What was the first science fiction series?

Did any series predate the 1936 series of Flash Gordon?

I don't really know a sensible way to search IMDb for the answer.

Wikipedia, erroneously, suggests:

The first popular science-fiction program on American television was the DuMont Television Network children's adventure serial Captain Video and His Video Rangers, which ran from June 1949 to April 1955.

Regarding Karel Capek's R.U.R. in the linked question, that was only a TV short, until 1948, when a movie was made.

  • I was looking for TV series specifically. Ones with multiple episodes.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:42
  • 4
    What about a sci-fi radio series, that's conceptually the same thing, right?
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 12:06
  • @Invisible Trihedron The [tv] tag was removed originally because the question has a broader scope than just TV. For that reason I've rolled your edit back as well.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 9:04
  • 1
    It's worth noting that Wikipedia isn't necessarily erroneous in its claim as it adds the disclaimer "popular" and is also about TV shows only I believe.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 9:05
  • 6
    Just to further clarify you're only asking about a visual i.e. film, short, TV series correct? I've realised the current wording could probably also include books, radio, plays etc.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 9:23

4 Answers 4


The first science fiction visual series I can find is the 1916 German film series Homunculus. It was released in 6 chapters and is a silent film. As far as I can tell all of the chapters were released in the same year.

Part of the artificial-creature series encompassing Der Golem (1914 and 1920), Alraune (1918, 1928, 1930) and Metropolis (1926), 'Homunculus' was the most popular serial in Germany during World War I even influencing the dress of the fashionableset in Berlin. Foenss, a Danish star, is the perfect creature manufactured in a laboratory by Kuehne. Having discovered his origins, that he has no 'soul' and is incapable of love, he revenges himself on mankind, instigating revolutions and becoming a monstruos but beautiful tyrant, relentlessly pursued by his creator-father who seeks to rectify his mistake.

IMDb, Homunculus

As noted above though Der Golem (The Golem, The Monster of Fate) was actually released in 1915 (the review notes 1914 but that appears to be a typo) and was the start of a trilogy. However, the second film, Der Golem und die Tänzerin (The Golem and the Dancing Girl), was released in 1917 meaning the series started after Homunculus and so depending on your interpretation either one could be the first series.

In modern times, an antiques dealer (Henrik Galeen) searching the ruins of a Jewish temple, finds a golem (Paul Wegener), a clay statue that had been brought to life four centuries earlier by a Kabbalist rabbi using a magical amulet to protect the Jewish people from persecution. The dealer resurrects the golem as a servant, but the golem falls in love with Jessica (Lyda Salmonova), the dealer's daughter. When she does not return his love, the golem goes on a rampage and commits a series of murders.

As a runner up the first American science fiction series I can find is The Master Mystery, a 1918 silent film series told in 15 instalments/episodes.

Justice Department agent Quentin Locke is investigating a powerful cartel that is protected by The Automaton, a robot. However, it uses a gas weapon known as The Madagascar Madness.

It's worth noting that the Guinness World Record holder for First television science-fiction serial is Captain Video and His Video Rangers a 1949 American series by DuMont Television Network.

The long-running series, set in Earth's distant future, tracked the adventures of a group of fighters for truth and justice, known as The Video Rangers. They were led by Captain Video (no first name ever was mentioned). The Video Rangers operated from a secret base on a mountaintop whose location was unspecified. Their uniforms resembled U.S. Army surplus with lightning bolts sewn on. Captain Video had a teenage companion known only as The Video Ranger. The Captain received his orders from "The Commissioner of Public Safety" (surname Carey), whose responsibilities took in the entire solar system as well as human colonies on planets around other stars.


It's supernatural, rather than Science Fiction, but probably the first TV series on topic for this forum was The Television Ghost (1931-33).

The Television Ghost was an American dramatic horror anthology television series featuring ghost stories presented by George Kelting as the ghost of various murder victims. It originally aired in New York City on W2XAB (now WCBS-TV), an experimental television station of Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), from August 17, 1931 to February 15, 1933. It is believed to be one of the first dramatic television series in the world.1
The ghosts of murder victims would tell the story of their respective murders. George Kelting was the storyteller and acted as the ghost, wearing white make-up and having a white sheet draped over his head.


A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata (Second century AD)

Depending on your definition of "science fiction", A True Story (which has also had its title translated as "True History"), was a short novel written in the second century AD by the Syrian author Lucian of Samosata, might count as the earliest such work.

Travelogues were a popular genre of literature at the time, and many of them were highly exaggerated and contained references to mythological creatures or beings.

He wrote this work as a parody of them. Its plot involves a section where the protagonist's ship getting sent to the moon by a storm, where they then wind up getting involved in a war between the alien people of the Moon and the people of the Sun over the colonisation of Venus.

  • Is it a series though?
    – fez
    Commented Feb 23 at 5:50
  • 1
    @fez Apparently the end of the novel claims there will be sequels, but either that was just a joke by the author or they've simply been lost to time, because we no longer have them.
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 23 at 7:47

A science fiction series of four novels featuring adventurer Frank Reade appeared in 1876:

The first story, Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, an imitation of Edward Ellis's The Steam Man of the Prairies (1868), was written by Harry Enton and serialized in the Frank Tousey juvenile magazine Boys of New York, February 28 through April 24, 1876.

A later series featuring "Frank Reade Jr." the prototype "boy inventor", ran through 1890.

  • 1
    I thought the OP wanted TV series. If book series count, Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon series started in 1865.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 22 at 1:57
  • @user14111 Would that have been a series of several novels, or a serialization of a single novel?
    – Spencer
    Commented Feb 26 at 19:04
  • Not having read either From the Earth to the Moon or Around the Moon I can't argue the point. For what it's worth, the ISFDB calls it the Baltimore Gun Club series. Maybe 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island is a better example. You could call all of Verne's "Extraordinary Voyages" a series, though it's not all stfnal.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 26 at 22:41

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