The end of the year has arrived, and it’s time to share Superhero Hype’s top superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy TV series of 2021. Thanks to the various streaming services, we had no shortage of options this year. That said, not every show was equal to the others. And we left a lot of high profile series off of this list simply because they didn’t deserve to be here. It’s a matter of opinion, but it is our opinion. And you’ll get your chance to share your picks too. But first, it’s our turn.
The Book of Boba Fett: Only an “okay” start for the most anticipated TV series of the year. However, it needs more than one episode to earn a place among the year’s best.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston is always fun as Loki, but the show seemed to downplay his mischievous persona. Regardless, Sylvie and “He Who Remains” will likely be major additions to the MCU.
10: Superman & Lois
Tyler Hoechlin has gotten a lot of flack for his perceived lack of size compared to previous Supermen. However, he truly embodies the heart of Clark Kent/Kal-El in Superman & Lois. Hoechlin’s performance in this series outshines his earlier guest appearances in the Arrowverse. The show has given Hoechlin the chance to carve out his own place in the Superman pantheon. And when it’s focused on Clark or Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), it’s fantastic. Their CW-style teenage sons are less engaging, but the overall quality of Superman & Lois outshines everything else on The CW.
9: The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time won’t be the next Game of Thrones, nor does it recapture the serious tone that made GoT stand out from the pack. And it’s also hard to imagine the cast of this series moving on to greater stardom like GoT’s cast has. Regardless, The Wheel of Time shows a lot of promise, and it’s based on Robert Jordan’s legendary epic. The first season earnestly depicted the scale of Jordan’s story while building up the world around it. Although it may not be a good sign that the supporting characters like al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) and Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins) are more compelling than the leads, Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) and Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden). Despite some shortcomings, it was still appointment TV for us and we couldn’t miss an episode.
8: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Of this year’s Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had the best action and a great buddy dynamic between Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). It also dived into some uncomfortable chapters in Marvel’s past and present, especially when supersoldier Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly) shares the shameful way that he was treated by the government. However, the show stumbled in the final episode by relying on an awkwardly written speech that Sam had to deliver to justify his decision to be the new Captain America. At least the new Cap costume looks great!
Hawkeye did something that none of the Marvel movies could: it made Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton into an interesting leading man. But Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop stole the show with her amusing personality and her great chemistry with Renner’s Clint. The series did have some issues when it tried to reconcile the comedic tone of Matt Fraction and David Aja Hawkeye comics with the MCU’s family man Avenger. But strong supporting turns by Florence Pugh, Alaqua Cox, and a returning Vincent D’Onofrio made this the Marvel event of the winter.
6: What If…?
As the first MCU animated series, What If…? had a lot to live up to. While the animation style takes some getting used to, What If…? also opened the door for some incredible alternate reality tales. The Doctor Strange episode was among the darkest chapters in MCU history, while the T’Challa/Star-Lord episode was a fitting posthumous tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. Very few seem to have liked the “Party Thor” episode, but the last two episodes gave What If…? a great finale. The “Guardians of the Multiverse” are a team we’ll never see in live-action. But it’s inevitable that the Watcher will be back outside of this series. And possibly the Supreme Strange as well…
RELATED: Superhero Hype’s Top Movies of 2021
5: The Witcher
Right now, the only fantasy series worthy of “the next GoT” status is The Witcher. Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels are lavishly realized on the show. And Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia had a chance to show off more of his personality this year. Unlike the first season’s split (and sometimes confusing) timeline, season 2’s streamlined approach kept Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allan) together. Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) also had a satisfying story this season even though she spent most of her time alone. There may be a long wait until season 3, but this is Netflix’s best genre show.
4: Young Justice: Phantoms
After four seasons, Young Justice: Phantoms finally put the spotlight back on the original team. Consequently, the stories have been richer and more rewarding as the now adult heroes move on with their lives. While the Mars story got off to a slow start, it has had legitimate dramatic impact on everything that came after it. Subsequently, Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) wrestled with both her grief and her desire to pull her sister, Jade (Kelly Hu), out of darkness. The third arc brought Zatanna (Lacey Chabert) to the forefront and resolved a lingering story from season 1. Additionally, the mid-season finale found a way to make a superhero’s name into a chilling cliffhanger for the rest of the season.
Why did WandaVision outshine all of the other Marvel series this year? It’s because the grief of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) felt all-too real, especially after the first year of the pandemic. Wanda’s outpouring of sorrow trapped a town in her personal TV wasteland, where Vision (Paul Bettany) was still alive. However, Vision couldn’t simply accept his new reality at face value. A few familiar characters helped ground the scenes outside of Westview. But the emergence of the villain, the debut of White Vision, and Wanda’s transformation into the Scarlet Witch made this show the one to watch. There were so many people watching it at midnight that it caused Disney+ to crash. Now, that’s good television!
2: The Expanse
Among sci-fi series, The Expanse is in a class all by itself. This show is never goofy or silly, and it feels like a more believable future for humanity than anything Star Trek has ever done. The only downside of The Expanse‘s final season is that it may be too short. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to deal with the war in the Belt and the emerging alien threat beyond the Ring. The scale of this show is impressive, and it keeps growing. Yet it’s the crew of the Rocinante, James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), Clarissa Mao (Nadine Nicole); and their allies that make this a series worth saving. Six seasons just isn’t enough.
It’s a good thing that Invincible was adapted as an animated series instead being made as a live-action show. That was the only way to truly tap into the magic of Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley’s comic book series. On the surface, this is just a coming of age story for Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) as he comes into his powers and becomes the hero known as Invincible. However, the darker undercurrent of the show belongs to Mark’s father, Omni-Man (J. K. Simmons). Evil Supermen tropes are all too common now. But Omni-Man takes it to new levels of brutality and inhumanity. The season finale’s battle between father and son is impossible to forget, and easily the most horrifying and memorable clash of 2021. This is the comic book show to beat, and nothing else comes close.
Now it’s your turn. What were your choices for the best TV shows of 2021? Let us know in the comment section below!