On Monday, the news that fans of The CW’s The Flash had been both expecting and dreading became official. The long-running DC Comics inspired series — and technically the last of the network’s so-called Arrowverse — will end with a 13-episode ninth season in 2023. The announcement marks the end of an era, one that dramatically changed the face of superhero television and while there are many fans who are hoping that the Arrowverse can continue after The Flash’s end, be it with spinoffs or through the resurrection of other, previously cancelled in-universe shows by other networks, the reality is now is the right time to end the Arrowverse.
When The Flash first debuted in 2014, it wasn’t the first DC series on The CW. That distinction belongs to Arrow, which debuted in 2012 and indeed gave The Flash its start in a sense, with Grant Gustin appearing as Barry Allen on Arrow, but while Arrow was first, The Flash quickly became one of the network’s most-watched series. As the series continued, The Flash very much became the heart of the newly minted Arrowverse. At times, it felt like Team Flash and Central City were something of a hub for the Arrowverse with Barry having relationships with nearly all the other heroes and indeed being the connection to heroes from other realities — first Supergirl and, later, Black Lightning. Now that the rest of the shows and their heroes are gone, it’s only fitting that The Flash be the series to turn off the lights as it were.
The time is right from a story perspective as well. Ever since “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, The Flash has been a very different series. Having been through the death and rebirth of the universe, Barry Allen is a much more mature hero and while recent seasons have seen very personal stories and challenges for him, they’ve also very much seen an expansion of the idea of what being The Flash is. Love it or hate it, heroes never operate in a vacuum. Even on the pages of comics the heroes frequently must rely on others in some fashion and The Flash has taken that to heart with Team Flash growing and, bit by bit, new heroes rising to take more responsibility. Heading into Season 9, Barry is no longer Central City’s lone protector and he’s now in a place where he is taking more of a supervisory role. The world doesn’t need “The Flash” anymore. It has so much more.
On a smaller scale, The Flash as a series has also largely wrapped up its major, series-long conflict as well. The Season 8 finale saw Barry finally defeat Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh) once and for all. While there are certainly still stories that can be told — and will be in Season 9 — at the center of The Flash has always been the Barry/Thawne of it all. Barry “levelled up” this season and won that fight. Closing the book here feels complete and it seems like that’s something even showrunner Eric Wallace felt in terms of that particular story arc in Season 8. He told ComicBook.com after the finale that they initially thought the Season 8 finale would be the series finale, which prompted that epic battle.