In 2012, the CW premiered Arrow, a live-action adaptation of the DC Comics hero Oliver Queen AKA Green Arrow. During season two, Arrow introduced Barry Allen, as well as Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow of S.T.A.R. Labs. While Arrow premiered its third season, the trio of Cisco, Caitlin and Barry starred in the new show The Flash, creating a shared universe that has been called “Arrowverse,” “DCTV,” and “DCW.” Soon after Barry Allen learned that parallel Earths exist, several characters from both Arrow and the Flash spun-off into the third show Legends of Tomorrow. And later still, Supergirl premiered, taking place on a parallel Earth that Barry would later visit.
In just under five years, the DCTV universe has built up quite the history. So for those of you who have trouble keeping all the flashbacks, time travel and adventures straight in your head, here’s a handy timeline that starts in Ancient Egypt and goes all the way up to the recent “Invasion!” crossover. This timeline doesn’t include every little thing, but we hope you’ll enjoy it.
For simplicity’s sake, this timeline focuses on events that occur in DCTV’s universe of Earth-1 and doesn’t include any concurrent history from Earth-38 (where Supergirl lives).
The man called Hath-Set gains immortality. He will have different aliases over the centuries, such as Curtis Knox or Sasha Mahnovski, but very often uses the name Vandal Savage.
A man calling himself Ra’s al Ghul (whose alias translate to “the Demon’s Head”) takes command of the League of Assassins and unleashes cholera on Alexandria, Egypt. It is possible there was another man called Ra’s al Ghul before him. This man uses the life-restoring Lazarus Pit to survive longer than a normal human lifespan.
The man who has been Ra’s al Ghul since 1609 recruits two horsemen, one of whom later leaves the League of Assassins and takes the name Damien Darhk, while the other rises to become the new Ra’s al Ghul during this time. After leaving the League, Darhk becomes a magic-user and founds the terrorist cult called H.I.V.E.
By this point, the gunslingers Hannibal Hawkes and Cinnamon know each other and are in love. Their exploits will become famous enough to inspire movies in the 21st century.
The American Civil War. Jonah Hex initially fights in this war for the Confederacy. Following the war, he becomes a bounty hunter.
The bounty hunter Jonah Hex has made friends with the time traveler Rip Hunter by this point. An encounter with the criminal Quentin Turnbull leads to Hex suffering a severe facial disfigurement.
By this year, Hannibal Hawkes has been dead for many years and Cinnamon lives by herself, having never loved again.
At some point, a few metahumans and skilled fighters join forces to form the Justice Society of America, Earth’s first superhero team. The JSA operates in secret under the authority of the U.S. government, its missions classified. Only decades later does the general public become aware of its activities, and even then much information about the team is unknown.
By this point, the JSA roster includes: Dr. Mid-Nite, Star Girl, Todd Rice AKA Obsidian, Rex Tyler AKA Hourman, Henry Heywood AKA Commander Steel, and Amaya Jiwe AKA Vixen.
By this point, Damien Darhk works with the Axis powers during World War II.
Hourman is killed. Amaya Jiwe leaves the Justice Society to avenge his death. Soon afterward, she joins the time traveling Legends team.
World War II ends. The Justice Society continues to act for the American government, now as a secret force against U.S.S.R. operations during the Cold War.
The alien Dominators arrive on Earth to collect data on the human race and metahumans. A general truce is created with the U.S. government.
The remaining members of the Justice Society of America are sent on a secret mission by President Eisenhower. Team member Obsidian is told to stay behind. The team is killed in action and the JSA is officially disbanded.
Ray Palmer is born.
Oliver Queen is born. Dinah Laurel Lance is born.
Sara Lance is born.
Martin Stein marries his wife Clarissa.
Felicity Smoak is born. Barry Henry Allen is born.
Roy Harper is born.
Rebecca Merlyn is murdered. Her husband Malcom Merlyn travels to Nanda Parbat and eventually joins Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, taking on the name “the Magician.”
Thea Queen is born.
Francine West leaves her family. Her husband Joe West tells their daughter Iris that she died. Joe is unaware that Francine is pregnant. Months later, Wally West is born.
Arriving from the future, Reverse-Flash kills Nora Allen. Her husband Dr. Henry Allen is arrested and imprisoned for her murder. Their son Barry Allen is adopted by Joe West.
To his surprise, the Reverse-Flash’s powers are largely depleted, leaving him unable to return to the new version of his native time era.
