The 19 Biggest Changes The CW Made to Arrow (And 1 That Is Unforgivable)

If ever there was a character who took decades to become an overnight sensation, it's Green Arrow. Introduced in November 1941 in More Fun Comics #73, he didn't headline his own solo title until a 1983 miniseries. The prestige miniseries Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters in 1987, followed by the long-running ongoing title Green Arrow, finally turned him into an A-list character. Before then was decades of appearances in Justice League of America, backup strips, guest shots in team-up titles, the acclaimed but short-lived run co-headlining Green Lantern/Green Arrow for 13 issues from 1970 to 1972, and its entertaining if less highly regarded followup from 1976 to 1979.

Green Arrow took a similarly slow path to stardom on screen, appearing in several animated shows and as a guest character in Smallville. But in The CW's Arrow, the character is the anchor of a lineup of DC shows, including spinoffs The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, and sister show Supergirl. Bringing Green Arrow to life on TV has meant pulling bits and pieces of his past and other DC Comics lore and blending them into a satisfying show. Some changes are big, some small -- and one is particularly jarring. Here are the 19 biggest changes The CW made to Green Arrow -- and one that is unforgivable.


Green Arrow's first origin was in More Fun Comics #89 (March 1943), where his alter ego, Oliver Queen, was a museum curator who fights treasure-seeking crooks. In the Silver Age, Queen is a millionaire playboy stranded on the remote Starfish Island after falling overboard from his yacht, shown in Adventure Comics #256 (January 1959). Queen survives by teaching himself archery to hunt and fish. Years later, he swims out to a passing ship and finds the crew has mutinied, so he defeats them.

TV's Arrow builds on this, having Queen survive on the island Lian Yu in the North China Sea when the family yacht, Queen's Gambit, sank. He spends five years there, learning survival skills before returning to America.


John Diggle on Arrow

John Diggle is a character unique to TV's Arrow. The pilot episode introduced him as a bodyguard for the returned Oliver Queen. As Queen was beginning to start his vigilante activities, he kept slipping away from Diggle, which put them on a bad footing. Diggle resigned when Queen revealed his identity, but eventually came around, becoming Queen's confidant, friend and moral guide.

Diggle is a retired Army Special Forces master sergeant, and an agent of A.R.G.U.S., and there are hints of more. In the "Elseworlds" crossover with Supergirl and The Flash, the Flash from Earth-90 seems to recognize Diggle, saying, "Hell0, John ... You're not wearing your ring," indicating Diggle might be a Green Lantern somewhere in the DC Extended Universe.


Introduced in Justice League of America #94 (November 1971), the master archer Arthur King took the stage name Malcolm Merlyn. He was a rival to Green Arrow who defeated him in a public test of skill, and went on to join the League of Assassins.

On TV, Merlyn is a friend to fellow business mogul Robert Queen. After he lost his wife to a gang initiation in Starling City's Glades neighborhood, he trained with the League of Assassins and plotted to destroy the Glades. He inadvertently created Green Arrow by sabotaging Robert Queen's yacht for opposing him, causing Oliver Queen to be stranded on Lian Yu. Merlyn went on to be an opponent of Green Arrow and the Legends of Tomorrow.


On Arrow, Malcolm Merlyn's son Tommy was Oliver Queen's childhood buddy. The two were frequent partiers who got into scrapes with the law that their wealthy parents smoothed over. They rekindled their friendship after Queen returned from Lian Yu, but Merlyn's father, disgruntled that he had not matured as Queen had, cut off his money. Tommy Merlyn perished during The Undertaking, a scheme to destroy the Glades with an artificial earthquake.

In the comics, Tommy Merlyn first appeared during the New 52, in Green Arrow (Volume 5) #0 (September 2012). As Malcolm Merlyn's son, Tommy Merlyn also became a master archer. He turned against Queen after a botched rescue on an oil rig caused the loss of the hostages -- and him to suffer burns.


Katie Cassidy as Black Canary on Arrow

In comics, the love of Oliver Queen's life is Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. She debuted in Flash Comics #86 (August 1947) as a crimefighter. In the Silver Age, she was retooled so that on Earth-1, she was the daughter of Dinah Drake, the Black Canary of Earth-1, and ex-Gotham Police detective Larry Lance. This Black Canary has a sonic scream and is a top martial artist.

Arrow split the Black Canary concept into three different characters. There's Laurel Lance, the Starling City assistant district attorney who was Oliver Queen's love interest and the first Black Canary; her sister Sara, a new character who is the White Canary; and Dinah Drake, the new Black Canary introduced in Season 5.


Black Canary's TV father is far different than his print counterpart. In the Golden Age, his name was Larry. He first appeared in Flash Comics #92 (February 1948) as the love interest and, later, husband, to Black Canary. The Silver Age introduction of parallel Earths assigned him to Earth-2, and made him the husband of Earth-2's Black Canary and father to the Earth-1 version.

