For fans of Young Justice, the news that the cult-favourite is returning for at least one more season has been welcome. Ever since the show was canceled in 2013 fans have been petitioning Warner Brothers Animation, as well as several digital streaming services, to bring back the show in order to finish telling the galaxy-spanning story of young superheroes. With plots left wide open, it was one show that absolutely needed to come back and deliver on its promise.
Over the last several decades there have been plenty of great shows that either ended too soon or simply were so great that fans still wanted more. Many of these shows have been off the air for years, even decades, but could easily be resurrected with their original casts and continuity intact. They simply work so well that they needn’t be rebooted.
Here’s 15 Superhero TV Shows We Wish Would Make A Young Justice Comeback
Constantine barely lasted a season before low ratings saw it meet its end. Much like Firefly, it was just finding its feet and beginning to build its own universe when it was cancelled. Much like so many other great shows that met an early end, fans have been clamouring for a return of the DC character ever since. They did get a little pay-off when series lead Matt Ryan reprised the role for an appearance on sister-show Arrow, but that may well be the final time the show is ever referenced.
But, it really needs to come back. Constantine fit in so well with the rest of the Flarrowverse and neatly rounded out the fictional universe with John Constantine dealing with magic and occult themes while Flash traversed the multiverse, Arrow stayed in the shadows, and The Legends of Tomorrow went full-tilt sci-fi and traversed the time stream.
A return would be so easy, having only been off-air a year. The cast haven’t aged, the story could easily tie to the rest of the Flarrowverse, and more importantly, we’d all get to see a truly dark show in the otherwise reasonably bright universe, Arrow notwithstanding.
Unfortunately, this one is probably wishful thinking as Warner tried desperately to find a new home for the show after being dropped by the network. But, with Young Justice getting a new season after so many years, it could still happen… just don’t hold your breath.
14. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Despite being off air for quite some time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is still very much part of popular culture and is frequently referenced as being one of the shows that launched the modern era of superhero TV and movies.
While the show ended with the destruction of the Hellmouth, it did leave itself open to further adventures by saying that there were other Hellmouths around the world. Given that the last few seasons saw Buffy become something of an authoritarian figure and leader of a larger group of slayers, a new show could actually focus on them, with Buffy herself taking a backseat and being more of a mentor.
While the comic books that followed on from the show are considered cannon, they could easily be worked in to the plots of the new show so wouldn’t need to be erased to fit a new story in the way Star Wars: The Force Awakens killed the Expanded Universe.
13. X-Men: The Animated Series
One of the greatest animated shows ever made, X-Men: The Animated Series was a near perfect example of how to take source material from the comics and put it on screen without losing anything that made the comics so great in the first place. While some plots had to be adapted, the characters were all faithfully adapted as were the basics of the story as well as the ongoing political subplots of race-relations between Humans and Mutants.
While the animation has aged considerably, a new series could still blend the familiar aesthetic with modern animation without looking like a new show altogether. While there weren’t any great plot threads still left dangling at the end of its run, the many years of storytelling since its cancellation in the mid ‘90s would give the creators ample inspiration for new storylines.
There have been several key bad guys that have risen to prominence in the years since the show was cancelled. John Sublime, The Purifiers, William Stryker, and Xorn would all be great if woven into the fabric of this classic show.
While the ‘80s Thundercats show retains a lot of pop cachet along with its contemporaries Transformers and G.I Joe, the reboot from a few years ago was cruelly cut down in its prime.
Running from 2011 to 2012, Thundercats was a great reimagining of the original settings and characters. Instead of the heroes arriving from a doomed planet, they were already established as being from their world to begin with and had been at war with the lizards for some time. Their kingdom, Thundera, destroyed due to treachery, the young warriors are forced to roam Third Earth looking for a way to defeat the evil Mumm Ra. Unlike the jovial ‘80s version, the reboot followed a more cinematic style of storytelling with a larger emphasis on inter-personal struggles within the team and a much darker story.
Thundercats has a lot in common with Young Justice. Both were cancelled at a similar time and for a similar reason. While both were exceptional examples of animated storytelling, they were both a little too mature for their own good. Low sales in their associated toylines meant that the expensive shows were cancelled. But, if the fans can bring back Young Justice, maybe the powers that be could take another look at Thundercats?
