No, The Arrowverse Is Not Dead

With three series renewed and the expansion of a first season announced earlier today, the state of the Arrowverse is pretty strong, all things considered. The "Arrowverse," the colloquial name for the shared universe of DC superhero shows that air on The CW, has enjoyed a journey that more or less mirrors the larger movement of superheroes in film and TV over the last decade or so. As the shows grew in popularity and the universe expanded, naysayers were always there to say it was just a matter of time before the whole house of cards collapsed and they all ended.

Some people had started to think that point of view had been vindicated in 2020, as Arrow ended and two more shows -- Supergirl and Black Lightning -- announced that they would end after the 2021 broadcast season. These, coupled with the departure of longtime executive producer Marc Guggenheim and the departure of Ruby Rose as Batwoman, created a narrative that not all was well with the shows.

Then came Stargirl. The well-reviewed series was originally designed for release on DC Universe, but as the walls came down around that short-lived streaming experiment, headed to The CW. The show takes place on the newly-reconsituted Earth-2, but since the events of The CW's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event cut the characters of "Earth-Prime" off from other worlds in the multiverse, Stargirl is effectively not part of the Arrowverse, even though she is (and technically made her first appearance in "Crisis").

You wrap all of that up, blend it with repeated lines about how exhausting the annual crossovers are and how this years (now cancelled) was originally planned to be smaller and more intimate, and you can't blame people for assuming maybe the Arrowverse was on its way out.

But, as we alluded to above, reports of the Arrowverse's death are greatly exaggerated. Earlier today, The CW renewed Batwoman for a third season, The Flash for an eighth, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow for a seventh. The network also ordered two extra episodes of the first season of Superman & Lois.

This means that, even with a reduced load and the potential for at least one of the planned new DC properties to be set in a different continuity, the Arrowverse as fans know it will run for at least another year. Now, will The Flash -- the network's highest rated show for years now -- follow in the footsteps of Arrow and end after eight seasons? It's hard to say. At this point, there is no sign that is the plan, although an eight year run is a really respectable lifespan for any TV show. So will we be exploring this same conversation again this time next year? Very possible.

In any event, the prognosis -- at least for now -- is good. This is a pretty early renewal for Legends in particular, since it's a midseason show, and that likely indicates that the network has a plan for the next year or so. Now, we just wait to see what it is.

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Batwoman is currently airing Sunday nights on The CW. Superman & Lois will premiere on February 23, with The Flash beginning on March 1.