After more than seven years, Arrow has done what no TV show has ever done before. The CW’s DC Comics series starring Stephen Amell as a gritty Green Arrow spawned an entire shared universe spanning more than one network, inspiring five additional live-action shows and multiple animated CW Seed web series. But all good things must come to an end.
With only 10 new episodes left to go before Arrow ends, now is the perfect time to get nostalgic and look back on the good, the bad, and even the ugly from the first Arrowverse series. From crossovers to deaths to resurrections and more bone-crunching fights than you can count, the past 160 episodes have seen it all, and one of the joys of this show is watching how it has evolved over time. But which hour is the best, and which is the worst?
EW has painstakingly gone back through the entire series to rank every single Arrow episode from worst to best to answer that very question. Where will the 10 episodes of the eighth and final season fall in this list? We won’t have to wait long to find out.
160. “Collision Course” (Season 6, Episode 14)
The rift between Original Team Arrow and the New Team Arrow finally crescendos into outright violence. Unfortunately, the conflict just doesn’t hold any water and is more frustrating than anything because it feels unnecessary. —C.A.
159. “Burned” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Arrow‘s version of Firefly just did not bring the heat. As much as the scenes with the Queen family grieving feel real, the procedural villain arc falls flat. After the banger of Oliver v. the Dark Archer (Malcolm Merlyn), this hour’s conflict is a letdown. —S.B.
158. “Salvation” (Season 1, Episode 18)
Another episode that suffers from a lackluster villain. The Savior could have been the perfect mirror for Oliver as a murderous vigilante carrying out his own justice, but instead he was a two-dimensional caricature that made it easy for Oliver to take him down without being forced to take a closer look at his own actions. Because really, who gave Oliver the authority to decide which vigilantes should and shouldn’t be allowed to operate in the city? Handled better, this could have been a watershed moment for both Oliver and the show. —S.B.
157. “Guilty” (Season 3, Episode 6)
With “Guilty,” Arrow tries to flesh out Oliver and Roy’s (Colton Haynes) relationship, which is shaken when murder-filled nightmares convince Roy he killed Sara (Caity Lotz). Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work because the episodes leading up this didn’t firmly establish what their dynamic was beyond their shared love for Thea (Willa Holland), colorful hoodies, and parkour, and “Guilty” devotes too much precious real estate to Ted Grant’s failed partnership with his old sidekick. —C.A.
156. “Dodger” (Season 1, Episode 15)
This episode is one I always remember as the one where Arrow decided to introduce romance for the characters: Oliver with McKenna (who honestly deserved so much better than her overall arc), Diggle (David Ramsey) with his sister-in-law Carly (which will never not be weird), and Thea with Roy. All of it felt so shoehorned in to the plot, especially since after Moira shoots Oliver in the episode prior and they never actually have any scenes together in this one. I kept waiting for them to come face-to-face but it doesn’t happen. Instead, we get Arrow speed-dating. —S.B.
155. “All for Nothing” (Season 6, Episode 12)
Arrow‘s penchant for darkness gets the better of it in “All For Nothing,” which begins with dead A.R.G.U.S. agents floating in the water and ends with Black Siren sonic screaming into Vincent’s (Johann Urb) ear and murdering him, one of the show’s most disturbing visuals. The problem is that all of it feels grim for grimness’ sake. Moreover, the Dinah-Vincent flashbacks weren’t as revelatory as one would hope. —C.A.
154. “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” (Season 6, Episode 13)
Team Arrow races against the clock to prove Oliver didn’t kill Cayden James’ son so that the evil genius doesn’t blow Star City with a thermobaric bomb. Despite the pressing setup, “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” lacks any sense of urgency, something we’ve come to expect from a show that gave us a pulse racing hit like “Public Enemy.” Thus, Michael Emerson’s time on ends on a subdued note. —C.A.
153. “Code of Silence” (Season 4, Episode 14)
If I see another episode revolving around someone keeping a secret to protect someone they love, I will scream. And here, we get it in spades. Oliver’s keeping William a secret from Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) which Thea weirdly supports (after everything that was kept from her last season, this makes no sense!), Quentin’s (Paul Blackthorne) keeping his work with Team Arrow a secret from Donna (Charlotte Ross), and you just know it’s all going to go up in smoke right away. This is the most tired trope in comic book shows and I never want to see it again! —S.B.
152. “Home Invasion” (Season 1, Episode 20)
Angel’s J. August Richards guest-stars as Mr. Blank, a hitman hired to kill Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and the little boy she took custody after he witnessed Mr. Blank murder his parents. Meanwhile, Oliver teams up with A.R.G.U.S. to catch Deadshot (Michael Rowe), but abandons both Diggle and the mission to save Laurel when Mr. Blank tracks her down to the Queen mansion. All in all, a fine yet very forgettable episode from early in the show’s run. —C.A.
151. “Broken Hearts” (Season 4, Episode 16)
Ugh, Cupid (Amy Gumenick). I’m sorry, but this Arrow villain annoys me to no end. She could have been so badass handled correctly but instead she always ends up getting taken down by being distracted by her love/obsession. Not what you’d expect from Star City’s first female SWAT agent. Plus, staging a fake Olicity wedding literally the episode after they break up is so cheesy. —S.B.
