The Batman TV Wannabes Of '67: Mr. Terrific Vs. Captain Nice

By Jack Ripley | May 22, 2024

The Other Caped Crusaders

In the zany world of 1967 television, not one but two quirky contenders vied for a slice of the Batman TV show's campy, superhero pie: Mr. Terrific and Captain Nice. Amidst the swirling capes and comic book theatrics, these two offbeat heroes tried to capture the same lightning-in-a-bottle success that Batman had electrified audiences with. Mr. Terrific, featuring a mild-mannered gas station attendant who transforms into a superhero via a secret pill, and Captain Nice, a timid police chemist turned caped crusader by a special serum, both burst onto the scene with a mix of slapstick humor and over-the-top antics. Though neither show managed to dethrone the Caped Crusader, their delightful absurdity and earnest attempts to ride the superhero wave left a memorable, albeit brief, mark on the era's pop culture landscape. Dive into the wild and wacky adventures of these forgotten heroes who donned their tights and took a shot at TV stardom in the shadow of Batman.

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Left: Mr. Terrific DVD packaging. Right: Gold Key's Captain Nice comic book. Sources:; eBay

You remember Adam West's Batman from 1966, but what about Mr. Terrific and Captain Nice from 1967? These two superhero series, both launched on the same day, attempted to capture the magic of the caped crusader's show -- but couldn't.

"Holy ratings Batman!" That was the phrase around ABC in 1966 when their Adam West starring, ultra camp TV series that focused on the lighter aspects of the Dark Knight premiered. For a brief period of time, Batman was the biggest show on the network. It pulled in children as well as adults, and featured a who's who of guest stars. Batman was such an instantaneous, inescapable hit that it inspired clones of all masks and sizes.

While ABC attempted to replicate their success by going back to DC Comics with The Green Hornet, NBC and CBS tried a different route. They created their own campy superheroes. Mr. Terrific (CBS) and Captain Nice (NBC) premiered on the same night in January, 1967. Both shows featured out-of-their-depth superheroes who were more Superman and Shazam than they were Batman, but it's undeniable that these shows were blatantly pulling from the Batman '66 playbook.

Neither series was a hit. They only ran for one season apiece, with Mr. Terrific winning the race to the bottom with a whopping 17 episodes to Captain Nice's 15. The story of these shows is a fascinating look at the entertainment industry's quest to recreate the success of something original, only to see their work become the stuff of the pop culture dust bin.

The Success Of Batman Created A Television Gold Rush

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source: ABC

In 1966, ABC brought a version of Batman to television that still feels both modern and of its time. It's easy to see how disparate filmmakers like John Waters, Tim Burton, and Joel Shumacher took inspiration from the campy, colorful series. Batman's inspiration is even visible in Cartoon Network's late '90s talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, featuring a superhero who's just a little too cool.

Rather than grow into its campiness or inherent silliness, all of that is in the DNA of Adam West's Batman from episode one. Like comic books, like drag culture, and like punk rock, the three seasons of Batman speak to people with a specific way of thinking. Yes, it's for children, but it's also for adults who are tuned into a certain wavelength. Either you get it, or you don't.