Science fiction shows are notorious when it comes to surprising viewers with major plot twists. It makes sense. These are programmes in which literally anything can happen, by virtue of their – often literally – out of this world premises. Syfy shows are no exception. They actually have more ground to work with since their shows are so broad in the universes that they explore.
Whereas a good twist can leave fans craving more, a stinker has the potential to bring a show to its knees with a thud. Many of Syfy’s offerings spout plot twists left, right and centre, ranging from the minor to the gob-smacking and game-changing within the space of a single episode. Not all plot twists are born equally, however. Some do permanent harm to their show, others never even make it to the final production. Even when there is a history of bad plot twists that have hurt shows, producers never seem to learn, and tend to put storylines into their shows that fans certainly despise.
Running with this, we’ve assembled a list of fourteen ridiculous twists that hurt Syfy shows and – in a dramatic plot twist – seven more that would have saved them. There will, of course, be spoilers ahead, so be careful if you haven't seen any of these shows, but are planning on watching the,.
Here are 14 Ridiculous Plot Twists That Hurt Syfy Shows (And 7 That Would Have Saved Them).
21 HURT – STARBUCK’S passing - BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
For three glorious seasons, Katee Sackhoff’s Kara Thrace – aka ‘Starbuck’ – was a hotshot highlight of Battlestar Galactica. She was the cocksure pilot with a penchant for cigars and fans loved her. Towards the end of season three, however, showrunner Ronald D. Moore had the character written off in an explosive twist no-one saw coming. Least of all co-star Edward James Olmos, who made his anger at the ‘preposterous’ decision clear at the time.
Whilst it was always the plan to bring Starbuck back the following season, the damage was done. It didn’t help that Kara’s return saw her personality change for the worse and harkened a nonsense new plot strand surrounding her greater destiny.
20 SAVED – A NEW DIRECTION - ALPHAS
The story of superhuman crime-fighters, Alphas was canceled in its prime after just two seasons. Ratings weren’t stellar but they were steady and what really stung for fans of the show was that it all ended on a massive cliff-hanger.
And here’s where the show could have been saved. Among the twists series creator, Zak Penn had in mind for a potential third season was the rise of Ryan Cartwright’s autistic savant Alpha Gary Bell to the leadership of a less violent Red Flag movement. If a key criticism of the show was its lack of distinction, the tonal shift from effects-driven plotting to a focus on character acceptance could have set Alphas apart with time.
19 HURT – NO QUINN, NO COLIN - SLIDERS
Originally launched on Fox, Sliders moved to Syfy – then still known as Sci-Fi – after cancellation. Fans who thought Fox handled the show badly, increasingly upsetting its writers by taking control of creative decisions, had another thing coming when Syfy took, and repeatedly dropped, the reins.
The twist that really hurt Sliders was the absence of lead characters Quinn and Colin Mallory in the show’s fifth and – unsurprisingly – final season. Without the funding to secure Jerry O’Connell, who played Quinn, Syfy forced its writers to cut him out in an unconvincing body-merging twist. Charlie O’Connell’s Colin fared even worse, being inexplicably ‘lost in the vortex’. It all ended on a cliff-hanger but by that point, it was hard to care.
18 HURT – ZOD TURNS UP - KRYPTON
It may be premature to accuse Krypton of falling flat after just ten episodes but the mid-run introduction of Superman’s comic-book nemesis Dru-Zod feels like a misstep. For one thing, Krypton is a show set two hundred years before the Man of Steel has even been born.
As it transpires, Zod’s plan is to alter the trajectory of Krypton and ultimately save the planet from its later demise. The problem is that there is no way he will succeed, nulling any sense of jeopardy, and his introduction robs Krypton of the unique identity it was trying to build in a busy franchise. The show’s rating decline was unaltered by Zod’s arrival and a third season feels unlikely.
17 SAVED – HAWKWOMAN SHOULD HAVE TURNED UP - KRYPTON
Sticking with Krypton, there was one character whose inclusion might have made all the difference. Rather than an injection of Zod, the show would have benefitted from a dash of Hawkwoman – that popular DC character so rarely translated to screen. Though originally billed to feature in the show, Hawkwoman was dropped due to executive fears of character overloading.
It’s hard to say quite what the show had in mind for Hawkwoman before she was cut but it’s hard not to fantasize what could have been when you know it almost was. Could the character’s strength, spirit, and dynamism have saved the season’s dull plotting and daft narrative arc? Quite possibly.
16 HURT – PETER WORKS FOR SCYTHE - HELIX
Helix was the short-lived sci-fi horror about a team of scientists investigating a viral outbreak at an Arctic bioresearch station. Why short-lived, you ask? Because its down-right stupid plot twists consistently felt forced and, frankly, lame.
Among the worst of these was the season one finale revelation that Neil Napier’s Dr. Peter Farragut works for immortal villain ‘The Scythe’. Yes, that’s right, he works for the teen who would happily have killed him mere episodes earlier for being a vector. Talk about a role reversal. This twist was so lacking in logic that Alan seemed to have forgotten all about it by the end. In its desperation to shock viewers, Helix forgot to join its own dots.
