5. The Flash
Starring Grant Gustin as the titular hero, The Flash is the CW's most popular superhero TV series. It launched in 2014 as the first Arrowverse spin-off, and is currently in its fifth season. The Flash benefits from a light, cheerful mood that appeals to casual viewers as well as to dedicated superhero fans; although it can explore some pretty dark themes on occasion, at heart The Flash is an optimistic and hopeful show. Gustin has become the embodiment of Barry Allen for a generation, and his strong supporting cast - including Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost Carlos Valdez as Cisco Ramone - consistently shine through. The Flash has been building up to the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event since its pilot episode, an arc that will come to a head later this year.
The flagship series of the popular Marvel Netflix project, Daredevil was dark and brutal, and yet intensely character-driven. Charlie Cox played the conflicted hero Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, while Vincent D'Onofrio was as much co-star as antagonist in his portrayal of the Kingpin. Daredevil ran through three top-quality seasons, strongly influenced by some of Frank Miller's most memorable comic book stories; Jon Bernthal was cast as the Punisher in season 2, a popular choice that led Netflix to commission a spinoff series starring him. Unfortunately, the relationship between Marvel and Netflix has come to an end, and Daredevil was canceled after three seasons. That said, unlike the rest of the Marvel Netflix slate, the third season essentially served to wrap up most of the narrative threads, bringing the show to an effective close.
3. X-Men: The Animated Series
X-Men: The Animated Series was the hit show that nobody originally wanted. TV executive Margaret Loesch had long fought for an X-Men adaptation, convinced that Marvel's merry mutants had the potential to be animated superstars, and she essentially bet her entire career on it. She was right; the series launched in 1992, featuring visuals inspired by Jim Lee's contemporary X-Men redesigns and adaptations of memorable Chris Claremont stories, and it ran for five seasons. The creative team opted for lesser-known voice actors in order to save money, but they made just the right choices. Sadly, the quality of the animation gradually declined as the series went on; season 5 is pretty shocking in places. Still, that last season can't possibly detract from the sheer quality of the storytelling or this show's influence in popular culture. And who can forget that theme tune?
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It may come as something of a surprise to see Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer on this list; after all, this is no comic book adaptation. And yet, Buffy certainly deserves its place here; Whedon's lead character was in part inspired by the X-Men's Kitty Pryde, he explored common superhero tropes throughout the series' seven-season run, and after its cancellation, Buffy has inspired a still-ongoing range of comics. Anthony Stewart Head, who played the part of Buffy's mentor Giles, has described Buffy as "a feminist parable for everyone." Buffy is a story of growing up as a woman, with superhero and supernatural tropes serving as metaphors for teenage angst and awakening sexuality. Whedon's storytelling redefined TV, blending serialized narratives with "Monster of the Week" plots, and casting was perfect; Sarah Michelle Gellar wowed viewers as the lead character, Alyson Hannigan and Nicholas Brendon played her closest friends Willow and Xander, and David Boreanaz and James Marsters portrayed vampiric love interests. While Buffy's feminism has become a little more problematic of late - Whedon seems to have been rather less feminist behind the scenes than his show was - it's still one of the best TV series ever made. Whedon, of course, would go on to be behind other popular comic book runs, and would write and direct 2012's Marvel blockbuster, The Avengers.
1. Batman: The Animated Series
There's really no other contender for first place; it can only be Batman: The Animated Series. Running from 1992 through to 1995, this is frankly one of the best animated TV shows ever produced. The series was praised for its subtle themes, its stunning film noir aesthetics, and its wonderful artistic style. Batman: The Animated Series' visual appeal was strongly influenced by the Tim Burton Batman movies, with first-time producers Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski pushing for a more adult-oriented cartoon. It featured an inspired voice cast, including Kevin Conroy as Batman, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman. The show has left a lasting impression on popular culture, and its legacy includes the character of Harley Quinn, who was actually created for Batman: The Animated Series and transitioned into the comics and now into the DCEU movies. It even inspired two spin-off feature films, the cult classic Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.