Based on the Michael Crichton novel, HBO’s Westworld is one of the most inventive sci-fi shows in recent memory. The series is set around a state-of-the-art theme park that allows guests to enter a simulated reality that resembles the Old West and is filled with robot “hosts” there to fulfill the guests’ every desire. But when the hosts begin gaining their own identities, they get tired of being pawns and start to fight back.
While the show hasn’t been a hit for everyone, it certainly does offer a lot to enjoy for sci-fi fans as the show enters its fourth season. From the ideas presented in this world to the way these huge concepts relate to real-world issues, it is a great genre piece. For fans of Westworld who want to dig deeper into sci-fi, there are many other science fiction series that explore similar themes.
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The setting of Severance inside a mundane office seems in stark contrast to the sprawling Western setting of Westworld. But diving deeper into the themes of both shows, there are clear similarities in these stories about those in control and those pushing back against the reality they know in order to gain their own control.
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Severance follows a group of employees at a secretive company who undergo a controversial procedure to separate their consciousness at work from their consciousness at home. But when they begin to question things, they find there is more being hidden than they realize.
Available on HBO Max and HBO
It is quite surprising that Westworld is actually the adaptation of a sci-fi action movie of the same name from the 1970s. Though a similar premise, the series updates the story to be a vaster and more in-depth look at the society that could create such a place as Westworld.
Watchmen is a similar sci-fi series as it is a continuation of the story started in the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore. While the original story tackled huge issues in its superhero story, the new series updates it to address more timely subject matter.
The first scene of Westworld had a very intriguing mix of the Old West with a sci-fi feel. Aspects of the show seemed like they were taken right out of a classic Western movie, but then there would be the elements outside of the park that feels futuristic.
That balance is taken even further in the short-lived series Firefly. The movie takes the tropes of old Western stories and puts them in the world of an intergalactic adventure. Nathan Fillion plays the leader of a band of space cowboys pulling off daring missions across the galaxy.
With the character of Dolores and the other “hosts” in the park, they are here to serve the desires of the park’s guests. It is a life of being used and a disposable object so seeing them gain agency for themselves and fight back is truly satisfying.
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There is a similar story in the series Dollhouse and its heroes. It deals with an organization that wipes the memories of its “dolls,” gives them new ones, and imbues them with special skills that meet the needs of their specific clients.
Another subject touched upon in Westworld is how humanity led to these cyborgs becoming more than just machines and how it impacts their lives. For some, they see them as dangers to the rest of the world while others what to see them free.
The series Humans also tackles the idea of life-like androids used for service only to become a larger part of human society. It focuses on synthetic beings used as domestic helpers and the various ways they affect the lives of those they work for.
Westworld uses a sci-fi concept to have fun in the Western genre. Likewise, Counterpart uses its intriguing sci-fi premise for a fun spy thriller. J.K. Simmons plays a mild-mannered worker at a covert organization, who is exposed to another reality where another version of himself exists.
The series plays with the idea of identity in a similar way as Westworld. Simmons is especially effective in playing two very different roles and being extremely effective in both of them. It makes for a fun and intense thriller with a Cold War feel.
The Expanse (2015-2022)
The biggest theme explored in Westworld is the idea of mistreated members of society deciding to fight back for their own rights. This idea is also a huge part of the underrated series The Expanse.
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The series follows multiple characters in space, where they work to ensure those still on Earth live in comfort. The characters are hardly viewed as humans anymore, but when they decide they deserve more, they begin to uncover a vast and dangerous conspiracy.
Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)
Available on Peacock and Peacock Premium
A continuation of the classic sci-fi series of the 1970s, this updated take on Battlestar Galactica was a huge hit with sci-fi fans. It tells the story of the last remaining colonies of humans living in space and in search of their abandoned home planet while being hunted by an enemy army.
This big space adventure explores the meaning of humanity in some really interesting ways, which is one of the things Westworld does best. Battlestar Galactica is also a really fun genre adventure with beloved storylines that are still thrilling for fans.
The Leftovers (2014-2017)
Available on HBO and HBO Max
While not as popular as some of the other HBO series, The Leftovers is one of the best series of the 21st century. It takes place following a global phenomenon that caused a large portion of the population to suddenly vanish. The series follows those left behind.
This is another fascinating series that introduces a complex society and explores all its complicated implications. It is a powerful, suspenseful, and thought-provoking story that makes excellent use of its sci-fi premise.
When Lost debuted its incredible first season, it wasn’t yet evident if the series would be a sci-fi story. However, as the plot went on and the mysteries continued to build up, its true genre origins became clear. The series follows a group of survivors whose plane crashes on an island and things only get stranger from there.
Some viewers complain about Westworld’s obsession with the mysteries and twists of its story. But those who enjoy that aspect will certainly love Lost. It features one big mystery after another, and while the answers aren’t always satisfying, the journey is quite fun.
Black Mirror (2011-2019)
The current trend of anthology television shows might have been heavily influenced by the compelling series Black Mirror. With each new episode, the series explores the various disturbing ways technological advancements could become dangerous.
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This is certainly an idea explored in Westworld with the idea of playing god revisited again and again. Not all the episodes of Black Mirror are home runs, but many of them ask important questions and tell shocking stories.
Raised By Wolves (2020-2022)
Seeing as how Ridley Scott is responsible for sci-fi masterpieces like Alien and Blade Runner, the fact that he was behind the HBO series Raised by Wolves made an instantly intriguing sci-fi series. The series centers around androids who are designed to protect humans on a dangerous planet.
Like Westworld and Scott’s other sci-fi films, the series explores the idea of androids serving humanity and all the issues that arise from that. It also features the kind of high production values that have made Westworld such a mesmerizing series. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after just two seasons.
The Handmaid’s Tale (2017-)
At the center of Westworld is the idea of an unequal society in which one group is forced to be servants for another. This idea is also explored in the harrowing series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood.
The series explores a dystopian future in which women are viewed as second-class and used mostly to carry babies for powerful men. Elizabeth Moss plays the series’ hero who gradually revolts against the oppressive world she lives in.
Altered Carbon (2018-2020)
The theme park aspect of Westworld looks at the idea of technology reaching a point where your wildest dreams can come true and all the dark implications of that. Altered Carbon is set in a future where technology has sort of created immorality, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
In this future, human consciousness can be digitally stored and transferred into a new body. The series follows a prisoner who is given a new body so that he can solve a murder. Along with similar themes, this show also has some fun action similar to Westworld.
Available on HBO Mac, DIRECTV, TNT and Spectrum on Demand
In Snowpiercer, climate change has made the world virtually uninhabitable as it has completely frozen over. The last survivors boarded a train that circles the Earth, keeping its passengers alive. However, the train has become a brutal class system in which the rich have everything and the poor suffer.
As with Westworld, Snowpiercer takes a fascinating concept and explores real-world issues with it. It also illustrates how those considered lesser individuals can band together and rise up against their oppressors.
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About The Author
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Colin McCormick is a Senior Writer with Screen Rant and has been a proud member of the team since 2019. In addition to his work as Screen Rant, Colin is also a writer of News, Feature and Review pieces at Game Rant. Colin has had a long passion and obsession with movies going back to the first time he saw The Lion King in theaters. Along with movies, Colin stays up-to-date on the latest must-see TV shows. While he loves to find interesting projects in any kind of genre, he has a special movie of crime stories that are infused with a little dark humor much like the work of his favorite author, Elmore Leonard.
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