Rotten Tomatoes, the world’s foremost review aggregation website, has become both a life-changing blessing and a sneaky curse for both movie and television fans alike.
On one hand, checking out the Rotten Tomatoes score of a television show you’re thinking about diving into can ultimately save you from wasting valuable hours of your precious life on an unfulfilling TV show.
However, on the other hand, if you rely too heavily on Rotten Tomatoes scores, you may miss out on gems such as Austin Powers in Goldmember, which holds a preposterous 54% on the website.
The point is, while the Rotten Tomatoes score of a certain movie or TV show certainly helps bring some clarity to whether or not it’s worth watching, it often doesn’t tell the whole story. That said, chances are that if a television show was canceled after just one season (like so many shows on this list were), then it likely had a crappy score on Rotten Tomatoes.
With that in mind, it got us thinking, what are the superhero shows with the worst Rotten Tomatoes scores of all-time? While some of the items on this list have a decent Rotten Tomatoes score, they’re only included because most (basically all) of the superhero cartoons ever made aren’t rated on the website, nor are many older shows.
So without further ado, these are the 15 Worst Superhero Shows Ever (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
15. Gotham (78%)
Back when Gotham debuted in 2014, fans weren’t sure exactly how a Batman show without Batman would fair. However, now four seasons into its existence and Gotham has become quite the successful show.
Telling the origin stories of several Batman villains, such as Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and Ra’s al Ghul, Gotham follows Bruce Wayne’s maturation into Batman, as well as James Gordon’s rise through the ranks of the Gotham Police Department ranks.
The show, currently in its fourth season, has shown no signs of slowing down since premiering in 2014. Likely following the footsteps of Smallville, the series will likely end with a young Bruce Wayne finally donning iconic the cape and cowl.
14. The Defenders (74%)
Beginning with 2015’s Daredevil, Marvel and Netflix rolled out a total of four shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) before launching the ultimate team-up show, The Defenders.
While Marvel found home runs with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, the same can’t be said about The Defenders, which was more of a ground rule double if we’re sticking with the baseball analogy. S
And while the show was as entertaining as any Marvel Cinematic Universe television show, The Defenders is a respectable entry into Marvel Television lore, but certainly not as satisfying as it’s movie counterpart, The Avengers, was.
13. Heroes (71%)
Back in 2006, the superhero landscape was nothing like the multi-billion dollar industry we know now today. Batman Begins had only been out for a year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had yet to begin, and the best superhero movie of the decade so far was likely Spider-Man 2. Then there was Heroes, a serial drama on NBC about unheard of, original, superheroes.
Written by Tim Kring, Heroes was created after Kring had the desire to write a drama about people who were determined to do something about their “big, scary, complicated world.”
Ultimately deciding that a police or medical drama did not have characters that were “big enough to save the world,” Kring decided to create a show about “ordinary people who would discover extraordinary abilities, while still rooted in the real world and in reality.”
12. No Ordinary Family (68%)
Don’t feel bad for not having heard of this one, as it only ran for one single season almost a decade ago. Despite premiering at the beginning of the superhero era, No Ordinary Family was anything but super.
No Ordinary Family was a TV series that aired on ABC for the 2010–11 television season. The show focused on the Powells, your average, everyday-American family living in California whose members gain special powers after their plane crashes in the Amazon, Brazil.
The series starred Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four) as a police sketch artist named James whose power is super strength and Julie Benz (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dexter) as Dr. Stephanie Powell, a scientist with super speed. Despite fairly decent reviews, No Ordinary Family was canceled after just one season.
11. Powerless (62%)
While Powerless — a workplace comedy on NBC about people in the DC Universe without superpowers — was a mildly interesting idea on paper, the same cannot be said about the show’s execution.
The show focused on Emily Locke (played by Vanessa Hudgens), the Director of Research & Development at Wayne Security, a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises based in Charm City. Wayne Security specialized in products for ordinary humans who could be potential victims of the battles between superheroes and supervillains.
Despite the decent reviews (62% critic score, 52% audience score) NBC pulled the final three episodes of the series from its schedule without any indication of whether or not they would be aired on a rescheduled date. The show was ultimately canceled after just one season.
10. The Punisher (62%)
The Punisher, one of the five Marvel Cinematic Universe television shows on Netflix, is easily the most violent property in the MCU thus far.
Following Jon Bernthal’s casting as Frank Castle/The Punisher in the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil, development on a spin-off show titled The Punisher began just before the release of Daredevil’s second season.
Further fleshing out the character of Frank Castle, The Punisher succeed in making Castle seem more like a damaged human being and less like a robotic killing machine.
While The Punisher holds a decent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes (62%), it’s audience score is much higher at 93%, suggesting that fans of the legendary Marvel character and anti-hero connected with the project much more than it did with critics.
9. Birds Of Prey (57%)
Premiering in 2002, Birds Of Prety told the story of a future without Bruce Wayne. The official synopsis of Birds Of Prey was “In the future, long after the Batman has driven himself into exile, his legacy lives on in the form of the Birds of Prey — Black Canary, Oracle, and the Huntress.”
Starring Ashley Scott (The Huntress), Dina Meyer (Oracle) and Rachel Skarsten as Black Canary, Birds Of Prey took place in a Gotham city long abandoned by Batman.
