From Frank Castle to Peggy Carter, the MCU TV shows have given us an insane variety of characters. Characters that have almost nothing to do with the movies. A show like Agents of SHIELD, completely born out of the movies, has learned to stand alone without having to tie itself to every movie event. A show like Daredevil barely feels part of the same universe as The Avengers—but in the best way.
The shows also have given us way more diversity than any of the movies have. Also, the shows have given me when more guys to crush on and almost none of them are named Chris. I didn't include The Runaways in this because I didn't feel it had enough episodes to fairly rank it yet (but I've loved what I watched so far).
So, let's rank the TV shows! Spoilers ahead, for every show but The Inumans...
9: The Inhumans
Real talk, I have yet to watch this. Also, real talk, I don’t plan to ever bother watching this show unless it becomes pivotal to the MCU at some point (which it won’t). Have you seen Medusa’s wig? Give me a break, get a life.
Best Character: the cute giant dog Lockjaw, I’m sure.
Craziest Moment: the fact that anyone at Marvel saw that first promo image and thought, “Great, let’s go with that.”
8: Iron Fist
This show wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be but also it was pretty boring. They 100% have should’ve cast Lewis Tan as Danny Rand but, well, here we are. Iron Fist’s story is the most boring in general (a millionaire who can also fight feels completely overdone at this point) and the fight scenes are vaguely embarrassing. But, Iron Fist has a nice butt and Colleen Wing is pretty badass.
Best Characters: Colleen Wing, Claire Temple (she’s great in everything but really brings a good sense of WTF to this show) and the Meachums.
Craziest Moment: When Harold Meachum brutally murder his (possibly queer) secretary, Kyle, with a fuckin’ spoon. It’s incredibly painful to watch and made even worse by the fact that Kyle very much read as a queer character—something the MCU doesn’t ever give us. It shows us just how evil our villain is.
7: The Defenders
Ok, so this show was going to be fun no matter what because it had special favorite Jessica Jones. This show, however, completely fuckin’ wasted Sigourney Weaver (a war crime) and really tried to force “Daredevil luvs Elektra” onto the audience. We didn’t spend enough time with Elektra to justify him putting everyone in danger because of her. These characters should've shown up in each other's shows before The Defenders, or Claire should've been way more important in bringing them together. The re-do of the Daredevil hallway fight scene, this time in a brightly lit office building with a shit ton of ninjas led by Elektra, was pretty stellar though. But why was Claire given this big Agent Coulson-like build up only to have basically nothing to do in this show?
Best Characters: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, duh.
Craziest Moment: Jessica throwing a car through a restaurant window at Elektra.
6: Luke Cage
Misty Knight and Luke Cage are both wonderfully flawed characters. Claire Temple’s introduction into this show, kicking the shit out of a would-be mugger, is fuckin’ fantastic. Also, this has Alfre Woodard making her second MCU appearance, playing a very different character. Also also, god damn it, Luke Cage is a fuckin’ babe. And so is Shades. But, the plot in this needed to be a bit stronger. And like, have season 2 go a little easier on Luke Cage, OK? He deserves it.
Best Characters: Misty Knight and Luke Cage.
Craziest Moment: Black Mariah murdering Cottonmouth, changing the course of the season.
5: Agent Carter
The thing we didn’t need was another SHIELD-esque spin-off. But the thing we did end up needing was a show about Agent Peggy Carter fighting crime and the patriarchy. The first season of this show is so perfect and you end up loving Peggy even more than you already did. Even in the weirdly paced and messy second season, the show was nothing but enjoyable. The fight scenes in this were also pretty great—Peggy had such a unique brutal brawler type fighting style. And, I mean, how iconic is her blue dress and bright red Carmen Sandiego hat?
Best Characters: Agent Peggy Carter, duh.
Craziest Moment: Me, sobbing on my couch while watching Peggy Carter say, “I know my worth” in the 1st season finale.
4: The Punisher
This show is so aggressively heterosexual it borders on being overly homoerotic. The show is full of men being MEN and started out feeling like a boring rehash of Daredevil (broody, tortured, straight white dude)—but once it picks up it really fucking picks up. Karen Page and Punisher have insane chemistry (I found myself thinking, "GET IT" whenever she was alone with him). The episode about the bomb is one of the single best episodes of any of the Netflix shows. Also, Punisher and Micro have one of the best friendships we've seen in a Netflix show since Jessica Jones, much to The Defenders chagrin.
