Early on into our prep for all the television our readers might like to watch in 2021, we realized there was a lot. Like, a lot a lot. That’s not even accounting for the fact that io9 typically only covers sci-fi, fantasy, and horror creations. So we broke up our recommendations into three parts; yesterday was focused on the wonderful world of animation, today we bring you traditional and cable networks’ latest offerings.
Don’t forget, if you’re looking for the intriguing films we’ll be seeing in 2021 (streaming or otherwise), you can find our comprehensive list right here. As for TV, it’s time for “old school” networks to get their time in the spotlight. As always, premiere dates are subject to change!
American Gods (ongoing, Starz): In its third season, and now with its third showrunner, the Neil Gaiman book adaptation continues to chart the relationship between Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), as well as the ongoing battle for believers between the Old and New Gods.
Batwoman (ongoing, the CW): Whatever ends up happening onscreen on Batwoman this season is surely going to be impacted by what happened off-screen: star Ruby Rose left the show and was replaced by Javicia Leslie, who’s playing a new character entirely. Making that story make sense (so far so good) will be the show’s main goal before the new Batwoman can truly spread her wings.
30 Coins (ongoing, HBO): Blending religion with horror, Spanish creator Álex de la Iglesia’s 30 Coins tells the story of an ex-con turned exorcist-priest who’s exiled to a small town, where a series of strange events might be tied to one of the coins Judas was paid for betraying Jesus.
Trickster (ongoing, the CW): Imported from Canada, Trickster tells a familiar story (a boy struggling with newfound abilities) in an unfamiliar setting (a blue-collar Indigenous community). With a cast composed primarily of Indigenous actors, it’s based on a YA novel by Eden Robinson. It blends a lot of different genres, from the supernatural and fantastic to the soapy and dramatic.
Two Sentence Horror Stories (ongoing, the CW): As evidenced by the title, the show presents succinct, self-contained horror stories, kind of like Are You Afraid of the Dark? (which is also, as it happens, a show on this very list). This is the second season.
The Watch (ongoing, BBC America): This year is big in the “iconic sci-fi franchises that could never be adapted are finally being adapted” category and among them is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, which is getting this unique offshoot series. It’s about a group of unlikely heroes who come together to fight a dragon, but really is only just the surface of an expansive new world that could be explored.
Nancy Drew (January 20, the CW): The CW’s very CW-ish update of the classic teen-sleuth character returns tonight for its second season, picking up after a finale that saw Nancy and her friends capture a killer, but also encounter a malevolent spirit that they did not capture and is presumably still out there.
Riverdale (January 20, the CW): Season five is a big one for Archie and the gang. They’re going to graduate high school, go to prom, and magically age several years in a time jump that changes the whole scope of the show. You know. Simple stuff. Will fans still care as much about the gang as they mature and begin to lead adult lives? We’ll find out soon.
Legacies (January 21, the CW): Fans of the ever-growing world of The Vampire Diaries are surely anxious to see the latest season of Legacies, which began in a school where vampires, werewolves, and other creatures could learn to control their powers. It’s gotten progressively wilder since then.
Charmed (January 24, the CW): The rebooted version of the series continues as the witchy sisters face their most daunting scenario yet: the death of magic. Season three also sees J.J. Hawkins—the show’s first trans actor—joining the supernatural shenanigans as a new cast member.
Snowpiercer (January 25, TNT): When Snowpiercer the movie ended you wanted to see what was next. Thankfully, on the TV show, the adapted story lets you do that. Season two will continue to show us what happens on the train now that the survivors at the back have made their way to the front. That involves the train actually stopping, another train, and a mysterious heir. Who knows what could happen next?
Resident Alien (January 27, Syfy): Geek god Alan Tudyk plays an alien who lands on Earth and assumes a new identity in a small Colorado town. If that’s not enough, Linda Freaking Hamilton guest stars on the show.
Black Lightning (February 8, the CW): Even though it feels like Black Lightning only really just hit its stride, the show’s upcoming fourth season will be its last, an interesting prospect given that we’re only just now beginning to see the big picture of the Arrowverse’s take on Markovia by way of Freeland. With Thunder and Lightning now fully established as heroes in their own right, and Black Lightning having become a member of the Arrowverse’s answer to the Super Friends, the series’ final chapter has all the makings of being epic, potentially. It’ll be interesting to see how the CW brings this story to a close and whether we’ll see the heroes pop up elsewhere down the road.
Clarice (February 11, CBS): Taking over the role played by Jodie Foster and Julianne Moore, this new CBS series sees Rebecca Breeds play the titular FBI agent who helped find Buffalo Bill with the help of Hannibal Lecter. The show picks up a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs with Clarice struggling with her newfound fame and reputation. She’ll be hot on the trail of a new killer or two, but don’t hold your breath for any Hannibal cameos.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (February 12, Nickelodeon): The second season of the rebooted Nick show brings with it a whole new creative team and new focus. This year, instead of the Carnival of Doom, the Midnight Society will deal with the “Curse of the Shadows” and a new villain named “Shadowman.”
Superman & Lois (February 23, the CW): Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch pick up their roles from Supergirl (and the last crossover) to play Lois and Clark in this new adventure of Superman. The series—based in Smallville—will also see the couple deal with parenthood as the babies we previously saw them have are now magically teenagers! The multiverse can do strange things...
