From Agent Carter to Flash to Daredevil to Supergirl: A ranking of every superhero show

Superheroes are big business today, with Marvel and DC climbing over each other to smash together any and every superhero buddy team that might make the next box office hit. From the Avengers to the Justice League, from Deadpool and Ant-Man and Doctor Strange and Black Panther to the Suicide Squad, it seems every superhero (or super-villain) is getting a movie these days.

And yet, the best superhero work right now may be on the small screen. Sure the blockbuster movies are great fun and money-making locks—Fantastic Four reboots notwithstanding—but the work being done on television (and online) is as good as it gets in the medium.

We are living in a golden age of superheroes in media, with more and more shows on the horizon.

Currently there are 10 superhero shows on the small screen: Agent Carter, Arrow, Daredevil, The Flash, Gotham, iZombie, Jessica Jones, Powers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Supergirl.

This week, DC will add Legends of Tomorrow to that list and later this year, Marvel will include Luke Cage and, perhaps a year from now, Danny Rand as Iron Fist and another super-group super-show about The Defenders. Oh, and Frank Castle may be getting his own show too as The Punisher. Sheesh.

Within the next three years there could be as many as 15 or 20 superhero shows on television. For now, we stuck with ranking the current 10. (Note: we did not include Constantine despite rumors it may be brought back after being canceled, nor did we include Fox’s new show Lucifer. We also debated including The Walking Dead, but that’s more “comic book show” and less superhero show. Feel free to debate the same about Agent Carter and iZombie all you want. Also, Heroes isn’t on here and not one person said a thing about its absence. Take that for what it is.)

The shows were each broken into seven categories, ranked 1-10, with 10 being the best. The categories are:

Main Hero/Show Lead;

Supporting Heroes/Supporting Cast;

Main Villain (If Applicable);

Other Villains (If Applicable);

Overall Storyline;

Crisis of the Week;

Show “Look” (Cinematography/Sets/Setting).

Some shows that thrive with a story of the week may fall short with an overall storyline. Others had one great villain but lacked robust secondary villains. Interestingly, that wasn’t always a bad thing. Some shows are buoyed by their lead, while others are saved by their supporting cast. The results are pretty telling.

More than 30 people were polled, sharing independent ratings for just the shows they watch (every show could get a 1, 10 or anything in between), skipping those they don’t, with each category getting an average ranking, then averaging out those to get an overall show score. It’s worth noting that shows people watch they usually like, so some omissions could have potentially lowered the overall ratings. Alas…

Comments throughout include my thoughts, as well as those from The Comeback’s Ian Casselberry and Jordan White. Other voters shared comments as well, some anonymously, and those are included too.

With that, here is a list of “every” superhero show on TV, definitively ranked by our panel of super viewers.



10. Supergirl (CBS)

Let’s note that every show received a ranking over 6/10 or better, which means that all 10 of these shows should be considered “good.” Supergirl is, well, maybe not good.

As you can see in the rankings, the show totally hinges on Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, with a decent supporting cast, led by Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant and David Harewood as Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz (the spelling makes him sound more Martian).

The villains are terrible. Just dreadful. It’s like they didn’t even bother to come up with any good ideas before the show went into production. The dialog, at times, is worse. And while the “gal in the big city just trying to make it as a superhero” story is cute and the love-triangle with James Olsen and Winn Schott, played by Mehcad Brooks and Jeremy Jordan, respectively, is a way to humanize the beautiful blonde alien (wait…) it’s all on Benoist to carry the show. Every week.

Still, it’s early, and the show can, and probably will, get better.

Show Hero/ Show Lead Support Cast Main Villain Other villains Overall Storyline Crisis of the Week Show “Look” Overall Score
Supergirl 8.00 6.59 5.59 5.35 6.06 6.24 6.82 6.38

“Too early to really cast judgment on Supergirl, but it feels like a show figuring out what it is. Getting away from Superman’s shadow was an absolute necessity. Don’t be Superman Jr. Be a strong female character on a show that’s fun to watch, rather than deadly serious. Mining the DC mythology for characters like J’onn J’onzz is also a great touch.” – Ian Casselberry

“Don’t necessarily think it is a Supergirl issue, but one which faces the entire Superman universe — the stories don’t translate. The network especially butchered this program, as it is really poorly done.”

