3:30 pm EDT, March 15, 2019

5 shows like ‘The Umbrella Academy’ for more absurd superheroics

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If you binged it and are looking for more absurd superheroics, here are five more shows like The Umbrella Academy that are worth your time.

If you’re anything like me and approximately 95% of my Twitter timeline, you probably spent your most recent weekend (or week, if you have more self control and/or more of a life) binge watching The Umbrella Academy.

On the one hand, this is fantastic, because we now all have a dysfunctional, superhero family that we’ve adopted and get to see save the world (and one another).

On the other hand, we now all have to impatiently wait for a second season (or a Klaus and Ben spinoff series that we so clearly deserve) to have all our questions answered, like: Will they all be children in this new timeline? How did Ben die? Will Vanya be reformed? Isn’t that thing between Allison and Luther kind of weirdly incestuous?

But while we’ll have to wait a few months (though hopefully not more than that) to find out the answers to these questions, there are plenty of shows like The Umbrella Academy to fill our time.

Whether you loved the dysfunction of the team, the absurdity of the show, the unconventional superheroes, the way in subverted common superhero tropes, or some combination of those four elements, these five shows will fill that Umbrella Academy sized hole in your life until the new season premieres.

Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol

Synopsis: DC Universe’s Doom Patrol centers on DC’s strangest superhero team — Robotman aka Cliff Steele, Negative Man aka Larry Trainor, Elasti-Woman aka Rita Farr, Crazy Jane and Victor Stone aka Cyborg, who are led by modern-day mad scientist Niles Caulder aka The Chief. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team finds their purpose through The Chief, coming together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of superpowered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them.

If we were ranking shows most like The Umbrella Academy on a scale of 1 to 10, Doom Patrol would be about a 9.5.

Both shows happened to premiere on the same day — though Doom Patrol, since it shows on DC Universe, is released week by week rather than all at once — and both comic books have been written by former My Chemical Romance frontman, Gerard Way.

More than this, though, is the way both shows play with conventions of the genre. Like The Umbrella Academy, Doom Patrol is a team –an incredibly dysfunctional team of misfits who have to try to navigate their relationships with one another as much as they do with the world. They’re also headed by an older man of mysterious origin, though Chief in Doom Patrol actually presents as caring for the team in a way that Reginald Hargreeves does not.

Both shows likewise have no problem leaning into the more absurd elements of their storylines, fully embracing the strangeness of comic books in a way more mainstream comic book shows tend to shy away from. In fact, if anything, Doom Patrol — with its shattered antagonist of Mr. Nobody, a farting donkey that swallows a whole city, a character who turns into a human blog — embraces this zaniness more fully than The Umbrella Academy.

So, if you’re missing The Umbrella Academy and want a show as similar to it as possible, Doom Patrol has got you covered.

Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow

Synopsis: The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow follows a rotating cast of time-traveling superheroes and anti-heroes (including Arrow’s Sara Lance/White Canary and Ray Palmer/The Atom, The Flash’s Mick Rory/Heat Wave, and John Constantine from the now discontinued Constantine), and their mission to recapture the magical fugitives that they accidentally released throughout time.

Legends of Tomorrow likewise ranks pretty high on the ‘shows most like The Umbrella Academy‘ meter. Like The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol, Legends of Tomorrow likewise follows a dysfunctional team of misfits — odds and ends of other more traditional and conventional superhero shoes.

But where The Umbrella Academy isn’t afraid of its strangeness and Doom Patrol embraces it, Legends of Tomorrow completely dives in and rolls itself around in it.

In fact, it is, for lack of a better phrase, completely batshit crazy.

It’s not so much the team itself that’s absurd (though they earn their moniker of a misfit team quite well), but the missions in which they are involved — which, given that they are timetravelers — have the ability to get pretty uniquely strange. There is an episode where they have to save a young Barack Obama from being killed by Gorilla Grodd, who is a hyperintelligent gorilla; another where the team has its ass kicked by a haunted guitar, and still another where they come to find that the Vikings worship Beebo, a blue talking stuffed animal.

