You may have heard the news announced a while ago by Stephen Amell on Twitter, that Arrow will be finishing after Season 8’s ten-episode run. This means that by the end of the year, Arrow will no longer be filming new episodes.
This is devastating news to fans of the show and heart wrenching for the actors, writers, and crew involved in the making of the show. It’s an emotional time for Arrow, with the creators and actors wanting the show to go out with a bang, rather than over-run its course.
It makes sense for it to be ending, even though this decision is somewhat saddening. Amell has been vocal about how hard it is to constantly travel back and forth between the filming location in Vancouver and his now-home in LA, the physical toll playing a superhero can take and his desire to spend more time with his family. Also, in my own opinion, eight seasons is a really long time for any actor to remain in one role, it is career defining but can also inhibit other opportunities and life decisions.
Besides, if the show has to end, narratively this is probably the best time. One of the biggest parts of Arrow is that it moves forward, following the character of Oliver Queen on his journey and seeing him emotionally grow. We’ve seen him move from playboy millionaire party boy to island survivor, from vigilante and murderer to hero and savior. From there he has grown from Green Arrow in the shadows to hero in politics as he becomes even more public facing as the Mayor. From working in secret and keeping his real self private, we’ve seen him grow to now revealing his secret identity publicly and to sharing his real self and true feelings publicly too. He’s gone from serial dater to marriage and devoted family man. I mean in all honesty, in terms of character development is there actually any further the writers can go with Oliver Queen?
On the other hand, the fact that Oliver is now outed as the Green Arrow, his identity has been revealed and the public is finding out more and more of the truth, makes it almost impossible to turn back the clock. We know that in the comics Green Arrow’s identity is the worst kept secret and that rebirths and blank slates can easily undo any huge reveals. In terms of the TV show, however, Arrow has always been much more serious and (dare I say it) ‘realistic’ compared with its comic counterpart. Sure, Supergirl can get away with her own sister not recognizing Kara stood before her in a cape and dress in the light of day, but Arrow has always tried to remain reasonably grounded (if sometimes mystical).
The Arrow team by Season 7 is so split off and fractured, the characters each have new agendas and new missions, that I am not sure that now it will be truly possible to take the programme back to where it started, to reunite the team and continue the original crusade. This makes it really difficult to know how the programme could carry on and move forward in the same way it was doing before.
The flash forwards has also limited the scope of the programme, although this was probably preplanned in time for Arrow’s ending. It provides the audience with a sense of satisfaction, in knowing what is to come and to fill in the gaps where future seasons of Arrow may have taken us. This is also a service to the fans, as one of the most devastating effects of a series ending is not knowing the full answers. Once we’ve seen the future, once we know what is coming, the programme becomes restricted for future seasons as the audience already ultimately knows what is coming, in some way or another.
The key to writing a tv show or a film is that there needs to be a story to tell. If the story has already been told, if the characters desires and motivations have been fulfilled, it makes for a bigger challenge for the creative team. I’ve written for Fanfest previously about how Arrow seems to be fulfilling Benjamin Percy’s Rebirth comic story. This means that once this story has been fulfilled on television, the tv show will be almost completely up to date with the comics. It will have reached almost the end of this comic story as it currently stands. This also means it could end up trying to write and follow on from Percy’s story without much more comic source material to go on, as it is yet to be written. Sure, they could look back at Green Arrow‘s long comic-book history and dip into the archives, but the characters would be going backward rather than growing and developing.
Equally the 23-episode structure makes this harder as it means that stories can become unnecessarily prolonged or complicated. The 10 episodes moving forward gives the team the chance to really focus on what they want to say, the story they want to tell before the show ends without any distractions or unnecessary embellishments. It gives them the chance to say goodbye without restrictions. By choosing when to end the show, they’ve empowered themselves to have the choice rather than waiting for ratings to fall or networks to cancel. They’ve been able to focus on quality, on telling the best stories, on good writing and on giving the show the send off it deserves. It also lines up nicely with Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Arrowverse has always been praised for its crossovers by viewers although the creatives and actors themselves find the crossovers harder to write and film. The fact it could be assumed that they are ending with the crossover, is really a service to the fans. We love the crossovers and this one serves avid tv watchers who love to see their favourite characters interact but it is also wonderful for all the comic-book fans out there. It allows Arrow to leave with a legacy, with an impact and to make a huge statement before bowing out.
The creative team behind Arrow, including Amell, has chosen to control their own destiny, much like Oliver Queen and his deal with the Monitor. Thank you so much to everyone who bought Arrow to life, for supporting its fans and for sharing how light can overcome the darkness we can face through the characters’ journey. Whilst we are all devastated that it is ending, myself included, perhaps it should be seen as a testament for how much the actors, writers and creative team care about this show, about its fans and about its legacy.