150. “Blast Radius” (Season 2, Episode 10)
The definition of perfectly fine, “Blast Radius” pits Team Arrow against the explosives-obsessed Shrapnel (Sean Maher), who survives the hour only to be quickly killed off in “Suicide Squad” a few episodes later. —C.A.
149. “The Return” (Season 3, Episode 14)
148. “State vs. Queen” (Season 2, Episode 7)
147. “Fundamentals” (Season 6, Episode 18)
146. “Suicidal Tendencies” (Season 3, Episode 17)
145. “Star City Slayer” (Season 7, Episode 13)
144. “Past Sins” (Season 7, Episode 11)
143. “The Huntress Returns” (Season 1, Episode 17)
142. “Year’s End” (Season 1, Episode 9)
141. “Inheritance” (Season 7, Episode 17)
140. “The Ties That Bind” (Season 6, Episode 22)
139. “This Is Your Sword” (Season 3, Episode 22)
Team Arrow travels to Nanda Parbat to save Oliver, but instead must watch him wed Nyssa (Katrina Law), a cruel arranged marriage orchestrated by murderous matchmaker Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). —C.A.
138. “Legacies” (Season 1, Episode 6)
137. “The Candidate” (Season 4, Episode 2)
136. “The Offer” (Season 3, Episode 16)
135. “Trust but Verify” (Season 1, Episode 11)
134. “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” (Season 6, Episode 21)
Not even a surprise appearance from Tommy Merlyn (but really the Human Target in disguise) could save this hour after Rene (Rick Gonzalez) reveals Oliver’s identity during the trial. It was a repeat of Rene’s first few weeks on the team after Church (Chad Coleman) tortured the information out of him, and felt redundant to see that happen again. —S.B.
133. “The Thanatos Guild” (Season 6, Episode 16)
The League of Assassins rebrands as the Thanatos Guild and returns to help say goodbye to Willa Holland, who departed as a series regular at the end of the hour. —C.A.
131. “Emerald Archer” (Season 7, Episode 12)
Kelsey Grammer narrates Arrow‘s 150th episode, which is shot like a documentary. The gimmick is fun, but it feels like the show doesn’t take full advantage of this framing device. —C.A.
130. “Confessions” (Season 7, Episode 20)
129. “Nanda Parbat” (Season 3, Episode 15)
128. “Corto Maltese” (Season 3, Episode 3)
Thea shows off her new fighting skills, and Oliver reminds us he knows how to use a gun and reveals he can Macgyver-up a bow and arrow out of items found in a hotel room. —C.A.
127. “Due Process” (Season 7, Episode 6)
126. “Crossing Lines” (Season 7, Episode 3)
125. “Dangerous Liaisons” (Season 5, Episode 19)
124. “Honor Thy Father” (Season 1, Episode 2)
123. “Schism” (Season 4, Episode 23)
Oh man do I hate the trope of heroes winning because of the nebulous idea of hope, and in this episode that’s literally what happens. Plus Felicity and her father’s almost-magical levels of hacking to stop a nuclear apocalypse is the perfect example of Arrow going too big. —S.B.
122. “Life Sentence” (Season 6, Episode 23)
121. “An Innocent Man” (Season 1, Episode 4)
120. “Crucible” (Season 2, Episode 4)
119. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (Season 1, Episode 22)
The good: Oliver and Diggle finally pull the truth about the Undertaking out of Moira, and Oliver confronts Malcolm about being the Dark Archer and ends up being captured. The bad: The use of Imagine Dragons when Oliver and Laurel hook-up, an unacceptable song choice. —C.A.
118. “The Dragon” (Season 6, Episode 19)
117. “Unchained” (Season 4, Episode 12)
Roy’s return comes just in the nick of time as Thea’s refusal to sate her bloodlust results in her slipping into a coma. But the catharsis of their heart-to-hearts just feels so good! —S.B.
116. “Legacy” (Season 5, Episode 1)
115. “Al Sah-him” (Season 3, Episode 21)
Oliver Queen becomes the villain of his own story when he forces his “former” teammates to turn Nyssa back over to the League by kidnapping Baby Sara (R.I.P.). It’s a shame his vacation on the dark side only lasted for a single episode. —C.A.
114. “My Name is Emiko Queen” (Season 7, Episode 10)
113. “Blood Debts” (Season 4, Episode 10)
112. “Lost Souls” (Season 4, Episode 6)
111. “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” (Season 3, Episode 5)
I wish Felicity’s origin story didn’t revolve around another man/romantic interest. —S.B.
110. “Broken Dolls” (Season 2, Episode 3)
This episode will always give me the creeps, as a serial killer targets beautiful young women based on the skin cream they buy and drowns them with a tube shoved down their throats so he can stage them like dolls. I can totally understand Quentin Lance’s obsession with catching this guy, even before his daughter Laurel is targeted. —S.B.
109. “The Man Under the Hood” (Season 2, Episode 19)
108. “The Sin-Eater” (Season 5, Episode 14)
107. “Deathstroke Returns” (Season 6, Episode 5)
106. “The Demon” (Season 7, Episode 5)
105. “Haunted” (Season 4, Episode 5)
There is indeed life after death. After NBC canceled Constantine, Matt Ryan reprise the titular role in this installment, which sees the cynical trench-coat loving occult detective help Oliver and Laurel retrieve Sara’s soul from the other side. Thankfully, this was just the beginning of John Constantine’s life in the Arrowverse because he would find a home on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. —C.A.
