The CW series, which launched in 2012, was the first of its kind. At the time, the idea of a weekly superhero property, telling comic book style stories on the small screen was basically unheard of. Sure, there had been Smallville, Lois and Clark and a few other shows of that ilk, but they weren’t that interested in their comic book origins.
Arrow was, and it changed the idea of what superhero television could both do and be.
The show embraced serial storytelling, complicated characters and occasionally outlandish twists. It made comic book stories cool, infusing the show with incredible stunt work, dark subject matter and swoony romance. It proved that superhero stories could be just as compelling on the TV screen as they were in the movie theater, and that they could succeed on a relatively modest budget. Arrow broke new ground in virtually every way imaginable.
Arrow’s success is also the reason the CW’s shared DC comics universe even exists. The adventures of Oliver Queen have ultimately given rise to five additional shows to date (The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning and the upcoming Batwoman), as well as an annual multi-series crossover event that’s basically the biggest thing on the network. Over the years, the aptly-named Arrowverse has not only proven that a true shared universe with characters that exist across its various properties is not just a workable prospect, but something that can be truly great.
Now, as it wraps up its run, Arrow will get the chance to lead the way one last time.
How Arrow’s End Will Set the Tone for The CW’s Other Super Series
It’s oddly fitting that Arrow will be the first of the DC television properties to come to an end. After all, it showed everyone else how to be a superhero TV show in the first place, it should probably get the chance to model how to wrap one up, too. Given that the CW has decided early on that Arrow will finish with Season 8, there’s time to sort out exactly how that should happen and to set the course which all these other series will likely follow. Eventually.
It seems likely that Arrow’s conclusion will somehow involve the long-awaited “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event next Fall. Oliver’s secret deal with the Monitor during the “Elseworlds” crossover certainly points to something of that nature. Of course, that deal also probably means that Oliver’s a dead man walking, and he’s traded his life for Barry and Kara’s.
There is something poetic about Oliver going out in a selfless blaze of glory to save the friends he cares about. (And maybe the multiverse too, while he’s at it.) It would be an appropriate coda to his journey from selfish Star City playboy to selfless savior. Heartbreakingly sad, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice. It’s the hero’s ending Oliver has earned, even if it may not be the one most fans want for him.
That said, it’s equally possible that he and Felicity ride off into the sunset of superhero retirement. Arrow is the CW superhero series that’s been the most grounded in reality, after all. It’s largely told the stories of regular people. Most of Team Arrow and their associates – a couple of Canaries aside – are everyday types who fight bad guys with the help of a serious trainer and fancy technology. They’re not metahumans, aliens, or time travelers. Maybe their leader deserves a more normal conclusion to his story, one that would allow him to reappear on anniversary specials every few years.
We don’t know which way Oliver’s story will end yet. But we do know this: The way Arrow decides to end its run will reverberate long after the series ends. It will set the tone for every series finale to follow, and establish what to expect going forward as the Arrowverse evolves into its next phase.
The Many Ways That Arrow’s Legacy Will Live On
Just because Arrow is wrapping things up doesn’t mean this is the end for the characters we love. The CW universe has already proven that nothing really ends, not in a world that includes multiple other established series, alternate universes and competing timelines. There’s no reason to think that the former Arrow crew won’t pop up again somewhere outside of Star City, whether in new shows of their own or as guests on other properties.
Legends of Tomorrow has itself become a sort of Island of Misfit Toys for the Arrowverse, providing homes and meaningful stories to Arrow’s Sara Lance, The Flash’s Ray Palmer and Mick Rory, and even a refugee from a completely different network in John Constantine (whose series originally aired on NBC). Any one of Arrow’s cast could certainly end up on the Wave Rider. We’ve also seen ARGUS leader Lyla show up on The Flash multiple times, and Central City’s metahuman problems could provide a natural home for her and Diggle. Kate Kane may also need some experienced crime-fighting help in Gotham.
The most likely scenario of all, however, is that some number of Arrow’s characters might be folded into a new series of their own.
The idea of Beth Schwartz-led Birds of Prey series is exciting for any number of reasons, and the prospect of a female-led team-up has never felt timelier. In a perfect world, Laurel, Dinah and Felicity could headline this effort, with occasional visits from Sara, Thea, Nyssa or any new Arrowverse woman that might need a female-friendly launching pad.
Arrow itself has attempted to launch the idea of an in-universe version of the Suicide Squad several times, even going so far as rebranding the group “The Ghost Initiative” to get around the weird rules involving the WB’s DC film universe. Season 7’s version hasn’t been that great, largely because it featured Worst Villain Ever Ricardo Diaz, but there’s no reason an adaptation with the freedom to pick and choose the best of Arrow’s bad guys couldn’t succeed.
To put it another way, though Arrow may be officially signing off next Fall, the show’s impact will continue to be felt long after its final credits roll. Whether on new series, old favorites, or special events, we’ll almost certainly see many of these faces again, somewhere in this world they helped make possible. And that is a comforting thought.