15 HURT – TWO TELEPATHS - NIGHTFLYERS
Billed in some quarters as Game of Thrones in space – the only connection being the source’s author – Nightflyers saw space scientists wind up under attack from a violent presence on board their ship. Essentially, a lot of bad stuff happens but nobody knows why. It’s hard to pinpoint the single plot twist that hurt Nightflyers when the real problem was the accumulative effect of too many of them.
The realization that the uploaded consciousness of Captain Eris’ mother was behind the crew’s misfortune was fairly stinky but first prize goes to the revelation that there are two telepaths aboard. This’d be an intriguing twist were it not for the fact that the second is wiped out instantly, rendering the revelation irrelevant.
14 SAVED – GINN IS DOWNLOADED INTO CHLOE’S BODY - STARGATE UNIVERSE
This third series in the Stargate Universe had potential but lost mileage when ratings plummeted in its second season. As is ever the case with Syfy shows, future seasons had been conceived prior to cancellation and one game-changing twist planned for the next would have proved spellbinding.
Among the criticism faced by Stargate Universe was that its character relationships lacked complexity. A major twist planned for season three by co-creator Brad Wright, however, would have seen Ginn’s consciousness downloaded into the deceased body of Chloe by Eli, effectively creating a brilliantly bonkers love triangle balanced on the crux of identity crises. You don’t get much more complex than that when it comes to human relationships.
13 HURT – THEY NEVER LEFT EARTH - ASCENSION
In theory, this wasn’t a bad twist. Set on a ship halfway through a hundred-year odyssey through space, Ascension was promised as a new Syfy epic with a murder-mystery twist. Except, all was not as it seemed and, by episode two, it had been revealed that the ship had never actually left Earth and was, in fact, a social experiment. Shocker.
For those who hope for outer-space adventures, this was a let-down. For those who like their Syfy shows unpredictable, however, it was hardly better news. The problem was that the twist came too soon to resonate. Gone was the overwhelming sense of mystery, novelty, and dramatic impetus. Here was a crew that was literally going nowhere.
12 HURT – JOSH IS A WEREWOLF…AGAIN - BEING HUMAN
Much like the BBC series that inspired it, Syfy’s Being Human followed the lives of three roommates, who just happened to be a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost. Running across four seasons, the show threw up plenty of twists along the way but not all were well conceived. One that hurt Being Human was the decision to have Josh re-infected, robbing him of more interesting character development.
For two long seasons, Josh – who was always a bit whiny – had searched for a cure for his lycanthropy but it wasn’t long after he’d found it that a stray scratch from Liam re-infected him and reverted the show to square one. It wasn’t a satisfying new direction by any means.
11 SAVED – THE PERFECT POSSIBLE FUTURE - ANDROMEDA
Despite being the show’s developer and heading up its writing for the first two seasons, Robert Hewitt Wolfe parted ways from Andromeda when pressed by Syfy to make the show less complex. Not so long after leaving, however, Wolfe produced a one-act-play called ‘Coda’ to reveal his original vision for the show’s development.
In Coda, Wolfe writes about the ‘Perfect Possible Future’, in which Lisa Ryder’s Beka Valentine would have faced the Abyss and become Love, ending the war and ceasing to exist in an epic final mission. Whilst you can see where Syfy was coming from, there’s something much more dramatically stimulating about Wolfe’s conception than what actually transpired.
10 HURT – STRICKLAND’S EXPERIMENTING ON CHILDREN - THE EXPANSE
Based on novels by James S. A. Corery, The Expanse has a lot going for it, even after Syfy canceled it – thanks to Amazon’s renewal resurrection. One twist that proved even great shows aren’t fallible to twist failures, however, was the revelation that Ted Atherton’s Lawrence Strickland is experimenting on children in his Ganymede laboratory with protomolecules.
As twists go, this one was unnecessarily disturbing and driven by a yearning to shock audiences rather than follow in-show logic. The fact is, there is no reasonable motivation for Strickland to carry out his experiments on children, including poor Mei, daughter of Terry Chen’s Ganymede botanist Prax. Poor thing.
9 SAVED – FROM SEASONS TO FEATURES - STARGATE SG-1
Stargate SG-1 was the Stargate spin-off originally planned to last two seasons but ultimately continued for ten. According to its producers, however, the creative dream for the series was to have it bow out at the close of season seven, before using a feature film to springboard into Stargate: Atlantis. It was Syfy that insisted the show continue but, in doing so, robbed fans of more daring adventures. Further films after the springboard had been considered.
Instead, the show continued to have its good guys defeat some bad guys for a further three years. The continuation did, at least, allow Claudia Black’s Vala Mal Doran to enter the fray, we’ll give them that.
8 HURT – JULIA’S MAGIC POWERS - THE MAGICIANS
Syfy’s fantasy Lev Grossman adaptation of The Magicians made a bold move at the close of its first season, having Stella Maeve’s Julia taken advantage of by trickster god Reynard the Fox. If that wasn’t hard enough for fans of the show to take, the real bitter twist to the turn was the revelation that it was that event that gave Julia new powers and made her a stronger magician.
