Arrow EP Marc Guggenheim Reveals He Was Warned That ‘If Arrow Wasn’t a Hit, There Would Be No More CW’

We can thank Arrow’s Oliver Queen for saving Starling City — and for saving an entire television network, too.

In a new interview with The Showrunner Whisperer podcast, Arrow co-creator and executive producer Marc Guggenheim reveals that after the Stephen Amell-led superhero show earned a pilot order at The CW, Warner Bros. TV chairman Peter Roth “took us out to lunch and basically laid out for us in incredible detail the reality that if Arrow wasn’t a hit, there would be no more CW… Now we also have the pressure of keeping the whole network on the air.”

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Arrow wasn’t an easy sell, either, when it debuted on The CW in 2012, Guggenheim remembers: “We were trying to do a superhero show in a way that had never been done before.” The closest thing to it at the time was the WB/CW’s Superman origin story Smallville, he notes, “but Arrow was nothing like Smallville. It was much grittier, it was much darker, it had a lot more action… That made it challenging.”

But the gamble paid off: Arrow became one of The CW’s top-rated shows, with the series premiere becoming the network’s most-watched telecast in three years. Arrow ran for eight seasons and launched a fleet of spinoffs known collectively as the Arrowverse, with The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow all running for multiple seasons on The CW, joined later by Batwoman and Black Lightning.

Now Guggenheim looks back on those days fondly — and believes we may not see them again, with The CW now pivoting away from original scripted shows: “I don’t think we could do Arrow today… I don’t think we could have done it with the amount of leeway and creative freedom that we had. It was a very special, unique time in the business.”

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