Warning: spoilers ahead for the Arrow-verse's "Elseworlds" crossover.
The Arrow-verse's 2018 crossover was already a game-changing affair of massive scale before the final moments of the final episode, but those final moments considerably upped the ante of The CW's entire superhero universe. The cliffhanger revealed that the Arrow-verse is going to tackle the legendary DC Comics story known as "Crisis on Infinite Earths," which had been hinted at for a while yet never given an actual window as to when it could happen...until now. Fall 2019!
Details about the 2019 crossover event are practically nonexistent at this point, but "Elseworlds" raised a question about the future of the founding show of the Arrow-verse. Could "Crisis on Infinite Earths" be how Arrow comes to an end? Let's break down why it's possible.
First off all, with the 2019-2020 TV season, Arrow would be entering its eighth season on the air, which is frankly hard for me to believe at this point. It feels like only just yesterday Oliver was wearing greasepaint to conceal his identity and playing the airhead billionaire. Season 8 -- which is basically guaranteed in some form or other thanks to the announcement of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in the fall -- will be quite an accomplishment for a show that was hardly a sure thing and ultimately launched a hugely successful franchise for The CW.
That said, relatively few shows on The CW or The WB before it have hit or gone beyond eight seasons, and even some diehard Arrow fans may be willing to admit that it's getting a bit long in the tooth. There are only so many times the show can recycle its villains, especially considering Oliver kills a bunch of them rather than spares them over and over.
Wouldn't it arguably be better to end Arrow in a blaze of glory befitting the show that kicked off the whole Arrow-verse than theoretically let it run itself into the ground? Besides, unlike Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki over on Supernatural, Stephen Amell may not want to stick around forever. A shortened Season 8 of Arrow ending with "Crisis on Infinite Earths" could be a worthy way to conclude the series, especially if it allows all of the heroes of the Arrow-verse to acknowledge and pay tribute to the man (and series) that started it all.
Normally, the idea of Arrow ending as soon as Episode 8 or 9 of its next season (assuming "Crisis on Infinite Earths" airs around the same time of year as all the Arrow-verse crossovers in years past) would be pure speculation without anything to go on. After the "Elseworlds" crossover, however, there are reasons to suspect that Arrow really could be wrapping up, and the largest comes from Oliver's one-on-one conversation with The Monitor leading up to the crossover's climax.
The reality of Earth-1 was totally rewritten in the final leg of the "Elseworlds" crossover, with John Deegan giving himself the look and powers of Superman, although dressed in all black rather than the iconic red and blue everybody associates with the Man of Steel. He caused enough catastrophic changes that Barry and Kara decided they needed to stop time, which involved zooming around the planet at top speed in opposite directions.
The strain of the speed was guaranteed to kill both Barry and Kara, and that was not acceptable for the guy in green without any super speed of his own. Oliver stormed to where the heroes had encountered The Monitor before and confronted him about Barry and Kara's impending deaths. The Monitor admitted that of all the Earths he had already tested, this was the first where somebody had confronted him with demands, and Oliver delivered a speech that could be quite telling about his fate in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in the fall:
I'm not who you need. You said I'd pass the test if I knew my true self. My true self is filled with darkness. Barry and Kara are different. They inspire hope. They inspire people because they are the best of us, and if this test of yours is going to kill our best chance of stopping this crisis... Well, as gods go, you're not a very smart one.
Although Arrow fans likely take issue with Oliver's claim that he's filled with darkness and doesn't inspire hope after all his growth and fortitude over the years, Oliver clearly believes it himself, and that's what could be the variable that results in his death in "Crisis on Infinite Earths." As much as some of us undoubtedly prefer non-superpowered heroes over those with very convenient powers, Oliver does have a point that he probably wouldn't be the most necessary when it comes to an epic battle against godlike forces.
Oliver may not be able to outrace a speeding bullet without any switcheroos that put him in Barry's place, but he is very good at sacrificing himself. The Monitor went on to say that the universe is a "complex piece of machinery," and that "one change requires another." He asked Oliver how he proposed The Monitor keep the balance, and although the episode didn't show Oliver's response, I don't think any Arrow-verse fan would consider it out of character if Oliver offered his own life in exchange for Barry's and Kara's.
Oliver's death would be a definitive way to end Arrow, at least as it was. Given his belief that he's full of darkness, he could see saving the Girl of Steel and the Scarlet Speedster as a way to redeem himself. It would be a shame if he made another huge life decision without talking to Felicity, although he was in a time crunch this time around.
If he did make a deal with The Monitor to give his life, he'd better not hide it from his wife! I'm still working on forgiving him for leaving his newly-paralyzed fiancee and lying while visiting his secret son in another city. Oh, Season 4 Oliver. I do not miss you.
There's also the possibility that Oliver's deal with The Monitor could prevent The Flash's "crisis" that results in Barry's disappearance, which has been teased for a long time. As DC Comics fans likely know, the "Crisis on infinite Earths" arc ends with The Flash dying in his mission to save the universe from Anti-Monitor, but The CW certainly isn't letting The Flash go any time soon.
If Oliver's theoretical sacrifice to save Barry (and Kara) prevents the crisis, that would guarantee his legacy extends beyond Star City and is never forgotten. Admittedly, it might be hard to explain given all the time travel craziness over on The Flash, but The Monitor has godlike powers. Isn't it conceivable that he could change things down the line that completely alter a major event? Hey, if The Flash and Flashpoint get to change things on Arrow, why can't an Arrow blaze of glory change The Flash?
Is the end of Arrow and death of Oliver in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" all speculation at this point? Absolutely. Could major Arrow characters other than Oliver continue in the Arrow-verse on other shows without original recipe Arrow still on the airwaves? I'd say so, and I would have an easier time saying goodbye to Arrow if it went out in an epic blaze of glory in a huge event spanning the entire superhero universe than if it peters out over another few years of primetime, as many shows do when they're on the air for as long as Arrow has been.
We have a while to wait until we find out for sure. Although the "Elseworlds" cliffhanger revealed that "Crisis on Infinite Earths" will air in Fall 2019, exact dates and further details are practically nonexistent. At least we can almost certainly say that Batwoman will be part of the action, which leads me to be hopeful that her solo series will happen. In fact, could The CW have room for her solo series in 2019-2020 if that season is when Arrow wraps up?
Only time will tell. All four shows of the Arrow-verse are in their winter hiatuses now, but you have other viewing options in the not-too-distant future that you can find on our midseason TV premiere schedule.