2020 new TV shows: What to watch this year

In 2019, we were gifted — or cursed, depending on how easily you become overwhelmed — with hundreds upon hundreds of new scripted shows in addition to new streaming services in Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus. And in this year, this trend isn't going to stop; rather, the streaming and TV space will get even more crowded with the launch of HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi, not to mention the immense slate of original programming sure to be released by existing services as well as network and cable television. 

We know that's a lot to sift through, so we've attempted to make next year's what-to-watch list a little more easily navigable by highlighting some of our most anticipated returning and brand-new shows of 2020. Once you're done with this list, if you're looking for stuff to watch that's already out, check out our best shows on Netflix roundup. So sit down and take a deep breath — we can get through this together. 

Stephen King's The Outsider

Premiere date and time: Jan. 12 at 9 p.m.

Where: HBO. 

This adaptation of Stephen King's 2018 novel takes place in a small town where a young boy has been found dead. To the shock of the town, the police arrest Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), a respected teacher and Little League coach, who is accused of raping the boy and mutilating his body. 

Maitland firmly defends his innocence, but there are seemingly no other suspects who could have done it. And then, in classic King fashion, things get weird. Based on the trailer, The Outsider has the small-town mystery of Sharp Objects mixed with the subtle underlying horror of Castle Rock, and it's primed to be one of the best King adaptations to date. 

Schitt's Creek

Premiere date: Jan. 7

Where: Pop

Plagued with a truly Schitty title, Schitt's Creek sadly flew under people's radar for many years. But once the show hit Netflix, it didn't take long for audiences to come to their senses and give this heartfelt and hilarious series a shot. 

If you already have, you know it's hard not to find something to love in the show, with its over-the-top characters, witty jokes, and poignant family and romantic relationships. But if you haven't seen it yet, now's the time to catch up before the final season. Wedding bells could be ringing for two or more of our favorite people ... 

The New Pope

Premiere date and time: Jan. 13 at 9 p.m.

Where: HBO. 

Paolo Sorrentino's gorgeous, surreal series The Young Pope (2016) ended with Jude Law's Pius XIII in a coma and the Vatican in need of, you guessed it, a new pope. Enter Sir John Brannox (John Malkovich), who is primed to take up the coveted position in Pius XIII's absence. 

But just because the troubled (and troublingly attractive) Pius XIII is physically out of commission doesn't mean his presence won't be felt in this new follow-up series: Like an unholy ghost, he'll haunt Brannox and the Holy See as they scramble to return order to Vatican City. And if The Young Pope is anything like the original series, we're in for a visual feast — beyond just a Speedo-clad Law. 

Star Trek: Picard

Premiere date and time: Jan. 23

Where: CBS All Access

Longtime Trekkie Alex Kurtzman is heading up this CBS All Access original starring Patrick Stewart, who will reprise his iconic role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard 20 years after the Star Trek: Nemesis film. Expectedly, there are few known story details about Star Trek: Picard, but Kurtzman has hinted that the former captain of the USS Enterprise will tackle his emotions regarding the death of friend Data as well as the fall of the Romulan Empire. CBS's other Trek show, Discovery, has received uneven responses from critics and fans alike, but with Kurtzman and Stewart at the helm of this newest installment, we're a little more confident this time around. CBS All Access is confident too; the streaming service has already ordered Star Trek: Picard season 2.

BoJack Horseman

Premiere date and time: Jan. 31

Where: Netflix

Arguably Netflix's best original show, BoJack Horseman has made us laugh, cry and break down in existential crises since 2014. We've followed BoJack (Will Arnett) and his friends through all their ups and downs (but mostly downs), and early next year, we'll see if BoJack can maintain his sobriety and overcome his personal demons when Part 2 of the show's final season releases. Part 1 followed a happier, healthier and stabler BoJack, fresh out of rehab and finally ready to hold himself accountable for his laundry list of regrettable actions that have hurt the people around him. 

But just as he's turning over a new leaf, his half sister, Hollyhock, meets a guy at a college party who reveals to her that BoJack had once gotten drunk with him and his friends and almost slept with one of them. This revelation is sure to test BoJack's newfound resolve and threaten his most important relationship, the one he has with Hollyhock. But will he crumble under the weight of his guilt or continue to work toward self-redemption? We're not sure, but we are incredibly worried about everyone's fate. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

brooklyn nine-nine

(Image credit: John P. Fleenor/NBC)

Premiere date: Feb. 6

Where: NBC

Last year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans were shocked and enraged when Fox suddenly canceled the beloved New York-based, Andy Samberg-starring comedy. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine watchers were inspired by previous fan campaigns begging networks to renew cult-favorite shows, like the infamous Save Jericho campaign in 2007 that saw fans sending 20 pounds of peanuts to CBS (don't ask). 

The fan outcry over the cancellation of Brooklyn Nine-Nine quickly prompted NBC to adopt the show for itself. The upcoming seventh season may or may not be the series' last, but we're just happy for more Holt and more shouts of NINE-NINE!

Avenue 5

Premiere date: Jan. 19

Where: HBO

Not even a year after the series finale of the award-winning and raucous comedy Veep, Armando Iannucci is returning to HBO with a new comedy, this one set in space and starring House's Hugh Laurie as the captain of a space tourism ship. The trailer keeps most of the show's plot under wraps; all we really know is that there are lots of entitled people who are traveling on a giant ship together. But if it's essentially Veep in space, then sign us up. 

Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time

Premiere date and time: Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. 

