Arrowverse is the name commonly given to the set of television shows broadcasted by The CW based on DC Comics, which share a story universe. Like the name indicates, Arrowverse’s originator was the Arrow series, whose massive success led to The Flash, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow premiering in the years that followed. A second wave of Arrowverse shows brought Black Lightning and Batwoman to the DCTV world, with Superman & Lois completing the batch in 2021.
With the report that came out in January that The CW’s parent companies WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS were looking to sell the network, the future of the Arrowverse became rather uncertain. When, in April, WarnerMedia merged with Discovery to become the new conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery, more restructuring was bound to affect current Warner Bros. property, including DC Entertainment which handles any DC Comics IP.
It only makes sense that the new Warner Bros. Discovery would want to keep all the rights to DC Comics’ characters and worlds under its belt, and with The CW soon parting ways with the company, it might prove impossible to keep the Arrowverse going for much longer. A recent wave of cancellations from The CW that affected not only the Arrowverse, but much of its catalog, served as proof that the network is definitely undergoing massive changes.
In response to major fandom upset, The CW CEO Mark Pedowitz blamed the cuts on “difficult financial and strategic decisions,” and assured fans that “content was never a factor in deciding not to move forward with the shows.”
So, which Arrowverse shows survived and which were cut short?
Arrow – concluded
Back in March 2019, long before any business deals were putting the Arrowverse on a tightrope, it was announced Arrow would be coming to an end in early 2020, after its eighth season. It was the first Arrowverse show to get axed by The CW, even though it seems to have been a mutual decision between the network and the series’ executive producers.
Arrow was the first Arrowverse show and it told the story of Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell, who comes back to Starling City after being stranded on an island for five years. Oliver becomes the vigilante “The Hood” and begins hunting his father’s enemies.
The Flash – still on
The second show to join the Arrowverse is still going strong. It was one of the very few shows to survive the cancellation sweep that ravaged The CW this Spring. In March 2022, The CW announced The Flash would be getting a ninth season, initially planned for the show’s usual fall slot, but pushed to 2023 to give way to fellow DCTV show Stargirl, presumably so The CW can gain some time to decide on the latter’s future.
It’s unclear whether season nine will be The Flash’s last. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Eric Wallace said he “will approach [next season] as the final season unless somebody tells me differently — and I hope they do, because there’s still many more Flash stories to tell.”
The Flash revolves around Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, an investigator who develops super-human speed after he’s caught up in an explosion of a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry puts his new-found powers to work, hunting other powered individuals and traveling space and time to stop possible catastrophes.
Supergirl – concluded
Supergirl aired between 2015 and 2021, enjoying a successful six-season run. Starring Melissa Benoist in the titular role, Supergirl was one of the first female-led superhero television series to be produced in a long time. The news that season six would be the show’s last came in 2020, with Deadline citing the global pandemic, other delays in production, and a “downwards rating trajectory” as the reasons for the end. After an agreement was made to finish the show between every player involved, including Benoist, fans were still gifted with a 20 episode-long season and plenty of time to say their goodbyes.
Supergirl tells the story of Kara Danvers, Superman’s cousin, who was sent to Earth as a 13-year-old to escape the downfall of her home planet Krypton. After being adopted by the Danvers family, she learns to accept and use her powers to protect National City from all kinds of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial dangers.
DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow – canceled
DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow was one of the Arrowverse shows to be slashed this year. Unlike Arrow or Supergirl, the last season of Legends — season seven — wasn’t written with the certainty it would be the show’s last. As a result, fans were left with a big unresolved cliffhanger instead of a satisfactory conclusion.
Legends joined the Arrowverse in 2016 as a spin-off to Arrow and The Flash and featured a number of recurring characters from both series. The characteristically outlandish show deals with a team of super-powered time-traveling individuals who come together to protect their timeline from aberrations.
Black Lightning – concluded
Black Lightning had a relatively short run between 2018 and 2021. In November 2020, The CW announced the show would come to an end in the upcoming fourth season. Series creator Salim Akil told Deadline the pandemic wasn’t exactly a factor in concluding the show, but it did make the process more complicated.
Considering the number and length of its seasons, as well as Akil previously expressing he had plans for a season five and six, it’s easy to conjecture that the decision to end the show after only four seasons wasn’t entirely unanimous.
