All the Science Fiction and Fantasy TV to Watch (or Avoid) This Summer

Images: Midnight, Texas (NBC), Twin Peaks (Showtime), Preacher (AMC), Orphan Black (BBC America). The Defenders (Netflix/Marvel), Game of Thrones (HBO)

When summer comes, it brings with it lazy days in the sun and kids free of school. It also brings a slew of TV shows, perfect for watching when it’s too hot to leave the air conditioning (which is most of the time). Here’s the io9 guide to everything our beloved nerdy genres are putting up this year.

Brand New Shows

Downward Dog

Premieres: May 23, 9:30 pm, ABC

I know everyone’s pumped for a show about a dog (voiced by Sam Hodges) who has an existential crisis and who talks to the camera and lives with a woman named Nan (Allison Tolman).


Still Star-Crossed

Premieres: May 29, 10 pm, ABC

The latest Shondaland production is a sequel to Romeo and Juliet and is about Rosaline (Lashana Lynch), who you may remember from high school is the girl Romeo was mooning over before he met Juliet. As a way to stop the Montagues and the Capulets from feuding, she’s forced to marry Benvolio (Wade Briggs). Drama, I’m sure, ensues.

Blood Drive

Premieres: June 14, 10 pm, Syfy

A throwback, Blood Drive is made to look like a film made in the past and set in the “future” of 1999. And since there is no oil, cars run on blood. Because, why not? It could be pulpy, campy summer fun.

The Mist

Premieres: June 22, 10 pm, Spike

Spike’s adaptation of Stephen King’s story about a small town engulfed in a mist full of monsters is billed as a “reimagining” rather than a straight-up adaptation.



Premieres: July 12, 9 pm, CBS

A meteor is headed to Earth and only an MIT grad student (Charlie Rowe) and a tech mogul (Santiago Cabrera) have figured that out. They, along with a Pentagon official (Jennifer Finnigan), try to figure out a way to save the world. And keep the secret so there isn’t panic.


Midnight, Texas

Premieres: July 24, 10 pm, NBC

NBC’s clearly hoping that their adaptation of a Charlaine Harris book series will do as well as True Blood did. Midnight is a Texas town that is a safe haven for the supernatural. This town of the.. .different band together to protect themselves from what NBC describes as “ever-suspicious cops, deadly biker gangs and their own dangerous pasts.” It’s got source material with a following so fingers crossed it’s a delight.

Image: Netflix/Marvel

The Defenders

Premieres: August 18, Netflix

The culmination of all of the previous Marvel and Netflix shows, The Defenders finally brings Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) to fight the Hand and, presumably, protect New York City from another Incident. They’re bringing in everyone from the other shows and they’ve got Sigourney Weaver as the villain. No matter the ups and downs of the other shows, we’re looking forward to binging this one in a single weekend.


The Tick

Premieres: August 25, Amazon

The latest show about everyone’s favorite superhero, the Tick (Peter Serafinowicz), is weird and self-aware. We loved the pilot Amazon put out and we’re so glad to see this go to series.


Season Premieres of Returning Shows

Image: Fox


Premieres: May 1, 9 pm, Fox

Four episodes of season two were added on to season three, so expect this show to pick up exactly where it left off: with Lucifer having closed up his club and disappeared. This season will also see God (Timothy Omundson) stop by. God being the name of a mental patient who also knows things about Lucifer only the heavenly father should now. Lucifer is way more fun than it has any right to be, and this casting proves it.



Premieres: May 5, Netflix

Your favorite transhumanist cluster of pretty people is back and taking on a world wide conspiracy to exterminate all sense8. The second season of this show, about eight people who share one consciousness, doesn’t have as many orgies, but it does have a lot of answers to questions you have, and a healthy dose of fists to faces.


12 Monkeys

Premieres: May 19, 8 pm, Syfy

This is the penultimate season for 12 Monkeys, which has already announced that 2018's fourth season will be its last. That means it’s got an endgame and plenty of time to do it properly. The third season will see Cole (Aaron Stanford) searching the timeline for Cassandra (Amanda Schull), whom we last saw in 2163 being proclaimed the mother of the Witness.