104. “Level Two” (Season 7, Episode 4)
103. “Thanksgiving” (Season 6, Episode 7)
102. “Doppelgänger” (Season 6, Episode 15)
101. “Sins of the Father” (Season 4, Episode 13)
Throughout its run, Arrow never clearly explained the purpose of its version of the League of Assassins (outside of Malcolm’s one line about it shaping world events in this episode). Thus, a plot about intra-league power squabbles and leadership change isn’t the most compelling thing in the world. That being said, the script and direction do a solid job of making the stakes feel high and the action in this episode is amazing, especially Oliver long-awaited sword fight against Malcom, who receives exactly what he deserves when Oliver chops his hand off. Plus, Felicity is reunited with her criminal father Noah Cutter (Tom Amandes), a.k.a. the Calculator. —C.A.
100. “Promises Kept” (Season 6, Episode 6)
99. “The Calm” (Season 3, Episode 1)
Don’t let the episode title fool you: Arrow lulls us all into a false sense of security before kicking off this season’s big mystery of who killed Sara Lance. —S.B.
98. “My Name is Oliver Queen” (Season 3, Episode 23)
97. “Shifting Allegiances” (Season 6, Episode 20)
96. “Honor Thy Fathers” (Season 5, Episode 21)
95. “Penance” (Season 5, Episode 4)
When a guilt-ridden Diggle refuses to fight his imprisonment, Oliver goes inside to convince his brother being Spartan can be his way of atoning and break him out of prison. You love to see this kind of brotherly bond. Meanwhile, the new recruits receive some much-needed development as they try to keep the city safe while Oliver is away. —C.A.
94. “Keep Your Enemies Closer” (Season 2, Episode 6)
93. “Brothers & Sisters” (Season 7, Episode 14)
92. “The Slabside Redemption” (Season 7, Episode 7)
91. “Specter of the Gun” (Season 5, Episode 13)
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Green Arrow became known as a social justice warrior, confronting relevant social and political issues in the pages of his comics. In bringing him to the small screen, Arrow sanded down that part of the character’s personality a bit, even though there are still hints of it in his crusade against the one percent in season 1 and whenever the drug Vertigo comes up. Midway through the show’s fifth season, though, Arrow tried channeling the spirit of classic Green Arrow comics by tackling American’s gun problem in “Specter of the Gun,” a very sweaty hour in which the characters debate the issue after someone attacking city hall with an assault rifle. Sure, the dialogue sounded a bit talking point-y, but the script was smart enough to recognize that this is an issue that Green Arrow can’t solve and it’s hard not to respect the show’s willingness to at least engage with the topic. That being said, we’re still waiting to find out what Star City’s new gun laws actually were. —C.A.
90. “The Fallen” (Season 3, Episode 20)
89. “Draw Back Your Bow” (Season 3, Episode 7)
88. “Lone Gunmen” (Season 1, Episode 3)
Wow, what a moment that we will never forget, a moment that is most pleasing to us in Arrow‘s run: Rickards debuts as the incomparable Felicity Smoak. Amell previously told EW that the show doesn’t work if it doesn’t find the actress, and he’s right. (Oh, and this episode introduces Deadshot, which is fine). —C.A.
87. “Divided” (Season 6, Episode 10)
86. “Restoration” (Season 4, Episode 3)
85. “Green Arrow” (Season 4, Episode 1)
84. “Irreconcilable Differences” (Season 6, Episode 9)
83. “Fallout” (Season 6, Episode 1)
82. “Tribute” (Season 6, Episode 2)
81. “Living Proof” (Season 7, Episode 21)
Unconscious in the wake of his villainous half-sister Emiko dropping a building on him, Oliver imagines an entire conversation with his conscience, which takes the form of Tommy and urges him to break the Queen cycle of violence by not murdering Emiko. In some ways, you can interpret Tommy’s argument as a critique of comic books’ over-reliance of parental deaths and drama to motivate its heroes. “Living Proof” makes you imagine a world in which Oliver frees himself from, or at least rises above, the damage his parents caused, and I’m all for that. —C.A.
80. “A Matter of Trust” (Season 5, Episode 3)
79. “Taken” (Season 4, Episode 15)
78. “Dark Waters” (Season 4, Episode 9)
77. “Suicide Squad” (Season 2, Episode 16)
Remember when Arrow was allowed to use the Suicide Squad? Forcing the show’s moral center a.k.a. Diggle to contend with Waller (Cynthia Addai Robinson) and her band of evil villains was like Christmas came early. His complicated struggles to accept this team as well as having to buddy up with an actual terrorist was so fun to watch. It also proved that Arrow wasn’t just willing to coast on the IP of the Suicide Squad. They were still attempting to do something new with the well-worn concept. And yeah, that Harley Quinn nod was dope. —S.B.
