5 Reasons Why ‘Arrow’ is the Best Superhero Show Ever


Now entering the second half of its second season, it is safe to say that the CW has struck gold with Arrow. For those that don’t know, Arrow follows Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, the billionaire playboy who is secretly a vigilante that strikes down crime with his trusty arrows. While the Green Arrow has been popular throughout its comic book run, the Green Arrow gained more popularity during Justin Hartley’s run at the arrow-shooting hero in Smallville.

Superhero shows as a whole have been exploding during the last decade, with the previously mentioned Smallville being one of the best known. Other than Smallville, shows like Heroes and No Ordinary Family came and went as networks tried to find a superhero show to last. Gone were the classic superhero shows that, while campy, paved the way for the modern superhero films and there seemed to be little hope that a superhero show could survive against crime dramas and sitcoms. Then came 2012’s Arrow, which took a Nolan-like approach and created a gritty show that has garnered positive reviews and a growing following. To many who watch the show, they understand why it’s so well liked and here are five of the main reasons why.

5. Practical Effects Over CGI

Darkness on the Edge of Town

When you have typical superhero show, certain things are expected. In modern television, most of the high-tech equipment is render in post-production. Also, scenes are often filmed in front of a green screen due to budget constraints or a lack of fitting location. Without a big budget, these can look fake and ruin the realism that the actors are trying to depict. To say that Arrow doesn’t sometimes run into that would be a lie, but they often times use more practical effects which help instill a more realistic look.

Older shows like Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman may have suffered greatly with cheap looking special effects, but that had to do with the technology of the time. With over a decade of technological advancements, newer shows like Arrow don’t often run into cheap looking special effects. That’s not saying newer shows are perfect, but Arrow used real locations and limited effects to lower the chance of bad CGI. Cheap effects don’t necessarily make shows bad, but it can be a harder sell for the viewer, especially when total immersion is the writer and director’s goal.

4. Great New Characters

John_Diggle and Oliver QueenIf anyone ever says they remember John Diggle from the comics, they’re a liar. Diggle is just one of the many original characters that see plenty of screen time on the series. During the course of the series, Diggle quickly proved that he is more than just a bodyguard and actor David Ramsey’s performance was reason alone for the character to be given a starring role. Diggle might not be in the comics, but his addition should be used as an example on how to add original characters to superhero shows brimming with comic book characters to choose from.

The most interesting characters might be the characters that are found in both the comic and the show, but are vastly different between the two. Felicity Smoak is one such example. When Smoak isn’t awkwardly flirting with Oliver, she’s saving his life with her hard to match computer skills. The comics also have a character named Felicity Smoak, who was the step mother to Ronald Raymond, aka Firestorm. The two characters are so different in personality that to call her a new character is more than fitting.

Another character that is a mix between is original and classic Arrow, is Thea Queen. The sister to the billionaire party boy originally appeared to be solely original, but as time has progressed, clues cued us in to where her character might eventually go. With the full name, Thea Dearden Queen, it now seems that Thea could become a sidekick to her vigilante brother. Either that, or the character might go in a completely different direction, the possibilities are endless.

3. Fantastic Old Characters

Malcolm Merlyn

Now to the meat and bones of the series, the classic characters we’ve come to know and love. Obviously there’s Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, the main character of the series. Unlike shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Agent Phil Coulson is the only big character to appear, Arrow took little time to establish big characters like Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Roy Harper/Speedy and the dreaded archer known as Merlyn.

At this point in the series, Deathstroke has proven to be the most interesting of the three. For the majority of the first two seasons, we see Slade as a hero, helping Oliver survive while stranded on the mysterious island. Slade is similar to post-island Oliver in that he is an expert at hand to hand combat. Based on actions taken by Oliver, and not taken by Oliver, Slade changes greatly and forces a deadly rift between the two. More of that will probably be seen during the end of season 2 and the future.

What also deserves mentioning is the introduction of Barry Allen. At the end of the first half of season 2, Allen is introduced as a strapping young CSI and by the end of his episode it’s easy to guess where his character will end up. Allen might never be seen on Arrow again as there is a Flash series in the works, but his time on the show, no matter how small was a treat to all comic book fans.