At some point after 2000 but before 2011, the Reverse-Flash assumes a new identity and puts forth plans to make sure Barry Allen becomes the Flash years earlier than he did in the original course of history, hoping he can then use Barry to return to the future.
It’s possible but unconfirmed that the ripple effect of the changes Reverse-Flash makes also causes Oliver Queen to become a vigilante earlier in life and under different circumstances than he would’ve originally.
Robert Queen, Oliver Queen and Sara Lance go on a trip aboard Robert’s yacht The Queen’s Gambit. The yacht is sabotaged and sinks. Sara Lance is lost and presumed dead by Oliver. Robert Queen admits to his son that he has been working with corrupt people in Starling City and regrets it. He then commits suicide to ensure his son has enough resources to survive.
Oliver Queen winds up on the island Lian Yu (“Purgatory”). He encounters several criminals and starts training in combat, survival and archery under the tutelage of Yao Fei, his daughter Shadow, and Australian Special Intelligence Service agent Slade Wilson.
Slade and Oliver encounter Anthony Ivo and the “miracle drug” called Miraku. Oliver learns that Sara Lance is alive.
Slade Wilson is injected with Mirakuru, enhancing his physical abilities and healing rate. Following the death of Shado, Wilson considers Oliver to be his enemy. After a battle, Oliver believes Slade to be dead.
Sara Lance and Oliver are separated and Oliver once again believes she is dead. Sara Lance is eventually found by Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of the current Ra’s al Ghul. They fall in love and Sara joins the League of Assassins, calling herself Canary.
Oliver is kidnapped by Amanda Waller of A.R.G.U.S. and forced to work as a secret operative in Hong Kong. During one mission, he secretly returns to Starling City for one night and watches his family and friends from afar.
Oliver is sent back to Lian Yu by Waller so he can infiltrate a drug cartel. During this time, he meets John Constantine and learns that magic is real. He also meets and befriends Taiana Venediktov
After she is corrupted by dark magic, Taiana Venediktov asks Oliver to kill her and he does so. To honor her, Oliver travels to Russia to take down Konstantin Kovar, a crime lord who victimized and plundered Taiana’s home. Oliver joins the Russian mob to accomplish this and meets Christopher Chance AKA “the Human Target.”
Oliver returns to Lian Yu. Now free of Amanda Waller and any other obligations, he decides to return to Starling City and eliminate the criminals with whom Robert Queen collaborated. Summoning help from a Chinese fishing boat, Oliver Queen returns to Starling City. He tells his family and the public that he was on the island and alone for the entire five years.
Oliver Queen begins operating as “the Hood,” or “the Starling City vigilante.” Eventually, Oliver recruits his bodyguard John Diggle and then his employee Felicity Smoak to his crusade, and “Team Arrow” is created.
May. The “Undertaking” occurs, unleashing destruction across Starling City. Following this event, spends some months back on Lian Yu. When he returns to Star City, he decides to continue as a vigilante but to no longer kill his opponents (though he will occasionally break this rule in the future). Oliver officially adopts the vigilante name “the Arrow.”
Sara Lance returns to Starling City and starts operating as a vigilante, using the name Canary.
December. During a visit to Starling City, Barry Allen learns that Oliver Queen is the Arrow. He aids Queen and makes an Arrow mask for him.
December 11. Seven years earlier than in the original historical timeline, the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator is activated and explodes. The accelerator creates a “dark matter cloud” that unleashes “X-elements” and a variety of exotic energy and matter across Central City. Several people acquire superhuman traits from this event, becoming metahumans.
During the explosion, Barry Allen is struck by lightning and immediately rendered comatose. Learning about Barry and that he is a metahuman, Dr. Harrison Wells and his remaining staff transfer Barry from the hospital to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Slade Wilson, now called Deathstroke, and the Church of Blood unleash a terrorist attack across Starling City.
Roy Harper adopts the masked identity of Arsenal. John Diggle starts wearing a mask when he helps Oliver on missions and eventually takes on the name Spartan.
The Flash premieres.
October. After over nine months in a coma, Barry Allen wakes up in S.T.A.R. Labs. After discovering his power, realizing that many other metahumans are criminals, and discussing the situation with Oliver Queen, Barry becomes the Flash. He is aided by Dr. Harrison Wells, Cisco Ramon and Dr. Caitlin Snow. “Team Flash” is born.