The Walking Dead (February 28, AMC): Stay with us here: when The Walking Dead returns, it’s still gonna be season 10. Yes, the season 10 finale was a few months ago but six additional episodes have been added to the season, beginning here, before season 11 starts sometime later this year (probably). In the “finale,” the Whisperers were defeated and all seemed well, until some Stormtrooper looking guys showed up. They belong to a new adversary, the Commonwealth, who’ll be important moving ahead. Plus Maggie is back. Plus who knows what else. The Walking Dead is always wild, even in non-covid times.
The Flash (March 2nd, the CW): Now that Arrow is no more, The Flash is now the “adult” of the Arrowverse. When last we left Barry Allen and Team Flash, they were battling mirror clones and the ever-returning Godspeed (the pandemic also meant we didn’t get a complete wrap-up). Some behind-the-scenes issues mean season seven will likely see some new faces appearing to fill in for old regulars.
American Horror Story (FX): The 10th season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology juggernaut is on the way, with Sarah Paulson rejoining the cast (yay), newcomer Macaulay Culkin making his AHS debut (intriguing), and the theme still to be determined (of course). Fans can also look forward to American Horror Stories, a spin-off series featuring self-contained episodes that will stream on FX on Hulu.
Brendar the Barbarian (Nickelodeon): This one’s a live-action puppet comedy from actor Mike Mitchell (Trolls, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part) and puppeteer Drew Massey (Earth to Ned, The Happytime Murders). It’s about a sheltered bridge troll and a fearsome warrior who team up for adventures—including taking on the demon who imprisoned the warrior’s brother.
Chucky (Syfy): Child’s Play franchise creator Don Mancini is the driving force behind this horror series about the killer doll, with Brad Dourif on board to provide the evil Good Guy’s distinctive voice. The story will follow a series of murders that plague a small town after a vintage Chucky doll resurfaces at a yard sale, and will also see Chucky himself having to face up to his dark past. We can only dream that means a Jennifer Tilly cameo.
Day of the Dead (Syfy): Since zombies never go out of style, we’re getting an adaptation of George A. Romero’s 1985 horror classic, the third film in his original trilogy. While the movie featured a military setting and at least one smarter-than-average walking corpse, the series is about a small town in Pennsylvania where residents are struggling to survive the first 24 hours of the zombie outbreak.
Debris (NBC): J.H. Wyman (Fringe, Almost Human) is behind this sci-fi series that follows an MI6 and a CIA agent who team up after a crashed alien craft starts affecting humans. It stars Riann Steele (Misfits, The Magicians) and Jonathan Tucker (American Gods, Westworld).
Evil (CBS): Like most other shows, the arrival of Evil’s second season has been delayed thanks to covid-19. But the supernatural procedural is currently filming, which is good news for anyone who got hooked on the CBS series after it landed on Netflix, as well as good news for all fans who’re dying to know the outcome of that devilish cliffhanger.
Halo (Showtime): The legendary video game franchise heads to television, as the Master Chief himself finds himself at the forefront of a new adventure in the Halo universe.
Legends of Tomorrow (the CW): After spending last season tracking down the Looms of Fate, the Legends’ fight to save time and space leans a little more on the “space” side of things as Sara and Ava find themselves up against a new alien threat.
Lego Masters (Fox): We here on io9 are Lego fiends so this reality competition is right up our alley. Host Will Arnett (aka Lego Batman) will be back for season two, which is sure to see more elaborate challenges, more exciting builds, and more seemingly random guest stars. Seriously. Last season the show seemed to be just grabbing whatever celebs were at the studio that day. But that kind of added to its excellence. Anyway, we’re excited it’s coming back.
The Nevers (HBO): The latest show from Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy and Firefly, follows a group of Victorian women who have special powers and fight to save the world. Sounds exciting but Whedon left the show, potentially due to allegations of abuse on the set of Justice League, so what happens next is anyone’s guess. It seems, though, that it’ll carry on using his prep and live on without him.
The Outpost (the CW): The third season continues and expands on the story of Talon, a woman with supernatural powers who began her journey simply trying to get revenge on the people who murdered her entire race.
Roswell, New Mexico (the CW): When last we left the angsty remake of the 2000s hit about aliens living among us in Roswell, the group had found what looked like almost a clone of Max, the main alien, hinting a potentially a much bigger story than anyone realized. And as long as the episode titles continue to be taken from famous songs—the season premiere is “Stay (I Missed You)”—we’re fine with it.
Stargirl (the CW): Stargirl will continue to inspire a new generation of superheroes when she and her quickly growing band of powered up friends return to the CW.
Supergirl (the CW): Kara Danvers returns for one last season of adventures, as we and National City prepare to say goodbye to the girl of steel.
The Surrealtor (Syfy): In this cross-genre comedy, Schitt’s Creek and Wynonna Earp alum Tim Rozon plays a realtor who heads up a team that specializes in buying, selling, and rehabbing haunted houses.
Van Helsing (Syfy): Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) will eventually return to tangle with post-apocalyptic vampires for the series’ fifth and final season—though its renewal was announced in late December 2019, so it’s unclear how far along in production it might be.
What We Do in the Shadows (FX): We may be premature in hoping that Staten Island’s awkward vampire roommates will make it back to the airwaves in 2021, but a third season is confirmed and has just begun production, so here’s hoping the wheels turn fast enough to make it happen.
Wynonna Earp (Syfy): The cult-beloved supernatural Western starring Melanie Scrofano as Wyatt Earp’s great-great-granddaughter plans to air the remaining six episodes of its fourth season (after a pandemic-related production hiatus) sometime in 2021.
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