15 Shows Like Umbrella Academy That Fans Really Need To Check Out

"The Umbrella Academy" is an eccentric comic book adaptation about a team of misfit superheroes. Are any other shows exactly that? Quite a few. But superpowers, time travel, and wacky sci-fi hijinks aren't the only things that make "The Umbrella Academy" so special. It's also a show about a found family, which can mean a few different things. 

In some cases, a found family is the family you make in order to find support when you can't rely on (or don't want to engage with) the family that raised you. At others — and this is more the situation in "The Umbrella Academy" — a found family is a squad of non-relatives you're stuck with, for better or for worse. You may not have chosen them, but they're not blood, and yet you're bonded to them forever. Those types of relationships make for great television, especially in the science fiction and fantasy genres. 

Season 3 of "The Umbrella Academy" will drop on Netflix at some point in 2022 and adapt the third volume of Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's comic series, which is titled "Hotel Oblivion." While you wait, here are some suggestions for similar shows you can watch to pass the time. Who knows? You may even discover a new fictional world you like escaping to, or a hidden gem that you can't wait to share with everyone you know.


As far as off-beat adaptations of graphic novels go, it doesn't get much better than Damon Lindelof's "Watchmen." The HBO series took the fictional universe of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal series and expanded it into a thoughtful look at modern day society that reflects on the last 100 years of American history, including but not limited to the '80s, which Moore deconstructed in the original comic. Plus, you know, in addition to probing insights on race relations and identity politics, there are aliens and clones and masked vigilantes. 

Fans of "The Umbrella Academy" should note that "Watchmen" takes place in an alternate universe where historical events turned out a little differently. Season 2 of "The Umbrella Academy" drops the heroic siblings off in the '60s, where they attempt to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. "Watchmen" goes even further, and imagines what the United States would be like if we had won the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal never happened, and so on.


If this series wasn't already on your radar because "The Umbrella Academy" actor Robert Sheehan is in the first two seasons, let me be the first to tell you that it's a must-watch. Set in Southeast London, "Misfits" is about a group of young adults who are serving community service sentences when they get struck by lightning and gain superpowers. They're as different as the members of "The Breakfast Club," but grow closer together as they share traumatic experiences and grapple with their weird new abilities. 

"Misfits" is an especially good British take on the superhero genre that aired between 2009 and 2013, running simultaneously with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the CW's Arrowverse, and the beginning of the DC Expanded Universe, but just before superhero stories began to dominate popular culture. So, thankfully, "Misfits" never feels the need to address the juggernaut in the room — the jokes about superheroes and comics aren't specific to this particular moment, ensuring that the show still holds up.


If you want a Marvel series that has "Umbrella Academy" vibes, look no further than "Runaways," a Hulu original series that ran for three seasons. You don't need even a passing knowledge of Marvel to watch, although it is streaming on Disney+ and shares a weak connection to the MCU. 

Adapted from Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona's comics series, the show follows six teenagers who discover that their parents are supervillains, and that they may — or may not — have some abilities of their own. In the TV adaptation, the Runaways are friends of circumstance (they know each other because their parents know each other) who grew apart as they got older, and are thrust back together by a series of traumatic events. Sound a little bit like "The Umbrella Academy"? The found family themes are strong in "Runaways."

There's also enough relationship drama between Nico, Karolina, and Alex, as well as Gert and Chase, to rival Allison and Luther's flirtation and Ben and Klaus' whole thing. If you're watching "The Umbrella Academy" for the angst and the 'shipping, then you need to add this to your list.


If you want to step outside of the MCU and see a really weird show adapted from Marvel's comics, then you need to watch "Legion." It's based on David Haller, a mutant who also happens to be Professor X's son. Yes, the show does deal with that eventually, but "Legion" doesn't get too into the X-Men world or require a lot of background knowledge. It mostly does its own thing, and that's great! 

Of course, that "thing" is challenging and bizarre and demands your attention. This may seem a bit frivolous, but fans of "The Umbrella Academy" will also like "Legion" for aesthetic reasons. "The Umbrella Academy" had a vintage vibe even before it bopped back to the '60s. "Legion" is deliberately unclear about when it takes place, but it also has a strong '60s and '70s feel.

"Legion" may even feature my favorite superhero characters of all time: mutant twins named Cary and Kerry Loudermilk who share a body and age according to how much time they spend in control, meaning that one of them, a scientist, is decades older than the other, who only emerges when it's time for a fight. To call them codependent would be an understatement. Oh, and Aubrey Plaza is in this show. Need I say more?

