5 best shows like 'Dark Matter' to stream after the finale

Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly as Jason and Daniela Dessen in a promotional poster for Dark Matter
(Image credit: Apple)

Since premiering in May, “Dark Matter” has been one of the most popular shows on Apple TV Plus, joining the streaming service’s powerhouse sci-fi lineup that also includes hits like “Severance” and “For All Mankind.” Blake Crouch created the series based on his 2016 novel, which explores infinite alternate universes accessed via quantum superposition.

Joel Edgerton stars as physicist Jason Dessen, who must traverse numerous worlds to return to his family after his life is usurped by his doppelganger. Supporting actors Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, Jimmi Simpson and Dayo Okeniyi all play multiple versions of their characters as well.

Doppelgangers and alternate dimensions are time-honored sci-fi traditions, so there are plenty of shows that deal with similar concepts. While you wait for Apple to decide on a second season of “Dark Matter,” here are five more sci-fi series to check out.

'Orphan Black'

ORPHAN BLACK Trailer - New BBC AMERICA Original Series March 30 - YouTube ORPHAN BLACK Trailer - New BBC AMERICA Original Series March 30 - YouTube
Watch On

The characters that Tatiana Maslany plays in “Orphan Black” aren’t all exactly the same person, but they’re not entirely different people, either. Over the course of five seasons, Maslany plays more than a dozen clones developed from the same DNA, all part of an operation led by a sinister biotech firm and connected to a clandestine scientific movement.

The conspiracy plotting eventually gets a bit unwieldy, but the remarkable thing about “Orphan Black” is how distinctive Maslany makes each of the clones, even the ones who appear only briefly. Multiple clones stick around as central characters for all five seasons, and it’s never difficult to distinguish them, even when one is attempting to pose as another. “Orphan Black” is a masterful feat of acting as much as a gripping sci-fi series.

Watch on AMC Plus

'Fringe'

What starts out as a somewhat familiar take on the “X-Files” format, with a team of federal agents investigating strange phenomena, slowly builds into a multi-dimensional sci-fi epic incorporating alternate universes and timelines. “Fringe” is a good paranormal procedural, and it’s an even better futuristic saga, as the characters discover a complex conflict between parallel worlds, centered on dual versions of eccentric scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble).

As the plot jumps across dimensions and through time, it’s anchored by excellent, emotionally resonant performances from Noble along with Joshua Jackson as Walter’s son Peter and Anna Torv as FBI agent Olivia Dunham, whose past is tied to the Bishops. Like “Dark Matter,” “Fringe” grounds its heady sci-fi storytelling in meaningful personal relationships, making the mind-blowing revelations even more significant.

Watch on Max

'Sliders'

No one would accuse “Sliders” of being sophisticated or thoughtful sci-fi, but it’s the kind of unabashed silliness that’s consistently entertaining. Jerry O’Connell initially leads the cast as a grad student who creates a device that facilitates travel between alternate universes. Along with three other people, he ends up forced to continually jump between universes when the device malfunctions and is unable to bring them home.

Although the five seasons of “Sliders” feature plenty of cast turnover (original stars O’Connell, John Rhys-Davies and Sabrina Lloyd all eventually leave) and variable writing quality, the show remains enjoyably goofy. The characters travel to dimensions with dinosaurs, death games and imminent death by asteroid, among other absurdities, with another bizarre journey always on the horizon for the next episode.

Watch on Peacock (through June 30) or free with ads on Vudu

'Counterpart'

Counterpart Season 1 Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube Counterpart Season 1 Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV - YouTube
Watch On

There’s a cold war between two parallel universes in this sci-fi spy thriller, starring J.K. Simmons as Howard Silk, a low-level government functionary who discovers that the agency he works for is actually a front for communicating between worlds. His alternate-universe counterpart is an elite agent on the other side, so Howard is drawn into interdimensional intrigue, attempting to protect both realities from a breakaway group intent on escalating the conflict.

Creator Justin Marks (who later co-created “Shogun”) incorporates the sci-fi elements into a gritty espionage story, full of secret missions and double agents. Simmons is perfect as both the overwhelmed original Howard and his brash double, and he’s matched by Olivia Williams as the two different versions of Howard’s wife. They examine the consequences of their individual choices as they work to save the world they’ve made for themselves.

Rent/buy at Apple or Amazon

'What If…?'

Marvel Studios' What If...? | Official Trailer | Disney+ - YouTube Marvel Studios' What If...? | Official Trailer | Disney+ - YouTube
Watch On

Superhero comic books have been exploring alternate universes for decades, and this animated Marvel Cinematic Universe show takes its title and premise from a long-running Marvel Comics series. Jeffrey Wright voices the Watcher, an all-seeing observer who serves as a sort of tour guide to parallel dimensions. Each episode tells a story that branches off from primary MCU continuity, with new versions of established characters, in different configurations or settings.

Many of the live-action MCU actors return to voice the various incarnations of their characters, and the animation often reflects the look of the MCU movies, while still establishing its own visual style. Freed from the constraints of continuity and special-effects budgets, “What If…?” is able to make bold narrative choices without having to worry about how they’ll affect the ongoing MCU — and that allows for greater creativity.

Watch on Disney Plus

More from Tom's Guide

Josh Bell
Writer

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.