The Arrowverse is built on a foundation of comic book ham and cheese, so it’s no surprise that a lot of it has seeped into the shows. Arrow may pretend to be all dark and gritty, but it’s still about a guy in green pajamas shooting people with a bow alongside other people in pajamas. The Flash gets off easier, since it embraces the silliness and is thus able to play off the weirder parts. Legends of Tomorrow sort of falls in the middle.
But that doesn’t mean that there are moments that stand out as cheesy even in a comic book property. Before Supergirl joins the Arrowverse family on The CW and probably brings a whole load of cheesy moments of its own to the platter, here are some bits and pieces that almost certainly made you cringe… though sometimes, in a good way.
Here are the 15 Cheesiest Moments In The Arrowverse. Avoid if lactose intolerant!
15. Bee Man – Arrow
Inspired as it may be by decades of goofy comic book plots and melodrama, there’s perhaps one scene that stands out as the Arrowverse (and Arrow in particular) going too far: when Oliver gets into fisticuffs with a man made entirely of bees.
Just let that sink in for a moment. We’ll wait.
Brie Larvan had already made an appearance on The Flash, a show far more at home with overly-gimmicky villains and wacky schemes, but then the threat was mostly just a swarm of ordinary robotic bees that the Flash had trouble fighting off, due to their numbers and ability to swarm. You can look at them and think ‘yeah, those might exist.’ They’re just tiny robots.
Then Larvan crosses over to Arrow and the writers decide ‘Let’s have them combine into a buff bee robot’, and no one thought this was a bad idea? The bees somehow manage to merge into a solid-looking humanoid in yellow biker gear, leaving our intrepid gritty heroes to take time out of their busy schedules fighting assassins and magical murderers to combat this ridiculous menace. Because swarms of independent robo-bees armed with deadly stingers are no match for a single lumbering dude who swings his arms like they’re made of granite.
Essentially, they wrote themselves into a corner here: Oliver can’t sock a frail, dying female scientist in the jaw, but they really needed him to at least punch something before the episode was over. So in a haze of panic, Bee Man was born.
14. Diggle Goes Full Magneto – Arrow
John Diggle has always been the odd one out on Team Arrow, seemingly not inspired by comics, lacking an alter-ego, and running around in civvies shooting people rather than dolling himself up in a disturbing amount of leather and adopting a gimmicky combat style. It was a pretty sensible plan (because sorry: guns > arrows. That’s why there are fewer archery enthusiasts now than there were in the 1400s), but eventually someone realized that Diggle skipping around with his face totally exposed wouldn’t be all that great for his growing family.
So they put a bucket on his head. It’s a pretty accurate description, and while Diggle’s face is now covered, he still sticks out like a sore thumb because he’s wearing a bucket on his head. Everyone else is content to hide the space around their eyes and call it a day, but not John Diggle. Oh no. This is a man who wants everyone to know that he mugged the master of magnetism in a dark alley and decided to keep the helmet, despite it not fitting him and clashing horribly with his leather jacket/jeans combo.
Even Bee Man got himself some body armor and a perfectly tailored helmet. Diggle has been a series regular since the first episode and his kit hasn’t evolved beyond ill-fitting headgear and a very small handgun. Give the guy some matching Kevlar, at least. Or a Green Lantern power ring, whichever they feel is best.
13. Oliver and Laurel Do Not Understand Curtains – Arrow
Fans were never too enthused with the classic comic book pairing of Oliver and Laurel, despite the show trying so hard to convince us that they were destined to be passionate lovers. All of Oliver’s love interests just seemed to produce so much more chemistry, particularly the pluckier Sara Lance. Most people were content to let Tommy Merlyn and Laurel be a thing in the background for season one… but as we all know, happy relationships don’t make drama, especially when they stand in the way of comic book pairings.
Thus, we get an absolute stinker of a scene that manages to nail all the convenient soap opera clichés in the space of a few seconds, as if we’ve temporarily shifted into the Gossip Girl universe. The prior events are as tangled as a basket of extra-crispy pretzels served with a melodramatic dipping sauce, but the basic gist: Oliver goes to Laurel’s apartment. They confront their feelings for one another. Decades of comic book romance combined with the fact that it’s almost the season finale demand they start smooching, pronto.
Cue “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, which by now is so overused you’d think the band mistakenly released it into the public domain and are now kicking themselves. And then to top off this ham and cheese sandwich, Tommy arrives in the street below just in time to see Oliver and Laurel going at it through the perfect, convenient plot window. Gagging ensues.
