With the dreary Winter months and a fresh strain of COVID-19 being upon many parts of the world for now, it’s an ideal time to stay inside and catch up on some television. It’s also important to remember that it’s a new year, and with a new year comes even more new television!
With the further establishment of dedicated streaming services, and many of those now in their second or third years as of 2022, premium blockbuster TV is set to come at a faster clip than ever before! On top of the obligatory selection of new genre shows based on fantasy novels and comic books as well, 2022 will also be the year that video game-inspired television shows begin to creep onto the scene, at least beyond Netflix’s animation catalogue. Indeed, television’s currently-robust DC Comics-inspired slate in particular may look especially different over the next couple of years, considering that the start of this year was rocked for TV fans, following news that WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS are likely preparing to sell basic cable channel, The CW to a new owner, possibly leaving the fate of beloved genre shows like The Flash, Stargirl and Superman & Lois up in the air.
2022 has thus wasted no time being a lively and exciting year for the TV industry, one that’s already seen some high-profile new seasons and series get plenty of promotion. As a result, I’m ready to count down my top ten most anticipated TV shows of this coming year! Bear in mind that TV schedules are more volatile and likely to change than movies or video games as well, so it’s tough to nail down exact premiere dates more than a few weeks in advance in most cases. Fortunately however, streamers and channels have been a little more vocal than usual about promoting their TV content for the coming year, so I have more than enough options when it comes to filling out my top ten.
With that out of the way then, here are my top ten most anticipated TV shows of 2022:
#10 – The Umbrella Academy (Season 3)
Genre: Superhero Drama
WHY: The Umbrella Academy’s quirky blend of family dysfunction and superhero tropes has been a consistent delight to me since this Netflix series first debuted in 2019. While the series ultimately sat out 2021, we’ve known for a while that Netflix’s current flagship superhero series would return for a third season, which has more recently been confirmed to debut in 2022.
The Umbrella Academy’s second season ended with a pretty huge cliffhanger as well. The eponymous characters found themselves in a new timeline, staring down a new version of their team, after their now-alive adoptive father, Reginald Hargreeves adopted a completely different set of super-powered infants within the revised future. These new characters, known as the Sparrow Academy, will likely become rivals to the Umbrella Academy characters, as Netflix’s Umbrella Academy series seemingly skips over the third volume of Dark Horse’s original Umbrella Academy comic books, Hotel Oblivion (though it will apparently still feature a few nods to those comics during Season 3), and instead goes straight to adapting the comics’ fourth volume, the aptly-named Sparrow Academy.
What’s extra exciting about this year’s new season of The Umbrella Academy as well is that it’s adapting a comic book arc that hasn’t actually been published yet. Series creator and writer, Gerard Way originally announced the Sparrow Academy comic books back in 2020, but to this day, Way and Dark Horse have yet to release them. This means that Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy is about to enter uncharted waters this year, and while that could certainly go either way, the amusing hook behind Season 3, along with what’s sure to be another superb soundtrack of eclectic licensed songs, has me excited to see what’s next for the embattled Hargreeves siblings, even after the supposed apocalypse is finally behind them.
#9 – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Series Premiere)
Platform: Paramount+ (U.S.), CTV Sci-Fi Channel/Crave (Canada)
Genre: Sci-Fi Action-Adventure
WHY: Despite professionally reviewing TV for many years now, a major mark of shame on my watch history is the fact that I only just recently started watching Star Trek shows. Oh, sure, I saw the Kelvin Timeline movies made by Paramount and Skydance, and I have passing familiarity with the classic run of movies that more closely tied in with the original shows, but outside of that, my proper knowledge of Star Trek TV lore before COVID-19 was practically non-existent. Fortunately, now that I’ve made some headway in catching up on Gene Roddenberry’s futurist masterpiece, and all that’s been added to it since his passing, I can finally say in earnest that I’m very much looking forward to this year’s latest addition to the thoroughly massive Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds!
