Top 5 Live-Action Superhero TV Shows of All Time

With the premiere of Arrow nearly 24 hours away, there's no better way to kick off the new superhero tv show season by making a top 5 list of the greatest live-action comic book television shows ever!

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By CaptainDC - 10/9/2012
Top 5 Superhero TV Shows of All Time

Superhero movies dominate the box office, strongly appeal to movie critics, and play a huge role in our lives here at comicbookmovie.com. With the huge releases of The Dark Knight Rises,The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s hard to even think about other superhero movies. In fact, we tend to forget about the other way to catch our favorite superheroes kicking ass....TV! It has been almost a year without a full superhero show due to Smallvile’s so called “epic” finale. And now just a day before Arrow premieres and we have another great show to look forward too, it’s time to look at something that lasts beyond the past ten years. Superhero tv shows have had a large impact in developing the superhero genre today. To make this paragraph short, I’m going to take a look at every superhero show ever made (that comes from an actual comic book), and make a list of the 5 greatest superhero tv shows ever!

Honorable Mentions:

The Green Hornet (ABC, 1966-1967)

The Green Hornet was very similar to the original Batman series, only it had the greatest sidekick ever in Kato, played by the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee! Although Bruce Lee has admitted that he was never comfortable on set, he still kicked enough ass to make me love this show. The black beauty, the cool costume of the Green Hornet, and the premise in general makes the show just a blast. I believe the show needed more time to develop, and when The Green Hornet fought Batman and Robin, the Green Hornet and Kato should have really took them out in seconds. A personal favorite of mine, The Green Hornet just doesn’t quite make the list because of its short duration, and its inability to compete with the other top 5 shows. And if you were wondering my thoughts on the movie, it was pretty good. But if another movie ever is talked about, it should be more serious. Check out the scene below to see just how fun the Green Hornet was.....



Lois & Clark- The New Adventures of Superman (ABC, 1993-1997)

This tv show was so close to cracking my top 5, and if I were making a top 10 this would easily make number 6. But aside from its ranking, Lois & Clark was a unique superhero show, one that has never been seen before. This show was far from known for its action sequences, if anything that is why it is not in the top 5. But it showed how superheroes aren’t just about fighting the villain, it’s about the characters and there relationships with the people around them. The best thing about this show is Dean Cain as Superman, and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. The two had such a memorable relationship, making the show an action/drama. Lois & Clark was innovative and a general success, and is just a good tv show to watch every so often.



Now, The Top 5 Superhero TV Shows of All Time:

5) Wonder Woman (CBS, 1975-1979)

Wonder Woman is a true american classic. Lynda Carter became a symbol for the freedom and justice for all women across the United States. The show was a little gimmicky, but hey, it’s the 70’s. Wonder Woman created a buzz alike no other. A beautiful female superhero, Wonder Woman brought females of all ages to the mainstream superhero stage. Through it’s 4 epic seasons, so far, no other Wonder Woman production has yet to match this shows. With several attempts to bring the character back to the TV screen and the big screen, including the failed 2011 pilot starring Adrianne Palicki, nothing can match what the original Wonder Woman has done. Wonder Woman was a prime example of the joy and fun of superhero TV shows, nailing the number 5 spot on my list of the greatest live-action superhero TV shows of all time.



4) The Adventures of Superman (ABC, 1952-1958)

Some of you may be thinking right now “how the heck did a 50’s black and white TV show get on this list?” In the simplest of all statements let me tell you that George Reeves is, and will always be the true, original superhero. Yes I said superhero, not Superman. George Reeves personified every quality a superhero should have. The looks, intelligence, personality... George Reeves was a hollywood superstar. His controversial suicide or murder on June 176, 1959, shocked the world. George Reeves embodied Superman so perfectly that his fans couldn’t believe that “Superman had committed suicide.” His murder case was so popular, it could even be seen in the critically acclaimed 2006 film Hollywoodand, starring Ben Affleck as George Reeves, Adrien Brody, and Diane Lane, who is in fact playing Superman’s adopted mother, Martha Kent, in the highly anticipated film Man of Steel. The Adventures of Superman signaled the start of live action superheroes. With it’s legacy still revered by thousands, the show that started it all helped create this genre that we all love. Without a doubt this show deserves the number 4 start, and in the eyes of people who saw its impact first hand, its rank on this list can give even the number 1 spot a run for its money.



