The Best Sci-Fi Binges You Can Watch in a Single Day (or Weekend)

Firefly, Dark Crystal, Batman, these are a few excellent weekend binges.
Firefly, Dark Crystal, Batman, these are a few excellent weekend binges.
Photo: Fox, Netflix, WB

Sometimes you just want the full story. Oh sure, you could start a binge of a show like Lost, The Expanse or Doctor Who today and keep watching that show for several months. But maybe you want to start something, finish it, and move onto the next thing.

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To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the best sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movies and television shows you can binge either in one day or over a weekend. Many of these you’ve probably seen before, others you may have not. Maybe today you watch something familiar and tomorrow something new? Either way, we’ve got it all. If it’s over like...16 hours long though? More than a season? It’s not on this list.


Stay away from other people, you bitch!
Stay away from other people, you bitch!
Photo: Fox
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Single Day Binges

The Alien Quadrilogy - Only the Sigourney Weaver ones. And really, you can stop after Alien 3 if you want but, it’s a great saga never the less.

Back to the Future Trilogy - No brainer here, right? Three excellent movies, one incredible story, multiple timelines, and a distinct lack of roads.

Pick a Batman Series - We’d tend to suggest you go with the Nolan trilogy, just because that’s a very clean three-film arc. But, you could also do the Burton films and end with the Schumachers.

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Bill and Ted - Will we get to see the third Bill and Ted movie this year? We hope so. Either way, there is no better time than now to prep and rewatch the first two movies. After you’re done you could even read some comics since the two movies won’t take that long.

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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch - You must be wondering, “Wait, just one movie? I’d finish that in a few hours.” This is true but, you could literally spend all day watching and rewatching Bandersnatch, making different decisions. and seeing all the ways it plays out.

The Cornetto Trilogy - Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost teamed up to do an unofficial trilogy that includes zombies, cops and aliens. Sure they’re three different stories but the sentiment, and humor, link them. That and ice cream.

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Indiana Jones trilogy - Yes, trilogy. They only made three. It’s a shame too, it’s been so long, it’s too bad no one ever made a fourth film.

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Pick Your Marvel Mini Trilogies - Obviously, the full Marvel Cinematic Universe is out to watch at home, but you could do an Iron Man rewatch, a Thor rewatch, a Captain America rewatch, an Avengers saga, plenty of fun options.

The Matrix Trilogy - Even though the two sequels offer diminishing returns, the complete story itself is dense and thought-provoking with just enough surprise and action to keep it all worth watching.

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It’s a Scream, baby.
It’s a Scream, baby.
Photo: Dimension

The Scream Saga - Ghostface, Sydney Prescott, four movies, plenty of twists and turns—we’re all in.

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The Snyder Trilogy - Man of Steel into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice into Justice League may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it absolutely tells a single story that may not have lived up to its potential but has its fans nevertheless.

Pick a Spider-Man Series - Choose your fighters: Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield, or Jon Watts and Tom Holland. A complete series, an incomplete series, or a still evolving series. All work for your entertainment.

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Pick a Star Trek Arc - The original cast were in a few too many films for a single binge but, but if you pick up with Generations and move ahead you can do the Next Generation films, or with the J.J. Abrams one, do the full (so far) Kelvin timeline.

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Pick a Star Wars Trilogy - The entire saga would be very difficult but, in a single day, you can easily enjoy the full story of Anakin Skywalker (Episodes 1-3), Luke Skywalker (Episodes 4-6), or Rey Skywalker (Episode 7-9). Take your pick.

The Original Superman Series - It would be a long day, and the end of it might not be “great,” but the four-film Christopher Reeve Superman saga has an excellent uplifting start, and a tone wholly different from today’s superhero films.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trilogy - If you grew up in the ‘90s, odds are you loved the original Ninja Turtles movies. There’s only three so they’d make for a fun, nostalgic binge.

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The True Terminator Saga - In reality, there are six Terminator movies. Too many for one day. And frankly, several of them suck. But if you decided to watch The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and then Terminator: Dark Fate, you’d get the perfect, James Cameron-approved, trilogy.