In a rare departure from how Star Trek shows are usually conceived, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds serves as a direct spin-off from a previously established Star Trek series, namely the franchise’s modern flagship show, Star Trek: Discovery. After Star Trek: Discovery’s crew flew off to the distant future of the 31st Century following its second season, where that series has been set ever since, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will pick back up during Discovery’s original setting of the mid-23rd Century, a decade before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series. It will follow Discovery’s revised editions of Captain Christopher Pike, his first officer, Una Chin-Riley, and a younger incarnation of TOS’ famous science officer, Spock.
Not much else is currently known about this brand new Star Trek show at this point, but it looks to be an extra exciting addition to the rapidly-expanding Star Trek series catalogue that’s now on offer via Paramount+ in the U.S., or Crave for us Canadians. Since this show continues to take place around the earliest point of the Star Trek series’ prime timeline as well, I can continue to approach it without having made my way through most of the classic Star Trek shows for now, while still finding lots to enjoy throughout more of the Enterprise’s pre-Kirk missions.
#8 – Stranger Things (Season 4)
Genre: Mystery-Horror Drama
WHY: We’ve had to wait entirely too long for the latest season of Netflix’s mega-hit horror series, Stranger Things, but finally, Season 4 is on the way this year! Supposedly, we won’t have to wait far into the year for Season 4 to debut either, and that’s great, because Stranger Things’ previous third season, while still enjoyable overall, left the series in a bit of a creative rut.
With Season 4 however, Stranger Things is embracing a more adolescent-style, Spring Break-oriented theme, creating a ripe new opportunity for additional mysteries, and further expansion to the lore. The Byers family, alongside Eleven, moving outside of Hawkins, Indiana also creates an intriguing new scenario, splitting up the show’s protagonists, before inevitably reuniting them for whatever the Upside-Down aspires to throw at the kids next. All the while, Jim Hopper remains missing at this point, in the custody of the Russians, following his apparent ‘sacrifice’ underneath the Starcourt Mall.
I’ve drifted in and out of interest surrounding Stranger Things, especially after COVID-19 has further encouraged the fan-favourite series’ production to drag its feet. Now that Season 4 is finally a go for 2022 however, I’m back to eagerly anticipating it. It looks like the series is hopefully poised to lift itself out of its creative rut with its upcoming season, thanks to a solid teaser trailer that was recently released for it, and this will hopefully give us our biggest and most interesting battle against the Upside-Down to date, while also hopefully achieving the bonus objective of a lovable Spring Break for the Hawkins teens.
#7 – Halo (Series Premiere)
Genre: Sci-Fi Action-Adventure
WHY: Halo was originally planned to premiere last year (it even made my most anticipated TV shows of 2021 list!), back when the series was originally set up at Showtime. Over the course of 2021 however, Halo not only hit more production snags, with several apparently being due to COVID-19, that bumped it out of last year, but it also ultimately switched places with ViacomCBS’ upcoming series reboot of The Man Who Fell to Earth. As a result, Halo moved to ViacomCBS’ streaming service, Paramount+, while The Man Who Fell to Earth, originally being planned to debut on Paramount+, instead moved to Showtime.
Fortunately, after all of this mess, Halo is finally a go for a 2022 premiere on Paramount+. The series, inspired by the Xbox video game franchise, even debuted its first teaser trailer at The Game Awards last month, where it particularly impressed with its stylish, faithful-to-the-games visuals. The showrunners have also confirmed that Halo will operate within its own self-contained universe, and won’t be an expansion to the Halo game canon, but fortunately, that’s good news for people who have never played a Halo game before.
What’s also good news is that Halo as a franchise is packed to the gills with interesting lore, characters and narrative potential, all of which is ripe for a live-action adaptation. After over a decade of failed attempts to make a Halo movie, I’m very excited to see a proper live-action Halo project, at least outside of budget miniseries produced by Xbox themselves, finally stand ready to make it to the small screen. The beginning of the series will supposedly chronicle the earliest years of humanity’s war with the fanatical alien faction, the Covenant, spearheaded by the series’ familiar super-soldier protagonist, Master Chief. It’s a straightforward premise, but one with all sorts of potential to evolve into a new shared sci-fi universe for Paramount+, should this Halo series be a success. Here’s hoping!