Despite premiering to a decently sized audience of 7.6 million viewers, the show’s rating dropped off sharply in the following weeks, causing the show to be canceled after just one season. In total, thirteen episodes of Birds Of Prey were made and can be purchased on Amazon.
8. The Incredible Hulk (52%)
As one of the most iconic superhero television shows of all-time, The Incredible Hulk first premiered on CBS in 1977.
Starring Bill Bixby as David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, the series followed Dr. David Banner, a widowed scientist who is presumed to be dead, as he travels across America using alter egos.
Despite wanting to keep a low profile, Banner usually found himself in scenarios where he helps others in need, which causes him to transform into a green monster known as “The Hulk.”
The series, which had a first episode that was a two-hour pilot movie, ran from late 1977 until 1982, spanning five seasons and 82 episodes. Despite being released over 40 years ago, the show can still be found running in syndication today.
7. Painkiller Jane (50%)
One of the lesser known shows on this list, Painkiller Jane was American-Canadian science fiction based on the character of the same name that aired on the Syfy network.
Starring Kristanna Loken as the titular Painkiller Jane Vasco, the series focused on Jane’s rise as a superhero following her discovery that she had “supernormal regenerative powers bordering on invulnerability.”
However, unlike most superheroes, despite being essentially invulnerable to injury, she still felt the pain of the injuries before they healed. The series also starred Rob Stewart as Andre McBride and Stephen Lobo as Dr. Seth Carpente.
The show only has one review on Rotten Tomatoes, which scathingly reads “even by Sci-Fi’s low standards, it’s a downright terrible piece of unoriginal nonsense.” On August 15, 2007, Painkiller Jane was canceled after one season consisting of 22 episodes.
6. Powers (48%)
PlayStation Network’s first scripted original programming, Powers was based on the Marvel Comic of the same name. The series, starring Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) as Christian Walker, takes place in a world where humans and superheroes, referred to “Powers,” co-exist.
Copley plays Walker, a former “Power” who has reinvented himself as a homicide detective in the Powers Division of the Los Angeles Police Department after his own superpowers were taken from him.
The show also starred Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim, Christian’s partner, and Noah Taylor as Johnny Royalle.
Despite a decent Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 71%, Powers was unable to overcome its poor critical reviews and low viewership and was canceled on August 3, 2016. Powers can currently be found on Amazon.
5. The Tomorrow People (45%)
The Tomorrow People was a science fiction superhero television series that aired on The CW during 2013.
Created by Greg Berlanti, Phil Klemmer, and Julie Plecwhich, The Tomorrow People was a remake of the original British television series, created by Roger Price, which ran from 1973 to 1979. Both shows followed a group of young people who possess psionic powers as the result of human evolution.
Starring Robbie Amell (the younger brother of Stephen Amell who plays Oliver Queen on CW’s Arrow), The Tomorrow People focused on, well, the Tomorrow People: a group of humans who have become early instances of the next stage of human evolution.
4. The Cape (45%)
Yet another one and done on this list, The Cape was a superhero drama series that aired on NBC during 2010 as a “midseason replacement.” Starring David Lyons, The Cape, which was set in fictional Palm City, California, follows Vince Faraday.
Faraday is a detective who leaves his job at police force to work for ARK, a private security firm owned and operated by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Fleming (James Frain).
Suffering from “forgettable plots and mediocre characters, The Cape was a misfire with both fans and critics alike (45% critic score, 40% audience score).
3. Heroes Reborn (43%)
Yet another property to be “rebooted” over the last decade or so, Heroes Reborn was a 13-part mini-series that aired on NBC in 2015, just five years after the original Heroes went off the air.
The show, which featured both new characters and old characters from the original Heroes series, takes place one year after a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas.
The government blames those with extraordinary abilities for the attack, forcing the superheroes into hiding while vigilantes systematically hunt and kill them. While Heroes Reborn had decent special effects for a network show, the show lacked the narrative punching power of the original.
2. Iron Fist (19%)
The fourth and final Netflix series before Marvel’s The Defenders, Iron Fist represents a low point for Netflix’s Marvel Cinematic Universe properties.
Another series with a major disparity between the critic’s score (19%) and audience score (76%), critics panned Netflix and Marvel’s fourth original outing as “unoriginal” and “directionless.”
Starring Finn Jones (Game Of Thrones) as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, the show focuses on Rand’s return to New York City to reclaim his family company from Harold Meachum after being presumed dead for the previous 15 years.
Despite generally horrible reviews from critics, the second season of Iron Fist was ordered in July 2017, with Simone Missick revealed to be joining the cast, reprising her role of Misty Knight from Luke Cage and The Defenders.
1. Inhumans (10%)
Since its inception in 2008, Inhumans may be the biggest misfire in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Originally rumored to be a feature film in the MCU, Inhumans eventually came to life in the form of a television show on ABC.
Starring Anson Mount as Black Bolt, the series focuses on the Inhuman Royal Family. After a military coup, the Inhuman Royal Family escapes to Hawaii, “where they must save themselves and the world.”
Positioned as the MCU’s answer to X-Men, Inhumans wound up as the most critically-panned series in the entire universe. Despite holding just a 10% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, ABC has yet to officially cancel the series.
According to an ABC representative, all series pickups will be announced in May, which is likely when fans will get their answer as to whether or not the show will be returning.
What did you think our list? Did we leave any of the worst superheroes shows out? Let us know in the comment section!
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