My Top 10 Arrow Moments

In Tuesday’s article on my goodbye to “Arrow,” I promised a Top Ten of my favorite moments throughout the years of the show. Here is my list, which was very difficult to condense into a mere ten (okay, twelve) moments. Most of these picks are not action scenes, merely because if I started trying to pick favorite action scenes the list would never end.


There are so many moments in this show’s 8 seasons that I could have put on this list. Because of that, I simply couldn’t fit all my favorites. If I’d tried, it would’ve been Top 20 at least, just because there’s so much good here. But because I don’t want to write a novel (I already did that, and you have to buy it if you want to read it), I picked ten and then took two that I just couldn’t let go of for runners-up.


*WARNING: This article will contain heavy spoilers, including for the series finale*


Honorable Mention 1: Laurel’s Pep Talk (2×21)


The first of those runners-up comes near the end of Season 2. Oliver’s life is in shambles. His mother is dead, his former best friend is her killer and is doing everything he can to take Oliver’s life away from him, and Oliver just doesn’t have hope anymore. To spare his remaining family and friends from further pain, he decides to turn himself over to his former friend, Slade Wilson, hoping that Slade will just kill him and end the suffering.


But as he waits for Slade to come pick him up, a tranquilizer dart strikes his neck (we are not showed who fires it, but we are led to believe it may have been John Diggle). Oliver then wakes up inside the Foundry, the lair from which Team Arrow conducts their heroic operations. Standing with his team is Laurel Lance, the former love of Oliver’s life and super-complicated just-friends-now. Laurel did not know Oliver was the Arrow – until, in a continued effort to ruin Oliver’s life, Slade Wilson told her. Rather than being angry, Laurel gives Oliver an impassioned pep talk, begging him not to give up on his own life or the city. This pep talk from his former love – who he may at this point still love; it is left up to viewer interpretation – spurs Oliver to fight on, eventually defeating Slade Wilson. The unconditional love and support we see from Laurel in this scene is beautiful and inspiring.


Honorable Mention 2: Tommy’s Pep Talk (2×09)


Although only a main member of the cast for the first season, many fans love Tommy Merlyn, Oliver’s best friend. When Tommy died in the Season 1 finale, it spurred Oliver to make some changes in his life, and he vowed to stop being a killer and become the hero Tommy knew he could be.


In Season 2, Episode 9, Oliver is really going through some stuff. He’s just had the life beaten out of him – quite literally – by a man infused by a superpower-granting drug that reminds Oliver of his past life. In this Christmas episode, appropriately called “Three Ghosts” and based on “A Christmas Carol,” while recuperating from his near-death experience, Oliver sees hallucinations of people he’s lost – Shado and Slade. They tell Oliver all kinds of horrible things about himself, leading him to beat himself up even more than he usually does.


But as he again confronts the man who nearly killed him, Oliver is knocked down and ready to give up. That is when his third ghost appears. Tommy Merlyn urges Oliver to get up. Oliver bemoans his life to Tommy, apologizing for getting Tommy killed. Tommy then tells Oliver that Tommy was wrong in life – that Oliver is a hero. Then, with a soundtrack that induces chills, Tommy says, “Get up, Oliver. Get up and fight.” Oliver does, and soundly whoops his enemy.


#10: “I’m Happy” (3×23)


This is a small moment, but a happy one after a very dark season. Season 3 had Oliver making some very questionable decisions in his mission to avenge the death of Sara Lance and bring down Ra’s al Ghul, the leader of the infamous League of Assassins. He distances himself from everyone in his life, keeping them at arm’s length with his (in their eyes) poor decisions.


But when it all ends, Oliver finally tells Felicity that he wants to be with her. He agrees to give up being the Arrow. Together, he and Felicity drive out of Starling City to start their life together. After almost a season of scowling, pouting, and grumbling, Oliver finally cracks a smile and tells Felicity that he wants to say something strange: “I’m happy.” As gritty as this show can be at times, happy moments like this make it all worth it.


#9: Oliver Fights Back (7×01)


In another of those dark, gritty moments, Oliver is put in prison after his identity as the Green Arrow is publicly outed. Leaving behind his wife, Felicity, and son, William, he is imprisoned in a supermax facility…with a bunch of criminals that he himself locked up as the Green Arrow.


