San Diego Comic-Con is the ultimate unforgettable fan experience all crammed into 4 days of panels, displays, exhibits, meet-ups, themed bars, and endless cosplay. While there can be what seems like never-ending lines, very limited access to bathrooms and sore blistered feet from walking through miles of convention, the energy of hundreds of thousands of people celebrating their passion for art is truly incredible. There is this simultaneous enthusiasm and embrace of individual expression along with the joy of finding your people, fellow fans.

For the last 16 years or so, San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) has become more and more of a platform for studios to build excitement for their upcoming films and TV shows. Good marketing can make or break your project, and the power of the geek population is something now taken very seriously by Hollywood. “The Con” has proven to be a huge promotional opportunity, with SDCC drawing around 160,000 attendees each year, getting “good buzz” at SDCC can mean huge box office or huge viewership, even for projects that are 10 months away from public consumption.


For me, the most exciting aspect of Comic-Con has always been the television panels. Over the years, the amount of TV shows represented at SDCC often outnumbers films, Comic-Con has become a TV lover’s dream. There are sneak peaks at new shows, cast panels of current hits, and anniversary celebrations of beloved programs.

Heather Harper and Heather Brooker at the SyFy “The Magicians” party in 2016. Looking fly as hell.

I am a self-professed TV addict, I grew up knowing it was dinner time when I heard the opening strains of the Star Trek theme (and later Next Generation). I used to wear out the VHS tapes I made of episodes of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I remember sneaking down to the 24-inch television hanging under the stairs of my freshman dorm in college to watch episodes of Ally McBeal and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love the long-form storytelling, incredible character work, the intimacy, and the ability to indulge in small details over the course of time. For the last few years we are in a new golden age of television, with the advent of so many different platforms (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Playstation, YouTube, etc. ) there has been this explosion of creativity.

It is a wonderful time to be a television fan, because pretty much any type of story you want is out there. The sheer amount of choices at SDCC can be overwhelming, and while your personal passion should always be your guiding light, here are my Top 10 TV events at Comic-Con (in order of my excitement to see them).

Top 10 TV events at Comic-Con

1. HBO’s Westworld- Saturday, 4:15-5:15 Hall H

Westworld was hands down my favorite new show this last year. The sweeping location shots alone are enough reason to see them play footage on a big screen. This show is complex, beautiful, emotional, and as with all the best sci-fi, makes you question what truly makes us human. Most of the central cast is scheduled to appear, and they have started filming season 2 so there’s a good chance there will be some sort of sneak peek.

2. Neflix’s Stranger Things- Saturday, 3:00-4:00 pm Hall H

This awesome show was like being caught in the most wonderful Spielberg-esque Stephen King story, with the most charming(and endlessly watchable) cast of kids. I binged this show in a few days, and thought it was one of the best, most suspenseful mysteries I’d seen in a long time that was truly scary. The cast of kids are such a riot, David Harbour is so passionate and well spoken, and Winona Ryder is…well, Winona Ryder. They have promised never-before- seen footage from season 2, so if the cast isn’t reason enough to go, that is!

3. Netflix Marvel’s The Defenders- Friday, 5:15-6:15 Hall H

Netflix has taken the superhero genre and turned it into a gritty, character-driven drama that is sexy, edgy, and gloriously violent. I watched the short trailer they put out, and it looks pretty good (even Iron Fist was funny!) and I am interested to see the chemistry between the 4 leads.

Frank Micelotta/FOX ©2015 FOX BROADCASTING

4. Family Guy and American Dad!- Saturday, 1:00-2:15 pm Ballroom 20

I really think Family Guy is some of the funniest stuff on television, and I have always heard their panel is one of the most raucous and fun to attend, and with the added cast members from American Dad! I’m sure this won’t disappoint.

5. Star Trek: Discovery- Saturday, 2:30-3:15 pm Ballroom 20

As I said before, I was raised in the Star Trek universe, and am super excited for this new addition. The trailer was great, I love both Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin, and Jason Isaacs (the best Captain Hook!)

THE ORVILLE: L-R: Seth MacFarlane, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage and Mark Jackson in THE ORVILLE premiering on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

6. The Orville -Saturday, 4:15-5:15, Room 6A

Anything that looks even a little bit like Galaxy Quest has my attention. The fact that Seth McFarlane created, produced (and stars), and Jon Favreau directed the pilot really has me interested. A great cast full of familiar TV faces ( Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Chad Coleman), and story that sounds like The Office in space. Done, I’m there.

7. Twin Peaks- A Damn Good Panel-Saturday, 2:45-3:45, Hall H

I will admit, my husband recently got me into this groundbreaking show, and we went back and watched the entire original series. Fascinating is an understatement, but to experience the surreal brilliance (and at times bewilderment) of David Lynch’s television opus on such an enormous stage is a can’t miss.

8. Game of Thrones- Panel and Q&A session- Friday, 1:30-2:30, Hall H

No trailers get me as excited as Game of Thrones trailers. By SDCC, this show will have aired the first episode in it’s 7 th season, and it has just gotten more and more epic. A good amount of cast are scheduled to appear, and the cosplay alone will be worth it! White Walkers, agggh!

9. The Gifted Extended Sneak Peek- Friday, 3:45-4:45, Ballroom 20

One of the new shows premiering this fall, this Fox series stars some of my favorites, Stephen Moyer (Vampire Bill from True Blood) and Amy Acker (Fred from Angel) and sounds like a bit of a spin on the superhero/mutant genre.

10. SyFy’s The Magicians-Saturday, 4:00-4:50 pm, Indigo Ballroom

This is one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows. It has created this all-encompassing magical world that is sexy, dangerous and always sarcastic. The cast is wonderful and it’s being moderated by Chris Hardwicke (Nerdist, AMC’s Talking Dead), so it should be a lot of fun.

11. Sharknado – Global Swarming – Friday, July 21 at 6:45PM in Room 6DE 

This is technically a movie but it’s on the SyFy network so I’m including it in my list of TV panels. Fin and the crew are back for another over the top shark experience that takes you all over the world. This surprise hit for SyFy took fans by storm (pun intended!) and is now on it’s 5th installment. The Sharknado 5: Global Swarming panel will feature stars Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Fabio (you read that right!) director Anthony Ferrante and writer Scotty Mullen.

Bonus!! Outside the Convention Center

There is so much to see and experience outside the convention itself, here are a few things that deserve a visit:

  • NBC at the Tin Fish, Midnight,Texas 11-6 pm July 20-23 (new TV show by Charlaine Harris (author of True Blood) and great fish and chips!)
  • Game of Thrones Experience: Winter is Here 11-1 pm L Street Fine Art July 20-23
  • Mr. Robot Experience: 11-7 pm July 20-23 327 4 th Avenue
  • Conan at Comic Con: Spreckels Theater: 3-5:30 pm July 19-22 (only stand-by tickets left and they’re available at the Spreckels Theater box office at 8 am each morning)
  • The Expanse Escape Room July 20-23, in lot between 2 nd Avenue and J Street 10-7 pm

There are so many options not on this list (Outlander, Archer, Preacher, Black Lightning, The Expanse), and happy hour in Gaslamp will be calling, so choose wisely and have a wonderful Comic-Con!