Thank god this garbage year is almost over. Because of the pandemic, going to the movies was off limits for most of 2020. Fortunately, there were a lot of TV shows to keep us from going crazy in our own homes.
Every year, the Superhero Hype staff picks their favorite television series from the sci-fi, comic book, fantasy, and superhero genres. If it was opened up for TV programs from all genres, then Better Call Saul would have been pretty high on the list. Regardless, these are the shows in our wheelhouse that really captured our attention in the last 12 months. Not every superhero series is created equal, and some programs may be conspicuous by their absence. Read into that what you will.
For now, check out our picks for the top 10 TV shows of 2020.
10. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
There were no Marvel Cinematic Universe movies this year, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still managed to give us our Marvel fix. The series had long since left behind most of its MCU connections in favor of its own characters and narratives. In season 7, Phil Coulson, or more accurately, Coulson’s LMD, had one last adventure with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team across time and space. ABC also gave Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the chance to wrap up the series on its own terms, and the conclusion was largely a good one.
For its third season, Westworld moved beyond the theme parks and into the “real world” of 2058. Dolores befriended Caleb Nichols, who was perhaps the only human she felt she could trust. Meanwhile, Maeve was blackmailed by Engerraund Serac, the man whose technology held society by its throat. The long-awaited showdown between Dolores and Maeve didn’t disappoint. But we’re not sure where Westworld season 4 is going to go, or how long we’ll have to wait for it.
8. Harley Quinn
Birds of Prey‘s middling box office performance forces us to question whether Harley Quinn can really carry a movie. However, the Harley Quinn animated series does everything the film couldn’t or wouldn’t do. In the second season, Harley Quinn took its cues from “No Man’s Land,” as the Joker and Batman were largely out of the picture. Harley tried to become Gotham’s new crime boss, only to discover that she’s not quite evil enough to pull it off. Additionally, Harley’s romantic feelings towards Poison Ivy boiled over, which threatened Ivy’s relationship with Kite-Man.
Harley’s crew: King Shark, Dr. Psycho, Clayface, and Sy Borgman are all more interesting here than they are in the comics. But the funniest character on this show may be Bane. James Adomian’s Tom Hardy-esque voice is always hilarious. You can see and hear that for yourself in the video below.
7. Star Trek: Discovery
Let’s be honest: Star Trek TV shows had been pretty stale for a long time. Star Trek: Voyager was TNG-lite, while Enterprise and Discovery were both prequel series. But in its third season, Discovery has really earned its place in Trek lore by charting a path even farther in the timeline. Now, the status quo is literally a thing of the past, and Discovery has shown us a greatly diminished Federation. The future’s just not what it used to be.
Discovery has also given us hope that the Federation can rise again, while allowing Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham to be far more human than she was before. Additionally, Doug Jones’ Saru became the first alien captain in Star Trek history, and it was the right call. Discovery has become Star Trek‘s new standard bearer, even though CBS All Access also has two other Trek series with more on the way.
6. Rick and Morty
Thanks to a scheduling quirk, only five new episodes of Rick and Morty arrived in 2020. But by and large, they were all great. In particular, “The Vat of Acid Episode” is an all-time classic for the series, as Rick gave Morty the technology to create video game style “save points” in his life. Few series have ever managed to marry sci-fi and comedy as effectively as Rick and Morty. The fourth season finale also reintroduced story elements that were seemingly dropped from previous seasons. Slowly but surely, Rick and Morty is pushing itself forward. But we’re still waiting for Evil Morty to show up again, for real this time.
5. Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy
Imagine if the original Transformers animated series took itself seriously as a drama. The result might be something close to Netflix’s Transformers: War For Cybertron Trilogy. This prequel series picks up on the Transformers’ home world, Cybertron, as both Autobots and Decepticons question their devastating war. Even Megatron gets a few humanizing moments, instead of being one-dimensionally evil. This show also allows its characters to develop, while giving them actual arcs and evolutions. It may be one of the best Transformers stories to date.
4. The Boys
Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys takes some liberties with the original comic. But in season 2, those changes largely worked. Aya Cash’s Stormfront was almost as terrifying as Antony Starr’s Homelander. Their twisted romance also made them the new power couple of the Seven. Meanwhile, Billy Butcher and the Boys had their hands full trying to bring down Vought, the company behind the “heroes.”
Ennis and Robertson’s comic seemed to despise the myth of superheroes as a force for good. The show has lived up to that legacy, and made the Seven much more entertaining in live-action. Fortunately, The Boys also gives its non-powered antiheroes their share of the spotlight. That’s why the closing moments with Butcher land so well. It’s also why we’re worried about Jack Quaid’s Hughie heading into season 3.
3. Lovecraft Country
HBO has a knack for elevating genre television to new heights. This year, Lovecraft Country, could have worked solely as a period drama. The horror and sci-fi elements enrich the story of Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett), and George Freeman (Courtney B. Vance). For Tic, Leti, and Uncle George, nothing less than the future is at stake. But to reclaim Tic’s family legacy, they have to contend with real world racism as well as otherworldly creatures beyond comprehension.
2. The Expanse
While the fourth season of The Expanse offered a glimpse of the new horizon beyond the ring gates, the fifth season has shown that the old problems still remain. Marco Inaros, a Belter terrorist, has struck at both Earth and Mars in retaliation for the way they exploited the people who live in space without a planet of their own. We’re currently at the midpoint of season 5. At the moment, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been separated into their own stories. But they may also be the solar system’s only hope to bring down Inaros.
1. The Mandalorian
Pretty easy choice, honestly. In just eight episodes, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni not only improved on The Mandalorian‘s initial season, they also expanded its scope. Cobb Vanth, Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, and Boba Fett were all in the mix. However, you-know-who stole the spotlight with that cameo in the season finale. That was also one of the rare times that Star Wars fans have united in loving anything.
Regardless, the heart of the show still belongs to the Mandalorian and Grogu. Their bond fueled the story for two seasons, and seemingly reached an emotional conclusion in the finale. Pedro Pascal put all of Mando’s heartbreak in his face during the finale’s closing moments. Where does the series go from here? We may have to wait until 2022 to find out. Fortunately, Disney+ announced The Book of Boba Fett will arrive in just 12 months.
What are your picks for the top 10 TV series of 2020? Let us know in the comment section below!