Your Guide to 2021's Biggest TV, Part 3

Trickster gods, superhero misfits, ancient lands, hardened warriors, and revolutionaries are the energy 2021 needs.
Trickster gods, superhero misfits, ancient lands, hardened warriors, and revolutionaries are the energy 2021 needs.
Image: Marvel Studios, Warner Bros., Amazon Studios, Lucasfilm, and Hulu

If you made it through our two other big television preview lists, congratulations—there’s one more to go: all the streaming TV you will never possibly be able to ingest in 2021.

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We’re honestly in awe of how much sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and horror TV we’ll be getting this year considering so many productions were shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic. Some of these have been holding for a while, a few come from outside the United States, others were just recently announced, while others yet will almost certainly not actually make it to air this year. Good thing there’s plenty to keep us busy. Take a look below for all the genre TV your favorite streaming services have to offer this year.


Ongoing/Coming Soon

The Vision and the Scarlet Witch fight to defend their home.
The Vision and the Scarlet Witch fight to defend their home.
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

A Discovery of Witches (ongoing, Sundance Now/Shudder/AMC+): In its second season, the fantasy series based on Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy sees witch-vampire couple Diana (Teresa Palmer) and Matthew (Matthew Goode) travel 400 years into the past to handle some urgent magical business.

Endlings (ongoing, Hulu): In this Canadian import set 20 years in the future, now in its second season, a quartet of foster kids bond and have adventures while helping the alien whose ship crash-landed onto their farm.

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The Expanse (ongoing, Amazon): The sci-fi series’ sensational fifth season continues as Belter extremist Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) builds his empire with help from corrupt Martians, Earth reels from a devastating attack, and the fearless crew of the Rocinante finds themselves scattered on separate missions across the system.

Pennyworth (ongoing, Epix): Yep, that origin-story series about Alfred Pennyworth being a badass secret agent in alt-history 1960s London is still among us. In the show’s second season, Batman’s future butler has become a black-market club owner who’s plotting to escape his chaotic life in favor of a new beginning in America.

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Servant (ongoing, Apple TV+): M. Night Shyamalan’s domestic whatsit is back for more perplexing drama about a baby that may or may not actually exist, and a nanny (Nell Tiger Free) who’s hiding some very bizarre secrets.

The Stand (ongoing, CBS All Access): The post-apocalyptic Stephen King adaptation starring Whoopi Goldberg (as Mother Abagail) and Alexander Skarsgård (as Randall Flagg) continues to drop weekly episodes ahead of its February 11 finale, which will feature a new coda written by King himself.

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WandaVision (ongoing, Disney+): Marvel’s long-awaited arrival on Disney+ comes with this fractured sitcom exploring the suddenly suburban lives of erstwhile Avengers Vision (Paul Bettany) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). We’ll have lots more on this one in the coming weeks.

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Fate: The Winx Saga (January 22, Netflix): A group of young fairies studying together at a magical school must balance typical teen drama with dark supernatural stuff, like battling threatening creatures and exploring the limits of their powers.

Into the Dark (February 12, Hulu): After a covid-related hiatus, the Blumhouse holiday horror series returns with a new installment: Tentacles, a “psychosexual horror-thriller” about a young LA couple whose blazing new romance takes a terrifying turn. Clara Aranovich directs this story from Channel Zero alums Alexandra Pechman and Nick Antosca.

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For All Mankind (February 19, Apple TV+): Ronald D. Moore’s alt-history space race drama is back for a second season with a time jump from the 1960s to the 1980s that sees NASA as powerful as ever. Four words: guns on the moon!

Tribes of Europa (February 19, Netflix): This six-episode German import is set in the year 2074 and is about a trio of siblings who “set out to change the fate of Europe after a global catastrophe fractures it into countless microstates.”

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19, Disney+): Set after Avengers: Endgame, this Marvel action miniseries follows the continuing adventures of Sam (Anthony Mackie), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), and all manner of other heroes and villains who cross their paths.

Shadow and Bone (April, Netflix): A magical young woman fights against darkness in this adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novel series. Eric Heisserer (Arrival) is the showrunner, and newcomer Jessie Mei Li stars alongside Westworld’s Ben Barnes.

