With The CW On the Line, Let’s Take an In-Depth Look Into the Arrowverse


Jenna Ledley, Features Editor


Recent news in the entertainment world has shocked television show lovers internationally. All of the TV shows on The CW network are in grave danger. The CW network, a joint venture between ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia, originated in 2006, and, apparently, has never been profitable. Therefore, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The CW is going up for sale. This news follows many changes for the network, which has recently ended a long-standing streaming deal with Netflix after CBS and WarnerMedia decided to shift their deals to their respective streamers, HBO Max and Paramount+, in 2019. The end of the Netflix deal, on top of a loss of revenue from foreign sales, has created great concern for The CW’s owners. CEO Mark Pedowitz stated that it’s “too early to speculate what might happen,” however, the news raises concern for the many CW TV shows, including the ones discussed in this article. It is time to dive into some of The CW’s most successful shows. It is time to enter… the Arrowverse.


First off, what is the Arrowverse? And what does this have to do with The CW? Well, the Arrowverse is an American superhero media franchise and a shared universe that includes multiple interconnected television shows based on DC Comics superhero characters. Now, what is a shared universe? Simply put, the characters in a shared universe live in the same story, similar to different books in a book series. The characters from one book could have a role in another. The Arrowverse shows exist in the same reality, meaning the characters and events in one show affect the others. The shows are based on DC Comics superhero characters, such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, but the Arrowverse actually focuses on less commonly known DC characters. These interconnected TV shows primarily aired on The CW, with many still streaming on the network, leaving fans concerned over their favorite shows’ fates. 


The first show, Arrow, based on the character Green Arrow, debuted on The CW in October of 2012. Arrow follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell, who has returned home after being shipwrecked for five years on a mysterious island. What his friends and family do not know is that this experience has changed

Oliver, and that he has returned not just as himself, but also as the Green Arrow, a vigilante who fights crime and corruption with nothing but a bow and arrow. The show is slightly sinister with endless amounts of drama, as well as comedic moments and loveable characters. It was incredibly popular in its eight-year run, with the first season becoming the highest-rated CW show in five years. The series received several awards and multiple nominations including Best TV Action Series at the IGN awards.


In October 2014, a spin-off TV series titled The Flash premiered. The Flash marked the true start of the Arrowverse, as it was the first of the many series to stem off of Arrow. The Flash is about crime scene investigator Barry Allen, played by Grant Gustin, another character from the DC comics, who lives a double life as a superhero with super speed. Oliver Queen from Arrow even appeared in The Flash’s pilot and gave the new superhero advice on how to live his double life. The Flash tends to be lighter than Arrow, with more comedic relief and less heavy themes. The Flash also received positive reviews and won the People’s Choice Award for “Favorite New TV Drama” in 2014.


In January 2015, CW CEO Mark Pedowitz announced that The CW would be doing a Flash/Arrow crossover event. Named “Flash v. Arrow”, the crossover included an episode in both of the shows. “Invasion” was the first major cross-show event, with Arrow and The Flash being joined by Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. “Crisis on Earth-X” followed in 2017, and again included all four shows. The CW crossovers are always unique, with different storylines from all of the shows intertwining, and all of the casts and characters interacting. “Elseworlds” in 2018 saw Batwoman and Superman and Lois joining Green Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. The largest of the crossovers, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” premiered in 2019 and included all of the shows: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Batwoman. The latest crossover, “Armageddon,” revolved around The Flash, though Black Lightning and other beloved characters had cameos.


