Finally, 2021 is here, and with it, so much television to look forward to. In fact, there’s so much, we’re breaking down our big new year preview of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and superhero shows into three massive parts! Ready for part one?
We’re kicking off io9's epic 2021 TV preview with a look at some of the cool animated shows, both returning and debuting, that the staff can’t wait to see this year. Full disclosure: All premiere dates are subject to change!
The Great North (Ongoing, Fox): The team behind Bob’s Burgers set their sites away from urban slice-of-life to the far-flung fantastical land of Alaska, as the Tobin’s patriarch Beef (voiced by Nick Offerman) increasingly involves himself in the life of his teenage daughter Judy (Jenny Slate).
John Dillermand (Ongoing, DR Ramasjang): The main character of Danish TV’s John Dillermand is a generally normal man who generally just likes to go about his everyday life minding his own business. But in John’s case, his “business” has a mind of its own—“business” in this case referring to his prehensile penis, something that never fails to get John into trouble as he adventures through this strange animated show that’s aimed at children for some reason. No word yet on a U.S. release.
Beavis and Butt-Head (Fall, Comedy Central): Mike Judge’s no-good couch potato delinquents return for an all new run of snarky animated escapades.
DuckTales (DisneyXD): Woohoo becomes boohoo this time, as Scrooge and his nephews return for one final season of life in Duckburg.
Middlemost Post (Nickelodeon): A former rain cloud teams up with a mailman and a magical pet walrus to deliver packages to the oddball residents of Mount Middlemost.
Rugrats (Nickelodeon): The devastating truth about Rugrats’ lasting appeal is that even though the show is all about the interior lives of infants, the older you get, the more you realize that a lot of people’s development really does get arrested quite early. Nickelodeon’s Rugrats reboot is sure to still be all about babies doing what they are wont to do, but kid-focused as it may be, there’s a good chance it’ll also still hit home for adult fans of the original series.
The Simpsons (Fox): It’s The Simpsons. It’s still happening. You know how it goes at this point.
Spidey and His Amazing Friends (Disney Junior): Disney Junior’s first Marvel series, Spidey and His Amazing Friends, takes the classic idea of Peter Parker teaming up with two buddies to save the day and updates it for 2021, giving Iceman and Firestar a break so that Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy can get in on the action. Together, the trio will save the day with their own powers, but they’ll also team up with a variety of other Marvel heroes as they learn what it truly means to be someone who believes in what’s right.
Star Trek: Prodigy (Nickelodeon): A group of kids find an abandoned Starfleet vessel and take it as their own to venture into the stars and do some boldly going of their own...with a little help from Star Trek: Voyager legend Captain Janeway.
Teenage Euthanasia (Adult Swim): In this series set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic near future, a Florida family that runs a funeral parlor deals with weird relationship dynamics and the occasional undead problems such dynamics can bring.
Tuca and Bertie (Adult Swim): After being canceled by Netflix, Lisa Hanawalt’s critically acclaimed series about the wild lives of the titular anthropomorphic bird friends returns, this time on Adult Swim.
We Baby Bears (Cartoon Network): After years of exploring the adult lives of We Bare Bears’ trio of chosen siblings, Cartoon Network’s giving the baby bears a chance to break out into their own series focused on their fantastical adventures as children. Even though We Baby Bears is going to share much of its continuity with the original series, everything about the spinoff’s new art style and emphasis on childlike whimsy point to it being an entirely different kind of animated beast.
Heaven’s Design Team (January 7, Crunchyroll): A kooky comedy in which a team of designers is tasked with populating the creatures of planet Earth by the most demanding client of all: literal God.
So I’m a Spider, So What? (January 8, Crunchyroll): A high school girl finds herself transported to a fantasy world where she’s transformed into a low-level dungeon spider-monster, struggling to survive against the much more fearsome beasts populating the dungeon.
Disenchantment (January 15, Netflix): Princess Bean, Luci, and Elfo travel to Steamland as they look for a way to help King Zog and deal with Bean’s turncoat mother after her coup attempt.
Carmen Sandiego (January 15, Netflix): Carmen’s back in action for a fourth—and final—season of heists and trickery.
Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous (January 22, Netflix): Season two of Netflix’s surprisingly good Jurassic World spinoff sees the kids continue to attempt to survive the deadly prehistoric animal breakout of the first Jurassic World movie, now compounded by the fact they’re in Fallen Kingdom’s timeline and everything is about to get a lot, lot worse.
Pixar Popcorn (January 22, Disney+): An array of fan-favorite Pixar characters (Dory, the Incredibles, Buzz Lightyear, etc.) have further adventures in these “bite-sized” animated shorts.
Kid Cosmic (February 2, Netflix): When a young boy stumbles upon a set of Infinity Stone-like gems that imbue the wearer with different classic superpowers, he and his friends are thrust into the center of a world-changing adventure that’s all about the drawbacks of suddenly becoming a titanic powerhouse.
The Snoopy Show (February 5, Apple TV+): Charles M. Schulz’s cartoon classic returns for new adventures with Charlie Brown and friends.
High Rise Invasion (February, Netflix): An adaptation of the dystopian horror manga by Miura Tsuin and Takahiro Oba, High Rise Invasion follows a young girl who finds herself transported to a city of skyscrapers with a single goal: survive being hunted by brutal masked killers.