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Loki (May, Disney+): Thor star Tom Hiddleston brings back his popular trickster character for this Marvel series, which sees a Tesseract-toting Loki tangling with an investigative team known as the TVA. Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sasha Lane, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia Di Martino, and Richard E. Grant round out the cast.

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The Book of Boba Fett (December, Disney+): Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) is back, and this time he’s the head honcho at (formerly) Jabba’s palace. Spinning out of the events of The Mandalorian season two, the Robert Rodriguez-directed series sees Boba Fett and his new cyborg ally Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) dive into the seedy underworld of Tatooine.


TBD

Streaming television! What a concept.
Streaming television! What a concept.
Screenshot: Netflix
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Alice in Borderland (Netflix): This Japanese sci-fi thriller based on Haro Aso’s manga just aired its first season in December—so though it was promptly renewed, there might be a bit of a wait before we get more spooky adventures with our game-loving heroes in abandoned Tokyo.

American Horror Stories (FX on Hulu): The 10th season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology juggernaut American Horror Story is on the way this year on FX proper—and fans can also look forward to American Horror Stories, a spin-off series featuring self-contained episodes that will stream on Hulu.

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Another Life (Netflix): Katee Sackhoff is continuing her run of sci-fi with season two of this drama series. After an alien artifact lands on Earth, Sackhoff’s astronaut Niko must head to the stars to figure out where it came from.

The Boys (Amazon): We called season two of the comic adaptation some of the best TV of 2020 and we have no doubt season three will prove to be the same when it returns (at some point this year). While one Big Bad was taken down, that cliffhanger gave us a pretty good idea of who the titular Boys would be having to face next.

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Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix): Several Channel Zero alums are behind this adaptation of Todd Grimson’s cult supernatural horror book, which stars Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) as a filmmaker hellbent on revenge in 1990s Los Angeles. The cast also includes Catherine Keener and The Good Place’s Manny Jacinto.

Carnival Row (Amazon): René Echevarria and Travis Beacham’s steampunk fantasy series is back for season two, this time with a new showrunner. Marc Guggenheim is out while Daredevil’s Erik Oleson is in. Presumably, stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne will be returning for more mythological romps.

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Cowboy Bebop (Netflix): Netflix attempts to bring one of the most beloved sci-fi anime of all time to live-action, with John Cho leading the ragtag bounty hunting crew of the Bebop as Spike Spiegel, a man looking to make his way in the galaxy one job at a time.

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Creepshow (Shudder): Though it’s been keeping fans company with an animated Halloween special and a holiday special in recent months, a proper second season of the hit horror series (inspired by the Stephen King-George A. Romero cult anthology film) should be crawling out of Shudder’s haunted trunk, hopefully sooner than later.

Doom Patrol (HBO Max): Doom Patrol’s season two finale finished with a handful of monumental cliffhangers that left multiple characters’ fates in the balance thanks to a halt in filming. So it’s likely that when the series returns for its third season on its new HBO Max home, it will pick up right where it left off, with Dorothy Spinner taking on one of her personal demons and the rest of the team imperiled before starting a new plot thread.

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Foundation (Apple TV+): Based on the legendary works of Isaac Asimov, Foundation tells the epic story of a man (Jared Harris) who has figured out how to predict the future, and the evil people (including Lee Pace) who’ll stop at nothing to make sure the truth doesn’t come out. From David S. Goyer, the show looks massive on a scale streaming has yet to see. It could be one of the best things of the year, or one of the biggest misses.

Green Lantern (HBO Max): We all know about the CW’s DC superhero shows like The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow, but this outside-the-Arrowverse series is poised to be the biggest one yet, for obvious reasons. It’s about Green Lanterns, a group of cosmic law enforcers. Seth Grahame-Smith is the showrunner and he’ll have multiple Lanterns at his disposal including Guy Gardner, Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, and Alan Scott on Earth, as well as Kilowog and Sinestro in Space.

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The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu): With all that’s, uh, been happening in the world, Gilead suddenly feels relevant again. We weren’t entirely jazzed about season three, but Hulu’s Elisabeth Moss-starring adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic will soon return for a fourth season, with a fifth already planned.

