The past 10 years or so have been characterized by a huge boom of superhero movie production, with Marvel and DC pumping out movie after movie each year. Because of this, the relationship that superhero tales have with the screen might be thought of as mostly cinematic, with comic book television series being produced only as a second thought.
In reality, though, stories involving superheroes have had an even longer relationship with television than they’ve had with the big silver screen. However, these superhero TV series don’t exactly have the best track record.
For one reason or another throughout TV history, shows about superheroes have been canceled way too early, and often for puzzling reasons. At the same time, certain comic book shows that are on air today have some serious flaws, yet are renewed regularly.
From absolute classics to childhood favorites, this list will break down a group of superhero shows canceled from their runs on television for outright stupid reasons. However, this list will also name a select few superheroes whose series just need to end already.
With that said, here are the 10 Superhero Shows That Were Canceled For Stupid Reasons (And 5 That Need To End).
15 Canceled: Teen Titans
To this day, Teen Titans is widely regarded as one of television’s best animated series of the 2000s.
The Cartoon Network series followed the teen superhero team of Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy as they worked together to fight crime. Teen Titans also showed the amusing lives of the teen superheroes when they weren’t out defeating villains.
The show was light-hearted but high quality, and it quickly became one of the network’s most popular series.
Unfortunately for Teen Titans, Cartoon Network didn’t really understand the series. When the creative minds behind Teen Titans pitched their ideas for season 6 in 2005, the network didn’t agree with the storyline.
Instead of asking the creators to come up with something new, Cartoon Network simply canceled the series.
It was a hugely disappointing decision that took one of the best animated superhero series off the air.
14 Canceled: Agent Carter
Many assume that ABC’s Captain America spin-off series Agent Carter was canceled due to low ratings. However, that isn’t necessarily the whole truth.
Agent Carter was devoted to telling the story of Peggy Carter as she worked with the SSR and Howard Stark during the 1940s. While ratings did dip in its second season, Hayley Atwell told the true reason behind Agent Carter’s cancelation following the show’s end.
Atwell revealed that ABC wanted to move Atwell’s star power over to its promising (and more conventional) new drama, Conviction.
However, Atwell was tied up with Agent Carter and couldn’t commit to a new project, so ABC decided to cancel the Marvel series.
The decision came back to bite ABC. Conviction failed to draw in the ratings the network had hoped, and the drama was canceled shortly after its premiere.
13 Needs to End: Legends of Tomorrow
The CW’s superhero series Legends of Tomorrow had a promising beginning. The flashy series follows Time Master Rip Hunter as he works with his team Dr. Martin Stein, The Atom, and Captain Cold to defeat various supervillains.
The show was able to draw in impressive ratings after its premiere, and Legends of Tomorrow did show potential with its first few episodes. Critics and comic book fans alike held out hope for the series.
However, the show has lost its footing since then.
With a bloated cast of characters, rushed storylines, and melodramatic acting, Legends of Tomorrow has many aspects that make it a weary watch.
The series is currently in its third season on the CW, and should probably wrap up after this season completes its run in April.
12 Canceled: The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
Historically speaking, adapting The Crow for the screen has just not gone well. While shooting the 1994 movie adaptation, lead actor Brandon Lee was wounded in a deadly accident on set that resulted in his death eight days before the production’s scheduled finish.
Though no dangerous accidents occurred during the production of the 1998 TV spin-off The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, the show didn’t last long on air. Even though the first season drew solid ratings, this didn’t save the series from cancelation.
The Crow was taken off the air after its production company, Polygram, was sold to Universal Music Group. The new owner wasn’t interested in continuing the series, even with The Crow’s impressive ratings.
Even worse, the series ended with a major cliffhanger, leaving the series unresolved for fans forever.
11 Canceled: Constantine
One of the biggest blows to today’s fans of superhero television series was the cancelation of NBC’s Constantine. After the success of the dark and gritty 2005 movir adaptation of the storyline starring Keanu Reeves, a television spin-off seemed like an exciting premise.
