Supergirl is back, and the Maid of Might is zooming into Greg Berlanti’s Arrowverse faster than one can say “faster than a speeding bullet.” (Well, sort of.) The cast of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow promises to expand, not shrink, in the coming season. And on The Flash and Arrow, and in fact in nearly every property that has anything to do with comics, the dead don’t always remain so. The result: great stories, terrific performances, and a roster of characters so crowded it borders on the comical.
We think perhaps it’s time to thin the herd. This isn’t merely a matter of some characters being better — lots better — than others. Appropriately for a universe that includes Barry Allen, it’s mostly a matter of time. The more minutes spent with characters forgettable, dismissible, or who’ve outstayed their welcome, the less time we get with the most compelling characters, to say nothing of those who haven’t yet arrived. We’ve already looked at the Arrowverse’s most powerful heroes and villains, and to celebrate the return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, here are 15 Arrowverse characters who appear ready for retirement.
15. Tommy Merlyn (Arrow)
File this one under ‘let the dead stay dead.’ As played by Colin Donnell, Tommy was charming and often empathetic, and his death numbers among the most heartbreaking moments on a show full of them. Want to bring Tommy back in a flashback? Sounds great. Want to have him show up in a hallucination or dream? Fine, Oliver’s no stranger to emotional turmoil. Donnell’s a solid actor, and if Chicago Med can spare him, that’s great.
But let’s keep him dead, okay? Amidst news of long-dead characters returning for Arrow‘s 100th episode, as well as Donnell himself hinting that a return might be possible, we’re officially casting a vote for a still-dead Tommy Merlyn. Don’t make him a villain. Don’t resurrect him through Flashpoint. Don’t have him turn up just in time to find out Laurel’s dead. Just let the poor guy lie in that stately grave of his. He’s had things quite rough enough, thank you.
14. Indigo (Supergirl)
In Supergirl‘s season one finale, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) literally ripped Indigo in half. She got one more snide, menacing dig in at Kara (Melissa Benoist) before shorting out, seemingly for good. But Indigo, aka Brainiac 8, has come back from the dead before, and as one of the Girl of Steel’s more daunting foes, it makes sense that she’d get resurrected in a jiffy.
Let’s hope she doesn’t. While it’s nice to see Laura Vandervoort, who’s also a former Supergirl, sharing the screen with Benoist, Indigo never quite worked in the way she was supposed to work. It doesn’t help that she spent so much time with Non (look for him much, much higher up this list), who sucks the life out of pretty much every scene in which he appears. But Indigo’s problems go well beyond Non, from the Mystique-lite costuming to the fights, which fell surprisingly flat, given her remarkable abilities. J’onn tore her apart. We hope she stays that way.
13. Ronnie Raymond (The Flash)
Caitlin Snow’s then-fiancé, winningly played by Robbie Amell, was dead. To be specific, he was presumed dead – wrongly, as it turns out – during the particle accelerator explosion that, well, created the whole series. Little did Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) know that, rather than dying to protect her as he intended, Ronnie actually merged with Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber). Voila: Firestorm. Ronnie’s reappearance packed an emotional punch, changing the dynamic of the S.T.A.R. Labs team and leading to a long-delayed wedding between two of the nicest people in the Arrowverse.
Then he died, and for real this time. To up the heartbreak factor, Ronnie went out once again to help others, this time saving all of Central City. It was an act of self-sacrifice that hit viewers hard. It affected the show’s major characters in countless ways. It should be permanent, Flashpoint or no Flashpoint.
12. Damien Darhk (Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)
If you’re curious as to why dead characters keep showing up on this list, look no further than this entry. Neal McDonogh is a terrific performer, and while Damien Darhk lacked the personal connection to the Queen family that other season-long baddies have had, he had a good run. He died. He was super dead. And we’ve already got confirmation that he’ll be back.
In the four-series crossover event, it looks like Darhk will be joining forces with Eobard Thawne, another once-dead Arrowverse villain. The season premiere of The Flash saw Thawne’s return, and it looks like it’s only a matter of time before Darhk joins in on the fun. While more of McDonogh’s sneering, oddly jubilant menace will be far from unwelcome, it simply doesn’t feel like there’s that much more to do with the dark magic-wielding leader of H.I.V.E. Can’t we leave Darhk’s moldering corpse in peace, freeing McDonogh up to go get into trouble with the Howling Commandos?
11. William Tockman/The Clock King (Arrow, The Flash)
Here’s someone who’s presumably alive, no resurrection needed. The Clock King (Robert Knepper) isn’t a meta-human, which is a nice change of pace in a televisual universe filled with characters who have superhuman abilities and/or can do actual magic. His good old-fashioned human abilities come down mostly to genius — it’s not just anyone who can hack Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). And his struggles with illness and mortality should have made for a compelling motivation, something of which few of the Arrowverse villains can boast.
Here’s the problem: evil genius or not, this guy is deadly dull. Plenty of villains pop up in the Arrowverse for an episode or two, then return for an episode, if not a whole arc, seasons later. It’s part of what makes these shows fun. They’re filled to the brim with compelling weirdos, ready to turn up at a moment’s notice. This one is heavy on the weird, but pretty light on the compelling. Axe him.
