Now that the 2017 round of the DC CW shows is over and I’ve had time to digest, I say it’s high time make my personal ranking of every Arrowverse season we’ve had since Arrow Season 1. I’ve been watching these week by week since Flash Season 1, and I feel enough time has passed, and I’ve seen most seasons enough, that I can make my current definitive ranking. A problem I’ve found is that while each individual show has numerous lists online, there have been less of the universe as a whole, and the Arrowverse’s interconnectedness means that a full list is needed.
Some points. First, I have seen none of Vixen, Supergirl, or Constantine outside of their appearances in Arrow, Flash, and Legends, so the list will not include seasons of the former shows. Secondly, along with Game of Thrones, this is the only Western live-action television I have seen with any attention. I have a whole list of stuff to get around to, but TV is my area of absolute least expertise. Finally, I have some experience with the comics, mainly Batman, Flash, and Justice League, whatever importance that has. So, let’s get to it!
10 – Arrow Season 4
This one’s obvious. Meandering, inconsistent, badly written, and unfocused, Arrow Season 4 is almost universally considered a train wreck, and for good reason. When your main character becomes sidelined in favour of Felicity, who throughout Season 3 was showing troubling signs of being the worst, you know trouble’s coming. Two things sum up this season perfectly: Anarky, who’s trite ‘Mommy’ dialogue and awful design make me dry-heave, and the moment when Felicity was so loved by the narrative that her walking away from paralysis and a marriage, both for awful reasons, was celebrated. Then Guggenheim had the genius idea to start the season off by telling the audience that someone was dead when the writers themselves had no idea who it would be, and in a feat of
absolute stupidity clever improvisation, completely disrespect an established and beloved character in favour of (again) Felicity. Honestly the only outright bad season of the bunch. Even Neal McDonough’s great performance as Damien can’t save this one.
Meme of the Season: Honestly all of it, though ‘I was Ra’s Al-Ghul’ is probably my pick
What it Deserves: A long torture session with Prometheus
9 – Arrow Season 3
Yeah, 2016 was not a good year for Arrow. Although this one is definitely nowhere near as bad as Season 4, especially considering the great first half, a weak conclusion and massive amounts of filler, as well more bad writing following the mid season make this a fairly easy pick. It’s a shame, too, considering that the battle between Oliver and Ra’s on the freezing mountaintop, with Oliver no-really dying was a fantastic set piece, and the build up with the mystery of Sara’s killer was pretty well-done, it couldn’t save the disappointing second half. Not to mention that this season managed to Make Ra’s Al-Ghul underwhelming after hyping him up for the entire rest of the show, especially with the casting of an actor who couldn’t bring the gravitas the role needed. When your main character coming back from a stab through the heart and a fall from a mountain is explained with ‘Cold, penicillin tea, and the will to live’, in what is supposedly the realistic show, one has to wonder what these people were smoking (Probably penicillin tea).
Meme of the Season: (Probably penicillin tea)
What it Deserves: Being stabbed through the heart (Although maybe being revived afterwards)
8 – Legends of Tomorrow Season 1
This one really wasn’t too bad, but it’s a step below the remainder of the list. Honestly, Legends was a great idea. At around the Flash Season 2 mark the universe was becoming cluttered, with too many heroes and villains running around. So, what better way to trim the fat and remove the least important people (This is even a point in-series, with the Legends all being people who didn’t have a lasting impact on the timeline) and give their own show that embraced the shows’ inherent comic book schlock, while freeing up Arrow and Flash? With a mix of old favourites and charismatic new faces that could carry this season’s plot, this should have been fantastic. However, it took until Season 2 to truly capitalise on this idea’s potential, and this season is left very repetitive and unsatisfying. Focusing so narrowly on the conflict between the Hawks and Vandal Savage (And what on earth was that business with Chronos?). Almost every episode consisted of going after Savage, losing a fight with him or his forces, and then doing it again. This was supplemented by good character drama and exploration, as well as decent side plots, but overall this season’s structure prevented it from really achieving the greatness it could have, and indeed did, reach.
Meme of the Season: I used to be a barista
What it Deserves: A bizarre stint as Chronos, with possibility of being reformed
7 – The Flash Season 3
I feel that this one was a season I enjoyed far more than many others this year, and is in fact very close to the next spot on the list. This season of Flash started out fantastically, with the Flashpoint storyline we’d all been clamouring for actually done justice, I think. It forced Barry to reevaluate his life and decisions, and indeed even after Flashpoint he is continually pushed deeper into his own darkness. S2’s Zoom also did this to an extent, acting as a dark reflection, but he wasn’t as good as the actual dark reflection that was Savitar. However, Savitar himself felt like two good villains mushed into one character who didn’t work, and I feel pretty confident in saying that there was a change in his planned character arc. See, there’s Savitar the god of speed, more powerful than anything we’ve seen, sheer energy incarnate. Honestly, this Savitar could have worked purely as a faceless monster for Barry to overcome, thinking there’s someone in the suit, but have it actually be the real first speedster. Alternatively, the series does a clever combination of evil-self-from-the-future and the time remnants we’ve seen for the past two seasons, asking the question of whether their lives matter while also examining the consequences of their reckless creation. However, having Savitar go from one to the other didn’t quite work, and combined with the most fillery season yet, and just baffling explanations for things like Savitar’s creation, even the good set up of preventing an inevitable death couldn’t pull this season beyond being just ‘good’
Meme of the Season: I,A,M,T,H,E,F,U,T,U,R,EF,L,A,S,H,,,
What it Deserves: Some poorly explained, but still pretty cool calcified speed force energy
6 – The Flash Season 2
This was an interesting one, and a season I liked less than many others. While I really liked Zoom as a villain, with his unhinged psychopathy and first use of the ‘dark reflection of the hero’ in the Arrowverse, as well as competent West family drama, there were still problems. I felt the whole Earth-2 meta-human setup made it too susceptible to filler, and I found Zoom less intimidating than Wells, Kyuubi voice and all, and his plan was a hackneyed one. That said, great performances by Sears, Martin, and Gustin (who’d really come into his own as Barry), and being overall better written than its successor elevate it just enough over Season 3. It cannot be understated that my complaining here is mainly due to the fact that it’s very easy to gush; I adore The Flash, including these two seasons, but I could spew uninteresting gushing for hours, so it’s easier to focus on the negatives. But this is the first season on this list I’d consider ‘great’ along with bits of Season 3, so the rest are wholehearted favourites.
