Series available from streaming service such as HBO Max, Prime and Netflix are quickly taking over normal TV broadcasting as well cinema releases. With enormous budgets allocated to adaptations of novels and comics as well as entirely new high-concept series. It is becoming harder to watch all the material that is being released. As such I will give you my Most Anticipated Series of 2021, so you can mark your calendar. Note this list only includes NEW series. Those already established are placed in a separate list at the bottom of the page. It is noteworthy that this of Most Anticipated Series of 2021 consist largely of established triple A franchises being adapted: The Lord of the Rings, Foundation, The Wheel of Time. Almost as soon as a novel series is becoming popular the rights are snagged and actually turned into a series. May you live in interesting times.
The Lord of the Rings
Few franchises have the name recognition like the works based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Only Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones are in the same ballpark. When Amazon bought the rights to franchise form Tolkien’s estate it is as though they knew the value of its name – which until now they have not changed even though this series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth. Set for release on Amazon Prime sometime in 2021 the budget for this entirely knew story is astronomical. the projected five seasons would cost $1 billion together. Little is known about the story. Some characters that are long-lived such as Galadriel (Morfydd Clark). The extended further includes Nazanin Boniadi (Counterpart) and Robert Aramayo (Mindhunter). Few of the other names I recognize, and that appears to be deliberate. This series tops my Most Anticipated Series of 2021.
Isaac Asimov used to be amongst the most well-known Sci-Fi authors around, along with Heinlein and Clarke. Most will know his name and the three laws of robotics he created for I, Robot. However, Asimov’s Magnum Opus is the Foundation series published between 1951 and 1993, though short stories were published as early as 1942. The series is remarkable because it contained a full ‘future history’. This concept was later adapted by most big Sci-Fi series such as Dune. I read the first novel about 20 years ago and found it dated, but I heard the rest of the series is much better. Now the Foundation is being adapted into a series for Apple TV+. It will star Jared Harris as Hari Seldon, a scientist who has developed an algorithm to predict the future. Or at least the larger beats. Foundation will play out on a galactic scale like Dune.
The Wheel of Time
I have only just started reading the first novel of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. The franchise may not have a following like The Lord of the Rings but probably more than The Witcher. I remember the yellow-colored hardcovers from the 90s vividly. The Wheel of Time promises to be another tentpole high-fantasy series to completely lose oneself in. While I do not know much about the franchise, I do know it focusses mostly on female characters. Rosamund Pike will play Moiraine Damodred, a member of the powerful, all-woman organization of channelers (magic users) called the Aes Sedai. The series will also feature Michael McElhatton. The first season is being produced by Rafe Judkins and will consist of 6 episodes. COVID-19 halted production, but I still expect the series to be released in 2021. With 14 novels in the series the adaptation could last a decade.
Only recently announced as a spin-off from The Mandalorian, the new series Ahsoka will focus on the Jedi who was once the pupil of Anakin Skywalker. Starring Rosario Dawson, it is unclear what the focus of the series will be. Cross-overs with current and future series are probable but if the story focuses on her hunt for Grand Admiral Thrawn she will have to travel deep into the Unknown Regions. Ahsoka promises to be the first series solely focuses on a Jedi, as such we will no doubt get plenty of background information on the mysterious order. At this moment nothing is known about the remaining cast or who will the showrunner. Fans have voiced their desire to see Lars Mikkelsen perform the role of Thrawn, he also voiced the role for the animated series Rebels. Lars is the brother of Mads who played Galen Erso in Rogue One.
The Book of Boba Fett
Announced at the end of The Mandalorian fans of the character are rejoicing they are finally getting their Boba Fett content. So far, the return of Boba Fett has been intriguing, Temuera Morrison did an excellent job. So did Ming-Na Wen as his sidekick bounty hunter Fennec Shand. While I am glad, we did not get a Boba Fett movie I am beginning to wonder if we are getting too many Star Wars series. If they are all of the same quality as The Mandalorian then I will remain excited but there is a fear this could all implode like the many MCU series we received after Agents of Shield. It is not clear what The Book of Boba Fett will focus on or if Boba will be adversarial towards Din Djarin, Luke or Ahsoka. What is clear is that Boba has taken over Jabba the Hutt’s criminal enterprise.