#6 – House of the Dragon (Series Premiere)
Platform: HBO (U.S.), Crave (Canada)
Genre: Fantasy Action-Drama
WHY: There’s no denying that the controversial ending of HBO’s Game of Thrones disappointed and angered a lot of people. Even so, there’s been a decent amount of curiosity among TV enthusiasts, critics and pundits when it comes to Game of Thrones’ first confirmed spin-off series, House of the Dragon. We’ve known for quite a while now that House of the Dragon would be targeting a premiere on HBO in 2022, and with a few years now having passed since Game of Thrones wrapped, perhaps now is the time to revisit the world of Westeros through a set of fresh, equally doomed eyes.
House of the Dragon, loosely adapted from George R.R. Martin’s prequel book, Fire & Blood, will chronicle the then-flourishing House Targaryen a whole 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Like its highly celebrated predecessor, House of the Dragon is also headlined by a very impressive cast, and an even more impressive budget, allowing us to see a very different take on Westeros that’s nonetheless just as impressive to behold. Considering that House Targaryen was one of my personal favourite Game of Thrones houses too, you can imagine that I’m especially interested in learning more about these twisted nobles’ origins during an earlier pre-Daenerys era.
There’s always the potential for House of the Dragon to amount to further diminishing returns for Game of Thrones fans, and I’m not oblivious to this, which is why House of the Dragon fell a bit lower on my list than I originally anticipated. Hopefully this series works out though, because WarnerMedia is developing a whole avalanche of further Game of Thrones spin-offs for both HBO and HBO Max either way. While not all of these planned projects may be ordered to series in the end, they would definitely appear to indicate that Warners is hoping to make the Game of Thrones franchise a permanent staple in their robust selection of fantasy IP’s. Hopefully House of the Dragon is a step forward that reignites interest in the lore of Westeros then, especially considering fantasy TV’s rapidly growing competition from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video especially.
#5 – The Sandman (Series Premiere)
Genre: Fantasy Drama
WHY: Netflix’s much-beloved Lucifer series may have now concluded, but in 2022, fans of that show and new viewers alike will get a chance to see an epic live-action adaptation of the comic book series that Lucifer’s source comics originally spawned from. To be fair, Netflix’s The Sandman doesn’t share continuity with Netflix’s Lucifer, and instead unfolds within a separate, self-contained universe (where Lucifer’s character will instead be portrayed by Game of Thrones alum, Gwendoline Christie), but The Sandman still shares common DC Comics ancestry with the now-wrapped Lucifer.
The Sandman, like Halo, originally languished in development hell for many years as a failed movie pitch. Also like Halo, The Sandman’s rights holders at WarnerMedia and DC eventually decided to throw up their hands and instead convert the planned live-action adaptation into a TV series, specifically one made for streaming platforms. Since Netflix had already rescued Lucifer for three additional seasons and a proper ending as well, following its initial premature cancellation at FOX, the king of streamers became a natural home for the Sandman TV series, one that appears much more harrowing and serious in tone than Lucifer before it.
Describing The Sandman to the uninitiated can be a bit of an ordeal as well, seeing that the series personifies complex and abstract ideas like death and dreams, along with including various Biblical figures among its cast. After the king of dreams, aptly named ‘Dream’, is captured by humans, that’s when the series’ story properly begins, specifically when Dream later escapes over a century later, and must reclaim his place in his fantastical kingdom. It’s a weird, creatively invigorating story premise that should make for compelling viewing when it’s realized in live-action, and I can’t wait to see how Netflix meets the outstanding challenge of adapting one of DC’s most beloved graphic novels later this year!
#4 – Peacemaker (Series Premiere)
Platform: HBO Max (U.S.), Crave (Canada)
Genre: Superhero Action-Comedy
WHY: On the other end of DC’s ever-expanding lineup of live-action television shows is Peacemaker, a series spin-off of last year’s excellent DC Extended Universe movie, The Suicide Squad. This gives Peacemaker the compelling distinction of being the first TV series to be set in the DCEU movie continuity, and like The Suicide Squad, this spin-off series will be overseen by James Gunn, who wrote all eight episodes, and directed five of them. In fact, this is a rare instance where we can actually thank COVID-19, as Peacemaker was completely conceived and written as a leisure project by Gunn during the early 2020 lockdown. Thus, the series wouldn’t have existed without the pandemic.
