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Top 10 TV Series Based on the DC Universe

VO: Dan Paradis WRITTEN BY: Alex Crilly-Mckean
Superhero movies are cool, but these shows prove that TV series can kick all kinds of ass too. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 TV series based on the DC Universe. For this list, we’re looking both at animated and live-action television series that show off the best of what the DC Universe and its superheroes have to offer. Keep in mind we won’t be including collections of short films, like the 1940s Superman cartoon franchise. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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Superhero movies are cool, but these shows prove that TV series can kick all kinds of ass too. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 TV series based on the DC Universe.

For this list, we’re looking both at animated and live-action television series that show off the best of what the DC Universe and its superheroes have to offer. Keep in mind we won’t be including collections of short films, like the 1940s Superman cartoon franchise.

#10: “Arrow” (2012-)

Oliver Queen may’ve had his fair share of awesome moments in his animated appearances, but this show really introduced the Emerald Archer to the mainstream! It makes excellent use of dual-timelines to tell two related stories. The main thread gives viewers a dark and compelling tale about the birth of a vigilante trying to defend his city against those corrupting it. The second, set five years earlier, fills in gaps about what happened to make Oliver Queen the way he is. It also serves as the launching pad for the CW’s “Arrowverse,” the interconnected superhero shows that have come to include series like “Supergirl” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” Talk about hitting the mark!

#9: “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” (2012-13)

Travelling across the furthest reaches of Frontier Space, this is the series that finally did justice to the character of Hal Jordan. Along with his companion Kilowog, the conscious A.I Aya and a maverick Red Lantern by the name of Razer, Green Lantern takes on every threat the galaxy can throw at him. Baddies like the Red Lantern Corp and the all-powerful Anti-Monitor provide a genuine threat, but the series also maintains a sense of fun that shows a genuine love for its source material. Even in the blackest night of the flop that was the Ryan Reynolds abomination, the light of this animated series shines through.

#8: “Batman Beyond” (1999-2001)

Those under the mask may change, but the legend never dies. That’s the theme of this exceptional show set in the future. As a new era calls for a new Batman, the cowl is passed down to Terry McGinnis, a streetwise rebel. Taken under the wing of an elderly Bruce Wayne, McGinnis is charged with defending Gotham from a new generation of villains. With a badass futuristic suit, nostalgic callbacks to the classic series and a gripping dynamic between the two leads, the Second Dark Knight proved to be a welcome addition to the Bat-Family.

#7: “The Flash” (2014-)

Superheroes these days often prefer to tread on the grittier side of the spectrum, which is all well and good. Still, no one can deny that the arrival of Barry Allen and all the brilliantly bizarre villains he brought with him was a welcome relief. As the fastest man alive, The Flash takes things to the next level by giving us one hell of a charming lead, and tackling even the cheesiest of story concepts with zero fear. Parallel dimensions, alternate timelines, even cameos from Mark Hamill - we’ve come to wholeheartedly embrace the fun that The Flash brings in the blink of an eye.

#6: “Smallville” (2001-11)

We’re all familiar with the Man of Steel and his rogues gallery, but what about Clark Kent? “Smallville” focuses on the early life of the farm boy who would one day don the cape. It follows Clark’s escapades through school and his career at the Daily Planet, all the while trying to come to grips with his incredible powers. While there are plenty of villains, including a young but still maniacal Lex Luthor, the series brought Superman’s greatest strength to the forefront - his humanity and good-nature - for a ten-season run.

#5: “Batman” (1966-68)

Holy classic, Batman! It’s all too easy these days to make fun of just how campy and cheesy this show was – but that was the point. The show celebrated its campiness. Besides, the truth remains that Adam West’s early interpretation of the World’s Greatest Detective is iconic in its own way. Without West, we may not have gotten the modern portrayals that we adore so much. Besides, there’s still plenty here to enjoy with the Caped Crusader and Robin taking on the slightly less menacing but all too entertaining versions of their archenemies.

#4: “Teen Titans” (2003-06)

Anime-inspired visuals, brilliant storytelling, and a dynamic choice of characters – what’s not to love? This group of sidekicks and minor heroes more than managed to prove their worth as they defended their new home of Jump City from countless supervillains. The action was always on point, its humor remained quirky and upbeat, and it certainly wasn’t afraid to go to some dark places when it came to its narratives. We won’t be forgetting villains like Slade, Red X and Control Freak anytime soon. But above all else we’ll remember Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy for just how much they gelled as a team. However, we’ll also pretend Teen Titans Go doesn’t exist…

#3: “Justice League” franchise (2001-06)

Talk about epic. Marvel’s cinematic universe established the trend for crossovers on the big screen, but the Justice League beat them to it on TV. The likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and a host of other DC legends joined forces to protect the world from all manner of threats in “Justice League” and its successor series “Justice League Unlimited”. The shows gave us incredible action, mature narratives that took the time to dive into the psyches of the cast, and more iconic DC characters than one fan could possibly handle. This incarnation of the JLA may never be dethroned. How can you beat a franchise that had both a cryogenically frozen Hitler and Batman singing “Am I Blue?”

#2: “Young Justice” (2010-)

To its hardcore and very vocal fans, this is one of modern animation’s greatest love letters to all things DC. While the series certainly wasn’t afraid to include members of the original Justice League, the true focus remained on their younger protégés. Superboy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin, Miss Martian and many others not only had their own fair share of supervillains to defeat; they also had to contend with the troubles that came with being both a superhero and a hormonal teenager. And they dealt with all of this while learning to work together as a cohesive unit. It’s a beautifully realized series.

Before we reveal our number one pick, here are few honorable mentions.

- “Static Shock” (2000-04)

- “Superman: The Animated Series” (1996-2000)

- “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (2008-11)


#1: “Batman: The Animated Series” franchise (1992-99)

He is vengeance; he is the night; he is the face of one of the greatest animated series of all time. While previous versions of the Dark Knight had chosen to shy away from his edgier aspects, “Batman: The Animated Series” embraced Bruce Wayne’s troubled mind. This resulted in narratives filled with complex villains, dramatic themes, and some truly harrowing moments. It proved that an animated series could have just as much impact as its live-action counterparts and not have to pander to a young demographic. Many still believe this to be the definitive Batman, and its success paved the way for the rest of the DC Universe on TV, including the sequel series “The New Batman Adventures.”
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