One series that has been in development hell is Halo. Soon after the first game was released in 2001 rumors started of either a cinematic adaptation or a series. And you can see why. Strong visuals and action. You would only have to create a decent plot and add character development to go along. And a good reason for it not to be a video game. That is probably why it took nearly 20 years to develop a Halo series. But now we are getting one in early 2021. Starring Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief and Natascha McElhone as Catherine Halsey. McElhone initially voiced Cortana but the original voice actor Jen Taylor has returned. Yet, I have no idea what to expect. While obviously influenced by Larry Niven’s Ringworld the franchise as a whole is too comical to take seriously. Considering what news there has been I fear the worst.
The Nevers is the franchise on this list I know the least about. It is created by Joss Whedon and promises to be “an epic science fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world”. Who would not want to see this show? It stars Laura Donnelly and Olivia Williams (Counterpart). While I have high hopes there are some alarm bells. Joss Whedon departed the series just last month citing the unprecedented challenges of this year. While it sounds like he left after filming wrapped up there is a fear he just be left a sinking ship. Only time will tell. I hope this series will contain a little bit of Penny Dreadful type horror, if it is set in a Victorian Steampunk-esque world. It is set for release during summer 2021.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Winter Soldier may well have been my favorite character of the entire MCU. Something about a villain turning out to be a good guy that I like: Kylo Ren, Darth Vader etc. While Endgame concluded Phase 3 there are still plenty of open story threads. Nothing like two triple A actors willing to continue the story they only belatedly joined. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes respectively. My hopes for this series are that we will see the badass version of Winter Soldier again. You know, the metal arm with the Russian star and the over-the-top psycho stare. It will probably not happen that way, though no doubt the show will focus on some of the unresolved issues of Bucky. The series is set for March 19th and will feature Daniel Brühl and Emily VanCamp.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman may be amongst the most popular graphic novels ever created. Originating from 1989 it is the latest work by Gaiman to get an adaptation: American Gods and Good Omens preceded it. This Sandman adaption has still mostly remained under wraps. We know production was delayed by Covid-19 with filming only commencing in October of 2020. That makes it likely a release is set for the fall of 2021. The Sandman features the Dreamlord, an enigmatic god who governs the dream realm. While I enjoyed the comic series (see my coverage) it could at times be too cerebral. I felt like I missed the deeper themes. Also, the Dreamlord, or Dream or Morpheus is often absent for long stretches of time. And I never enjoyed when he was not around. Supposedly this adaptation is set in 2020 with Tom Sturridge playing Dream.
Loki was one of the most enigmatic characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His wide popularity and that of Tom Hiddleston was a surprise even to Disney. Now we are getting a belated series, after the character supposedly died in Avengers: Endgame. Not unlike the scenario with Black Widow starring Scarlett Johansson. However, in Endgame a past version of Loki does steal the Tesseract allowing him to travel through time. As such this series is set in an alternate timeline, avoiding many potential conflicts with established lore. Loki will also feature Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius: A member of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Richard E. Grant. Loki will start to air in May 2021 and offers plenty of promise for adventure, comedy and even some deeper themes related to the characters complicated relations. It will consist of six episodes available on Disney+.
2021 will also feature a number of already established shows. But I consciously did not add them to the list of Most Anticipated Series of 2021. Below is a list of those I expect to see a release in 2021. I fear season 4 of Westworld won’t see a release until 2022.
- The Witcher season 2
- Picard season 2
- The Mandalorian season 3
- Star Trek Discovery season 4
- Stranger Things season 4
- The Orville season 3
- Snowpiercer season 2
- Another Life season 2
Wrapping up Most Anticipated Series of 2021
So what more could one want beyond The Lord of the Rings, The Sandman and The Wheel of Time. Seriously, this question is no doubt asked by many working for Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV and HBO. So if it really comes down to it, I would like Hyperion, Neuromancer, Dune: The Sisterhood, Stargate and Total Recall to be turned into a series. Some of them are already rumored to be in development. However, I will also warn readers that they should at least be on the look out for new unmentioned series as well. That is how I found out about Alex Garlan’s Devs. So this was it for my list of ‘Most Anticipated Series of 2021’. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Don’t forget to fill out the subscribe widget on the right!