28 TV Shows Inspired by DC Comics
Netflix's much-anticipated "The Sandman" is finally arriving this year, joining the ranks of dozens of TV shows based on DC Comics. While DC's movies have often been met with mixed reviews and mixed success, its TV shows have become fan favorites stretching back for decades. It was a DC-based show, "Smallville," that brought a new generation of superhero shows to TV, and it was another DC show, "Arrow," that launched a sprawling and interconnected superhero television universe before the DC movies ever existed.
TV shows based on DC comics aren't limited to just the big-name superheroes like Superman, The Flash, and Batman. Over the past couple of decades, creators have found inspiration in a wide range of DC's stories, bringing us everything from goofy comedy and sharp satire to gritty dramas and much more. It's a vibrant universe, and it just keeps growing!
Just how many of your favorite shows are actually based on DC comic books? We've collected all the modern TV shows inspired by these comics (many of which are available to stream on Netflix). Next time you're looking for a new TV adventure to start, try one of these DC shows!
DC Shows on Netflix
- "The Flash"
- "DC's Legends of Tomorrow"
- "Black Lightning"
- "Sweet Tooth"
- "The Sandman"
"Smallville" brought DC superheroes into the 21st century, tracing the origin story of young Clark Kent as he goes from nerdy teenager in rural Kansas to the hero we know as Superman. As he comes of age, Clark hits all the most iconic beats of the Superman origin story while also encountering a whole gallery of other DC heroes and baddies. The series ran for a whopping 10 seasons from 2001 to 2011, starting out on The WB and then surviving the network's merger with UPN to finish out its run on the CW.
"Birds of Prey"
Long before Margot Robbie and company brought this band of crime-fighting misfits to the big screen, The WB tried their hand at adapting the popular DC Comic in 2002. Lasting just one season, the show is set in New Gotham City, where a group of heroes, including the Huntress and Oracle, try to protect a city that has been abandoned by Batman.
This action series, which ran for two seasons on Fox from 2010 to 2011, might not be as big a name as some of the other DC-based shows. It centers on a mysterious bodyguard named Christopher Chance who has an unorthodox method of protecting his clients. Rather than literally "guarding" them, he integrates himself into their lives, turning himself into a "human target" for the threats against them.
The CW launched this series, based on the Green Arrow comics, in 2012, and in doing so launched a decade and counting of interconnected superhero shows. Oliver Queen, a wealthy playboy, is stranded on an island for five years after a boating accident. When he returns, it's with a mysteriously acquired set of skills and a determination to clean up his corrupt city.
"Arrow" ran for eight seasons, ending in 2020.
"The Flash" debuted in 2014 after introducing its protagonist, Barry Allen, in a backdoor-pilot episode of "Arrow." Barry is a forensic investigator with a tragic past who gains superhuman speed and other powers during an accident at a particle accelerator. As he works to gain control of his powers, he also finds himself digging deeper into the tragedy of his family's past and learning the truth about what happened on the night that changed his life.
"The Flash" is still running on The CW as of 2022, with the ninth season already ordered.
Think of "Gotham" as the "Batman without Batman" show. Set in Gotham City during the years when Bruce Wayne is still a child, the show centers on young Jim Gordon as he makes his way up through the Gotham City Police Department. Along the way, Jim also encounters many of the characters we know and love (or love to hate) from the Batman universe, from famous rogues to Bruce himself.
The show ran for five seasons on Fox from 2014 to 2019.
John Constantine, the (anti)hero of "Constantine," is a man for whom the phrase "deal with the devil" is a bit more literal than most. The occultist tackles all sorts of demonic and supernatural incursions on our world, all while trying to atone for his past mistakes and literally save his soul.
Although the series only lasted for one season on NBC, from 2014 to 2015, this version of the character was retroactively integrated into the Arrowverse. John Constantine appeared in a fourth-season episode of "Arrow," then joined the main cast of "Legends of Tomorrow" beginning in its third season.
