Ever since Smallville, The CW has been one of the leading television companies (at least for superhero shows, that is). Having made an impressive deal with DC Comics, they have access to so many legendary characters that have since made their debut on the small screen. From the time-traveling monsters of Legends of Tomorrow to the super strong classic bad guys of The Flash, there are all kinds of things grounded in comic history that have since been placed in a TV show.
Unfortunately, this deal hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine. Each of the shows has had their aspects of failure that haven’t sat well with us since. One show that has disappointed us the most over the years is Arrow. This gritty action masterpiece took great falls by the time seasons 3 and 4 came out, with it falling into a lot of tropes that you’d find in a simple romantic comedy rather than a grounded superhero show. With the addition of season 5, some of those problems have gone away, but it’s clear that old habits die hard.
Of all of the CW shows, we have to say that Arrow is one of our least favorites. You may not agree with us, and this is admittedly a hard pill to swallow. But if you’re still here, read on for 15 reasons why we feel that the show is the worst of what The CW has to offer.
15. Romantic Drama
Let’s go with the obvious point of criticism first. Arrow, like any other TV show, has some elements of romantic drama. What began with Oliver’s seemingly undying crush moved on to Sara Lance and so on. In seasons three and four, it took a horribly disastrous turn when he grew an interest in Felicity Smoak. While the horrible couple has since broken up, season 5 still hasn’t done away with these moments of drama. In the first episode for the season, it was revealed that Felicity has found a new boyfriend, which led to awkward dialogue between her and Oliver, and even Ollie himself found a new girlfriend that has just served to provide more problems for him in the long run.
Episodes were devoted to these romantic subplots, but with any luck, we’ll see the writers put Oliver down the path of romancing the Black Canary. Until then, we’re stuck with the likes of Susan Williams. The next episode of the show coming after the current break is also supposed to deal with Oliver and Felicity’s breakup, which will likely put a stopper to the momentum the show has built these past few weeks. So… yay?
This is a bit of a difficult point to explain. First of all, with any comic book adapted to the big or small screen, there are naturally going to be a lot of changes to how the characters look. There are certain aspects of a design that don’t translate well in front of a camera and alterations have to be made. We understand that. However, that doesn’t excuse many of the costume choices that have been made for many of the show’s characters.
Take Prometheus for example. He has been a very satisfying villain this season, but his costume isn’t all that impressive. As a matter of fact, it was a huge point of criticism when the CW first debuted the trailer for season 5. To add to that, many of the heroes also don’t have very good costumes, the standout being Mr. Terrific (who has many more problems than just a not-so-great costume). Thankfully, improvements to the Green Arrow costume have been made, but those little wins aren’t enough to distract us from some of the choices made with other heroes and villains. At least they brought back the season one outfit for some flashbacks, though.
13. Hero Adaptations
As I stated before when talking about Mr. Terrific, the problems that Arrow faces regarding its heroes go beyond just lackluster costumes. As a matter of fact, there are a few characters in the show who have quite the impressive history that has been drastically changed just to fit with the context of the story. Obviously, the prime example of this would be Mr. Terrific. While he was a combat expert and brilliant mind in the comics, he has been relegated to become the hipster hacker who doesn’t fight as well as the rest of Team Arrow. He also has a lot of quips that very rarely hit their mark.
What makes this particularly painful when watching the show is the knowledge that the writers had excellent source material to draw from. When we see a hero who is just there to add a bit to Oliver’s team, it makes us quite sad when all is said and done. Many characters who have appeared on the show were horribly misused and could do so much more (cough — Laurel Lance — cough) but were instead molded to go along with whatever the writers felt was best. As people who no longer watch Arrow will tell you, those choices didn’t always work.
12. Villain Adaptations
Unfortunately, the problem we have with how many of the heroes are adapted into the show is similar to the problem with how the villains have been brought in as well. First of all, many of the classic Green Arrow villains, such as Constantine Drakon and Komodo, have already made appearances on the show but were given such poorly executed roles that we don’t even remember them appearing. Considering how dangerous some of these bad guys were in the source material, it’s especially aggravating.
Many of the villains are also introduced just to give Team Arrow something to punch at the end of the day. One thing that really confuses us was when Tobias Church hired an assassin early on in season 5; this character hasn’t appeared in the comics but is powerful enough in combat to go toe to toe with the Green Arrow. The character’s name is Scimitar, but never once is it used in the show. Furthermore, the villain never appears again despite being very interesting to viewers. There are so many great opportunities with the villains, but the writers are insistent on wasting them. We’re still waiting for Onomatopoeia to appear.
11. Team Arrow
When Oliver began his crusade, it was just him against the worst people that Starling City had to offer. As he operated longer, he gained new companions in the form of Felicity Smoak, John Diggle, Thea Queen, and more. However, at the end of season 4, Diggle went back to the army, Thea retired, and Laurel was dead. There wasn’t anybody left but Oliver and Felicity. This is why in the beginning of season 5, Ollie decided that he needed a new team.
