Greg Berlanti is arguably one of the kings of superhero TV.
The uber-producer is a TV vet with credits including Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, Dirty Sexy Money and Brothers & Sisters among many others, but in just the past four years, he’s done something few have been able to accomplish in TV: He’s created a shared universe between multiple shows. Sure, Marvel has certainly tried to keep up with all the DC Comics fare that Berlanti has created on The CW and CBS. But aside from some Easter eggs and small cameos here and there, each of Marvel’s TV series on ABC and Netflix remains a separate entity. Whereas Berlanti’s shows — Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl — form one cohesive universe, aptly nicknamed the “Berlanti-verse.”
The Berlanti-verse started small, with just one vigilante, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), using parkour and archery to save his city on The CW’s Arrow. But early on, Berlanti and his writing team recognized they had a chance to expand their DC Comics world on the small screen by introducing Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) aka the Flash in season two of Arrow. From that small arc, a new spinoff series was created in The Flash. After The Flash’s success, two more DC Comics series were born: Legends of Tomorrow on The CW and Supergirl on CBS (although it will move to The CW this fall for season two, finally bringing all of Berlanti’s series to the same network).
While each of these shows operate on their own and follow different characters and plot lines, they all come together often for crossovers. These crossovers are sometimes huge in scope, like this coming fall when all four series are set to join up for one massive story, or small, like when a one-episode villain from one show appears on another. The Hollywood Reporter rounded up all the different Berlanti-verse crossovers that have happened so far between Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl and ranked them in order to find out what is the best crossover of all time.
24. ‘Vixen’ – Season 1
Who says that the crossovers need to be live-action? Gustin and Amell, along with The Flash’s Carlos Valdes as Cisco and Arrow’s Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity, lent their voices to the CW Seed’s animated DC Comics series in its first year, expanding the Berlanti-verse even more as they helped launch the origin story of Mari McCabe/Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke).
23. ‘The Flash’ – “Power Outage”
Arrow villain William Tockman/Clock King (Robert Knepper) made his way over to The Flash for a one-episode appearance, giving the CCPD and the STAR Labs team trouble. While this crossover didn’t have any major repercussions for the main characters, it helped to tie the universe together more.
22. ‘Arrow’ – “Beacon of Hope”
This episode featured another crossover with a villain, but this time, it was the other way around. The Flash baddie Brie Larvan (Emily Kinney) escaped from jail and made her way to Star City to try and steal the bio-chip that was embedded in Felicity’s spine, allowing her to walk after her accident. Even if it didn’t have any major stakes for the Berlanti-verse, it was fun to see another character shared between the two shows.
21. ‘Arrow’ – “Broken Arrow”
While Oliver was unable to don his Arrow suit after Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) outed him as the vigilante, and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) took the fall to save Oliver’s fate, a metahuman made his way to Starling City. Deathbolt (Doug Jones) was the first metahuman to terrorize this otherwise-normal city, so Cisco took a trip over to Starling City to help Team Arrow and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) take down Deathbolt.
20. ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – “Left Behind”
After Ray, Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) were left behind by the rest of their team on the Waverider, they were resigned to live out the rest of their lives stuck in 1958. Ray and Kendra fell in love, and Sara felt like the third wheel, so she made her way to Nanda Parbat and joined the League of Assassins for the second time (although this enlisting technically took place first, since it was 50 years in the past). She trained under Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) himself, allowing Nable to reprise his late Arrow character.
19. ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – “Last Refuge”
Although this crossover was short, it was another great Lance family interaction. When a bounty hunter was tasked by the Time Masters with killing the young versions of the Legends team, they all went back in time to save their younger selves. Viewers were given a rare chance to see a time before Sara left with Oliver on his ill-fated boat trip and became a member of the League of Assassins, as well as a time when Sara and Quentin had a closer relationship before vigilantes, assassins and magic came into their lives.
18. ‘Arrow’ – “Taken”
When Team Arrow needed some superhero help in their fight against the magical immortal Damien Dahrk (Neil McDonough), they called upon their friend Mari McCabe/Vixen. This was the origin story of how Oliver and Mari first met.
17. ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – “Legendary”
When Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) brought the Legends team back to Central City in 2016, it was five months after he first recruited them to board the Waverider. That meant Sara finally got to learn about her sister Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) death from her father, but thanks to some wonky time travel rules, Rip couldn’t use the Waverider to go back in time to actually save Laurel. Watching Sara and Quentin visit Laurel’s grave to grieve their lost loved one together packed quite the emotional punch, even if it’s still somewhat debatable over whether or not Laurel could have been saved.