76. “The Recruits” (Season 5, Episode 2)
75. “Spartan” (Season 7, Episode 19)
74. “Vigilante” (Season 5, Episode 7)
73. “A.W.O.L.” (Season 4, Episode 11)
72. “The Magician” (Season 3, Episode 4)
71. “Lost Canary” (Season 7, Episode 18)
70. “Checkmate” (Season 5, Episode 16)
69. “Star City 2040” (Season 7, Episode 16)
Felicity’s debut in the flashforwards was exciting, sure, but the real whammy of this hour comes from Rene when he reveals the plans for the opposite of The Undertaking. What a cool callback to season 1. —S.B.
68. “Monument Point” (Season 4, Episode 21)
Remember when Felicity diverted a nuclear bomb to kill tens of thousands of people? Fun times! —S.B.
67. “Sara” (Season 3, Episode 2)
66. “Time of Death” (Season 2, Episode 14)
The side plot of Felicity being jealous of Sara felt incredibly real and earned. But it’s the whopper of the ending when Oliver comes home to find Slade Wilson in his house with his mother that packs the real punch in this hour. —S.B.
65. “Training Day” (Season 7, Episode 15)
64. “We Fall” (Season 6, Episode 11)
When Cayden James takes the city’s infrastructure hostage and demands $10 million a day to prevent further attacks, Oliver is not only forced to reveal to William that he’s the Green Arrow again, but also team up with New Team Arrow to keep the city’s inhabitants safe. This setup leads to one of the show’s best moments: a fight sequence told entirely from Felicity’s perspective. As OTA and NTA take on Cayden’s forces, Felicity opens up to a justifiably worried William about what it’s like to sit back in the bunker while Oliver is out in the field. The poignant monologue, as performed by Rickards and written by Speed Weed and Spiro Skentzos, powerfully captures the years of history between Oliver and Felicity. —C.A.
63. “City of Heroes” (Season 2, Episode 1)
62. “Blind Spot” (Season 2, Episode 11)
61. “Tremors” (Season 2, Episode 12)
Oliver revealing his identity to get through to a Mirakuru-enraged Roy is such a beautiful scene that really comes out of nowhere in the best way. Usually the big identity reveal can be spotted from a mile away but this one was a true surprise. —S.B.
60. “Fighting Fire with Fire” (Season 5, Episode 15)
59. “The Longbow Hunters” (Season 7, Episode 2)
58. “Next of Kin” (Season 6, Episode 3)
57. “Reversal” (Season 6, Episode 4)
56. “Brothers in Arms” (Season 6, Episode 17)
Diggle’s lack of faith in Oliver finally comes a boil in “Brothers in Arms,” which sees the two men exchange physical and emotional blows in a blistering confrontation. Sure, it would’ve been nice if the episodes preceding this one had done a slightly better job of setting up this conflict, but man Amell and Ramsey truly sell it with their excellent performance that, again, carry the weight of six seasons worth of history. —C.A.
55. “Identity” (Season 2, Episode 2)
54. “Genesis” (Season 4, Episode 20)
53. “Bratva” (Season 5, Episode 12)
52. “Inmate 4587” (Season 7, Episode 1)
What happens when the main character of your comic book show reveals his identity and goes to prison for it? Arrow gets creative with its storytelling in season 7 to figure that exact problem out. It starts with an incredible montage of what Oliver’s life in prison is like with some amazing callbacks to the first season. While it may have gotten a little tedious in later episodes, this season premiere proves that Arrow can still take risks, and pull them off. And I can’t not point out how the fights get even more brutal this season, because damn. The stunt team really brings it in that shower fight scene. —S.B.
51. “Missing” (Season 5, Episode 22)
50. “Lost in the Flood” (Season 4, Episode 22)
49. “Second Chances” (Season 5, Episode 11)
48. “Vertigo” (Season 1, Episode 12)
47. “Unmasked” (Season 7, Episode 8)
Freshly released from prison, Oliver readjusts to life back in Star City, which means figuring out Green Arrow’s place in the new city order and processing how much Felicity changed while he was on the inside, both strong story points. Meanwhile, the city’s New Green Arrow is revealed to be Emiko Queen (Sea Shimooka), Oliver’s secret half-sister. —C.A.
46. “Betrayal” (Season 1, Episode 13)
45-44. “Muse of Fire”/”Vendetta” (Season 1, Episodes 7-8)
In this duo, Oliver crosses paths with the vengeful Helena Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw), he helps her channel her rage into becoming the crossbow-wielding vigilante Huntress. Unfortunately, Oliver isn’t prepared for how far Helena is willing to go to get revenge on her mob boss father for killing her fiancé. Nevertheless, the fact that Arrow introduced another costumed vigilante so early in its run was astounding, and this is the moment I truly fell for the show. —C.A.
43. “Unfinished Business” (Season 1, Episode 19)
42. “Elseworlds, Part 2” (Season 7, Episode 9)
41. Beyond Redemption (Season 4, Episode 4)
40. The Odyssey (Season 1, Episode 14)
Oliver gets shot by his own mother and that’s shockingly not the headline of this episode. Felicity joins Team Arrow and although it may be rocky at the start, it’s the beginning of a beautiful era. The hour also foreshadows season 2’s Deathstroke arc that promises incredible comic book goodness to come. —S.B.
