The CW’s Arrowverse began with the premiere of Arrow in 2012. Originally a grounded and realistic take on the Green Arrow mythos, the show expanded to incorporate fantastical elements from the DC Universe. The network created two spin-off shows, The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Additionally, there’s Supergirl, which takes place on another Earth, but has still been included with crossovers.
So far, Arrow has been going for five seasons, The Flash has had three, and both Legends and Supergirl have had two. All four shows are returning for new seasons next fall. Of course, not every season of every show is going to be on the same level of quality, resulting in debates over which seasons are the best/worst, etc.
Below, we’ve ranked all 12 seasons of the Arrowverse thus far. (We will be talking only about the live action shows, so Vixen isn’t included. Also, we’ll be talking SPOILERS, so if you’re not caught up on these shows, stop reading now.)
#12: Arrow Season 4
I think most, if not all, of us can agree that Arrow had a steep decline in quality in its fourth season. In this season, Oliver Queen finally took the name Green Arrow, as he sought to create a new identity in his quest to save the newly renamed Star City. Oliver and his team fight Damien Darhk, head of the organization known as H.I.V.E., as he seeks to destroy most of humanity. Darhk is by far the most fantastical big bad Arrow has had to date, as the character uses magic powers and his motivation is over-the-top.
Overall, Arrow‘s fourth season is the Arrowverse’s greatest misfire to date. Admittedly, it still has some good elements, such as the acting and DC Universe connections. However, the storylines and character development are very much unfocused, while even the action descended into mediocre laziness. Meanwhile, many fans were turned off by the season’s creative decisions, such as the death of Laurel Lance and the focus on the Oliver/Felicity relationship. Also, I get that these shows are soap operas, but the cheesy elements were really out in full force in this season. But perhaps worst of all, this season put so much focus on the supporting characters, it resulted in an unsatisfying and incomplete story arc for Oliver, aka the main character of the show.
Overall, Arrow season four is a disappointing entry in the show’s run. For the season where Oliver actually becomes Green Arrow, this should have been so much better.
#11: Supergirl Season 2
Supergirl‘s second season is its first on The CW, as its first season aired on CBS. This year, Kara landed a new gig as a reporter at CatCo, she forms a relationship with newcomer Mon-El, and she continues to work with the DEO to face enemies (both alien and non-alien). As for villains, Kara spent the first half of the season fighting Lillian Luthor and CADMUS, while Mon-El’s mother, Rhea, threatened the planet’s existence in the second half. We’ve also gotten to meet characters such as Superman and Miss Martian.
Supergirl season two isn’t exactly bad. In fact, the first half is really good. But the second half drags a lot, with many of the season’s flaws becoming more noticeable. For starters, I had the same issue here that I did with Arrow season four: the emphasis on supporting characters. Alex explores her sexuality, James becomes Guardian, and then there’s the emphasis on new characters such as Mon-El and Lena Luthor. These were all good character arcs, but they shouldn’t detract from the main protagonist’s. Kara herself didn’t have a proper arc this season. She becomes a reporter, she’s Supergirl, she dates Mon-El….and that’s about it. Additionally, the season just doesn’t have the hook that its first season did, story-wise. Too many filler/uneventful episodes can lead to that.
So, while not completely terrible, Supergirl has quite a few issues in its second season. Fingers crossed that the show will learn from these mistakes next season.
#10: Arrow Season 3
In Arrow‘s third season, Oliver continues his mission to save Starling City as the Arrow, and he faces his most powerful enemy yet in Ra’s al Ghul. The Demon’s Head is the leader of the League of Assassins, who have been teased countless times on the show beforehand. After defeating him in a trial by combat, Ra’s is impressed with Oliver and seeks to make him his heir. Oliver refuses, and he goes to great lengths to defeat Ra’s and save the city again. This season also saw Oliver pursue a relationship with Felicity, while more fantastical elements, such as The Flash and the Lazarus Pit, were featured. And the Arrow persona was destroyed thanks to Ra’s, which leads to Oliver taking the Green Arrow mantle in season four.