Twin Peaks

Premieres: May 21, 9 pm, Showtime

There is no real way to predict what David Lynch will do with a return to Twin Peaks, which we last saw in 1992's nigh impenetrable Fire Walk With Me. We know that basically everyone is returning and that the new cast is gigantic and that the basic idea is to track Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) own return to the town.


Fear the Walking Dead

Premieres: June 4, 9 pm, AMC

Already renewed, Fear the Walking Dead returns for a third season of a prequel set right at the start of the zombie apocalypse. This show has improved, but it’s still not quite great. And certainly not as good as even the worst parts of the show it was spun off from.



Premieres: June 5, 8 pm, Freeform

Coming back to finish off season two after a hiatus, Shadowhunters is probably a show you either watch or don’t. It’s always been weirdly both dull and complicated, so it’s unlikely to be drawing you in now.



Premieres: June 5, 9 pm, Freeform

Continuing with the utter strangeness of Freeform shows that made it past one season: Stitchers. It should be a procedural with a high-concept element—the ability to live the memories of the murdered—but it’s never made much of an impression.

Image: Syfy

Dark Matter

Premieres: June 9, 8 pm, Syfy

By now, this show has moved beyond it’s initial premise of a group of people who have woken up on a ship with no memories and is more general space show. It’s fine summer fare and it’s always nice to see more space scifi.


Wynonna Earp

Premieres: June 9, 10 pm, Syfy

The future western about Wyatt Earp’s great-granddaughter fighting demons is back for a second season.

Orphan Black

Premieres: June 10, 10 pm, BBC America

Orphan Black’s fifth and final season is pretty much a must-watch for fans. We’re sad to see it go, but glad to know that it’s an ending that the creators have planned and want. We know that the premiere is set on a “clone island,” the home of centenarian P.T. Westmoreland, the man behind Rachel. Some clones get captured, some get injured, some find each other, and it’s all leading to, hopefully, closure.



Premieres: June 25, 10 pm, AMC

Preacher ended its first season, which was pretty much a prequel to the comics, with the promise of a second season that will finally get to the things longtime fans are dying to see onscreen. Preacher does a really great job of turning the bizarre into great television, so of course we’re glad to have it back this summer.



Premieres: June 29, 10 pm, CBS

This is a show absolutely made for hospital waiting rooms, the only time I have ever seen anyone watch it for a reason other than trying to force themselves to watch something everyone has told them is a disaster.



Premieres: June 30, 8 pm, Syfy

Futuristic bounty hunters! Fun science fiction that moves with too much energy for you to care that it’s not serious at all. It’s summer, and science fiction doesn’t need to always be contemplating the human condition or, you know, apocalypses.

Image: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Game of Thrones

Premieres: July 16, HBO

Game of Thrones finally returns in June, and, look, what’s there to say about a show that takes over Monday morning? Beyond its epic scope and storytelling, Game of Thrones is a show that is vital to cultural literacy at this point. We do still need to know what happens when Dany’s ships land, though.



Dan Harmon’s role-playing game—with a new guest each week—is partially animated for what is a fun, weird time for a very specific set of nerds.


Premieres: July 27, Seeso

Made for TV Movies

Image: Syfy

Sharknado 5... Earth 0

Premieres: August 6, 8 pm, Syfy

If it’s summer, a funnel filled with sharks is touching down somewhere in the world. This is where we are. This is our tradition now.


Descendants 2

I love/hated the first of Disney’s High School Musical meets Once Upon a Time: The Next Generation, with its mix of cheapness and confusing messages. I expect basically the same this time, with maybe slightly higher quality production values.


Premieres: July 21, 8 pm, Disney Channel, ABC, Disney XD, Freeform and Lifetime

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About the author

Katharine Trendacosta

Katharine is the former managing editor of io9.