The Greatest Comic Book Characters Who Didn't Originate In Comics

Illustration for article titled The Greatest Comic Book Characters Who Didn't Originate In Comics

The path of comic book characters making their way onto the big and small screens is a well trod one. But what about the reverse, of characters who started out on-screen and then made their way into the comics? Here are the best comic book characters who got their start somewhere else.


In response to this piece on the backstory of breakout Batman villain Harley Quinn, a question arose: Was Harley Quinn the most successful comic book character who started out on television? If not, who was? It turned out that, in addition to Harley Quinn, there was quite a pool to draw from — and not just from TV or the movies:


Is it safe to say that Harley is the most successful comic character that didn't originate in a comic book? I can't think of anyone else that would even come close. And that's including a lot of Superman's supporting cast that originated on radio serials and the 50s show.


I would certainly say so. As "created for the show/movie" characters go, she's pretty high up that list. At the very least, she's certainly the most successful of the Modern-era.

Marvel tried it with Morph (who was AWESOME in Exiles) on the X-Men cartoon but it didn't really stick. And they've tried it with Coulson (I don't know if Nick Fury Jr would count cause he's a 616 way of making it match the movies which happened because of the way the Ultimate universe Nick Fury happened to look... kinda meta, right?) to meh effect.


Montoya, technically. She was first designed for the animated series, but made a cameo in comics before her first episode. And she didn't get fleshed out until Gotham Central in the early 2000. The backstory they had thought out for the series but never explored on-screen was completely different - she had a dead husband, for one.

And if I recall correctly, Blade's mentor Whistler, created for the movie, made it into the comics and got a good reception. But yeah, those were success but nowhere near Harley Quinn.

Vulcan Has No Moon

Harley's grand-daughters started out on Batman Beyond and they've crossed over to the comics too. So did the other Jokerz and other characters from the show. Not as famous or popular as Harley but they seem to have become a success.

Though some of the best examples were from television, characters had been finding their way into the comics long before TV took over. The chain of characters who got their start in radio is equally impressive:


There's also The Green Hornet and The Shadow who started out as radio heroes, but have had long careers in the comics, on and off.

(When the recent GREEN HORNET movie came out, a lot of reviews and articles mistakenly identified him as a "classic comic-book hero.")


In term of characters, no one comes close. However, if we take the larger category of "stuff from comic adaptation that became part of said comic," I think Kryptonite beats her at the popularity contest. It first appeared in the radio show in 1943, wouldn't show up in the comics till 49, and well, it's an important part of Supes' mythos and of pop culture in general.


Jimmy Olsen was created for the Adventures of Superman radio show in the 1940s, and had his own comic for 163 issues in the Silver-Bronze age. Depending on how you want to compare relative success, he might still have an edge due to raw sales of individual self titled issues.

Have your own additions to add to the list? Tell us about them now in the comments.



Firestar got her start in "Spiderman and his Amazing Friends" and X-23 got her start in X-Men: Evolution.