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The Arrowverse Is Dead, Long Live the Arrowverse

It can be easy to get lost in the industry machinations of The CW putting itself up for sale, and canceling a large swath of its long-stable schedule this season to make way for a handful of new projects and spinoffs of reliable brands. But for some, the cancellation bloodbath also signaled a significant shift: It’s not just the network that’s in flux—the Arrowverse as we’ve known it is effectively on the chopping block, too.

The CW’s loosely connected universe of DC Comics series started in 2012 with the grounded, Batman Begins-esque series Arrow, and has grown to encompass a half-dozen shows, featuring characters like The Flash, Hawkman, Batwoman (two of them, actually), Supergirl, Naomi, Firestorm, Black Lightning, and far too many more to list. The Arrowverse has grown to encompass hundreds upon hundreds of hours of television, and crossover events so epic they literally broke the multiverse (a few years before Spider-Man and Doctor Strange did the same on the big screen).

But all that changed this year. Unlike most networks, The CW has traditionally renewed most everything, with older shows phasing out while the schedule stayed largely consistent across the board. This time, the network abruptly axed fan favorite DC series Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman this season, along with freshman DC series Naomi. Those cuts followed the series finales of Supergirl and Black Lightning, which both wrapped their runs last year (Arrow itself ended in 2020).

That leaves the network’s longest-running ongoing series The Flash, which is set for a shortened ninth season next year (which could likely be the show’s farewell tour), as well as breakout hit Superman & Lois, which has already been renewed for a third season. There’s also Stargirl, which has a third season in the can and on the way, though there’s been no word on if the show will continue beyond that (reading the tea leaves, it doesn’t seem likely). The network has also placed a series order for a new DC Comics series in Gotham Knights, which will follow Batman’s adopted son as he teams with former villains to try and solve Bruce Wayne’s apparent murder. For those keeping score, that leaves The Flash, Superman & Lois and Stargirl on the roster—with Gotham Knights on the way to join them at some point in 2023. Admittedly, that still makes for four DC shows in the rotation, but it’s a far cry from the days when established hits Arrow and The Flash were standard bearers of the network’s lineup, and the fall and midseason cup would runneth over with superheroes.

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