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5 Shows like Terra Nova: Past & Future Collide

Helen Maloney itcher‘Terra Nova’ (2011) was unfortunately cancelled after the first series but if you enjoyed the show and its concept then check out these other TV shows like ‘Terra Nova’. In ‘Primeval’ dinosaurs are on the rampage, while in ‘Revolution’ modern humans are coping in ancient conditions and in ‘Stargate SG1’ travelling through portals is an everyday occurrence. ~ Helen Maloney

New Earth or Old Earth?

‘Terra Nova’ is set in the year 2149 when pollution and population levels have destroyed the planet and our health. The Shannons are one of the lucky families sent through the portal 85m years into the past and an alternative time stream.

The series is an interesting mix of advanced technology, modern people and a prehistoric setting. We follow the Shannons as they settle in to their new life, make new friends, battle dinosaurs, and unearth conspiracies and secrets.

Personally, I was disappointed when the series ended, so it’s with great pleasure that I write this article full of series similar to ‘Terra Nova’ in some way and hopefully as equally entertaining for you.


Shows Similar to ‘Terra Nova’…

‘Primeval’ (ITV, 2007-2011)

Professor Cutter (Douglas Henshall) and his team find themselves saving the day when anomalies start appearing in England, out of which prehistoric creatures emerge and cause havoc.

Not to be taken seriously in any way, it’s a light-hearted and often cheesy series, where a mix of geeks and soldiers battle ‘monsters’ and dinosaurs in a modern day setting. There are, of course, secrets to uncover, conspiracies to break down and tensions to release, as you would expect.

Similarity Match: 85%
There’s portals and prehistoric creatures but unlike ‘Terra Nova’, there’s no actual time travel involved.

‘Stargate SG1’ (Showtime, Syfy, 1997-2007)

An artefact known as a Stargate is discovered: a portal that allows you to travel to distant planets. A military programme is created to explore the galaxy and we follow the SG1 team on their adventures. So many cultures and species await them.

This was one of my favourite TV shows as a child, with its blend of action, fantasy and sci-fi elements. Watching an episode now is like visiting old friends, especially Jack O’Neil (Richard Dean Anderson) and Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and their ‘will they, won’t they?’ relationship.

Similarity Match: 80%
Similarly to ‘Terra Nova’, the SG1 team find themselves dealing with conspiracies, secrets, advanced technology and even time travel, however, there are no dinosaurs (boo!).

‘The Lost World’ (BBC, 2001)

A two-part mini-series with Professor Challenger (Bob Huskins) leading an expedition to the depths of the Amazonian jungle to find a mysterious place where dinosaurs have somehow survived.

Forget the Jurassic Park franchise, this is based on Conan Doyle’s book and is a tale of danger, humour and unexpected romance. Set in the early 1900’s, the team discover dinosaurs and prehistoric man, among other things, as well as exploring a prehistoric landscape.

Oh, and did I mention there were dinosaurs? (Yay!)

Similarity Match: 80%
Although there is no time travel, this is still a series about different time periods colliding in a dramatic way.


If You Like ‘Terra Nova’, You Will Like…

So far we’ve had jumping through portals, battling primeval creatures and surviving among dinosaurs. Now it’s time to focus on when the past and present/future collide in interesting ways and have some fun with it.

‘Revolution’ (NBC, 2012-2014)

Ever wondered what life would be like if electricity suddenly stopped working? Well, this series explores this idea.

Set 15 years after whatever event caused electricity everywhere to be ‘switched off’, Charlie and Danny find themselves in a world of trouble when their father is killed by a local militia faction, and they set off to discover why as well as trying to survive in these violent times.

For me, the main draw is Billy Burke as the tough and cynical uncle. I know I would definitely want him on my side if I have dangerous secrets to uncover.

Like ‘Terra Nova’, the members of the family find themselves going back in time (as it were), surrounded by danger and with very little time to adapt, but alas, no dinosaurs or prehistoric creatures.

‘Quantum Leap’ (NBC, 1989-1993)

If you somehow missed this show then I feel sorry for you.

Scientist Sam Beckett, in an attempt to prove one can travel into one’s own time stream, finds himself ‘leaping’ into other bodies and different time periods with only the hologram Al to guide him as he changes history in small but significant ways.

Ignoring the science of it, this is an entertaining and clever show, especially for the time it was made. Scott Bakula (Sam) and Dean Stockwell (Al) make a fab duo as Sam experiences life as a whole host of different people, male and female, young and old.

As in ‘Terra Nova’, the premise is going back in time to try and improve lives, although Sam certainly never goes back 85m years…

What’s More…

Other interesting TV shows with similar elements, especially that of the past and future colliding, include:

  • ‘Warehouse 13’ (2009-2014) – which reminds me a little of X-Files, only with artefacts instead of aliens.
  • ‘Doctor Who’ (2005 – ) –What else do I need to say?
  • ‘Life on Mars’ (2006-2007) – Is he really travelling back in time or is it all just in his head?

Time Travel from Your Sofa

I hope you find these TV series like ‘Terra Nova’ interesting, and full of action and excitement.

Each has something different to offer and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, as well as whether you think another show deserves its spot on this list.

Hi, I′m Helen, I teach English in the UK and am a book addict (I′m serious - if I go too long without reading I get withdrawal symptoms!). I also love music, films, crafting, corresponding and video games. It is impossible for me to sit still unless I′m eating, holding a book or making something.
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