Top 25 Live Action and Superhero Television Shows of All Time

Oboyoboyoboy it’s that time of the year again! Endless news feeds chalk full of best of lists and only half of them you even agree with! Comic Watch does things a little differently. Instead of telling you what to think like all those other lists that everyone asks, “Who came up with this crap?!” We take our question right to people on social media for an on the street vote. This time we asked for your very favorite live-action action and superhero show of all time! Votes were tabulated via our Age of Superhero Television and Movie Facebook group.(It’s awesome, seriously you should join.) After hundreds of votes here is YOUR top 25 countdown! Now, what can you argue about?

25. Doctor Who

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One of the longest running TV series of all time, Doctor boasts a massive following and is one of the biggest sci-fi franchises ever. The series follows the Doctor, a time lord, as he travels through time and rights wrongs. The eccentric and quirky Doctor Who began courting fans in 1963!

24. Gotham

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Gotham is the Batman origin story everyone thought they wanted, or at least it was. The show has mutated light years past the original inspiration, Ed Brubaker’s Gotham Central, to turn into a slightly insane dash for the GCPD to round up one metahuman or other and somehow turning into a kind of awesome show in the process.

23. Preacher

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Based on the Garth Ennis series of the same name, the show follows a good (ish..) preacher who is chosen by “Genesis” the voice of God which grants him the ability to command anyone with a simple word. (Oh just think of the fun…) Always in the company of his badass girlfriend Tulip, and best buddy, the hilarious vampire Cassidy, Jesse and company set out in search of a missing VIP. None other than God himself. Preacher has officially been renewed for a third season.

22. Arrow

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Not quite hitting the bullseye for the top spot but still flying true for its fans, Arrow follows Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow (or is he just Arrow?) in his efforts to track down the people responsible for his father’s murder, while also murdering a few people on the way. Seems fair? Also famous for featuring Deathstroke in his first live action appearance, as well as dozens of Batman villains, but never the Dark Knight himself.

21. Wonder Woman (1977)

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Linda Carter played Diana Prince, the incredible Wonder Woman! Largely famous for its strong female lead and empowering a whole new generation of girls, it may surprise you to know that this classic show aired for only 3 seasons after Carter chose to leave the role to focus on her music career. Wonder Woman is hailed as one of the most iconic classic superhero shows and has a strong cult following with legions of fans.

20. Constantine

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This show was too good to last, doomed to run only for a single season, the most comic accurate version of the chain-smoking occult expert was cursed from the start. Critics pointed the finger straight at NBC for scheduling it in what is now referred to as the “time slot from hell,” airing on Friday at 10/9 central coupled with being on the entirely wrong channel to begin with, DC’s Constantine was hamstrung. Diehard fans emplored NBC through numerous social media campaigns but despite other DC shows having resounding success on other networks, the series was canceled after just 13 episodes.  John Constantine played by Matt Ryan, focuses on his quest to protect the world from dark forces and demonic beings from roaming the Earth while always managing to find time for a smoke break.

19. Legends of Tomorrow

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Many say that DC’s television offerings eclipse their film franchise. Fans of Legends are likely to agree. Centered around a group of superheroes that travel through time to stop an immortal despot, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, White Canary are just a few names among the massive cast! Legends of Tomorrow is definitely the largest of the CW shows in terms of scope and concept.

18. Angel

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Following the insanely popular phenomenon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, (more on her later…) Angel played by heartthrob David Boreanaz was a shoe-in for a spinoff show. Angel a reformed tormented vampire who works as a private eye against the forces of an evil demonic law firm. Angel had plenty of support with Cordelia, Wesley, Gunn, Fred, Lorne, Faith, and Spike eventually joining the cast in the 5th and final season.

17. Firefly

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This show is almost always on every list, like this one, and with good reason! It’s like if they made a TV show where Han Solo travels the galaxy solving the universe’s problems, but also serves his own backstory, not unlike Knightrider. It worth noting that this is yet another Joss Whedon show to snag a spot on the list. (I think there’s a pattern here…)  This show is massively famous for being canceled after only one season and has a huge cult following. Whedon liked some of the actors so much that he even gave them roles in Angel.

16. Supergirl

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Kara is Superman’s cousin and therefore just relevant enough to be CW material, which raises the question if Superman can be on this show why can’t Batman be in anything? (Seriously, 20 year Batman tv embargo underway.) But anyway, Supergirl is just as powerful as Superman, arguably more so on the ratings front. Hence why it is the sixteenth choice for more than 120 people and strong-arming the 16th spot on our countdown.