Misfits was a British black comedy that aired between 2009 and 2013 and focussed on a disparate group of young offenders who were granted superpowers after a freak electrical storm.
Far from becoming superheroes as one might expect, the Misfits spend most of the first season trying to understand their powers as well as cover up the accidental death of their probation officer after his own power drives him insane.
The show borrows elements from Heroes in that it is about normal people from different backgrounds and uses themes such as time-travel and the ability to transfer powers from one person to another. Unlike Heroes, which took itself fairly seriously, Misfits exploits black humor at every turn often using a major character’s death to both move the plot forwards in a new and often shocking way, but also to get an unexpected, if uncomfortable, laugh.
While Misfits ended its run quite naturally, and was one of Hulu’s highest-rated shows when shown on American television, it does still have potential for a further few seasons. Although many characters were killed off, several of their replacements could have easily carried the show for a few more years at least.
Based on the comic-book of the same name, The Middleman ran for a single twelve-episode season in 2009. Insanely meta, each episode had multiple references to pop culture, especially how each villain would exclaim “My plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity” when explaining their highly convoluted plans in an obvious reference to spy fiction. Also, most episodes featured nods to classic movies with many characters being named after the leads in classic science fiction.
Despite low ratings, Middleman was critically hailed and received some amazing reviews. It also developed a massive cult following akin to Firefly or Community. Unfortunately, ABC didn’t share their enthusiasm and the show was cancelled before the first season had finished production.
Middleman is crying out for another season, especially as the scripts are already written. While it didn’t fit on ABC, it could literally work on any other network especially a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.
9. Batman Beyond
While it was never going to exceed the high standards of its predecessor Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond certainly lived up to them and was a great show in its own right, indeed it’s considered to be one of the greatest animated superhero shows ever made.
Batman Beyond wisely stuck to the elements that made Batman: The Animated Series so successful, the futuristic Gotham City was still as corrupt as ever, The Batman was still as mysterious and enigmatic. But what it did that set it apart was to show a new Batman, one less secure in the role and one that juggled the very real pressures of family and friends along with their super-heroics.
While not a show that was considered to be cut down in its prime, it is a show that would be great to see more of, especially if we got to catch up with Terry McGuinness’ life as Batman after a few years in the role, perhaps training a sidekick of his own.
8. The Greatest American Hero
While The Greatest American Hero ended its run back in 1983, it remains a show that is frequently referenced in popular culture due to the wacky adventures of Ralph Hinkley (William Katt) being especially memorable despite the relatively short run of the show.
While the show couldn’t pick up where it left off (William Katt is 65 now) the premise would allow for a follow-on series as opposed to a hard reboot. The hero persona Ralph Hinkley adopts is never given a name, but is one that could be passed on to a new character as the power comes from the suit itself and therefore could be anyone. Ralph is given the suit by benevolent aliens who consider Earth to be worth saving and had previously given the suit to another man, before taking it back due to his using it for his own ends.
A new season could see an older Ralph bestowing the suit onto a new hero and acting as a mentor. The often-hilarious misadventures of Ralph and his FBI liaison would be a welcome change to the often overly-serious tone of modern superhero shows.
7. Justice League Unlimited
Like its predecessor series Justice League, Justice League Unlimited is one of the greatest animated shows ever produced and never hit a bum note throughout its run. Everything about it is perfect, which is why we really want to see another series!
The pinnacle of the Bruce Timm era of animation, Justice League Unlimited took the entire DC universe for inspiration as well as created some storylines of its own. While not as mature as the universe seen in Young Justice, it did deal with themes such as revenge in a surprisingly mature way. Huntress being fired from the League for attempting to kill the mob boss who killed her family stood out as a high point for the show, as did Superman’s epic take-down of Darkseid.
6. Teen Titans
Initially planned for a four-season run, Teen Titans was so popular a fifth season was ordered and a TV movie followed to serve as a finale in 2006. The show used many elements from the ‘80s comic book series and dealt with surprisingly mature themes for a show on Cartoon Network. Thematically, it had a lot in common with Young Justice and certainly set the standard for animation for the next decade.
One of Cartoon Network’s most beloved shows, Teen Titans still airs in syndication around the world to this day and has a strong following who regard it as being far superior to the reboot series Teen Titans Go! which is far less serious in its tone. While there were no plots left unresolved and the show had a very satisfying ending, it remains so well-loved that a further season or two would certainly be met with the same critical acclaim as the original run.