3) Smallville (The CW, 2006-2011)
Do not act surprised because you knew our most modern, favorite ten season long Superman TV show was going to be here on. Where do I even begin? The cast was perfect, with Tom Welling showing us the real Clark Kent, while Michael Rosenbaum showed how Lex Luthor turned on Clark to become his mortal enemy. Krisitn Kreug’s adapation of Lana Lang was breathtaking. The sparks flew between them for nearly 6 years, and when it was Erica Durance’s turn to carry on the flame with the vivacious Lois Lane, the series changed the way superhero TV shows will ever be made. Besides the fantastic plots, interesting story lines, and constant fun, let’s look at another reason why Smallville makes the top 3 on this list. Smallville did something incredible by bringing in over dozens of other popular comic book heroes, where a number of them have never even been portrayed in a live action film/show ever! Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow was spectacular, one of the main reasons of why Arrow was even greenlit in the first place. Cyborg, Aquaman, The Flash (Impusle), Booster Gold, Blue Beetle... the list goes on and on. Smallville gave not only comic book movie fans, but general TV viewers a chance to see a teenage Clark Kent evolve into the greatest superhero of all time, Superman. I can talk about how great Smallville is for hours, and the fact that it makes my third spot tells you there is more great shows coming!



2) The Incredible Hulk (CBS, 1978-1982)

In the late 70’s, early 80’s, The Incredible Hulk changed the childhoods of millions of young boys, and made teenagers workout three times a day just to be able to look somewhat like Bruce Banner when he gets “angry.” What makes The Incredible Hulk so great is that it’s more than just a superhero show, more than just a action/drama. The Incredible Hulk applies a Jeckyll and Hyde situation to a modern society, with Bruce Banner constantly trying to fight his anger. Of course, his anger always prevails. And the mean, green, fighting machine of Lou Ferrigno shows up just in time to save the day, and create some havoc while he’s at it. Lou Ferrigno was so good as The Hulk that they used some of his noises in every comic book movie adaptation of the hulk, including our beloved The Avengers (2012). It is impossible to not give this man respect for his perfect portrayal of the Hulk. The directors of the two solo Hulk movies couldn’t even deny his perfection, giving him a cameo in both films. The Incredible Hulk exemplifies the anger that lies within people, and if you can’t control it, the worst will come out. Full of life lessons, interesting plots, and a immediate desire to see what is next for Dr. Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk is truly one of the most memorable comic book adaptations of all time. Nothing could stop the Incredible Hulk television show, it was truly legendary. In fact, it even knocked out the number 5 choice Wonder Woman for a spot at prime time. Right now you can even watch The Incredible Hulk on Nextflix instant play, and when you do, you’ll see why The Incredible Hulk is so close to being the greatest superhero television show ever.



1) Batman (ABC, 1966-1968)