15. Xena Warrior Princess

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In 1995, Xena: Warrior Princess took to the airwaves and with a fiercely loyal fanbase combined with strong critical praise for its female protagonist and largely female cast, remained there until the show ended in 2001. Xena is kind of the frontrunner for shows like Game of Thrones, which a lot of you apparently like. Xena was a huge deal especially in the LGBTQ culture with an emphasis on the L, for a not so subtle lesbian subtext with regard to the “close bond” she and Gabrielle shared. With constant battles with her arch nemesis, Callisto and endless hounding the supremely horny god Ares, the Warrior Princess far outpaced the show it spun out of almost immediately. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure how to type that sound she used to make, you know the one, use your imagination.

14. Agent Carter

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The smoking hot British actress Haley Atwell propels Marvel’s Agent Carter into the 14th spot on our illustrious countdown. Atwell reprises her role from Captain America the First Avenger as Peggy Carter as she worked to clear Howard Stark’s name after he was framed for weapon smuggling or something. Of course, Howard was much too important to be there, (although not too important enough not to be recast 4 times in 4 movies) so Jarvis tags along for some reason.

13. The Walking Dead

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It wouldn’t be Monday morning at the office without about half of your coworkers commiserating about what happened on the Walking Dead the night before. AMC’s blockbuster show based on Robert Kirkman’s Image comics zombie series, (oh wait, can’t say zombie, “walkers”) follows Rick Grimes and his group of survivors in the apocalypse. Famous for alternating between 15 minutes of walkers and 45 minutes of melodramatic complaining, they’ll surely string viewers on for years to come, as they’ve done with the comics. “Carrrrlll!”

12. Heroes

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“Save the cheerleader, save the world…” Oh, Heroes, where to even begin. The central plot of Heroes follows a group of people, initially unrelated but with a shared destiny, who develop superpowers following an eclipse. This was a show from before superhero shows were all over the place. In some ways, it was pretty ahead of its time but ultimately failed for one of the worst cases of jumping the shark ever. In the rare case scenario after a huge swell of support for the show to return, fans were served up a hot mess with Heroes: Reborn. Lawd, Sakes alive!

11. Smallville

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I remember back when A-list superheroes could still have a live action TV show (now they all get saved for movies) those were the days… Anyway, coming in hot at #11, not unlike main actor Tom Welling, (he’s ok I guess…) Smallville was a drama-laden series following the exploits of teenage Clark Kent and is notable for having one of the earlier live-action versions of the Justice League, (no Batman because Hollywood is stupid,) and featured villains like Doomsday and Lex Luthor and was a ratings powerhouse during the heyday of the WB.

10. The Flash

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DC shows are all the rage. The Flash is certainly no exception. Beginning in 2014 after a successful spin-off from Arrow, strong critical and ratings reception, it doesn’t look like the speed force is slowing down anytime soon. Reportedly according to social media analytics, Flash is the 5th most popular show in the world and also the 4th most torrented. (Dirty thieves!) Starring Grant Gustin as the speedster himself, the show also features a bevy of other characters like Killer Frost, the Thinker, Vibe, and even Kid Flash, Wally West himself!

9. Jessica Jones

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ABC is probably eating a big heaping bowl of sour grapes over your choice for #9. Jessica Jones was developed from the comic Alias and recounts the tale of a young detective traumatized by the death of her family and a controlling boyfriend, JJ’s haunts are matched only by her severe alcoholism, which is depicted rather casually. (How come every superheroine has to be a punk chick in ripped leggings with a drinking problem these days?) Jessica Jones is the second of Netflix’s original Marvel shows and is universally loved by critics and viewers alike. The shows gritty appeal takes a head-on approach to addiction, PTSD, and is far darker in tone than the vast majority of other hero shows in general.

