At the end of the Arrow-verse Elseworlds crossover event this week (which ran across The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl), The CW indicated that next year’s crossover will be the Crisis on Infinite Earths. For those not familiar with that, it was one of the first comic book “event series” (coming out in 1985) and it was used to simplify the rather convoluted cosmology of the DC Universe which spanned multiple “Earths” at that time. The Arrow-verse shows have established that they have multiple universes of their own (Supergirl takes place on a different Earth than the one seen in Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow). So with those shows now getting their own Crisis on Infinite Earths, this may be an opportunity to consolidate universes and also trim down the number of Arrow-verse entries.
Since the debut of Arrow back in 2012, The CW’s superhero entries have been among the most popular shows on that network, and their number has grown from one to five (including Black Lightning which is not officially part of the Arrow-verse but could be merged in). But the ratings have been on the downswing the past few seasons and the network could see the event series as the perfect opportunity to trim the ranks.
So which shows would go if The CW decides to make a purge? Below I look at each of the network’s superhero shows from least to most likely to conclude in 2019.
The Flash: This show and its titular hero will survive the Crisis on Infinite Earths (even though–Spoiler Alert–Barry Allen died in the original comic book series). This is still the network’s highest rated show and has become the flagship of the network’s superhero entries. So consider it safe.
Supergirl: This show’s numbers are down year-over-year (though that is partly due to its move to highly competitive Sundays), and it will have enough episodes for a syndication run (where shows really start to turn a profit) at the end of this season. And, not to be too much of a spoiler here, but Kara Zor-El did not survive the original comic book series. But I still think this show will stick around because the network will want to keep one female led show among its superhero entries. Unless . . . The CW pulls the wild card that I mention below.
Legends of Tomorrow: I previously considered this one of The CW’s safe Arrow-verse entries because it can be used to pick up characters from other shows that have ended. But it is currently the lowest rated of their superhero shows and it has to be one of the most expensive to produce. Thirteen more episodes beyond the current season will get it close enough for a syndication run, so now I’m thinking this one might be a good candidate to end during the crossover event. But as the network’s only team-up show, I wouldn’t count it out just yet.
Black Lightning: This one is somewhat of a toss-up. It’s not officially part of the Arrow-verse, it is one of the network’s lower rated shows, and it is only in its second season. The network could actually cancel this show this season as pulling the plug on a second year show would not be unprecedented for The CW. But then they could bring the Black Lightning character back in the crossover event (merging him into the Arrow-verse) and perhaps have him become a recurring character on one of the other shows. If the show’s numbers drop further in the second half of the season, consider that a possible future course for the character.
Arrow: This show is growing long in the tooth and I was actually thinking it might wrap up after its current season. But that was not announced in advance, and I can’t remember the last time that The CW cancelled a long-running show without giving it a final season announcement. So I am thinking that next year will be the final season for Arrow and it could conclude during the crossover event as some have already theorized.
Wild Card: A potential new Batwoman series. This character was introduced during the Elseworlds crossover and word is that The CW is considering her for her own series. There were talks this past Summer that it could happen at mid-season, but nothing has been announced, so Fall 2019 is likely the earliest we could see a Batwoman series. If the network goes that direction, then I could increase the likelihood that Supergirl will end during the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. [Update: The network as picked up a pilot for this show.]
As I have previously predicted, a shakeup to The CW’s superhero shows seems certainly to be on the way, and the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths event sure has the look of Project: Purge the Arrow-verse. It’s also possible that the network will break with tradition and not make final season announcements for shows they plan to end in order not to spoil the crossover event. So prepare for some big changes coming, but also rest assured that death is not necessarily a permanent condition in the comics nor in the Arrow-verse, so fallen heroes could return at some point.