Every Arrowverse pilot ranked from worst to best

Every show has a beginning but which of the Arrowverse's many pilot episodes truly succeeded at launching their respective hero's story?

Arrow -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four" -- Image Number: AR808A_0125r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Osric Chau as Ryan Choi, Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman, Grant Gustin as The Flash, David Harewood as Hank Henshaw/J'onn J'onzz and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four" -- Image Number: AR808A_0125r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Osric Chau as Ryan Choi, Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman, Grant Gustin as The Flash, David Harewood as Hank Henshaw/J'onn J'onzz and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

For a whole decade, DC fans eagerly watched The CW in the hopes of getting some epic superhero adventures. The network was the home of DC TV, offering up regular programming based on some of the most iconic DC heroes of all time. The vast majority of those shows existed within the Arrowverse, a shared universe of superheroes that all began with Arrow.

It goes without saying that the success of this shared universe relied on the success of Arrow's series premiere, which obviously made a good impression, because the show maintained strong ratings throughout the whole first season (and beyond). The same could be said for The Flash, the first of many spinoffs that came after it.

As we reflect on the Arrowverse's success, it feels pretty apt for us to look back on where it all began for it; specifically where it began for each of these shows. While all of the series premieres were successful enough to launch long-running shows, not all shone quite as bright.

With that in mind, let's look back at the pilot episodes of each Arrowverse show and rank them.

Note: This list will include the pilot episodes for all of the DC TV shows that are set on Earth-Prime (or crossed over with the Arrowverse shows in its early years), so it won't feature adjacent properties such as Superman and Lois and DC's Stargirl.

Batwoman, Arrowverse
Batwoman -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: BWN101d_0345.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Rachel Skarsten as Alice and Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman -- Photo: Kimberley French/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

6. Batwoman

The first season of Batwoman unfortunately had a lot to prove after a very questionable trailer destroyed the buzz surrounding it. The good news is that it succeeded, showcasing the quality that the show had to offer. Its pilot episode set that in motion with a pretty straightforward first adventure for the Scarlet Knight that allowed us to get to know Kate Kane and her backstory.

There is a problem in the fact that it pretty much feels like the plot of a Batman movie shoehorned into a 40-minute runtime, which led to a lot of the episode feeling rushed and prevented parts of the story from having the nuance they needed. Its production values weren't quite as high as previous Arrowverse pilots, making for some dodgy CGI sequences (the scene of Batwoman standing against the cityscape is very odd).

That said, Batwoman had a strong start that showed its potential. The good news is that it got much, much better as it went on, eventually blossoming in its third season.

5. DC's Legends of Tomorrow

The pilot of DC's Legends of Tomorrow is a rare breed among Arrowverse series premieres as it's the only one to take place across two episodes. It's not a case of the storyline continuing into the second episode, as the installments are quite literally named "Pilot, Part 1" and "Pilot, Part 2". And thus, we're discussing both of them.

The show was more fantasy-driven back then and that very much came across in the pilot. The fact that it took place across two episodes definitely allowed for more breathing space, which was a good thing as it allowed us to get to know more about all of the characters involved (which was necessary for viewers who hadn't met these characters on Arrow or The Flash).

It wasn't as well-balanced or concise as Legends would become but we didn't know what the future held for it at the time, so that's okay - especially as it was strong enough to launch the wackiest show on television.

Perfection would come with time, but the potential was there from the beginning.

Black Lightning, Arrowverse
Black Lightning -- "The Resurrection" -- Image BLK101d_0100 -- Pictured: Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning -- Photo: Bob Mahoney/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved /

4. Black Lightning

In another life, Black Lightning probably wouldn't have been included on this list as it wasn't originally intended to be an Arrowverse show. It was originally produced for Fox, but when the network opted against moving forward with it, it found its way to The CW. It still wasn't an Arrowverse show, but the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths rewrote that, setting it on Earth-Prime with the rest of its Arrowverse counterparts.

The pilot itself kicked things off on a strong note. Though not set in the same universe as the other shows yet, it did follow the successful CW pilot formula that launched multiple DC heroes prior to it. In the space of 40 minutes, we met Jefferson Pierce, understood his motivations, why he was so beloved in the Freeland community and how his desire to protect that community ultimately led to him donning the Black Lightning suit all over again.

The pilot episode told a contained story that also paved the way for a compelling first season, doing everything it needed to in order to kick Black Lightning off on a high. It was an episode that left us all exclaiming "Black Lightning's back!", and that was a good thing!

3. Arrow

Back where the Arrowverse quite literally all began, the pilot episode of Arrow was more important to the next decade of superhero television than we all knew at the time. The good news is that it was incredibly successful in what it set out to do, introducing us to the first of the shared universe's many heroes.

Arrow was the first DC show to air on The CW since Smallville and it wasted little time differentiating itself (which is probably a good thing since Green Arrow was a staple of that show, too). It was darker than the source material, portraying Oliver Queen as more of a dark avenger than a quippy hero, and that wasn't too surprising in an era obsessed with The Dark Knight trilogy. But the pilot episode of Arrow backed that decision up, delivering a pretty perfect beginning to one of the most pivotal shows of the 2010s.

It felt like a mini movie and yet never felt like it didn't have enough time to explore the central storyline - which is something that many modern pilot episodes struggle with. The result was a concise and effective opening that ensured we'd all be back for the remainder of the season.

The Flash
The Flash -- "Nora" -- Image Number: FLA501b_0031b.jpg -- Pictured: Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved /

2. The Flash

The Flash was probably the most anticipated of all the Arrowverse premieres. Not only was the Scarlet Speedster the most famous of the heroes to headline his own show, it was the chance for The CW to begin introducing super powers to the Arrowverse.

It was a resounding success, giving Grant Gustin's Barry Allen the spotlight we were longing to see him get and it became clear very quickly that the character was ready to lead his own show. That show was set to be a bit more light-hearted than Arrow, which instantly made it more accessible to a wider audience. Gustin's endearing performance as the Scarlet Speedster was a huge reason for its success, as was its focus on family.

The Flash pilot was inherently different from the Arrow opener, but it also successfully replicated the formula, using the 40-minute episode to successfully build a world with a hero destined for legendary things. Again, with impressive special effects and a strong script, it felt like a movie, but it never outstayed its welcome either, as Barry's journey to becoming The Flash was a fulfilling one - a triumphant, heartfelt, and larger-than-life one.

Supergirl, Arrowverse
Supergirl -- "Changing" -- Image SPG206a_0286 -- Pictured: Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl -- Photo: Liane Hentscher/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved /

1. Supergirl

While the majority of the Arrowverse pilots had cinematic qualities about them, none felt quite as ambitious as Supergirl. That was largely due to the fact that it aired on CBS, but a lot of it also had to with the triumphant presentation of it all, which very much made it feel like a classic superhero movie.

Kara Zor-El's acceptance of who she truly is saw her save her sister Alex and officially take up the mantle of Supergirl, following in the footsteps of her cousin to become the hero of National City. It was as traditionally heroic as any story about a Super should be and its high production values went a long way in helping it realize that.

Supergirl had triumph, grandeur, and power, but most of all, it had heart; and its pilot episode served as a truly Super beginning to the beloved show, starting it off on a high. This episode, and Melissa Benoist's endearing performance, were simply out-of-this-world.

Next. Every Arrowverse series finale ranked from worst to best. Every Arrowverse series finale ranked from worst to best. dark