How ‘Arrow’ and Stephen Amell Hit the Bullseye and Left a Lasting Legacy on Superhero Television

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Stephen Amell in 'Arrow.' The CW

After eight seasons and 170 episodes, the show that created an entire television universe will end come January 28. Although Arrow will live on in the remaining DC shows and its namesake universe, the show itself, especially its leading character who died in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, will be but a lasting legacy. But what is it about Arrow that is so captivating, and what is it about Stephen Amell and the rest of the cast that will leave lasting effects on the remainder of the Arrowverse shows once the series finale airs?

Stephen Amell in ‘Arrow.’ Image courtesy of The CW

The Arrowverse

On October 10, 2012, The CW, which already had success in the superhero market with Smallville for 10 seasons, debuted a brand new comic book series. This time, based on billionaire playboy Oliver Queen aka the Green Arrow, with Stephen Amell portraying the hooded vigilante. Since then, what was only supposed to be just one show with no planned spin-offs has launched a whole universe of series and characters, appropriately named “Arrowverse.” Throughout the series, more characters would be introduced, including Felicity Smoak/Overwatch (Emily Bett Rickards), John Diggle/Spartan (David Ramsey), Thea Queen/Speedy (Willa Holland), and more.

The ever-expanding “Arrowverse” first became a dream in 2013, when a pre-lightning Barry Allen, played by Glee star Grant Gustin, came into the picture. The season 2 episodes “The Scientist” and “Three Ghosts” served as the backdoor pilot to 2014’s The Flash, with “Three Ghosts” ending with Barry getting struck by lightning due to the Particle Accelerator explosion. The series, also starring Danielle Panabaker as Dr. Caitlin Snow, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells, and Candice Patton as Iris West, premiered the following fall and would soon become The CW’s highest-rated series.

2014 also marked Arrow and The Flash‘s first annual crossover, the first of many and what would be a long tradition in the Arrowverse. Each year since there has been a crossover — 2014 was “Flash v. Arrow,” 2015 was “Heroes Join Forces,” which also served as a set up for Legends of Tomorrow, a spin-off of both The Flash and Arrow with characters from both shows like Sara Lance/White Canary (Caity Lotz), Ray Palmer/The Atom (Brandon Routh), Mick Rory/Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), and Leonard Snart/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and 2016 was the “Invasion!” crossover, the first one with Supergirl since landing at The CW after CBS axed it after the first season. The crossovers got bigger in 2017 with “Crisis on Earth-X,” and because the crossover was so big, the following one, “Elseworlds,” was more relaxed and humorous, which saw Oliver and Barry swapping lives and becoming criminals and also introduced Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman. That crossover would lead to the huge “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover.

Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell. Image courtesy of The CW.

The Fans

Throughout the years, fans have done numerous things to show their love for the Arrowverse’s flagship show. In 2017, a group of fans, who called themselves Olicity Bench Project, raised funds on a GoFundMe page to get a bench dedicated to Arrow‘s power couple, Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak. Over just one week, fans from all around the world raised over $7,000, nearly double the group’s goal of $4,000. The money would also go towards the preservation of Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC where the bench is located and in the same city where the show is shot. The dedication reads, “In celebration of the unthinkable, Olicity.” And then the quote, “We found ourselves in each other,” which is something that the couple said to each other in the show. Amell even visited the bench shortly after and posted it on his Twitter.

In 2019, another group of fans started the Goodbye OTA Project as a way to say goodbye to Arrow. Initially, the project was a way to say goodbye to the Original Team Arrow trio (Oliver, Felicity, and John), raising funds for two billboards in Times Square depicting the characters, and had quickly turned into raising funds for charities as well as helping an Arrow crew member who was battling cancer. In total, fans raised over $14,500,000 for billboards, charities, and personalized gift baskets that were sent to Amell, Rickards, and Ramsey. Read here to find out everything that the project has raised money for.