Hawkeye (Disney+): The Avenger got his family back thanks to some fancy time traveling, and now he’s making the jump to Disney+. Jeremy Renner reprises his role as the archer but this story will introduce Kate Bishop to the mix, played by Hailee Steinfeld. Exactly how that relationship will develop or impact the rest of the Marvel Universe is uncertain. But it certainly feels like a new Hawkeye will be rising.

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I Know What You Did Last Summer (Amazon): What began as a 1970s Lois Duncan YA horror novel and then became part of the 1990s slasher-movie craze will now be a TV series, presumably retaining the theme of kids who do something very bad, try to cover it up, and then find themselves targeted by someone who knows their secret and wants revenge.

Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix): Comic book writer Mark Millar has created or written some of the most famous stories in recent comic book memory. So it’s no wonder Netflix signed him up with a deal and it kicks off with an adaptation of this comic book series, starring Josh Duhamel, about how the kids of the world’s first superheroes deal with their legacies. Steven DeKnight, who did the first season of Daredevil, is in charge.

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Locke & Key (Netflix): With a third season of this Joe Hill-Gabriel Rodríguez comic adaptation already greenlit, look for season two to wrap up those season-one cliffhangers while bringing fresh depth and intrigue to the tale of the Locke family, who still have plenty of spooky history, magical keys, and personal drama left to puzzle through.

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The Lord of the Rings (Amazon): Considering how massive this new Tolkien adaptation is, we’ll probably not get a glimpse until the very end of the year at the earliest. But we already know it’ll be set thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books and movies, and will focus on the rise of Sauron, Middle-earth’s greatest villain.

Lost in Space (Netflix): The excellent remake of the classic ‘60s series is coming back for its third and final season on Netflix. A lot more space drama is about to happen considering where all the family left things at the end of season two, and no doubt there’ll be more danger around the corner before the end.

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Lucifer (Netflix): There’s no telling when the delayed second half of season five will arrive, but in the meantime, we’re looking forward to more sparks between the back-from-Hell Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and LAPD detective Chloe (Lauren German), who are finally a couple; finding out the real reason why God (Dennis Haysbert) has descended to Earth for a visit; and of course that much-teased musical episode.

The Man Who Fell to Earth (CBS All Access): You could never replace David Bowie and this new iteration of The Man Who Fell to Earth isn’t going to try. The same set up is there—hyper-intelligent alien comes to Earth—but this new version will reportedly attempt to “imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.” Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet are the executive producers on this one; we’ve yet to hear anything in regards to casting, however.

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Midnight Mass (Netflix): Instead of doing another Haunting installment, Mike Flanagan’s next Netflix horror series will be this seven-episode tale set on an island beset by a sudden outbreak of supernatural activity. But don’t fret too much, Haunting junkies; as is Flanagan tradition, the cast will include some familiar faces (including Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, and Rahul Kohli).

Ms. Marvel (Disney+): Kamala Mother F’ing Khan is here and the MCU better be put on notice. Which might be weird to say about a teenager from New Jersey, but this teenager (played by newcomer Iman Vellani) has elastic limbs and huge intelligence. After we meet her and her Pakistani-American family on this show, she’ll be seen along with her hero, Carol Danvers, in Captain Marvel 2, and probably many more times in the future. Basically, this is the start of something big, and I’m not only talking about Kamala’s fists.

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The Orville (Hulu): We were surprised to fall so hard for Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi series that manages, somehow, to be poignant, hilarious, absurd, and full of intense space action all at the same time. Captain Ed Mercer and crew will jump from Fox to Hulu for their third season, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results whenever the show makes its increasingly long-awaited return.

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Ragnarok (Netflix): The Norwegian import returns for season two, as Magne explores his awakening as a celestial descendant of the Nordic pantheon.

Raised by Wolves (HBO Max): While we weren’t huge fans of the first season of Ridley Scott and Aaron Guzikowski’s sci-fi series (Jill’s exact descriptor: “white, gooey nonsense”), this is Ridley Scott we’re talking about here, so we’re at least a little curious to see what happens next in this future religion-alien planet-Necromancer androids-bad haircut world.

