10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

It’s just a fact that not all comics should be movies — sometimes only TV can properly capture the scope of these stories. (I mean, you’re not going to get all 75 issues of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman in a movie, or even three.) At the same time, only a few comics could be adapted to television in a way that wouldn’t suck, let alone be popular with the mass audience that would make such a show feasible. So with all that in mind, here are 10 comic books that would only work on television — and have a damn good chance of being actual hits.

1) Ms. Marvel

Let’s go ahead and get the most obvious candidate out of the way, shall we? The best new Marvel character of the millennium (so far) is already so popular and so obviously great that she’s had rumours of a TV series in development years before Marvel even planned on putting Captain Marvel in theatres. A young girl fighting crime and villains on the mean streets of Jersey City, balancing being a hero with school and her family? A positive representation of Muslims in America? Frankly, limiting Ms. Marvel to a movie would be a waste. We need Kamala Khan in our living room once a week, 26 weeks a year, in order to get the full extent of her family, her world, and her adventures. Admittedly, a live-action TV series would likely have to forgo the giant, teleporting Inhuman dog Lockjaw and most of her training with the Inhumans, but that’s a small price to pay.

2) Midnighter

One of DC’s most underrated comics, Midnighter stars the former member of Stormwatch and the Authority, who was essentially created as “gay Batman,” in a romantic relationship with the Superman equivalent Apollo. In his newest series, written by Steve Orlando, Midnighter and Apollo have broken up, leaving Midnighter to find his identity… and beat the hell out of many bad guys along the way. He’s like Batman with a sense of humour and a willingness to engage in healthy relationships. And because his powers mainly involve enhanced strength and speed, and mild precognition, all you really need for SFX is to show him kicking absolute arse. Seriously, check out this comic. And, if you’re a TV executive, give Warner Bros. a call.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

3) The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

“Oh ho!” you say. “But Sabrina the Teenage Witch has already had a TV show, and it wasn’t that good!” you say. Well, true, but I’m not talking about that Sabrina; I’m talking about the current reboot from Archie Comics and Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa, titled The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which has taken the formerly family friendly series and injected full-blown Satanism into it. Yes, these witches worship the devil and have some pretty sinister rites; as a half-witch half-human, Sabrina is torn between the world of dark magic and regular teenage life. People die. Corpses are raised. People more evil than Sabrina’s satanic aunts are on the loose, and they want Sabrina dead. This could be an instant high school drama/horror hit.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

4) Sex Criminals

As much as we love Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Hawkeye, we understand that Marvel is never going to take Jeremy Renner out of the movies and put him on TV. But that’s ok, because Fraction has another comic perfect for a TV series… as long as that series is on pay cable, because an adaptation of Sex Criminals needs to be as MA-rated as Game of Thrones is (if not Skinemax After Dark). The tale of a couple who discover they can stop time when they have sex — and use this power to robs banks — Sex Criminals is utterly absurd, hilariously funny, and realistically sexy. Plus, about the only real “superpower” effect that would need to be used is pausing time, which would be well within an HBO budget.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

5) Mind MGMT

Remember when Lost was at the top of its game, and it was full of compelling characters and mysteries you were dying to see solved? Well, Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT is, in that sense, like Lost. It’s an epic conspiracy series starring a true crime writer named Meru who investigates a plane flight where all the passengers get amnesia at once, which gets her mixed up in an unsolved plane crash, and a shadowy government organisation where the agents seem to have psychic abilities. Honestly, Fringe might be a better comparison than Lost, but to the comic’s fans, the story is as compelling as Lost was at its height. Any TV network would be lucky to adapt this.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

6) Lumberjanes

If you mention the hit series Lumberjanes and a TV adaptation, I think most people immediately think about a cartoon version, which would be great! Artist Brooke Allen’s fantastic designs are screaming to be animated, and this story about a group of young girls stuck at a summer camp full of supernatural mysteries and monsters would be a perfect companion piece to brilliant but accessible series like Steven Universe and Adventure Time. It would also work as a live-action show for kids, complete with monsters of the week. Just make sure you either hire writers Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, and Grace Ellis, or someone who recognises how perfect their writing is, because a bad adaptation of Lumberjanes would be a crime.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

