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Best TV Shows Based on a Comic Book Series

Comic books are invading our televisions. Never before have networks been so desperate for stories that jump off the page and into our living rooms.

By Anthony GramugliaPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

These days, it is hard to change the channel without coming across a TV show based on a comic book series. How do these TV shows match up to the comic books that inspired them? Whether you are a fan of the comic books are just enjoy good TV shows, you will find yourself drawn into these types of shows. Here we will look at some of these popular TV shows based on a comic book series, letting you know everything you need to about these hits.

Starring such names as Brandon Routh, Wentworth Miller, Victor Garber, and Dominic Purcell, this show features some of the not-so-well known heroes of what fans refer to as the “Arrowverse”. This motley crew of heroes travels through time to save the world from its enemies.

One big difference between the comic and television show can be seen in The Atom, a.k.a. Ray Palmer (played by Routh). His character is really the combination of Ray Palmer and Ted Kord. Kord was an intelligent and arrogant business man while Palmer is a calmer and more compassionate character.

Famously starring Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman along with Lyle Waggoner, this was one of the earliest of the TV shows based on a comic book series. There were a few changes from the comic books, like in the television series where Wonder Woman was a US Navy WAVE who was the secretary of Steve Trevor. In the comic books, she was a 2nd lieutenant in the US Army as well as a secretary of Colonel Darnell.

Smallville starred Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, and Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang. It featured a younger Clark Kent as he was a teenager. Probably the biggest complaint that fans have about Smallville is the fact that you never see Clark Kent in his famous cape and tights, though you do get a tease of this outfit at the end of the series. Chloe was a character that did not appear in the comics and was made just for the show though afterwards she did end up in the comics.

One of the most recent TV shows based on a comic book series, Supergirl started on CBS before joining the CW for its 2nd season. Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist star in this series with Benoist as the title heroine. Some of the major differences between the show and the comics can be found in her origin. In the comics, Kara was unaware of her cousin Kal. In the comics, Kal was responsible for looking after his infant cousin (Kara) who was sent to Earth so he could protect her.

It is important to note that this show is centered really around a young Detective Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) as he solves crime around the city including the cold case of Bruce Wayne’s (played by David Mazouz) parents.

There is no intention of Batman making an appearance in this show. The showrunners have also discussed how there would not really be a focus on characters with superhumans with unnatural powers, meaning that they did need to change some stories for certain villains.

iZombie is a highly entertaining show though you may not be aware it is among the ranks of TV shows based on a comic books series. Starring Rose McIver as Liv Moore, Rahul Kohli as Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, and Malcom Goodwin as Clive Babineaux, the biggest difference can be seen in the name of the main character.

While her name is Olivia “Liv” Moore in the show, her name in the comics is actually Gwendolyn. There is also more of a focus on the supernatural in the comics, especially as Gwen’s best friend is a ghost.

Centering around Agent Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg), this show also stars Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet. Unlike most adaptations, the differences between the comic books and the television show are a lot more subtle. In fact, Coulson was not even a part of the original comic series until after appearing in Iron Man.

The character of Nick Fury was also originally white though this was changed in the 2000s in the comic books. The last big difference is that in the comics S.H.I.E.L.D. was an ancient secret society rather than just a spy organization.

This iconic TV show based on a comic book series starred Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby as the lead character. Ferrigno played alter ego Hulk while Bixby was responsible for playing his human self David Banner. While in both the comic book and the show Banner was an extremely intelligent scientist and physician.

The most obvious difference is that David Banner’s name is Bruce Banner in the comic. He also got his powers from a lab accident rather than a failed atomic bomb test. These are just a few of the many differences between the show and the comics.

Stephen Amell stars as the main character Oliver Queen / The Arrow along with Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity. This popular show does have a lot of differences between the show and the comic book series. For one, Felicity Smoak was a manager at a software company rather than being a star hacker that we see on the show today. Another big difference is that Arrow’s trusted partner, John Diggle, was not actually in the comics. In the show, his family drives his need to change the world while they are not even a big part of the comics.

As an anthology series, the only consistent character in each episode was the Crypt Keeper, who was voiced by John Kassir. Many big names today made an appearance on this show, such as Kelly Preston, Patricia Arquette, Steven Buscemi, and Christopher Reeve. While this is one of the most classic TV shows based on a comic book series, a lot of the episodes were also based on other works from EC comics. There were several additional adaptations of this, including a reboot that is expected later this year.

One of the first Marvel comics to be turned into a Netflix series, Daredevil was highly anticipated despite the fear of quality based on the movie release. Charlie Cox stars as Matt Murdock (Daredevil), a blind lawyer who is trying to make his city a better place.

A lot of the main characters are pretty accurate to the comic book series but there are still some differences. For instance, Claire Temple was not seen with Daredevil in the comics as she was a sidekick for Luke Cage.

The Flash is one of the more recent and popular TV shows based on a comic book series. Starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen /The Flash, this adaptation has quite a few differences from its comic book series.

For one thing, Caitlin Snow was a doctor who had only recently started the transformation to Killer Frost. Cisco Ramon may be a funny and lovable character in the television show but he was actually a gang leader in the comics. Lastly, his powers did not come from an accident with the Power Accelerator.

Krysten Ritter stars as the title heroine of this Netflix series. The first season also starred popular actor David Tennant as Killgrave. Among the differences between the comic book and the television series, the story of Killgrave and Jessica Jones in the present time does stray from its source material.

Jessica Jones had to fight to prove Killgrave’s powers in the show while in the comics he escaped from jail with everyone knowing his abilities. Luke Cage also was very different, as his character in the comics was already a hero rather than someone hiding from his powers.

The Walking Dead is easily among the most popular of TV shows based on a comic book series. This ensemble cast features stars such as Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, and Norman Reedus. There are many differences between the comics and the television show, which was done purposely by the creators. One big difference is that the popular character of Daryl Dixon was not a character in the comics. Carol was also not quite the powerful character as she is in the series and had committed suicide earlier on in the comics.


About the Creator

Anthony Gramuglia

Obsessive writer fueled by espresso and drive. Into speculative fiction, old books, and long walks. Follow me at

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    Anthony GramugliaWritten by Anthony Gramuglia

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