Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, Batman: The Animated Series, Mike Colter as Luke Cage (Courtesy Everett Collection; Fox; Netflix)


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!

Synopsis: "Big Hero 6 The Series" takes place after the events of the film "Big Hero 6" and continues the adventures... [More]

Astro Boy (1963)

Synopsis: Astro Boy battles evil.... [More]

The Flash (1990)

Synopsis: An accident gives a police chemist superhuman speed.... [More]
Directed By: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo

Powers (2015)

Synopsis: Homicide detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim investigate cases involving superhuman powers, but their efforts are fraught with trouble due... [More]

Synopsis: An alien poses as a student to sharpen his telepathic skills.... [More]

Blade: The Series (2006)

Synopsis: Krista Starr returns from Iraq to learn that her twin brother, Zack, has died under mysterious circumstances. Krista soon meets... [More]

Synopsis: In this reboot of the classic Cartoon Network series, the Powerpuff Girls return to protect Townsville from villains who want... [More]

Beware the Batman (2013)

Synopsis: This take on the classic comic book franchise mixes familiar characters with new villains not previously seen in animated form.... [More]
Directed By: Sam Register

NightMan (1997)

Synopsis: After being struck by lightning, a San Francisco musician can tune into others' evil thoughts.... [More]

Shazam! (1974)

Synopsis: Teenager Billy Batson and his adult companion, Mentor, travel in an RV, helping people in need.... [More]

Automan (1983)

Synopsis: A police computer expert creates his alter ego.... [More]

Spider-Woman (1979)

Synopsis: A girl bitten by a spider receives superhuman powers from her father's experimental spider serum.... [More]

Street Hawk (1985)

Synopsis: Jesse Mach, a former motorcycle cop who was injured in the line of duty, is recruited for a top-secret government... [More]

Mutant X (2001)

Synopsis: The syndicated ensemble action drama chronicles the adventures of a group of human mutants - led by the mysterious Adam... [More]
Directed By: Jay Firestone, Adam Haight

Synopsis: After almost losing his life in a plane crash that killed his father, teenage prodigy Tony Stark, heir to the... [More]



Manimal (1983)

Synopsis: A man who can change himself into any animal helps police solve crimes.... [More]

Synopsis: Spider-Man, whose real name is Peter Parker when not fighting crime, is an iconic comic book character that has been... [More]

Synopsis: This animated series that follows the adventures of popular DC Comics character Green Lantern features Earth's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan,... [More]

Swamp Thing (1990)

Synopsis: The adventures of Alec Holland, a man mutated into a muck monster by the evil Dr. Anton Arcane.... [More]

Synopsis: Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar, with help from their children, join forces to protect Earth from... [More]

Synopsis: Spider-Man fights to free an alternate Earth from an evil ruler known as the High Evolutionary.... [More]

Bionic Six (1987)

Synopsis: Professor Dr. Amadeus Sharp creates a new form of technology that makes bionic humans.... [More]

M.A.N.T.I.S. (1994)

Synopsis: A paraplegic develops a suit which gives him the ability to fight crime.... [More]

Misfits of Science (1985)

Synopsis: Teens with abnormal physical abilities fight crime.... [More]

My Secret Identity (1988)

Synopsis: After being exposed to radiation, a teen has superpowers.... [More]
Directed By: Martin Keltz

No Ordinary Family (2010)

Synopsis: Michael Chiklis ("The Shield") plays Jim Powell, the patriarch of an ordinary family that decides to take a vacation for... [More]

Alphas (2011)

Synopsis: Alphas are ordinary citizens with amazing abilities (including superhuman physical and mental abilities) who operate within the Department of Defense.... [More]

Heroes (2006)

Synopsis: Ordinary people around the world discover they have super powers. Their lives intertwine as they work together to prevent a... [More]

The Batman (2004)

Synopsis: This animated adventure series of Bruce Wayne -- billionaire by day, crime fighter by night -- starts as Wayne balances... [More]

Teen Titans Go! (2013)

Synopsis: This follow-up to the popular "Teen Titans" series takes a more comedic look at the superheroes, showing what life is... [More]

Synopsis: Comic-book superheroes -- including Hulk, Iron Man and Thor -- join forces to become the Avengers as they fight villains... [More]

Synopsis: Marvel's iconic heroes and villains are on display in a superstylized animated series, as they battle one another for possession... [More]

The Cape (2011)

Synopsis: Vince Faraday is an honest cop on a corrupt police force. Framed for a series of murders, Faraday must leave... [More]