Peacemaker aims to tackle the subject of vigilante justice while maintaining some of the snarky themes from The Suicide Squad, a movie that simultaneously roasted government corruption, media deception and superhero movie marketing in general. John Cena will be reprising his role as the eponymous anti-hero in Peacemaker, following his unexpected surviving of The Suicide Squad’s events, whereupon he’ll lead a new team of vigilantes, several of which include Amanda Waller’s familiar aides from The Suicide Squad. Cena’s Peacemaker will also be paired with a brand new eagle sidekick, Eagly within this new series, and yeah, say less!
Like its movie inspiration, Peacemaker looks violent, ridiculous, comical, and proud to be made explicitly for adults. Despite centering around a more obscure DC Comics character as well, Cena’s star power is more than poised to pick up the slack, especially after Cena already proved to be a highlight personality in The Suicide Squad. This show’s early trailers have been pretty fantastic to boot, and even better, they’ve confirmed that we don’t have long to wait, as Peacemaker will premiere in just a couple of days at the time of writing! Like I said, say less!
#3 – The Last of Us (Series Premiere)
Platform: HBO (U.S.), Crave (Canada)
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Drama
WHY: As much as Halo has worked harder and longer to eventually be among the first wave of live-action video game-adapted TV shows, The Last of Us stands as another especially exciting endeavour within that ready-to-expand medium. Inspired by the highly celebrated PlayStation video game franchise, The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic drama that tells the story of survivors, Joel and Ellie, as they make their way across the ruins of civilization, while dodging villainous bandits, and infected zombie-like mutants created from a human-possessing cordyceps fungus. Yeah, it’s both gross and terrifying, in a manner that even The Walking Dead would raise an eyebrow at!
The Last of Us is another failed movie pitch that eventually evolved into a TV show, albeit one that hasn’t spent nearly as much time in development hell as Halo. It’s only released some early images for now, as production is not set to conclude until closer to this Summer, but hopefully we’ll get to see honest footage, and a premiere date, not long afterward. Admittedly, it’s not guaranteed that The Last of Us may make it to the airwaves, and our streaming services (which will be the only option for us Canadians, as The Last of Us is destined to be exclusively hosted on Crave here), before the end of 2022, but it’s certainly possible that the series could squeak out for the Fall, unless it’s somehow worried about stepping on the toes of AMC’s final handful of The Walking Dead episodes.
Either way, another thing that holds The Last of Us back from otherwise easily hitting my #1 spot on this list, despite its source game being one of my favourites of all time, is that it’s a post-apocalyptic drama preparing to premiere at a time when people’s appetites for post-apocalyptic dramas are at an all-time low, an issue further exacerbated by the prolonged misery of COVID-19. I admit that I’ve personally suffered this ‘dystopia fatigue’ to some degree myself, and it has affected my level of excitement for this otherwise promising-looking series, even if just slightly. If there’s any property that can throw open the floodgates for PlayStation’s incoming rush of live-action adaptations however, it’s The Last of Us, which will hopefully pair well with this year’s Uncharted movie, inspired by another PlayStation video game made by The Last of Us’ subsidiary studio, Naughty Dog, to deliver the new golden era of high-quality PlayStation adaptations that gamers and general audiences have been waiting for!
#2 – The Boys (Season 3)
Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Genre: Superhero Drama
WHY: Even now, The Boys stands as arguably one of the best Amazon Original shows to be made thus far. Inspired by an acclaimed run of satirical comic books published by Dynamite Entertainment, The Boys has already delivered two seasons of raucous, hyper-violent capitalism and media indictment, all framed through a large cast of superheroes and vigilantes behaving badly. It’s crude, it’s bloody, and it’s all fantastic stuff, continuing an upward trend that’s sure to stay hot when The Boys finally returns for Season 3 later this year.
Further building my own personal excitement for The Boys’ third season is the fact that the series frustratingly sat out 2021 entirely, perhaps to give more breathing room to Amazon’s other excellent superhero series, Invincible, which premiered last year, and has since been renewed for two additional seasons. Fortunately, not only is the wait for The Boys’ newest season almost over, but we’ve also gotten confirmation that a spin-off series, tentatively titled ‘G-Men’, is also coming to Amazon Prime Video sometime in the near future! On that note, Amazon’s huge vote of confidence for the future of The Boys is already apparent, as this third season has already been announced for a specific premiere date over six months in advance, specifically on June 3rd, 2022. This early premiere date announcement is an astonishing rarity among streaming television, but The Boys has certainly earned it so far!
