When Legends of Tomorrow first aired in 2016, it was meant as a crossover show for guest stars in The CW and DC Comic’s shared superhero universe. What started as a time travel spin-off made up of characters from Arrow and The Flash found its own subversive voice. Where most of CW and DC’s shows dealt in the melodrama often associated with CW’s output, Legends of Tomorrow leaned hard into absurdity, slapstick, and a whole lot of heart.
In taking full advantage of its time traveling premise, the writers were able to lean into the diversity of the DC Comics universe, both in the eclectic in-universe backgrounds of its cast, and in its spotlighting of POC and queer characters. Now, six years later, Legends of Tomorrow has been canceled at the end of its seventh season on a cliffhanger, and the fanbase its inclusive message cultivated is taking action.
Prior to any official cancelation, when there was no word about whether or not Legends of Tomorrow would continue, the cast and crew started a hashtag on social media: #RenewLegendsofTomorrow, meant to let fans show their support for the show. However, on April 29, the supergroup show was officially canned, and fans were shocked and downtrodden, though the cancellation of Batwoman, another DC show on the network, hours prior had fans braced for the bad news.
“I was just in full denial,” Ellie, a Canadian fan and campaign organizer told Fanbyte. “I just don’t think the show should’ve been canceled, personally. There’s so many reasons why they should have kept going. So I just held on to that and was like ‘they’re going to renew it because it’s the right thing to do.’ But when they canceled, yeah, I was angry, sad, and kind of confused.”
For some, the cancellation felt like the loss of the war. It was hard to envision a future where Legends of Tomorrow would see a conclusion. But fans started to rally around each other’s drive.
“I was really upset and hopeless,” Mili, an Argentinian fan and campaign organizer told Fanbyte. “I didn’t want to continue at first, but Ellie is a very optimistic person. So we kind of took some days off, then we decided to come back stronger.”
Thus began the #SaveLegendsofTomorrow campaign, which became an online banner for international fans to rally under as they fought for some sort of conclusion for the series. But this went beyond hashtags, petitions, and online posts. The movement has extended to in-person demonstrations. From paying for billboards featuring the show’s characters and the hashtag on Times Square (pictured above), posters and signage in public spaces around the world like Pride celebrations, and even flying an airplane message over Warner Bros. headquarters in Burbank, California. The billboards and plane have been paid for through GoFundMe campaigns from fans around the world.
The billboards fans have helped raise money to buy and the signage at places like Pride parades have leaned into Legends of Tomorrow’s diversity. Across the seven seasons, the team on the show’s time-traveling ship has been made up of several heroes of color and explorations of queer relationships.
Spooner, one of the latest additions to the cast, is a Latina and asexual superhero. Brother and sister Behrad and Zari Tarazi are a pair of Muslim heroes who can control the element of air. Across the seasons, several black heroes such as Astra Logue, Amaya Jiwe as Vixen, and Jefferson Jackson as one half of Firestorm make their way through the team. Sara Lance, the White Canary and captain of the titular team, is a bisexual woman in a seasons-long relationship with Time Bureau boss Ava Sharpe. Matt Ryan’s John Constantine finally gets to be the bisexual king he didn’t get to be in his own show in Legends of Tomorrow. So highlighting that diversity has been a key pillar of the #SaveLegendsofTomorrow campaign.
“There are so many people that can see themselves in different characters in that way,” Ellie says. “The way the writers have gone about it is not just making them a diversity token. They’re a character in their own right and are also queer. So it’s really refreshing to see a kind of representation where their identity is not all that they are.”
The #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow campaign in Bangkok, Thailand ????????
Photos by @ywm22!
— Campaign #SaveLegendsOfTomorrow (@CampaignLegends) June 6, 2022
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As is often the case with any online fan movement, there has been some pushback from detractors who didn’t believe anything will get Legends of Tomorrow renewed, but the organizers say they try to keep the campaign respectful in the face of adversity.
“There have been some people outside the fandom who were dismissive of the campaign itself, but we usually ignore it if it’s not constructive,” Ellie says. “Some people within the fandom have raised concerns about the campaign and we have had nice conversations with them to provide clarifications and get to a resolution. Overall, the positive response greatly outweighs the negative.”
Some of that negativity has been outweighed by support from Legends of Tomorrow’s cast and crew. Sara Lance actor Caity Lotz has drawn attention to some of the movement’s demonstrations, such as the plane flying over Warner Bros. headquarters. Adam Tsekhman, who plays Gary, was present when the plane flew over the Burbank offices. Zari Tarazi actor Tala Ashe also posted about seeing the New York billboard on her Instagram. Writer James Eagan has even taken part in a Q&A with the movement to discuss his time working on the show.
— Caity Lotz (@caitylotz) June 2, 2022
In the meantime, the organizers say their hope ebbs and flows, but the community is trying to keep everyone’s spirits up.
“Sometimes you’re feeling really hopeful, then other days you’re feeling upset,” Mili says. “I think I go through all the stages of grief. But then having the support of the cast and the crew really helps us. And we also in the group chats try to make each other feel more optimistic if something is pulling them down. We support each other.”
As of yet, the #SaveLegendsofTomorrow campaign hasn’t seen any public acknowledgement from DC, CW, or Warner Bros. since it began. Even when a whole plane flew over its backyard. But co-showrunner Keto Shimizu has said on Twitter that every company involved wanted a different outcome, but there were “forces at play” that were “out of the control” of any of those companies. The CW has reportedly been in a poor financial state for years, despite the success of DC’s shared television universe. The Hollywood Reporter says a sale possibly in the works.
In the meantime, Ryan reprised his role as John Constantine in Constantine: The House of Mystery. Ryan’s character specifically is an example of a DC character whose show was canceled, but found a continuation in Legends of Tomorrow. So even if Legends of Tomorrow doesn’t get an eighth season, there may still be hope for the Legends, and the fans who followed them through time, to find some kind of closure in the future.
All seven seasons of Legends of Tomorrow are streaming on Netflix.