When Arrow first premiered on The CW in 2012, the landscape of superhero television was very different than it is today. At the time, super-heroics were something mostly kept to the big screen. There were no Defenders on Netflix, there were no Scarlet Speedsters running around Central City, and there was no DC Universe streaming service.
Still, in a way, Arrow paved the way for all of it. It was the first modern superhero series that blended drama and action to create a very different experience of what comic books could be on the small screen. Now, after seven years of vigilantism, Arrow will come to an end after a shortened eighth season. While we don't yet know what Oliver Queen's final adventure will bring, we decided to take a look back at every season of the show so far, and rank them!
Arrow's fourth season was an unfortunate low-point for the series as a whole. Sure, this is the season that introduced Neal McDonough's Damien Darhk, a fan-favorite that would go on to have a recurring role on Legends of Tomorrow, but it is also the season that brought the idea of magic to Arrow. For many fans, Arrow is at its best when it focuses on gritty street-crime -- not magical talismans.
Season 4 was the first season in the show's history to feature the big bad from its first episode until its last, an addition that, unfortunately, dragged the show down. What's more, this is the season that not only brought the infamous Olicity relationship to the forefront, it also featured the death of Oliver Queen's comic book love interest, Laurel Lance, aka Black Canary.
Season 6 of Arrow had a lot going for it: it was just coming out of a return to form in Season 5, and it was poised to feature a double dose of villains: Cayden James and Ricardo "The Dragon" Diaz. And yet, the season still managed to disappoint. Cayden James never came into his own as a three-dimensional threat, and Diaz was a far cry from his comic book counterpart. Plus, many fans agree that he simply overstayed his welcome.
Worse still, this is the season that featured a divide between Oliver's merry band of vigilantes: the newbies, which included Wild Dog, Mister Terrific and the new Canary all turned against Oliver, Felicity and Diggle did so over differences of opinion. However, since most of the characters were acting irrationally, it was nearly impossible to get invested in this pseudo-civil war.
Arrow's third season started out incredibly strong -- perhaps too strong for the second half to keep up. It all began with a bang: the death of Sara Lance's Canary. What followed was a murder mystery that led to Malcolm Merlyn and, in an even more shocking reveal, the Demon's Head himself, Ra's Al Ghul. It all reached a boiling point when Oliver and Ra's faced off on top of a snowy mountain in a duel to the death -- a battle that, shockingly, saw the series' hero get stabbed and fall down a cliff.
Unfortunately, Season 3 didn't manage to satisfyingly pay off this exciting cliffhanger. Instead of resurrecting the character through the use of the Lazarus Pit, Oliver miraculously survived and returned to fighting shape within a couple of episodes. Then, the ensuing battle against Ra's and the League of Assassins fizzled out. The rest of the season was also dragged down by an unnecessary love triangle between Oliver, Felicity and Ray Palmer/The Atom, a character who in no way resembled his comic book counterpart.
While Season 7 is currently airing, we have no trouble ranking it above the series' Season 4, 6 and 3. Right from the start, Season 7 had a clear purpose. This late in the game, the introduction of flash-forwards gave the series a new sense of purpose, and an added layer of mystery. What's more, it actually paid off Season 6's promising cliffhanger, which was Oliver Queen's arrest and subsequent incarceration in a supermax prison.
Instead of resolving Oliver's new status in a couple of episodes, Season 7 fleshed out the story in an organic matter. It was refreshing to see Oliver out of his element and fight to survive in a ruthless place. Now, Oliver is fighting alongside the Star City police, and it is an equally interesting idea. Better still, we have no idea where it will lead -- but given the status of the flash-forwards, we can't imagine it's anywhere good.