7) She-Hulk

When Charlie Jane did a list of comics that could be shows, she mentioned She-Hulk immediately, and rightly so. As a lawyer of the superhero world, She-Hulk both prosecutes and defends superheroes and supervillains for a mix of humour and drama. Just think of all the lawyer shows that have dominated TV over the past two decades! Combining that with the superhero craze is a recipe for success, and Jennifer Walters wouldn’t even need to Hulk out that much in order to capture an audience. I’m sure Marvel would be a little dicey about suddenly giving Bruce Banner a cousin when it still seems to be trying to figure out how to handle the Hulk in the movie-verse, but if Howard the Duck can be part of the MCU, surely Shulkie can.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

8) Astro City

Kurt Busiek’s acclaimed superhero series has had a movie in development more than once, but never a TV series. I think this is the wrong decision. The real power of Astro City is in its entirety, the massive world and cast of characters that Busiek has created. Sure, a movie could do justice to maybe one or two of the story arcs, but would that be better than seeing all sides of the city through a long-running TV series? I think not. Yes, Astro City is likely the most difficult series on this list to adapt, given all the special effects that would be needed for the heroes. However, by sticking to the Astro City stories that are seen through the eyes of the normal people, the show could minimise these costs, while providing a fresh take on the superhero genre mass audiences would find fascinating.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

9) Fables

You know how I know a show based on Bill Willigham and Mark Buckingham’s epic Fables comic would work? It’s because Once Upon a Time is almost exactly the same show — just way worse — and it’s on season 5. Fables might not be first story about fairy tale characters living in the real world, but it’s absolutely the best. In fact, both NBC and ABC had a Fables show in development at one point, then changed their minds, and then aired different fairy tales-are-real shows: Grimm and Once Upon a Time, respectively. Fables sets itself apart with its huge cast, elaborate relationships and backstory, and it’s perfect mix of drama, comedy, action, and whimsy. Plus, it has the romance between Snow White and Bigby the Big Bad Wolf, one of the best relationships in comics. CBS, do yourself a favour and get the real deal.

10 Comics That Absolutely Must Be TV Series, NOT Movies

10) Harley Quinn

Yes, Harley Quinn is about to make her movie debut in the Suicide Squad movie, but Warner Bros.’ only real rule seems to be that Batman and Superman aren’t allowed on TV. So it’s within the realm of possibility that Harley could have her own show, assuming she stayed away from the Batman universe. Luckily, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are writing exactly that in their current Harley Quinn comic, as Harley reclaims herself after he lengthy, abusive relationship with the Joker, moves to Brooklyn, and somehow becomes a landlord for a building full of oddballs (and many, many pets) while hiring herself out as a bounty hunter, bodyguard, babysitter, or whatever, to people who need cash. The comic would translate to TV so easily, with each weekly adventure being a mix of comedy, drama, and splatstick violence. Look, Harley’s too great a character to waste as the Joker’s “love” interest — give this Harley her shot on TV, and soon everyone will agree.


  • Archie. As a Disney Afternoon style cartoon. Imagine Recess, but they are teenagers instead. Lot of great personalities and stories they could do. And they could base it on the new comics.

  • You missed one; Watchmen.

    I know there is a movie but I think the size of it would be better if done as a TV series.

    Then again, I haven’t seen the movie as I like the comic and don’t want it tarnished by a bad adaptation.

    It’s the same reasoning why I haven’t seen Star Trek 6 yet as I don’t want it to mar the good journey I’m having in TNG.

    EDIT: Sorry everyone, I mean the mythical Star Trek 5. It doesn’t exist but some still say otherwise.