Considering that the writers promised the show would be going back to its roots, this was a little disappointing. Furthermore, the new recruits didn’t seem all that interesting after making their appearances. It finally gave the writers a chance to introduce Artemis, but she was also misused like many other heroes. The team also tended to be very judgmental of Oliver despite the fact that he was attempting to overcome many of his struggles. Members like Wild Dog caused many more problems than they solved. Overall, the team has since improved, but we’re just glad that the writers haven’t spent as much time on them as they have on Oliver himself.
10. Oliver’s Lessons
This is something that I personally notice as I continue to watch season 5 of the show; it’s clear that Oliver deals with a lot of inner demons and has a lot of moral questions as he returns to his old ways of killing. Yet, he still tries to take the high road and works to save the city rather than destroy it. Unfortunately, with Prometheus providing a mental as well as a physical threat, Oliver is left questioning himself more often than not.
While that’s fine and fits very well with the kind of conflict Prometheus brings, there is a negative associated with this: each episode seems to present a different theme or lesson that Oliver has to learn. It’s usually mentioned in each flashback scene and then brought up again in the present day. Many times, you’ll end up hearing Oliver say, “Someone once told me (place lesson here)” at the end of each episode. We’re all for some solid character development, but when it’s spelled out so clearly all the time, it gets quite grating. The Flash does a similar thing with somebody walking out in a huff and then another person going to talk to the character.
9. Action Is Hit or Miss
Anybody who remembers season 3 of the show knows how abysmal the action can be. In the finale of the season, Oliver finally went up against the villainous Ra’s al Ghul. However, that fight was so boring and unfeeling that we never felt the tension that the episode was trying so desperately to convey. Since then, the action has improved and the directors of each episode aren’t skimping on the stunts either. Yet, season 5 still has its moments when the action could be so much better.
What immediately comes to mind is in the Invasion! crossover when many characters were mind-controlled by the Dominators. Oliver has a fight with Sara Lance that is much less believable considering they were both trained by the League of Assassins. This also leads to some moments when you can’t help but laugh at the results. Just recently, the Bratva held some hostages captive when Black Canary busted in. Instead of shooting the hostages as she got close, the people just held their guns menacingly while she took them all out (albeit with some help from other members of the team).
8. Taking on Batman Again
I find it quite funny that many people, after seasons 3 and 4, wanted Arrow to return to its darker and grittier roots. However, when the first two seasons were going on, the show had to deal with a lot of criticism for having many similarities to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Now that the show is going back to its roots, the similarities to the Caped Crusader have come back. The most obvious one is that killing has become a big theme of contention for the character this season.
Another similarity is that the show is back to using Batman villains. Prometheus in the comics was originally a Batman villain. Having been raised an orphan, similar to Bruce Wayne, Prometheus became a dark version of the Batman. In Arrow, he, too, had his father murdered like Ollie did and has since become a dark version of the Green Arrow. (Granted, his origins this time around are vastly different from his comic counterpart.) The show is also back to having Oliver Queen being a brooding and no-nonsense kind of vigilante. However, people are complaining less about it this time around — perhaps because there’s no more Olicity drama and we’ll take what we can get at this point.
7. Characters with One Purpose
As you watch the show, you’ll encounter many new characters, but you’ll begin to notice that many of them only exist for one particular purpose, and then they’re done away with. The biggest example of this is Billy Malone, Felicity’s new boyfriend at the start of season 5. He works with Mayor Queen’s anti-crime unit but is unfortunately killed near the midseason finale by the Green Arrow after he was tricked by Prometheus. He didn’t have much weight in the show other than that, and after some thought, it’s clear that the only reason for his inclusion in the show was to die at Oliver’s hands.
This becomes clearer as you take in the guest appearance of John Constantine on the show. While his inclusion was more fan service than anything else, his only purpose on the show was to bring Sara Lance back from the dead. The Human Target’s appearance on the show was also just to take a bullet for Oliver Queen then disappear once more. Basically, if they’re not a member of the main cast, they’re probably going to be “one and done” characters. They won’t be needed for much else.
6. Diggle’s Development
Now before you start typing hatefully in the comments, understand that we love John Diggle. Many times, he’s the heart and soul of the show, even outperforming Stephen Amell as the occasion calls for it. However, in season 5, Diggle has made many decisions and has been part of several developments that we don’t feel are consistent with his character. For starters, he is someone who fights until the very last breath, but the moment he gets taken in by a corrupt military official, he gives up because he thinks that it’s some kind of recompense for killing his brother.