2. A New Universe

Green Arrow StandingLike Smallville, Arrow was able to establish a new world meaning a new continuity. The series doesn’t have to worry about the comics or a film forcing them to change their established world. Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. has encountered this as we the viewer know pretty much everything that went on before the series’ events, such as the world finding out about aliens and Iron Man supposedly being a big deal. One problem is that it’s hard to imagine a world where Iron Man is the most talked about celebrity because a cameo by Robert Downey Jr. is probably doubtful with a full schedule and all. Another problem is Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. is more than likely going to be shaped by the movies, but the show probably won’t have the same effects on future movies. With Arrow having a potential spin-off, those two will be able to further establish their separate universe in a similar way to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but on a smaller scale.

1. The Chemistry


What Arrow has, more than Smallville, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the classic Batman and especially Heroes is that they can carry a scene together and do so more convincingly than most superhero ensembles. To say these are all Emmy worthy actors is a stretch, but for a CW show that gets less than 10 million viewers in the U.S., the acting is incredible. Like Supernatural‘s Sam and Dean, Oliver and Diggle are a great duo and Amell and Ramsey are the main reason for that. Add to that, the character Felicity Smoak helps increase the group dynamic, making the series more interesting as the weeks rage on.

Oliver Queen’s mother, Moira, and sister, Thea, also add range to the series by forcing Oliver to behave like a normal person, and not just a brooding vigilante. The character Roy Harper has also fit in nicely to the show, having a sincere relationship with Thea all while trying to figure out who the Arrow is. Susanna Thompson, Willa Holland and Colton Haynes, who play Moira, Thea and Roy, respectively, play off one another, and Amell, so well that the majority of the non-action scenes are still entertaining.

The camaraderie doesn’t seem to end when cameras stop filming either, as the cast seems to spend time with each other given the opportunity. While this includes conventions and interviews, Stephen Amell’s twitter account often features images of the cast doing fun things together.

While it is difficult to say that Arrow is the greatest superhero show ever, it is on track to outperform all the superhero shows to date. Arrow has a chance to live on for many years to come if it keeps on building on what it has already established. In the future they might have to worry about Netflix’s four superhero shows, and mini-series, but that’s not for another year. No matter how the Flash television series turns out, Arrow seems to be the show to beat.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. I thought the last episode was a dip down in quality to me.

    First I hate Oliver’s family putting themselves in danger. I know with TVs and stuff you need coincidences on some level to make things work. However this is played out in the case of his family. They know a bomber is on the lose and that this place would be a target. There is no reason at all for them to be there. Add to that he just sees his family on camera.

    Next The Roy crap.. like I said this was the first they have been back in a while. There is no need to keep us guessing on whats going to happen to him. Do something more them him just being a boy friend .

    Lastly Laurel is just a waste of time, she ads nothing to the show. Almost a 3rd of the show was her trying to find out about Blood. And the big pay off is that he is evil. Guess what we already knew that.

    I am not even going to get on the bad guy of the week. I mean nothing at all to him, why is he doing this , what was his end game, ect .

    Overall just a bad one in my view.

    • While I enjoyed the episode, I do agree it wasn’t the best. I like that Roy didn’t come in and immediately become his sidekick, but now that he has the serum, they might want to speed up his transformation.

      As for the bad guy, he was on the weaker side, but I think maybe they’re trying to put more focus on Blood for the next few episodes.

      Thanks for reading and commenting by the way.

    • Elaine Redford

      I thought the episode was pretty good. Especially when Maya warned Laurel not to trust Sebastian who seems like a shady guy.

    • You are not bright dude, laurels boyfriend who died is changing the show completely, because ollie changes style to be more like a goodguy who doesnt kill, cuz he promised his bestfriend, this is where Laurel comes in, she is the so the narrator can illustrate ollies new style, which changes everything. You dont have any fucking clue, do you?

  2. It is very underrated.

    The thing isn’t perfect. So you don’t like it, big deal, it’s well written, well produced, well acted. If you love action, mystery (there are a LOT of people who don’t understand that there is quite a bit of mystery going on here), and thriller, it’s here for you.

