Shrub expansion is a global phenomenon that is occurring on savannas, rangelands, and grasslands. In addition, this is an increasingly documented occurrence in the Arctic. Numerous recent studies have strived to pinpoint the drivers of this phenomenon, quantify the changes, and understand their implications for regional and global land use, disturbance regimes, and nutrient cycling. Inquiry into these topics has been facilitated by recent technological developments in satellite remote sensing, aerial photograph analysis, and computer simulation modeling. We provide a new review that accounts for more recent studies in these regions, Arctic shrub expansion, and technological and analytical developments. This four-part discussion focuses on observed patterns of shrub expansion in three rangeland types (desert grasslands, mesic grasslands, savannas) and the Arctic tundra, the primary causes of this expansion, critical comparisons and contrasts between these land types, and recommendations for future avenues of research. These new avenues can inform the development of future land management policies, as well as ongoing investigations to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change.