Out of all the different villains who've surfaced in the CW's Arrowverse over the past seven years, Damien Darhk is one of the most prominent, and he might just be that world's most effective villain. Portrayed by Neal McDonough, the immortal antagonist has played a significant role in both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, with his actions having serious repercussions for the DC superheroes of both series, with especially dark consequences for Oliver Queen.
Now, CBR is taking a look back at this fan-favorite, sinister Arrowverse villain, his evil legacy on two different series, and how McDonough's portrayal turned a minor comic book character into one of DCTV's biggest villains.
DAMIEN DARHK ON ARROW
Damien Darhk makes his Arrowverse debut in the fourth season of Arrow as the central antagonist after being referenced by name by Ra's al Ghul in the preceding season. Leading a rogue faction of the League of Assassins, Damien possesses an ancient artifact that grants him powerful telekinetic abilities as well as immortality by draining life force from others. Eventually, Vixen destroys Damien's magical amulet and he is sent to Iron Heights Penitentiary though he retains trace elements of his powers. Upon his escape, Damien's wife is killed by Anarky, which leads the villain to become even more dangerous.
During a prison riot, Damien kills Black Canary, which goes on to haunt Oliver Queen, her father Quentin Lance and sister Sara for years to follow. Plotting to bomb the planet into a nuclear apocalypse and reshape the world in his image after taking shelter in a fallout bunker, Team Arrow successfully avert all but one nuclear warhead which destroys a lone American city. In response, Green Arrow leads the people of Star City against his men in massive brawl in the streets. Weakened and defeated, Damien taunts Oliver about his recent vow to never kill again only for a vengeful Oliver stab Damien to death with an arrow.
DAMIEN DARHK'S LEGION OF DOOM
During the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, the Reverse-Flash travels back to the Cold War to recruit Damien from an earlier point of the Arrowverse timeline to join his Legion of Doom with Malcolm Merlyn. Upon learning of his death decades into the future, Damien agrees and uses the mythical Spear of Destiny to rewrite his future by making himself the mayor of Star City and regain his amulet. In the Season 2 finale, White Canary faces Damien as the Legion take on the Legends, with Sara still holding a grudge from Damien murdering her sister. Fortunately, to preserve the timeline, Sara restrains herself and knocks out Damien instead of killing him and wipes his memories before returning him to his proper place in time.
In the third season of Legends of Tomorrow, Damien is resurrected by his time-displaced daughter Nora in Victorian London. The father-daughter duo face the Legends across time with Damien and Nora intentionally creating time aberrations. Eventually it is revealed that Damien is working with the villain Mallus, and causing the aberrations to break him from his dimensional prison. However, in a change of heart that saves his daughter, Damien allows Mallus to temporarily possess his body instead of Nora's, and the two are destroyed once and for all.
DAMIEN DARHK IN DC COMICS
Damien Darhk was created by Devin Grayson and Mark Buckingham in 1999's Titans #1 as an operative of the criminal organization H.I.V.E. The comic book version of the character appeared to possess magical abilities but this is eventually revealed to actually be from advanced technology that creates the illusion. By the end of the series Vandal Savage attempts to kill Damien but the young criminal mastermind is rescued by Deathstroke's ex-wife Adeline Wilson. The comic book version of Damien Darkk was a criminal trickster that was never particularly prominent in the DC Universe beyond his initial appearances.
By fully leaning into the supernatural possibilities of the character and making him immortal, the Arrowverse turned a largely unremarkable character into a villain who could operate effectively in different points of the Arrowverse timeline. By casting fan-favorite actor Neal McDonough as the prolific villain, the creative minds behind the Arrowverse found a way to deliver on the latent promise that was always in this DC villain.