X-Men: Evolution (2000)

Synopsis: A group of people discover that they have extraordinary powers and must decide whether to use them for good or... [More]

Danny Phantom (2004)

Synopsis: Danny Fenton was once your typical kid until he accidentally blew up his parents' laboratory and became ghost-hunting superhero Danny... [More]

Fantastic Four (1967)

Synopsis: Four scientists gain super powers after being struck by cosmic rays.... [More]

Witchblade (2001)

Synopsis: Sara, a New York detective armed with an ancient supernatural weapon, gets a new partner.... [More]

Synopsis: The animated adventures of a mysterious being who uses his dark powers against the forces of evil.... [More]

Synopsis: Another incarnation of the Superman legend, this series puts a 1990s spin on the standard story. This time, the focus... [More]
Directed By: Robert Singer

Synopsis: Sent back in time from the 31st century to protect the United Planets, a team of teenage super heroes accidentally... [More]
Directed By: Sander Schwartz

Synopsis: When he holds up the magical Sword of Power and utters the words "By the power of Grayskull," Prince Adam... [More]
Directed By: Lou Scheimer

Synopsis: Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and newcomer Falcon are members of the Avengers featured in this animated series. Iron Man... [More]

Teen Titans (2003)

Synopsis: Leading the Teen Titans to protect Earth is Robin, formerly Batman's sidekick. He has no special powers, just a utility... [More]

Future Man (2017)

Synopsis: Janitor Josh Futturman leads a pretty boring life, spending much of his time playing video games when he's not working.... [More]

Synopsis: This animated series based on the blockbuster film of the same name follows the newly formed team that has found... [More]

Synopsis: G-Force, a five-member superhero team, fights to defend Earth and its space colonies from the threat of the planet Spectra.... [More]

The Gifted (2017)

Synopsis: Produced in association with Marvel Television, and set in the "X-Men" universe, family adventure series "The Gifted" is about an... [More]

Synopsis: Four of Marvel's biggest heroes are each working individually but have one common goal in mind -- to save New... [More]

Synopsis: Stories spotlight Marvel comic book characters Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Mighty Thor and The Sub-Mariner.... [More]

Ben 10 (2005)

Synopsis: Ben Tennyson, a 10-year-old boy, discovers a magical device that can turn him into 10 different alien heroes, each with... [More]

Krypton (2018)

Synopsis: Years before the destruction of the legendary Man of Steel's home planet, Superman's grandfather, Seg-El, fights to redeem his family's... [More]

Synopsis: The web-slinger teams up with Ice-Man and newcomer Firestar to battle both new and familiar enemies in this animated adaptation... [More]

Static Shock (2000)

Synopsis: Accidental exposure to an experimental mutagen leaves geeky high school student Virgil with super powers. Able to control electromagnetic forces,... [More]

Synopsis: Teenager Peter Parker tries to juggle his two new worlds -- he must learn how to use his new powers... [More]
Directed By: Victor Cook

Cloak and Dagger (2018)

Synopsis: The collapse of an oil rig in New Orleans owned by the company Roxxon causes two teenagers to become unlikely... [More]

Synopsis: Superhero adventures in outer space; a young man treks through a lost world inhabited by dinosaurs.... [More]

Sailor Moon (1992)

Synopsis: A trouble-prone schoolgirl receives the ability to transform into a powerful heroine and assembles a team of friends and allies... [More]
Directed By: Junichi Sato

Synopsis: Superman battles evil while trying to conceal his alter ego, Clark Kent.... [More]

Marvel's Runaways (2017)

Synopsis: There are times when pretty much every teenager thinks his or her parents are evil -- but what if it... [More]

Spider-Man (1981)

Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Don Jurwich

Superman (1952)

Synopsis: It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a syndicated TV adaptation of the beloved DC Comics superhero! You know the... [More]

Synopsis: After exacting revenge on the people responsible for the deaths of his wife and children, Frank Castle uncovers a conspiracy... [More]
Directed By: Steve Lightfoot

Synopsis: "Arrow" and "The Flash" have some new superhero company in the CW's lineup with the addition of "DC's Legends of... [More]

Synopsis: The caped crusader teams up with several other DC Comics heroes for new adventures based on the comic book series... [More]

The Green Hornet (1966)

Synopsis: Newspaper editor Britt Reid has a secret that only a couple of close confidantes know -- when crime strikes, he... [More]
Directed By: William Dozier

Synopsis: Mutant heroes live in New York sewers and train in martial arts to protect the city from crime.... [More]
Directed By: Mark Freedman, Fred Wolf

