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‘Arrow’: Ranking the first 5 seasons

Arrow has reached an ending of sorts in its narrative. But despite the conclusion of the originally planned five seasons, the show shows no signs of stopping. Arrow is not known for sticking to the game plan (and thank goodness for that) but if they had, we’d be faced with an Arrowless life after last season’s finale.

So, in honor of the fact that we aren’t going to suffer such a fate, let’s take a moment to discuss the first five seasons of Oliver Queen’s journey, and rank them from worst to best.

5. Season 4

Arrow Season

The Good: Olicity

The Bad: Olicity, Laurel’s death

Yes, you read that right. Olicity was simulatenously the best and worst part of season 4. It was fantastic having Olicity together after years of waiting, but it was simply not handled well. It was great to see them happily in love, but once they headed back to Star City, things quickly unraveled. Firstly, they simply moved too fast. It would’ve been amazing to witness the newly-dating Olicity, but fans were deprived of the dynamic in favor of a quick engagement before the winter hiatus. After the show returned, things continued to go downhill as the relationship fell apart due to out of character actions. The lying and fighting was followed by an ambiguous breakup that would not be properly acknowledged on the show until a year later.

It also was disappointing to see Arrow fall victim to a gimmicky flash forward storyline. After backing themselves into a corner with promises of a main character death, they had no choice but to kill off Laurel Lance, just after she became a really solid incarnation of The Black Canary. It was an unfortunate mistake that the showrunners are still attempting to fix.

Another negative aspect of the season was just how different it felt from the previous ones. It makes perfect sense that Team Arrow could no longer operate out of the foundry, but it doesn’t make it any less jarring. For many fans, Team Arrow’s first lair was a staple of the show, and the combination of the move at the same time that many other things changed was just too much. Many fans exited the series at this point, believing that the Arrow they knew and loved was gone.

4. Season 5


The Good: The last few episodes

The Bad: Too many characters

The first half of Arrow’s fifth season was weak. There were too many new characters too care about, not to mention too few familar faces. After a season-long mess of characters, Arrow pulled itself together and delivered a final arc that was compelling, terrifying, and altogether reminiscent of season 2. The last few episodes of the season solidified Prometheus’s status as one of the best villains on the show, and it also brought back a slew of characters just in time for one of the best season finales that has aired in a while. Not to mention, Arrow is gradually bringing back Olicity, and handling the dynamic in a much more natural and healthy way this time. If the end of season 5 was at all indicative of how season 6 will go, Arrow will easily reclaim its status as one of the best shows on television.

3. Season 1


The Good: The Mystery, The Characters

The Bad: Love Triangle

Most fans of, well, anything will tell you that love triangles are a huge no-no. Sure, they were once a staple of teenage television, but we can do better. The only reason that Arrow‘s first season is not ranking higher on this list is because it insisted on inserting a love triangle into a narrative that simply did not need one. Season 1 excels in character introduction and development, and the plot line of the season was fantastic. The mystery surrounding Malcolm Merlyn’s “Undertaking” and what it meant for the Glades was brilliantly executed and concluded with an action packed and heart-wrenching finale. The events of this season greatly influenced all of the seasons that followed, shaping Oliver and his team permanently.

2. Season 3


The Good: Olicity, The Black Canary

The Bad: So much pain

Season 3 was a fantastic time to be an Arrow fan. Team Arrow was thriving, Black Canary was rising, and Olicity was kissing. It was also horribly painful, but in the best way. The entire winter hiatus was spent wondering if Arrow was actually contemplating continuing on without its titular character (considering Oliver was literally impaled and thrown off a cliff). Although we quickly discovered that this was not the case, it was much longer for Team Arrow. Laurel fully took on the Black Canary mantle in the meantime. Fantastic dynamics were formed in the process, such as the long overdue friendship between Felicity and Laurel. We also got to see just how much Felicity cared for Oliver (as if we didn’t already know) and we got to see how integral he is to his team. Also, Ras al Ghul made a terrifying villain, and for a minute there we truly believed that Oliver had gone to the dark side. All in all, season 3 was one to remember and rewatch often.

1. Season 2


The Good: Team Arrow, Slade Wilson

The Bad: ???

Is it really any surprise which season tops this list? You’d be hard pressed to find an Arrow fan that doesn’t name Season 2 as their favorite season, and for good reason. With a fandom as divided as Arrow‘s it’s amazing that there is something for everyone in Arrow‘s second season.

Firstly, the season showcases the show’s most compelling villain, Slade Wilson. We get to follow both his crusade against Oliver while learning through flashbacks exactly what happened to make him go from friend to foe. The season also beautifully balances humor and tragedy in a way no other season has.

As for Team Arrow, Oliver and Felicity have officially begun a flirtation, and he even expresses jealousy from time to time. The Original Team Arrow of Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle shines this season, and their season 2 dynamic is something that fans have continued to crave in the seasons that followed. Laurel has a powerful and relatable storyline about succumbing to and subsequently overcoming addiction that resonated with many viewers and really developed Laurel as a character. We also meet our first Canary, Sara, a character that is so well loved she now stars in her own show. And last but not least, The Flash is introduced in a backdoor pilot! In many ways, season 2 was the birth of the Arrowverse.

What do you think? Did we get the order all wrong? Let us know in the comments or on twitter – @Pure_Fandom and @reagandpierce. And be sure to head on over to our Arrow Bunker, where we are desperately trying to pass the time until October.


Reagan Pierce

Reagan studies English and Film Studies at Texas Tech University. She aspires to be a film and television critic or entertainment writer. She loves all things TV and film. She spends her free time obsessing and blogging about Arrow, Teen Wolf, and Supergirl. Her favorite superhero is Lois Lane.

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