As he gets out of prison, Diggle still has several moments when his character seems very unnatural. There was a scene where he and Ollie captured a thug they were going to interrogate, but instead of being reasonable about it, Diggle instead wraps up his fists and beats the living tar out of him, much to Oliver’s dismay. Thankfully, the writers have since then been much more consistent with Diggle, considering that he seems to be the only member of Team Arrow that knows what the moral high ground is at this point. Now, if only they could do something about his stupid helmet.
Felicity has been a very annoying character since the start of season three. She also hasn’t had much to do on the show except be the source of all kinds of romantic drama with Oliver. In season 5, she has been given much more to do in the show, thankfully. That being said, it wasn’t handled in the best of ways. We’re somewhat thankful, but you’ll just have to let me explain.
Felicity is a legendary hacker, as you probably know, and was sought out by an organization called Helix. While she initially denied joining, Felicity realized the benefits of joining such a prestigious group. However, Helix has been more of a solution to many of the show’s problems rather than a development for Felicity. When John is in prison, how do they get information to free him? Helix. When Prometheus begins hunting Oliver Queen, how do they find him? Helix. When they need to reveal his identity to the public, how do they get the right tech to do it? Well, technically Mr. Terrific, but Helix is used there as well. It’s clear that Helix isn’t the most moral of organizations, and it’ll be interesting to see what’s done with it, but for now, it’s more of a nuisance.
For those of you that don’t read comics, let me tell you the story of Ragman. Rory Regan was a peaceful boy who worked with his father at a rag shop. One day, he inherited this suit of rags from his father. Once he put them on, Rory realized that he gained something amazingly mystical. The suit was made of rag patches that each contained the soul of a horribly evil person. Those souls, in turn, gave Ragman all kinds of powers. However, in order to continue gaining power, Ragman needed to absorb more souls from twisted people.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Ragman was always one of the more interesting characters from DC, and it was pretty exciting when he became a member of Team Arrow. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t keep him around for very long, and he was lacking many of the soul-sucking powers that made him so interesting in the first place. Ragman in the show took the blast of a nuke, and that made his suit worthless, so he voluntarily left the team. Perhaps this was because the writers didn’t want two characters named Rory in the Arrowverse, but we’re not happy about it either way.
3. Oliver the Murderer
What originally drew people to season 1 of Arrow was how Oliver had a list of corrupt minds that he would then take out with extreme prejudice. Because of this, he turned away from his ways as a killer before eventually going back to them in season 5. He has had many moments when he brutally tortured and killed people, but this new season has painted a much different picture of the entire thing.
As a matter of fact, it calls back to many of the events that happened in season 1 and paints Oliver as a merciless killer. While that aspect really gets you to think, his antics in the Russia flashbacks almost seem dissonant to his evolution as a character. While working for the Bratva, Oliver murdered many people without hesitation and wasn’t afraid to snap necks and whatnot. In fact, one scene saw him horribly torture a man to the point where even the leader of the Bratva commented that he was a ruthless monster. While it’s true that Oliver was no hero, making him some kind of Hannibal Lecter seems like taking things a bit too far.
2. Kovar’s Survival
During seasons 3 and 4, the writers of Arrow didn’t seem to care about death or grounding the show in reality. Characters came back, and all kinds of magical abilities were on full display. As stated before, season 5 has been a return to form for the show. Even the flashback villain got a much-needed improvement. Dolph Lundgren played the vicious Konstantin Kovar. This intelligent brute served as a powerful challenge for Oliver and led to some fascinating moments in each episode. Audiences knew that it would lead to a battle between the two of them that would define Oliver in the end of it all. He ended up killing Kovar, which many of us expected.
Unfortunately, this move wouldn’t hold much weight, and the writers would go right back to their old ways of resurrection. It was revealed at the end of the episode that Kovar didn’t actually die and was medically brought back to consciousness. What makes this more frustrating is that he will probably appear in the present day near the end of season 5, which will take the spotlight off of Josh Segarra’s Prometheus — a move that will likely hurt the final product of the season.
In any show or movie you watch, there’s always going to be some element of suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, movies and shows sometimes take it a bit too far by introducing all kinds of conveniences that seem awfully relevant to the problems presented in each story. Arrow is not immune to this trope as the show has brought in many conveniences throughout the years that have caused more eyebrows to raise than what was intended.
The most evident and recent example of this is the introduction of Dinah Drake. Despite the years that metahumans have been operating, Team Arrow, apparently, has never heard of someone with the same ability as Laurel until they were trying to look for her replacement. Then, as it turns out, the replacement also shares the same name! There were also a few other conveniences like Ragman showing up just as Oliver was putting his team together, and Anatoly being connected to the Bratva when Ollie was trying to use it to find and kill Kovar. The show is riddled with moments of convenience, and if you can look past them, more power to you. Once you notice them, though, they’re hard to ignore.