The Boys

After "The Umbrella Academy," probably the most popular alternative superhero show at the moment is "The Boys." The series posits a world in which superheroes are celebrities with managers and public engagements, as well as the tools of corporate entities. Therefore, they are more than a little corrupt. Would you believe it if I told you that, in this world, the "heroes" are actually the villains? The actual heroes are vigilantes without any powers, working outside of the system to take the entire enterprise down. 

Full disclosure: I don't really like "The Boys." It's a bit too cynical for my tastes, and I'm not really sure whether or not I can root for a series that criticizes capitalism made by ... let me check my notes ... Amazon Studios. However, I have to admit that the series has its fans, and it might appeal to someone who likes a darker take on superheroes.


Not to keep harping on myself, but I did a quarantine rewatch of NBC's "Heroes" in 2020 and was shocked by how much the show got away with on network television. It's a lot more unconventional than I remember. Well, either that, or superhero stories (with the exception of "The Umbrella Academy" and some of the shows on this list) on the whole have gotten a lot tamer. 

"Heroes" is, in essence, a mass origin story about ordinary people who start to become aware of their extraordinary abilities. The characters are so well-drawn that you care about them instantly. Everyone has a different goal. Some want to use their gifts to help people. Some choose violence. Some just want their powers to go away. The series has a reputation for "going off the rails" in the 3rd and 4th seasons, but in retrospect there were good things going throughout its entire run.

Doom Patrol

On the DC side of things, one show that, like "The Umbrella Academy," is both about a found family and also on the darker side of things is "Doom Patrol." The show currently airs on HBO Max and follows a group of outcasts who gained superpowers during traumatic events and bond through that commonality. They're sent on a series of misadventures, including rescuing the Chief, a doctor inspired by Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft who lets them all live in his mansion. Hey, that's just like "The Umbrella Academy"!

Both shows are likely intentional riffs on the X-Men, although the "Doom Patrol" comics actually debuted three months earlier than Marvel's band of merry mutants. In addition, the Chief is played by Timothy Dalton. If you were invited by a mysterious British man to live in a mansion with other super-powered individuals, wouldn't you want him to be a former Bond? "Doom Patrol" is basically like "The Umbrella Academy" with a couple of characters, like Vic Stone (aka Cyborg), who you may recognize from the larger DC universe.

Harley Quinn

Stop what you're doing and watch the "Harley Quinn" animated series on HBO Max. Seriously. Even if you love Margot Robbie as Harley in the "Suicide Squad" and "Birds of Prey" films, Kaley Cuoco's performance is also perfect. How wonderful is it that we get to be alive at a time where there are two incredible Harley Quinns? The animated series also features performances from Lake Bell, Jason Alexander, Tony Hale, Alan Tudyk, J. B. Smoove, Rahul Kohli, Wanda Sykes, Jacob Trembley, and more. 

Like "Birds of Prey," the series follows Harley's quest to establish herself after breaking up with the Joker. She forms a ramshackle crew with Poison Ivy, King Shark, Sy Borgman, Clayface, and Doctor Psycho. What follows is a series of misadventures and shenanigans, with a little romance to boot. Just be aware that this is an adult animated series. There are cuss words galore, and jokes that are dark, intelligent, and often profane.

The Tick

Before "The Boys," there was another irrelevant take on the superhero genre gracing the Amazon Prime streaming platform — an updated live action adaptation of Ben Edmund's comic series, that was previously adapted as an animated show in the 90s and a live action series in the early 00s. "The Tick" stars Peter Serafinowicz as the titular "Tick," a blue bug superhero who has no memory of his past but feels Destiny pulling him toward his future, and Griffin Newman as Arthur Everest, an ordinary man obsessed with finding the supervillain who killed his father. 

Like "The Umbrella Academy," the heroes and villains you meet on "The Tick" are lightly spoofing the ones we know and love from other franchises. Some of their powers are also slightly silly. The supervillain Miss Lint, for example, can control electricity but is constantly attracting dust particles. It's cute! It's charming! You'll have a great time with "The Tick," promise.

Legends of Tomorrow

Of all the shows in the CW's Arrowverse, the one most comparable to "The Umbrella Academy" is "Legends of Tomorrow." It's about a misfit group of superheroes, villains, and antiheroes. They time travel. They don't always get along. Occasionally, you may need a passing knowledge of "Arrow" and "The Flash" to figure out who the characters are and what's going on, especially when it comes to the CW's big yearly crossover events, but most of the time it's not necessary. 