10. Roy Harper (Arrow)
Oh, Arsenal, you had a good run. Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) started out stealing Thea’s purse (and, ahem, her heart), and ended up taking the fall for Oliver, both literally and figuratively. His brief season four return was very welcome, packing a hell of an emotional punch for Thea (Willa Holland) and audiences alike. Haynes always played well with the rest of the cast, and he had more chemistry with Holland than the rest of her suitors combined.
Why, then, does he appear on this list? Because stories deserve a good ending, and Arsenal’s had his. With his appearance in season four’s “Unchained,” he even got a lovely little coda. It’s rare that a television show perfectly executes a character exit, and even rarer that a brief return works out so well. To give us more Roy Harper at that point would be to spoil something that doesn’t need spoiling. Cheers to you, Arsenal. Star City’s a mess. You might want to stay away.
9. Wade Eiling/The General (The Flash)
The world has been gifted with many a great actor perfectly suited to playing a villain. One such perfect heel: Clancy Brown, who’s brought his particular brand of menace to properties like Carnivàle, Daredevil and SpongeBob SquarePants. And he’s plenty menacing as Wade Eiling, the season one Flash antagonist who wants to use meta-humans for his own nefarious shadowy military reasons. He then winds up as Gorilla Grodd’s puppet, and when last seen, he was off hunting the big telepathic gorilla. Sounds good, right?
Here’s the problem with casting an actor like Brown as a villain: you’ve got to come correct. Casting a performer like Brown in a depthless role only serves to highlight the shortcomings of the writing, because he’s done much, much better work elsewhere. Eiling was an obvious villain from the moment he appeared on screen, and at no point did his scheming approach even the neighborhood of nuanced. Let him chase Grodd into oblivion — and don’t let him anywhere near Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) ever again. You mess with Garber, you mess with us all.
8. Patty Spivot (The Flash)
Patty Spivot is terrific. Terrific character. Terrific love interest. Terrific performer (Shantel VanSanten). If there’s a #TeamSpivot out there somewhere, add us to the mailing list. One of the highlights of The Flash‘s uneven second season, Patty finished her arc by figuring out that Barry (Grant Gustin) was the Flash, tricking him into proving it to her, and hightailing it out of town. On the one hand, what a bummer. Patty’s great! Who doesn’t want more Patty?
On the other hand, it’s exceedingly rare for a temporary love interest — and wonderful though she is, Patty Spivot was never going to be The Flash‘s romantic end-game — to get an ending she defines on her own terms. Like Martha Jones, the unfairly maligned companion played by Freema Agyeman on Doctor Who, Patty got to respond to the lousy situation in which she was placed by choosing to get the hell out of dodge. How often does a female character get to say, “Hey, this isn’t fair to me, and I’m going to go take care of myself?” Not often enough. Let Patty Spivot get her degree, and then give her a fancy job far, far away from S.T.A.R. Labs, please.
7. Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress (Arrow)
An early love interest for Oliver, Helena (Jessica De Gouw) bonded with the Emerald Archer over being the children of complicated parents, over wanting to kill people, briefly over not killing people while wearing cool masks, and generally over being sad and angry with loads of messy daddy issues. She couldn’t seem to get on board with the whole not-killing-people thing, and it turns out training the Huntress in the art of vigilantism wasn’t Oliver’s smartest move.
This storyline doesn’t number among Arrow‘s best, and it far overstayed its welcome. The overwhelming angst of Helena no doubt contributed to Arrow‘s reputation for fits of dourness, and while she hasn’t been seen since Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) put her behind bars, those Star City prisons seem to have a bit of a revolving door problem. Let’s hope she stays put — Helena is much better when the mere mention of her makes Oliver uncomfortable. At least that’s kind of funny.
6. Andy Diggle (Arrow)
Speaking of angst and Arrow, here’s another source of drama who really ought to stay dead. While giving John Diggle (David Ramsey) more to do is pretty much always welcome, the faux-redemption of Andy Diggle (Eugene Byrd) didn’t quite reach the tragic heights to which the writers seemed to aspire. That’s not a sleight against Byrd, who made the most of his appearances and sold that redemption storyline like he was going to get a commission. But the good-or-bad question lingered for so long that the suspense faded away pretty much entirely, and the consequences of his actions so dire that not even his death held any satisfaction.
It’s a near-certainty that Andy’s betrayal and death will be a continued source of pain for Diggle. That’s as it should be — in a show full of darkness, his story numbers among the darkest. Still, to bring him back, even in flashback, would be a bit much, and for Arrow, that’s really saying something. Let’s hope the show chooses not to salt this particular wound overmuch.
5. Non (Supergirl)
The Arrowverse has its fair share of disappointing villains, most falling into two categories: the dull and the dreadful. In the latter category, only one villain ranks higher than Non (Chris Vance), one of the season-long baddies of Supergirl‘s uneven but promising first season. As the husband of Astra (Laura Benanti), one could file Non merely under boring. Once Astra, the aunt of Kara Zor-El and a much more compelling character, bit the dust, Non might have become a grief-powered cyclone of rage. Instead, he just stayed lousy.
