7 Comic Books-Inspired TV Shows

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Comic books have long been a source of inspiration for television shows, captivating audiences with their unique storytelling and imaginative worlds. In this article, we explore seven TV shows that draw their inspiration from the pages of comic books, bringing beloved characters and compelling narratives to life on the small screen. Join us as we delve into the thrilling and visually stunning worlds of these comic book-inspired TV shows, each with its own distinct blend of action, drama, and thought-provoking storytelling.

1. The Sandman

The Sandman

Based on the acclaimed comic book series by Neil Gaiman, The Sandman is a dark fantasy drama that follows the adventures of Dream, the personification of dreams, and his siblings, the Endless. The show explores the complex and mysterious relationship between Dream and the humans who enter his realm, as well as his conflicts with other supernatural beings. The show was in development for a long time and has a stellar cast that includes Tom Sturridge as Dream, Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, and Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew the Raven. The show was faithful to the source material, and covered the first three volumes of the comic book series: Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll’s House, and Dream Country. According to Gaiman (2020), the show will also incorporate elements from other works related to The Sandman universe, such as The Books of Magic and Lucifer.

2. Invincible

Invincible on the Zebra Comics Blog

Based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Invincible is an animated superhero show that follows the life of Mark Grayson, a teenager who inherits superpowers from his father, Omni-Man, the most powerful hero on Earth. However, Mark soon discovers that his father is not the noble hero he thought he was, and that he is part of a sinister alien race that plans to conquer the planet. Mark must then decide whether to follow in his father’s footsteps or oppose him and protect humanity. The show features a star-studded voice cast that includes Steven Yeun as Mark, J.K. Simmons as Omni-Man, Sandra Oh as Debbie Grayson, Zazie Beetz as Amber Bennett, Gillian Jacobs as Atom Eve, and Seth Rogen as Allen the Alien. The show is praised for its mature and realistic portrayal of superheroes, as well as its brutal and bloody action scenes. Kirkman (2021) stated that the show will follow the comic book series “very closely”, but will also make some changes to surprise the fans.

3. Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth on the Zebra Comics Blog

Sweet Tooth is based on the comic book series by Jeff Lemire. It is a post-apocalyptic adventure that follows Gus, a young boy who is part human and part deer. Gus lives in a secluded forest with his father, who warns him of the dangers of the outside world. However, after his father’s death, Gus decides to leave his home and explore the world. Along the way, he meets other hybrid children like him, who are hunted by ruthless humans who blame them for a deadly virus that wiped out most of humanity. Gus also encounters Jepperd, a mysterious loner who promises to take him to a safe haven called “The Preserve”. The show is produced by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, and stars Christian Convery as Gus, Nonso Anozie as Jepperd, Adeel Akhtar as Dr. Singh, Will Forte as Gus’ father, and James Brolin as the narrator. The show is described as a “family-friendly” version of the comic book series, with more humour and optimism. Lemire (2020) expressed his satisfaction with the adaptation and was particularly happy with the character of Aimee Eden (Dania Ramirez), the mother figure to the hybrids that was added to the world.

4. Y: The Last Man

Based on the comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man is a dystopian drama that follows Yorick Brown, the only male human survivor of a mysterious plague that killed all other mammals with a Y chromosome. Yorick travels across a chaotic world with his pet monkey Ampersand, trying to find his girlfriend Beth and discover the cause of the plague. Along the way, he meets various women who have different agendas for him, such as Agent 355, a secret agent who protects him; Dr Allison Mann, a geneticist who studies him; Hero Brown, his sister who joins a radical feminist group; and Victoria, a former politician who leads a cult. The show stars Ben Schnetzer as Yorick, Diane Lane as Jennifer Brown (Yorick’s mother), Ashley Romans as Agent 355, Olivia Thirlby as Hero Brown, Marin Ireland as Nora Brady, Amber Tamblyn as Victoria, and Elliot Fletcher as Sam Jordan. The show does its best to be faithful to the comic book series, but also modifies some aspects to reflect modern issues. Vaughan praised FX’s live-action adaptation on Hulu, saying the live-action is even better than the source material.

5. The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy on the Zebra Comics blog

A Netflix original series based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. The Umbrella Academy follows a dysfunctional family of adopted siblings who have superpowers and have to work together to prevent an apocalypse. The first two seasons were well-received by critics and audiences alike, and the third season introduced new characters and plot twists. The show includes actors such as Elliot Page as Vanya Hargreeves, Tom Hopper as Luther Hargreeves, David Castañeda as Diego Hargreeves, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Allison Hargreeves, Robert Sheehan as Klaus Hargreeves, Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, and Justin H. Min as Ben Hargreeves. The Umbrella Academy is an example of how comic books can offer a fresh and creative perspective on the superhero genre, by subverting the tropes and expectations of the typical superhero team.

6. The Boys

The Boys on the Zebra Comics blog

The Boys is based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, which depicts a world where superheroes are corrupted by fame and power, and a group of vigilantes who try to expose their crimes. The Boys is known for its dark humour, graphic violence, and social commentary, and has been praised for its satire and realism. The cast of the show “The Boys” includes actors such as Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell, Antony Starr as Homelander, Erin Moriarty as Annie January, Jessie T. Usher as A-Train, Laz Alonso as Mother’s Milk, and Chace Crawford as The Deep. The Boys shows us how comic books can offer a critical and cynical view on the superhero genre, by showing the dark side and consequences of having superpowers.

7. Locke & Key

Locke & Key on the Zebra Comics blog

Locke & Key is based on the comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez. It follows a family who moves into a mysterious house that contains magical keys that grant various abilities. Locke & Key is a blend of fantasy, horror, and mystery, and has been praised for its imagination and suspense. The cast of the show “Locke and Key” has actors such as Darby Stanchfield as Nina Locke, Connor Jessup as Tyler Locke, Emilia Jones as Kinsey Locke, Jackson Robert Scott as Bode Locke, Petrice Jones as Scot Cavendish, and Hallea Jones as Eden Hawkins. Featuring magical elements and mysteries coupled with a touch of family-centric themes, Locke & Key is a great example of how comic books can offer a whimsical and adventurous view of non-superhero characters.


These seven comic book-inspired TV shows have not only captivated audiences with their compelling narratives and stunning visuals but have also showcased the diverse and expansive worlds that can stem from comic books. While many of these shows have found their homes on popular streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, it’s essential to acknowledge the growing presence of other platforms that publish digital comics.

One such platform is Zebra Comics, which focuses on publishing African comics and showcasing the vibrant storytelling and artistic talent from the African continent. As we witness the rise of adaptations of African comics like “Iwaju” by Kugali Media and “The Vanguard Universe” by Comic Republic making their way to the small screen, it’s evident that African comic book adaptations are on the horizon. With the increasing recognition and demand for diverse voices and narratives, it’s only a matter of time before we see a surge of African comics gracing our screens, offering fresh and culturally rich perspectives for viewers worldwide.

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In the next few years, we can expect an exciting wave of African comics to make their mark in the television landscape, further enriching the ever-expanding world of comic book-inspired TV shows.

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