39. “So It Begins” (Season 5, Episode 6)
After stalking around the periphery of the action for a few weeks, Prometheus finally made his move against Oliver, targeting people from season 1’s list. Of course, this forces Oliver to finally come clean to the new recruits about his murderous beginnings, and the episodes strikes the perfect balance between holding him accountable (the team is horrified when they realize he was the Hood, even though that should’ve been obvious) and using this as an opportunity to remind us how much he had evolved. Meanwhile in the flashbacks, Dolph Lundgren is immediately memorable and intimidating in his debut as Konstantin Kovar. —C.A.
38. “Beacon of Hope” (Season 4, Episode 17)
You know how hilarious it is when someone plays the random “Bees?” card in Cards Against Humanity? Well, this Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan-penned hour captures that very specific and delightful feeling. In “Beacon of Hope,” The Flash’s Brie Larvin, a.k.a. the Bug-Eyed Bandit (Emily Kinney), returns to terrorize Felicity with, you guessed it, bees — specifically killer robotic ones that chase her and her mother around Palmer Tech’s offices. Not only is it a blast to watch and one of the few times Arrow allows itself to just be fun (see: the bees, of course, but also a sneezy and delirious Curtis accidentally discovering the bunker), but it’s also one of the best examples of the show using the growing weirdness of its shared universe to its advantage. Honestly, it should bee higher on the list. —C.A.
37. “Broken Arrow” (Season 3, Episode 19)
We were all so concerned with Oliver and Roy’s futures being cleared of suspicion that we never saw the real blow coming until it was too late. Focusing the entire episode on Roy taking the blame for being the Arrow, Oliver having to accept it, and setting up Roy’s fake death to have him leave to begin a new life all felt like the end of an important chapter in Arrow‘s history. But the final moment in which Ra’s al Ghul attacks and stabs Thea gave us the shock we needed to remember just who Team Arrow is dealing with, and put everyone on an entirely new path as a result. —S.B.
36. “Canaries” (Season 3, Episode 13)
Nothing will ever feel as good as the moment in which Oliver reveals his identity to Thea. Her glowing and loving reaction full of gratitude is downright cathartic, not only for Oliver but for us as well. It also finally starts to open Thea’s eyes to who Malcolm really is and what he’s put her through, which was a long time coming. The emotional payoff in this hour cannot be understated. Plus, Oliver’s return to the team after his “death” shows just how far the team has come in his absence. He’s no longer their leader; they truly are a democratic team. It’s always nice to see Oliver’s ego get knocked down a few pegs. —S.B.
35. “Human Target” (Season 5, Episode 5)
Human Target! We knew Arrow would never actually kill off Oliver (well, until the final season) but this fake out was so incredibly well done. And the growing Prometheus threat just continues to ratchet up the tension — if Church is that terrified of this guy, then Oliver truly has no idea what’s coming. However this episode is also the start of one of my most hated Arrow arcs ever: Susan Williams’ (Carly Pope) relationship with Oliver while secretly working to bring him down with her work as a journalist. NO. This is not what a journalist does! TV shows love painting journalists in a bad light with no ethics, but that goes against everything we’re taught. —S.B.
34. “Dead to Rights” (Season 1, Episode 16)
Any big moment when a comic book hero reveals his/her identity to the people closest to him/her is an instant favorite of mine, and Tommy’s moment of truth lived up to all my hopes and dreams. Tommy’s clear disapproval of Oliver’s actions pushing him to reconcile with Malcolm is as heartbreaking as much as it feels right for the character, especially when Oliver tells Tommy that he was never going to reveal the truth about his vigilante alter ego to him. That small moment in an hour full of crazy action speaks volumes about how much Oliver has closed himself off to his old life. If Tommy has survived past the first season, I doubt he and Oliver would have ever been as close as they were before the Queen’s Gambit went down. —S.B.
33 – 31. “Left Behind”/”Midnight City”/”Uprising” (Season 3, Episodes 10-12)
Watching the members of Team Arrow come into their own and gain agency was one of the best things about season 3. A lot of that work was accomplished in this Dark Knight Rises-esque trio of episodes, which follows Felicity, Diggle, Roy, and Laurel as they tried to protect the city in Oliver’s absence. The scripts strike the right balance between showing why they need Oliver and reminding us they’re capable in their own right. Furthermore, the show kept Oliver off the board just long enough to make his return in “Uprising” feel particularly triumphant. —C.A.
30. Eleven-Fifty-Nine (Season 4, Episode 18)
Yes, this is the episode where Damien Darhk murdered our beloved Laurel Lance, a.k.a. the Black Canary, which was heartbreaking even if it wasn’t completely surprising (The D.A. job seemed too good to be true). But “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” also featured some great action sequences, like Thea’s brutal fight with her snake of a father Malcolm. —C.A.
29. “The Undertaking” (Season 1, Episode 21)
Man, I miss Susanna Thompson. She really was Arrow‘s secret weapon, constantly slaying the most complicated, emotional scenes, like when she confronts Malcolm about Walter’s kidnapping while Oliver listens in without her knowledge. You just can’t help but love her even when you’re supposed to be hating her. Plus the non-island flashbacks are a banger, revealing why Malcolm is the reason why the Queen’s Gambit went down. —S.B.