Quentin Lance had a bigger role on Arrow. He was a Starling City Police detective who rose to be the city's mayor, although he had a bumpy career with several demotions along the way. He was an enemy and sometimes ally of Team Arrow. He is the father of Laurel and Sara and ex-husband of Dinah, who is not a superhero.



Sara Lance is original to the Arrowverse. In the Arrow pilot, we learn that she was having a secret affair with her sister Laurel's boyfriend -- Oliver Queen. Lance was aboard the Queen's Gambit when it sank, and was rescued at sea, lost at sea again, and falls in with the League of Assassins. She makes her way back to Starling City and acts as the vigilante Canary.

Mortally wounded in Season 3, Lance's lover, Nyssa al Ghul, revives her body in a Lazarus Pit in Season 4, but her soul had to be restored with the intervention of John Constantine. She goes on to join the Legends of Tomorrow on the spinoff series, eventually becoming captain of the team.


Felicity Smoak initially was an IT expert for Queen Consolidated, a bit character with just a couple of scenes in the Arrow pilot episode. She moved up to being Oliver Queen's executive assistant, a key part of Team Arrow, and Oliver Queen's love interest -- and, later, wife.

Her first appearance was in The Fury of Firestorm #23 (May 1984), after he stopped a runaway freight train by transmuting junk cars into a giant magnet. Unfortunately, the train was loaded with $8 million worth of chips and software disks for Smoak's computer company, all rendered useless. This was the first of several times Smoak chewed Firestorm out for causing collateral damage. She also developed a relationship with and married Ronnie Raymond's father.


Manu Bennett's Deathstroke

Another character borrowed from another comics title is Slade Wilson, Deathstroke the Terminator. He was the primary archenemy of the New Teen Titans, first appearing in The New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980). He was a U.S. Army officer with a natural talent for learning various combat skills and styles who also was subject of an experiment that enhanced him physically. He deserted the Army and became a mercenary and assassin.

In the Arrow pilot, Wilson helped the shipwrecked Oliver Queen survive and gave him his initial combat training. He later takes the Mirakuru formula, which turns him into a supersoldier but drives him mad, making him choose to become Arrow's enemy.


Lyla Michaels in Arrow

The TV version of Harbinger is radically different than her comics counterpart. She was Lyla, a shipwreck survivor rescued by the Monitor, a cosmic being striving to prevent the Anti-Monitor from destroying all creation. The Monitor gave Lyla, who first appeared in The New Teen Titans Annual (Volume 1) #2 (July 1983), the power to duplicate her form to recruit heroes to save the Multiverse, in Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12 (April 1985-March 1986).

"Harbinger" on Arrow is the codename for Lyla Michaels, director of A.R.G.U.S. Michaels, a former soldier, became romantically linked to John Diggle when both served in Afghanistan. They married, divorced, remarried, and had a daughter, Sara -- who was replaced with a son, John Diggle Jr., after Flashpoint changed the timeline.


Arsenal, previously known as Speedy, is one of the earliest teen sidekicks in comics. Roy Harper appeared in the first Green Arrow story in More Fun Comics #89 (March 1943). Years before museum curator Oliver Queen came to Lost Mesa, Harper was stranded there because of a plane crash and grew up under the care of Quoag, a Native American guide who taught him archery. In the Silver Age, Harper learned archery skills with Brave Bow, a Sioux Indian who raised him on his father's behalf, as shown in Adventure Comics #262 (July 1959).

The Roy Harper on Arrow is a thief who joins Team Arrow to seek redemption. He gains superstrength from the Mirakuru formula, but its bad effects force Arrow to cure him.


Thea Queen Speedy Arrow

The second character to take the name Speedy is Mia Dearden, who first appears in Green Arrow (Volume 3) #2 (May 2001). She is a runaway from an abusive home who is rescued by Green Arrow from a life of prostitution. He tutors her in archery and she becomes a superhero and Teen Titans member.

On Arrow, the character is named Thea. She grows up as Oliver Queen's sister, but only her parents Moira and Robert know that her true father is Malcolm Merlyn. She is distraught when Oliver Queen is lost at sea, sinking into drug use. After his return and after she learns her true parentage, she falls in with the League of Assassins, but eventually has a rocky relationship with Team Arrow.


New Teen Titans antagonist Adrian Chase was a New York district Attorney with a sideline as the Vigilante, fighting a war on crime much like Marvel's The Punisher. Chase took on the guise in The New Teen Titans Annual (Volume 1)#2 (July 1983). TV's Adrian Chase is modeled on Vigilante and also Prometheus, a formidable adversary of the JLA. Prometheus debuted in New Year's Evil: Prometheus #1 (February 1998).

Arrow's Prometheus aggressively worked to sabotage Green Arrow's life and reputation in both his guises, as hero and as Star City's mayor. He did so as revenge for Oliver Queen dispatching his father, Justin Clayborne, early in his career when he acted as The Hood.