How is it possible for a militant, belligerent, power-crazed Kryptonian to be so utterly uninspiring? Were he just a by-the-numbers bad guy, it would be one thing, but Non dominates the back half of the season, and his sneering brutishness is both unconvincing and borderline comical. His season finale heat-vision battle with Kara might be pretty cool, but that’s about all he’s got. No more, please.
4. Carrie Cutter/Cupid (Arrow)
It’s not just that Cupid (Amy Gumenick) embodies a bunch of sexist tropes. It’s that the character is just so silly. A little camp can be a welcome thing in the Arrowverse — The Flash made a land-shark work, for crying out loud — but Carrie Cutter’s whole “It’s Cupid, stupid” schtick wore thin after about moment one. That would be true even if she hadn’t returned for season four’s manipulative “Broken Hearts,” an episode that used Cupid as a convenient excuse to explore the breakup of Oliver and Felicity through a series of mindless, pseudo-profound platitudes about love and heartache.
But about those tropes: the Arrowverse has occasionally bumped into trouble with its approach to female characters, including the Huntress (see #7 on this list). The best we can say for Cupid is that she hasn’t been fridged. Not only is Carrie Cutter always defined by her relationship to men — and not just in the way so many female characters are; she’s literally only driven by an obsession with or hatred for a given man — she’s also written in such a way that the audience seems intended to view this obsession as playfully twisted. Not every show on the air is going to develop an immaculate feminist pedigree, but we can hope that future female Arrow villains are handled with a bit more thoughtfulness.
3. Vandal Savage (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow)
He got stabbed, then more deeply stabbed, then electrocuted. Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is dead, and so are lots of other Vandal Savages in other eras. There’s no way he’s coming back, and that is literally the best thing about him. He’s dull, comically overplayed and dreadfully written, with uninspiring motivations and utterly lacking in depth. The only reason to bring him back would be so that Rip (Arthur Darvill) could stab him again.
That still wouldn’t be worth it. There’s no plotline worth another minute of the scenery-chewing nonsense to which Legends viewers were subjected throughout the show’s inaugural season. There’s no piece of wish fulfillment that could make that trade appealing. These time-travelers can land in any era they wish. We’re cool with any time period, provided it’s a Savage-free zone. There are more than a few sub-par villains out there, but there’s no contest: Vandal Savage is, unquestionably, the worst big bad in the Arrowverse.
2. Hawkman (The Flash, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)
Hot on the heels of the Arrowverse’s worst villain, we’ve got the worst hero — and again, it’s not close. Scythian Torvil, Carter Hall, Prince Khufu or whatever you want to call him, Hawkman’s best moment was when he seemed to die in “Pilot, Part 2,” the second episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. He was killed by Vandal Savage, and only two things could have improved on that death: he could have never come back, and he could have taken Vandal Savage with him.
So what about Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) made him so unpopular with fans? It could be any number of things: his domineering manner with Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée), which wasn’t so much romantic as it was off-putting; a centuries-long conflict with a dull antagonist that seemed to bore him; a not-so-great actor; a silly costume. Honestly, whatever the root cause, the effect was pretty straightforward. The first season of Legends had more than a few issues, but the lousiness of Hawkman was such that he topped the list of problems despite being out of the picture for more than half the season. They’ve already written an exit for him, and we couldn’t be happier.
1. Laurel Lance/Black Canary/Black Siren (Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)
A character with an illustrious history, the Black Canary’s inclusion in the Arrowverse was something to be celebrated. Sure, she started out as Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), but the mantle was always going to pass to Dinah Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), and the biggest question seemed only to be how and when that would happen.
As it turns out, none of that really mattered, because the writing teams behind the CW’s DC shows had no idea what to do with her. That’s true of both the Canary and Laurel, a character who was first defined by her relationship to Oliver, then by her relationship to her sister. Having subjected Laurel to as much misery as they could muster, including the apparent death of two boyfriends, the death and resurrection of her sister, a struggle with addiction, torture, torment, guilt, grief, and a truly lame Canary Cry, they did the only thing left. They fridged her.
Katie Cassidy did the best she could with what she got over four long seasons of Arrow, and handled her addiction storyline with particular grace. But now Laurel Lance is dead, her death a mere plot device. However, we have confirmation that we haven’t seen the last of Katie Cassidy, and that’s just wrong. How and when she’ll next appear in the Arrowverse has yet to be determined — remember, her Earth 2 doppelganger’s locked up in S.T.A.R. Labs — but it’s hard to imagine a way in which those appearances won’t undermine what little dignity was afforded to the character in death.
Retire Laurel Lance, once and for all. She deserves better.
The Flash premiered Tuesday October 4th at 8pm on The CW; Arrow returned in the same time slot on Wednesday October 5th; Supergirl season 2 premieres on Monday October 10th; and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 premieres on Thursday October 13th.