28. “You Have Saved This City” (Season 7, Episode 22)
Was this a satisfying conclusion to season 7’s story? Not entirely. It felt as though the show wrapped up the Ninth Circle and Emiko storyline way too quickly. That being said, “You Have Saved This City” felt like a conclusion to a larger story. That’s of course partially due to it being Emily Bett Rickards’ final episode as a series regular, but the episode also achieved that by spotlighting teamwork and what Oliver and company have built. Look at how director James Bamford poignantly tries to fit as many members of Team Arrow into each shot; the touching culmination of Earth-2 Laurel and Bronze Tiger’s redemption arcs; the thrill of seeing Mia embrace her inner Green Arrow while working with Team Arrow 2.0 in the flash-forwards; or finally, the powerful speech Oliver gives before he and Felicity go into hiding. Emotionally, the season 7 finale struck all of the right notes — and then gave us one hell of a tease for “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” —C.A.
27. “The Scientist” (Season 2, Episode 8)
Barry f—ing Allen is here, y’all! His introduction on Arrow, leading to his own series, is perfect in every way. Gustin makes for the most charming pre-speedster and his chemistry with all the characters on Arrow just worked. If he wasn’t already getting his own show, I’d petition for him to join Arrow full-time. —S.B.
26. “Legends of Yesterday” (Season 4, Episode 8)
I’m one of the few people who cheers anytime The Flash uses time travel, so having those long-reaching effects finally rock the other Arrowverse shows in major ways was incredibly well-earned payoff. Of course, on the flip side, anytime Oliver lies to Felicity to “protect” her grinds my gears, but I can ignore that frustrating plot line in favor of all the comic book goodness this crossover hour has to offer. —S.B.
25. “Streets of Fire” (Season 2, Episode 22)
Laurel has come so far in season 2 alone, and her actions in “Streets of Fire” prove it. It’s the perfect foreshadowing for her eventual promotion to hero herself (watching her successfully use Oliver’s bow while still realistically struggling with it was *chef’s kiss*). But first, Starling City devolves into all-out anarchy. I will never get over Sebastian Blood’s (Kevin Alejandro) crazed, feverish delusions that he can still save the city as mayor after everything he did to help Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). There’s nothing scarier than a villain who thinks they’re the hero. —S.B.
24. “Canary Cry” (Season 4, Episode 19)
The twist of opening on Tommy’s funeral before juxtaposing that with Laurel’s funeral makes for one emotionally gutting and extremely powerful episode. I knew I was going to cry while watching this one but I was not prepared for how much! Paul Blackthorne’s work in this hour destroys me every time I rewatch it even though I know what’s coming. Seeing how everyone on Team Arrow handles their grief may not be fun, but it’s incredibly important because it shows how crucial the more human storylines are to the series, especially on a season consumed with magic and mysticism. —S.B.
23. “Brotherhood” (Season 4, Episode 7)
Stunt coordinator-turned-producer James Bamford made his directorial on “Brotherhood,” so obviously the episode boasts many outstanding action scenes (that elevator oner between Thea and Diggle’s brother Andy!). But the fights are far from the only thing “Brotherhood” has to offer. All of the storylines gel really well, even the flashbacks, and the cast give some of their strongest and most convincing performances — especially Ramsey, who is called on to reveal more of Diggle’s vulnerable side and the confusing mix of emotions he has after learning his brother is alive and working for Damien Darhk. Furthermore, it’s just really nice to see Team Arrow be there for Diggle in the same he’s always there for them. —C.A.
22. “Who Are You?” (Season 5, Episode 10)
One of the fun things about Arrow‘s fourth and fifth season is watching the show figure out how the show responds to its world getting increasingly weirder thanks to The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Here, Oliver, who is already torn up over accidentally killing Felicity’s boyfriend, must process some very complicated feelings about the appearance of Laurel’s evil super-powered Earth-2 doppelgänger Black Siren. While Felicity remains skeptical of Laurel, Oliver clings to the hope that she can be redeemed because that’s the only thing he has that’s keeping him from succumbing to the darkness, and watching this struggle was extremely compelling. On top of that, it’s clear Katie Cassidy was having a blast chewing scenery in this new role. —C.A.
21. “League of Assassins” (Season 2, Episode 5)
The introduction of the League of Assassins is not something I ever thought I’d see on live-action TV, and Arrow certainly does not disappoint. Not only does it add a compelling new layer to Sara’s origin story, but it also ties back to Malcolm’s as well, shining a new light on last season’s drama and foreshadowing future storylines as well. —S.B.
20. “Seeing Red” (Season 2, Episode 20)
“Seeing Red” is an odd episode. On the hand, most of it feels unmoored because the focus on Roy’s Mirakuru-induced psychosis clashes with the Moira Queen-centric flashbacks and isn’t super compelling. On the other hand, the Moira stuff works so well; from the flashbacks, which were a perfect tribute to this complicated woman who would do anything for her children, to her tragic death, which remains one of the show’s most defining moments. Even though I know it’s coming, it’s still hard to watch each tine because Moira’s death is so devastating. —C.A.
19. “Birds of Prey” (Season 2, Episode 17)
Arrow puts its women front and center in “Birds of Prey.” After the Arrow and Canary capture Frank Bertinelli, the D.A.’s office re-hires Laurel to try his case, which lures the Huntress back to town and leads to Laurel getting caught in a hostage situation. As the crisis unfolds, Laurel realizes she was only brought back because the D.A. viewed her as expandable, which forces her to confront her personal demons and decide whether or not she wants to relapse into alcoholism and rise up. Meanwhile, Sara must figure out if she’s cold enough to sacrifice someone just to saver her sister, or she’s capable of becoming something other than what the League made her. —C.A.
