5 best shows like '3 Body Problem' to stream right now

John Bradley in 3 Body Problem
(Image credit: Netflix)

Packed full of physics, game theory and interstellar intimidation, “3 Body Problem” is a sprawling science fiction epic that pits two societies — one alien, one on Earth — against each other. 

Where to stream '3 Body Problem'

"3 Body Problem" season 1 is streaming on Netflix

The ambitious Netflix series is based on the novel “The Three-Body Problem” by Chinese author Liu Cixin, the first in his groundbreaking “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” series. Hopping between present-day England, China amidst the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and a virtual representation of a faraway planet, “3 Body Problem” — like many great science fiction stories — is unafraid of giving its audiences plenty to chew on, and rewards them for their patience. When you're done with season 1, check out these five shows like "3 Body Problem" you can stream right now.


In “3 Body Problem,” there’s an ambiguity to the plans of the alien species that at first makes it difficult to tell what their intentions are on Earth. At first, it appears as though they’re simply refugees fleeing a volatile planet, hoping to peacefully coexist with humanity, but it quickly becomes clear that’s not the whole story. “V” has a similarly uncertain atmosphere; when aliens arrive on Earth, they seem to be friendly, benevolent even. Things change, however, when Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) learns the truth about their intentions on the planet, which lean decidedly more towards world domination. A remake of the 1983 miniseries of the same name, “V” ran for two seasons on ABC before being canceled.

Watch on Tubi


Like “3 Body Problem,” “Foundation” is based on an ambitious science fiction series, covering multiple generations preparing for what is considered to be a cataclysmic event. It features more than its fair share of political scheming, with different interested parties attempting to assert their idea of what their intergalactic government should look like. But more than anything, “Foundation” is reminiscent of “3 Body Problem” because so much of its storytelling takes place on a grander scale, with characters not just crafting plans for their own lives, but ones that will directly impact their successors for centuries to come. They are playing the long game, thinking in generations of humanity rather than days, weeks or months, much as we see in Netflix’s latest series.

Watch on Apple TV Plus

'Childhood’s End'

A lot of shows are about an initial alien invasion, but “Childhood’s End,” a 2015 miniseries based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, takes a slightly different approach in showing the longer-term effects of a planetary occupation. Decades after “the Overlords,” as they are referred to, arrive on the planet, the Earth seems to have become a utopian society. As we see in “3 Body Problem,” there are some humans who embrace the Overlords on a spiritual level, viewing them almost as guardian angels — to their ultimate doom. If you like the sense of existential dread that permeates “3 Body Problem,” “Childhood’s End” has that in spades, giving viewers who like their alien dramas to get good and dark plenty to enjoy.

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple


What would it actually look like if Earth was invaded by a hostile alien force, and all of humanity was subjugated to their will? “Colony,” starring "Lost" alum Josh Holloway, takes place in a post-invasion landscape, where cities around the world have been cloistered off from one another in colonies administered by government forces loyal to the alien hosts. Just like in any occupation narrative, there are those deemed “collaborators,” who make a choice to work with the invaders in the hope that it will improve their day-to-day life to be on the more powerful side, and resistance forces who choose instead to fight for their freedom. As much about fascist regimes as it is about literal aliens, “Colony” lasted on the USA Network for three seasons before being canceled.

Watch on Roku Channel

'Game of Thrones'

In terms of the actual narrative, “Game of Thrones” doesn’t have much at all to do with “3 Body Problem.” After all, the medieval-tinged lands of Westeros are a far cry from contemporary London and outer space. That said, “3 Body Problem” does have a sprawling, epic tone that may remind viewers of “Game of Thrones” — and there are more than a few superficial similarities as well, thanks to the efforts of showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, who worked on both projects. They brought back composer Ramin Djawadi, who gave us the memorable theme for “Game of Thrones,” and several actors reappear to collaborate with their former bosses. In fact, it’s a veritable Westerosi reunion, with John Bradley, Liam Cunningham, and Jonathan Pryce all turning up in “3 Body Problem” after previously working on “Game of Thrones” as Sam, Davos Seaworth, and the High Sparrow, respectively.

Watch on Max

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Audrey Fox is a features editor and film/television critic at Looper, with bylines at RogerEbert.com, The Nerdist, /Film, and IGN, amongst others. She has been blessed by our tomato overlords with their coveted seal of approval. Audrey received her BA in film from Clark University and her MA in International Relations from Harvard University. When she’s not watching movies, she loves historical non-fiction, theater, traveling, and playing the violin (poorly).

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