5 Shows Like ‘The Umbrella Academy’

The Umbrella Academy’ – the Netflix original based on Gerard Way’s comic book series of the same name – follows a disbanded group of superhero siblings on their journey to prevent an impending apocalypse.

Though the above plot description may sound typical, ‘The Umbrella Academy’ strays from the familiar tropes and tendencies tied to the superhero genre. The show, featuring a darkly comic aesthetic and characters fraught with various emotional complexes, takes a bunch of misfits, throws them together, and asks them to save the world.

'The Umbrella Academy' Cast
‘The Umbrella Academy’ Cast | Getty Images

Characters discuss their traumatic childhoods while going into battle. Enter a drug addict and a grown man with daddy issues, a woman banned from seeing her daughter, the sibling who never got to play in the others’ reindeer games, etc.

Now that all the devout fans have binged the premiere season, it’s time to look for similar shows while we anticipate season two’s renewal. If you enjoyed The Umbrella Academy, you are likely to appreciate the suggestions below.

‘Doom Patrol’

Doom Patrol must come first on this list. Anyone who puts another show first has failed to freshen up on his/her comic book knowledge. Why? The original Doom Patrol comics inspired Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy.

In Doom Patrol, a wealthy scientist takes a band of misfits under his wing and puts them up in his mansion. In this series, the characters’ powers are more like afflictions: gifts unwanted, but granted at an earlier point in their lives.

The vain actress turns into a sludge monster. The hedonistic narcissistic becomes a Robotman who cannot feel, etc. Unlike The Umbrella Academy, this one is for mature audiences only (nudity and adult language run rampant); however, it too eschews common superhero stereotypes for a more absurdist approach.

‘The Magicians’

The Magicians, a sci-fi network original, is based on Lev Grossman’s books by the same name. The show follows Quentin Coldwater as he navigates the Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, and learns that the magical world he read about as a child is real andposes dangers to humanity.

Starring Jason Ralph in the lead role, the supporting cast includes Olivia Duddley, Stella Maeve, Hale Appleman, and more. Often described as an adult-themed Harry Potter, the college students face the world’s greatest threats while experimenting with drugs, falling in and out of love, and working to uphold fading relationships. There’s sex, drugs, and rock & roll all wrapped up into a magical world.

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‘Gotham’

Gotham follows Commissioner Gordon as a rising detective struggling to protect and defend the corrupt city of Gotham. The show chronicles the rise of Batman, and some of his most notorious foes: The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman.  

Gotham, while taking a unique approach to the Batman narrative and focusing on Gordon’s attempts to battle a corrupt justice system, is a bit more typical than the two alternate shows mentioned above. However, it’s still an enjoyable, dark, well-acted, and action-packed ride.

‘Marvel’s Runaways’

If you like the part where dissimilar people who don’t know each other join forces, this one is bound to satisfy. When six teenagers realize their parents are part of an underground organization responsible for recent kidnappings, they go on the run.

While relying a bit too heavily on plot, the show is sincere and light. The characters connections continue to deepen as the series proceeds; from kids who can’t stand each other to kids who need each other, the underlying Breakfast Club-esque origin may be a bit trite, but the show does stand its ground in the oversaturated landscape.   

‘The Gifted’

The Gifted follows two mutant children and their parents on the run from the government. While the story may seem simplistic, critics argue:

“The Gifted’s first season lays a solid foundation for an involving superhero drama that powers past the origin-story doldrums by focusing on grounded, topical stories over mindless action and special effects.”

Rotten Tomatoes

When it comes to this list, start with Doom Patrol and The Magicians; they offer the most atypical approaches to superhero stories. While you won’t find anything quite like The Umbrella Academy, the shows above should suffice in the interim.