    But the hater-trolls flock to this show. I don’t know why. People who just HAVE to crap on everything they can are drawn to this show in particular. Somehow the clichés the haters note are always the same, as if they’re reading some hateforum where they learn the same tropes from fifty other hater-trolls. They pull one of the clichés out of the bucket in that forum and bring it everywhere else, all bright and sparkly and thinking how shiny this makes them look, to be posting that Stephen Amell is “wooden” or that Katie Cassidy “uses botox”, thinking that nooooo one has said this before and they must look like a brilliant analyst and we’ll all fall at their feet and thank them for showing us the light, because we never realized Katie Cassidy used botox before and of course this will make us never ever ever watch “Arrow” again.

    Anyway, great list, thanks for promoting the show.

    • Yeah, the show has its faults, but I think that the viewers, and fans of the show recognize it and don’t mind because no show is perfect and this show is fun to watch every week.

    • Jeremiah

      The fact that it is “underrated” is understandable, because honestly it is such utter shit. If you are a casual who watches only the tv and movies adaptions, then sure it could be considered alright, nothing above average, but if you know the story and characters of the DC universe, even have read just a single issue, then this is a lazy, overly dramatic, unfaithful and boring adaption.

  3. Wilson P.

    I watch about 8-10 shows regularly, and ALL of them (except Arrow) I can go a week or two without and catch up on them later with no problem… but I have NEVER missed a new episode of Arrow. It’s the only “must watch” show for me on television right now, and it gets better every episode.
    I’m not blind… I know every show has it’s problems (season 2 Laurel, I’m looking at YOU), but Arrow is so fun and makes me so fist-pumping GIDDY that its flaws are negligible.

    • I’m the same way, I can’t miss an episode of it.

    • I completely agree. One of the things that Arrow is doing extremely well is leaving cliffhangers that make it impossible to NOT watch immediately the following week.

      (I am also staring at season 2 Laurel, girl needs to get it together.)

  4. The characters on Arrow are relatively well fleshed out, and in a season & a half, we’ve come to care about all of them very much(except Laurel, and to some degree, Thea’s Scoobies). It’s not Breaking Bad level brilliant, but one thing Arrow is? Is consistent. Very strong with continuity. That is a HUGE plus both objectively, and because we remember Smallville. [[eyes]]

    Arrow also stands out against other genre shows we’ve had on TV; Birds of Prey, Smallville, The Flash, Lois & Clark. The best genre shows have been long gone; Wonder Woman(Lynda Carter) and The Incredible Hulk(Bixby/Ferrigno). Arrow stands out against the less than standard fare because it’s done what we’ve always wanted a superhero genre show to do…..take itself and the source material seriously.

    So I think Arrow is a win from many angles.

    • Yeah, there really haven’t been that many great superhero shows recently. I did enjoy Smallville, but comparing Smallville to Arrow is useless. They’re two different shows with different strengths. Arrow is definitely a win in my eyes.

  5. Its currently my favorite show on current TV, note that I say current as in the shows currently on the air. I love that John Campea of AMC Movie News is doing his Arrow after show to further promote the show, he does some amazing reviews. I love the action and the characters and I feel its one of the first shows to successfully bring the world the comic book and make it feel very real. Granted things now are starting to take a bit of a turn into the more fanciful, but it still maintains its sense of realism.

  6. Tyler McPherson

    Great article! I really like Arrow, as well- its not my favorite showw, but it still great. I know it has its flaws but the pacing works and I agree with those who say season two has really picked up from an already well done season 1.

  7. So I assume the show has improved from the first few episodes? I wanted to get into it but it was far too CW for my tastes–pretty, young, white people playing out soapy drama between cliche character types.

  8. But where is Black Canary?!

  9. I watched the pilot for Arrow and wasn’t into it enough to continue, but I’ve always heard good things about it. CW shows are always really iffy and rely more on the attractiveness of the actors as opposed to their actual acting ability (which is what miffed me about Arrow, with it’s constant exposure of Stephen Amell’s abs in the promo posters), but I liked this article. It was enough to consider giving it another chance. Good read.