12. “And I Must Scream (for some reason)” – The Flash
The Jay Garrick/Zoom reveal had fans split down the middle, with some satisfied with the eventual conclusion and others burnt out with the three ice ages they had to sit through until they finally found out who was under the mask. And in the middle of it all, we have super-heroic Jay Garrick turning out to be Hunter Zolomon, AKA Zoom, all along and the second evil speedster to have manipulated the heroes into thinking he was a swell guy for a large chunk of a season.
Cisco vibes the helmet, the dastardly truth is revealed, and Team Flash are left devastated– Caitlin most of all because at this point she’s become the show’s personal romantic punching bag. Except nope, apparently it’s Barry who has it worst, because he has to speed away to a deserted cliff and scream into the sky for no good reason.
Look, Barry, it sucks. Jay was your friend, he played you, and you probably just got over Reverse-Flash doing exactly the same thing last season. But no one else felt the need to screech their grievances into the sky. It’s the perfect example of a scene that might have worked in a comic with the drama constantly cranked up to eleven, but it falls flat in live-action. To top it all off, Barry didn’t even have all that much to do with Not-Jay, who spent a lot of his time skulking around Star Labs kissing Caitlin while Barry was out actually having a life. Thus the cry of ultimate betrayal doesn’t really add up.
11. Time Travel = Fame Magnet – Legends of Tomorrow
Legends of Tomorrow might have only one season to mine thus far, but it definitely has its cheesy moments. One episode in season one finally took place outside the 30 years from the 20th century and our heroes visited the Wild West, because it gave them an excuse to dredge up the old chestnut that is Jonah Hex.
While there, Martin Stein is faced with the old time travel conundrum of deciding whether or not to use his knowledge and technology to interfere with history, as he finds a woman at the saloon distraught over her dying son. The Waverider has enough technology to cure 700 different types of cancer, cleanse a person of leprosy, and probably even get rid of hangnails, so Stein has to make the ultimate choice. Of course, he totally goes through with it and cures the boy of his vague old-timey disease.
The boy’s identity: Albert Einstein!
Okay, not really: H.G. Wells. How very unlikely, huh? There’s no record of Wells ever visiting America or contracting a deadly disease, but the writers just couldn’t resist shoehorning in the author of The Time Machine, no matter how ham-fistedly it was done. The sole threadbare link they had to go on was that somewhere in the world, H.G. Wells was definitely alive, but that wasn’t about to get in the way of wacky historical hijinks. Somehow, they managed to show enough restraint not to have Martin Stein blurt out something about alien invasions or people who can turn invisible. You know, just as an idea.
10. The Mildly Irritating Canary Cry – Arrow
Black Canary’s supersonic cry is the kind of superpower that works in a comic book. Its power can vary depending on the situation, going from disruptive screech to devastating, destructive soundwave, and it’s been a staple of the character for years.
Naturally, the corresponding hero of the Arrowverse had to have something similar. During Sara Lance’s time as simply “the Canary” she used handheld sonic device that actually worked pretty well. It wasn’t quite the powerhouse from the comics, but it allowed her to disrupt enemies while focusing on combat. Also, it sidestepped the issue of her not having true superpowers in this more grounded universe.
Then Laurel got Cisco on the case, creating a choker that put her more in line with the comics and introducing the true “Canary Cry” in the form of a scream. And hoo boy, it looked terrible. The scream had no visual element and never seemed to do all that much, mostly making the bad guys hold their ears for a few moments before the fight resumed as normal. Even worse was Laurel’s pained expression and bent-over pose.
The weirdest thing is how the cry has been developed after Laurel’s death. The brief Canary imposter amped up the power to the point where the cry dealt real damage, and Laurel’s Earth-2 doppelganger (Black Siren) had an actual vocal distortion effect added when she used her own cry, which was enough to topple entire buildings.
9. Everybody is Someone’s Father – The Flash
Sometimes between Return of the Jedi and Batman: The Animated Series, Mark Hamill learned that he could do a pretty good crazy voice. That’s how we got one of the most popular Jokers of all time, as well as Flash villain the Trickster…twice.
Yep, 25 years later Hamill reprised his role, with a bit of photographic continuity tossed in to really seal the deal. Back and crazier than ever, the Trickster teamed up with an erstwhile imposter inspired by his original crime spree, and the two of them concocted a typically zany scheme to get rid of the Flash and steal load of money.
Except there’s one scene just casually dropped in the middle of the episode that doesn’t have much of a bearing on anything, yet it pretty amazing nonetheless. In somber, dramatic tones, Trickster the elder says to Trickster the younger: “I… am your father.”
If you need to know why that’s relevant, then welcome to your very first day on the internet. Don’t worry, you’ll pick this one up pretty quickly.
Mark Hamill has had a hard time distancing himself from the role of Luke Skywalker, now having tumbled right back into it after thirty years, but it was clear that he relished saying the line just as much as we loved hearing it. This was deliciously cheesy.
