TV shows are generally designed to go on for years. It’s the nature of the medium. Movies make money from box office sales, while TV show often seek to air as long as possible for continued returns. Take this as you will, but the result is that some TV shows tend to overstay their welcome. Some TV shows run out of plot material and interesting premises long before they are actually canceled, and this seems especially prevalent in superhero TV shows.
While a lot of superhero TV shows have long, well-executed runs and don’t get stale, this isn’t always the case. Some superhero shows burn through their best ideas right away, perhaps because of long season orders or because the stakes constantly have to be raised, leading them to jump the shark a bit. Whatever the reason, there were plenty of superhero shows that went on way too long. Just the same, there are some current superhero TV shows that need to go, as they have already overstayed their welcome. Which are the worst offenders in all of superhero TV?
Here are 8 Superhero Shows That Went On Too Long (And 7 That Need To Go).
15. TOO LONG: LOIS & CLARK
It’s hard to imagine how a romantic superhero dramedy about Superman and Lois Lane ever got off the ground, but Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman managed to win over viewers with its charm and wit, running for four seasons in total.
Lois & Clark kept things interesting for a while, but once it got to season 4, it wasn’t hard to see why the show got canceled. Things just got boring after Lois and Clark got married, and as a result, the show had overstayed its welcome.
Three seasons seems to be the magic number with superhero TV, and Lois & Clark helps prove this. Things can be tricky if you cross the “will they, won’t they” line, and even though Lois & Clark kept the titular characters’ relationship interesting, once they were married, the shark had officially been jumped.
14. NEEDS TO GO: GOTHAM
Gotham is the Smallville of the modern era, and it’s frankly baffling that it ever got made, let alone got four seasons. Seriously, what’s the obsession with “superhero before they were a superhero” TV shows?
The concept of Gotham is already ridiculous enough, and the fact that all these supervillains, most of whom didn’t show up until Batman “created” them, are running around before there’s even a Batman is a fundamental misunderstanding of Batman lore and themes.
The show also got very ridiculous, very fast, and most of the characters seem to have no solid motivation or personality. They simply change to suit whatever the ridiculous plot of the episode requires of them. Seriously, Gotham needs to get the boot.
13. TOO LONG: SMALLVILLE
There’s a lot of good that came out of this unique take on Superman. At the time it came out, showing a future superhero during their formative years was an amazing idea that ended up producing some great superhero storytelling. Smallville could easily be credited for ushering in a new era of comic book TV shows.
However, the show that was supposed to be about Clark Kent becoming Superman, without actually showing Superman, went on for 10 seasons. The show quickly went off the rails as the story struggled to find ways to continue the premise without actually going full Superman, and in doing so, it launched a trend of shoehorned comic book easter eggs in superhero TV.
12. NEEDS TO GO: ARROW
Arrow needs to get the boot. The show has a lot of high points and is generally favorably reviewed, but the lows hit much harder than the highs. Arrow started as a gritty, somewhat realistic take on Green Arrow, but after spawning its own TV superhero universe, things have gone off the rails, and the show has suffered because of it.
It’s not just the ridiculous elements at play in the universe; it’s that CW signature the show is riddled with, -the melodramatic soap-opera plots and twists that weigh everything down. Arrow spends more time on drama between the team and poorly-handled romance than actual crime fighting, and the villains are uninteresting at best.
11. TOO LONG: MISFITS
It’s always nice when a TV show comes in and subverts the many tropes of the superhero genre, and Misfits was happy to throw a monkey wrench into classic superhero storytelling. An original concept, Misfits followed a group of young criminals who are sentenced to community service and they gain superpowers from a freak storm.
Misfits started strong and played with concepts of moral alignment as the main characters dealt with other people that were given powers by the storm. Unfortunately, the series ran for just a bit too long, receiving poor reception in the later seasons.
10. NEEDS TO GO: TEEN TITANS GO!
Most, if not all, of the hate for Teen Titans Go! comes from fans of the original who felt this short-form comedy was a pale comparison to the smart action series they grew up with. And who could blame them?
Go! uses the same costume designs and voice actors of the original Teen Titans, so it’s easy to feel like a beloved show was replaced with a carbon copy.
All that said, Teen Titans Go! doesn’t deserve all the hate it gets. It does well with its target audience and has some genuinely funny moments, some of which acknowledge the fact that a more beloved show preceded it.
9. TOO LONG: HEROES
Like Misfits, Heroes subverted and played with the tropes of classic superhero telling. It was a superhero show without capes and tights and presented the responsibility of superpowers in a unique and compelling way. The show was praised for being thrilling and fun in its first two seasons, but in the last two seasons, things went from exciting to grim.
Seasons three and four were harshly criticized for being far too dark and nonsensical when the show had started out so fun. Though the show still had a pretty big fan following throughout its entire run (prompting a revival season), Heroes definitely shot itself in the foot.