Meme of the Season: YOU CAN’T LOCK UP THE DARKNESS
What it Deserves: Super-speed, but only by being hit by lightning
5 – Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
Following the conclusion of the Vandal Savage arc, and getting rid of the Hawks, Legends was finally to go as batshit as the timestream had destined. “Let’s have Einstein, let’s have a bigger team, let’s have character development for Mick, let’s have a thousand Reverse-Flashes!!”, screamed Berlanti and Kreisberg dancing over Guggenheim’s corpse and drowning in their Flarrow money. Let me remind you that we have a straight-faced Legion of Doom, featuring the Dark Archer, Damian Dahrk, and the Reverse-Flash fighting over the Lance of Longinus, winning, and making a Bizarrow Doomworld where everyone’s president, all while going deep into the Legends’ psyches, addressing the aftereffects of other seasons, and remaining entertaining and emotional the whole way through. Sure, we’re missing Miller’s killer performance as Snart, but his cameos, and the effect his death had on the team, all keep him from being forgotten. I honestly have few complaints with this one other than the team maybe getting too big, and even that manages to never be a truly impactful problem. Oh, and the rest are even better.
Meme of the Season: These guys!
What it Deserves: Cool CG dinosaurs and twisty buildings
4 – Arrow Season 5
It’s hard to overstate how burned out I was by Season 4. This was the first season since I’d started that I didn’t watch week by week, and after watching the first episode I just couldn’t bring myself do keep going, the taste of Season 4’s disappointment still fresh in my mouth. But somehow, again I presume by killing Guggenheim in his Felicity-dreaming sleep, the series came back in a way that hasn’t been seen since Sonic Unleashed after Sonic ’06. This season gave us Prometheus, easily the best villain since Deathstroke, and the season was masterfully linked back to Season 1, with the whole season acting as a reflection on the series and characters so far, along with looking to the future with the new recruits. I have more to say about the season, so I’ll leave it at that, but I really hope the series continues to stay at this level without the easy out of the whole reflections thing.
Meme of the Season: 10 steps ahead
What it Deserves: To know what game we’re playing
3 – Arrow Season 1
Ah, the modest beginnings. Before it became six TV shows, a thousand comics, and a hundred masked vigilantes running around America, it was the story of one guy who had actually spent five years on an island instead going to fifty places in the meantime. One of the best things about this one is the sense of promise; references are made to all manner of things in the DC universe, and when they don’t appear and turn out underwhelming, it all feels exciting. The acting is a bit weak, especially from Amell as Oliver, overacting as playboy-Oliver and appearing slightly wooden as present day Oliver, the writing and characters are somewhat inconsistent, and the season is too celebratory of Laurel and Thea’s bitch tendencies. It all feels unrefined, but the season is just so genuine, and the characters likeable and emotional despite their numerous flaws, that I love rewatching this one. It also has better pacing than many of the others on this list, approaching a clear conclusion without becoming embroiled in filler like Flash 3 or Legends 1, while still not rushing and preventing us from feeling like some parts of Arrow 3 and Flash 2. However, where this season really works is as the complement and setup for…
Meme of the Season: OLIVER QUEEN IS ALIVE
What it Deserves: Five years where only good things happened
2 – Arrow Season 2
Arrow season 2, which provides easily the best Arrow content, and is just fantastic from beginning to end. The actors and writing coming into their own means that the great pacing and heartful characters can really shine. The whole thing serves as the continuation of past Slade’s story just as much as present Oliver, and almost every episode is top notch. I really enjoy, in a schadenfreude kind of manner, the way that every character is forced through the ringer, with Laurel getting her comeuppance for being an irresponsible bitch, Roy learning to channel his anger into something productive, Oliver learning to embrace being a hero, and this is true for everyone else, too, in surprisingly subtle ways for a universe generally as subtle as a train speeding through a dynamite tunnel. I have minor issue with the decision to bring Sara back, but the results of her return are portrayed realistically enough that it comes back around to being good. I would recommend at least this and its preceding season to basically anyone, wholeheartedly.
Meme of the Season: I KEEP MY PROMISHES KID!
What it Deserves: SIde-effect free Mirakuru
1 – The Flash Season 1
Possibly a divisive choice, but I couldn’t care less. I could watch this one forever. Although this might be a case of, to borrow a phrase, ‘audiovisual comfort food’, everything about this one works perfectly. The villain was terrifying, both overtly in appearance and actions as well as more subtly in facial acting, Barry was endearing while still being flawed, which could be said of the whole cast, and the pacing is Fast Enough, featuring a number of smaller arcs that all serviced the o’erarching one instead of the single episode affair of most of the other seasons. Its one major flaw is the terrible stint of episoded roughly between episode 10 and episode 13, I believe, but other than that this was a fantastic first step in expanding the Arrow mythos, and I would argue it’s the best the writers have offered. Alongside Arrow Season 2, I wish they’d bring whoever was competent then back, although everything seems to be improving anyway. Thank you everyone, and godspeed.
Season of the Meme: Some would say I’m the reverse
What it Deserves: NANITES