18. “Heir to the Demon” (Season 2, Episode 13)
Nyssa’s entrance is one of the most badass things we’ve seen on this show and perfectly fitting for the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. Everything with Sara in this episode is epic, from her connection to Nyssa to her emotional damage preventing her from connecting with her family to her eventual reunion with them at the end. And don’t even get me started on the Queen family dysfunction. Oliver’s reaction to finding out the truth about Moira’s affair with Malcolm and Thea’s paternity is brutal and ice cold. This hour just kept on hitting some insane story beats and making them work by focusing on the emotional fallout underneath it all. —S.B.
17. “Damaged” (Season 1, Episode 5)
This is the first time we get a sense that Oliver’s more than just a physical fighter — he’s clearly become much more intelligent in his five years away than he’s let on. Planning to get arrested on purpose to then have someone else wear the hood while he’s under house arrest to throw off the inevitable suspicion about the hood and Oliver showing up in Starling at the same time? I didn’t know he had it in him! All the scenes at his prison-themed house party are personal favorites of mine as well as that Black Canary nod with Laurel. It may have taken us a few more seasons to get there, but the seeds were already being planted for her to eventually suit up alongside Oliver. —S.B.
16. “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 2” (Season 6, Episode 8)
There’s nothing better than seeing your favorite superheroes team-up, and the second part of the crossover captures that feeling throughout its run time. Furthermore, the Arrowverse’s fourth crossover event ended up being unusually timely when it aired in 2017 because it pitted our favorite heroes against their Nazis doppelgängers from a parallel Earth. —C.A.
15. “The Brave and the Bold” (Season 3, Episode 8)
The first official Arrowverse crossover consisted only of Flarrow, aka The Flash and Arrow. While the first half of this TV event on The Flash featured more exciting action when Oliver was forced to fight an emotionally compromised Barry, it’s the second hour that shows the strengths of each individual series and brings a much-needed levity to one of Arrow‘s darker, broodier seasons. Having Team Flash in the Arrow cave reminds us that, oh wait, that’s right… we can still have fun on this show! —S.B.
14. “City of Blood” (Season 2, Episode 21)
How do you follow up something so heartbreaking, gutting, shocking, and world-shaking as Moira’s murder? With an hour like “City of Blood.” Oliver’s a broken man for much of the episode, to the point where he’s ready to surrender himself to Slade Wilson. But it’s surprisingly Laurel who shakes him out of his delusions, not with some emotional plea but rather by opening Oliver’s eyes to the fact that Slade, now armed with a Mirakuru army, isn’t just going to just stop the violence after he kills Oliver. Not everything is about Oliver — Slade becoming a monster means then Starling City was going to suffer as well. Plus the scenes in which Oliver finally confronts Sebastian Blood are a masterclass in tension and psychopathy, and Felicity and Diggle’s creative interrogation methods prove that Team Arrow is more than just one vigilante and two sidekicks. And ending the episode with the promise of so much more action to come with Deathstroke’s war breaking out in the city signals the commencement of the final chapter of a near-perfect season. —S.B.
13-12. “Kapiushon”/“Disbanded” (Season 5, Episodes 17 and 18)
Another strong double hitter from Arrow. In “Kapiushon,” Adrian Chase tortures Oliver in the present as the Russia-set flashbacks depict Oliver at his most monstrous. It’s a showcase episode for Amell as Oliver gets put through the ringer before finally breaking down and admitting he enjoyed killing. From there, a defeated Oliver gives into the darkness and shuts it all down, ending the episode on a perfectly bleak note — but then “Disbanded,” written by Rebecca Bellotto, comes along and is the perfect response to “Kapiushon” because it focuses on how Oliver’s friends are his light and how he can be theirs, too, since Anatoly lost himself when Oliver left him. —C.A.
11. “The Climb” (Season 3, Episode 9)
A.k.a. The one with Oliver and Ra’s al Ghul’s epic shirtless sword fight. It’s one of Arrow‘s best fight sequences ever just because it’s clear Oliver’s lost from the moment it begins. What elevates the episode, though, is that everything that comes before the duel is great, too; from Maseo’s surprising appearance in the present day storyline, to Felicity’s poignant plea to Oliver before he heads off to battle. Here, writers Jake Coburn and Keto Shimizu offer up a great blend thrilling action and powerful emotion that makes it easy to overlook how convoluted Malcolm’s plan actually was. —C.A.
10. “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
The hour that started it all is one of my favorites to go back and rewatch. No pilot is ever perfect but Arrow‘s is damn near it. There’s obviously still some kinks to work out but the story and pacing are downright intoxicating. The moment where Oliver kills his kidnapper when he could have easily let him go, all to protect the secret of his identity, sets the tone and intention of this series right away. This isn’t your normal comic book show, and this isn’t your normal comic book hero. I was hooked immediately by the promise of what’s to come. —S.B.
