Yesterday night, the CW took an uncharacteristic axe to two of its Arrowverse series, Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow, cancelling them after three and seven seasons respectively. While Batwoman has its fans and they’re sad about its cancellation, what’s been done to Legends of Tomorrow just seems downright cruel.
While other Arrowverse shows like Arrow and Supergirl have been cancelled the past few years, they knew they were ending ahead of time, and were allowed a series finale that…knew it was a series finale. For Legends of Tomorrow to air for seven years and end on a total cliffhanger feels terrible, especially for its lead, Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance, who has been in something like 150 episodes of Arrowverse shows across five different series. And now she’ll simply…disappear.
In a situation like this, you may have expected the compromise to be a greenlit shortened final season to sort out the remaining plotlines. That appears to be what’s happening with The Flash, which has a shorter season 9, and that appears like it’s going to be its last. But the CW could not spare that for Legends of Tomorrow, and even if in theory, its characters could appear elsewhere in the Arrowverse in the future, that’s kind of the second half of the story.
It seems pretty clear that WB/DC is on the road to fully dismantling the Arrowverse, and most everything in proximity to it. Arrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow are all over now. The Flash will end in another season, most likely. That leaves Superman and Lois, which seems like a transitionary program between CW fare and HBO Max content, but even that may not have the longest of lifespan as DC looks toward bigger budget, movie-connected series like James Gunn’s Peacemaker or the upcoming Penguin spin-off from Matt Reeves’ Batman. The obvious pressure from Disney Plus’s Marvel series is there, and low-rated Arrowverse series in their seventh, eighth, ninth seasons seem like relics of another era. There may be a few last attempts at this style of show like the upcoming Gotham Knights series, but again, the core of the Arrowverse has more or less been excised completely at this point, and will be fully gone when The Flash wraps.
I would say that in a normal year, the CW probably would have picked these shows up again for another season, but the final complicating factor here is that the CW is being shopped around for sale, and low-performing series are not exactly a boon for that process. And the deal the CW had with Netflix for the airing of its series after they air would not apply to the next seasons of these shows, another factor in the decision, most likely.
In the end, it comes down to “it’s just business, not personal,” but it will feel personal for many fans who expected that seven years of investment in a show like Legends would yield something at least resembling a satisfying conclusion rather than a cliffhanger. No luck, unless plans change.