“Like Flash, this is all about Melissa Benoist being so damn good as the lead it lifts everything else. I’d wager everything gets bumped at least one grade in the future.”

“Melissa Benoist is really great in the title role, bringing a human quality to Supergirl. I like that it’s a superhero show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That said- the writing and plot development could get a lot tighter. She’s Supergirl and yet, her human sister keeps trying to put the training wheels back on. Stop. (PS- Alex Danvers is the weakest link on the show. Her acting and dialogue is horrible.) I think there’s a lot of promise here though, especially since we’ve been teased with Martian Manhunter (!), Bizarro and Toyman. I just hope that CBS realizes you don’t need to dumb down the character for next season.”

“Melissa Benoist is a total joy as the lead role, the supporting cast has some gems, and the wholesale embrace of comic book tropes is fun, but to me the show doesn’t feel quite there yet as a whole.” – Matt Terl

“You could not pay me to watch this one.” – Mike M.



9. Gotham (FOX)

Gotham got better the moment they threw Fish Mooney in the river. I never quite knew if the character was just horrible—one of the “new” villains not from traditional Batman canon—or if Jada Pinkett-Smith was just terrible as Fish, but it nearly ruined the show’s entire first season.

The show has gotten better, mostly because the producers realized what they had in Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, but some of the other bad guys are just generic mobsters or cartoonish versions of Batman villains we’ve known and loved to hate for years. Ben McKenzie seems to be going for a “young Gary Oldman” with his James Gordon and it doesn’t always work. And by always I mean usually never.

And Bruce Wayne? Nobody needs to see the Dark Knight as a whiny pre-pubescent aristocrat. Nobody.

The show wants to be a Batman show, but DC won’t let it. So Fox gives us a series of half-measures that can’t last more than a few more seasons. How bad can Gotham possibly get before Batman returns?

Show Hero/ Show Lead Support Cast Main Villain Other villains Overall Storyline Crisis of the Week Show “Look” Overall Score
Gotham 6.70 6.35 6.21 6.10 5.70 5.74 7.90 6.39

“Gotham was doomed to fail, trying to give the entire Batman mythology an origin story. Even worse, the show can’t settle on the right tone, going far too big and campy. A show about cops trying to do their jobs with a masked vigilante (urban myth) running around would have been far more compelling.” — Ian Casselberry

“It’s always an entertaining watch that gets me through an hour of TV. You have the classic juxtaposition of good and evil with the main lead, Jim Gordon. Each main character has several people in his orbit, so to speak, which keeps storylines from becoming stale. Gordon has his girlfriend, his partner Bullock and enemies including the Penguin. Bruce Wayne has, of course, Alfred but also other love interests and foils. The show still has, like it always has, potential. Hopefully one day it will fully live up to it.”

“The exception to network shows making superhero TV shows too cartoony. Give Fox a raise!”

“I’m counting Penguin as the main villain on this one. He is great.” – Paul L.

“I’m considering Penguin, Riddler and Cat as supporting cast, not villains.” – Joe Coblitz

“I’ll be honest- I realized midway through last season that I’m watching “Gotham” strictly to see what I’ve already seen — Bruce become Batman. Fish Mooney was an awful character, Penguin is so overplayed (and I’m sorry, not fat), and the writers managed to turn the smartest villain in the Batman cannon (Riddler) into the world’s dumbest villain. S2 seems to be a bit better, but not by much. Ben McKenzie doesn’t know which Gordon to play, the writers still believe that Selina Kyle must actually act like a cat, and make me hate Bruce Wayne. The only bright spots are Harvey Bullock and Alfred. And I still don’t get why, with all the great villains (big and small) in the Batman universe, this show keeps making up its own bad guys.”

“This show is about what I expected. Not bad but not too great either. – Zach Burke

“I’m all over the place on this one. I pretty much hate Jim Gordon, but I like pretty much everything else. Season 2 was an upgrade from season 1, so I’m glad I stuck with it. And yet I also hate myself at times for watching it. I can’t make heads or tails of the show or my feelings about it.” – Mike M.

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Dan Levy

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.