What else needs to be said other than a great Amazon Prime Video series is only growing further, and likely only getting better from here! I’ve loved The Boys and considered it one of my favourite ongoing shows overall since its irreverent debut in 2019, and with the show’s third season set to explore the apparent origins of Vought International’s ‘Supe’ epidemic, beginning with Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles taking on the role of Captain America parody, Soldier Boy, the eponymous vigilantes are bound to get into even more gruesome mischief from here. This is all the more true following Season 2’s cliffhanger conclusion, I imagine, one that will seemingly point the U.S. political administration itself at Billy Butcher’s band of Supe-targeting reprobates!
#1 – Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings [Working Title] (Series Premiere)
Platform: Amazon Prime Video
Genre: Fantasy Action-Adventure
WHY: Yet another series that was originally planned to premiere last year, before continued issues with COVID-19 repeatedly delayed production and ultimately cost the series its 2021 window, Amazon’s still-untitled Lord of the Rings series has finally committed to a solid premiere date in 2022. In fact, like veteran hit, The Boys, Amazon has thrown an enormous amount of support behind this series already, announcing its own premiere date for September 2nd, 2022 several months ago, even earlier than the third season of The Boys, while also renewing it for a second season over a year before it was originally set to premiere. This is all before we even know what the series is called!
Despite that however, being a huge enthusiast of Middle-earth myself, this currently-untitled Lord of the Rings series almost made it to the top of my most anticipated TV shows list last year, back when it was targeting a 2021 premiere, before narrowly losing the top spot to Season 3 of The Mandalorian, which also ironically got delayed out of an initial 2021 release window, go figure. Considering the incredible work that Amazon has already done on their Wheel of Time adaptation especially though, let alone their other blockbuster series work on shows like The Boys, Invincible and Carnival Row, I have every bit of faith that Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is going to be fantastic, and a worthy addition to the growing fantasy boom we seem to be seeing on TV right now.
Better still is that this Lord of the Rings series, despite not being hosted on a WarnerMedia-owned streaming platform, will seemingly share continuity with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies! Of course, even if that wasn’t the case, this series supposedly takes place during the Second Age, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, which take place during Middle-earth’s Third Age, meaning that it won’t feature any direct connections to the stories of the previous cinematic adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s celebrated fantasy novels either way. Regardless, I’m incredibly excited to see a small screen take on Middle-earth, especially with rumours flying that the series could explore the origins of the One Ring, along with its wielder, the arch-villain, Sauron. Whatever ends up materializing for the series however, I’m super stoked to make my long overdue return to the live-action Middle-earth, and thus I declare Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series to be my most anticipated TV show of 2022, regardless of whatever it ends up being called!
We may be stuck inside for a while longer during the start of 2022, but at least we won’t be wanting for yet more superb TV to watch. As usual, most of what will likely eventually be 2022’s biggest and best TV shows probably haven’t had their release windows confirmed yet, and quite possibly haven’t even been made known to the public yet. Even then, there are many honourable mentions I could make that didn’t ultimately place on this top ten list, with series debuts like DC’s Naomi, The Legend of Vox Machina, The Witcher: Blood Origin, The Cuphead Show!, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, Andor, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and Netflix’s live-action Resident Evil series being among other exciting blockbuster shows supposedly or definitely making their debut in 2022, while fan-favourite veteran shows like Westworld, The Orville, Ozark, Superman & Lois, Servant, Harley Quinn, DC’s Stargirl, The Mandalorian, Better Call Saul, Only Murders in the Building, Locke & Key and Star Wars: The Bad Batch, among many others, are also likely or definitely making their returns later this year.
Which TV shows are you most looking forward to in 2022? Do you agree with my picks? As usual, your comments are welcome below. For now, may your screen time be blessed by nothing but the best of the small screen, as we wait out these dreary early months of 2022.