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Resident Evil: Live-Action Series (Netflix): The latest crack at the licker-tongue-whip sees Netflix try to put its own take on Capcom’s beloved zombie horror game franchise, this time following the kids of infamous Resident Evil antagonist Albert Wesker as they’re caught up in the zombie apocalypse.

Russian Doll (Netflix): The first season of the Natasha Lyonne-Leslye Headland-Amy Poehler series about a woman caught in a time loop on her 36th birthday put a thoughtful, existential spin on its well-worn Groundhog Day conceit. How will the story continue? We don’t yet know, but before the show even premiered, star Lyonne said the creators had ideas for multiple seasons.

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Slasher (Shudder): The horror anthology series finds a new home on Shudder in its fourth season; its full title is Slasher: Flesh and Blood. It’s about a wealthy family holding a reunion on a private island where a killer lurks, and genre icon David Cronenberg, who just appeared on Star Trek: Discovery’s third season, will star.

Station Eleven (HBO Max): Emily St. John Mandel’s Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel has never felt more timely; it starts with an apocalyptic pandemic and charts the paths of various survivors over a period of years. So, fingers crossed, 2021 sure would be the perfect time for HBO Max’s long-in-the-works adaptation starring Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, and Gael García Bernal to make its arrival.

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See (Apple TV+): Jason Momoa is back for the second season of Apple’s epic sci-fi fantasy about a world where most people can’t see. That world will expand significantly in season two with new cities, new characters, and certainly more mysteries.

Space Force (Netflix): The star-studded show from Greg Daniels, creator of the U.S. version of The Office, returns for season two. Season one saw an unassuming general (Steve Carell) take command of a new branch of the military, the Space Force, and eventually have success in doing that. Season two will certainly broaden out the scope as the season ended with a potential war brewing between the U.S. and China. Did we mention this is a comedy?

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Stranger Things (Netflix): Though it’ll have been awhile between seasons by the time the fourth installment of the Duffer Brothers’ smash hit series arrives, we’re still dying to check back in with our favorite residents of Hawkins, Indiana (though some of them are apparently in Russia now), and see what supernatural trouble awaits them this time around.

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Time Bandits (Apple TV+): As of 2019, Taika Waititi was set to direct the pilot of a new adaptation of the cult Terry Gilliam hit about a band of time travelers. There hasn’t been much of an update since, and Waititi is pretty busy, but there’s still a good chance the show is on the way.

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix): Now that Netflix’s adaptation of The Umbrella Academy has fully gone off the rails and dived into a wholly new story that wasn’t a part of the original comics, there’s no telling what the future holds for the Hargreeves siblings in their new alternate future where the Umbrella Academy never existed. In its place stands the mysterious Sparrow Academy and a new team of gifted students. As the parallel families collide, it’s more than likely that they’ll end up at each other’s throats sooner than later.

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Upload (Amazon): The other current sci-fi show from Greg Daniels is about a world where consciousnesses are uploaded to a predetermined afterlife. But when Nathan (Robbie Amell) finds the afterlife he’s living isn’t what he expected, he realizes foul play may be afoot. Season two will continue the show’s core mysteries as well as the love triangle between Nathan’s ex-flame Ingrid and human handler Nora, who seemingly gives up everything for him

Warrior Nun (Netflix): The action-fantasy series based on Ben Dunn’s religion-tinged comic series will return for a second season, hopefully to improve on the first.

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The Witcher (Netflix): Geralt of Rivia returns for a second season of the smash-hit streaming adaptation of the beloved Polish fantasy novels. Having caught up with his mysterious charge Ciri in the climax of season one, now the Witcher must keep her safe from invading forces—and figure out a way to save his occasional paramour, the powerful sorceress Yennefer.

Y: The Last Man (FX on Hulu): It wouldn’t be io9’s annual TV preview without a hopeful mention of this long-in-development adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s beloved post-apocalyptic comic series. But this time, the show was confirmed to be in production as of last fall, and dare we say it...chances are looking good it will actually arrive this year.

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DISCUSSION

numberthirteen
numberthirteen

I’m terrified that the Foundation show will actually be good, and I’ll get really into it, and it’ll then get unceremoniously cancelled because absolutely no-one gives a crap about Apple TV... :(