What is the viewing order for CW's DC shared universe?

  • As I understand it the following shows all take place in the same shared universe:

    And any others that arrive.

    In what order should these shows be viewed? How do they fit together chronologically?

    @phantom42 I still don't fully understand this site's dupe policy, but I don't think that they classify as dupes if they don't fully address this question.

    You'll notice that I said *partial* dupes, and did not vote to close.

    @phantom42 I did notice, just wondering about what the policy is.

    I would vote to close them. This is the kind of thing I DON't think we should be engaged it. The viewing order of a series particularly ones where their continuity was never DESIGNED to be integrated is not a useful expenditure of anyone's energy. The shows don't include timestamps, datestamps or any form of relationship matrix, so if one is created it is OPINION-BASED at best because the shows were not created NOR written to be integrated in this fashion. They are NOT comics whose existence and integration are considered beforehand particularly due to their event-driven nature.

    However, I have left it open to let others have some say in whether we should be answering this opinion-based, list-oriented question. (See what I did there?)

    @ThaddeusHowze arrow, flash, and legends of tomorrow at least are intended to coincide together, as the 3 shows share cross over episodes that would make little sense watching out of order. however asking this question every few weeks when a new cross over happens is getting boring/excessive

    I understand the shows share a common continuity since both Flash and Legends of Tomorrow were spun off of Arrow. But is there so much interconnectedness between the three shows there needs to be a continuity bible to ensure some maximum level of enjoyment due to timeline continuity? Honestly? I watch all three and don't see any particular need to reorder them mentally to enjoy them IN ANY WAY.

    given that there are specifically timed crossovers between at least two of the shows, i see some value in a suggested order. vixen and LoT remain to be seen how much they integrate, and i haven't heard of any more cross with constantine. still, i'd rather see the flash/arrow answer improved and use that as the original since it's already so far along.

    The other question (and all of it's answers) neither address nor attempt to address anything but Arrow and Flash. I can see closing *that* one as a dupe, but this one is far more inclusive *and* more up to date.

  • You only have to have a viewing order when there is a multi-part episode that spans a show.

    There are multi-part crossovers that span multiple shows that won't make complete sense if you watch one but not the other:

    Flash vs. Arrow/The Brave and the Bold

    • Part 1: The Flash Episode 1x08 "Flash vs. Arrow"
    • Part 2: Arrow Episode 3x08 "The Brave and the Bold"

    Legends of Today/Legends of Yesterday

    • Part 1: The Flash Episode 2x08 "Legends of Today"
    • Part 2: Arrow Episode 4x08 "Legends of Yesterday"

    "Heroes vs. Aliens"

    • Optional Prologue: Supergirl Episode 2x08 "Medusa"
      • This was advertised as part of the crossover event, but Cisco's attempts to create a dimensional breach to Supergirl's Earth is a C-plot that is repeated in The Flash episode.
    • Part 1: The Flash Episode 3x08 "Invasion!"
    • Part 2: Arrow Episode 5x08 "Invasion!"
    • Part 3: DC's Legends of Tomorrow Episode 2x07 "Invasion!"

    Star-Crossed/Duet

    • Part 1: Supergirl Episode 2x16 "Star-Crossed"
    • Part 2: The Flash Episode 3x17 "Duet"

    "Crisis on Earth-X"

    • Part 1: Supergirl Episode 3x08 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1"
    • Part 2: Arrow Episode 6x08 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 2"
    • Part 3: The Flash Episode 4x08 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3"
    • Part 4: DC's Legends of Tomorrow Episode 3x08 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4"

    Unknown Crossover

    Keeping in Sync with Seasons of the Major Shows Helps

    It's common for the status quo of characters on one show to have an effect on another show. For that reason, it's highly recommended that you don't start a new season of a show until you are up to date on all other seasons for the shows up to that point.

    For instance, Ray Palmer is introduced as a recurring character in Arrow Season 3 and is traveling through time in Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, taking place concurrently with Arrow Season 4.

    Ray Palmer guest stars in The Flash Season 1, Episode 18. If you watch that before the character is introduced in Arrow Season 3, you won't know who Ray Palmer is. If you watch it during or after Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, you'll wonder why he is taking a break from time travel to help The Flash.

    Here are the seasons of each show that were running concurrently:

    2012-2013

    • Arrow Season 1

    2013-2014

    • Arrow Season 2

    2014-2015

    • Arrow Season 3
    • The Flash Season 1
    • (Optional) Constantine CW Site Season 1
    • (Optional) Vixen Cartoon Season 1

    2015-2016

    • Arrow Season 4
    • The Flash Season 2
    • Legends of Tomorrow Season 1
      • Aired partially during the off-season of Arrow and The Flash
      • Takes place after Arrow 4x08 and The Flash 2x08
    • Supergirl Season 1
    • Vixen Cartoon Season 2
      • Although aired in late 2016, it takes place before Legends of Tomorrow begins. Really, you can just watch it at this point or later.

    2016-2017

    • Arrow Season 5
    • The Flash Season 3
    • Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
    • Supergirl Season 2

    2017-2018

    • Arrow Season 6
    • The Flash Season 4
    • Legends of Tomorrow Season 3
    • Supergirl Season 3
    • Black Lightning Season 1
    • Freedom Fighters: The Ray Cartoon Season 1

    2018-2019

    • Arrow Season 7
    • The Flash Season 5
    • Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
    • Supergirl Season 4
    • Black Lightning Season 2

    More detailed explanation

    The shared universe between these shows is called the "Arrowverse" because Arrow was the first show in the series. Therefore, it's the proper place to start. All the series were released in chronological order (no prequel series).