Best Characters: Punisher—he’s the sensitive psychopath I want to marry!
Craziest Moment: A tie between Punisher poking that dude’s eyes out and Punisher dragging Billy Russo’s face against shattered glass (both made me scream and look away).
3: Agents of SHIELD
Everyone shut up. I wasn’t even a huge fan of Agent Coulson at first—but I’ve grown to love him. This show has given us some of the most badass ladies in the MCU. Badass ladies who deserves more big-screen time than “faceless SHIELD Agent number 2” that are in all the movies (I’m looking at you, ending of Age of Ultron). I never quite buy the romance plots but last season’s Framework arc was one of the best storylines in any MCU show. Melinda May is one of the most dynamic, badass characters in the freakin’ MCU. And there was a point when May and Bobbi aka Mockingbird (BRING HER AND LANCE BACK PLZ), two women, were the team's strongest fighters. This show has done the near impossible feat of staying interesting as a show insanely tied to the movies long after the MCU decided to never feature TV characters in any of the movies for some dumb reason.
Best Character: Agent Melinda May.
Craziest Moments: Agent May fighting herself (aka Hydra agent with a fancy face mask on that had been turned into May's face), the entire Framework story, and the episode where you find out how May got the nickname “Calvary.”
This is the Netflix show and character we've spent the most time with (aka the only one to have two seasons so far), it'd be cheating Charlie Cox has a ridiculously beautiful mouth. Have you looked at those lips? The first season showed us just how dark the Netflix shows would all be—and also set the bar impossibly high for all future fight scenes in the MCU Netflix shows. This show made Daredevil interesting for the first time in forever. It also gave us the incredibly underrated (and now underused) MCU character Claire Temple. Claire became the Coulson of the Netflix shows, but her storyline ended up kinda going nowhere? But it also gave us Karen Page, who is great. The second season gave us super handsome Frank Castle AKA The Punisher and the absolutely wonderfully insane Elektra. Elektra was incredibly more complex and interesting here then she was in The Defenders (she lost all her charm as a reanimated corpse). But boy, was this second season a mess. Daredevil is a total dick to all his friends and goes all Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Punisher seems totally unimportant to what’s going on (and doesn’t even really help them in the final battle). The biggest let downs were that we didn't have Elektra in both seasons and that, in the first season, Daredevil doesn't wear his costume until the god damned last episode.
Best Characters: Claire Temple, Daredevil (but can next time we see him we chill on the angst), Elektra, and Karen Page.
Craziest Moments: That hallway fight scene where a fucking microwave gets thrown at the beginning of season 1is hands-down the best fight scene from any of the shows and Elektra’s insane fight scene with Jacques at a bar in an airplane hangar in season 2 is another super awesome fight scene.
1: Jessica Jones
My special favorite flawed queen. Jessica Jones is like if Faith from Buffy and Veronica from Veronica Mars had a baby—and you know what my two favorite shows are? Yep, Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The first episode of this show is one of the best first episodes of TV. Jessica was such a weird choice as the first female-lead anything in the MCU but boy did it fucking work and go above and beyond. Jessica rolls her eyes through life just like the rest of us. Jessica also drinks a lot, has a filthy mouth, and doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Not to mention Jessica and Trish Walker have the best developed friendship in the MCU. I’d watch an episode of them fighting zero crime and just going to brunch or gay bars together. Jessica Jones also gave us the MCU’s scariest villain, Kilgrave. Oh, and it gave us Malcolm and Luke Cage. The show even made you feel for Jessica’s annoying downstairs neighbor (and not just because her brother was killed). Luke and Jessica are also the MCU couple I most care about (even if they’re not dating anymore). Jessica even has crazy chemistry with Claire Temple, who was in the show for about 10 seconds.
Best Character: Jessica Jones—I mean, COME ON. But this has one of the strongest casts too. They’re all great.
Craziest Moments: When Jessica tells Trish she loves her before snapping Kilgrave’s neck and when Jessica finds that man with his arms ripped off, STILL ALIVE.