Debuting in 2015, "Supergirl" became the first Arrowverse show with a sole woman protagonist. The show follows the adventures of Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, Superman's cousin who has tried to live a "normal" life. When her sister's plane nearly crashes, she springs into action but now must juggle her life as a nerdy aspiring journalist with her alter ego as a budding superhero.
"Supergirl" aired its first season on CBS, then moved to The CW for the remainder of its run. It aired for six seasons and ended in 2021.
This dark, quirky comedy puts a new spin on zombie lore. Medical examiner Liv is accidentally infected with a zombie virus, but it actually comes with an upside. She's able to survive by feeding on the brains of the crime victims who come into her morgue — and eating their brains allows her insights into their lives, memories, and personalities, helping solve the crimes.
"iZombie" ran on The CW for five seasons, from 2015 to 2019.
"DC's Legends of Tomorrow"
What started as a team-up of B-list superheroes instead transformed into a weird, wacky, and wonderful superhero comedy. Initially brought together by the timeline-monitoring Time Bureau, a group of misfit heroes and antiheroes team up on a time-traveling spaceship to fix anomalies in history. The only problem is they often cause even more disruptions along the way.
"Legends" ran for seven seasons on The CW, from 2016 to 2022.
The prince of Hell is a popular character in DC Comics lore, and this supernatural crime drama puts him front and center. Bored with his life ruling over Hell, he heads to Earth, where he becomes a nightclub owner in Los Angeles. When he gets tangled up in a murder investigation, he decides to help Detective Chloe Decker with her cases, all while keeping his real identity hidden.
After airing its first three seasons on Fox, the show made the jump directly to Netflix for its final three seasons, wrapping in 2021.
Running for four seasons on AMC from 2016 to 2019, "Preacher" involves a preacher with superpowers, vampires, and much more. After discovering his newfound ability to literally command others to follow his words, unorthodox preacher Jesse sets out to conquer his crisis of faith and understand his powers. He's joined by a motley crew of supernatural and human beings, including vampires, demons, angels, and more.
Superhero comedy can be tricky, as this one-season NBC sitcom from 2017 shows. It's set at Wayne Security, part of Wayne Enterprises, where the employees make products designed for the humans who wind up as the innocent bystanders caught between the battles between heroes and villains. Instead of directly adapting comic-book adventures, it imagines "parallel" stories as these lower-level employees try to do their jobs while the superbattles rage.
By all outward appearances, Jefferson Pierce is a normal school principal in Georgia. In fact, he's a retired superhero who went by the moniker Black Lightning nearly a decade ago. When a criminal gang threatens the city and his family, he suits back up again, this time with his daughters developing superpowers at his side.
The show ran for four seasons on The CW, airing from 2018 to 2021.
"Titans" puts a darker spin on the young superhero crew better known as the Teen Titans. Led by Dick Grayson, Batman's jaded former sidekick, the Titans join forces to battle evil even as the bonds between their team are tested time and time again.
"Titans" aired its first two seasons on the DC Universe subscription service starting in 2018. When that service was merged into HBO Max, "Titans" went with it. It now streams on HBO Max and has been renewed for a fourth season.
Airing on SyFy for two seasons from 2018 to 2019, "Krypton" is a prequel to the Superman story. Set on the planet Krypton nearly 200 years before the birth of Kal-El, the series centers on his grandfather, Seg-El, who is fighting to restore his family's reputation and protect their planet.
This "Titans" spinoff focuses on another DC superhero team, a group of reluctant, outcast heroes whose powers are the results of tragic events. They're brought together by the Chief, a doctor who treated and protected them, and their team-up is kicked into gear when they must rescue him from a villain's clutches.
Like "Titans," "Doom Patrol" spent its first two seasons, beginning in 2019, on the DC Universe streaming service. It now streams on HBO Max and has been renewed for a fourth season.