Also, they help save Star Wars, so there’s that.

If you liked the time traveling aspects of The Umbrella Academy and its stranger storylines, then Legends of Tomorrow is the show for you.

The Tick

The Tick Amazon

Synopsis: Amazon’s The Tick is a nigh-invulnerable superhero in a blue tick costume who arrives in The City to help combat crime and uncover the mysterious figure behind the city’s underworld. He befriends a nervous and mild-mannered young man named Arthur who becomes his sidekick. They come to realize that an apparently long-dead supervillain called “The Terror” may still be pulling the strings in the city’s underworld.

Truthfully, The Tick probably doesn’t rank as high on the ‘shows like The Umbrella Academy‘ scale. The tone doesn’t quite match with The Umbrella Academy’s and Doom Patrol’s dark comedy vibes (though it doesn’t quite tilt full scale into the wild campiness of Legends of Tomorrow either).

Instead, The Tick is both more earnest and endearing than either The Umbrella Academy or Doom Patrol and more likely to be described as goofy rather than campy like Legends of Tomorrow.

The Tick himself is about as standard as superheroes go — super strong and essentially invulnerable — but sweeter and more guileless, almost to the point of being rather childlike. Half the time he speaks, it sounds like toddler babblings.

Still, the show makes it on this list for the way in which it both isn’t afraid to lean into its absurdity and for how it so clearly subverts at common superhero tropes.

Like The Umbrella Academy, The Tick recognizes that there’s something kind of bizarre, somewhat worrying and just flat out ridiculous about the idea of superheroes. As such, it has a lot of fun subverting common superhero tropes and conventions – and sometimes just flat out poking fun at them.



Synopsis: FX’s Legion takes on the story of a very obscure character in the world of X-Men — David Haller, a diagnosed schizophrenic who’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. The pleasant numbness of his routine is disrupted when he meets Syd and eventually finds out that he’s one of the most powerful mutants on the planet.

If the weirdness of The Umbrella Academy appealed to you, then Legion is the show that looks at that show, snorts derisively and says, hold my beer.

This show is fucking weird. I would even be comfortable with calling it the weirdest show in television.

That weirdness is intentional in a variety of ways, among them being the fact that David is an incredibly powerful telepath (inherited from his very famous X-Man father, hint, hint), that his body is likewise being used by a psychic parasite called the Shadow King, and that show comes from the mind of Noah Hawley (the mind behind Fargo).

Another reason for that weirdness is because of the show’s deep dive into mental illness. In fact, that exploration of mental illness is another way Legion is similar to The Umbrella Academy. Both shows play with genre tropes, and in many ways, both shows aim to transcend the genre altogether.

Just in the way The Umbrella Academy was a dysfunctional family drama with superhero trappings, Legion is a character drama with occasional superhero ambitions.

So if you like your superhero shows weird, your soundtrack banging and your visuals astounding, Legion should be next on your docket.


Happy SyFy

Synopsis: SyFy’s Happy follows disgraced police detective Nick Sax, an alcoholic drug addict who works as a hitman to feed his various habits. After a massive heart attack, Nick starts to see a small, blue, winged unicorn named Happy and together, they work to rescue a young girl who has been kidnapped.

In many ways, this show, which stars Christpher Meloni in the lead role, could be taken as a kind of fucked up Law and Order: SVU spin-off series — one where Detective Eliot Stabler finally let out the darkness that had been brewing after working 12 seasons on cases involving child molesters and sexual assault.

It has a pretty straightforward vigilante storyline, though it does do a good job of letting you know that Nick — at least when we meet him — is not a Good Guy who is killing People Who Deserve It. He really is just a hired gun with a drug and alcohol problem who is very miserable.

None of that changes too much when he meets Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a blue unicorn who is not the result of too much time of psychedelics but is actually the imaginary friend of a girl named Hailey.

Together, these two work to rescue Hailey, and along the way, kill a lot, curse a lot and provide quite a few laughs.

So if you like absurdist, fantastical elements side by side with your dark comedies, then I suggest you queue up this Christopher Meloni show next.

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