Even hands that can change the course of mighty rivers can't carry an hour-long TV drama all by themselves.
That's why The CW's various DC Comics shows have dug through the DC Comics vaults (and occasionally created characters from whole cloth) to come up with some of the most compelling supporting cast members on TV.
With the shows on hiatus and not a lot of love to go around this week, we decided to take a look at our favorite characters and what it is they bring to the shows they populate.
For the sake of argument here, we're eliminating both DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and all of its characters, from consideration here. A superhero team made up of supporting characters from other shows, Legends doesn't really have its own supporting cast, per se, because the primary cast is so large and they live a kind of nomadic existence. Furthermore, the fact that they're not main characters on their own show gives them a significant leg up on the other characters populating Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl in terms of character development.
Winn Schott, the son of Superman villain Winslow Schott, was a key part of what made Supergirl charming and fun in the first season.
While his role has been somewhat downgraded in season 2, one of the things that ekes him into the top ten over the heads of lovable characters like Caitlin Snow and Hank Henshaw/J'Onn J'Onzz is the fact that he is a character who helps to keep the fallible and human element firmly in play at the DEO.
Surrounded by world-class agents and superheroes, Winn is clearly out of his depth...but never fails to step up to the task, entertain the audience, or both.prevnext
One of the advantages that Arrow has over some of the other shows on this list is its ability to play the long game.
In the first season or so, Thea Queen often came off as kind of insufferable, but she has grown perhaps more than any character on this list, and in doing so, she has gone through hell like nobody else.
Like Winn, one of the most interesting elements of Thea is her humanity. Surrounded by Team Arrow, who are elite and who make sure everyone around them knows it, Thea is often barely keeping it together...and given what she's often up against, that might just make her the strongest person on the show.prevnext
Oh, Cat Grant, how we've missed you.
In case it wasn't clear enough how large of a presence Calista Flockhart's character had in the first season of Supergirl, the second season made it really crystal clear as the hugely-talenteD Ian Gomez has struggled to make viewers care about Snapper Carr, a character who arguably has more goodwill baked into him with the hardcore comic book fans than does Cat Grant.
There are a few reasons for this: he's a domineering male in a feminist show, and the personification of a decades-old TV trope (anybody ever see The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or its spinoff Lou Grant?) built into a series that is almost aggressively current. And, most of all, with Winn at the DEO, James doing the superhero-by-night thing and Cat Grant gone, the show has decided to largely leave Kara Danvers's story to languish in service of Supergirl's story.
None of that, though, speaks to how great Cat really was: she managed to build Kara up even while saying cruel and often unfair things; she made you believe that she was smart enough to figure out who Supergirl really was, and without even winking and nodding at the camera returned to her "ignorance," leaving fans to wonder whether she had really been dissuaded or not.
The fact that Cat Grant co-creator Jerry Ordway always seemed to enjoy the way she was portrayed on this show -- as opposed to Lois & Clark, where she was a one-dimensional bimbo, or Smallville, where they never quite figured out what they wanted to do with her for long -- is a pretty good indication of just how well they translated this character to the small screen.prevnext
Cisco might be the most fun supporting character in the whole of the Arrowverse, and it almost feels sacrilegious not to have him higher up on this list...but the fact that he's so far down the line isn't an indication that we don't love him (we do!), but a reminder of the strength of the world the writers and producers of the Arrowverse have built up around their heroes.
Cisco is just now finding his way to superhero-dom, a journey that started literally in the pilot, when he was unknowingly bestowed powers by the particle accelerator explosion that also created The Flash and most of his first wave of villains.
In a dark and dangerous world, Cisco provides levity and perspective -- and coming out of the world of Arrow's "hoods" and "vigilantes," he was the first to really embrace the idea of the "superhero" in the world of The CW.prevnext
We named Laurel Lance as one of our top two members of Team Arrow in a recent article, but this Canary soared even more as a member of Oliver's supporting cast. Someone who started out as indecisive, angry, and not particularly interesting eventually grew into one of the most fully developed and beloved members of the show's cast.
The fact that Laurel takes on the role of the Black Canary, who in the comics is Oliver's "endgame," kicked off shipper wars within the Arrow fandom that remain pretty toxic to this day, but the best parts of Laurel were usually the ones that didn't rely on her relationship with Oliver to make her interesting or relatable.
