Is the Arrowverse Coming to an End?

It seems hard to believe, but this fall will mark the tenth anniversary of the Arrowverse. On October 10, 2012, Arrow debuted on The CW and soon after, the network expanded Oliver Queen's world to include other superheroes with their own shows: The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, Superman & Lois, even DC's Stargirl and Black Lightning. But ten years on, the Arrowverse is a very different place than it was even just a few years ago. Arrow has ended its run, "Crisis on Infinite Earths" changed the very makeup of the shared universe by bringing the multiverse together onto one single Earth, Earth-Prime, and Supergirl took her final bow last year as well.  There have also been other shifts. Thanks to COVID-19, the seasonal crossover event is largely a thing of the past and, on top of that Superman & Lois, the newest of the shows, seems the most disconnected, never really referencing the rest of the shared universe and even introducing versions of familiar characters who are drastically different. As the Arrowverse comes up on its milestone birthday, and considering the various shifts and changes in its landscape, one must ask: is the Arrowverse coming to an end?

Thus far, The CW hasn't said anything that would indicate that the Arrowverse is wrapping up and in fact, it certainly seems like the shared universe has at least one more year to go. Recently, the network announced a slate of early renewals, among them a Season 3 pickup for Superman & Lois and a Season 9 pickup for The Flash. However, notably absent from the renewals were pickups for DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, and DC's Stargirl, leading some fans to wonder if those shows are ending. It's possible that the network is simply tabling their decision until the Upfronts in May, but there are some other reasons that fans are wondering if what's coming then may be less a list of renewals of beloved shows and more the beginning of the end for a fan-favorite institution, including new, non-Arrowverse shows, the possible sale of The CW, and even Superman & Lois itself.

On the network side of things, The CW is developing DC shows that are not part of the Arrowverse. Naomi is already in its first season, but Gotham Knights is currently in the works as well with that series following an unlikely alliance between the children of Batman's enemies and Bruce Wayne's rebellious adopted son working together to clear their names after their framed for killing the Caped Crusader—and very clearly not part of the Arrowverse. While there's nothing that says The CW can't have DC series disconnected from the Arrowverse, it does seem a little unusual of a move to do so, considering how much of a centerpiece the Arrowverse has been for the network. There are also the reports of a potential sale of the network that could see the programming on The CW shift (you can read more about that here). Were that to happen, the viability of individual shows rather than those that are part of an interconnected universe might end up being a better move overall, with those shows being more easily shopped to other networks or platforms.

But the big piece of things here is Superman & Lois. One of the primary "complaints" fans of the series have had from almost the very beginning is that the series, which sees Elizabeth Tulloch and Tyler Hoechlin reprise their roles as Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman that they originated on other Arrowverse shows, makes no references to the rest of the Arrowverse. There has been one "crossover", if you will when David Ramsey appeared as John Diggle, but even that appearance was relatively superficial. Clark's cousin, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) has never once been mentioned, the series had an entirely different Morgan Edge than Supergirl did, and even though Jenna Dewan returned to play Lucy Lane, this version of Lucy is completely different from the one introduced on Supergirl. While one could argue that "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is a major part of that — and indeed, showrunner Todd Helbing has said that "Crisis" allowed. them to rewrite things — there are other things that seem to indicate there's a larger disconnect. Thanks to "Crisis on Infinite Earths", the multiverse was condensed to one single world, Earth-Prime, at least as far as everyone on Earth-Prime is aware of. The multiverse did end up reborn, but Earth-Prime is not only unaware of it but is also locked away from the other worlds. However, on Superman & Lois, other realities are a major plot point in Season 2 thanks to the arrival of Bizarro and, more recently, Clark going through a portal to the Bizarro world. Between the lack of Arrowverse references and wildly different versions of familiar characters plus the completely different reality, it certainly seems like Superman & Lois has not so subtly been telling us from the start that they don't exist on Earth-Prime.

If that's the case and Arrowverse really is winding down, it could explain why we haven't gotten renewals for Legends, Batwoman, and Stargirl yet. We could be looking at a situation where when we get to The CW's Upfronts, the network announces a "Crisis"-type event, even if only on a smaller scale kind of like what we saw with The Flash's "Armageddon", that would let them conclude those non-renewed series, end The Flash in a satisfying way, and set up Superman & Lois to continue as an openly independent DC series. It's something that would position the series for a possible pick up by HBO Max should The CW be sold and programming shift dramatically as well, thus. making it something of a win-win overall. And while that is just speculation on my part, we do know that Superman & Lois is set to address the Arrowverse issue rather soon. Helbing revealed during an appearance at WonderCon recently that the show would address things at the end of Season 2. While we don't know the exact episode count for Season 2 of Superman & Lois, if it's like Season 1, the end of Season 2 will be relatively close to The CW's Upfronts. That could be coincidence, but it would also make for good timing for a major shift in the network's DC programming.

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What do you think? Is the Arrowverse coming to an end? Do you think Superman & Lois will be revealed to be on its own Earth after all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.