Toy Story - The beauty of this series of films, besides the fact they’re all excellent, is that Pixar doesn’t make them too, too long. So four in a day should be cake.

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Weekend Binges

Watch. Dark. Crystal.
Watch. Dark. Crystal.
Photo: Netflix
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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - I could write many articles on why you should prioritize this show, especially since it feels like so few people actually did. But I truly think, if you’re going to binge anything on this list, there’s probably no better use of your time than this incredible masterpiece.

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Cobra Kai - If you’re a fan of The Karate Kid films and have not yet seen its incredible modern sequel, which is at two seasons and counting, you have to see it. It’s absolutely amazing and goes down super easy with each episode clocking in around 30 minutes.

11.22.63 - J.J Abrams produced this time travel saga based on a Stephen King novel about a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. If you can get over the fact it stars James Franco, it’s a very solid little series.

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Firefly - In the mood for a nice sci-fi western that’s not set in a galaxy far, far, away? Joss Whedon’s excellent, sharp series will do the trick, with 14 episodes and a movie, Serenity.

Harry Potter - Eight long movies, even over a weekend, might be tough, but if you’re talking full, fulfilling sagas, few modern examples are better than Harry Potter’s.

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Pick a Horror Icon - Are you feeling Jason? Freddy? Michael? Leatherface? Each has just enough movies that you couldn’t watch them all in one day, but over two days? Sure. Why not?

The whole family would love Locke & Key.
The whole family would love Locke & Key.
Photo: Netflix
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Locke & Key - Netflix has yet to announce a season two of this family-friendly comic book mystery, but we hope they do. It’s surprising, scary, and super duper cool.

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The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Technically, you could get through Peter Jackson’s three-film saga (we don’t speak of the others) in a day. But if you want to go the Extended Editions route, it’s much better to spread it out over a weekend.

The Transformers Films - Are you a glutton for punishment? Do you just want to laugh all weekend and see a bunch of robots doing cool robot shit? Well, the five Michael Bay Transformers movies, as well as Bumblebee, will do the trick.

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Watchmen - The recent HBO series was a goddamn miracle and, with no season two on the horizon, you could watch the entire saga and be wowed by what it accomplishes.

The Witcher - With season two of this Henry Cavill fantasy epic now on hold thanks to covid-19, now’s a great time to watch (or rewatch) season one.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

frodo-batman-vader
Frodo-batman-vader

Thematic trilogies work, too.

Watch Dark City (Director’s Cut, preferably), Inception and The Matrix, and you get a nice Recursive Reality/“What is Real?” trilogy. Or Dredd, Mad Max: Fury Road and Snowpiercer for “Grim Hope in a Wastleland” trilogy.

There’s also the “80's Monster Remakes did it Right” trilogy of The Blob, The Fly and The Thing.

Or if you like space, you can watch Gravity, Moon and The Martian to get a nice “Perils of Space” trilogy, or Contact, Interstellar and Ad Astra for a “Humans transcend space to communicate with themselves” trilogy, or go fully mind-altering with a “Cosmic Meaning of Life” trilogy comprised of Arrival, Tree of Life, and The Fountain. (And if you can think of a third film to round out the “Classic Space Opuses” trilogy of 2001: a Space Oddyssey and the original Russian version of Solaris... please let this internet poster know?)

Other horror fans got a lot to choose from. You can do a “History of Familial Horror” with The VVitch, 1922 and Hereditary. Or maybe a (as yet unnamed) thematic trilogy consisting of The Ring, It Follows and The Babadook. Or for other horror fans, you can get your Scandinavian Horror fix with Midsommar, The Ritual, and Sauna (that last one is kind of obscure, but highly recommended).

Action fans can enjoy a “Killer Protects Child” trilogy of Leon: the Professional, Man on Fire and The Man From Nowhere, or a good ol’ “Shoulda let sleeping dogs lie” trilogy of A History of Violence, Taken and John Wick.

Or, hell, come up with your own thematic trilogy! Just take three movies you like that you feel share similar themes/production design/style/entertainment value, and go wild! Have fun!