Were the show to have better explored the emotional ramifications of Julia’s trauma, it might just about have gotten away with the twist. It didn’t. Instead, this proved to be a crude and exploitative plot move. Unsurprisingly, it was a turning off point for many erstwhile loyal fans.
7 SAVED – REBOOT - TREMORS
When Syfy launched Tremors: The Series in 2003, it squandered the potential for greatness. Spun-off the popular Tremors film franchise, the show was canceled after only a half season. Six films later and the whole franchise is in a bit of a mess, all but forgotten by the mainstream and yet still plodding on. And yet, it didn’t have to be this way. Tremors very nearly found its savior in a 2015 reboot series due to feature first-film star Kevin Bacon.
Blumhouse Productions were behind the project, which was set to add character complexity to more franchise typical Graboid battling. Sadly, Syfy passed on the show after seeing its pilot and Tremors continues to languish.
6 HURT – RONAN’S gone…NOT - STARGATE ATLANTIS
Before he ruled the seven seas, Jason Momoa could be found roaming the Pegasus Galaxy as Stargate Atlantis’ Ronon Dex. Although Ronan was often compared to Chewbacca behind the scenes – and occasionally in the show itself – perhaps Darth Maul might be more apt? Much like Star Wars’ red-skinned spike head, he was a character seemingly unaffected by his passing.
In the show’s final-ever episode, back in 2009, Ronon is given a hero’s exit, passing away mid-mission to destroy the Hive. The impact would have been stronger were he not brought back to life by the Wraith within minutes. If it all ended happily ever after for Ronon, for Atlantis is was a deeply disappointing conclusion for Atlantis.
5 HURT – RANDOM ALIENS ATTACK - FARSCAPE
When a cancellation is as abrupt and unpredictable as was the decision to call time on Farscape, loose ends are inevitable. What that doesn’t excuse, however, is a ropey cliff-hanger so rough that it would have hurt the show even if it weren’t the final ever episode. As it happens, Farscape did eventually get closure but it wasn’t enough.
The twist came when Earth astronaut John Crichton finally proposed to renegade Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun, having learned that they were due to have a baby. A neat way to end, no? Pretty perfect really. Except, then random aliens appear from nowhere and, seemingly, kill them both. Morbid and ill-conceived, this was a messy close to a great show.
4 SAVED – ZOE MEETS ONE OF THE FINAL FIVE - CAPRICA
A prequel to Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica, Caprica didn’t come close to that show’s longevity. Despite positive reviews, low viewing figures saw Syfy cancel Caprica mid-way through its run, eventually rushing it off screens via a marathon showing of its final episodes. While we’ll never know for certain, a cross-over with its parent show, planned for season two, might well have been the making of Caprica.
As the show’s executive producer Kevin Murphy has since revealed, a second season twist was to see Alessandra Torresani’s Zoe Graystone meet one of the Final Five, a new direction more epic than anything in Caprica thus far and a real draw for old Battlestar fans.
3 HURT – THE DOCTOR DOUBLE - DOCTOR WHO
Now a BBC America shows through and through, when Doctor Who first launched in the US it was on Syfy, where it remained until Matt Smith took the main part. If Matt Smith-era Who was more twist-friendly than in the show’s David Tennant years, ten years ago a season four cliff-hanger threatened to change the game forever. This was the moment when a Dalek-wounded tenth Doctor began a surprise regeneration…only to cancel it within moments of the episode’s resolution.
The real twist was that, in undoing his regeneration, Tennant’s Doctor created a part-human duplicate version of himself. Which, let’s face it, was ludicrous. It also ruined the perfect conclusion of the Doctor-Rose love story with a twee bow.
2 HURT – SIX IS THE TRAITOR - DARK MATTER
As gutting as the cancellation of Dark Matter was for fans, after just three seasons, the memory of the first season’s finale still haunts the memory as a poor misstep. This is the revelation that Six betrayed his crewmates and was the traitor responsible for decommissioning Android (again – this happened a lot). Surprise!
With Six lacking any real motivation, the only logical conclusion here is that he was selected by the writers as the least likely traitor and therefore the most surprising as a revelation. If so, it’s lazy storytelling. Plot twists must make sense if they’re going to be bought by viewers and this one just didn’t. No sale.
1 HURT – BULSHAR BREAKS THE EARP CURSE - WYNONNA EARP
A fresh and smart take on zombie horror, Wynonna Earp erupted its own raison d'être at the close of its most recent season, nulling the point of its continuation. A fourth season has been commissioned but…why?
For those not in the know, the show exists on the premise that its titular lead must battle the curse resurrected outlaws originally eliminated by her great-great-grandfather. In the season three finale, that curse was broken and the demon bandits disappeared, leaving Wynonna no real reason to stick around. Viewers too, as it goes. Whilst showrunner Emily Andras has hinted that the show will now focus on bigger issues, it’s going to be an uphill battle to keep the ball rolling.
Which of these plot twists do you think hurt and saved these shows? Let us know in the comments!