Say what you will about Superman being too white bread, but on TV he has never failed...

I just was thinking while writing on the Superboy thread that Superman has had his ups and downs in movies and comics, but one era where he has never failed to deliver is in television.

Superman of the 50’s, Superboy, Lois and Clark and Smallville have all been successes. Yes Superboy does not hold up well and it’s lack of being able to be re-run after it’s initial airing has left it mostly forgotten by the masses, but it was still a hit. And all of those shows ran for 100 episodes or more except for Lois and Clark but at 4 seasons and 87 episodes it was hardly a failure and was a hit show in it’s day.

Supergirl is still on the air but at 4 seasons it is going to at least tie Lois and Clark but I think it is safe to say will almost surely make it to another seasons and likely 100 episodes or more. It may be criticized by some for it’s preaching and politics but it is a hit by any stretch.

And Krypton is still only gearing up for season 2, so it could possibly hit a wall and fail, and given SyFy’s track record is not likely to get 100 episodes when all is said and done. But so far has been a hit for SyFy and well recieved by the public despite it’s rocky start behind the scenes and initial skepticism.

So as of now despite Superman (and his world in general) having more adaptions than any other superhero by far on TV, he currently has 100% success record. Even in a time when Superhero and Sci-fi shows in general were a risky gambit that usually failed, Superman has always delivered a hit show.

Even Batman can’t claim that as Birds of Prey was a one season failure, leaving him 2 for 3, and while Wonder Woman arguably is one of the best TV series adaptions of a comic book, but her other two attempts at a TV show have failed to take off and by all accounts were not good.

Superman may not be Batman in terms of popularity and has had more duds the successes in the movies (although the ones that have worked have worked great), but seems he has conquered TV if nothing else.


Also Smallville lasted far longer than anyone expected is the reason we have 5+ shows up on the cw

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Yeah I mean even then when people doubted Smallville would last, I said “so far every Superman show on TV has been a success so I would not bet against it” But I had no idea it would do 10 years, hell when it came out everyone was still on that “Sci-Fi shows have to aim for exactly 7 years” kick that everyone had after Star Trek TNG ended. Yeah, part of it was it was on WB which had lower expectations as far as ratings and few other hit shows, so as long as they could keep it in budget and Tom Welling was willing to stay on, they couldn’t afford to cancel it. If it had been on the Big 4 networks it never would have been on so long.

But still… 10 years is 10 years. Smallville showed a superhero show could be a big success and that you don’t have to skimp on comic book conections for people to get into it, especially in it’s later half. Definitely a head of it’s time and I think it could be a long time before another superhero show makes it 10 years and/or over 200 episodes.

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Don’t forget Superman: The Animated Series. That’s my favorite Superman starring TV show, regardless of live action or animated.


It was a great show :slight_smile:


It is a great show. “Apokolips, Now!” is my favorite episode.


Lessee …

104 Episodes of Adventures of Superman
1 Superboy Pilot (1961)
1 Musical (It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman!, 1975 - based on the Broadway musical from 1966)
100 Episodes of Superboy
1 50th Anniversary Special (1988)
87 Episodes of Lois & Clark
217 Episodes of Smallville

… plus Supergirl and Krypton … ?

Oh yeah, Big Blue crushes the competition. As he should.


… and that’s just Live Action TV!

(I wish we could edit on these boards)


The Man of Steel certainly does “crush” it on the small screen. And I think there’s a simple reason for this. TV is a more “intimate” medium than movies, and as such has the capacity to further explore character. With Superman being nearly omnipotent, his on-screen adventures tend to be more fantastic and unbelievable. This approach may not work with all audiences. But any true fan of Superman knows that is greatest strength–his most “fantastic power”–is his compassion. Superman cares about everyone. This empathy can be more extensively explored on the small screen where episodic storytelling can flesh out a character. The 1950’s Adventures of Superman was made on the proverbial shoe string budget so the writers were “forced” to produce character-driven stories that showcased Superman’s true spirit. In the episode “Around The World With Superman” our hero engenders belief and hope in a sightless child, detects the cause of her malady, assists in the the delicate operation to restore her sight, flies her around the world on a guided tour and reunites her “shattered” family (all done in a mere twenty five minutes). If that story does not resonate with you, your heart would have to be made of ice.


Will say I forgot about the musical, I have no idea what kind of ratings it got but probably wouldn’t qualify as a “hit” based on what I have heard and it’s current reputation. And the Superboy pilot from the 60’s and Superpup never got picked up, although I guess we could argue we don’t know for a fact that they wouldn’t have succeeded had they been picked up. So maybe not quite 100%

But still as far as series that got picked up… 100% success rate assuming Krypton doesn’t jump the shark in the near future. Still a way better track record then most, hell Batman had the failed Batgirl pilot and Birds of Prey fail, and Wonder Woman had had 2 failed pilots for one hit show. Not knocking them of course, the hits were some of the best super hero tv shows ever made, but 2 failed polits and on failed special vs 6 hit shows and over 500 episodes combined and counting… definitely speaks for itself.

Superpup…lol, what a dumb, nightmare fuel for kids idea that was. Fun to see though.


My favorite Superman portrayal still is Christopher Reeve, but the Superman from Superman vs the Elite comes in a close second.


Superpup was something else, love that they just decided to make it because they had the sets… guess there are worse ideas but didn’t lose any sleep wondering why it never got picked up.

The Superboy pilot wasn’t horrible though, I could have seen it working. Wonder if there is any chance of those two pilots ever making their way on here.

By the way since this has sparked a talk of Superman in TV and movies… thought I would let everyone know a while back there was a book called Superman vs Hollywood… think it is still on Amazon and some of you might want to check it out, it was an interesting read.

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