It should be noted that it’s not just the fans that are doing stuff for the cast, but the cast is returning the favor. At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, a fan named Sarah inspired the cast, everyone in the panel room, and everyone watching at home. During the Arrow panel, Sarah had gone up to ask a question to Amell. She told him that since she’s a fighter of cancer, she was wondering if he was going to make any more Fight Cancer shirts. The room erupted in applause, and after asking her name, where she was from, and if it was her first time (it was her third year in a row at SDCC), Amell asked if she would be returning the following year then proceeded to give her his necklace, telling her to give it back the next year. In 2018, Sarah did indeed come back and returned the necklace at the SDCC Arrow panel. Amell got up and walked over to her, saying he’s only stolen one thing from the set. After Sarah returned the necklace, he gave her his bow and whispered into her ear. At Arrow‘s final SDCC panel in 2019, Sarah returned and gave the bow back, Amell giving her his jacket from the show. It only shows a sliver of what the fans mean to the cast and what the cast means to the fans.

Stephen Amell in ‘Arrow.’ Image courtesy of The CW.

The Impact

Shortly after Arrow got renewed for a season 8, it was announced that the season would be the show’s last. Knowing that a show that has created an entire universe of series and beloved characters and storylines would soon be coming to an end was heartbreaking. Fans around the world were devastated to learn that one of their favorite shows would be ending. The cast of Arrow got online to thank fans for their support, and casts from other Arrowverse shows got online to thank the Arrow cast for a tremendous run and for leaving a legacy.

During Arrow‘s final SDCC panel in 2019, the cast was asked to talk about what it’s been like working with Amell in the past years, and their answers were enough to make anyone cry. Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance/Black Canary/Black Siren) would be the first to speak, saying she’s proud of him and that the whole show doesn’t exist without everything he’s done. Juliana Harkavy (Dinah Drake/Black Canary) tells Amell he’s a true leader, while Rick Gonzalez (Rene Ramirez/Mad Dog) recalls when he first joined the show, he saw the heart that his costar had put into the series the past four years and that he set the bar for the show. Ramsey, appropriately, was the last to speak, and he said there would not be a comic book universe, not just DC, on television — after Smallville, of course — without Stephen Amell and Arrow. The cast respects and looks up to Amell just as much as the fans do.

Shows like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, even Supergirl and Batwoman, wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Arrow. The stars of those shows always say that Amell and Arrow paved the way. Last summer, Entertainment Weekly shot a video with Gustin, Benoist, Lotz, and Rose saying goodbye to their fellow superhero, Stephen Amell. Even more recently, the stars of The Flash and Supergirl said goodbye to Arrow as a whole, talking about its legacy and how different things were then as compared to now, as well as how it’s going to be an adjustment and getting used to not seeing the cast on set.

The Goodbye

Tonight, Tuesday, January 28, 2020, we say goodbye to a show that has birthed an entire universe of beloved characters and groundbreaking storylines. We say goodbye to characters we have fallen in love with over the past eight seasons and 170 episodes.

In the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event, fans had to say goodbye to one character earlier than expected. At the end of the first part, Oliver Queen sacrificed himself and saved a billion people while doing so. However, using the Lazarus Pit on him and traveling to Purgatory to try to retrieve his soul in parts two and three, Oliver was soon transformed into the Spectre. In part four, Oliver used his abilities and saved the universe one last time, rightfully sacrificing himself and creating a new world, saving everyone but himself. His death was heavily felt in part four, as well as the season premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, since for Sara, Oliver was all she had left of her old life. And there’s no doubt his death will be felt on The Flash and the remaining run of the Arrowverse shows. The series finale, “Fadeout,” will see Oliver’s funeral, a goodbye for not just the characters but also the fans.

The universe that Arrow created will forever be known as the Arrowverse; it started with Arrow but doesn’t end with it. It’ll keep going, for however long. Arrow and Stephen Amell will forever live on in The FlashSupergirlLegends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, Black Lightning, the newest series, Stargirl, and whatever comes after, including the potential Green Arrow & the Canaries spin-off with Cassidy, Harkavy, and Katherine McNamara (Mia Smoak). The legacy of Arrow has changed superhero television and created a universe that will live on forever.

Thank you, Arrow, for the action and romance and comedy, the characters, and the storylines. Thank you, Stephen Amell, for creating a legacy and universe that essentially wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. Thank you for bringing Oliver Queen to life and the incredible character development that we have seen over the years. Thank you to the entire cast and crew of Arrow for bringing these characters to life and interacting with fans on social media and at conventions. Thank you for being our escape from our everyday lives to this fantasy world. Just, thank you.

“There’s an end, and there’s a beginning.” – Oliver Queen

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By Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.
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