TV

Doom Patrol Has Had the Strangest DC Canon Journey


Going into its final episodes, Doom Patrol is the ultimate example of how chaotic DC storytelling onscreen has been.

Diane Guerrero, Brendan Fraser in Doom Patrol season 4.
Photo: Zac Popik | Max

All good things must end, and that axiom rings especially true for the quirky, fan-favorite Max original series Doom Patrol. The show releases the second half of its fourth and final season this October, with six brand-new episodes after a nine-month mid-season hiatus that began this past January. Adapting the DC Comics’ superhero team of the same name created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, and Bruno Premiani, Doom Patrol has leaned into the most absurd possibilities of the genre, combined with the heartbreak that comes with being transformed into a misfit hero through horrifically weird science.

However, more than just examining the peculiarities of being a superhero, Doom Patrol has the bizarre distinction of being a program caught between shuffling streaming platforms, confusing shared universe connections, all while trying to tell its own story across four seasons. And frankly, for a team as unorthodox and weird as the Doom Patrol is, these creative and logistical challenges feel right in the superheroes’ wheelhouse. Here’s how Doom Patrol burst onto the scene, how they rode the rollercoaster of changing corporate streaming strategies, and managed to stick the landing, against all odds.

Where Does Doom Patrol Even Fit in the DC Canon?

Doom Patrol began not as its own show but as a spinoff from the DC Universe original series Titans, receiving a backdoor pilot episode in the fourth episode of Titans season 1. Titans established that Beast Boy was part of the Doom Patrol, saved and brought in by that team’s benefactor Niles Caulder, when he was child. Development began on Doom Patrol to receive its own series, presumably set in the same continuity as Titans, but the spinoff eventually was set in its own standalone canon. There were plans for the Doom Patrol to reappear in the Titans season 1 finale to assist Beast Boy against Trigon, explaining the discrepancy by transporting themselves through an extra-dimensional portal to arrive in Titans’ universe, but plans for the season finale changed drastically and the Doom Patrol’s inclusion was scrapped completely.

The DCTV crossover event “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” unfolding across DC’s programming on The CW, clarified that Titans takes place on Earth-9 while Doom Patrol takes place in the alternate universe of Earth-21. The lingering question of how the two shows connect, given the Doom Patrol’s appearance in Titans season 1, is resolved in the fourth and final season of Titans. Through the season, Beast Boy experiences flashbacks as he taps into a life force connecting all animal life in the multiverse, known as the Red. Through these flashbacks, he learns Caulder was drawn to his power source as part of his longtime search for immortality and recovered Beast Boy.

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