The Top 20 Comic Book TV Shows of All-Time

Comic book adaptations are some of the most popular shows on TV. What began as small screen viewing in the 1950s has continued into the 21st century. What started out as programming for kids has become a trend for viewers of all ages. Superheroes started the craze, but other genres are popular, too. TV networks discovered that these shows are more often hits than not. Streaming services took on an amazing array of shows, too, and viewers now have more choices than ever before.

While every fan has a favorite show, and ranking lists are abundant, there are shows which are consistently included in many of them. These reflect widespread interest in both animated and live-action series. Criteria for judging how these highly popular shows should be ranked varies. Some critics have looked for series longevity and posted the longest running series as the best. Other critics have considered more subjective aspects; such as whether the show was the first of its kind, or if it was the first to include characters which had not been included before. Still others have looked for various combinations of awards, innovative plots, and faithfulness to the original comic books as list benchmarks.

One thing worth mentioning is the nearly across-the-board reverence fans have for the classic comic book TV shows. These may lack special effects capabilities common today- or be completely campy. But fans include the oldies with respect, and still enjoy watching them. The new shows offer up complexity and everything technology can do, and these are hugely successful. Comic giants DC and Marvel have plenty of new pilots coming, and their contenders do, too. Considering all these factors has produced this best of the best list:

Tales from the Crypt

The Tales from the Crypt TV series was based on the comic book series of the same name. Twenty-seven issues were published bi-monthly from 1950 to 1955. The horror anthology was published by Entertaining Comics (EC) until Congressional subcommittee hearings caused enough public pressure on the comics industry that publishers decided to self-regulate by forming the Comics Code Authority (CCA). Members of the Comics Magazine Association of America submitted their comics to the CCA for code-based screening. During that time, Bill Gaines, publisher of EC Comics took the step of cancelling Tales from the Crypt. In 1989, HBO adapted the series into a television series which reflected the original comic books. The Crypt-Keeper, a sinister story teller who introduced the tales in the comic books, was kept for the HBO series and voiced by John Kassir. HBO was able to include content that had been censored in the books because it was a premium cable channel at the time. With freedom from TV network censorship, the new Tales from the Crypt included nudity, sexual activity, profanity and graphic violence. Creepy comedy, dark fantasy, and fictional horror were supported with theme music composed by Danny Elfman and producers such as Richard Donner and Robert Zemeckis. The series ran for 7 seasons with 93 episodes.


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