Superheroes have long been fascinating characters both in comic books and on the big screen. But over the past decade, some of the greatest superhero stories have been told on the small screen. From classic animated shows to modern live-action epics, many of these superhero television shows have been some of the most beloved media creations of all time. Here’s a look at some of the top best superhero TV shows of all time.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)
The Dark Knight takes center stage in this classic animated series that is widely seen as the definitive version of Batman. Considered by many as one of the best animated shows of all time, Batman: The Animated Series brings the comic-book caped crusader to life through high-quality animation and compelling storytelling. The show has its big share of iconic villains, including the Joker, Poison Ivy, and the Penguin.
The X-Men made their first appearance on the small screen in this classic animated series. Based on the popular Marvel comic book series, X-Men was the first major superhero animated show and helped to launch the Marvel animated universe. The series featured an all-star cast of mutants, led by Professor X and Wolverine, as they fought against Magneto and other villains.
The Incredible Hulk (1977–1982)
Before Robert Downey Jr. donned the Iron Man suit, Lou Ferrigno starred as the Incredible Hulk in this live-action series. While the show may lack the CGI special effects of the blockbuster movies, it stands as one of the defining versions of the classic Marvel character. The series follows scientist Bruce Banner as he transforms into the green rage monster in response to stress or anger, protecting the innocent from various super-powered villains.
Teen Titans (2003–2006)
The Teen Titans were originally a spin-off of the popular animated series, Justice League, which premiered a few years before. But they quickly established themselves as a fan-favorite in their own right with their quippy dialog and well-told stories. The show follows a group of teenage superheroes, led by Robin, as they face off against villains like Slade and the Brotherhood of Evil.
Their may have been a few live-action, superhero TV shows before, but it was Arrow that kicked off the modern superhero TV craze. Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen, the billionaire playboy turned hooded archer, in this action-packed drama series. The show injected a breath of fresh air into the superhero genre, with dark story lines and a sense of realism unlike anything else.
One of the most beloved superhero TV series of all time, Smallville stars Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent as he discovers his powers and prepares for his destiny as Superman. Featuring many of the classic DC characters and some of the best special effects seen on the small screen, Smallville is the gift that keeps on giving. Even after the show went off the air, the character has connected to many new DC projects since.
The Flash (2014–Present)
The Flash has been a mainstay of the DC Universe since his comic book debut and continues to be immensely popular on television. Grant Gustin stars in the current version of The Flash, which is an energizing and fast-paced adventure about Barry Allen, the world’s fastest man. There have been many versions of The Flash over the years, but this one is arguably the most popular.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013–2020)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is quite expansive, so it was only a matter of time until they tackled the small screen. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D follows the secret agents of a global security organization as they battle aliens and other super-powered threats. Though the show may lack the big-name characters of other superhero shows, it makes up for it with intricate storylines and surprising moments.
The Marvel/Netflix collaboration was a huge success, starting with Daredevil. Charlie Cox stars in this gritty and dark take on the beloved comic-book character as he fights to protect the people of Hell’s Kitchen from dangerous criminals. The show proved that superhero stories could be dark and intense, paving the way for other Marvel/Netflix series, such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
The Adventures of Superman (1952–1958)
The original Superman TV series may appear a bit dated when compared to modern special effects, but it set the standard for superhero shows and still holds up today. Featuring the first major live-action portrayal of the famed DC superhero, the show stars George Reeves as Clark Kent/Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. It is an exciting, old-fashioned adventure that still resonates with viewers today.
These are just a few of the best superhero TV shows of all time. Each one offers a unique take on the hero-adventure genre, and all should be celebrated for their contributions to the super-genre. Whether you’re looking for an old classic or a modern drama, there’s something for everyone. So grab your cape, crank up the TV, and get ready for some superheroic fun.