8. Stick to the Gravel Voice – The Flash
On the opposite end of the villain scale is Zoom, who has a voice that sounds like a cheese grater engaged in a brutal street fight with a wood chipper. Sure, it’s a little bit over-the-top, but the guy dresses in black leather, has the face of a nightmare, and is battling severe parental issues. Cut him some slack.
Or at least, just enough slack until he takes off his hood. See, Jay/Zoom/Hunter was never quite the same after his true identity was revealed. Before this he was simply Zoom, the untouchable serial killer who stomped the Flash every time they met and seemed like an even bigger threat than Reverse-Flash. Afterward? He became Jay-Zoom, desperately struggling to keep his mystique with the face of a blond pretty-boy. Teddy Sears gives it his all, and there’s definitely a villainous charm to the way he’s able to contrast swell-guy-Jay with evil-douche-Hunter Zolomon, but we’d just seen too much of growly Zoom to take his efforts seriously.
The scene with him explaining his evil plan to Team Flash was the clincher that made us wish he’d just put the mask back on and let the Zoom persona take over completely. That he had to take it off pretty much whenever he talked to the main cast gave us unpleasant flashbacks to Topher Grace’s Venom, who just couldn’t shut up for two minutes to allow us to appreciate some fine CG nightmare face.
7. Apparently Kendra Used to be a Barista – Legends of Tomorrow
One of the most consistent weak points of Legends of Tomorrow was the relationship between the Hawks. Carter was never particularly well-liked to begin with and Kendra was only so-so, which really wore the viewers’ patience thin when their eternally reincarnating plot tumor was dredged up again and again, stealing the spotlight from more popular characters.
Even Kendra’s goodwill started to vanish after she hooked up with Ray and then dumped him because the universe didn’t want it to happen or whatever. But one thing fans picked up on was her constant reminders of her former, boring life. She used to be a barista. What, you heard her the first time? How about the fifth? She used to be a bah-REEE-sta, you guys, seriously. She really did.
Kendra’s weird insistence on reminding people of her job had some fans wondering if they were building up her coffee-making skills to solve some major episodic crisis. Like, it’d be revealed that Vandal Savage is such a huge douche because he’s waited thousands of years for someone to make him the perfect creamy latte with an amusing foam pattern of a dancing polar bear on the top, and Kendra turns out to be just the woman for the job.
6. Captain Cold and Heatwave, Literally All the Time – Legends of Tomorrow
The Flash has always had the Arrowverse monopoly on well-aged cheese, allowing its villains to ham it up without ruining any sort of gritty tone. Hence we got Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, portrayed as a permanent snark machine who can’t go a single sentence without condescending to everyone in a mile radius. Never the type to engage in maniacal cackling or gleeful hand rubbing, Cold was the first villain to pose a serious challenge to the Flash ana get away with his crimes, and he’s been snarking it up ever since.
He later returned with Mick Rory, AKA Heatwave, an even bigger ham sandwich with the voice of a tractor engine and the impulse control of a toddler after their fourth glass of Kool-Aid. Together, the two of them have blazed a trail of overacting and general comic fun and silliness everywhere they go, resulting in them getting their own main character spots on Legends of Tomorrow. You’d think at least hanging out with the side of good would tone down all the cheesiness. And you’d be right! For about four minutes out of the entire season.
5. Vandal Savage, Literally All the Time – Legends of Tomorrow
Captain Cold and Heatwave may not be to everyone’s taste, but their actors pulled it off and they have their fair share of fans. The same can’t quite be said for Caspar Crump’s Vandal Savage, who, despite a valiant effort from the actor, remains one of the Arrowverse’s most woeful examples of miscasting.
People were already iffy about getting a weirdly Australian Ra’s al Ghul over on Arrow. The casting people apparently looked at the character of Vandal Savage, another evil, immortal fellow with mad weapon skills, and though they’d apply the same formula. That’s how we got an unimpressive Savage with awful facial hair and a habit of smiling like that one creepy uncle we all know and avoid at family gatherings.
Viewers had to sit through an entire series of Savage pulling all the strings, despite it being totally inexplicable that could spend three seconds with the guy and end up trusting him at all. Perhaps worst of all are his scenes alone with Kendra, where his evil villainy shines through as the weirdly-accented words drip through his beard. It was just all really weird, when the writers were perhaps aiming for intimidating. Again, Caspar Crump seems to be giving it his all, but in the end his special brand of villainy wasn’t quite right for the job, especially when we had Damien Dahrk over on Arrow doing it so much better.
4. Olicity Dies, Even the Show Doesn’t Care – Arrow
The pairing of Olicity went up and down in fan’s opinions like a yo-yo, gaining ground through season one, becoming a real thing in season three, and then collapsing like a house of cards come season four. It was a classic example of the fans getting exactly what the gift they’d always wanted, then turning the gift over to see that there was toxic sludge seeping out the bottom and ruining the presentation somewhat.
