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Best new TV shows 2021: what to watch, from the MCU to Succession

Best New TV shows 2021
(Image credit: Disney Plus/Lucasfilm)

The one major pattern we're noticing in the new TV shows of 2021 is this: Marvel is going to have a huge year. After The Mandalorian showed just how much a big-budget TV show based on a popular franchise could dominate the pop culture conversation – especially in a year with so few blockbuster movies – expect Marvel to do the same this year.

But it's not just WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and What If? that are going to land this year – the overload of big TV shows will never end. Below, we've rounded up 21 series we think you'll want to add to your watch list over the next 12 months.

Cobra Kai season 3

Cobra Kai season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to watch it: Netflix
Release date: January 1

Along with Tiger King and The Queen’s Gambit this was one of the breakout shows of lockdown. A smart, loving sequel to The Karate Kid movie trilogy of the ‘80s, it reignites the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). 

While the first two seasons had a home on YouTube, the next bout takes place in the Netflix dojo – and looks set to up the ante, shifting some of the action to Okinawa. “The end of season 2 is a car wreck, essentially,” Zabka told Esquire. “Season 3 is fireworks. And I think it’s season 1 and 2 combined on steroids.” May Mr Miyagi bless us all. You can stream Cobra Kai season 3 now, one week earlier than originally planned.

The Watch

new TV shows 2021 The Watch

(Image credit: BBC America)

Where to watch it: BBC America (US), TBC (UK)
Release date: January 3 

Hold on to your feathered fedoras, Pratchett purists… Sam Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch first appeared in Sir Terry’s 1989 novel Guards! Guards! This new series gives the whimsical Discworld faves a grittier cop show spin, set in a more technologically advanced world. Richard Dormer – Beric Dondarrion in Game of Thrones – stars as the invariably booze-drenched Vimes while Adam Hugill is six-foot adopted dwarf Constable Carrot, the Watch’s latest recruit. Other key players include a troll and a werewolf. It’s written by Simon Allen, who gave us BBC's The Musketeers.  

American Gods season 3

New TV shows American Gods season 3

(Image credit: Starz)

Where to watch it: Starz (US), Amazon Prime Video (UK)
Release date: January 11 

Based on Neil Gaiman’s supernatural road trip of a novel, season 3 of American Gods finds Shadow Moon attempting to live a normal life. Slim chance of that, given he’s caught in the cross-hairs of a battle between the Old Gods and the New. Hiding out in an odd, icy town in the American Midwest – yes, the show’s tackling the Lakeside storyline from the book – this season sees Shadow face the ultimate choice: should he side with humanity or the deities? “It’ll be time soon for the real war to begin,” Gaiman has teased, bringing the ominous.

WandaVision

WandaVision

(Image credit: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: January 15

“We are an unusual couple,” says Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch – and that may be the greatest understatement on television in 2021. Described as “super avant-garde and weird” by co-star Paul Bettany, resurrecting his seemingly deceased Avenger, WandaVision promises to be the most experimental Marvel offering yet. The six-part series – the first MCU show on Disney Plus – pairs the android and the sorceress in a show that spoofs classic sitcom tropes. Episode one was even filmed before a live studio audience. You can also expect the show to offer the sort of blockbuster action we demand from the MCU. Hi, honey, I’m meta! 

Batwoman season 2

New TV shows 2021 Batwoman

(Image credit: The CW/DC Entertainment)

Where to watch it: The CW, HBO Max (US), All4 (UK – release TBC)
Release date: January 17

For some shows, the loss of your star after just one season would be a killer blow. But hold that crime spree, Gotham undesirables, Batwoman fights on. Ruby Rose bailed on playing Kate Kane, so enter Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder, a brand new character inheriting the cape and the mask, not to mention industrial amounts of Ibuprofen and Deep Heat. Season 2's Big Bad will be Safiyah Sohail, first seen in DC’s Rebirth event as the leader of terrorist cabal The Many Arms of Death. Other comic book foes facing the new Batwoman include master assassin the Whisper and the ever-vicious Victor Zsasz. 

Walker

new TV shows 2021 Walker

(Image credit: The CW/Warner Bros)

Where to watch it: The CW, HBO Max (US), All4 (UK – release TBC)
Release date: January 21

So how does actor Jared Padalecki follow a demon-busting 15 year run on Supernatural? Unexpectedly enough he’s stepping into the cowboy boots of living meme Chuck Norris. This is a reboot of ‘90s show Walker Texas Ranger, which starred Norris as Cordell Walker, a man never afraid to mix martial arts, moral lessons and law enforcement. Expect a more emotional ride than the original: newly widowed, Padalecki’s Walker is haunted by the suspicious circumstances of his wife’s death. Lindsey Morgan co-stars as his partner, Micki, one of the first women in Texas Rangers history. The X-Files’s Mitch Pileggi is Walker Snr. 