For many, the show delivered. Constantine quickly garnered a loyal and sizeable fan base. Even better, critics seemed to support it for the most part.
However, none of this mattered for NBC.
After only 13 episodes, the network put the axe to Constantine and canceled the series.
Fans of Matt Ryan’s depiction of John Constantine can catch his cameos in other CW series like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. However, thanks to NBC, he’ll never get another chance to lead his own series.
10 Needs to End: Teen Titans Go!
When it was announced that the Teen Titans would be returning to the small screen with another animated series with the same voice cast from the previous canceled series to boot, fans of the funny superhero youths grew excited.
Unfortunately, Teen Titans Go! has only disappointed those high hopes. Other works that have brought the Teen Titans to the screen were able to balance their tone to appeal to both younger and older viewers.
Teen Titans Go! completely fails in this department. It’s material is woefully dumbed down, superficial, and way over the top. The series simply doesn't do its team of teen superheroes any justice.
Fans of the Teen Titans can all agree that Cartoon Network should just take Teen Titans Go! off the air for good.
9 Canceled: Blade: The Series
Blade: The Series is yet another example of creators taking a superhero that’s had a successful movie and failing to succeed in adapting the story for television.
In 2006, Spike TV unveiled its new series following vampire hunter Blade after the events of Blade: Trinity, which concluded the trilogy of movies dedicated to Blade’s story.
Even though Wesley Snipes didn’t return to play Blade for Spike’s TV series, Blade: The Series still succeeded in attracting attention. The series premiered to record ratings, and the rest of the season had some decent ratings too.
However, back then, Spike TV was still an up-and-coming network, and producers didn’t want to spend money on continuing the series.
This was despite the fact that Blade: The Series had a promising future ahead of it.
Spike pulled the plug on its Blade adaptation, destroying any prospects of Blade becoming one of the more successful superhero shows.
8 Canceled: Sense8
The drama surrounding the cancelation of Sense8 will go down as one of the most controversial events in television history.
During the summer of 2017, Netflix began a series of merciless cancelations, pulling the plug on a wide range of its original series. To the complete outrage of Sense8 fans, the hugely popular superhero series was one of the titles Netflix decided to do away with.
Netflix’s explanation? While some networks struggle to find even one major hit, the streaming service argued that its number of hits was actually too high, causing the company to cancel series even though they were popular.
Sense8’s committed fans launched an enormous internet campaign demanding the series be brought back. Surprisingly, it worked.
Netflix agreed to bring back Sense8 for one last 2 hour special to appease fans, proving that in this day and age, viewers actually have an influential voice.
7 Needs to Go: The Gifted
Admittedly, The Gifted is a show with an interesting premise. The FOX superhero series revolves around two parents that realize their children are mutants, causing the family to join an underground network of “gifted” individuals in order to evade capture from the government.
With this type of narrative, The Gifted had the potential to be both entertaining and politically relevant, and it could’ve become one of the strongest superhero shows ever made as a result.
However, the series just doesn’t measure up to what it could have been.
Its stronger elements are constantly overshadowed by rushed pacing, predictably storylines, and a complete lack of chemistry between actors.
All of these elements combined resulted in an unconvincing first season that suggests that The Gifted needs to end.
6 Canceled: Batman Beyond
Batman is a superhero who’s had one of the more successful relationships with television. He’s had an array of different TV adaptations, and one of the best was the Warner Bros. series Batman Beyond.
Set in the future, Batman Beyond put an interesting twist on the Batman story: an aged Bruce Wayne provided guidance to a younger, teenaged Batman, who took on crime in Gotham City under the wing of the older Wayne.
The series was very popular and was praised for its darker, more emotional tone. However, even its acclaimed status couldn’t save Batman Beyond from an early cancelation.