In this show, a Time Master called Rip Hunter (good name) recruits a team of super-powered or otherwise talented individuals to stop the rise of a villain called Vandal Savage (great name) who, in Hunter's future, conquers the Earth. It's the Legends against Savage and the rest of the Time Masters, who don't want the upstart heroes to mess with the flow of history. Oh, and there's another reason that Rip wants this Big Bad stopped ... a personal one. In the future, Savage also kills Hunter's wife and child. Ain't that always the way?

Y: The Last Man

After years in development hell, an adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's "Y: The Last Man" was finally released as a television series on Hulu, and it was pretty good! But Hulu didn't renew it for a second season — perhaps audiences aren't into post-apocalyptic fiction in the middle of a global pandemic — so while it searches for a new home, I highly recommend giving season 1 a binge. The show is about a cataclysmic event that kills every living mammal that has a Y chromosome overnight, with the exception of a guy named Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand, who suddenly become the key to figuring out what happened.

"Y: The Last Man" is a lot more serious and not as off-beat as "The Umbrella Academy." However, both shows are based on comic books that are a little edgier and more niche than those we usually see brought to the screen. If you're feeling burnt out by endless connected universes, but still want something genre-y to watch, shows like "Y" are your best bet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

There's a reason why Joss Whedon has been repeatedly hired to take on superhero ensemble projects, with varying degrees of success. He set the standard for found-family science fiction stories with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," its spin-off "Angel," and the sci-fi western "Firefly." The characters in both "Umbrella Academy" and "Buffy" switch between loving each other, hating each other, and relying on each other to save the world.

While Buffy is the only character with real superpowers, she assembles a group of other misfits and supernatural beings who solve mysteries and fight off Big Bads. Sir Reginald Hargreeves on "The Umbrella Academy" is, as a posh English mentor, like a funhouse mirror version of Buffy's Watcher Rupert Giles. You'll also note similarities between Vanya's arc in the 1st season of "The Umbrella Academy" and Willow's in the 6th season of "Buffy" — both of which, if we're being honest, were likely inspired by the "Dark Phoenix" arc in the X-Men comics.


This AMC series, which ran for four seasons, flips between goofy gags and heartbreaking emotional moments like it's the easiest thing in the world. "Preacher" is an adventure about, no surprises here, a preacher named Jesse with a dangerous past and a supernatural ability who goes on a road trip in search of God ... literally. Along for the ride are his ex-girlfriend Tulip and a vampire named Cassidy. The various entities chasing Jesse and his companions will remind you of Hazel and Cha-Cha on "The Umbrella Academy."

"Preacher" is also, like "The Umbrella Academy" and "Y: The Last Man," based on a graphic novel that's not as mainstream as something from the Marvel or DC canons. Comic book adaptations don't have to be part of big connected universes. They don't even have to be about superheroes, although, in my humble opinion, Tulip, Cassidy, and Jesse could go toe to toe with anyone from the Avengers or the Justice League.

Future Man

An ordinary janitor beats a video game, only to discover that the game was a test sent into the past to find the person best equipped to save the future. Intrigued yet? I can't say enough good things about "Future Man," a show I picked up during lockdown in 2020 and couldn't put down. Eliza Coupe, Josh Hutcherson, and Derek Wilson are the trio you didn't know you needed, and Haley Joel Osment is absolutely hilarious. There's an episode about James Cameron that I can't stop thinking about.

Like "The Umbrella Academy" "Future Man" has time travel and alternate universes, as well as a found family of heroes who sometimes hate each other and sometimes can't live without each other. It's the final show on this list from the Seth Rogen Cinematic Universe (the comedian also produces "Preacher" and "The Boys"), and is probably the weirdest, especially because it isn't based on a comic, a book series, a video game, or anything else. These days, that's pretty impressive in and of itself.

Miracle Workers

"Miracle Workers" is a high-concept comedy about angels who are ill-equipped to save humanity, but find themselves tasked with that daunting task. In the 1st season, they make a bet with God that they can make a will-they-or-won't-they couple kiss. Subsequent seasons take us to the Dark Ages and the Oregon Trail. It's an anthology series based on the writing of Simon Rich with a repertory cast, and a popular one at that (the show is headlined by Daniel Radcliffe and Steve Buscemi).

The 1st season's bureaucratic approach to religion is the thing that is most likely to remind you of "The Umbrella Academy," as well as shows like "Preacher" and "The Good Place." This isn't a show about superheroes. It is, however, a show about found family. It's also an offbeat little weirdo of a show, much like "The Umbrella Academy," and might be worth checking out for that reason alone. Start binging now and you may or may not be rewarded with Daniel Radcliffe doing a burlesque number in the 3rd season...