The Equalizer

New TV shows 2021 the equalizer

(Image credit: CBS)

Where to watch it: CBS All Access (US), TBC UK
Release date: February 

Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer. Edward Woodward starred in the ‘80s original as the retired covert ops agent cleaning up the streets of NYC (seething with urban paranoia, the show’s title sequence alone was enough to convince you to deadlock your doors). Now Queen Latifah leads the gender-switch reboot as Robyn McCall, an enigmatic single mother with the world’s most alarming voice mail. “People have lost faith in the institutions that are supposed to protect them,” say showrunners Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller. “When there’s no one else to turn to, who will help? It seemed like the perfect time to bring back The Equalizer.” 

Clarice

New TV shows 2021 Clarice

(Image credit: CBS)

Where to watch it: CBS All Access (US), TBC UK
Release date: February 11

Break out the body bags. After Hannibal Lecter’s carnivorous run on TV in Hannibal it’s now the turn of Clarice Starling. Jodie Foster played the determined FBI agent in The Silence of The Lambs but here it’s Rebecca Breeds eyeing the corpses and wielding the badge. Set in 1993, it finds Clarice returning to work as a field agent, investigating serial killers and sexual predators while dealing with the tripwire politics of Washington DC. A Starling show without Lecter may feel like it's lacking something, but the showrunners promise an intriguing dive into her untold personal story. 

Superman and Lois

New TV shows 2021 Superman and Lois

(Image credit: The CW/DC Entertainment)

Where to watch it: The CW, HBO Max (US), TBC UK
Release date: February 23

Spinning off from Supergirl, this sees the ultimate comic book power couple headline their own series again. This time the emphasis is on the domestic side of superheroics. Lois and Clark are, we’re told, dealing “with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents in today’s society.” That might be Kryptonite for hardcore fans clamouring for Zod-styled smash-em-ups but we’re promised some fresh twists on Superman lore. With Clark laid off by the Daily Planet, the show finds the married couple relocating from Metropolis to Smallville, recreated in a sprawling $1.5 million set in Vancouver.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

New TV shows 2021 The Falcon and the winter Soldier

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/screengrab)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: March 19

This Marvel event series explores the post-Endgame lives of Captain America’s buddies Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie). It’s set to be an altogether less weird watch than WandaVision or Loki, leaning into global thriller mode as it pits its heroes against anarchist group the Flag-Smashers. Civil War’s Daniel Bruhl is back as Zemo – now rocking his classic Balaclava of Evil from the comic books – while Wyatt Russell is John Walker, created by the government as a more militaristic successor to Steve Rogers' Cap. 

Loki

Loki

(Image credit: Marvel Studios / Disney)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: March 19

Marvel continues its small screen invasion with a solo series for the Asgardian god of mischief. Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, it sees Loki busted by the mysterious TVA – the Time Variance Authority – for stealing the Tesseract and meddling in human history. Tom Hiddleston returns, joined by Black Mirror’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Owen Wilson as Mobius M Mobius, fellow agent of the TVA. Brace yourselves for fourth-dimensional weirdness in a show that’s set to mix crime thriller with time travel shenanigans. Essentially, it’s a man on the run story. Or should that be god on the run? 

Succession season 3

Succession

(Image credit: HBO)

Where to watch it: HBO Max (US), Sky/Now TV (UK)
Release date: TBC

After 2021 brought no new episodes of HBO drama Succession to follow up on season 2's jaw-dropping finale – which saw Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) spectacularly betraying his father, Logan (Brian Cox) – anticipation is high for this upcoming third season. This darkly comedic drama, about a wealthy family that owns a media empire, is one of the best shows of the past decade. It's full of characters you should hate, but the show manages to make you love the entire ensemble – it's a strange magic, but it works. We can't wait for more sibling rivalry and sweary put-downs.

Read more: Succession season 3

The Handmaid's Tale

The handmaid's tale

(Image credit: Hulu)

Where to watch it: Hulu (US), Channel 4 (UK)
Release date: TBC

The stakes are higher than ever in season 4 of the zeitgeist-wired adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s cautionary fable. Explosive insurrection is on the cards as Offred arms up, now with some powerful allies on her side. You know it’s going to be messy, though. As the latest trailer tells us, “Change never comes easy. This war isn’t going to win itself.” 

“We’re really stretching the limits of our capabilities, production-wise, and we’re on the move a lot,” star Elisabeth Moss told Digital Spy. “We’re not sitting in a studio between four walls very much, so it really is a bigger season.” Bad news for the patriarchy: a fifth season is already on the way.

What If...?

Marvel's What If...?