I like Arrow season three a lot more than other people do. The story has a lot of plot twists, shocking character reveals, and solid development. The action is pretty good too. However, it still has a few issues. The Oliver/Felicity “will they won’t they” arc, which had a love triangle with Ray Palmer, was just annoying. Also, the season began the show’s focus on its supporting characters over its protagonist, which was way more obvious in season four. And finally, some of the Batman similarities did throw me off, primarily Oliver and Nyssa’s wedding.
While far from perfect, Arrow season three is still a solid installment of the show, even if it rarely matches the quality of its first two seasons.
#9: Supergirl Season 1
Supergirl‘s first season is the only season on this list to air anywhere other than The CW. The series originally aired on CBS, which co-owns CW. Supergirl season one was a pretty standard superhero origin story: Kara comes to Earth, decides to become a superhero, works on a costume with Winn, attempts to lead a double life, and strives to go outside of her cousin’s shadow. Kara also fights Non and his wife, Kara’s aunt Astra, for the survival of Planet Earth. Additionally, Kara works with the DEO, alongside her foster sister Alex and leader
Hank Henshaw J’onn J’onzz.
Supergirl had a good first season. It was occasionally weighed down by soap opera cheese, while the constant teases of Superman without actually showing him got annoying after a while. However, the series found its footing after a few episodes. The visual effects are pretty good, there’s a certain charm to the show, and Melissa Benoist is just perfect as the title character. I also loved the reveal that Hank Henshaw is actually the Martian Manhunter.
Overall, Supergirl‘s first season is pretty good, successfully establishing Kara Zor-El as her own hero.
#8: The Flash Season 2
The Flash‘s second season continues Barry Allen’s mission to protect Central City from evil metahumans and other threats. This season, we were introduced to the Multiverse, an infinite number of parallel universes. From here, we met many doppelgangers and characters from other Earths. The big bad is Zoom, another evil speedster who seeks to steal Barry’s speed and destroy the Multiverse. After a season-long conflict, which saw the death of Barry’s father, Zoom was defeated and transformed into Black Flash. While Flash saved the day, Barry still felt defeat in the aftermath of losing his father. He decides to go back in time and save his mother from dying, which kicks off the Flashpoint storyline for season three.
After a fantastic first season, it was always gonna be tough for The Flash to match that level of quality in subsequent seasons. While season two isn’t on the same level, it’s still a solid follow-up. It greatly expands the scope of the Arrowverse, as the Multiverse allows for the existence of infinite versions of these characters. It even allows Supergirl to cross over with the other shows. Meanwhile, the visual effects continue to impress, while Zoom is a terrifying villain. However, the season does suffer from some unoriginality, whether it’s Team Flash’s motivational speeches, the generic villains-of-the-week, or the fact that Zoom is extremely similar to Reverse-Flash.
Nitpicks aside, The Flash season two is another enjoyable installment of the Scarlet Speedster’s adventures.
#7: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1
Legends of Tomorrow is the third series set in the main Arrowverse. It unites a group of heroes and villains introduced on both Arrow and The Flash, with the two shows setting up the new series in a two-part crossover. In Legends, Rip Hunter brings together the likes of Atom, Firestorm, and Hawkgirl to defeat the immortal tyrant Vandal Savage. Oh, and there’s so much time travel involved.
Legends of Tomorrow‘s first season was a lot of fun right out of the gate. While Arrow deals with the grittier street level drama and Flash still has a lot of heart/drama behind its sci-fi, Legends is full-blown insanity. Think of the Arrow/Flash crossovers, but on steroids. Legends has some really impressive CGI, fun character interactions, and the unique environments that change with every episode. However, Legends still had a couple issues in its first season. For one, the Vandal Savage storyline was a drag, as they constantly had to find new ways of why they couldn’t kill him until the finale.
Overall, Legends of Tomorrow had a really good first season that’s exciting and just so much fun.
