The eighth and final season of the hit CW series Arrow is kicking off on October 15 and what a wild seven years it’s been. Fans of the DC Comics character have been able to watch Oliver Queen come to life and evolve with each season. The series started off slow and with each year was given more material and characters to expand upon and grow with. As we reach the end of the journey for Oliver and his friends, let’s take a look back at some of the best action sequences that Arrow gave us over the years.
8. Arrow vs. Malcolm Merlyn (Season 1, Episode 23)
The first season of Arrow was primarily about Oliver figuring himself out as a hero and how to fit back into his own family in the process. Being away for so many years, his family evolved without him. In his absence, Malcolm Merlyn became a very big part of the Queen family. At first, Oliver felt strange about having his best friend Tommy’s father around the house so much. But, as Oliver dug deeper into his personal struggles as a vigilante hero, he began to realize that Merlyn was not who he claimed to be.
Merlyn’s reveal as the Dark Archer earlier in the season was unexpected and jarring for Oliver, challenging him in unexpected ways. He would be going up against a man he had known his whole life and who was the father of his closest friend (and as it turns out, also the biological father of Oliver’s sister, Thea). The final fight between Oliver and Malcolm is rough and fast and emotional. The two archers were evenly matched in their skills. But in the end, Oliver was the better archer and was able to take down Merlyn (that is, until he turns up alive again a season later).
7. Oliver vs. The Russian Mob (Season 5, Episode 11)
A lot of the action sequences in this show can be very generic and a little silly at times. With arrows being shot all over and sound effects being added in for punches and kicks, it can feel a big cartoonish. But occasionally, like in season five, episode 11, fans were treated to what can best be described as “John Wick level action”. In this episode, we follow Oliver in his flashbacks as he takes on a leading member of the Russian mob named Konstantin Kovar (played by Dolph Lundgren). Oliver is forced to use his hand-to-hand combat skills when facing off against Kovar’s men. This becomes one of the most realistic and brutal action sequences in the season. It’s fast, it’s fluid, and it seriously resembled Keanu Reeves fighting in John Wick.
6. Oliver vs. Prisoner (Season 7, Episode 1)
Season seven begins with Oliver serving time in prison after willingly turning himself in after an agreement he made with the police in the end of Season 6. What makes this time different than Oliver’s past run ins with the law is that Oliver isn’t trying to escape or fight what has happened. He is broken, he lost Quentin Lance, he lost Laurel, and he feels as if he’s losing his will to be the Green Arrow. This episode consists of Oliver running into criminals that he put in prison and who are now taking their anger out on him now that he’s locked up with them. With the help of a cellmate who didn’t want to kill him, Oliver regains his drive to be the hero his friends and family need. The episode ends with Oliver going out to the courtyard of the prison and using a weight to beat the hell out of a prisoner who beat him up earlier in the episode. This is by no means a complicated fight scene; it’s just so rewarding to see Oliver asserting himself and making sure everyone knows who the Green Arrow truly is.
5. Team Arrow vs. Team Prometheus (Season 5, Episode 23)
After a season of Adrian Chase (Prometheus) torturing and baiting Oliver to the point of near insanity, the season finale of season five was a literal eruption of all the tension between the two. Having kidnapped all of Oliver’s loved ones, Chase retreats to Lian Yu and waits for Oliver to come and try to save his friends. Angry and desperate, Oliver enlists the help of a few very unlikely allies, including Slade and Malcolm Merlyn, to name a few. With the help of his enemies, Oliver rescues his friends and family and takes on Chase and his men. During the fight, flashbacks of Oliver fighting Konstantin Kovar and completing his ten years on the island are intercut with the fight with Chase. As Oliver’s flashbacks finally end and we see him in the very scene that began the whole series, the present time is filled with the most gut-wrenching and brutal moment of the season as a defeated Chase completes his plan and blows up Lian Yu with almost all of Oliver’s friends still on the island.
4. Team Arrow vs. League of Assassins (Season 3, Episode 22)
Season three was full of some crazy Oliver-related moments and saw his transformation from the hero we know and love to a borderline villain we never saw coming. While his story grew darker and he was forced to separate from his past life, his team decide to strike against Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins and get back their Oliver. When they arrive at Nanda Parbat, a team consisting of Diggle, Felicity, Malcolm Merlyn, Katana and Black Canary take on the League of Assassins. What follows is some of the most fun and creative action sequences of the entire series. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of Atom flying in like Iron Man and taking out the air defenses. It was truly reminiscent of a comic book fight scene, refreshing and much needed in this dark season.
3. Ra’s Al Ghul vs. Oliver (Season 3, Episode 9)
In most cases, Arrow was known for having crazy season finales that shocked fans and left them begging for the next season to begin. Season three, however, gave fans that feeling during the midseason finale. When Oliver is forced to face Ra’s Al Ghul in combat, the odds of winning seemed to be in Oliver’s favor. He had the strength and skills to take on Ra’s and the League of Assassins. Not only was Oliver defeated in this sword fight on a snowy mountain top, he was killed and pushed off the side of the mountain. The episode ended with the main character stabbed through the chest and falling off a steep cliff. It would be months before season three returned from its winter break and revealed that Oliver just barely survived. This was a truly upsetting and confusing episode for fans and made season three one of the better seasons of the series.
2. Oliver vs. Masked Criminals (Season 1, Episode 1)
When a good show comes along, there’s one moment that solidifies it as a show that’s worth your time and attention. For a lot of Arrow fans, that moment was in the pilot of the series when Oliver has his first run-in with criminals who kidnap him. Waking up tied to a chair, Oliver is interrogated by masked men. Just as the men think they have complete control of the situation, Oliver breaks free of his restraints and uses the broken chair to quickly defeat a few of the men. As the last masked man shoots at Oliver and tries to escape, Oliver chases him down (while doing some pretty badass parkour moves) and finally catches up to him and puts him in a headlock. And then Oliver utters the words, “Nobody can know my secret,” as he breaks the man’s neck. This scene showed off how well trained and powerful Oliver had become while being on the island for ten years, but it also showed how fearless and brutal he could be.
1. Slade vs. Oliver (Season 2, Episode 23)
Slade is by far the best villain of Arrow for a few reasons. The entire first season is spent introducing you to Slade and his tight bond with Oliver as they fought and trained to survive on the island. When Slade’s entire world crumbles and Oliver is the only person to blame, you can feel the deep and painful emotions behind every interaction these two have. This final fight between Slade and Oliver is split between current times, as Oliver fights to stop Slade from destroying the city, and flashbacks to Oliver and Slade’s friendship coming to a shocking and horrific end on the island. With every punch and scream, you can feel the rage and pain that Oliver and Slade project on each other. I’ve watched this episode numerous times and it still feels just as powerful as it did when the episode originally aired at the end of season two.