Arrow Wild Dog

Wild Dog first appeared in the miniseries Wild Dog #1-4 (September-December 1987). Jack Wheeler was a retired Marine who fights a one-man war on crime in his Midwest hometown after his girlfriend Claire was targeted by a mob family for leaving the fold. With the money Claire left him, he opened a mechanic shop as a cover, bought weapons and tracked down the mobsters who struck Claire.

TV's Wild Dog is Rene Ramirez, a dishonorably discharged Navy SEAL. A fight in his home with a drug dealer led to the loss of his wife Laura, and his daughter Zoe put in foster care. Green Arrow's activities inspired him to become a vigilante, who tried to discourage him. When Wild Dog wouldn't stop, Arrow recruited him.


Arrow Dinah Lance

Dinah Lance as Black Canary debuted in Flash Comics #86 (August 1947). When the Silver Age of Comics rolled around, Black Canary was still active but hadn't aged. Instead of simply declaring the Earth-1 Canary was a different character than Earth-2's, DC served up a mind-bending story in Justice League of America #219-220 (October-November 1983). It revealed Black Canary had a daughter cursed with a sonic scream by the Wizard, and the mother's consciousness was transferred into the daughter's comatose body.

Things are simpler on Arrow: Dinah Lance is Laurel's and Sara's mother, but was never a superhero. She is a university professor specializing in Greek and medieval history. She left her husband Quentin Lance after Sara was lost at sea on the Queen's Gambit, but later reconciled with her family.


Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen on Arrow

Oliver Queen's father had a small role in the comics. Robert Queen first appeared in a flashback story in Green Arrow (Volume 2) Annual #7 (1995) in which he gave Oliver a bow and arrow for Christmas, and Oliver struck a rabbit. In Green Arrow Secret Files and Origins (December 2002), the family goes on a safari but a still remorseful Oliver refuses to hunt. Later, lions attack and Robert and Moira, Oliver's mother, are mortally wounded.

On Arrow, Robert Queen is a billionaire business mogul, founder and CEO of Queen Consolidated. He, Oliver and a crew member of the Queen's Gambit are stranded when the sabotaged yacht sinks. Robert sacrifices himself and the crew member to give Oliver a better chance at survival.


The imposing Amanda Waller climbed the ranks of government service to a position of power through cunning, ruthlessness and an amoral disregard for others. She first appeared in Legends #1 (November 1986), a former congressional aide who talked her way into reestablishing and leading Task Force X. Its field operations were carried out by the Suicide Squad, a covert team of convicted criminals pressed into performing black-ops missions for the promise of pardons.

Her counterpart on Arrow was director of A.R.G.U.S. She frequently used intimidation, threats and even kidnapping to force Green Arrow into doing her bidding -- which included covert assassinations.. We learned that she had a hand in Oliver Queen's training during his years on Lian Yu.


Arrow Ray Palmer

The Atom is one of the first Silver Age superheroes. He first appeared in Showcase #34 (October 1961) as Ray Palmer, a physics professor at Ivy University who develops the means to alter his size, weight and density using white dwarf star matter. He becomes a superhero and a member of the Justice League of America.

On Arrow, Ray Palmer is a physics genius, inventor and tech mogul who buys Queen Consolidated and renames it Palmer Technologies. He develops an exosuit so he can protect Starling City after the loss of his fiancee Anna Loring during an attack by Slade Wilson's army. Palmer moved to spinoff show Legends of Tomorrow.


Star City -- Arrow

Star City is the longtime home base of Green Arrow, first given that name in Adventure Comics #266 (November 1959). Star City is a coastal community, although the comics have frequently been vague and contradictory about where; different stories have placed it in California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington.

The municipality was called "Starling City" in the first three seasons of Arrow. In Season 3, in the wake of the attack by Slade Wilson's army, Ray Palmer buys Queen Consolidated and hopes to lift the community's spirits by rebranding it as "Star City," pledging to give half his fortune to make it happen. In Season 4, the city adopts the new name after Palmer is believed lost after Ra's al Ghul strikes.


oliver queen on crisis on earth-x

Green Arrow has been dogged with the reputation of being a poor-man's Batman. The similarities are abundant: he is a rich idler in his secret identity; he had a teen sidekick; his hideout was in a cave. Most of all, he used gimmicky weapons and specialized vehicles branded with his codename (the Arrowcar, Arrowplane).

That changed in 1969 when he was given a new look, including a distinctive Van Dyke beard, in The Brave and The Bold #85 (August-September 1969). In Justice League of America (Volume 1) #75 (November 1969), he gained a brash personality, frequently arguing on behalf the little guy. Arrow's Oliver Queen doesn't do that; he's instead become a brooding vigilante ... much like Batman.

Next Ouran High School Host Club: 10 Hilarious Memes Only True Fans Understand

More in Lists