“Adventures of Superman,” 1952-1958
Best: The George Reeves version of Krypton’s favorite son was pretty well received: springboard jumps and all. Of course, decades later, the role would be taken to another level by the similarly named Christopher Reeve.
Best: Before he was a mayor on “Family Guy,” Adam West was THE caped crusader, complete with sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) and all. That said, the main thing this campy show is remembered for is the “Pow!” and “Bam!” graphics during fight scenes.
Worst: Captain Marvel, a second-rate Superman knockoff to begin with, wasn’t done any favors by this atrocity, which had him traveling the country in an RV in a terrible mix of cheesiness and preachiness.
“Wonder Woman,” 1975-1979
Best: This 1970s take on the Amazon princess-turned-crime fighter had everything. Bullet-deflecting bracelets. An invisible plane. And it introduced the world to Lynda Carter. Who’s complaining?
“The Amazing Spider-Man,” 1977-1979
Worst: There are not many photos available from the short-lived “American Spider-Man” live action TV series from the ’70s. Perhaps with good reason. Is the web-head wearing eye liner?
“The Incredible Hulk,” 1978-1982
Best: Yes, after a while, the anger-fueled excuses to turn David Banner into the Hulk ran a little thin. (A pay phone stealing your change? Really?) But watching Bill Bixby’s transformation into Lou Ferrigno’s mean, green rage machine never got old.
“The Greatest American Hero,” 1981-1983
Best: The “Greatest American Hero” was pretty terrible at flying, which was kind of the point of the show. Most importantly, it gave us an awesome theme song that was spoofed perfectly by George Costanza’s answering machine on “Seinfeld.”
Worst: A show so terrible it’s become the low standard to which many superhero shows don’t want to be compared. The story of a man who could turn into various animals sounded great on paper, but it was just awful on the screen, mercifully put down after eight episodes.
“The Flash,” 1990-1991
Worst: Though it had impressive special effects and costumes (for the time, anyway), “The Flash” had the misfortune of being scheduled against “The Simpsons” and “The Cosby Show.” At least its stars John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays are getting a chance to return to the property in The CW’s reboot of the character.
“Batman: The Animated Series,” 1992-1995
Best: You won’t find many animated series on our list, especially those aimed at kids. But “Batman: The Animated Series” is the very high-quality exception that was deemed worthy enough to prove our rule.
“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” 1993-1997
Worst: In this very ’90s version of the classic Superman romance, Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher) and Clark Kent (Dean Cain) spend as much time in the newsroom and the bedroom as the latter’s alter ego spends saving the world.
Worst: Before “Iron Man” lit up the big screen, Carl Lumbly took the lead as a paralyzed man who creates an exoskeleton that makes him a hero. Originally fighting more ordinary crime, Fox added more fantastic elements like parallel earths and time travel to try and create excitement, but it didn’t work.
“The Tick,” 2001-2002
Worst: The live-action version of “The Tick” was weird. Though that’s suggesting that the concept behind the hero was anything but. It starred best “Seinfeld” boyfriend ever, Patrick Warburton, as the titular super-bug. And yet, it may be on its way back in a new series with Warburton at Amazon.
Best: “Smallville” was an alien-out-of-water story about Clark Kent coming of age on his adopted parents’ farm. It became a superhero ensemble show that made Green Arrow popular enough to get his own unrelated series.
Both: Though the NBC series exploring what would happen if ordinary people developed superpowers got off to a strong commercial and critical start, it began earning pans with its third season, and fizzled to a close after its fourth. With “Homeland,” it stands as proof that sometimes it’s okay to kill the bad guy in the first season.
“No Ordinary Family,” 2010-2011
Worst: Michael Chiklis found superhero success as The Thing in the “Fantastic Four” movie franchise. But “No Ordinary Family,” about an otherwise normal clan that gains special powers after a plane crash, was just … so … boring.
“The Cape,” 2011
Worst: This 2011 mid-season replacement on NBC about a corruption-fighting former detective trained in the circus arts (yes, for real) was a huge favorite of “Community’s” Abed. Unfortunately, he may have been the only one as it had its initial 13-episode order cut back to 10, with the season finale airing online.
Best: The CW’s dark, modern take on the Green Arrow saga hit the target right out of the barn for the network, scoring particularly impressive ratings in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic, a rarity for the younger-skewing network. It has now ushered in a new golden age of superheroes on TV.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” 2013-present
TBD: What should have been a surefire hit thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead started to fizzle right away, thanks to repetitive and inconsequential storylines. Tying it into “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” reinvigorated it halfway through its freshmen season, but Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team aren’t in the clear yet.