Things came to a head near the end of the fourth season, as the lies and general character drama forced a permanent wedge between Oliver and Felicity. Felicity, crippled at the time, engaged Oliver in one of those “we can’t be together because X” conversations, at the end of which she realized that Curtis’ revolutionary spine chip treatment was working. You’d think this would be a great moment for science and humanity. Instead, Felicity slowly rises from her chair while Stephen Amell does his best to indicate that a person with working legs getting up is a really big deal. And then she just sort of… totters from the room while Oliver looks on with a vaguely sad expression.
We don’t want to give Stephen Amell too much flak for his acting, particularly since he’s improved so much over the course of the show. But this scene is a perfect storm of underacting, bizarrely handled dramatic moments, and the belief that seeing Felicity walk would be enough to forgive how terrible the whole scene was. It was not.
3. Love changes everything – Legends of Tomorrow
Editor’s Note: Please play this for full effect.
“Marooned” really wasn’t such a bad episode of Legends of Tomorrow, with its space pirate vibe and touching character moments. We even get to see a glimpse of Rip Hunter’s time back in the academy, where he learnt to be a badass, longcoat-wearing, gun-toting time-cop, and also where he met his wife, Miranda. The Time Masters forbid love for some reason, so the two are about to be booted out of the program before Miranda takes the heat and allows Rip to go on.
And look, Alex Duncan gives it her all, with some credit for how she does her best to put on a passable English accent in the presence of Brit Arthur Darvill. Still, the script for the scene was dripping with mushy clichés, as Miranda gives a speech about love so heavy-handed you just stop taking anything seriously:
“I found something with you, something wonderful. I found love.”
Yeah, alright. It’s a bit overdone, but it gets to the point.
“Love’s no threat. It’s beautiful, and powerful, and once you know it, love changes everything.”
*romantic music ensues*
I’m sorry, when did we stumble into a direct-to-video Disney sequel? There’s only so much delicious acting sauce you can smear over such a mound of ham before you feel the need to gag, and in a competition of clunky, overdone dialogue, this smattering of platitudes wins the ribbon.
2. TAP. TAP TAP. TAP TAP TAP. – The Flash
Did somebody say “clunkily-written dialogue”?
We may have loved having Robbie Amell on the show, since he’s a perfect Firestorm, but that didn’t excuse him from getting bogged down in the Arrowverse’s cheese-fest on occasion.
In one memorable scene we had Martin Stein being held by General Eiling, who, as a grumpy military leader in a comic book setting, was ultra-keen on adding dangerously unstable super-powered people to the army and would go to great lengths to make it happen. Back with Team Flash, Ronnie needed a way to communicate with Stein beyond their weak mental link, so he carves a message into his own arm.
So far, so good; it’s dramatic and suits the dire situation. But Stein doesn’t need to do the same in return, oh no. This guy knows Morse code, and thus we get one of the most uncomfortable snippets of dialogue ever as Ronnie repeats Morse code back to the team…verbally. What that looks like is Robbie sitting there with a serious, pained look on his face saying “tap. Tap, tap, tap. Tap tap, tap.”
We get it, Ronnie, Stein is tapping. All you need to do is tap the rhythm with your own fingers instead of giving us a live demonstration of why wartime radio operators relied on code rather than just saying it into the mic. Even in war, it just sounded way too stupid.
1. The Flash – Baby Zoom and the Cartoon Orphanage
What we saw of Earth-2 made it look pretty nice, aside from Zoom and his army of super-lackeys. There was a war, sure, but we’ve had plenty of those in our universe and childcare here has still developed at an acceptable rate. Well, acceptable enough that orphanages in the West are practically non-existent and there’s at least an effort to place children in caring homes.
Earth-2 never got that particular memo, as we see in the cartoonishly-diabolical backstory of Hunter Zolomon, the boy destined to become Zoom. After watching his father murder his mother, lil’ Hunter had no more relatives to take him in, resulting in him being sent to an orphanage apparently plucked from an actual Dickens novel, complete with ivy-encrusted walls, perma-thunderstorms, and sneering staff. Presumably cut from the script was a terrifying German woman with a cudgel who screeched at all the children and ran the place like military barracks, just to round off all the gloomy orphanage clichés.
It really is a bit of an odd moment, even for a show like The Flash. We’re supposed to take Zoom seriously as a dire threat to the multiverse, and yet here we have a scene from his origin story that looks like it belongs in a pantomime.
There’s probably a load of cheesy moments from the Arrowverse missing. Let us know the absolute worst you can think of in the comments!