“POW!”, “BOOM!”, “ZONK!” are just a few words to describe the greatest comic book TV show of all time. Batman was iconic in just about every way possible. Starting with its memorable introduction, to the laughs that came from Adam West and Burt Ward, and then even the fun, heart-warming plots, Batman had it all. As serious as this show may be, it is hilarious and full of smiles. Every viewer in America could not, and still can not resist the great television programing Batman displayed. Not even its cheesy costumes, and ridiculous catchphrases can stop this show. Every part of this show made the show great. Even looking at the villains, they were all fun and great! Including Cesar Romero’s amazing portrayal of The Joker, who believe it or not can be shed in the same light as The Joker from Batman (1989) and even The Dark Knight (2008), it was that awesome. This show could put smiles on the face of anybody, from 2 years old to 100. It’s role in comic book movies today is outstanding. The show was so popular that it even was turned into a feature film that we’ve all seem plenty of times, Batman (1966). A true treat to any viewer, Batman and Robin kicked ass while solving some of the silliest yet hardest crimes. A true combination of comedy and action makes Batman the hands down greatest comic book TV show of all time. Starting the real revolution of superhero TV shows can be credited to this series. Take a look at the video below and try to say to yourself “this sucks.” It’s impossible, this show brings back to many memories and smiles to ever play such an effect. A masterpiece in its own creative way, Batman paved the way for superhero TV shows, and earns its glory as the greatest comic book TV show ever.



Make sure you check out the newest comic book TV show Arrow premiering October 10, 2012 at 8 PM eastern. If you want to spread the love for superhero TV shows click that THUMBS UP (Y) button! Questions, comments, and own lists are encouraged in the comment section below!

-CaptainDC
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10 Comments
Preston - 10/9/2012, 6:31 PM
1). The Adventures of Superman (ABC, 1952-1958)
The most influential and popular Superhero TV show of all time. It was a phenomenon.


2). Batman (ABC, 1966-1968)
Bat-mania. Nuff' said.

3). Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
The best superhero cartoon ever made; gave way to the DC Animated Universe.

4). Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
Joss Whedon's baby, and the greatest show on the CW – ever. Smallville pales in comparison.

I would say that #5 is a tie between:

5). Super Friends (1973-1986)
This cartoon show turned on an entire generation of little kids into comic lovers. So, when you meet a 30-40 year old who is in love with comics; they probably grew up on this s#it.

5). X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1998)
The most influential marvel cartoon of all time. It was instrumental in making the X-men a household name. It brought actual comic stories to life for children.
fortycals - 10/9/2012, 6:37 PM
I would just like to give a shout out for Mutant X. I used to love that show.
Tainted87 - 10/9/2012, 7:52 PM
The only one I ever caught while it was airing was Lois & Clark. Followed that show religiously - seriously, it was on every Sunday.

I know I'll probably get some flack for this, but I really believe Heroes was the best live-action superhero show... for the first season. I didn't miss a single episode. The beauty of it was, you could let go of it after the season finale. That's what I did. I'm watching the rest on Netflix, but I think the first season was a work of art.

And yes, it was DEFINITELY based off of comic books... so much that Stan Lee even had a cameo.
jessepostal - 10/9/2012, 8:04 PM
I'd ditch smallville. That show was terrible in my eyes. Throw the flash in there, even the ticks one season was a lot better than smallville.
ellispart3 - 10/9/2012, 9:12 PM
i really couldnt get into smallville at all. i even gave it a few seasons, tried to work with it. but honestly it was just terrible. and its not even the whole abandoning of source material thing, im cool with that with adaptations. it was just poorly crafted.
marvel72 - 10/10/2012, 1:39 PM
smallville shouldn't even be on that list,but i do agree with the incredible hulk,wonder woman,green hornet & batman.

whatabout heroes,that was pretty good.
RedHood13 - 10/10/2012, 6:26 PM
Natmam sucked SOOOOOOO much ass. God that show is so horrible. Smallville is probably #1 on my list.
Ghostt - 10/10/2012, 8:31 PM
SUPERFRIENDS and HULK. great tv right there

Season 1 of Heroes was damn good, too

Nice article
superbatspiderman - 10/11/2012, 4:35 PM
@LEVITIKUZ - I am with you there Human Target was one of my favorite shows. I am not watching another show on Fox because they canceled many shows that I liked. Unless the show is renewed for another season I am not watching it on Fox.
marvelguy - 10/12/2012, 8:42 PM
This is part one?

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