(Image credit: Disney)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: Mid-2021

Marvel’s original What If..? comic brought cutting-edge quantum theory to kids. The TV version has the same reality-bending premise: omnipotent alien voyeur the Watcher (voiced by Jeffrey Wright) offers us glimpses of parallel worlds where familiar stories are skewed in exciting ways. Look for a superpowered Peggy Carter and a zombiefied Captain America among other alternate takes. Authentic MCU talent supplies the voices and the animation has a cinematic sheen. Marvel’s looking to smash universes together on the big screen beginning with 2022’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Here’s a handy, mind-expanding primer.  

Ms Marvel

Ms. Marvel

(Image credit: Disney)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: Late 2021

This show's Ms Marvel is a popular new(er) Marvel character, a Pakistani American superhero called Kamala Khan, who will be played in the MCU by newcomer Iman Vellani. In the comic books, the character is a big fan of Captain Marvel, before she starts to develop her own powers – usually involving increasing the size of her fists and arms at will, to beat up enemies. Expect Kamala to cross over into the movies, too – Vellani has joined the cast of Captain Marvel 2.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye Disney Plus

(Image credit: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: Late 2021

Hawkeye features the return of Jeremy Renner to the role of Clint Barton, this time training a new vigilante archer, Kate Bishop (played by Bumblebee's Hailee Steinfeld). This is yet another of the big Marvel TV shows that's been confirmed for 2021. Expect a lighter adventure for the Hawkeye we saw murder loads of criminals in Avengers: Endgame – one that's likely to riff on Matt Fraction and David Aja's fan-favorite comic book run with the character.

The Book of Boba Fett

The Book Of Boba Fett

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: December 2021

While The Mandalorian season 3 won't release until 2022, The Book of Boba Fett is coming first in December 2021. As teased by The Mandalorian season 2 finale, Boba Fett has taken over Jabba the Hutt's palace with his ally Fennec Shand – executing Star Wars action figure favorite Bib Fortuna along the way. We're expecting this show to join the dots on what happened to the bounty hunter, including his escape from the Sarlacc Pit. 

Intergalactic

New TV shows 2021 intergalactic

(Image credit: Sky)

Where to watch it: Sky (UK), TBC (US)
Release date: TBC

An ambitious new offering from Sky, this homegrown UK space opera plays out against a dystopian future where the planet is controlled by the authoritarian Commonworld. Savanna Steyn is Ash, a rookie pilot wrongfully imprisoned. Teaming with her fellow inmates – Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson and Peaky Blinders’ Natasha O’Keefe among them – she escapes and sets course for the free world of Arcadia. With more than a hint of such classic British sci-fi TV as Blake’s 7 in its DNA, this is hyped as “a high-octane prison drama like no other.” One question: will the Beastie Boys be on the soundtrack? 

Star Wars: The Bad Batch

New TV shows 2021: The Bad Batch

(Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Where to watch it: Disney Plus
Release date: TBC

Who imagined that Star Wars – the franchise that shook up the big screen blockbuster – would find itself so completely at home on TV? Part of an avalanche of Lucasfilm product heading to the small screen in the next few years, this new animated series spins off from The Clone Wars. Clone Force 99 AKA The Bad Batch are a squad of elite experimental clones, now operating as guns for hire in that galaxy far, far away. Playing out against the rise of the Empire, this mercenary-led ‘toon will also see appearances by such Imperial faves as Palpatine and Grand Moff Tarkin.

The Witcher season 2

The Witcher

(Image credit: Netflix)

Where to watch it: Netflix
Release date: TBC

Expected in late 2021, The Witcher season 2 features the return of Henry Cavill to the role of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. This one's been beset by pandemic-related delays, but we still think it's likely to release next year as filming is ongoing. Expect a deeper dive into Witcher lore, as we meet more of Geralt's kind, and less timeline jumping in this set of episodes.

Star Trek: Prodigy

New TV shows 2021 Star Trek Prodigy

(Image credit: Nickelodeon/CBS)

Where to watch it: Nickelodeon (US), TBA (UK)
Release date: TBC 2020

The final frontier expands again… This one’s another animated show, but targeting a very different audience to Lower Decks. Intended as an entry point into the Trek universe for younger kids, it follows a group of lawless teens who claim an abandoned starship to search for “adventure, meaning and salvation”. Long-term Trekkers will be more excited by the return of Kate Mulgrew from Voyager. “I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before,” says the 24th Century icon. “How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades.” 

The Irregulars

Where to watch it: Netflix
Release date: TBC

The game is afoot… again. From Sherlock to Elementary to Enola Holmes, TV has continued to mine Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuthing hero. Now the focus shifts from the great detective to the Baker Street Irregulars, the street kids from the original stories who worked as Holmes’s eyes and ears in the crime-riddled alleys of Victorian London. “Our series is what if Sherlock Holmes was a drug addict and a delinquent and the kids solve the whole case whilst he takes credit,” says creator Tom Bidwell. More intriguingly, the mystery they face is a supernatural one – a dark power that could threaten the entire world. Watson! The needle!