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Creator / Syfy

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Syfy is a channel owned by NBCUniversal (itself owned by media giant Comcast). Outside of the United States, local versions exist in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and a dozen or so other countries (sometimes under the name Syfy Universal). Founded in 1992 as the Sci-Fi Channel (in its later years, simply "Sci Fi"), the network's remit is to air various kinds of Speculative Fiction, from science/fantasy and paranormal to their own produced movies and shows.

Their original series tend to be Cult Classics, and the network has a history of salvaging cancelled shows from other networks and renewing them. Unfortunately, they also have a history of canceling their own shows prematurely. Syfy's original films have also garnered a reputation of their own. Over the years, the channel's film output has run the gauntlet from adaptations of comic books (like Painkiller Jane) to B-grade disaster movies and Attack of the Killer Whatever films.

The channel adapted its current name in 2009 as part of a larger shift in programming to offer more mainstream appeal to general audiences and women. "Syfy" is pronounced exactly the same as "Sci Fi,"; a moniker that is distinct from the genre's generic name so that it could be trademarked and more easily searched online. The name change was applied to some of the international versions of the channel, but others kept variations of the original name due to translation troubles with the new name, particularly in central and southern Europe.

Syfy has waxed and waned in Network Decay by showing either less actual science fiction or more of it. On one hand, the channel was notorious for littering its schedules with non-genre action movies, crime dramas, and reality shows, as well for airing Professional Wrestling from the WWE. On the other hand, they were also the original American broadcaster of Doctor Who and a number of anime titles. While the channel no longer airs the latter programming, it would eventually expanded into western-produced, adult animation.

In more modern times, the channel has profited from a resurgence in popularity for the sci-fi genre and coincidingly increased its commitment to speculative fiction programming. Syfy celebrated its 25th anniversary on June 19, 2017 with a re-brand, including a new logo and the expansion of its Syfy Wire news division.

List of Sci Fi Channel and Syfy works:

    TV series 
Bold indicates ongoing or upcoming series.

    Made-for-television films 

Tropes associated with Syfy:

  • Adored by the Network: Tends to play any Marvel Cinematic Universe film it has in its roster a lot. Alongside its sister networks, it also runs frequent Harry Potter marathons.
  • Anime: The channel aired Japanese animation beginning in The '90s, with notable shows and movies including El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, Appleseed, AKIRA (with the Streamline Pictures dub), Project A-Ko, 8 Man After, and The New Adventures of Gigantor. Eventually, such programming was completely phased out in 2011 as the channel's Network Decay became more prevalent.
  • Armies Are Evil: All "Syfy Original Movies" set in anything even close to the modern era will feature the American military in an antagonistic role, no matter how much shoehorning is necessary to do so.
  • Bite the Wax Tadpole: The reason why the Polish channel kept the original name. Nobody wants to watch a channel called "syphilis."
    • Specifically, "syf" approximately translates to "filth/dirt", and is used as slang for syphilis. The additional 'y' at the end is the correct construction to make the "syf" word plural. Reasonable translations from Polish to English for "syfy" would include "filthy things" and "syphilitics". The plural word, "syfy", is most commonly used as a slang for "pimples."
    • In the US, most of the former fans of the network pronounced the new name "Siffy", a slang/shortened term for a syphilitic.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: In the months prior to the network's launch in 1992, the C-Band satellite feed (and some cable providers who picked up the channel early) had all this sci-fi-ish stuff- apparently, some people thought they had hallucinated this stuff and other people thought it was a Satanic message!
  • Marathon Running: Back in its early days, and even today, the channel has aired movie marathons. Godzilla movies, Ray Harryhausen movies, and Fantasy-themed and Horror-themed movies are just a few examples.
  • Network Decay: Currently considered to be in "Slipped" status. The network's growing reputation for not supporting and cancelling their high-profile shows in the late 2010s/early 2020s has not helped in this regard, with 2016's Channel Zero being their most recent show to last more than two seasons; this has rendered the network a glorified movie channel — and much of its most frequent movie programming isn't even science fiction related, particularly Harry Potter. By 2021, it only has two ongoing scripted series, one of which is shared with USA Network.
    • The original "Golden Age" of the network was their first slate of original programming starting in the late 1990s through mid-2000s, with Farscape as their flagship show. A lot of low budget but niche or experimental shows could also be found on the network. This is also when they made critically acclaimed miniseries such as Dune (2000) and Children of Dune (2003).
    • This was followed in the early to mid 2000s by a "Silver Age" of sorts, starting with the shift around 2003 to the Stargate franchise being their flagship: Stargate SG-1 actually began as a Showtime series in 1997 but seasons 6 through 10 ran on Sci-Fi from 2002 to 2007, then its spinoff Stargate Atlantis from 2004 to 2009. Then there was a big shift with the smash hit of Battlestar Galactica Season 1, which debuted in the US in 2005 (the pilot miniseries aired in 2003, and because it was an expensive Sky co-production season 1 aired in the UK first, building up word of mouth). The combined effect was that BSG Season 1 aired in early 2005 followed immediately by Season 2 in late 2005, a one-two punch of probably their best seasons. For a time, from 2005 to 2007, Sci-Fi aired a Friday night power block of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, then Battlestar Galactica (all of which filmed in Vancouver and often had shared background cast and crew). But they couldn't keep that level of quality up for long: SG-1 was starting to overstay its shelf-life in its ninth and tenth seasons, and BSG seasons 3 and 4 weren't as well received and simply couldn't keep up with an annual production rate at that quality level (Season 3 aired 2006 to 2007, Season 4.0 in spring 2008, Season 4.5 in spring 2009 - thus from 2007 onward the Friday night programming block was gone).
    • A lot of fans point to executive Bonnie Hammer for a decline in the late 2000s, as the network drifted away from actual "science fiction" programming and seemed to lose focus. Due to the combined effect of the recession at the time and the recent writers' guild strike, they pushed for cheap content with broad appeal - thus not very "science fiction". This happened to coincide with the rebranding to "Sy-Fy" (which they did because "Sci-Fi" can't be copyrighted), but fans took it as a sign that they were abandoning "science fiction". Hammer hadn't been popular for years though, particularly the infamous press panel in 2003 where she tried to deflect the cancelation of their flagship show Farscape by outright saying this was a panel about its replacement, Tremors, and she wouldn't be fielding any Farscape which point the entire crowd of assembled reporters shouted her down in unison that they wanted to talk about Farscape. Also from 2009 to 2011 there were some bad attempts to rip off the success of Battlestar Galactica, with spinoffs or imitations, but by that point even the original series had run out of steam (a one-season prequel Caprica, several failed pilots for other spinoffs, and the accusation that Stargate Universe was trying too hard to tonally imitate BSG).
    • Things changed by 2013, after a complete changeover for all of their leading executive positions, but the damage was done, and they were facing increasing competition from other networks. From 2011 to 2016 there was sort of a "Bronze Age" of the channel in which they got back to making actual science fiction shows, but none of them quite succeeded in recapturing the success of their heyday in the early to mid 2000s. Defiance (2013-2015) was their attempted new flagship and despite being relatively well received it wasn't a ratings hit and was ultimately canceled after three seasons. They also had a good slate of Canadian co-productions and reruns such as Continuum (2013-2015) (most of the channels' shows were always co-productions with Canada, the UK, or Australia).
    • After these rebuilding efforts, there was one final push to take the channel back to its roots with science fiction and space shows, which from 2015 to 2018 could be considered the "Iron Age" of the channel. Their flagship show at this time was a high budget, critically acclaimed adaptation of The Expanse novels, which actually did become a broad pop culture hit beyond their core viewership. Also premiering that same year in 2015 were space shows Dark Matter (2015-2017) and Killjoys (2015-2019). These were soon followed by Channel Zero (2016-2018) and the Twelve Monkeys TV series that lasted 4 seasons (2016-2018). For a time, around 2016 it looked like the channel was back to its "good old days" of 2006.
    • The entire channel experienced a decay in 2018, due in no small part to the rise in competition from streaming services. To cover the costs for The Expanse, when it first started out they sold the streaming rights to Amazon Prime at relatively lost cost...and that gap from 2015 to 2018 coincided with a huge changeover to streaming TV, as the rise of Netflix made other networks switch over to get their own streamers, leaving cable TV in the dust. So many people were watching The Expanse on Prime streaming that Syfy wasn't making enough money from it and had to cancel the show - and indeed, it then switched over to Amazon Prime itself to continue for another three seasons beyond that. The declining ratings across the board due to streaming, combined with shows running their course, ended the rest of their programming slate: The Expanse ended on Syfy in June 2018, Twelve Monkeys ended July 2018, and even Channel Zero ended in October 2018...with no new shows waiting in the wings to replace them (also Dark Matter had ended the year before, and Killjoys wrapped a year later).
    • Despite rebuilding its programming slate by the mid 2010s, the early 2020s saw the channel reduced to a husk of its former self - part of a general shift in television to streaming services. That said, the people in charge by this point care a lot about their schedule (unlike the late 2000s when the people in charge actively didn't want to be a "science fiction channel"): mostly reruns of old TV shows and movies, but they try to pick good reruns people actually like - plus the occassional low budget experimental show. Ironically, by this point the Syfy Wire news service actually became pretty dedicated and reliable for reporting on general trends in sci-fi & fantasy...just for TV shows and movies that don't even run on their own network.
  • Threatening Shark: They've shown various shark movies since early days, but Sharknado becoming an unexpected smash hit resulted in a massive surge in both shark movie marathons and the commissioning of new shark movies.
  • What Could Have Been: One of the biggest what if's in the channel's history is Syfy Kids. A block aimed towards children, it would have featured original cartoon programming to compete against other kids channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network while also trying to draw in a younger demographic during the weekdays. It's unknown what shows were meant to appear on this block other than most well known one, the de Blob cartoon. When the deal with THQ fell through due to the video game developer's financial issues, the block was abandoned altogether along with the other original shows. Nowadays, the cartoon pilots/pitches meant for this block along with the de Blob cartoon are considered Lost Media.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The network's current name applies this trope to "SciFi".

Alternative Title(s): Sci Fi Channel