But Oliver does not want to fight these people, even though they want to fight him. He wants to serve his sentence in peace and get out to rejoin his family. However, this all changes when an inmate threatens to hurt Felicity and William. Oliver storms into the prison yard and beats the inmate senseless using a weight. It signals a shift in Oliver’s attitude that marks the rest of his time in prison: Oliver is ready to fight back.


#8: The Ol’ Switcheroo (7×09)


One of the funnier moments in the series’ history comes during the annual crossover with fellow CW superhero shows “The Flash” and “Supergirl.” In this particular crossover, which took place during Season 7 of “Arrow,” Oliver and Barry Allen are mysteriously switched – Oliver becomes the Flash, and Barry becomes the Green Arrow. While Barry, who is used to this sort of reality-bending wierdness, quickly figures out what’s going on, Oliver isn’t so lucky.


When Cisco, one of Barry’s friends, tells Oliver of a crime happening in Central City, Oliver does his best to confront the criminals as the Flash – and fails miserably. Later, when Barry and Oliver go to Supergirl for help, they meet her cousin, Superman, for the first time. In addition to the coolness of seeing Green Arrow and Flash meet Superman, this scene is iconic because a small but hilarious moment. His masculinity intimidated by Superman, Oliver squares up, leading to a hilarious dialogue of Barry asking Oliver if he was puffing out his chest and Oliver hesitantly, ashamedly replying “…yes.”


#7: “Oliver, I Know” (2×20)


One of the show’s most heartfelt moments came from Oliver’s mother, Moira. One of the most complex characters in the show, Moira was a character you loved for how much she loved her children while also hating at times because the choices she made to protect her children were atrocious. But in the end, she always did the right thing.


Not long before her death, Moira confronts Oliver in his office. He tells her an injury he sustained was from “a motorcycle accident, it was…stupid” (an excuse he used verbatim for a different injury just an episode or two earlier). As he turns to leave, Moira stops him by saying “Oliver, I know.” She tells him that she has known he was the Arrow for nearly a year. This moment is even more heartbreaking knowing that at the end of this very episode, Moira will bite the bullet.


#6: “Thank You” (3×13)


Another of the show’s heartfelt family moments comes when Oliver decides to tell his sister, Thea, about his secret identity. Thea has been through a lot by this time, and she is angry at pretty much everyone for always keeping secrets from her. Even though he knows that she might hate him for keeping his secret identity from her for so long, Oliver decides it’s time to tell her and brings her down to the Foundry.


Thea’s response is not what Oliver expects. Looking at the Arrow suit, she muses that all those nights that she hated Oliver for flaking out on family events, he was out saving lives. She turns to face him, pulls him into a hug, and simply says, “Thank you.” By the expression on Oliver’s face, you can tell that he was not expecting this response, but is so relieved and grateful.


#5: Slade’s Redemption (5×23)


Portrayed by the talented Manu Bennett, Slade was one of my favorite characters in the earlier seasons of “Arrow,” and certainly one of the best villains this show has had to date. Starting off as a friend and brother to Oliver, Slade spiraled into insanity after a near-death experience, a supposed miracle drug, and the loss of the woman he loved, Shado. After his tenure as a villain in Season 2, Slade virtually disappeared from the series, appearing only once in Season 3, still in a villainous role and still suffering from the side effects of the mirakuru serum.


The Season 5 finale, however, brought Slade back in all his former glory. Having had time in prison to reflect on his past actions, Slade expresses deep regret to Oliver for murdering his mother, as well as the other actions he committed. Oliver recruits Slade to help him take down Adrian Chase, aka Prometheus, who has kidnapped all of Oliver’s friends and family. Slade’s redemption begins in the Season 5 finale, but it continues into a two-episode story arc in Season 6 when Oliver helps Slade find his son. Two episodes of Oliver and Slade working together like old times was one of the highlights of that season.


#4: Adrian Breaks Oliver (5×17)


Speaking of Prometheus, he did more damage to Oliver’s psyche than perhaps any other villain in the show’s eight seasons. Adrian Chase ripped Oliver’s life apart from the inside out. In this particular episode, Chase has kidnapped Oliver and kept him chained up in a dungeon-like cell, where he tortures Oliver in all manner of ways, physical and psychological alike. He insists that Oliver just “tell him the truth,” and he will let Oliver go.