While we know it isn't the same person, we're eager to see how the next Laurel -- Earth-2's Black Siren -- comes into play next season when Katie Cassidy returns as a series regular for the first time since she was killed in season 4.prevnext
Iris West is the character on this list whose "destiny" fans can be most certain about. As in the comics, it seems like the creative team is wasting very little time getting she and Barry set up for a life together -- which is good, since their grandkids are eventually major players in the world of The Flash.
Played with charm and intelligence by Candice Patton, Iris is one of the most likable characters on the show, and a character you always want to see more of. There's a reason that even beyond the impact it would have on Team Flash, the fandom was shaken to see her character getting killed over and over again these last few weeks.
If there's an area where we would like to see a little change, it's in the fact that once she became "in the know" about Barry's secret, Iris has become almost completely consumed by the Team Flash side of things, and has had very little time for her own personal or professional life This could be a plot poitn -- certainly her idea a few weeks ago that she has nothing much to hang her hat on if she were really to be killed by one of The Flash's villains speaks to this -- but it would be nice to see such a smart, independent woman have just a little bit of independence on this show. It seems like Betty Cooper on Riverdale has written more stories for her high school paper than Iris has all season.prevnext
Why does Felicity step up to be our favorite love interest on the show? It's simple: before she was a love interest, Felicity was the best part of Arrow.
After she became the love interest, Felicity was a lightning rod for controversy, mostly because of the aforementioned shipper wars, but taken on her own as a character, and separate from the fan acrimony, she never stopped being an interesting character in her own right. Standing outside of the context of her relationship with Oliver, Felicity continues to be a character who can move the needle on her own -- and we've seen her repeatedly stand up to challenge Oliver's constant desire to control every element of his environment.
Hell, there's an upcoming episode that is positioning her as Oliver's adversary -- and you just know he's probably going to lose that one.prevnext
Topping our aforementioned Team Arrow list was the first ever recruit to Team Arrow, and the longest-running superhero ally in The CW's roster, John Diggle (David Ramsey). Oliver's bodyguard was initially hesitant to be a part of his crusade, but he quickly lent his expertise, and has been a mainstay of Team Arrow ever since.
Long before he officially suited up as Spartan in season four, Diggle was a massive asset to Oliver and the rest of the team, both on and off the field. In addition, his personal relationship with Oliver has been a consistent and (generally) positive element on the show, with the two growing to be like brothers.
Although Diggle has brought forth some roadblocks for Team Arrow - such as the Suicide Squad, his brother Andy, and his recent legal troubles - he has remained one of the show's core voices of reason. He has also helped lead the team in Oliver's absence, both in season three and the beginning of season four.
While his aforementioned stint in jail led to him occasionally missing out on the team's proceedings, it's hard to imagine Team Arrow without Diggle as a part of it.prevnext
If the "D" in The CW's DC Universe stands for "Daddy Issues," then Joe West is the guy who transcends all that and stands as the symbol that not every father causes more problems than he solves.
A good father, a good cop, and a good person, Joe always knows what the right thing to do is -- even if his kids don't necessarily want to hear it -- and he's always responded as well as could possibly be expected to the idea of his adoptive son and his biological daughter eventually deciding they want to run away and get married.
He's also arguably the most relatable character in the universe; he's in the thick of the Team Flash madness, but at his core, it's all about protecting his family and making sure his loved ones are safe.prevnext
Even while Supergirl has generally left the non-superhero stuff behind this season, with everything moving from CatCo and coffee shops to The DEO and alien dive bars, Alex Danvers continues to be the non-super who is as or more interesting than everyone else on the show.
The sisterly relationship that Alex and Kara have is the backbone of most of the show, and the fact that so much of the season has been spent on developing Alex's romance -- she isn't even the main character, and yet it's so much more interesting than the Kara/Mon-El scenes most weeks! -- tells you just how likable she is, and how integral she's become to the series.0comments
The fact that Alex is played by Chyler Leigh, one of the most engaging and likable actors on TV, doesn't hurt anything, either: she managed to make those brief flirtations with Maxwell Lord interesting in the first season, but when she fell for Maggie Sawyer and everything fell into place for the character, it didn't feel like it invalidated any of the character stuff that had happened before Maggie came along, either.
Supergirl is missing something without Cat Grant, but without Alex it's hard to know whether the show could exist at all. Leigh's chemistry with Melissa Benoist, with David Harewood, and with Floriana Lima means that the character barely ever has a scene where she's onscreen with someone who doesn't bring out the absolute best in Leigh, and vice versa. And that's helped by the fact that the writers have given her such a strong sense of self and identity that even early in season 2, when she was beginning to doubt herself and her identity, she remained the show's rock.prev