Five Reasons ‘Arrow’ Isn’t As Good As It Used To Be

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I want to start this article with a giant disclaimer: I love Arrow. To this day, I haven’t missed an episode (even though it almost lost me during season three). Granted it wasn’t the first DC television show ever created, it was definitely the most influential in terms of universe expansion, as its success led to The Flash and (probably) Gotham, whose success in turn led to Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, and now Black Lightning. Even Marvel’s Netflix series Daredevil seems to have taken some inspiration from the CW’s dark, grounded superhero drama.

With that being said, I sadly have to admit that after season two, Arrow‘s quality has declined significantly; and it’s not just my opinion, it seems to be the general consensus among Arrow fans over the age of 13. I still watch on a regular basis, and while season four has seen a slight improvement over its horrendous season three, it still is not living up to the standards it set for itself in seasons one and two, and unfortunately it probably never will. Check out the next few pages for my top five gripes with Arrow, and why I believe it isn’t as good as it used to be.

5) Season Two Set The Bar Too High

When fans first saw Deathstroke’s iconic mask during the pilot of the series, we knew we were in for an eventual treat. The back half of season one and the entirety of season two were devoted to the brother-turned-enemy relationship between Oliver Queen and Slade Wilson, and led to some of the most entertaining conflicts on any television show at the time. In addition to the Slade/Oliver dynamic, season two gave us some of the series’ best villains, such as Solomon Grundy, Brother Blood, Professor Ivo, the Dollmaker, and even the first live action incarnation of the Suicide Squad (which we now know was a test for the eventual movie). Season two was the season that finished Arrow‘s transformation from a drama into a full blown DC comics show by introducing Black Canary, the League of Assassins, Ra’s al-Ghul, and even Barry Allen. The second season of Arrow had everything going for it, so much so that it was hard to imagine anything being able to top it. Unfortunately for fans, nothing else the show has given us yet has been able to properly follow it up with anything even nearly as entertaining. The last few seasons have come off as nothing more than weak attempts to try and one-up what they gave us in season two, but so far nothing else has even come close.

4) It Can’t Use Good Characters Anymore

What do Deadshot, Deathstroke, Amanda Waller, Black Canary, and Captain Boomerang all have it common? How about they won’t ever be on Arrow again. While we are going to get Laurel Lance is some form during season five, it won’t be the real Black Canary considering the Lazarus Pit is gone. Captain Boomerang is trapped on Lian Yu and didn’t even appear during season three when, well, they were on Lian Yu. Who knows what is even going on with Deathstroke anymore, between all the “Deathstroke can come back to Arrow” and “Deathstroke is no longer allowed on Arrow” articles on Facebook and Twitter, I don’t know what to believe. All I know is his character is most likely gone, as Joe Manganiello (better known as Manu Bennett’s doppleganger) has taken over the role of Slade Wilson in the DC Extended Universe. The other characters have either been killed off or written off so that they would not be confused with either current or eventual DC Extended Universe characters. Now, Arrow is stuck with a shallow pool of C and D list characters to choose from. The excitement of introductions from the likes of Barry Allen and Black Canary are gone, and we now get to look forward to Vigilante and Wild Dog. Seriously.

3) Spoilers Everywhere

Last year, about a month before it was revealed that Black Canary was the one in the grave, I remember reading a website that claimed Laurel Lance was not on the set while filming that scene so it must have been her tombstone. I was so angry at myself for reading that, because it ruined the overarching mystery of the entire season in the time span it took to read a 250 word article. Ever since season two blew up the way it did, spoilers have begun popping up everywhere. Heaven forbid you go on Facebook after a new episode airs without watching it first, because you will be bombarded with word for word breakdowns of EVERY. SINGLE. LINE. Post-air spoilers aside, when a website posts a breaking story that involves a big plot element of the show, that’s great for the websites traffic, but it really sucks for the fans who get suckered into seeing it. People are weak, we give into spoilers, it’s part of our nature. So, of course, it can be manipulated. I remember the scene that turned me from a casual viewer of Arrow to a ‘super-fan’; it was when Brother Blood was revealed to not be the big bad of the second season, but to actually be working for Slade Wilson. That scene blew me away for the utter awesomeness of the writing, but if it had been spoiled for me a month beforehand by some website I may have never gotten hooked to Arrow the way I did, meaning I probably wouldn’t be here right now writing this article. And in retrospect, maybe that wouldn’t have been all that bad.

2) Olicity

You knew it was on this list. But you thought it would be number one, didn’t you? Almost, but not quite. Felicity Smoak used to be such an awesome character. Funny, charming, quirky, gave us a little light in Oliver’s dark and morbid world. That all changed when she became a social media phenomenon, and the whole show changed to cater to her character. If I had a nickel for every time someone called the newer seasons of the show ‘Felicity and Friends’, I’d be one rich dude. Season three was full of Felicity crying about either Ray or Oliver for like a half an hour at a time. There is no Earth in the Multiverse where Felicity Smoak should EVER be given more screentime than Ra’s al-Ghul, who was only in about 9 episodes all season. Sorry about the caps, I still have a lot of pent up anger thinking about it. Matt Nable’s portrayal of Ra’s was up there with Manu Bennett’s portrayal of Slade, but he took a complete backseat to love triangles and a lot of unnecessary crying. Season four didn’t do much better with Felicity’s character, this time expanding their focus on Felicity to include her parents, who were completely uninteresting and by the end of the season added absolutely nothing to the overall story. Season five is now trying to say that they are going to use Felicity differently, but I will believe it when I see it. It’s just too bad it’s too late to go back to the awkwardly funny and quirky Felicity from season two.

1) Trying To Keep Up With The Flash

Now, it’s time for the top reason Arrow just isn’t as good as it used to be. I bet you’re surprised to see The Flash as the top reason, but if you think about it, it makes complete sense. Ever since Barry Allen was introduced into season two, the DC universe has picked up full steam ahead. On The Flash, anyway. Characters on The Flash seem to be allowed to exist in both the movie and television universe, and everything from the stories to the costumes are much more reminiscent of the comics. The show has featured a giant psychic gorilla and a humanoid shark, so you know there are little to no boundaries. Because of all these reasons, The Flash became too good too quickly and Arrow just couldn’t keep up. Between the one-two punch of Arrow‘s second season being unbeatable and The Flash being as good as it is, Arrow quickly fell by the wayside and became nothing more than a way to service the show’s Tumblr and Twitter fanbase. Because The Flash was such a light dichotomy to Arrow‘s darker tone (think the dichotomy between Superman and Batman), the producers thought that lightening up the show for season four would make it more likable after its fanbase started falling off after season three, when in fact the show’s darkness was never a common complaint in the first place.

Arrow‘s fourth season tried introducing magic to keep up with the metahumans, and reformed Team Arrow to include stupid fan picked alias’ like Overwatch and Spartan. Just because witty banter during missions works for Team Flash, doesn’t mean Team Arrow needs to follow suit. Diggle and Felicity were doing just fine without nicknames and a Magneto Halloween costume. Now for season five, Arrow is ‘going back to its roots’. Hopefully they realized that they could give us the street-level ninjas, gangsters, and warriors, and it would be enough for fans. The show started with Oliver, and it needs to go back to Oliver. He was doing just fine before he met Barry and learned about metahumans and time travel, and that real world perspective is where Oliver works best. No more magic, no more drama, let’s just get back to the days of dark, gritty action.

Josh Behr

Josh Behr

Jack of some trades, master of some others. That saying never really made a lot of sense to me.