    While there are a lot of references between the two series, only a few of them are important crossovers. Fortunately, this means that you don't have to watch the shows in lock-step with when they originally aired. You can usually watch about half a season of one show before you reach a point that assumes you are caught up with another show.

    The only major crossover points are as follows:

    • Flash Episode 1x08 and Arrow Episode 3x08 are two parters
    • Flash Episode 1x17 and 1x18 have many characters from Arrow in it
    • Arrow 4x05 includes Constantine
    • Flash Episode 4x08 and Arrow episode 4x08 are two parters, and start Legends of Tomorrow
    • Arrow 4x15 includes Vixen
    • Supergirl 1x18 includes Flash

    Usually these crossovers reflect whatever the current state of the status quo on the other show is (e.g. how the Arrow is viewed by the police, how developed Barry's powers are, who the supporting cast is), so it's good to get caught up before watching them.

    For a more thorough explanation of the crossover events, see Mike Edenfield's answer for In what order should I watch Flash and Arrow TV Shows?.

    Here is a more exhaustive viewing order that highlights these main crossover points, accurate as of January 2016 (feel free to edit this if it is out of date):

    Before The Flash

    • Arrow Season 1
      • No crossovers with other shows
    • Arrow Season 2
      • Includes a backdoor pilot to The Flash

    Before the Arrow Season 3, Episode 8 and The Flash Season 1, Episode 8

    • Arrow Season 3, Episodes 1-7
      • Further develops supporting characters
    • The Flash Season 1, Episodes 1-7
      • Introduces Barry Allen as the Flash and meta-humans

    The Flash's episode is first in the two-parter

    Before Flash Episode 17 and 18

    • Arrow Season 3, Episodes 8-16
      • Further develops supporting characters that appear in this episode
    • The Flash Season 1, Episodes 8-16

    Before Arrow Season 4 and The Flash Season 2

    • Arrow Season 3, Episodes 17-23
      • Status quo change in next season, occasionally referenced in The Flash
    • The Flash Season 1, Episodes 19-23
      • Status quo change in next season, occasionally referenced in Arrow

    Before Arrow Season 4, Episode 5

    • Arrow Season 4, Episodes 1-4
      • Introduces new villain who is the reason for Constantine to join
    • Constantine
      • Develops the character, has no crossovers with the other shows

    Before Legends of Tomorrow

    • Arrow Season 4, Episodes 5-7
      • Explores supporting characters who appear in Legends of Tomorrow
    • The Flash Season 2, Episodes 1-7
      • Explores supporting characters who appear in Legends of Tomorrow
    • The Flash Season 2, Episode 8
      • Part 1 of 2 kicking off Legends of Tomorrow
    • Arrow Season 4, Episode 8
      • Part 2 of 2 kicking off Legends of Tomorrow

    Before Arrow Season 4 Episode 15

    • Arrow Season 4, Episodes 9-14
    • Vixen Season 1
      • Introduces the character

    Before Supergirl Season 1 Episode 18

    • The Flash Season 2, Episode 17*

    If anyone has any suggestions for this viewing order, I will be happy to hear it.

    * Note that in the original broadcast, Supergirl 1x18 was aired before The Flash 2x17.

    Nicely done. Cogent and concise.

    Nice answer, +1. Anyways there is also a detailed question about vixen too.

    Are you able to update this to include the recent minor-crossovers and the Flash show from the 90's.

    @ibid I haven't caught up on the latest episodes, and it will take a little while before I am caught up. If you want to edit my answer in the mean time, feel free.

    @Thunderforge - Much better, though it's still missing the King Shark crossover on Flash and the Bug-Eyed Bandit crossover on Arrow.

    @ibid Yeah, I probably should add those. However, those definitely seem like less important crossovers than the other ones. I'll have more time later today to make those changes.

    @Thunderforge - No less important than last season's minor crossovers. Also, try putting some small mention of *The Flash (1990)*.

    Please update this list it has been a huge help in enjoying Arrowverse

    If you fully update this answer (more than just the major event crossovers) I'll through in a 250 point bounty.

    @ibid Thanks for the offer! What does "fully updating" aside from the major event crossovers mean to you? Some crossovers aren't really that important despite some fan timelines (like the other answer) placing them at an exact moment (for instance, it doesn't really matter where you are in the second half of Season 4 Arrow when Diggle and Lyla show up in Season 2 Flash). I just want to make sure I understand what level you are looking for.

    @Thunderforge - Mainly when "the status quo of characters on one show to have an effect on another show". As in, not an episode-to-episode line-up, but information about where you should be up to before each minor crossover. (in that example you should have at least seen the last episode where Lyla or Diggle had a relevant status quo change.) I'm looking for some information about all the crossovers, not *just* the big 'Episode Eight's of each season.

    @Thunderforge - I'm upping my offer to 300.

    @ibid I've added the major crossovers so far, but will take some more time in the next few days to update the reset.

    @Thunderforge - Give me a ping whenever you finish.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM