John Diggle/Spartan, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Barry Allen/The Flash and Wally West/Kid Flash in The Flash season 9 episode 9

‘The Flash’ Series Finale Marks The End of an Era

The Flash, and with it, the Arrowverse, has finally come to an end. Producing over 10 years of storytelling, six different live-action shows, and nearly 700 episodes, the Arrowverse was truly a remarkable achievement. Say what you will about its quality (which I will readily admit often ranged from painfully average to downright goofy), what the Arrowverse managed to create, despite the trouble the DCEU was having getting any sort of interconnected movie universe off the ground, was something to behold.

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The Arrowverse’s crossovers were monumentally ambitious, and its superhero stories dominated The CW’s programming for over a decade. But what I always found most surprising of all was not the fact that they managed to get the Arrowverse off the ground—it began at what was arguably the height of live-action superhero adaptations—but that they stuck to their guns throughout its entire run. While The CW’s style might not be for everyone, the Arrowverse was palatable enough for a massive audience, all the while letting each series make its own mark and find its specific niche.

The first few seasons of Arrow were dark and gritty. Enter Barry Allen, in a crossover episode with Oliver Queen, and The Flash became a colorful, heartfelt, and engaging series all on its own. Later, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow came along—a spinoff featuring side characters from Arrow and The Flash. The show took the time to find its true purpose, which was to send the Legends on absolutely insane adventures throughout time and space, and became a genre of its own. (Remember Beebo? Beebo!) Supergirl introduced a new generation to another Kryptonian hero with a feminist twist, Black Lightning featured a heroic black family working together to fight oppression and prejudice in their neighborhood, and Batwoman, despite an early casting change, managed to carve out its place in an already firmly established superhero universe.

Given all these shows were working with different narrative objectives, different creative teams, and wildly different styles, the fact that they still managed to come together and create largely coherent crossovers that brought spectacle and superhero nuttiness to our screens was nothing short of a miracle. There’s something to be said for a network working as hard as they did to make that happen. Crossovers between two shows can be tricky, let alone six at a time. The last proper Arrowverse event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, brought together not just heroes from the Arrowverse but even managed to snag a few special guest stars as well. I won’t lie, Tom Welling’s version of Clark Kent being part of it, even for just a few minutes, made me emotional. Remember, this was done without a massive, purpose-made streaming platform, or Disney-level budgets.

While some of the Arrowverse shows went on too long (Arrow) and others were cut off before they should have been (Legends of Tomorrow), you can’t deny that the Arrowverse in itself was a moment, a cultural force to be reckoned with. Even though I felt somewhat relieved after I watched the final episode of The Flash, I’ll also weirdly miss it. It was part of my life for a long time.

(featured image: The CW)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.