#6: The Flash Season 3
Picking up where we left off in season two, The Flash‘s third season opens in the Flashpoint timeline that Barry created. While the timeline was “restored” immediately, the season still heavily focused on the consequences of Barry’s actions. In this timeline, Caitlin and Wally now have powers, allowing them to become Killer Frost and Kid Flash, respectively. But the biggest consequence is the arrival of a new villain, Savitar, who turns out to be a future time remnant of Barry himself. After Barry witnesses a future where Savitar kills Iris, he and the team work to prevent it from happening. It didn’t happen, but it resulted in the death of this season’s Harrison Wells, H.R. Wells. After Savitar’s defeat, Barry entered the Speed Force, as he has “reached his finish line”….at least until season four.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Flash season three. It’s an improvement over season two, as it has more unique plot twists and story directions. And sure, Savitar is the third mystery evil speedster in a row, but that’s the only thing he has in common with Reverse-Flash and Zoom. His motivation is different, his suit is different, and he presents challenges that Barry hadn’t faced before. The mission to save Iris kept me hooked in the second half of the season, as I was anxious to see how they would do it. And the conclusion didn’t disappoint me. Also, Wally’s evolution into Kid Flash made me like him more, and with both Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick present, we have several key members of the Flash Family together in live action.
While The Flash may not match the quality of its first season in later installments, season three was a pretty strong continuation of the story. Fingers crossed this will continue for season four.
#5: Arrow Season 1
The season that started it all. Arrow‘s first season is a depiction of simpler times in this world, before the arrival of metahumans, time travel, and the Multiverse. It depicts Oliver’s crusade to save Starling City and cleanse it of corruption. As the Hood, Oliver started out as a vigilante who had no issue with killing his enemies. He does whatever it takes to right his father’s wrongs. Oliver’s mission puts him on a collision course with Malcolm Merlyn, who sought to wreak havoc in the city with the Undertaking. And Merlyn…actually succeeds, as his earthquake machine killed many citizens in the city, including his son Tommy.
Arrow took a few episodes to find its footing, but when it did, it was full speed ahead. The season benefits from great fight choreography, an intriguing storyline, and a great villain in Merlyn. Also, in retrospect, Arrow‘s grounded approach to Oliver Queen and his world feels fresh, considering how fantastical it and all the other shows have become. Season one still has a couple issues, such as the soap opera cheese and the obnoxious Oliver/Laurel/Tommy love triangle, but nothing to seriously damage it.
In summary, Arrow had a great first season, and it only continues to get better with age.
#4: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
After defeating Vandal Savage and the Time Masters, the Legends embark on a new mission in their second season: travel through time and correct “time aberrations,” or mistakes. The team recruits new members Nate Heywood, who becomes
Citizen Steel, and Amaya Jiwe, the original Vixen and grandmother of Mari McCabe. The Legends also seek to collect the pieces of the Spear of Destiny and destroy it. But opposing them are the Legion of Doom, a team consisting of Reverse-Flash, Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, and (eventually) Captain Cold. The Legion is eventually defeated, but in the Legends’ effort to win, they – long story short – break time. (To be continued……)
As mentioned earlier, Legends of Tomorrow had a solid first season, but was weighed down by the main villain and some uneventul episodes. In season two, however, the show takes all of its strengths and goes full throttle. The fun factor is enhanced, the CGI is better, the character interactions are more interesting, and the villains are great. Also, each time period allowed them to create strong storylines, whether it’s in the Civil War era or 17th century feudal Japan. Meanwhile, seeing the Justice Society of America was pretty awesome, while Rip Hunter’s temporary turn to the dark side was really good. (In fact, I think I prefer Evil Rip over Good Rip.) And finally, seeing Eobard Thawne interact with the likes of Darhk and Merlyn was so good.
Overall, Legends of Tomorrow had a great second season full of fan service, character development, and just plain fun.
#3: Arrow Season 5
Arrow goes full circle in its fifth season, which saw the island flashback storyline catch up to the events of season one. But the present-day storyline was just as influenced by the show’s first season. Following Laurel’s death, Oliver returns to the hero vs. killer conflict within him. He creates a new team of vigilantes in Star City, consisting of Mister Terrific, Wild Dog, and even a new Black Canary in Dinah Drake. The big bad is Prometheus, whose father was killed by Oliver back in season one. Prometheus knows everything about Oliver and his loved ones, and he torments our hero – physically and psychologically. The two take the fight back to Lian Yu, where Prometheus committed suicide, setting off a wave of bombs and threatening the lives of Oliver’s entire team. Who survives? Who dies? We’ll find out next year.