  10. Having literally just finished watching the new episode, I can safely say this is my new favorite show in a long time. The show builds hype in a way that I just love. This season has gotten seriously good, with the cast’s dynamic evolving and becoming more fun to watch. I thought I wasn’t going to dig Manu Bennett as Slade. Good Lord was I wrong.

  11. Nick Hwang

    I went into this show cautiously optimistic and was absolutely floored by how much I enjoyed it! First time in a while that a show kept me consistently excited week after week! While it strays a biiiiit too close to the Dark Knight trilogy sometimes it does make the series very strong. Manu Bennett and Summer Glau are just bonuses! I still laugh at Ollie’s Mandarin though, hopefully his Russian is more accurate?

  12. Only reason I started watching Arrow was because my boyfriend was really into the idea. But, now completely caught up, I’m just as addicted as him. I do have some problems with the fact that Laurel Lance is not Black Canary (when, in the comic universe, she is), but that’s easily pushed aside. The first season finale had me at the edge of my seat, and I’m just as excited watching it now. The fact that Alex Kingston and John Barrowman have both been on it has been a bonus, as I’m quite the Whovian.

  13. I think that Arrow does a nice job of acknowledging comic lore while at the same time giving it an appropriate spin for tv audience. For example, I am a huge fan of Solomon Grundy in comics, but I completely understand why a hulking gray zombie wouldn’t make the cut. However, including a human Cyrus Gold and giving him super strength (in a way that made sense in the Arrow Universe) was something I was pleasantly surprised by.

  14. PerkAlert

    You make some good points, Austin. While I do agree with some of the other comments that the show is a bit “too CW” in places, I still think it is a great show. Like you said, the characters have good chemistry and the storyline is fresh and engaging. Not to mention, the appearances of Alex Kingston and John Barrowman sent me into giddy Whovian overdrive. Yet, I wouldn’t declare it the Best Superhero Show EVER. Besides the obvious fact that you cannot account for future shows, I feel like I’ve seen better written and/or acted shows (Alphas, anyone?). Of course, I am also a little biased, because Smallville is one of my all-time favorite shows (and the main reason I started watching Arrow in the first place). However, Smallville and Arrow have a few common themes that I love, including the moral villain (i.e. Lex Luthor in Smallvile and Slade in Arrow). Overall though, I am eager to see where this show will lead–and for next week’s episode!

  15. sjendoubi

    I’ll be honest when I first saw the previews for Arrow I didn’t give the show much thought. Mostly because I assumed it was going to be another one of those typical superhero shows that would die out pretty quickly. However, after reading this article I may just give it a try and who can say no to another great television show?

  16. I agree, the chemistry between the actors is definitely one of the main reasons the show is successful. Casting is crucial.

  17. I think it’s important to address a couple of things you mentioned in the article. While I have enjoyed Arrow thus far, (I’ll be the first to admit I’ve only seen the first season) there’s a few things I want to bring up in response to your article.

    Firstly, it does seem a little useless to compare this show to Agents Of S.H.E.I.L.D. The shows focus on two completely different entities, and I think a lot of Marvel’s fanbase has been disappointed in that show thus far. The faults of Agents lie in the fact that, as you addressed, it is a television program riding on the coattails of a widely popular film series. Being a TV show, it doesn’t really have the budget to put it in line with the films Marvel has released so far, and of course it is nowhere near on par with Arrow. I guess my point is that the shows at their core are so different that the themes and events explored within each will of course be different as well. This is because one show’s focus is a group of government agents, yet the other’s focus is a man working outside of the law.

    Secondly, while I’m sure his appearance was designed to be somewhat of a fan service, I think it’s important to mention that Barry Allen’s inclusion in the show was solely to give a jumping-off point for the upcoming Flash television show. He wasn’t included for the purpose of fans saying, “Hey, I know that guy” but for DC to market another show to the viewers of Arrow. I’m sure that the people behind the scenes did a great job, (as I’ve said, I have yet to see that second season) but there is something more to his appearance than fan service.