9. “Deathstroke” (Season 2, Episode 18)
Is there anything more terrifying than a villain who never breaks a sweat? Slade’s calm and collected attitude towards Oliver in this episode is more terrifying than watching him in action because he knows he’s a million steps ahead of his former ally. Kidnapping Thea just to reveal that Malcolm’s her real father only to turn around and then reveal to Laurel that Oliver is the Arrow? Brilliant. The writing, pacing, and acting in this hour constantly subverts what we expect to see, keeping us (and Oliver) on our toes. That mic drop reveal is instantly iconic. —S.B.
8. “What We Leave Behind” (Season 5, Episode 9)
Written by Beth Schwartz and Wendy Mericle, “What We Leave Behind” is a devastating hour that revisits Oliver’s murderous season 1 crusade and concludes with one of the show’s most tragic moments: Adrian Chase tricking Oliver into killing Felicity’s boyfriend, which actually feels inevitable as you rewatch the episode. —C.A.
7. “The Promise” (Season 2, Episode 15)
“The Promise” remains one of Arrow’s most suspenseful episodes. As flashbacks reveal the saddening dissolution of Oliver and Slade’s friendship, the present day storyline follows Oliver as he’s forced to accompany his mother and sister on a tense and unsettling tour of the Queen Mansion with Slade, the man who vowed to kill everyone he loves. A lot of the tension can be attributed to Bennett’s dynamic performance. In the past, he’s more aggressive and ferocious in the assault on the freighter, and in the present, his charm and politeness comes feels threatening. —C.A.
6. “Public Enemy” (Season 3, Episode 18)
“Public Enemy” is my favorite Arrow episode of all time and might be the platonic ideal of a non-finale episode: fast-paced, nerve-racking, and emotional. After Ra’s al Ghul frames the Arrow for murdering the mayor, he further turns Starling City against the team by revealing Oliver’s secret identity to a grieving Quentin Lance. From that moment on, the tension never slackens as Quentin initiates a city-wide manhunt for Oliver and his team, and with Oliver’s identity revealed, there feels like there’s nowhere to hide. It’s reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series‘ fantastic outing “Over the Edge” in all of the best ways. Unfortunately, the hour backs away from this bold twist by having Roy take the fall for Mr. Queen. —C.A.
5. “Three Ghosts” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Arrow does A Christmas Carol and shockingly, it works. Although any Tommy appearance post-death always ranks high in my book. The only thing that falls short in this episode is how unclear it is in the flashbacks that Oliver really did choose Sara over Shado on the island; from the way the scene plays out down the barrel of Ivo’s gun, it looks more like Oliver is trying to sacrifice himself to save both women on the island, making Slade’s present-day vendetta against Oliver lose some validation. —S.B.
4. “Sacrifice” (Season 1, Episode 23)
The hero always wins, right? Arrow chucks that expectation right out the window in this episode faster than you can say, “redundancy.” Ending the first season with Oliver not only failing to stop The Undertaking but also failing to save his best friend Tommy was (along with being cruel to fans) the best decision this show has ever made — because it proved that the stakes were real. When your main character murders countless people every week, there have to be consequences, and Arrow isn’t afraid of living up to them. —S.B.
3. “Lian Yu” (Season 5, Episode 23)
When Prometheus kidnaps all of Oliver friends and family and holds them hostage on the eponymous island, the Green Arrow has no option but to team-up with Slade, Malcolm, and Nyssa to get them back and to do so without becoming the monster Chase believed he was. Amid all of the action, the episode delivers several satisfying character beats (Nyssa vs. Talia, Oliver and Slade’s tenuous reconciliation, Black Canary vs. Black Siren) while also wrapping up the show’s flashback storyline, too. The season 5 finale was supposed to serve as an action-packed and emotional conclusion to both the season and Arrow’s first five years, and it definitely succeeded. The only reason it’s not number one of the list is because of the outcome of the explosive cliffhanger. —C.A.
2. “Invasion!” (Season 5, Episode 8)
For the 100th episode, Arrow put its spin on Alan Moore’s iconic Superman story “For the Man Who Has Everything.” After being caught by the Dominators, Oliver, Thea, Ray, Sara, and Diggle are placed inside of a dream world where they’re all happy because the Queen’s Gambit accident never happened. Unfortunately, the only way for them to escape is to willingly give it all up — to do the heroic thing and sacrifice their happiness to help others because, as Oliver tells Thea. “There is just so much more to do.” Every time I watch this episode, my heart both breaks for everyone, especially Thea, who justifiably has the hardest time leaving, and swells with pride because “Invasion!” is such a heartfelt tribute to everything we love about the show and these characters. What’s even more unbelievable is how it does this while also juggling the madness of a crossover. —C.A.
1. “Unthinkable” (Season 2, Episode 23)
If you want to know not only what a perfect episode but also a perfect season finale looks like on Arrow, look no further than season 2’s full throttle ender. The city’s on fire thanks to Deathstroke’s Mirakuru army laying siege to the streets, but the worst of circumstances ends up bringing out the best in Oliver. He stays true to this season’s “no killing” rule and the reveal that Slade is being left in a new prison on Lian Yu feels like a poetic and full circle end (for now) to one of Arrow’s best villains. And while the season 1 finale left every character in chaos, season 2 ends with a clear path for each character heading into the new season. Plus, Lyla fires a grenade launcher, so how can you not put this episode at No. 1?! —S.B.
Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.