Synopsis: While on a road trip through a desert, mild-mannered high-school teacher Ralph Hinkley (temporarily changed to Ralph Hanley for part... [More]

Chuck (2007)

Synopsis: Computer geek Chuck Bartowski opens an e-mail that has been encoded, subliminally, with vital government secrets, triggering a massive download... [More]
Directed By: Josh Schwartz, McG

Misfits (2009)

Synopsis: Five juvenile offenders with nothing in common find themselves working together on a community service project, and their differing personalities... [More]

Samurai Jack (2001)

Synopsis: After being sent into the future by evil wizard Aku, young samurai Jack makes a quest to return to the... [More]
Starring: Phil LaMarr
Directed By: Genndy Tartakovsky

The Maxx (2016)

Synopsis: Based on Sam Keith's popular comic book.... [More]

Synopsis: Accidentally created in a lab by Professor Utonium, superpowered sisters Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup regularly save Townsville from evildoers such... [More]
Directed By: Craig McCracken

The Tick (2001)

Synopsis: This live-action version of the cartoon series of the same name follows the adventures of the 7-foot, 400-pound superhero with... [More]

The Middleman (2008)

Synopsis: Struggling female artist Wendy Watson, recruited by a secret agency, struggles to wrap her head around her bizarre new job... [More]

The Tick (2016)

Synopsis: In a world where superheroes and villains have been real for decades, Arthur, an unassuming accountant with no superpowers, becomes... [More]

Super Friends (1973)

Synopsis: The Justice League of America battles crime.... [More]

Batman (1966)

Synopsis: Eccentric Gotham City tycoon Bruce Wayne dons tights to fight crime as Batman, aided by pal Dick Ward as equally... [More]
Directed By: William Dozier

Wonder Woman (1976)

Synopsis: Diana Prince, a true Amazonian with special powers, fights bad guys in a skintight outfit. In classic "wham, bam" comic-book... [More]

Smallville (2001)

Synopsis: An interpretation of the Superman story features young Clark Kent coming to grips with his emerging superpowers. In the 10th... [More]

Batman Beyond (1999)

Synopsis: A new Dark Knight protects the Gotham of the future.... [More]

Spider-Man (1994)

Synopsis: A superhero with spider-like skills fights villains.... [More]

Gotham (2014)

Synopsis: James Gordon is a rising detective in the dangerously corrupt Gotham City, where his late father was a successful district... [More]

Black Lightning (2018)

Synopsis: CW and Greg Berlanti expand the footprint of their DC Comics universe with this exploration of the intersection between family... [More]

Synopsis: Dr. Bruce Banner attempts to cure himself of his transformation into the Hulk.... [More]

Synopsis: The worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) employs an elite team of agents... [More]

Legion (2017)

Synopsis: David Haller is a troubled young man who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child. Shuffled from one psychiatric institution... [More]

Synopsis: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, reprising her role from the "Captain America" films) is an unstoppable secret agent for the Strategic... [More]

Marvel's Luke Cage (2016)

Synopsis: This gritty, action-packed drama follows the evolution of Luke Cage (Mike Colter), a man with super strength and unbreakable skin... [More]

The Tick (1994)

Synopsis: People dressed in tights and capes set out to save the world.... [More]

Marvel's Daredevil (2015)

Synopsis: The first in a planned series of shows detailing the Marvel universe, "Daredevil" follows Matt Murdock, attorney by day and... [More]

Supergirl (2015)

Synopsis: At 12 years old, Kara Zor-El escapes doom on planet Krypton to find protection on Earth with the Danver family,... [More]



Justice League (2001)

Synopsis: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and other superheroes join forces to battle crime and otherworldly threats, keeping a watchful... [More]

Young Justice (2010)

Synopsis: The lives of teenage heroes as members of a covert operation team: Young Justice.... [More]

X-Men (1992)

Synopsis: Professor Charles Xavier and his band of courageous mutants strike back against corrupt and bigoted government agencies as well as... [More]

Arrow (2012)

Synopsis: When presumed-dead billionaire playboy Oliver Queen returns home to Starling City after five years stranded on a remote island in... [More]

Synopsis: A chronicle of the life of one of the darker Marvel characters, the mysterious Jessica Jones. When a tragedy puts... [More]

The Flash (2014)

Synopsis: At 11, Barry Allen's life changed completely when his mother died in a freak accident and his innocent father was... [More]

Synopsis: Gotham City's Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne, is sometimes moody; Robin's alter ego, Dick Grayson is mature.... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Altieri