16. ‘The Flash’ – “King Shark”
The fact that The Flash was able to bring infamous DC Comics villain King Shark to life via CGI is an incredible feat on its own. Pairing that with Arrow fan-favorite Diggle’s (David Ramsey) comical reaction to anything out of the ordinary, plus allowing Diggle and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) to show off how well they work together in the field with all of ARGUS as their backup, was just icing on the cake.
15. ‘The Flash’ – “Who Is Harrison Wells?”
Cisco and Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) traveled to Starling City to continue to investigate the shady past of STAR Labs boss Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), leading Cisco to meet Laurel Lance for the first time. This gave Cisco the perfect opportunity to upgrade Laurel’s sonic device, and even gave it its infamous moniker: the Canary Cry.
14. ‘The Flash’ – “All Star Team Up”
When Ray Palmer needed help building his ATOM suit, Felicity brought him to the STAR Labs team in Central City. This gave way to the most awkward fifth-wheel date in history when Barry, Felicity, Ray, Iris (Candice Patton) and Eddie (Rick Cosnett) all go out for dinner together. But at least the episode also gave us the new friendship of Ray and Cisco, who are nerd brothers from another mother.
13. ‘The Flash’ – “Pilot”
After waking up from his coma with newfound speedster powers, Barry called on the only vigilante he knew for advice: Oliver Queen. Oliver helped Barry realize he could become a hero for Central City unlike Oliver who was just a vigilante for his city, and thus, the Flash (and The Flash) was born. Although the scene between the two heroes was short, the consequences of that conversation have lasted for years as Barry does his best to be the hero Central City needs.
12. ‘The Flash’ – “Going Rogue”
After the two shared a spark during Barry’s time in Starling City, Felicity traveled to Central City to see his new powers for herself. She instantly fit in with the STAR Labs team, and even helped them take down Leonard Snart/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) for the first time. This was one of the first major planned crossovers between the two series, and showed how simple and easy a secondary character spending some time on a different show could be.
11. ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – “Pilot, Part 1,” “Pilot, Part 2”
In order to spin-off the third DC Comics series in the Berlanti-verse, Legends got a nice introduction from both Arrow and The Flash. As each member of the Legends team mulled over whether or not they would join Rip Hunter on his time travel mission to stop Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), they got advice from their friends and loved ones on both Team Arrow and the STAR Labs crew. And on their first mission through time, the Legends came across Arrow villain Damien Dahrk in 1975, backed up by his H.I.V.E. ghosts.
10. ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ – “Star City 2046”
The youngest show in the Berlanti-verse got in on the crossover action when it jumped ahead in time to show what Star City would look like in 2046. In a word, things were… bad. Oliver lost an arm and all hope for saving the city, and after Diggle died, his son took up the Green Arrow mantle to try and take the city back from Deathstroke’s son. Criminals ruled the streets, and the Legends team was motivated even more to try and prevent that future from coming to pass. Watching Sara convince an old and worn-down Oliver to keep fighting was a beautiful moment.
9. ‘The Flash’ – “Invincible”
After Laurel Lance’s heartbreaking death on Arrow, it was a welcome surprise to see Cassidy pop up on The Flash as her Earth-2 doppelganger Black Siren. This gave Cassidy the chance to show off her acting chops, portraying a darker, more evil version of Laurel as a metahuman who sided with Zoom (Teddy Sears). The fun episode wasn’t enough to completely heal the pain of losing Laurel, but it was a nice consolation prize.
8. ‘Arrow’ – “Haunted”
After DC Comics series Constantine’s short-lived run on NBC, The CW managed to snag Matt Ryan for a one-episode appearance on Arrow. Reprising his fan-favorite character John Constantine, Ryan was written into the history of the show, appearing in both the present-day storyline as well as the flashbacks to Lian Yu. He also helped introduce the concept of magic and mysticism to both Oliver and the show in light of season four villain Damien Dahrk’s supernatural powers, and he helped restore Sara Lance’s soul after she was brought back by the Lazarus Pit. Even Constantine’s inappropriate flirting with Thea (Willa Holland) was entertaining, if a bit wrong.
