This question asks about the villians from the Superman comics (or "magazine," as it is called on air), but beyond that, there are a number of other elements in the comics and a limited number of elements in the TV series. (The referenced question also asks "why?" villains weren't in the series and this is more about what elements are in common.)

The series Adventures of Superman includes the Daily Planet, Smallville and the Kents (for one episode), and the end of Krypton (along with Kal El's parents), as well as Lois Lane, Perry White, and Jimmy Olsen. Also, there are a few repeating eccentric characters like Professor Periwinkle.

What elements (including ones I didn't mention) did the series take from the comics? Were there any elements introduced in the TV series that later made their way into the comics? And did the series change, contradict, or retcon anything from the comics?

NOTE: As mentioned in the comments, I'm not asking for all elements in Superman comics (or even all elements in the comics up through the time of the series). The series, itself, is not that complex, so asking what it has in common with the comics and what (if anything) was taken from the show and put in the comics is not going to be that big or broad a list.

  • 1
    Unless I'm mistaken, this sort of question would require a very, very broad answer.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 5, 2015 at 19:45
  • 2
    We've had similar questions before about other shows or comparisons between remakes or different versions of a story. Considering how few elements were in the series, it's not going to take that much of a broad answer. There's only 4 regular characters and a few situations, other than just Supes taking down bank robbers. It's not like it was a complex series so many different elements that it would be hard to say which ones were from the comics or which were added in from the show.
    – Tango
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:34
  • My real issue here isn't with the show - I can imagine that it has only introduced a few new things itself. My issue is the comic, which is nearly 80 years old and spans many, many different spin-offs, not to mention the pre/post-crisis split. Naming all of the things that are and aren't included in the show for a comic series that large would be difficult.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:38
  • 1
    One doesn't have to name ALL in the comic. If one says, "It includes these elements of the comic, and that's it," then it's pretty clear what's in it from the comic. I didn't ask someone to list elements the series took, not which elements it ignored. Where do I ask to list all that is in the comic and not in the show?
    – Tango
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:44
  • 1
    @Zibbobz "naming all of the things that are and aren't included in the show for a comic series that large would be difficult. " That's exactly the opposite of what he asked for.
    – phantom42
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:54

4 Answers 4


On examples of what comics influenced the show:

The first season of the Adventures of Superman was based primarily on the radio broadcast shows from the 1940s. As Robert Maxwell produced both the radio shows and the first tv season, many stories were adapted from the radio broadcasts.

From Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman (a book which is by far the best resource I have found for information about this series).

The dialogue contained in Jor-L's speech to Krypton's Governing Council would be used again and again through the run of the radio show, whenever Maxwell felt the origin story needed retelling, and much of it would turn up in the first television episode, "Superman on Earth." - ch. 2

When it came time to develop Superman for TV Maxwell gave assignments to his writing staff from the radio days.

Ben Peter Freeman naturally wrote more episodes than anyone else; in some cases he merely had to dust off a few time-tested radio scripts. ch. 8

At the beginning of season two, with Robert Maxwell gone and Whitney Ellsworth as the new producer the focus changed.

Consequently, Superman's ploys veered away from the radio series towards the comic books. Stories that would appear on the newsstands around the same time they aired on television included "Panic in the Sky" ("The Menace from the Stars;", World's Finest #68) "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor" ("Jimmy Olsen, Editor;" Superman #86), "The Dog Who Knew Superman") ("The Dog Who Loved Superman;" Superman #88), "Lady in Black" ("Dick Grayson's Nightmare;" Batman #80) and "The Man in the Lead Mask" ("The Man Who Could Change Fingerprints;" Batman #82). "Five Minutes to Doom" focused on Superman's timely rescue of an innocent man from the electric chair, a theme that had appears in Action Comics #1. Only two stories -- "Jet Ace" and "The Face and the Voice" -- originated on radio. - ch. 12

Not withstanding Ellsworth's influence, many episodes were also original stories for the TV show. This was partly influenced by the writing staff. Jackson Gillis, whose background was in detective series, had little comic book influence, but he wrote many of the scripts for the show.

Freely admitting that his knowledge of the Man of Steel was "not more than reading the funny papers," Gillis likely viewed a couple of the 1951 shows as a primer, then went to work on his first assignment: "The Defeat of Superman." - ch. 12

There were comic influences throughout the remainder of the series.

Ellsworth made his annual sojourn to New York to discuss the year's budget with Jack Liebowitz and began conferring with Mort Weisinger on plots, a few of which would again come from comic book stories then in production. - ch. 13

TvTropes has this blurb:

The show was produced during the Mort Weisinger era of Superman comics, and he and Whitney Ellisworth were even on the staff. As a result, a lot of the plots are carbon copies of comic book stories from the time (for example, the story "The Phantom Superman" became the episode "Superman in Exile".) As a result, the series is probably the purest adaptation of late golden/early silver-age comic books out there.

Their actual example appears to be false, as the descriptions for "The Phantom Superman" and "Superman in Exile" do not at all line up.

To the second part

I wasn't able to find much of anything from the show that influenced the actual comics. The comics delved much more into science fiction and notable villains than the tv show. The TV show had very few scifi episodes. Most were Clark Kent mysteries of him trying to run down a story and solve a crime, only to have Superman come in the last scene to save the day.

  • Awesome detective work - great answer.
    – Tango
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:27

The TV episode "Superman in Exile" was based on the story in Action Comics 188 (dated January 1954), "The Spectral Superman!" And actually, this story was probably a remake of an earlier story called "A Superman of Doom!" which appeared in Action Comics 124 (September 1948). DC would often recycle stories back then.

Inspector Henderson and Professor Pepperwinkle were TV characters that were brought into the comics in the 70s or 80s, but that was years after the TV show was produced


The version of the origin from "Superman on Earth" shared the visual style of the Krypton as used in the comics, very similar to the Flash Gordon / Buck Rogers serials. Indeed, several of the costumes for the Science Council were recycled from those serials. That look remained the standard until the 1977 film's look was co-opted by John Byrne.

Professor Potter was a recurring scientist from the comics, and shares much with Professor Periwinkle from the TV show.

The TV show used a few different versions of Kryptonite, including a ray gun, and in "Panic in the Sky!" what might be a proto-version of red kryptonite, which causes him to lose his memory.

Very little went from the TV show to the comics because, bluntly, they didn't create much that was new. There were very few "super" villains, mainly because they would cost more money, and people seemed just as happy watching him fight gangsters as fighting Brainiac and Lex Luthor.

The original radio show created most of what was seen in the TV show - the Planet and its staff, even Kryptonite and Superman's power of flight originated from the radio show and made their way back to the comics.


"The Stolen Costume" was another television episode that was adapted from a radio episode. It was also the only TV appearance of private detective Candy Meyers, who appeared frequently on the radio series, but was never in the comics.

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