The List: Top 10 Greatest Live Action Superhero TV Shows Of All Time

You lot were very indecisive on this weeks poll. No less than 75% of the field shared the exact same number of votes as another entry and there were at least 2 3 way ties. Fortunately, the top 4 weren't tied in any way so that does make my job a little easier.

Honourable Mentions: The 1990 Flash series, Luke Cage (which is pretty good numbers for a show that's only just been released) and Gotham

10. The Incredible Hulk (1978- 82)

Smashing his way onto the list is everyone's favourite not-so-jolly green giant. Comprising of 82 episodes over 5 seasons and no less than 4 TV films (a pilot and 3 made by NBC after the original run had finished), the series even netted actress Mariette Hartley an Emmy for her performance in its second seasons premier. The TV movies also saw the first live action performances of Thor and Daredevil. Oh and of course it made Lou Ferrigno an instantly recognisable face and guaranteed him cameos and voice work in every bit of media the Hulk features in, which is nice.

9. The Greatest American Hero (1981-83)

A comedy-drama series in which a man is given a red suit that bestows its wearer with superpowers by a group of aliens and then promptly looses the instruction manual, an hijinx ensues. TGAH ran for 3 seasons over 44 episodes (4 of which are unaired). Apparently there's talks of a remake of the series that will be produced by the guys behind The Lego Movie.

8. Wonder Woman (1975-79)

The show that made spinning in a circle a viable way of changing your clothes. Focusing originally on stories set in World War 2 before skipping ahead to focus on present day stories, the series ran for 3 seasons over 59 episodes and a movie pilot and starred Lynda Carter in the now iconic role. It says something about the success of the series that it still has frequent reruns across the globe and until recently was considered the only successful attempt at portraying the title character on screen.

7. Smallville (2001-11)

The longest running series on our list, Smallville ran for 10 whole years with over 200 episodes to its name and multiple Emmy's. Originally focusing on Clark Kent's time at high school in the titular town, it would later move to focusing more on his time at the Daily Planet and featured a veritable who's who of DC characters, from Green Arrow to Booster Gold and even a guest appearance or two from Superman himself, Christopher Reeve. The series even set a record high series debut for a Warner Bros. produced TV show for its pilot, though viewership and critical response waned as the series progress.

6. Jessica Jones (2015- present)

And now we reach the MCU. Obviously much darker in tone than anything we've talked about so far, the series follows in the footsteps of another show that we'll get to later. Featuring Krysten Ritter as the titular hero and David Tennant (a.k.a The Doctor) as the main antagonist (I will not fan boy about how good he is, promise), the Netflix series has garnered critica praise for it's performances, tone and depiction of darker subjects such as rape, assault and mental illness, as well as its coverage of sexuality. Not bad for a series that doesn't even have 2 seasons under its belt yet.

5. Arrow (2013- Present)

The forefather to the current run of darker, more realistic superhero TV shows. So far running for 4 seasons with a 5th currently airing, the series took a character that many people look at as a joke and made him deadly serious. Like Smallville, the series features a laundry list of fan-favourite DC characters, although the use of numerous Batman villains has led to some backlash. Though the quality may have declined as the series progresses, it is still going strong and forms the core around which the rest of the CW DC Universe is built.

4. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013- Present)

And back we go to the MCU.  The first TV spin-off for the highly successful (understatement alert) film franchise and features Clark Gregg as everyones favourite not-so-dead-anymore Agent, Phil Coulson. So far running for 4 seasons, the series, much like Smallville and Arrow, regularly features characters from the comics that we aren't likely to see on the big screen any time soon (hello Ghost Rider). Unlike Arrow or Smallville however, the critical reception of the show has improved over its run, even if the audience numbers have fallen.

3. Nananananananana BATMAN (1966-68)

Oh I can feel the camp from here.

Delightfully cheesy, this series distilled the 50's-60's era Batman perfectly, and has become iconic, from Robin's "Holy (something) Batman" catchphrase to the cliffhanger endings with the "Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel" closing line and then you have the theme song. It also helps that you had Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin putting in top performances as Joker, Penguin and Riddler to provide perfect foils for Adam West and Burt Ward's caped crusaders. Again only running for 3 seasons, the show has a legacy that can still be felt today.

2. Daredevil (2015- Present)

Yet again, we are in the MCU and we're back on Netflix for another dark and gritty jaunt through the mean streets of New York City. Currently comprising of 2 series, it has introduced 4 classic Marvel characters (Daredevil, Kingpin, Elektra and Punisher) to the MCU after filmatic flops ensured they were unlikely to be getting back on the big screen any time soon. The series has a seeming obsession with details, filming in the exact parts of New York that are described in the comics and having Charlie Cox work with a blind consultant to get every single thing he does to be as realisticly blind as possible. No wonder this series has a 98% average score on Rotten Tomatoes.

1. The Flash (2014-Present)

Well, good thing it did win the poll, because if it hadn't I'd have put it at number one anyway *shrugs*.

Currently airing its third season, The Flash is, in my opinion, the best example of adapting a comic book character to live-action in television history. It isn't entirely faithful to the source material, but it is faithful to the spirit of the source material. Featuring literally every character that's worth a damn from the comic's 60 years in publication, every character is portrayed perfectly, so much so that it is literally impossible to choose a best character (I mean, when a series can make one of the most despicable villains in the Reverse-Flash into one of the most likeable characters in the show and still make you hate him, it's doing its job right). And, can I just point out that, whilst the first series got a 97% average on Rotten Tomatoes, the second? That's a 100% average baby. And 81 on Metacritic. God this series is so good.

JR19759

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4 Responses to The List: Top 10 Greatest Live Action Superhero TV Shows Of All Time

  1. It is so gratifying that TGAH broke the top ten.

  2. MLS:
    It is so gratifying that TGAH broke the top ten.

    The green guys were exultant about it too.

  3. The Atomic Punk

    The new kids reign supreme. This poll only reminds me that I have way too much TV to catch up on.

    Delighted to see The Greatest American Hero make the list. Bummed that I wasn’t the one who suggested it.

    Please do not “reboot” TGAH. If the producers of The Lego Movie are involved, then it should be a Lego production not live-action. That I would watch and most likely enjoy.

  4. My only correction would be to put Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD down at number 10 and movie everyone else up a notch. My interest in the show has waned, thanks to the lack of superheroes in it. Not enough nods to Marvel history, in the way The Flash is ultra-DC. I’m okay with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash from the 90’s and Spider-Man (1977) not making it, but The Adventures of Superman not making it is a shame. Maybe it’s number 11? Good list overall, though.