After a mediocre fourth season, I was reluctant to get excited about season five. But boy, was I proven wrong. Arrow not only returned to form this year, it churned out a season that’s almost as great as season two. It was a return to everything that caused fans to fall in love with the show in the first place. The fight choreography is on point, the tone is very dark, and the drama is gripping. They even brought back Laurel in the form of Black Siren, while adding a new Black Canary to the team. (Sorry, but Dinah is already a better Canary than Laurel ever was.) Also, Prometheus makes for an outstanding villain, as he steals every scene he’s in and offers new challenges for Oliver.
In short, Arrow‘s fifth season is arguably the biggest comeback story in comic book television. I really, really hope that the show continues this streak for season six and beyond.
#2: The Flash Season 1
The very first spin-off series in the Arrowverse, The Flash was responsible for the introduction of many fantastical elements in this world in season one. This series showed no hesitation in featuring metahumans, a wide variety of superpowers, and even time travel. The season is a strong origin story for Flash, as Barry Allen (with a lot of help) learns to use his powers to protect his city and become a hero. Iconic villains such as Captain Cold and Trickster debut here, along with heroes such as Firestorm. Aiding Barry in his mission is Harrison Wells, who turns out to be Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash in disguise. Thawne is eventually “erased” from existence when Eddie Thawne, Eobard’s ancestor and Iris’s boyfriend, commits suicide.
The Flash had a fantastic first season. It does a great job establishing Barry and his supporting cast, while the CGI is very impressive for a CW series. While Arrow is a darker, more grounded take on the world of vigilantism, The Flash offers an abundance of heart, fun and joy. It celebrates the concept of heroism, as well as colorful and fantastical villains. Additionally, actor Tom Cavanagh’s performance as Wells/Thawne is absolute perfection. The season culminates in a shocking and emotional finale; if it doesn’t make you tear up, then you’re probably a little dead inside.
Overall, The Flash‘s first season is one of the best in comic book television’s history. The second and third season of the show didn’t match this level of quality, but that’s OK. If any season of superhero TV is half as good as The Flash season one, I’d be happy.
#1: Arrow Season 2
And finally, we have the Arrowverse’s highest peak. After an impressive first season, Arrow season two is a major improvement on just about every single aspect. In this season, Oliver Queen begins his transition from vigilante to hero, now becoming “The Arrow” instead of “The Hood.” Oliver’s past comes back to haunt him when a new villain, Brother Blood, uses the mirakuru drug from Lian Yu in Starling City. The drug is supplied by none other than Slade Wilson, Oliver’s mentor-turned-enemy on the island. After being injected with mirakuru, Slade turned against Oliver, promising to destroy anyone and everyone he loves. In the present day, Slade orchestrates Oliver’s removal from his company, kills Moira Queen, and leads an army of mirakuru soldiers to siege the city. Oliver eventually defeats Slade and imprisons him on Lian Yu.
Needless to say, Arrow‘s second season is just amazing. The fight choreography is better than ever, while the story is gripping and full of twists. One player who really elevates the season is actor Manu Bennett, whose portrayal of Slade Wilson/Deathstroke is so perfect. It’s hard to imagine the show being this great without him. But really, everyone and everything was on top form for season two. This was made more obvious during season three and four, which both saw major declines in quality. And while season five comes close, I’m not sure any future season of Arrow, or any other Arrowverse show, will match season two.
In closing, season two of Arrow is comic book television at its finest. I can go on all day about how much I love it, but ultimately, it shows just how great superhero shows can be. It’s a classic.
How would you rank the Arrowverse seasons?
Founder and EIC of WOBAM! Entertainment. Christian. Student. Watcher of movies and TV, reader of comics, all that good stuff.
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