8. Charmed

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When the Craft hit theaters and became a 90’s sensation, Producer/ Executive Aaron Spelling saw that television was ripe for another set of magical female heroines. Thus Charmed was born and WB’s highest viewed program with 7.7 million viewers upon the airing of its first episode. The concept was simple. Three sisters discover upon the death of their “grams” that their birthright as witches had been sealed away for their own safety. It wouldn’t be long before the “Power of Three” would take these witches into battles against an endless string of demons, witches, and recurring battles with big bads like “The Source” and “The Triad.” Charmed was in constant competition, drawing unyielding comparisons to the Buffyverse for the duration of its run. In many ways, the show was equally as famous, or infamous, for its offscreen feuds between its stars, particularly between Alyssa Milano and reputed bad girl of 90210 fame Shannon Doherty. Doherty had been billed as the lead upon the show’s inception but as the show evolved, she reportedly took special exception to Milano’s increasing popularity, and ultimately left the show upon the conclusion of season 3 in which she was killed by the demon assassin Shax. Rose McGowen, cast as Paige Matthews and half-sister to Piper and Phoebe replaced Prue as the third sister and remained through the duration of the series and continued to enjoy success until ratings began to slip in season #7. When Kalley Cuoco was cast as Billie, a move to launch her own spin-off series, fans were less than thrilled and that was the final nail in the coffin. But all ended well for the blonde bombshell who shortly after joined “The Big Bang Theory” as Penny. Word is on the street at a relaunch is currently in development.

7. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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The MCU spinoff centers around Phil Coulson and his group of plucky unique secret agent operatives as they go up against all kinds of villains that aren’t high enough profile to warrant the attention of the Avengers, the X-Men or whoever. Notable if nothing else for bringing Daisy Johnson (Quake) into the world. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. already has 5 seasons under its belt and is a clear fan favorite!

6. Legion

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No one knew quite what to expect when it was announced that the ridiculously OP yet slightly fringe character Legion was to gain his own self-titled television series. Fans and critics weren’t disappointed after being ushered into the trippy foray of Haller’s shattered mind and the debut of the disgustingly excellent Shadow King. Portrayed by actor Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, the series follows schizophrenic mutant who sees the world in a distorted way that makes the show very visually compelling. The show was renewed for a second season in 2017 that will be released in 2018 on FX.

5. Supernatural 

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There’s no doubt about it. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and the runaway success of their nearly unheard of 13 season show is nothing short of Supernatural. Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester travel the country solving problems by virtue of killing monsters, demons, and other otherworldly threats to humanity. These boys have been to hell and back. More than once. This show has a gigantic fanatical following and is the longest-running American fantasy series.

4. Daredevil

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Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer by day, and totally not Batman but kinda Batman by night. Largely based on Frank Miller’s pivotal run on the series, the show took a bit of a downturn in the second season with the exception of a certain vigilante killer spree, he battles endless faceless ninja horde the hand and bad guys like Nobu and the Kingpin. Season 3 looks to be based on Born Again, I’m curious if they’ll go full blown Karen Page hooked on drugs or wuss out. Time will tell.

3. Game of Thrones

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“Winter is coming.” The worldwide sensation that made dragons, murder, and gratuitous nudity cool again. The plot sets a bunch of murderous medieval royals and their houses against each other in both sword and sorcery in a do or die winner take all contest. There are dragons and ice zombies, also giant wolves. Sharing a similar formula with the Walking Dead series, people die. Like a lot. If you even begin to warm up to a character it’s curtains! I recommend not watching it with family. Especially siblings. Incest. Lots of it. Eww.

2. The Gifted

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A really recent show (which was just confirmed for a second season!) has captivated almost every mutant fan and social media group dedicated to anything X in stops just short of the coveted top spot at #2 on our countdown. Set in a world where the X-Men are dead, the formula is still much the same as it always has been. Mutants trying to survive in a world where they are hated and feared. The series revolves around a family that goes on the run after the parents discover their children are mutants. The best element of the show is its character selection, choosing those that don’t make the cut for the main films and retooling them slightly in a way that works.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Buffy slayed. Literally. The quintessential late 90’s action vampire slaying super show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer combined action, drama, comedy and also drama. (sooo much drama) This series won by an absolute landslide with double the votes of any other show featured in the poll. Buffy Summers along with her ragtag group of friends including Willow, Giles, Xander, Anya, Dawn and numerous others showed audiences how to balance leading a perfectly normal life while attending high school and venture out at night to stake fangs. This naturally brought the group into countless deadly battles against baddies beginning with “The Master,” and continuing with other notables like Drusilla, Angelus, Glory, (my personal favorite,) Caleb, and finally “The First Evil.” The show ran for seven seasons which inspired a comic book and cemented Series creator Joss Whedon one of the hottest director, producer, and screenwriters in Hollywood. Gellar herself has done other films and commercial endorsements, while galpal Alyson Hannigan landed a leading role on the hit series “How I Met Your Mother.” You may have heard of it.

And there you have it folks! Your top 25 Live Action / Superhero Television shows of all time! Didn’t get a chance to vote? Worry not! There are plenty of more polls and countdowns to come!


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