100 BEST SUPERHERO TV SHOWS OF ALL TIME by Rotten Tomatoes
Thanks to an unprecedented explosion of superhero content on television and streaming platforms today, it may seem like the Age of Heroes began with Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But the phenomenon of costumed heroes on TV began almost as soon as television itself with 1949’s The Lone Ranger series – the first legitimate ABC hit series. Since then, the heroes have taken on many forms in animated and live-action arenas. They have been campy and deadly serious. Sometimes, like Spider-Man, they don very familiar designs and, sometimes, like Jessica Jones, they toss off the affectations for a less conspicuous jacket or hoodie.
As you might expect, series based on Marvel and DC Comics properties dominate this TV subgenre overall, though not all of their titles appear on this list. There are 64 television programs based on comic books published by DC; three of them, however, are not based on superheroes. Marvel, meanwhile, is the source of 50 programs in the TVsphere. Surprisingly, only 5 of those are based on the X-Men — the same number of superhero shows produced by Greg Berlanti currently on the air. Spider-Man, meanwhile, lends his name to 12 television shows, 3 of which were live action. Superman and Batman also appear in the title of a surprising number of shows, while Wonder Woman fronts just one show. And, as it happens, only 14 American superhero shows feature a female lead – although some might argue that Medusa (Serinda Swan) was the real lead of Marvel’s Inhumans, bringing the tally up to 15. Out of the 100 Best superhero shows, 22 are original creations not sourced from comic books.
To create our list of the greatest superhero TV shows, we considered series’ Tomatometer scores, of course, plus the rankings of a number of reputable “best of” lists, and applied some editorial discretion, asking ourselves which shows have acquired cult status over time. You won’t find every comic book–based character that has ever been adapted for the small screen — shows like Lucifer, Constantine, and Preacher fall under horror-fantasy, for instance — but you will find the best superheroes on TV.
Did we miss your favorite? Tell us in the comments!