“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” has always been a weird show. Its first season took many characters who originated on either “Arrow” or “The Flash” and placed them in a time traveling adventure facing off against an immortal madman. The two highest profile characters on it, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, were easily the worst characters. Then, at the beginning of season two, something began to change. The show became something fun, something special. Now, after seven seasons, the journey of the Waverider’s crew has been unceremoniously cut short.
“Legends” was always a show that managed to buck the norm and do something truly fantastic. Starting in season two, the team, now led by Sara Lance, played brilliantly for almost 10 years by Caity Lotz, was consistently out of their depth when traveling to new time periods in an effort to prevent new paradoxes and aberrations. This became a running joke throughout the series, first with the Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) commenting that he was fighting against idiots, and later with each new season’s threat occurring as a result of the Legends’ actions the previous season, whether it be through breaking time or releasing magical creatures or aliens throughout the timeline. Despite this, the show never punched down. Characters were able to learn and grow, with Sara turning from an assassin into a natural leader, and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) forming one of the most genuine friendships on network TV. The show also wasn’t afraid to take risks. The doors of the Legends’ timeship were always revolving, allowing characters like John Constantine (Matt Ryan) to have a new life after his own NBC TV show was canceled, and more importantly, letting characters leave once their story was complete. One beloved character, Zari (Tala Ashe) was even erased from the team’s personal history and reintroduced the next season with a totally different personality.
The show also wasn’t afraid to be weird. What other show on television would use a zombie apocalypse during the Civil War to teach a character how to be a leader while simultaneously exploring the real life struggles of slaves during that time period? Or have an episode featuring Shakespeare deciding to start his own superhero universe with every character teaming up to defeat Richard the Third only for the episode to transform into a beautiful thesis on the nature of friendship and growing apart from those you love? And, of course, if the show creators had been afraid of a little weirdness we never would have gotten one of the best moments in “Legends” history: the team merging together like Voltron to form a giant Tickle Me Elmo-esque doll to fight a time demon.
“Legends” was also great when it came to representation. Zari and her brother Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) are both Muslim. Professor Stein, played by Victor Garber in the show’s first three seasons, was Jewish. During the show’s now final season, half of the team’s lineup is queer. Season six ends with its bisexual main character, who is now an alien/human hybrid clone, marrying her wife, also a clone, in the 1920s, with no trace of homophobia in sight. The Legends as a team are consistently a group that refuses to allow anyone other than themselves to define them. When faced with multiple monolithic organizations attempting to fix or control time, they break away, determined to protect the timeline while also respecting individual beliefs and human rights. They fight for each other and others who are oppressed, even when doing so puts the timeline at risk. The final season pulls the Legends out of their usual setting by forcing them to be trapped in one time frame for a significant part of the season. While at first the team tries to prevent changes, they find themselves unable to stand the injustices of the 1920s, putting them in the crosshairs of an evil version of their AI turned human team member Gideon (Amy Louise Pemberton) who sees their humanistic view of the timeline as an unnecessary risk. The Legends argue against this, culminating in a finale where they brave the horrors of World War One on the small chance that they will be able to save a teammate’s loved one.
By season seven, the Legends are more than a team. They have become a family, with each character being more than willing to admit their love for each other. The character relationships grew throughout each season of the show, with each unique temporal setting being a place that drives the characters somehow rather than being a simple gimmick. Ultimately, that is why this show means so much to so many different people. “Legends of Tomorrow” told its audience not only that it was ok to be a weirdo who doesn’t fit in anywhere, but that they should be celebrated for it. The Legends were originally a group formed because they could be removed from the timeline without changing anything. They were disposable. Now, they have made themselves indispensable to both the fictional timeline of the Arrowverse and to the millions of fans who have joined them for the journey.
Even though the show has been canceled, “Legends of Tomorrow” will still live on through the fans. There are already online campaigns and petitions to save the show. This week, the comic “Earth Prime #3” was released, which features retired members of the team joining together for a new adventure and also acts as a touching and unexpected epilogue for the series. With the rest of the Arrowverse seemingly starting to come to an end, “Batwoman” was also canceled leaving “The Flash” and “Superman and Lois” as the last two standing, although the jury’s still out on “Stargirl,” the old adage from “The Sandlot “seems to be becoming true. “Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die.” As long as the fans of the TV show keep it in their hearts and we remember the lessons we’ve learned from it, “Legends of Tomorrow” will never truly be gone.