Laurel Lance begins operating as Black Canary.
Scientist and businessman Ray Palmer of Palmer Technologies comes to Starling City. Along with helping efforts for to rebuild Starling, he starts a campaign to rename it Star City to symbolize it will be a reborn city moving toward a brighter future despite the tragedies and terrorists attacks of recent years.
Mari McCabe inherits the Tantu totem and, like her relative Amaya Jiwe before her, becomes the new Vixen. (Note: Although the Vixen animated series premiered in August of 2015, the events, costumes and dialogue indicate that it takes place before the Arrow season 3 episode “Suicidal Tendencies”).
John Diggle and Lyla Michaels remarry, then immediately join Amanda Waller’s “Suicide Squad” on a mission.
Ray Palmer beings operating as a superhero, using his newly completed A.T.O.M. exo-suit.
The Arrow is framed for murder. To prevent Oliver Queen from going to prison, Roy Harper announces that he is the Arrow. Harper then fakes his death and leaves Starling City.
Ra’s al Ghul makes an attack on Starling City and is defeated.
A singularity is created over Central City. Flash and Firestorm close it, but at a great cost.
During further experimentation with his exo-suit, Ray Palmer is miniaturized. The public believes he is dead and, in honor of his political efforts and acts as a superhero, Starling City is renamed Star City.
Thea Queen becomes the vigilante Speedy, adopting the childhood nickname her brother Oliver gave her.
After months of attempted retirement, Oliver Queen resumed the vigilante life, now calling himself Green Arrow. The public believes that Green Arrow is a new hero inspired by the activities and the “death” of the Arrow, who is still widely believed to have been Roy Harper.
Oliver Queens launches a political career.
Barry Allen becomes owner of S.T.A.R. Labs and all its properties.
Barry Allen and Team Flash learn about Earth-2 and other parallel worlds.
Wally West meets his father Joe, his sister Iris, and Barry Allen.
Legends of Tomorrow premieres.
January. Time traveler Rip Hunter arrives and recruits a team of heroes and villains to help him on missions throughout time. He picks people who do not have a big impact on history, but lies and tells them they are fated to be legends. The group eventually learns the truth, and adopts the ironic team name of “the Legends.”
Barry Allen travels to Earth-38 and meets one of its heroes Kara Zor-El AKA Supergirl.
Oliver Queen becomes interim Mayor of Star City.
Barry Allen alters history and creates a new timeline that is called “Flashpoint.” After living in it for months, he attempts to put history back in order but can’t prevent there still being some changes from the previous timeline.
Historian Nate Heywood, grandson of Hank Heywood of the JSA, joins the Legends team.
Thea Queen retires as Speedy.
Oliver Queen recruits new vigilantes to his side: Wild Dog, Mr. Terrific and Ragman.
The Dominators launch an invasion of Earth.
Wally West becomes Kid Flash.
The future is largely unknown. Though it has been visited by Barry Allen and the Legends team, various alterations and aberrations in history mean that we just don’t know for sure what will happen. But we do have a couple of clues on some major events.
According to a newspaper from this year, the skies of Earth turn red and a major “crisis” happens that requires many superheroes to team up. Barry Allen vanishes during this crisis on April 25.
During this year, Queen Inc. also merges with a company called Wayne Tech.
An older version of Barry Allen (allegedly) in this time period sends a message to Rip Hunter to warn him of how history was altered in some ways as a result of Flashpoint.
Originally, Eobard Thawne is born this year. Growing up, he becomes obsessed with the Flash and then grew a psychotic hatred of him. Finding a way to copy Barry Allen’s powers, Eobard Thawne becomes Reverse-Flash, engaging in crime and murder for the sake of power and glory, and traveling through time to fight Flash and other heroes in other eras.
Events in 2015 seemingly erase Thawne’s birth from the timeline and an older Eobard witness this occur before disintegrating himself. So technically, he is no longer born this year. But due to his status as a time traveler connected to the Speed Force, today’s heroes might still encounter younger versions of him from before he was stranded in the year 2000. It’s weird but just go with it.
That’s it for now! Hope you enjoyed it! Let us know if you want other timelines too!
Alan “Sizzler” Kistler (@SizzlerKistler) is Director of Content at Oodon, as well as a pop culture historian focusing on superheroes and sci-fi franchises, and author of the New York Times Best Seller Doctor Who: A History.