Among the huge variety of shows and movies on the streaming service, Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots can be easily overlooked. However, it’s a veritable must-watch, as the experimental sci-fi anthology series is entirely unique and definitely not one to be missed.
Produced by Deadpool’s Tim Miller and auteur director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Gone Girl), there’s arguably something in it for all fans of sci-fi. Be it kaiju-style monster fights, psychological space-horror, Pacific Rim-style mech suit battles, or even just all-out gore, Love, Death & Robots has something for everyone—but what about when it ends?
Update Sept. 13th, 2021: Celebrated as one of the most memorable streaming series of 2019, Netflix’s Love, Death, and Robots went on to premiere a second season in May of 2021. Though it only featured eight episodes as opposed to the eighteen seen in the show’s first outing, it remained as cerebral and mind-melting as ever.
Given how short the episodes are, it’s a pretty quick series to binge, and fans will be left wanting until the third season debuts in 2022. Until then, here are even more off-the-wall sci-fi, thriller, and mystery series to check out.
15 Heavy Metal
As per Medium, Love, Death & Robots started out life as a sequel to the 1981 cult classic Heavy Metal. Heavy Metal is a one-of-a-kind science fiction fantasy film produced by Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. Based on the magazine of the same name, the Heavy Metal movie adaptation included all of the graphic violence and gratuitous nudity that made the original magazine such a cult favorite.
Like Love, Death & Robots, Heavy Metal is also an anthology film, meaning that it’s made up of a lot of wildly different, genre-spanning short films. The film goes from subversive to steampunk, and, like Love, Death & Robots, different writers and animators worked on each segment, giving them all a very unique feel.
Futurama wasn’t exactly known for its gratuitous sex, violence, or nudity, but, when thinking about shows that offer similarly self-contained stories to Love, Death & Robots, often addressing wildly different and often mind-bending science fiction concepts, Futurama was the first one to come to mind.
The underrated show asked big sci-fi questions about things like the ethics of time travel, it realistically represented loss through a sci-fi lens, and it even had an episode questioning theology’s place in the distant future. Anyone who’s seen the Love, Death & Robots’ episode “When The Yogurt Took Over” can attest to how much it felt like a Futurama plotline.
13 Lovecraft Country
Developed by ex-Sons of Anarchy writer Misha Green, Lovecraft Country was an HBO-exclusive adaptation of the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff. While it received critical acclaim and successfully merged the bleak setting of the Jim Crow-era American south with the equally horrific monsters of H.P. Lovecraft, it was canceled after a single season.
That said, fans of Love, Death & Robots are bound to enjoy this unique take on cosmic horror. It’s very rare to see Lovecraft’s work evoked so deliberately in modern media, with Love, Death & Robots being another rare exception to that rule.
12 Event Horizon
The completely underrated 1997 space-horror Event Horizon is the very definition of a cult classic. Critically panned upon release and holding a miserable 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, Paul W.S. Anderson’s science fiction horror movie nevertheless found a fervent fan base after being released on home video.
Its blend of horrific violence and religious imagery is certainly unique, and, despite Anderson’s reputation as a terrible director, Event Horizon still holds up today with its creepy set design, over-the-top performances, and its still-horrible gore. If “Beyond the Aquilla Rift” was a favorite episode of Love, Death & Robots with its space madness plotline and Lovecraftian horrors, then definitely check out Event Horizon.
11 David Fincher Films
One of the biggest influences on Love, Death & Robots comes from its executive producer David Fincher. Fincher is perhaps best known for classic films like Se7en and Fight Club, and, more recently, House of Cards, which is also available on Netflix.
Fans of Fincher can see a lot of his usual themes in many of the Love, Death & Robots episodes; from the darkly lit, seedy sex club in “The Witness” to the general screwed up nature of many of the episode’s worlds. His trademark narcissism can be seen throughout, even in the lightest and funniest shorts like “When the Yogurt Took Over” and “Three Robots.”
10 The Twilight Zone
Kickstarting the concept of horror anthologies on television, The Twilight Zone was groundbreaking in its presentation. At a time in which Creature From The Black Lagoon was considered to be teeth-clenching terrifying, The Twilight Zone was, in each episode, offering up tales of terror that are still effective today.
From the macabre story of a greedy family brought to ruin via a set of cursed masks to a mysterious creature apparently haunting an airliner, The Twilight Zone laid the groundwork for every horror-centric television series that would follow.
9 The Thing
On the face of it, John Carpenter’s The Thing doesn’t have too much in common with the stories in Love, Death & Robots. But, the classic 1982 monster movie is tonally very similar to the very best of Netflix’s anthology series.