Oliver protests that he doesn’t know what truth Adrian is referring to, but as the episode continues, in a fit of rage, Oliver finally shouts the words Adrian wanted to hear: that he had murdered his enemies in the past because “I wanted to! And I liked it!” The spine-chilling acting from both Stephen Amell and Josh Segarra in this scene is one of the most real and raw scenes in the series. It marks a low point in Oliver’s life. But as hopeless as this scene is, it leads to Oliver eventually becoming an even better hero, something that even Chase couldn’t have predicted.


#3: Oliver Meets His Adult Kids (8×03, 8×04)


After being told by an all-powerful being called the Monitor that he is fated to die stopping a world-ending Crisis, Oliver sets about in his typical stubborn fashion to find a way to change his fate and stop the Crisis while still being able to live on. He searches for a weapon that can stop the Monitor, who he believes to be the problem.


But Oliver’s quest is interrupted when he is abruptly teleported back to Team Arrow’s lair, the Bunker. He looks around at his friends – Diggle, Dinah, and Rene – in confusion, before turning to face three newcomers who have also appeared in the Bunker. Two of the three newcomers stare back, even more stunned than Oliver – but only until the man says, “Dad?” It is then that Oliver realizes that he is looking at his adult children – and the episode abruptly ends.


The following episode is centered on Oliver getting to know his children who have mysteriously been brought to him from the future. They have several heartwarming bonding moments, and Oliver gets to have the closure of seeing who his kids will become.


#2: “Welcome Home” (2×19)


This is one small moment that most people probably wouldn’t put up there as the most important or even most impactful in the series. During Slade Wilson’s reign of terror, Oliver and his team are out of the Foundry and return to plan another mission. They go down to the Foundry to find Slade Wilson, armored up as Deathstroke, standing in the middle of their lair. With a sinister “Welcome home” backed by his signature theme music, Slade opens fire on Team Arrow.


Oliver and the team attempt to fight back, but Slade makes short work of Sara Lance – one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the Arrowverse – and Diggle. Oliver then jumps into action, but Slade takes him down quickly, too. He then steals the object he came for and vanishes, leaving the stunned Team Arrow to process the brief fight.


The reason this moment gets to the #2 spot for me is because, simply, it was the first scene of “Arrow” I ever saw. I found the clip on YouTube, somehow, and I was drawn to the fast-paced intensity of the action. It was not long after that that I started watching the show from the first episode. So, in addition to just being a fantastic action scene, this brief battle holds a special place in my heart for getting me into “Arrow” in the first place. Who knows how different things would be if I’d never seen it? I nearly placed this one at #1 just because of its importance to me, but even this scene couldn’t beat…


#1: The Finale (8×10)


Knowing the finale was coming, I left a blank space in my list in case a moment of the finale beat out any of my top ten. And it did. That’s right – the whole episode. I can’t pick a moment from the episode that stood out as best; it was just the whole thing. The finale was in every way a love letter to the past eight years of this show, from the cameos of characters past to the final moments of Oliver and Felicity finally reuniting. It was the perfect ending.


This episode had one of the best fight scenes, via flashback, in the series. It was certainly the largest number of opponents Oliver ever fought. It had some of the most emotional moments between Tommy and Laurel, Quentin and Laurel, Roy and Thea, Diggle and Felicity, Mia and Felicity, and so many others. It had teases for what comes next in the form of a mysterious green glowing object found by Diggle and the unresolved cliffhanger of the previous episode, which should be resolved in the spinoff show, “Green Arrow and the Canaries,” provided it is green-lit to production. And it shows that Oliver Queen truly succeeded in his mission, saving his city and the lives of those he loved (even, thanks to the new Earth he created, bringing back many of those he had lost).


The most important thing, to me, is that this is a happy ending. Maybe not a traditional one; there is definitely an air of bittersweetness to it, but it is happy nevertheless. I was worried about what kind of ending the show would have, and this one was more than I could’ve hoped for. Now I know that when I go back and watch the series from the start in the future, I am working toward a satisfactory ending.


* * *


So, there you have it. My Top Ten favorite moments in my favorite TV series. Do you agree, or do you have your own Top Ten? Feel free to leave your own selection in the comments!

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