Here’s the ideal Arrowverse viewing order

When Arrow debuted on The CW in 2012, no one predicted the superhero phenomenon that would follow. Oliver Queen took to the streets of Starling City as Smallville drew to a close after 10 seasons. While Arrow only made it eight years, its legacy is set to continue. Developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow took a different approach to superhero origins than Smallville’s slow-build prequel and passed that on to multiple spin-offs that drew on 80 years of DC Comic history.

Nearly a decade after Arrow’s premiere, the multiple series it spawned now span over 700 episodes and 42 seasons. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe was growing in movie theaters, DC’s Arrowverse took over The CW. 

With the recent conclusion of Supergirl and Black Lightning, it’s the ideal time to jump into the Arrowverse if it’s somehow eluded you up to this point.

Here are the Arrowverse series in order of release. 

  • Arrow (2012-2020)
  • The Flash (2014-present)
  • Supergirl (2015-2021)
  • Vixen (web series, 2015-2016)
  • DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (2016-present)
  • Freedom Fighters: The Ray (web series, 2017-2018)
  • Black Lightning (2018-2021)
  • Batwoman (2019-present)
  • Superman and Lois (2021-present)

How to watch the Arrowverse in order of continuity

Photo via The CW

If you’re after the full Arrowverse experience, you’ll need to approach it strategically. Buckle up: this viewing order won’t just take you forwards and backwards in time, but across multiple universes. Arrowverse series often ran parallel on The CW, with several crossovers acting as season highlights and pilots for forthcoming spin-offs. That means the shows are best watched in a particular rotation of episodes for the optimum viewing experience.

Some sites have produced detailed breakdowns of the 700+ episodes that allow you to watch them in a precise, if slightly exhausting way, such as Arrowversetracker. Below is the simplest way to watch the Arrowverse from the start without getting your timelines in a twist. 

Arrowverse Year One

Photo via The CW
  • Arrow season one

Arrowverse Year Two

The Scientist
Photo via The CW
  • Arrow season two

Arrowverse Year Three

Photo via The CW
  • The Flash season one
  • Arrow season three
  • Constantine season one

Start with Flash 1.01, then Arrow 1.01, and continue alternating episodes. Here we’ve added in Constantine. Broadcast on NBC in 2014, it’s not part of the Arrowverse, but watching its 13 episodes at this point will give you the background you need for Matt Ryan’s Liverpudlian mage when he jumps into Arrow’s fourth season. 

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • The Flash 1.08, “Flash vs. Arrow” 
  • Arrow 3.08, “The Brave and the Bold”

Arrowverse Year Four

Photo via The CW
  • Supergirl season one
  • The Flash season two 
  • Arrow season four
  • Legends of Tomorrow season one

Start with The Flash 2.01 and Arrow 4.01 and alternate for three episodes. Supergirl was remote from the Arrowverse for its first year and broadcast on CBS. As that would change a year later, it’s best to add it into rotation at this point. Watch Supergirl 1.01, The Flash 2.04, Arrow 4.04, and alternate until you reach episode 10 of each, ready for the Legends crossover.

Legends of Tomorrow arrived mid-season and should be added into the rotation just after the crossover. Watch Supergirl 1.11, The Flash 2.11, Arrow 4.11, then Legends of Tomorrow 1.01 until the end of each season.

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • Flash 2.08, “Legends of Yesterday”
  • Arrow 4.08, “Legends of Today”
  • Supergirl 1.18 “World’s Finest”

Arrowverse Year Five

Photo via The CW
  • Supergirl season three
  • The Flash season four
  • Legends of Tomorrow season three
  • Arrow season six

Just when you’re feeling comfortable, this is where Black Lightning enters the continuity. Although it stayed distanced from other series, we’ll add it into the chronology.

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • The Flash 3.08, “Invasion! Part 1”
  • Arrow 5.08, “Invasion! Part 2”
  • Legends of Tomorrow 2.07, “Invasion! Part 3”
  • Supergirl season two
  • The Flash season three
  • Arrow season five
  • Legends of Tomorrow season two

This year is arguably peak Arrowverse. Although there were no new additions to the lineup, The CW was dominated by Arrowverse shows for most of the year. Regular viewers were rewarded with the most ambitious crossover yet: Invasion!