The constant dread and body horror of The Thing can be seen throughout the episode “Beyond the Aquilla Rift.” The score for a lot of the episodes is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s own synth scores, too. Executive producer Tim Miller isn’t a stranger to movie references, however, having directed the hugely referential Deadpool.
8 Elfen Lied
Love, Death, & Robots‘ writers have a knack for explaining high-concept sci-fi plots succinctly within a restrictive time limit, and, while it’s nowhere near as short, the anime adaptation of Elfen Lied weaves one of the most complex science fiction narratives of all time.
Elfen Lied tells the tale of Lucy, a mutated humanoid known as a Diclonious who escapes from containment and takes up residence with a human family, creating an alter ego in the process. It’s an overwhelmingly weird and often gut-wrenching series, and Love, Death, & Robots fans ought to feel right at home.
7 A Scanner Darkly
It’s clear that a lot of the writers and directors of the stories in Love, Death & Robots are huge fans of the influential science fiction author Philip K. Dick. The whole series feels like one of his short story collections like “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” which was adapted twice into Total Recall. But, the one Philip K. Dick story Love, Death & Robots is most reminiscent of is A Scanner Darkly, specifically the 2006 Richard Linklater movie adaption.
Starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr, A Scanner Darkly feels like an extended episode of Love, Death & Robots; an adult-oriented, science fiction adaptation, all gorgeously animated.
6 Cowboy Beebop
Apart from the NSFW promise of profanity, violence, and nudity, the appeal of Love, Death & Robots is mainly within its distinct animation styles. Each installment has a different style, and each is uniquely gorgeous. Those who live animated science fiction owe it to themselves to check out the daddy of sci-fi animation, Shinichirō Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop.
Even though Cowboy Bebop follows the ongoing—and occasionally nonsensical—adventures of the crew of the spaceship Bebop, each episode is usually pretty standalone. It draws on everything from westerns to noir films, hardcore sci-fi space operas, and cyberpunk. The music is fantastic, as is the voice acting, and the English dub is a cut above the rest.
5 Ghost In The Shell
Ghost in the Shell is a multimedia series set in the distant future of 2029 in a world totally transformed thanks to enhancements in cybernetic technology. Best known for the 1995 anime film, Ghost in the Shell presents an introspective and deeply philosophical cyberpunk narrative that intends to have viewers question what it really means to be human.
Many of the themes explored in Ghost in the Shell also appear in Love, Death, and Robots, and fans of the series’ most abstract episodes will likely enjoy the Mamoru Oshii movie adaptation.
4 The Alien Series
All of the films in the Alien franchise are mandatory viewing for fans who liked the particular brand of science fiction horror present in many of the Love, Death & Robots episodes offered. Episodes like “Sonnie’s Edge,” “Suits,” and “Beyond The Aquilla Rift” owe a huge debt to the Alien franchise with their weird creature designs. The franchise is a must-watch for science fiction fans and film fans, to begin with, but those who particularly enjoyed the creature-heavy episodes of Love, Death & Robots definitely need to check it out.
3 Electric Dreams
On the subject of Philip K. Dick, those who enjoy the anthology series style of Love, Death & Robots will definitely appreciate the recent Channel 4 science fiction show Electric Dreams. Being directly based upon Dick’s stories from almost 60 years ago, the show may not at first seem as revolutionary or unique as Love, Death & Robots, but it gets weirder and wilder as it goes on.
Episode 2, “The Impossible Planet,” and the Bryan Cranston starring episode 6 “Human Is” are the series’ episodes best and closest to the trippy feel of Love, Death & Robots. It’s hit or miss, but, as sci-fi anthologies are quite thin on the ground, it’s worth a watch.
Starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac, 2018’s Annihilation is an adaptation of the cosmic horror-influenced novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. In it, a group of women is tasked with exploring an anomalous zone surrounded by something called “The Shimmer.”
The group is subjected to a series of horrors before a lone survivor discovers the origin of the strange happenings. It’s extremely open-ended and ambiguous, and, were it stripped back a bit, it may well be suited for an episode of Love, Death & Robots.
1 Black Mirror
Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror may not be the first science fiction anthology series of its kind, but it’s almost certainly the greatest. The trippy anthology series is similar to Love, Death & Robots in that each episode tells a different, mind-bending sci-fi tale.
Starring big names like Jon Hamm, Hayley Atwell, and Daniel Kaluuya and directed by a range of directors from Jodie Foster to John Hillcoat, each episode is a treat. Like Love, Death & Robots, the series, of course, has its ups and downs, but that’s the very nature of an anthology series. With themes ranging from political satires to war stories, from soul-crushing nihilism to heart-warming humanitarianism, each episode offers something different. It may not be animated like Love, Death & Robots, but it will hook viewers all the same.
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