Black Lightning was the first network superhero show to center a black family, as it introduced Jefferson Pierce, a retired superhero who decides to suit up once again after a wave of crime takes over his city of Freeland. Black Lightning became a part of the Arrowverse after the “Crisis On Infinite Earths” crossover event that merged Pierce’s Earth with the rest of the gang’s universes.
Batwoman – canceled
Batwoman had a particularly unlucky fate within the Arrowverse. Not only was it affected by the pandemic, like all others, but it was also overshadowed by controversy after its lead actress Ruby Rose, who played Bruce Wayne’s cousin Kate Kane, decided not to return for season two of Batwoman, claiming mistreatment on set.
Despite obstacles, Batwoman gained brand-new life when Javicia Leslie was cast to play a new version of the caped crusader. After Kate’s plane crashes, Leslie’s Ryan Wilder finds her suit and eventually becomes the new Batwoman in charge of protecting Gotham from its plethora of villains.
Just as Batwoman had settled into its new identity both as a character and as a show in its third season, the rug was swept from under the team’s feet when The CW announced the show would not be getting renewed. Much like Legends, Batwoman ended in a cliffhanger, and fans of both shows have been campaigning to have them be picked up by other networks or streaming platforms. Coincidence or not, among the four remaining Arrowverse shows in 2022, Batwoman and Legends were the only two queer female-led stories.
Superman & Lois – still on
Superman & Lois is a spin-off of Supergirl, where Superman, played by Tyler Hoechlin, who first appeared in the latter show, and his wife Lois played by Elizabeth Tulloch, explore the hardships of raising a family in modern society while still battling evil.
The show, which was the latest addition to the Arrowverse, premiered on The CW in 2021 to widespread acclaim. It was renewed for a third season earlier this year, which is expected to come out in 2023.
Considering Superman & Lois’ young life, it’s hard to tell whether season three will be its last, even in light of The CW’s unstable managerial situation. The show’s more cinematic style and grounded type of narrative likewise stand out from the rest of the Arrow world, meaning it could easily stand on its own.
Justice U – in development
In January 2022, it was announced Arrow alum David Ramsey would be reviving his beloved character John Diggle and leading a brand new Arrowverse show called Justice U.
The series, which has yet to be ordered to pilot by The CW, would see Diggle train the next generation of superheroes. Justice U is being developed for the 2022/23 season, but it is still unclear whether it will indeed go forward.
It could follow the fate of fellow Arrow spin-off Green Arrow and the Canaries which, despite airing a backdoor pilot in January 2020, never got ordered to series.
What about other DC shows on The CW?
It might be confusing to think that TV series based on DC Comics that are also airing on The CW don’t actually belong to the Arrowverse. After all, wouldn’t it make more sense for all DC TV shows within the same network to belong to the same story universe?
Ultimately, a Marvel Cinematic Universe-type of franchise has never been DC’s strong suit and, really, the Arrowverse was the closest it has ever gotten to that sort of intertextual cohesion (yes, even considering the DCEU). However, it is also much easier, production-wise, to create completely independent series and stories, since making one show fit together with another five could prove understandably mind-bending.
Still, if The CW does part ways, eventually, with Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns DC Entertainment, it would affect the future of all DC shows – not just those in the Arrowverse.
Stargirl, which aired its first season on the short-lived streaming platform DC Universe, hopped on over to The CW in season two last year. It’s centered around Courtney Whitmore, a high school student who discovers the Cosmic Staff of Starman and decides to form the new Justice Society of America with fellow young superheroes. It was renewed for a third season by the network, which is set to premiere this fall.
Naomi was yet another DC show that The CW chose not to renew. The first season had just finished airing when the show got canceled. Naomi told the story of a mega Superman comic book fan who decides to investigate a supernatural event that occurs in her fictional town of Port Townsend, Oregon.
After canceling one Gotham-set show, The CW decided to go ahead with another and pick Gotham Knights up for one season. Gotham Knights follows a group of teens framed for Bruce Wayne’s murder as they attempt to clear their names, among them Turner Hayes, Bruce Wayne’s adopted son. It is expected to hit television screens in 2023.
In sum, the DC shows that are still airing on The CW are the Arrowverse’s The Flash and Superman & Lois, as well as independent stories Stargirl and Gotham Knights.
As for what the future holds for DC property on The CW, its president Mark Pedowitz has reassured fans that the network is “staying in the superhero business.”