      • [Straps Weresmurf to a chair and attempts to re-educate him]

        I’m afraid you have given the wrong answer, Mr. Weresmurf.

        When asked what Star Trek 6 is like, the correct answer is, “There is not, nor ever was, a Star Trek 6; the TNG movies start after Star Trek 5.

        • *uses a dakh’tag to cut free* “P’TAKH! STAR TREK 5 DOES NOT EXIST! DO NOT SAY IT IN MY PRESENCE! EVER!”

          It goes…

          Star Trek 2….. 3,4,6,7,8 and we’re still waiting for another one since First Contact…

          • [Face Palms]

            Sorry, it’s been a rough day and I got the numbers wrong. I meant 5, the one directed by William Shatner(-ed all over the franchise).

            Though truth be told, I’m still *far* behind. I’m only two thirds of the way through Season 3 of TNG and have only seen the first four movies.

            I have tried more than once to binge TNG but after watching three episodes in one sitting I can’t seem to watch a forth or more until the next day.

            Favourite episode so far (at least to me) has got to be The Measure of a Man.

          • lol. TNG got better around season 3, that’s when they serialised the storylines giving it season long arcs. Before that it was ‘weird shit of the week’. DS9 is where it’s at though 😉

          • I recently watched all ST tv in chronological order starting with the underrated Enterprise rolling onto OS then TNG with alternating episodes for the last two seasons with DS9 and finishing up with my favourite Captain, Kathy. Can’t wait for the new show next year.

          • Still gotta have 3 in there given 2 3 and 4 are really one gigantic long movie. 3 is the much much much lesser of the 3, but its still part of the ‘trilogy’…

            Heh… 2 4 6 8 When will Trek movies stop being great “With 9. because ten is ass.” Awwwww.

    • The Watchmen movie wasnt bad. There were a couple of things left out, but on the whole it was as good an adaptation as you could reasonably expect. And visually it was very reminiscent of the books, which means a lot for this sort of story.

  • but Warner Bros.’ only real rule seems to be that Batman and Superman aren’t allowed on TV.

    You need to update your knowledge base a little. Geoff Johns took over the reigns at DC overseeing the whole show. He’s nullified the rules regarding this. Tyler Hoechin is now playing Superman in SUPERGIRL, which is being rolled into the CW’verse as of a special this year and Flashes FLASHPOINT storyline. So therefore Superman now exists. Adding to this, AQUAMAN is now debuting in Season 3 of Flash apparently (WOohoo!) and rumours are circulating Batman himself will make an appearance within the next 2 seasons (makes sense, Arrow in DC lore started before Batman anyhow).

    But anyhow, that old Rule has been killed off thank god, and it’s all starting to come together finally.

  • The problem with a Kamala TV series is that any little use of her powers will require complex effects or CGI. It would require a huge budget for a story rather limited in scope.

  • The Wicked + The Divine. Ensemble cast, and I want to say a Veronica Mars feel/ murder mystery angle?

  • Agree with everything there except Harley Quinn. Can’t even read those comics it’s just all so wacky for the sake of it and she never feels like anything more than a dreadful joker sidekick to me.
    I mean, if Margot was going to star every week in that outfit I’m sure I could watch out of ….curiosity, however…
    +1 for mind mgmt, that’d be must watch stuff.

  • The Boys. You forgot The Boys. Reading a lot of comics and this is my go to when there’s a lull in good reads.

    The Boys

    • It’s hard to believe we haven’t seen a movie announced for The Boys. I’m dying to see Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie. You’re right though, there is so much in it that it deserves either several movies, or a TV show.

      Just hope if it does hit TV it doesn’t get Preacher-ized. I really wanted to like that show but I just can’t.

      While we’re on Garth Ennis books, Red Team would make for a perfect TV show. And with Red Team 2 coming out (maybe already out) you’ve got a second season ready to go too.

      On top of that I’d definitely pay to see Just a Pilgrim, Jennifer Blood and Caliban made into shows (or movies).

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