It's easy to feel inundated by the constant onslaught of comic book adaptations. Between movies and television, more and more great comics are being introduced to the mainstream every day. However, for every success like Gotham or The Walking Dead, there's a great comic book TV show that gets the proverbial boot. Sometimes even the best TV shows just can't find a following, and with such heavy competition, more and more aren't making the cut.
Maybe viewership was low, maybe financial issues complicated production, and maybe some of these shows were just ahead of their time. Whatever the reason, let's look back on some TV shows that never got to live up to their potential. Here are the 10 Best Canceled Comic Book TV Shows Ever Made.
10 The Tick (2001)
While a Prime Video reboot lasted longer, Fox's 2001 adaptation of The Tick was way ahead of time. The genius casting of Patrick Warburton as the Tick is worth your time alone. Sadly, the series was canceled after only eight of its nine episodes had aired. Warburton attributes the show's cancellation to Fox's poor promotion and mismanagement, as well as a surprisingly taxing budget.
The Tick came just before the superhero movie boom of the mid-2000s — bad timing for a show that, ultimately, has found more appreciation today than it ever could have back then. Superhero satire was just too niche for the era.
9 Swamp Thing
The DC Universe streaming service has had surprising success with original programming. This even goes for Swamp Thing — a genuinely scary and faithful take on the character that both aired and ended in a little over a week. What gives, DC?
It's not often that the superhero and horror genres meld with success, but Swamp Thing was an immediate hit with critics. The show's cancellation was abrupt and bewildering to DC fans, and the company still hasn't provided an explanation. Perhaps the cancellation is a result of the underwhelming success of the streaming service and not the series itself, but that is yet to be confirmed.
8 Spider-Man: The New Animated Series
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series is a step above most of the generic Disney-owned adaptations that have been running for the last decade. It's gotten some viral love lately, but it didn't get enough during its initial run.
Produced by Ultimate Spider-Man's Brian Michael Bendis, this MTV show boasted a stylized cel-shaded look and a more mature tone than other Spidey shows. Between a stellar cast, cool redesigns, and the hype of the Sam Raimi movies behind it, the series had all the right ingredients. Unfortunately, low ratings tanked it after one season. It might look like a relic of the early aughts now, but this series had promise.
Happy! isn't for everyone, but it's certainly a wild ride. This bizarre, hyper-violent adaptation of Grant Morrison's comic is a so absurd and off-the-rails that it's hard not to enjoy. A drunken, drug-addled cop and an imaginary unicorn take on the gross criminal underbelly of New York City? Between gory action, campy twists, and surprisingly effective attempts at horror, this show is destined for a cult following.
SYFY canceled Happy! after its second season, but hopefully, it finds a home elsewhere. Christopher Meloni also deserves a special shoutout — the entire cast is stellar, but his performance opposite Patton Oswalt's Happy is what makes this show such an underrated gem.
There seems to be a growing trend in the comic adaptations. With The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Swamp Thing, Brightburn, and even Aquaman's in-development spin-off movie The Trench, there seems to be a newfound interest in comic book horror. Unfortunately, the spooky adventures of Constantine seem to have missed the boat.
CW's series about supernatural detective John Constantine only lasted a single season because of low viewership. It was another show with potential that couldn't find its footing. While Matt Ryan's Constantine has been worked into the Arrowverse as a recurring guest on DC's Legends of Tomorrow, we can't help but feel like Constantine would do way better in 2019 than it did in 2014.
5 The Flash (1990)
It's hard to argue that The Flash is an all-time great show, but it did pave the way for DC's current success on television. It aired during the height of Tim Burton's Batman franchise and tried to mimic its success. Like those movies, 1990's The Flash tried to balance stakes and camp but could not catch on with audiences.
Canceled after one season, the show earned a cult following that is still reflected in the 2014 series. Not only has John Wesley Shipp returned to play Barry Allen's father in the current series, but Mark Hamill has returned as the Trickster — and who doesn't love Hamill? As a precursor to the Flash fans know today, it deserves more credit.
Despite the popularity of superheroes, comic adaptations like The Walking Dead have acted as many people's gateway to other genres of comics. Witchblade might have been one of those gateways in another time and place, but no such luck. Yancy Butler stars as Sara Pezzini, a detective that wears an ancient gauntlet with supernatural abilities.
It made for a fantastic crime serial and high ratings reflected this. After a made-for-TV movie and two seasons, though, TNT canceled the show. The cancellation was sudden, especially considering the series' unanimous praise, though allegedly Butler's alcoholism helped motivate the network's decision. However, a Witchblade reboot is in the works.
3 Green Lantern: The Animated Series
The intellectual property of Green Lantern has been tainted by the abysmal film, but this companion TV series was doing everything right. Green Lantern: The Animated Series was developed by Bruce Timm, the creator of the beloved Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League. Naturally, it was a hit.
Despite the positive reception and the characters newfound spotlight, the show was canceled for two unfortunate reasons: low toy sales and the horrible reception to the 2011 movie. It could have single-handedly revitalized the character if given more time, but because of this short-sighted decision, the character remains a punchline in the comic book movie space.
2 Marvel's Daredevil
Although Jessica Jones is a runner-up, it's safe to say that Daredevil might be the best Marvel TV series, and definitely the best show on this list. As a result of Netflix wiping Marvel off of its slate, Daredevil only managed three stellar seasons before abrupt cancellation alongside its companion shows.
While opinions on the latter two seasons are mixed, the show was a certified hit that should have lasted way longer than it did. Even if you disregard the incredible writing and stunt work, Daredevil paved the way for beloved interpretations of the Kingpin, the Punisher, and an entire slate of Marvel television. This iteration of Daredevil could technically return in other Marvel media, but this show's cancellation was a huge mistake.
1 Deadly Class
Yet another Image comic with promise. Yet another cancelled TV show. Deadly Class could have been the next big thing: angsty, punk rock Harry Potter but with assassins instead of wizards? Hard-hitting action? Produced by the Russo brothers? It sounds like a gold mine.
Despite a talented young cast and a concerted effort to remain faithful to the comic, SYFY canceled the show after a single season. Considering solid ratings, the comic's ongoing success, and immediately apparent franchise potential, this sounds like a decision the network might regret. Hopefully, the series can find a home on another channel, but like Happy!, it seems like SYFY didn't know a good thing while they had it.