5. Static Shock
Despite being aimed squarely at a pre-teen audience, Static Shock became immensely popular with teens and even adults during its four-year run. Static Shock’s origin was pretty standard fare for the era, a geeky science nerd gets exposed to a mutagen and develops super powers, he then fights crime aided by his close pal. Despite this, and criticisms that the animation was dated and the jokes were a little too similar in tone to Spider-Man’s, the show did deal with some serious issues and earned the show several awards and nominations, including a Daytime Emmy nomination.
Like many other animated shows, poor sales of the related merchandise contributed to the cancellation, but in the case of Static Shock the show did generate further interest in the character leading to a revival of the comic book.
While dated, the show could really work if revived largely due to its existing fan base and a lack of quality superhero shows aimed squarely at a younger audience. While there a few around, the majority of modern superhero animation is aimed at a more mature audience and there’s certainly room for more Static Shock.
4. The Tick
The Tick was, in many ways, ahead of its time. It was a parody of the superhero genre long before the superhero gene ever went mainstream. Its subversive humor went far over the heads of the kids watching the show, but hit a chord with the grown-ups who were pretending not to be paying attention.
While there have been live-action shows, one in 2001 starring Patrick Warburton, and one in 2016 starring Peter Serafinowicz, the 1994 animated show is the gold-standard and the one we most want to see revived. Its slight departure from the source material notwithstanding, The Tick managed to hold on to its satirical roots and produced something that stood out as being truly unique during the sometimes bland 1990s. the show received 2 Annie awards during its run as well as several Emmy nominations. In 2008, IGN ranked it as number 6 on its 100 greatest Animated Series list. It has also been given several homages within popular culture with the character of Sentinel Prime on Transformers Animated being styled after the character, hence their physical similarities and same voice actor.
3. Batman: The Animated Series
It goes without saying that Batman: The Animated Series is one of the best animated shows ever made, if not the best. Its unique visuals set an insanely high standard for animation from that point onwards and its dark themes often captivated adults more than the kids they were watching with.
Inspired by years of comic books as well as the then-recent Tim Burton movies, Batman: The Animated Series was the first part in the Bruce Timm era of DC animation epics that ran through Superman and eventually Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. While Batman continued having adventures as part of the League, we never got to see his further solo adventures besides his appearances as an old man in Batman Beyond. It’s those missing years with an older Batman prior to his retirement that we would love to see explored. And let’s face it, a few more seasons of the show that gave us Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker, as well as the show that introduced Harley Quinn, would be amazing not merely for the nostalgia, but for the sheer quality of the show that still sets the standard over 20 years after its initial run.
2. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Had season 2 been as good as season 1, then Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could have gone on to be the greatest animated series of all time. Unfortunately, while season 1 wisely stayed close to the original Stan Lee stories of the ‘60s with a few modern elements thrown in, season 2 tried to jump ahead to tell modern stories like Secret Invasion and New Avengers, long before audiences were ready for them. Also, related material didn’t sell so well aiding in its cancellation and replacement by Avengers Assemble.
But, while season 2 wasn’t as good as the first, it wasn’t so bad as to mean the end of the show. Several elements worked well, including opening up the Marvel Universe to include The Fantastic Four and The Winter Soldier.
Despite having been replaced with a more recent show, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes follows a different continuity so could still work within its own little animated universe. With so many stories still to adapt, as well as some story elements left unresolved, there’s still hope for more adventures from what could have been a legend.
1. Agent Carter
Spinning off from the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter told the story of Peggy Carter as she continued to serve the SSR after the end of the Second World War and during the early years of the Cold War. Despite a great response from critics (87% on Rotten Tomatoes) who praised the performance of Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter, low viewership led to the show’s cancellation after two seasons.
It’s a show that now has NetFlix written all over it. While similar in tone to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter could still fit into the NetFlix universe of Marvel shows and be given a second life there. Perhaps a third season could go a little darker and explore the early years of S.H.I.E.L.D with Peggy taking a leadership role having finally broken the glass ceiling? Maybe she could even explore the mystery of the cryogenically frozen Winter Soldier and rumours of a resurrected Hydra? As Hayley Atwell’s Conviction has now been cancelled and she is once again a free agent, maybe, just maybe we could still see Steve Roger’s best girl once more.
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