To set the year up, watch The Flash 3.01 and Arrow 5.01 first, and then get ready to resume the rotation. Watch Supergirl 2.01, The Flash 3.02, Arrow 5.02, and Legends of Tomorrow 2.01 until the Invasion! crossover, when you’ll need to move Supergirl out of sequence.

With Invasion! out the way, resume the rotation to the end of each season, starting with The Flash 3.09, Arrow 5.09, Legends of Tomorrow 2.08, and Supergirl 2.09. The second season of Legends of Tomorrow will drop off after its shorter season of 17 episodes concludes in Aruba. 

Later in the season, make sure you catch Supergirl 2.16, “Star-Crossed,” and The Flash 3.17, “Duet,” in that order.

Arrowverse Year Six

Photo via The CW

Watch the series in rotation until you need to readjust slightly during the four-part crossover that begins with Supergirl’s eighth episode. After the crossover, introduce Black Lightning 1.01 in between The Flash 4.10 and Arrow 6.10, continuing to rotate until the end of each series.

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • Supergirl 3.08, “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1”
  • Arrow 6.08, “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 2”
  • The Flash 4.08, “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3”
  • Legends of Tomorrow 3.08, “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4”

Arrowverse Year Seven

Photo via The CW
  • The Flash season five 
  • Black Lightning season two
  • Supergirl season four
  • Legends of Tomorrow season four
  • Arrow season seven

This year almost feels like a break. There’s a slight shift in the order of shows to rotate. Just follow the order above, although starting Legends after Arrow 7.02, then power through to the year’s big crossover event and the introduction of Batwoman.

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • The Flash 5.09, “Elseworlds Part 1”
  • Arrow 7.09, “Elseworlds Part 2”
  • Supergirl 4.09, “Elseworlds Part 3”

Arrowverse Year Eight

Crisis on Infinite Earths
Photo via The CW
  • Batwoman season one 
  • Supergirl season five
  • Black Lightning season three
  • The Flash season six
  • Arrow season eight
  • Legends of Tomorrow season five

This was the year that Arrow ended, although its legacy continued with Batwoman’s full-series debut and the full arrival of Black Lightning into continuity. Oliver Queen bowed out with the most incredible crossover in the Arrowverse. That crisis would have ramifications for the rest of the universe in the spirit of significant DC Comic crisis events. Another unforeseen crisis that shortened several seasons was the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Before the six-part crossover begins with the ninth episode of Supergirl, you should rotate Batwoman, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and The Flash up to their eighth episodes, introducing Arrow after two episodes of the other series. To make it slightly easier, Legends of Tomorrow only kicks off at the end of the crossover, when you can add it into the rotation after Arrow.

Essential crossover viewing: 

  • Supergirl 5.09, “Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 1”
  • Batwoman 1.09, “Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 2”
  • Black Lightning 3.09, “The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four: Earth Crisis”
  • The Flash 6.09, “Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 3”
  • Arrow 8.08, “Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 4”
  • Legends of Tomorrow 5.08, “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 5”

Arrowverse Year Nine

Photo via The CW
  • Batwoman season two
  • Black Lightning season four
  • Superman & Lois season one
  • The Flash season seven
  • Supergirl season six
  • Legends of Tomorrow season six

After the epic events of the previous year, things settle down in the Arrowverse’s ninth year. While The Flash remained strong, Supergirl and Black Lightning finished in 2021. A new addition was the Supergirl spin-off Superman & Lois. Less official was Stargirl, although a guest appearance from John Wesley Shipp as the classic Flash suggests its status may change in the future.

There’s no traditional crossover to think about, although there are plenty of cameos, particularly in the first five episodes of The Flash season seven, as set out below.

Essential crossover viewing:

  • The Flash 7.01, “Armageddon, Part 1”
  • The Flash 7.02, “Armageddon, Part 2”
  • The Flash 7.03, “Armageddon, Part 3”
  • The Flash 7.04, “Armageddon, Part 4”
  • The Flash 7.05, “Armageddon, Part 5”

We’d recommend rotating all episodes in the order of the series above, but don’t get too comfortable: there’s a new generation of Arrowverse shows on the horizon. Joining Stargirl and the just-released Naomi on the periphery of the Arrowverse are Gotham Knights and Justice U, both expected to premiere later this year.