Supergirl, the third show in the Arrowverse, starred Melissa Benoist as the lead – a costumed superheroine and the cousin of Superman, who also escaped the destruction of their home planet, Krypton, and now fights e

vil on Earth. When not busy crime-fighting, she uses the name Kara Danvers and works as a reporter, fighting for justice in another way. In 2016, Grant Gustin appeared as Barry Allen in an episode of the first season, revealing that the show could become connected to the Arrowverse, and several months later, the show joined the CW for the second season. Supergirl became an official Arrowverse show and joined in on the crossover events. Supergirl, like The Flash, is a lighter show, though later seasons incorporate important social issues such as immigration. The show received positive ratings and won the Most Exciting New Series at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Favorite New TV Drama at the People’s Choice Awards, Best Superhero Adaption Television Series at the Saturn Awards twice, and more. Supergirl followed Arrow in drawing to a close in 2021.


In May 2015, The CW picked up another series: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. The show is centered around time traveler Rip Hunter, played by Arthur Darvill, who recruits a team of superheroes and villains to help him stop a rising miscreant. These characters were pulled straight from The CW’s previous shows, (two from Arrow and six from The Flash.) By far the quirkiest of the Arrowverse shows, the show’s “epic scope” and “fun character dynamics” have been praised by critics, though reviews are not as favorable as for The Flash and Arrow.


Batwoman, the fifth Arrowverse show, was developed in 2018. The show follows Kate Kane, played by Ruby Rose, the cousin of vigilante Bruce Wayne (Batman), who becomes Batwoman in his absence. She is later replaced by character, Ryan Wilder, played by Javicia Leslie. Batwoman was introduced in one of the Arrowverse crossovers before the 

series was created. The vibe of the show is much darker than the others, bordering on creepy. The show received conflicting reviews, yet did win Outstanding Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series at the Autostraddle Gay Emmys, as well as multiple awards for actors playing LGBTQ+ characters in a Sci-Fi Series.


In May of 2017, a new series, Black Lightning, was ordered by The CW. Following Jefferson Pierce, otherwise known as Black Lightning, who is played by Cress Williams, the show revolves around the character leaving retirement to return to his life as a superhero. Originally not a part of the Arrowverse, Black Lightning later joined the network’s other DC Comics television series in their 2019 crossover, effectively becoming a part of the Arrowverse. Black Lightning received positive reviews with Dana Schwartz from Entertainment Weekly writing, “Black Lighting balances humor with all-too-necessary social commentary.” The show won outstanding drama series at the Black Reel Award for Television in 2018. Like Supergirl, the show ended in 2021.

The last and latest of The CW shows is Superman and Lois, a spin-off of Supergirl that follows Superman and Lois, played by Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch, who first appeared as their respective characters in Supergirl. The show is family-oriented, revolving around the life of Clark Kent (Superman), his wife Lois, and their two sons Jonathon and Jordan in Smallville. The show premiered in 2021 and has received generally favorable reviews. Though the show has not officially taken part in any crossovers (the characters of Clark Kent and Lois Lane have had roles in a few), John Diggle from Arrow has made a cameo in the show, and there are promises of more to come.

The Arrowverse can sound incredibly complex and overwhelming, with all of the different shows and crossovers. In truth, however, there’s quite an easy system to watch the shows. And of course, there’s no penalty if you only want to watch one show. When getting started with the Arrowverse, I do recommend starting with Arrow, yet it is totally fine to read the descriptions above and choose whichever show sounds best for your taste. 


But say you read this article and you’re intrigued and you want to watch it all – really experience the Arrowverse. Just take a look at the chart below, which shows the four main Arrowverse shows lined up in order of their starting points, with the season each is in at the same time. The chart indicates when to start watching each show once you’ve reached a certain place in the others. Some seasons are not shown, but the shows continue to line up by season even after Arrow and Supergirl end. Since Batwoman and Black Lightning are less connected to the Arrowverse, it doesn’t matter as much when you start watching. You can start Superman and Lois anytime after finishing “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” All of the shows are available on Netflix except Superman and Lois which can be found on HBO Max. 

So, what is the verdict? What is going to happen to these shows if The CW ends up being sold? The answer remains unclear. All we can do is hope that these fan-favorite shows are able to stick around… at least until you’ve given one a try!