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Dara Berkey’s Top 13 Comic Book TV Shows

Not unbelievably, all of my favorite TV shows are cartoons (based on comic books) or anime (based on Japanese manga). Not that the live-action ones are not good but I just like the animated stuff better sometimes (okay most of the time). Through this list you can tell that I was grew up in the 1990s and 2000s and why I am so fond of the DC superheroes but oh so disappointed in the direction that they were taken it.  I was spoiled by the DCAU. Just saying. Out of all of them, Avatar and Korra are the only two that are not based on a comic book or a manga, but they were so good that I just had to add them on the list. 

13. Avatar:  The Last Airbender


Avatar: The Last Airbender was an awesome cartoon series on Nick. Even though there was long stretches of time between new episodes in the States, it was a grand tale of good versus evil.  Aang was a character that you could relate to—he’s kind and patient and didn’t like to fight but did anyway. Zuko was the character who needed redemption but not by his father but by his own self. It was a great story, if not a bit cliché at the end with Aang and Katara winding up together. I liked that the creators expanded on after the series with a series of comic books that explained some things from the end of ATLA and the beginning of the LOK.

12. The Legend of Korra


The Legend of Korra was the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, centered on Aang’s successor and reincarnation, Korra. Korra was super bada$$ and she went through some seriously rough stuff through her four seasons. The expansion of the Avatar/Korra universe was amazing. I still love the episodes about the first Avatar—they were two of my favorite episodes. The callbacks to the first series were sweet The inclusive of spirits was a very good idea—and I’m glad that the Airbenders got a second life after the end of season 2. I’m still hoping that there’s another sequel somewhere in the creators’ minds.

11. X-Men:  The Animated Series


I loved the X-Men: The Animated Series. It was a part of my Saturday morning routine.  Remember when you couldn’t DVR everything that you missed or get everything OnDemand?  Naturally, in this series, Jubilee was my favorite character because she was the youngest one. The rest were mostly adults.  Of course, Rogue had the powers of Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers during this series. The best thing about it, they were not shy in mentioning the other parts of the Marvel Universe—like Captain America, Ms. Marvel and such. 

10. X-Men:  Evolution


I know, I know. It’s silly. But I think I identified with the X-Men more depicted as younger than I did when they were older. X-Men:  Evolution cemented my love of Rogue. I also found Jean Grey so, so annoying and to this day, I still do, even in the X-Men movies and comics. I don’t know why. Nightcrawler and others characters got their days to shine. Kitty Pryde was also a great character that I loved and that made me what to learn more about her character in the comics.  Friendships that are like family always get to me.

9. Yu Yu Hakusho


Yu Yu Hakusho is one of my favorite anime. Spirit detectives, demons, fighting tournaments, and great characters. Yusuke, Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama were my favorites.  Kuwabara gets regulated to the background but he’s such a good guy, a good friend to Yusuke, that I admire his character traits greatly. Hiei is full of angst and despair and Kurama is highly complicated. Yusuke is a jerk with a heart of gold.

The use and talk about spirit energy, demon energy and such set up for Bleach’s expansion to spiritual pressure, hollows, etc. as well as Naruto’s depiction of chakra and One Piece’s haki. Yu Yu Hakusho is a shorter anime than something like Naruto or Bleach but its 100+ episodes are worth it. The creator also has another series Hunter X Hunter, which also is very good too and much longer and surprisingly darker.

8. Sailor Moon


Sailor Moon will always have a special place in my heart. There was something mystifying about Sailor Moon to me as a little girl. Even now, I’ll put on one of the Sailor Moon movies just for the hell of it and still enjoy it even if it is a little cliché. When Sailor Moon’s manga was reprinted recently, I collected all of them and fell in love with it all over again. (The manga is way better than the original anime—I haven’t gotten around to watch the new anime though).

My favorites were the Outer Planet Scouts—Saturn, Pluto, Uranus and Neptune. I think they were just a little more serious than the Sailor Moon and the main Scouts.

7. One Piece


One Piece is never going to end. As I wrote in my list about my favorite characters, I love Monkey D. Luffy. Also I enjoy pirates. I also like that Eiichiro Oda definitely calls back to the Golden Age of Pirates in real life history (I wrote my senior seminar paper on the historical Blackbeard and know a great deal about piracy in the Atlantic). One Piece is long though, so I tend to take a break from it and let the manga volumes pile up before binging it again.  It’s equal parts serious and silly.  It’s a great heir to DBZ.