8. NEEDS TO GO: THE FLASH
Like Arrow, The Flash started out strong, but quickly lost its way. The first season of The Flash and most of the second season provided a fun superhero show with some classic comic book storytelling, featuring day-to-day crime fighting with an overarching villain storyline.
However, as time went on, The Flash started to get more and more like Arrow.
Season three focused entirely on preventing Iris West’s death and had some pretty lazy plot twists that didn’t build up enough excitement to distract from the boring melodrama that had taken up a majority of The Flash‘s screen time. The Flash has failed to reclaim the spark the first season had and, since it has fully jumped the shark with how quickly it burned through comics lore and events, the show is simply spiraling out of control.
7. TOO LONG: TEEN WOLF
It’s always a bummer when the original character lineup of a series fades away as a TV show goes on. It happens pretty frequently too – sometimes even the main actor leaves the show entirely. Though things didn’t get that bad with Teen Wolf, the lineup of the show’s final season was pretty unrecognizable from the first season.
This is part of the reason that the show felt so drawn-out by the time it was canceled, but it also had to do with how ridiculous the storylines became. New elements were introduced every season, and while this worked for the first two seasons, by the sixth the show had jumped the supernatural shark.
6. NEEDS TO GO: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. might not be the biggest show, but it has a decent fan following and was critically praised for the twists it took after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That said, it’s not much of a stretch to say that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the weakest MCU shows.
The reason for this is the heavy focus on a small group of characters that aren’t particularly interesting, a choice that lead the show to become yet another melodrama-focused superhero show.
Sure, there are plenty of interesting twists and turns and comic book Easter eggs, but Agents is perhaps the biggest offender of feeling distant from the world of the MCU movies, despite the fact that Agent Coulson is a main character. With how quickly the ratings are dropping, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should be put to an end.
5. TOO LONG: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Remember how easy it used to be for animated series to go on for a long time? Nowadays, beloved cartoons often get canceled after one or two seasons due to financial reasons, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact, there were some cartoons that went on forever to the point of jumping multiple sharks. The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of those series.
The original series ran for 10 seasons; an impressive run, even for the time period.
However, with such a long run came weird and convoluted plots, over-saturation, and ridiculous repetition.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tried to turn things around with the “red sky” episodes, the two seasons that dropped the humor in favor of more serious plots, but by then it was too late. The Turtles had overstayed their welcome.
4. NEEDS TO GO: SONIC BOOM
Sonic Boom is actually incredibly funny. It might not be the action Sonic cartoon that the fanbase wants, and it might remind people that the horrible tie-in game series exists, but the show definitely plays to its strengths. Sonic Boom is self-aware, hilariously references obscure memes, and is genuinely smart with how it delivers a joke.
That said, there are a few reasons Sonic Boom should quit while it’s ahead – if you can even call it that. As mentioned, the show takes place in the continuity (sort of) of the Sonic Boom games, all of which have been completely torched by fans and critics. The other reason the show needs to end is that it gets real repetitive very fast, and one could easily compare it to a lower-budget, Sonic version of Teen Titans Go!
3. TOO LONG: SLEEPY HALLOW
Sleepy Hollow was another show that might not be the most traditional superhero shows, but it featured two protagonists fighting a secret evil, so we’ll count it as one.
The supernatural TV series had a lot of great stuff going for it: it was smart, progressive, had some great twists and adapted the classic lore into something fresh, new and unique. That said, it probably should have just ended after season 2.
Why do we say this? Well the biggest reason is that the series’ lead actress, Nicole Beharie, left early in season three, and the other reason is that the story wrapped up nicely in the season two finale.
There was no need to keep going.
2. NEEDS TO GO: IRON FIST
How many shows aside from Iron Fist were critically thrashed before they even premiered? Not many, and even when the series went up on Netflix, the reviews didn’t get any better. Not only was there controversy surrounding the whitewashing of the cast and white savior tropes that the series invoked, but the show itself was just poorly written.
Many felt as though Iron Fist was rushed so that The Defenders could happen faster, resulting in the show’s lackluster performance. Characters were uninteresting, the plots were cliche and the martial arts were nowhere near as crisp and and exciting as those seen in Daredevil.
Why did the one Netflix MCU series about martial arts have the worst fight choreography of them all?
1. TOO LONG: NARUTO
It might seem like a bit of a stretch to consider Naruto a superhero show, but when you get down to it, the anime checks most of the boxes of the genre. There are superhuman abilities, people using those abilities for good, villains using them for bad, and a war between good and evil. It might not be the traditional Western superhero tale, but Naruto definitely pulled in a lot of comic book fans in its American release.
That said, like most Shonen manga/anime, Naruto went on for just a bit too long.
This led to that infamous anime story convolution that caused a lot of fans to drop off by the time Naruto Shippuden hit. This isn’t to say Naruto as a whole is bad, just that perhaps it could have been told in a shorter amount of time. This is something that creator Masashi Kishimoto wished to do, but the series’ popularity prevented the show from ending.
What superhero show do you think needs to end? Let us know in the comments.
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