Invincible (March 26, Amazon Prime): As the son of one of the world’s most popular and powerful superheroes, Mark Grayson knows what it means to have an inordinate amount of responsibility placed onto your shoulders. But as he begins to manifest powers of his own for the first time—just as the planet’s plunged into a new conflict involving beings from another planet—he’s forced to move out of his father’s shadow to become his own hero. This adaptation of Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker’s comic will feature the voices of Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Gillian Jacobs, Zazie Beetz, Mark Hamill, Walton Goggins, and Jason Mantzoukas.
Solar Opposites (March 26, Hulu): Korvo and his squad continue to awkwardly intermingle with human society in the second season of the Justin Roiland-Mike McMahan show. Also: what’s gonna happen in the miniature post-apocalyptic society the aliens inadvertently enabled in the wall of their house?
Beastars (July, Netflix): This adaptation of Paru Itagaki’s smash hit manga—in which a modern, anthropomorphic society of predator and prey animals attempt to co-exist with each other—continues, as carnivorous grey wolf Legoshi and his dwarf rabbit classmate Haru attempt to navigate their feelings for each other.
Marvel’s What If? (Summer, Disney+): What if Peggy Carter took the supersoldier serum? What if T’Challa left Wakanda to join the Guardians of the Galaxy? Marvel’s first Disney+ animated series offers an anthology of what might have been in alternate Marvel universes.
Dug Days (Fall, Disney+): The beloved talking dog from Up returns for his own series of animated shorts.
Aquaman: King of Atlantis (HBO Max): Aquaman secured his rightful place as the heir to the underwater kingdom in James Wan’s 2018 movie. But what happens next? Find out in this miniseries.
Cars (Disney+): Lightning McQueen and friends return for a cross-country road trip in one of Pixar’s first streaming series.
DeadEndia (Netflix): An animated adaptation of Hamish Steele’s graphic novel series, following two theme park employees after they realize the “haunted house” attraction where they work is actually a portal to hell.
Godzilla Singular Point (Netflix): A collaboration between the studios behind My Hero Academia and Beastars brings the newest take on Toho’s iconic king of all Kaiju, as a team of human researchers attempts to investigate and combat the titanic monster threat.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai (HBO Max): A prequel to the beloved movies set in 1920s Shanghai, showing the fateful meeting between a young Sam Wing and Gizmo the Mogwai.
I Love Arlo (Netflix): When young Arlo climbs out of the sewers where he grew up to begin a new life on the surface world, he realizes that being a half-human, half-alligator makes him rather unique. Though the people around him are inclined to judge him, Arlo knows the most important thing that’s going to define his first experiences living in the sunlight is his ability to stay true to himself.
Jellystone! (HBO Max via Cartoon Network): Though most everyone will be familiar with the characters in Jellystone!—Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Magilla Gorilla, Captain Caveman, and others—this new series will present them in a way that rips them out of their classic Hanna-Barbera molds and brings them together in a story about their lives in the titular town.
Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years (CBS All Access—soon to be Paramount+): The origin story you didn’t know you needed, as a 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants heads to a summer camp run and attended by friends and frenemies he’ll eventually spend the rest of his adult life annoying from the comfort of his pineapple under the sea.
MODOK (Hulu): Patton Oswalt stars as the legendarily big-headed supervillain scientist in a stop-motion animated series that sees MODOK juggle taking over the world with AIM and spending time with his family.
Monsters at Work (Disney+): Now that Mike Wazowski, Sulley Sullivan, and the rest of the monsters living in Monstropolis have discovered that their way of life can be sustained by the power of children’s laughter rather than their screams, all of monsterkind is in a rush to better understand this new dynamic and how best to capitalize on it. With the help of a young graduate from Monsters University, the classic duo is hoping to change the world for their cryptid brethren.
Pacific Rim: The Black (Netflix): A pair of siblings join together as one Jaeger Pilot unit to defend Australia from the Kaiju threat in Polygon Pictures’ spinoff from the Guillermo del Toro mecha movie.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+): Picking up with the elite squad of unique clone troopers introduced in The Clone Wars’ final season, this series will see the Republic fall after Order 66 and the rise of the Galactic Empire from the perspective of its frontline soldiers, who suddenly find themselves in the crossfire.
Star Wars Visions (Disney+): Celebrated creatives from the anime industry come together for an anthology series re-imagining the Star Wars galaxy.
Transformers: War For Cybertron: Kingdom (Netflix): The Autobots and Decepticon’s conflict for control of the Matrix of Leadership spills out onto prehistoric Earth, bringing new, robotic yet beast-ly new allies and enemies into the wars.
Unicorn: Warriors Eternal (HBO Max via Cartoon Network): Though the heroes of Unicorn Warriors Eternal all appear to be normal teenagers, in reality, they’re a group of ancient mystical beings who’ve spent ages defending the Earth from the darkness threatening to engulf it. This is Genndy Tartakovsky’s new series so expect it to be narratively weird and visually striking.
Update 1/22/2021, 3:30 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with information and release dates for shows that did not previously have them; we will continue to update this post.
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