In 2001, Warner Bros. had its Justice League animated series premiering soon, and it wanted as high a viewership as possible for the new show.
As a result, producers quietly canceled Batman Beyond to shift audience attention over to the new series, putting an end to one of the best Batman adaptations in the process.
5 Canceled: Static Shock
Even some of today’s best comic book series, like Daredevil or Jessica Jones, struggle to compete with the success of Warner Bros.’ animated series Static Shock.
The series premiered in 2000 and followed teenager Virgil Hawkins after he is given electromagnetic superpowers after an accident and uses them to fight crime.
With an African American lead and running social commentary, the series was way ahead of its time. Perhaps that’s why Warner Bros. struggled to truly appreciate the show and took it off the airwaves far too early.
The show was celebrated by critics, loved by fans, and even won an Emmy.
However, after toys based on characters from the show didn’t sell well, Warner Bros. only saw one solution.
Static Shock was quickly canceled, and the show sadly ended after four years on air.
4 Needs to Go: Arrow
Arrow was once seen as one of the best superhero series playing on television today. Now, that’s not so true.
The CW series centers on Green Arrow, a vigilante tooled with a bow and arrow who takes on crime in his home city.
While many viewers enjoyed Arrow’s first two seasons, the show hit its peak at the start and has only gone downhill from there. With weak storytelling, cringe-worthy fight sequences, and overly dramatic performances, Arrow has grown to disappoint its fan base as the seasons have gone on.
Arrow is currently in its sixth season. Considering that even many successful shows can’t maintain a good run on television for longer than that, it may be time for the struggling Arrow to retire for good.
3 Canceled: Batman
Even if it’s cheesy by today’s standards, there’s no denying that the Adam Woods-led Batman is an absolute classic of superhero television.
Batman’s humor, simple plotlines, and campy style made it a series that was appealing to all ages. Batman quickly skyrocketed to popularity.
By season 3, though, Batman’s ratings had dropped. ABC was planning on canceling the series and even bulldozed all of the sets.
However, the worst part of Batman’s cancelation comes next. Only days after the network bulldozed the sets, NBC approached ABC and offered to buy the show.
After NBC found out the sets were destroyed and that it would have to build new ones all over again, the network passed on the deal.
Thanks to ABC’s rush to get rid of everything Batman as soon as possible, Adam West’s depiction of the Gotham hero never had the chance to return to television.
2 Canceled: Young Justice
Revolving around young heroes Aqualad, Superboy, Kid-Flash, Dick Grayson, and Miss Martian, Young Justice focused on up-and-coming superheroes learning how to deal with their powers and the responsibilities that came with them.
Unlike some other superhero shows featuring teenagers, Young Justice took on darker, more mature themes that made it stand out. However, for producers, this wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
Cartoon Network was frustrated that the show was not attracting the target audience: young boys. Instead, more girls were tuning in to watch the series, and producers thought toy sales were tanking as a result.
In the end, Young Justice was canceled due to the lack of boys tuning in.
A revival is expected to premiere later this year with the release of DC's new digital service, but it doesn't make up for the ridiculous reasons behind its cancelation in the first place.
1 Needs to Go: Gotham
One of the best examples of a series going off the rails from an interesting premise is FOX’s Gotham.
Telling the story Gotham in the early years through the eyes of young detective James Gordon, Gotham explores the iconic comic book city before Bruce Wayne wore the cape and cowl.
Gotham had a very strong start, and its season 1 positioned the series to be among the strongest superhero series on air today. The FOX series has seen a quick decline, however.
Gotham is extremely unbalanced, with some episodes that are quite good and others that are seriously lacking.
It’s mostly due to the show’s flawed writing, which has made the show unnecessarily dark with characters that are difficult to identify with and root for.
All things considered, it would just be for the best if the mediocre Gotham ended after its current fourth season on FOX.
Are there any other superhero shows that were canceled way too soon? Can you think of any that need to end soon? Let us know in the comments!
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