Where: ABC

This choice might feel a little out of left field, but think about it: Even casual Jeopardy! viewers made the show appointment television during Ken Jennings', Brad Rutter's and James Holzhauer's history-making streaks. Now, all three whizzes are back and competing against one another in the Greatest of All Time event, truly making this one of the most ambitious crossovers of all time.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Premiere date and time: Jan. 19 at 10:30 p.m.

Where: HBO

The long-running Larry David comedy is finally back for a 10th season, the second new season to air after the series initially "ended" back in 2011. Not many plot details have been revealed yet, but we know that Vince Vaughn will star in multiple episodes. Last season ended with a fatwa and Lin-Manuel Miranda, so it's likely that anything goes this year.

Locke & Key

Premiere date: Feb. 7 

Where: Netflix. 

Based on the IDW comic book Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, the upcoming Netflix adaptation will follow three siblings who gain various powers after finding magical keys in their childhood house. The series also includes the mystery of the grisly murder of the siblings' father, mixing horror, fantasy and intrigue in a way that's sure to appeal to fans of Harry Potter or The Magicians. 

Hill will serve as showrunner, hopefully ensuring that the magical vision of his comic will translate well to the small screen. Until Netflix drops a trailer, it's hard to know what the exact tone of the show will be or how well the story works off the page, but we can't wait to find out more. 


Premiere date and time: Feb. 9 at 9 p.m.

Where: Showtime

OK, we'll be the first to admit that Homeland hasn't had the most stellar run as prestige television, but hear us out: There is still a lot to be excited about in its final season. With many of its secondary characters out of the way (R.I.P., Brody and Quinn), the show can focus on its star, Carrie Mathison (played by the incredible Claire Danes), and her relationship with friend and mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin), which has been the heart of the show since the beginning. 

After an incredible first season, Homeland suffered from one of the most disappointing sophomore slumps in recent TV memory, and if you jumped ship then, no one could blame you. But the show's third through seventh seasons (yes, it's been on for seven seasons) were drastic improvements, even if they never quite reached the narrative heights of the first. Now that the show has an end in sight and has had two years to produce its last season, we're optimistic that it can tell a great final story — one that includes a mole, an amnesiac Mathison and a possible romance with a Russian handler — and possibly redeem the series after its missteps.

Better Call Saul

Premiere date and time: Feb. 23 at 10 p.m. 

Where: AMC

AMC's much-lauded Breaking Bad prequel, which follows the exploits of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) before Walter White enters his life, finally returns to the small screen in February 2020. When we last left our favorite scumbag lawyer, he had officially broken bad by feigning an emotional monologue about his dead brother, Chuck, to the horror of his longtime partner, Kim (the inimitable Rhea Seehorn). There's still some time to go before the series catches up to the Breaking Bad timeline, but I think we should officially start panicking about the fates of Kim and Nacho, neither of whom appear in Breaking Bad. Check out our Better Call Saul season 5 guide to learn more.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Premiere date: Feb. 2020

Where: Disney Plus.

Dave Filoni's animated Star Wars show The Clone Wars has been off the air for a whopping five years now, but it's so good that it's one of the few pieces of pre-Disney-acquisition Star Wars media that's considered canon. Filling in the story gap between Episode II — Attack of the Clones and Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the show has followed Anakin "Skyguy" Skywalker and his padawan, Ahsoka "Snips" Tano, as they fight familiar enemies, such as Gen. Grievous, as well as new ones, such as Count Dooku protégé Asajj Ventress. 

This series perfectly balances well-known characters and planets with brand-new ones, making it feel both fresh and familiar. So we're thrilled that Disney Plus greenlighted a seventh and final season, giving the series a chance to wrap up its various storylines, which will lead right into Episode III. 

Little Fires Everywhere

Premiere date: March 18 

Where: Hulu

Based on Celeste Ng's bestselling 2017 novel of the same name, Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere is produced by and stars award-winning actors Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The series takes place in the 1990s in Shaker Heights, Ohio, following two families, the Richardsons and the Warrens, whose children bring them closer together. 

As the title suggests, there are indeed little fires everywhere: Most prominently, an arsonist burns down the Richardsons' house, and the series will explore who did it and why, as the secrets of the two families are slowly unveiled. A critically acclaimed story with two incredibly talented actors behind it? Consider us already hooked. 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Premiere date:  late 2020 

Where: Disney Plus. 

Marvel's first of many upcoming Disney Plus shows, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place after the events of 2019's blockbuster film Avengers: Endgame, following Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) as they presumably team up to kick some major villain butt. Speaking of which, Daniel Brühl will reprise his role as Captain America: Civil War baddie Zemo, while Wyatt Russell joins the extensive rogues' gallery of Marvel villains as John Walker. 

Former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) will also lend a hand to our titular heroes, hopefully getting more much-deserved screen time than what she got in the movies. Based on the title, it seems as if Sam will still be going by his Falcon alter ego for a little while longer despite being in possession of Cap's shield. But chances are strong that this series could end with his transformation into the (second) First Avenger. We're pumped to find out how. 

Daniel Toy is a Tom's Guide contributing writer who covers television, film and all things pop culture. When he's not arguing about the best and worst series finales of all time, he's flipping through his LCBS's dollar bin or chugging through his Switch backlog. His other writing and editing credits include BuzzFeed, Marvel, Scholastic, Callisto, Breadcrumbs and Syndicated, and he strongly believes The Truth Is, indeed, Out There.