Your televisions have never been home to more scripted series than they were in 2015, and this overall peak in recent years has seen a sizeable trickle of comic book TV shows emerging and (mostly) surviving. To be expected, the subgenre’s popularity is all over the map as far as viewership goes, although nearly every show boasting a faithful and vocal fanbase, regardless of how many people are tuning in.
Here are the 10 most popular comic book TV shows of 2015, at least as far as ratings are concerned. We’re unfortunately having to make this a strictly “TV” thing, as streaming services like Netflix don’t offer up hard numbers for its audiences, so there’s no real way to tell how many people are watching Jessica Jones or Daredevil. (Playstation’s Powers also isn’t on this list, for the same reason.) Let’s puts our brains to work for the first entry.
The rare zombie show that contains far more quirky comedy and personal drama than horror, iZombie hasn’t been much of a ratings smash for The CW since its premiere earlier this year. Only the Season 1 premiere nabbed over 2 million live viewers, and the numbers definitely dipped in Season 2. Regardless, both the network and have faith in the show, and for good reason, as the creative foundation of Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright gives iZombie the kind of offbeat spark that isn’t often seen in procedurals of any kind.
Considering how cemented Arrow is in the TV landscape, one would think it would rank higher among everything else on the air, but the show has steadily brought in fewer than 3 million viewers an episode in 2015. There are the exceptions, though, and one of those was definitely the crossover episode with The Flash, and a lot of the show’s popularity is supported by the growing DC Universe on The CW. Because of that, Arrow could easily attract more viewers in 2016 once Legends of Tomorrow arrives and expands this hero-filled world even more.
More a sign of NBC’s inability to understand a project it has created rather than a glaring disinterest from audiences, Constantine is the only entry on this list that was a one-and-done and thus isn’t on the air anymore. Despite airing on Friday nights, where demographic-minded shows go to die, Constantine still managed to bring in between 3 and 3.5 million people an episode (for the most part), and inspired a legion of fans to clamor for a second season when NBC initially seemed skeptical. They’re still clamoring, but sadly no one is willing to bring it back.
7. The Flash
When it debuted in the fall of 2014, The Flash quickly sped to the top of the list as far as acclaimed comic book TV series went, and in 2015, it delivered even more bonkers sci-fi plots and power-filled fights. So it’s no surprise that The Flash is one of The CW’s biggest hits, and most episodes get between 3.5 and 4 million viewers. It’s also a show with premieres and finales that bring in average numbers, rather than peak audiences, which goes to show that random Flash episodes can sometimes be the best ones.
6. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The first of the recent wave of Marvel TV series to hit the air, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. initially had its tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier to boost viewership. Although the numbers have largely dropped since that time, there are still a bunch of faithful viewers that are tuning in on a weekly basis. Most of Season 2’s second half brought in over 4 million viewers, and the first half of Season 3 mostly dropped below that, but not too far below. As the Inhumans and Secret Warriors storylines grow in 2016, we expect the audience to grow again.
5. Agent Carter
After seeing how popular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was with viewers, ABC wisely decided to fill its Season 2 midseason hiatus with the limited series Agent Carter, which allowed the company to offer up a period spy drama, as well as deliver one of TV’s most kickass female characters in Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter. Its eight-episode run meant it didn’t need to carry its audience for as long as most series, and although Agent Carter Season 1 dwindled to an audience 4 million-strong for the finale, the two-part premiere brought in nearly 7 million pairs of eyes. Will more tune in for her West Coast jump for Season 2?
Gotham would have probably been higher on this list had Fox not initially bungled the schedule with repeated hiatuses, and if the creative team would have had the Season 2 narrative gameplan in place during Season 1. The pre-Batman crime thriller brought in well over 6 million people several times at the beginning of 2015, but the numbers dropped in the spring, and Gotham Season 2 has settled in with an audience ranging from 4-4.7 million so far. The improved storytelling deserves more, but we’ll see if 2016 and its new villains can kick things back up.
3. Fear the Walking Dead
Though Fear the Walking Dead isn’t directly based on any comic books, it’s a Robert Kirkman-co-created spinoff that takes place in the same universe as The Walking Dead, so it counts. And speaking of counting, it would take a while to count all of the people that tuned into the AMC summer series’ first six episodes. Things started with the biggest cable premiere of all time – 10.1 million people watched it live – though the numbers leveled off to somewhere south of 7 million by the final few episodes. It’ll be interesting to see how the expanded Season 2 will do when it premieres next year.
As TV’s most consistently popular network, CBS was a prime place to bring a comic book TV show, and it should come as a surprise to no one that Supergirl became a major hit when it premiered a few months ago. It’s also no surprise that the DC series hasn’t repeated its monster debut ratings (12.9 million viewers), but the show is regularly bringing in between 7 and 8 million people for each Monday night episode. That may not be nearly as many people as the ones watching The Big Bang Theory or Criminal Minds, but it’s enough to earn it the #2 spot on this list.
1. The Walking Dead
It doesn’t take someone with Reg Monroe’s brains to figure out that The Walking Dead would be at the top of this list, and by a wide margin. Starting with the hallucination-filled Season 5 midseason premiere, the AMC juggernaut brought in massive audiences that sometimes rose to almost 16 million live viewers and never dipped below 12 million throughout the year. With its distinct timeline and focus, the first half of Season 6 saw a noticeable dip in viewership when compared to last season, but we can expect things to pick back up when it returns for even more intense and slightly depressing action next year.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.