Bringing a horror-adventure vibe to the DC world, "Swamp Thing" is about — you guessed it — the Swamp Thing, a plant-elemental creature with the memories of a dead scientist and the power to control the vegetation around his Louisiana swamp. Teaming up with a CDC doctor, Swamp Thing tries to fight the evil forces threatening his home.
"Swamp Thing" aired for just one season on the DC Universe streaming service in 2019 before it was canceled.
When "Batwoman" launched on The CW in 2019, it followed Kate Kane, Batman's cousin, as she protects Gotham City after he disappears mysteriously. After original star Ruby Rose departed the series after one season, the show reset, with ex-con Ryan Wilder finding Kate's Batsuit and taking up the crime-fighting mantle in hopes of avenging her mother's death.
"Batwoman" aired on The CW for three seasons, ending in 2022.
HBO gave the miniseries treatment to the beloved and challenging graphic novel in 2019. In the show's alternate universe, a group of white supremacists have risen in Tulsa, OK, the site of the infamous Tulsa race massacre. Detective Angela Abar, a survivor of the Kavalry's attacks, works with the police department to uncover and stop the group, all while investigating plots against Doctor Manhattan.
Batman wouldn't be Batman without his loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth. This series imagines Alfred's younger life, working in post-war Britain and being targeted by a fascist organization trying to take over the government. Along the way, he crosses paths with allies old and new, including two American agents: Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane.
The first two seasons ran on Epix, but the upcoming third season (and potentially beyond) will be exclusively on HBO Max.
"The Boys" has just the solution for superhero fatigue with a cynical (and R-rated) take on the genre. In an alternate universe, superheroes are public figures, controlled by a shady organization and generally awful behind the scenes. Led by Billy Butcher, a group of non-"supes" fights to reveal the rotten core of superhero culture, though not without putting their own lives and souls at risk.
The series launched on Amazon Prime Video in 2019, and it has been renewed for a fourth season.
Years after the Justice League was betrayed and destroyed, the staff of the hero called Starman finds its way into the possession of Courtney Whitmore, a teenage girl struggling with her mother's remarriage and a move to a new town. When she discovers her link to the staff, she sets out to become a superhero, gathering a group of new friends around her to form a new Justice League.
After airing its first season in 2020 as a DC Universe/CW coproduction, the second and upcoming third season are airing exclusively on The CW.
"Superman & Lois"
The most recent series adjacent to the Arrowverse follows a grown-up Clark Kent, now married to Lois Lane and a father of two sons who struggle with their father's superhero legacy. As the couple try to lead normal, happy lives with their family, their efforts are upended by the arrival of new threats from this Earth and beyond.
"Superman & Lois" debuted on The CW in 2021 and has been renewed for a third season.
"Y: The Last Man"
This post-apocalyptic drama starts when a mysterious force causes every mammal with a Y chromosome to suddenly drop dead — all except for one man, Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey. As Yorick navigates this new world, he's quickly caught up in the maneuvering of the new government, which struggles to reform itself after its high ranks (mostly men) are wiped out.
The series aired for one season in 2021 on FX on Hulu.
Netflix's fantasy drama takes place a decade after a pandemic wiped out most humans and led to the rise of human-animal hybrids who are feared by the remaining humans. After his father's death, young Gus, a deer-human hybrid, is saved from hunters by a traveler named Tommy. Tommy reluctantly accompanies and protects Gus on his quest all while other humans try to find a way to cure the virus.
"Sweet Tooth" airs on Netflix and has been renewed for a second season.
Airing for just one season on The CW in 2022, "Naomi" follows a superhero-fan teenager as she discovers her own powers. Naomi McDuffie sets out to investigate a paranormal event in her hometown, only to get caught up in the world of superheroes, villains, and secret plots.
The latest DC show is the long-anticipated "The Sandman," set to air on Netflix. Its main character is a powerful being known as Morpheus and Dream, among other names. After escaping from decades-long imprisonment, Dream returns to find his realm of Dreaming in disarray. As he attempts to restore his kingdom, he faces new threats with the help of new and old allies.