Comics Cornerstone TV Spotlight: Reflecting on The Legacy of “Arrow”

Image Courtesy of The CW and Warner Bros.


Hello everybody!  I hope you are all doing well and are ready for another Comics Cornerstone.  You know, one of my favorite things about doing this blog is getting to do these TV Spotlight editions because there’s so much awesome comic related content on TV right now!  Whether it be Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, DC Universe, or the recently available Disney+, there is arguably never been a better time to be a comic fan!  With that said, today I’ll be looking back at the show that launched the superhero TV revolution: “Arrow”.  Since the show had its’ series finale not two weeks ago, I figured there was no better time to look back on the show itself, as well as the legacy it left and the universe it created.  So, strap in because this’ll be a fun one!


Back in the fall of 2012, “Arrow” premiered on the young-adult-focused network called the CW.  Famous for shows such as “Supernatural” this would be the network’s first attempt at a comic book property.  Executive producers Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim wanted to remove the campiness of the original Green Arrow comic book from the ’40s and make him into a more Batman-like character because they believed this take would be better for modern audiences.  Little did they know what a hit they had on their hands!


The show follows a young man named Oliver Queen as he returns from being supposedly missing at sea for nearly five years.  He had been with his father and then-girlfriend on a private cruise.  One day, the ship was caught in a storm and only Oliver, his father, and one crew member managed to escape alive.  After sailing aimlessly for several days, only enough food remains to feed one person.  So, in the ultimate act of fatherhood, Oliver’s dad shoots the crewman and then asks Oliver to make it home and right his wrongs before shooting himself.  Eventually, Oliver ends up stranded on a remote island called Lian Yu.  That’s Mandarin for “purgatory”.  While stranded, Oliver goes through a series of harrowing events that turn him into the ultimate warrior, ready and willing to seek justice by any means necessary.


That’s the basic premise of this show.  Believe me, I could go into far more detail than that by explaining every plot point of every season.  But that’s not my job and that’s not what you want from me.  That’s what Wikipedia is for.  What I will do is give you my overall thoughts on the show and the landscape that it built.


Like every show, “Arrow” had its ups and downs.  Though I’d argue it was mostly ups since the show went on for eight years.  During that time, we saw Oliver go from vengeance-seeking, murder happy vigilante who kept everyone at arm’s length, to a true hero and a symbol of hope.  And that’s just in his private life.  His public life evolves from billionaire playboy to loyal husband, to the mayor, and finally, family man.  That’s a lot of growth in eight years.  And it’s not just the character himself who evolves during that time.  It’s also the universe around him.  By the time season 3 rolls around, the network already had a second show by way of “The Flash”.  This move was actually already foreshadowed with the introduction of the character of Barry Allen back in season 2.  The universe was growing and no force on Earth could stop it.


One of the more interesting elements of the show, at least for the first few years, was the flashbacks.  Unbeknownst to most people on the mainland, Oliver didn’t spend the entirety of those five years stuck on Lian Yu.  He actually went through more trials and tribulations than most ordinary men can handle.  Whether it be fighting off a group of drug-enhanced soldiers or going on covert operations for the mysterious organization known as A. R. G. U. S., Oliver’s past was darker than the darkest nights you can imagine.  What’s even more interesting and compelling is the fact that the flashback plotlines were almost always a reflection of the plotlines happening in the current time.  It was a unique twist that no show had attempted before and it often provided more insight into the antagonists’ motivations.


As I said before, there were ups and downs.  In my opinion, the highest points were the first two seasons and the first half of season 3, with the latter half being some of the worst the show had to offer.  Season 4 wasn’t any better.  Thankfully, by the time Season 5 rolled around, we got back to the peak of the show and stayed that way for the next season and a half.  Then, sadly, we sink again before rising from the ashes for Seasons 7 & 8.  I know that was a bit long-winded, but I hope my point got across.  Though I’m pretty sure any of you who’ve seen the show will agree with me.


Some of the more out of this world stuff comes in the latter half of the show starting with Season 4.  And that’s where it sort of starts to lose its’ wheels.  Though I’ll argue that the only reason these elements were introduced was to keep up with the more science-fictional nature of the other shows in the universe.  “The Flash” and “Legends” were doing crazy things in their seasons and it was working.  So, naturally, audiences expected the same from “Arrow”.  Unfortunately, this didn’t quite vibe with the predetermined nature of the show and audiences rebelled.  Thus, the crazier supernatural stuff was saved for the annual crossover events.


“Arrow” went from being an underdog show with a character that very few people knew about to must-watch television with multiple characters that almost anybody could relate to in some way.  By the time the series ended, you won’t find one YouTube reaction without crying in it.  That’s the impact that the show had.  And it didn’t just create an entire universe filled with loveable characters like Flash and Supergirl, but it also opened the doors for TV creators to have more ambitious ideas that audiences will latch onto.  Sure, there were moments in it that were downright horrible.  But people came back week after week with their fingers crossed hoping that they’d see an adventure that was even better than the last.  And that’s not just the case for “Arrow”, but for everything else that was birthed from it.


Well, there you have it.  My complete and final thoughts on “Arrow”.  What did you think?  Did you enjoy it as much as I did?   Maybe you have some points of your own.  Either way, I hope you liked what I wrote!  And don’t worry because there’s plenty more content for this blog coming down the pipe very soon!  Until then, stay comical!



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Baily Vis

Hi! My name is Baily Vis. I joined The Vessel writing team back in February of 2019 and am in charge of The Streaming Spotlight and Comics Cornerstone. My interest in comic-related media began when I was about 10 years old with a random issue of "Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man." This gave birth to my overall interest in writing and the science fiction genre. That's why in the Fall of 2016 I enrolled at USF to pursue a career in media.