The Strawhat crew, all of them, are awesome characters. Luffy naturally is my favorite character, but Nico Robin, the historian and archeologist of the crew, is my second favorite. Luffy managed to gathered a group of people who are such experts in their specialty (be it cooking, navigation, sharpshooting, singing, research, swordsmanship, inventing, medicine) but also will follow him to the ends of the world to achieve their dreams and his dream of being Pirate King. I love them. 

6. Dragonball Z


Like Sailor Moon, DBZ will always have a special place in my heart. I’m not saying that the series didn’t have its problems, especially after the Freeza arc and the continued flanderization of Goku’s character. The fights sometimes dragged on, but there were moments of greatness there. I will always love the show. The only reason that it’s higher than One Piece is due to DBZ started my love of action shounen anime.

Gohan was my favorite character until he became high school student. I will never forgive him becoming the Great Saiyanman. Never. 

5. Static Shock


I told you I was spoiled by the DCAU. Even though, Static Shock was shorter than the other shows in the DCAU. I liked Static’s character. Virgil Hawkins is a good character and a hero learning to come into his own.  The whole premise was good. I’d liked to see Static back in the comics sometime soon, too.

His side characters were also compelling. Virgil’s sister’s relationship with one of the Bang Babies was well-done and heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. Richie was the best, best friend ever, and he even managed to become a hero in his own right. Virgil was like DC’s version of the kid hero, who had to balance his life in a precarious way, as a hero, as a student, as a son and a brother and as a friend.

4. Pokemon


Of course, Pokemon is on this list. Pokemon was my obsession when I was a little girl. I collected the cards, played the video games, and watched the anime. Pokemon was pretty damn amazing to me when I was little. Even sometimes, when I hear about some piece of Pokemon news, I get thrown back into its fandom against my will for a while. I’m actually planning on getting either Sun or Moon versions just so I can battle Red or Green/Blue in the game.

Charizard was my favorite Pokemon ever, in the anime and in the games. I picked Charmander as my start when the Red version just first hit the US. The fact was that Ash’s Charizard was the one Pokemon aside from Pikachu, Bulbasaur and Squirtle to have actual character arcs. I don’t know I think I just want an actual fire-breathing dragon or something.

3. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited


To me, this is how the Justice League is supposed act. Both shows had many different heroes and villains throughout the series. This sparked my interest in heroes also than the main ones—like Vigilante and Shining Knight, Vixen and others. There were plotlines followed and consequences to actions.

My favorite episode will always be “Clash” where Superman fought Captain Marvel/Shazam and he called the League on their sh!t. The fact was that with Luthor and Waller working together, the Justice League was looking worse and worse in the eyes of the public. And they all admitted that the younger hero was right.

2. Batman Beyond


Even though it was only a couple of seasons, the legacy of Batman continued in the DCAU. (Noted that this was created before the return of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s son Damian Wayne, who I’m sure would take offense to not being Batman after his father). Terry McGinnis was never a Robin, which I think is important to him and his character. Any time he went undercover, he always had a Bronx accent, which was hilarious. We learn that through some crazy Amanda Waller scheme that biologically Terry and his little brother Matt were Bruce’s sons. Batman/Terry McGinnis has his own problems and villains—like Blight, Shriek, Inque and Ten. I love this show.

1. Batman: The Animated Series


Last but not least we have what I think is classic Batman. Batman: The Animated Series started the DC Animated Universe. To me, this is how Batman is supposed to be. Yes, he’s dark and broody, but he cares. Batman: The Animated Series took Batman to whole new level. The storytelling was great. We had Batman. We had Batgirl. We had a component Commissioner Gordon. We had Dick Grayson as Robin.

Batman: The Animated Series’s Joker was the best and will remain the best of all the depictions of the Joker to do. Harley Quinn was created for this show and look at what happened to her popularity since then. There were actual crime-fighting in this series. Batman worked with the police against the organised gangs and the supervillains alike. Everyone needs to watch this series. It’s so important to the history of Batman.

My favourite shows are all cartoons. I’m a big kid, what can I say? Who else loved these shows? I’m sure there’s a ton of you all out there. There are others that I liked but were not totally formative to me like Teen Titans and non-comic book stuff that I didn’t add to the list, though. I have a lot of different areas of interest, so even though comic books and manga/anime were so important, I liked regular stuff too.

What are you favourite television shows? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Dara Berkey

Superhero nerd. History nerd. Favorite personal hero--Shazam/The Original Captain Marvel. Favorite female hero--Any of the Batgirls. Favorite male hero, other than Shazam--Any of the Robins.