The amount of TV out there these days can be truly terrifying. And, no, you’re not going to get to all of it. But Rotten Tomatoes is here to help you cut through the clutter with our 15 most-anticipated series, genres, and other programming options of fall — from the roughly 1 billion comic book–based shows (give or take) to the return of broadcast titans new (This Is Us) and old (Will & Grace), and everything in between, including football! Read on to find out what programming deserves your attention when you have an embarrassing wealth of choices.
1. Return to the Upside Down
“Nothing’s going to go back to the way it was,” warns David Harbour’s Chief Hopper in the trailer for season 2 of Netflix’s retro thriller series Stranger Things, which returns for more supernatural adventures in the Upside Down just in time for Halloween.
2. CBS Doubles Down on Nerds
The gang is back for an eleventh season, and there is one major cliffhanger to resolve in the premiere: will Amy (Mayim Bialik) accept Sheldon’s (Jim Parsons) proposal? The episode picks up immediately where the finale left off, so you’ll get the answer ASAP when the series returns on Sept. 25.
If 22 minutes a week isn’t enough Sheldon Cooper for you, get a second dose on Thursday nights beginning in November. CBS’ single-camera BBT prequel series Young Sheldon follows, well, young Sheldon as he grows up a misfit in East Texas. It’s a very different feel from its multi-cam parent series, but Jim Parsons’ narration should help bridge the format gap. Premieres at 8:30 on Sept. 25, immediately after BBT.
3. The Walking Dead Lives On
There’s no stopping The Walking Dead as it enters its eighth season — even with slightly lower ratings, it’s still the biggest show on television (hence its own place on this list, despite falling under the umbrella of TV with roots in comic books). And if you weren’t a fan of the scattered nature of season 7, the cast and producers have promised the characters will come together again (presumably to fight the evil Negan — and those pesky walkers).
Ah, fall — time for changing leaves, pumpkin spice–flavored everything, and football. Take your pick: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, professional, collegiate — there’s a game for everyone. The NFL’s regular season begins Thursday, Sept. 7 with the Kansas City Chiefs versus the New England Patriots, and will conclude on New Year’s Eve. The post-season will start on Jan. 6, 2018, and Super Bowl LII will air from Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
Keep up with the schedule on NFL.com.
5. Grab Some Tissue — the Pearsons Are Back
Time to head to your preferred warehouse club to buy some tissues in bulk, because This Is Us is returning to make you cry on a weekly basis. While the present-day storylines will pick up several months after the events of the season 1 finale with the Big Three turning 37, the past storyline with Mandy Moore’s Rebecca and Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack will resume almost immediately where it left off.
6. Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before
The highly anticipated, much-delayed latest Star Trek iteration is finally hitting screens — but not necessarily your TV. While the debut of Star Trek: Discovery, which takes place 10 years before the original series, will air on CBS proper, the subsequent episodes will live on the network’s streaming service, CBS All Access.
7. A Blast from the Past
They’re baaaaack! Roommates Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) find themselves single and living together once again, a decade after the show’s original series finale (the final scene of which will be ignored — so much for that flash-forward). Expect many hijinks, especially from sidekicks Jack (Sean Hayes) and Karen (Megan Mullally).
8. Join the Cult
The seventh season of FX’s horror anthology begins on Election Night 2016 and features Evan Peters as a charismatic cult leader and Sarah Paulson as a woman being terrorized by clowns. (It’ll all make sense soon…)
9. True Crime Stays Strong
The latest Law & Order spinoff is no thinly veiled retelling of a ripped-from-the-headlines story — it’s actually following a real case, a la FX’s American Crime Story. The first installment revisits the 1994 Menendez murder trial, in which brothers Lyle and Erik were convicted of killing their parents.
11. Comic Book TV Thrives
There are four new Marvel series headed to the small screen this fall (Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, Marvel’s Inhumans on ABC, Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu — we get it, Marvel — and The Gifted on Fox) along with new seasons of your favorite DC dramas (The CW’s Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, plus Fox’s Gotham). Get the full rundown on the page-to-screen series here.
12. Season 3.0
The theme for season 3 of USA’s hacker drama Mr. Robot
is democracy — at least that’s what the first, mysterious trailer
for the new season implies. The show will pick up after the events of season 2’s cliffhanger finale, and will explore the disintegration between Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot.
13. Netflix’s Elite Crime-Solver
David Fincher and Charlize Theron are the executive producers behind this period Netflix drama, which follows two FBI agents in 1979 (played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) as they attempt to solve current cases with insights gleaned from interviews with imprisoned serial killers. The show, which also stars Fringe‘s Anna Torv, is inspired by the book Mind Hunter: Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit.
14. Lords, Ladies & Vikings
If costume dramas tickle your fancy, take your pick from any era. In addition to the three returning series below, there’s also Versailles and The Halcyon on Ovation this fall, while The Crown (Netflix) returns in December and Victoria (PBS) in January 2018 for their second seasons. Serial killer event series The Alienist is also expected soon from TNT.
After an ultra-long Droughtlander, the third season of the Starz time-travel drama, based on the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s series, is finally coming back. But star-crossed lovers Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) are still living apart in different times. How long will it take for them to find their way back to each other?
The fifth season of History’s scripted drama will return with Ragnar’s sons embroiled in a civil war. Ivar (Alex Hogh Andersen) killing his brother Sigurd (David Lindström) will do that to a family, you know? Jonathan Rhys Meyers, introduced as the naughty Bishop Heahmund in last season’s finale becomes a force to reckon with in season 5.
This crowd-pleasing PBS bodice-ripper has already aired in the U.K. and has generated some positive critical response already — in keeping with previous seasons.
15. ABC’s Latest Genius M.D.
Freddie Highmore stars in House creator David Shore’s newest medical drama, The Good Doctor. Based on a South Korean series of the same name (and co-developed by Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim), the show follows a young pediatric surgeon who has autism and savant syndrome and lands a job in a prestigious pediatric department at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
Disagree with our recommendations? Which series are you most looking forward to? Share your picks in the comments!