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Arrow is ending. What does that mean for The CW's Arrowverse?

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Mar 7, 2019, 10:44 AM EST (Updated)

He probably has a couple more city-saving adventures left in the tank, but come next season, The CW's oldest-running superhero Arrow is hanging up his bow and hoodie. For good.

After seven and a half seasons, The CW's OG superhero series (at least of the modern era, no shade intended Smallville) is officially coming to an end next season, as part of a shortened 10-episode eighth season. For the better part of a decade, Arrow has birthed almost a half-dozen spinoffs and sister shows, helping to seed a universe that will attempt to tell DC Comics' most ambitious and iconic story in live action with the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event next season.

The CW owes about half of its primetime line-up to the small screen superhero universe Arrow started, but now the Arrowverse will have to continue on without Arrow. With the show already well into its seventh season, the move isn't a major shock by TV standards, but it does still raise a few questions. Ratings have been on the decline for years now (not uncommon for shows once they reach the back end of their life cycle), and spinoff series The Flash long ago took over the network's top ratings spot. But Arrow still consistently performs better than its superhero brethren Supergirl, Black Lightning and Legends of Tomorrow. Of course, the longer a show runs, the more expensive it becomes to keep the cast around — then there's the question of creative quality to consider.

Arrow has done everything possible to reinvent itself over the past few years, from introducing flash-forwards about a mysterious future, to having Oliver recruit a whole new team of young heroes around him. It's certainly helped keep the show relevant, but after more than 150 hours of television, even the best writers start to hit a wall on how many new stories you can tell within a template before you start repeating yourself. And yeah, over seven seasons, we've already seen a few of the same arcs start to replay themselves.

So, it makes sense that The CW would want to let this show bow out gracefully while fans are still fond of it. Plus, as we've noted before, the upcoming Crisis event presents the perfect stage to end Oliver Queen's story with one of the most ambitious stories ever attempted on television. A multiverse-saving event certainly makes for a fitting end for the show that launched the multiverse in the first place, right?

Arrowverse Crisis On Earth X Teams

Credit: The CW

So what will this universe actually look like without Oliver Queen? Pretty similar, probably. Like it or not, the Arrowverse has grown to be a whole lot bigger than Arrow these past few years. There are now dozens of heroes crisscrossing several shows. From the time travel wackiness of Legends of Tomorrow, to the socially relevant mission of Black Lightning, there are plenty of stories out there left to tell in other corners of this world. That passing of the torch is also made a bit easier by the fact that The Flash has already become the centerpiece of this universe in recent years anyway — so it can just fully assume that "flagship" position on the back half of next season.

As for which shows will actually comprise the next phase of the Arrowverse, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Black Lightning are all already renewed for next season. So fans can expect them to stick around at least for the transition year. Flash will be in its sixth season next year, but it's still the network's ratings leader (and is still going strong creatively), so it stands to reason it could have at least a few more years left on the dial, or even more (hey, Supernatural is in its 87th season or something next year, right?).

Legends of Tomorrow will also be back, and its ensemble cast remains flexible enough it could even absorb a few heroes orphaned by Arrow's ending, if it makes creative sense. Supergirl is also doing fine in its own universe (though that separation could change post-Crisis), telling compelling stories about racism and xenophobia through the lens of alien refugees. Then Black Lightning remains in its own little corner of the world (it's still not clear if the show takes place on Earth-1 or not). It's always been street-level, though, and is at its best telling the stories of Freeland. So that's not likely to change.

Looking at new shows, Arrow's cancellation makes it a near-certainty that The CW will pick up Batwoman to series. A pilot is already in production, and the character was introduced with much fanfare in a backdoor pilot earlier this season during the annual Flash/Arrow/Supergirl crossover. With a brooding hero looking over a crime-ridden city, the series also looks to be a nice spiritual successor to Arrow, as well. Arrow always skewed to the darker side of the spectrum, and Batwoman seems an obvious fit to take up that torch. Plus, it gives The CW a foothold in the Batman mythology, which is a big ol' section of the DC canon that hasn't really been explored within the Arrowverse up to this point.

As far as any other new shows, there hasn't been much buzz about anything else being in development outside of Batwoman. With upstart streaming service DC Universe making a play for some of the same territory (albeit with more F-bombs) with shows like Titans, Swamp Thing, and Stargirl, it'll be interesting to see how heroes and properties get divvied out moving forward over the next few years.

Most likely, The CW won't be looking to rush anything else to screen, at least not in the next year or so. The network seems to have reached a tipping point at five super-shows on the schedule (Arrow will end as Batwoman likely arrives, keeping that five-show balance intact). So, we probably won't see a new super-show until another is set to end, which won't happen until at least the season after next. So, there's plenty of time for The CW to map out its next move.

The fact that Arrow creator and Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti recently signed a $400 million deal to stick around at Warner Bros. TV until at least 2024 also takes some of the pressure off, too. Berlanti's a producer on every Arrowverse show, and will be around to help figure out where it all goes next. Hey, he's always had a soft spot for Booster Gold, so who knows? Maybe he could help kick off the next phase of the Arrowverse a year or two down the line?

Regardless, fans shouldn't be worried. Yes, it'll be strange to no longer have Arrow on the airwaves, but there's still plenty of heroes left to save the day. Besides, Oliver Queen did a pretty good job getting them ready to handle whatever comes next — with or without him.