    Finally, I do have one major plot point which I think the show falls short on. Oliver’s childhood friend becomes more and more resentful of him, and at the peak of his hatred, when we fully and totally have seen and understand the reasons why Tommy has begun to hate his old friend, this character is killed off. I felt like this was a major cop-out on behalf of the writers, because Tommy would have made a fantastic villain in any scenario. This bothered me especially because rather than create bad guys out of classic archetypes (Count Vertigo was basically the Joker, and that’s fine, but we could move away from that idea and play with those brought up in the show, rather than what’s already been done in comics) the creators or team behind the scenes had the opportunity to do something new and different.

    The points you used to defend the show are great, it really and truly does a fantastic job at supporting some of the themes most central to superheroes and vigilante justice in any medium. But, the fact that you compared a Detective Comics brand to a Marvel one is dangerous, because while I agree with you on the fact that this truly is the greatest show that has it’s roots in comics, the truth is that one success of a brand that has failed in comparison to its competitor for years now does not necessarily make that brand’s competitor the lesser.

  18. Max Lin

    I have to admit, I avoided this show in its earlier days because of the typical CW-esque posters. But the risks this writing team took in the Season 1 finale solidified this series as one of the best superhero shows. I’ll still fiercely defend Agents of Shield from people who wrote it off after the first few episodes but Arrow definitely works better in terms of cohesive arcs, cast chemistry, and well-written characters (except for maybe Laurel).

  19. My only real criticism of Arrow is Oliver’s acting direction. Stephen Amell always seems like he has a much greater acting range that is always forced downward and tamed into the Arrow persona. Whenever I watch Arrow, I can’t help but feel that there could be so much more character depth if her was allowed to cut loose a little.

  20. Jillian Fields

    I have been impressed by the CW’s approach to the series, and I think your reasons put them very concisely.

  21. This series is something that i want to follow. I binged watched the first season but will they be able to keep creating new ideas and plot lines to keep the audience entertained and loyal?

  22. Liz Kellam

    One of my new favorite shows of the last few years. Felicity and Diggle really make the show for me. While everyone else is so serious and dramatic, they are both seem to keep Oliver grounded and remind him of his role as hero. I especially love Felicity as the tech-smart, funny girl.

  23. DKaikster

    Why is arrow the best superhero show? Because it completely destroyed all the childhood memories I had of green Arrow. Good job lore-killers.

    Yes, that was a sarcasm:

    1. We love Batman because he is batman. You give Green Arrow a brooding moping serious character like Batman, you are killing both Green Arrow and Batman.

    2. We loved Green Arrow for his mild comedy. Same reason why people like The Flash (For DC Fans, Deadpool). This show completely fucked that up.

    3. Hell, this show doesn’t even call him Green Arrow. He is first the hood, then the Arrow. He is, in no way, the Green Arrow we know and love.

  24. DKaikster

    Why is ‘Arrow’ so awesome? Because it single-handedly managed to destroy all my childhood memories that I had of this character. Yes that was a sarcasm.

    Why Arrow is the most stupidest show ever (Yes, go ahead bombard me with your blind love for this stupidity even when you will agree with me):

    1. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is the moping and brooding sort. We love Bruce Wayne for that. You give the same character and personality to Green Arrow, you are killing both Green Arrow and Batman.

    2. We love Green Arrow for his mild-mannered, joke slinging, wise-cracking, humorous characteristics. It’s one of the reasons most people like the Flash and Marvel fans totally LOVE Deadpool. This guy here is a self-pitying fool who spends more time moping and less time fighting.

    3. Hell his name is Green Arrow! Not the hood and definitely not “Arrow”. You try to give it a more mature name and make it more mature for adult viewers? Then go find something else to ruin.

  25. Justin.F

    Hate the all the female actors , the blonde with glasses , that fact that these 60 kg girls cant “fight” these men , criminals cant shoot straight or fight.

  26. Sgt.Fgt

    LOL when the card went through the girls throat her acting was really bad

  27. Sgt.Fgt

    ishh a gudd show wasssh et

  28. Comic book accuracy sure isn’t one of them.

  29. I haven’t heard of Arrow in a while; ultimately, I don’t see it standing the test of time. Smallville seems to have been more durable.

  30. While I liked “Arrow” and agree with most of these reasons, I find the thesis of this article a little hyperbolized.

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