Superhero Hype’s Top 10 TV Shows of 2019
It says a lot about the state of genre TV that two of the biggest series debuted in the closing months of 2019 and still managed to land near the top of Superhero Hype’s Top 10 Shows of 2019. Thanks to the streaming era, there are more sci-fi, comic book, fantasy, and superhero shows than ever before.
Because our site has a very specific focus, you’re not gonna find shows like succession on this list. Similarly, titans of the past like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead didn’t make the cut this year. Let’s be honest: it wasn’t the best season for either series.
While the cable series largely faltered, streaming services picked up the slack with 8 of this year’s picks. That’s just a taste of things to come as Disney+, CBS All Access, Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon, and Hulu chart a path into the next decade.
For now, we’re offering you our picks for the very best that genre TV had to offer in 2019.
10. Swamp Thing
DC Universe had a winner on its hands with this horror-infused take on Swamp Thing. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. pulled the plug even before the season started with a premature cancellation and a shortened season. Regardless, this was easily the best Swamp Thing adaptation to date, and the creature costumes were feature film worthy.
Crystal Reed’s Abby Arcane may have had top billing, but she shared the spotlight with Andy Bean’s Alec Holland and his alter ego, Swamp Thing (Derek Mears). Their connection made the series, and it should have run for at least a few seasons. But at least these ten episodes exist.
9. Doom Patrol
Fortunately, DC Universe didn’t cancel this series. In some ways, Doom Patrol even outshined Titans to become the signature series of the streaming service. It’s a delightfully weird and subversive superhero show that captures the insanity of the Grant Morrison run while pulling from other Doom Patrol eras as well. They may be freaks, but they’re also family. And it’s the human side of the Doom Patrol that makes them so compelling.
It’s hard to recapture the magic of a canceled series several years later, but Young Justice: Outsiders came pretty close. The first 13 episodes of the season were particularly strong, thanks in part to the close spotlight on Halo, Geo-Force, Forager, Cyborg, and a few veteran members from the original Young Justice team. Unfortunately, the second half of the season lacked the same kind of focus or payoff. But Young Justice: Outsiders was largely a triumph for DC Universe, and it deserves to have a much longer run this time.
Once you get past the horrifically ugly Klingon designs, Star Trek: Discovery is by far the best Trek series in over two decades. The second season was also a big improvement over the first, with great turns by Anson Mount as Christopher Pike and Ethan Peck as Spock. Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham and Doug Jones’ Saru may be the heart of the series, but the love story of Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) was very affecting.
If there was a problem with Discovery, it was too rooted in Star Trek’s past. But after the second season finale, that’s not an issue anymore. Next year, this show will finally get to go where no Star Trek series has gone before.
In the X-Men comics, Legion isn’t exactly the most interesting mutant character. But in the hands of Noah Hawley, Dan Stevens’ David Haller headlined a series that was mesmerizing and trippy. It’s the most mind-bending series ever attempted with a Marvel character, and the third season finally dealt with Haller’s link to his father, Charles Xavier of X-Men fame. This series could have gone on for years, but a three season run this strong feels like a minor miracle.
5. The Expanse
Amazon thankfully rescued The Expanse after SYFY cancelled it last year. The result was a fourth season that was no longer constrained by broadcast cable standards. More importantly, this was one of the few sci-fi shows that took great strides at exploring the politics of its universe in an entertaining way, while giving the crew of the Rocinante even bigger problems to solve. This series is a masterpiece that has yet to falter.
Only Stranger Things would dare to interrupt the flow of its season finale for an extended sing-along of the theme from The NeverEnding Story. The key to its success isn’t all of the ‘80s nostalgia, it’s the way it gets viewers to buy into the characters. We care about Hopper’s struggles to be a good dad and his doomed romantic pursuit of Joyce. We even care when the new girl, Robin, reveals her secret in the penultimate episode of the season.
Stranger Things season 3 went out on a much darker note, with Hopper gone and Eleven and Will out of Hawkins. The kids are growing up fast, but we can’t wait to see Stranger Things 4!
Yes, yes, this is the way. The first-ever live-action Star Wars series managed to not only live up to the hype, it provided a blueprint for anything and everything that comes after it. Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian captured the space Western vibe of the original Star Wars. It also featured Baby Yoda/the Child, who was easily the breakout character of 2019.
But none of this would have worked without Pedro Pascal’s performance as the title character, even if he shared the role of Mando with some stuntmen. Admittedly, the middle of the season wasn’t quite as strong as the beginning. But the season finale went a long way towards making Star Wars exciting again. I have spoken.
2. The Boys
Believe it or not, Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys is pretty tame compared to the original comic book series. Regardless, The Boys had more than its share of shocking moments. It was also one of the few superhero series this year to openly challenge the comic book cliches we’ve lived with for decades. Of course superheroes would be assholes. And was there a more frightening TV villain than Homelander? The Boys are gonna have their work cut out for them in season 2.
On paper, the idea of adapting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal comic book, Watchmen, for the second time sounded like a bad idea. But Damon Lindelof and his collaborators successfully re-mixed the series with an original story that echoed the comic without simply copying it. Of course, it also helped to have a very impressive cast that included Regina King, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr., and Jeremy Irons.
Watching this unfold weekly was an awe-inducing experience, and it truly deserves to stand by the original comic. This is the new high watermark for superhero stories on TV, and it’s probably not going to be topped anytime soon.
What are your picks for the top 10 TV series of 2019? Let us know in the comment section below!