7. ‘The Flash’ – “Rogue Air”
After Barry’s plan to team up with Captain Cold backfires on him (because of course), things seemed to be at an all-time low for the Flash … and then the Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) showed up to make things even worse. Thankfully, the Arrow (in his League of Assassins costume) and Firestorm (Robbie Amell) arrived to help him finally capture Eobard Thawne. The only gripe? The epic fight scene in which Oliver, Barry and Firestorm teamed up was over all too quickly, especially since this marked the first time real life cousins Stephen Amell and Robbie Amell shared the screen together.
6. ‘Arrow’ – “My Name is Oliver Queen”
Although Barry’s time on Arrow was short in this episode, it was full of his adorkable one-liners and gave the audience a chance to laugh at some of the more serious and ridiculous aspects of the show that had been such a presence in season three, like Nanda Parbat, the Lazarus Pit and Oliver’s “change of wardrobe.” And watching Barry save Team Arrow and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) from the League of Assassins was just so much fun, especially when Felicity accidentally outed Barry’s secret identity to a supervillain (aka Malcolm).
5. ‘Arrow’ – “Green Arrow,” “Canary Cry”
Another short crossover, but this one held major stakes for Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Barry sped over to Star City at the end of the season four premiere for a funeral in a flash forward six months in the future… but the mystery of who Oliver was grieving wasn’t revealed until the end of the season in “Canary Cry” when Laurel was killed by Damien Dahrk. This crossover kicked off a year-long arc that changed all three shows forever going forward, with characters on each grieving in their own ways.
4. ‘The Flash,’ ‘Arrow’ – “Legends of Today,” “Legends of Yesterday”
The second annual “Flarrow” crossover helped to launch the basic premise of the upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow. Team Arrow and STAR Labs worked together to help Cisco’s girlfriend Kendra Saunders understand why the immortal villain Vandal Savage was after her, and when Hawkman/Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel) arrived to clue Kendra in to her Hawkgirl destiny, things took a turn for the epic. First, viewers were treated to the incredible geek squad of Barry, Felicity, Cisco and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) all putting their heads together to invent the tech they needed to defeat Vandal. Then, Oliver finally learned that he had a son that he never knew about (but one viewers have known about for years). And there were time-travel shenanigans aplenty, as Barry ran back in time to save everyone’s lives after Vandal defeated them the first time around.
3. ‘The Flash’ – “Flash vs. Arrow”
This two-hour crossover between Arrow and The Flash was The CW’s first big crossover event, and it was a huge ratings and critical success. Both shows had their chance to shine, with Arrow getting a much-needed dose of sunshine from The Flash characters, and The Flash getting to showcase its darker aspects with an emotional and intense hour. When Barry was given a dose of rage from metahuman Roy Bivolo (Paul Anthony), his issues with Oliver came to a head, and the two went toe-to-toe in an action sequence that is highly regarded as one of the highlights of both series. Arrow’s second hour, “The Brave and the Bold,” gave a satisfying conclusion to the two heroes’ fight, and each of the teams walked away having learned something from their peers in the opposite city.
2. ‘Supergirl’ – “World’s Finest”
While Barry was working on increasing his speed with the Tachyon prototype in order to defeat Zoom, he accidentally ran into another world in the multi-verse where none of his super friends existed. He then joined up with Kara aka Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) to help her defeat Livewire (Brit Morgan) and Silver Banshee (Italia Ricci), and she helped him run fast enough to get back home in return. Not only was the Supergirl crossover with The Flash a joy to watch, it was also an almost impossible feat of scheduling since it took place across two different networks. Supergirl initially started off as a CBS series for its first season, so having a CW character appear on a CBS show was history in the making. Supergirl has since moved to The CW for season two, so more crossovers are in the cards now that it’s easier to make it happen. The writers just have to figure out a way to bring these two separate Earths together.
1. ‘Arrow’ – “The Scientist”
This is the crossover that started them all. Barry Allen was first introduced in a short arc on Arrow when he came to Starling City looking for answers about his mother’s murder. He was just a normal CSI at this point, but he experienced the accident that gave him his Flash superpowers at the end of his arc, leaving viewers dying for more. In fact, fans responded to the character of Barry so well that a new series was created: The Flash. And the Berlanti-verse was officially born.
What is your favorite crossover moment between Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl?
Written by: New Generation Radio