much larger than other science fiction and media conventions in the same communities; many cities now have anime conventions attracting five to ten thousand attendees. Many anime conventions are a hybrid between non-profit and commercial events, with volunteer organizers handling large revenue streams and dealing with commercial suppliers and professional marketing campaigns.

Significant creative influences

For a list of notable science fiction series and programs on television, see: List of science fiction television programs.

People who have influenced science fiction on television include:


See also


  1. ^ Suzanne Williams-Rautiolla (2005-04-02). "Captain Video and His Video Rangers". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  2. ^ "Rossum's Universal Robots". Birth of Television Archive. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  3. ^ Tv Page Of Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide
  4. ^ Drazen, Patrick (2003). Anime Explosion!: The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-72-8. 
  5. ^ Clements, Jonathan and Helen McCarthy (2001). The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-64-7. 
  6. ^ Malcom, Nollinger, Rudolph, Tomashoff, Weeks, & Williams (2004-08-01). "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends". TV Guide: 31–39. 

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