There has been plenty of madness, mayhem and even murder in the collective seven seasons of the Arrowverse. It often seems that no one is safe. Although the main heroes have managed to work their way around the idea of death being the ‘be all and end all’ of things, there is still always the possibility floating around out there that this time, it just might stick. That said, death isn’t the only terrible thing that has happened to the lot. The Arrowverse heroes’ lives are filled with tragedy and catastrophe.
The problem with so much death and destruction is that the show runners are forced to bring it about in shocking and unexpected ways in order to keep things fresh and the audience interested. Once that wears off, the audience is often left with heartbreak. So, we thought we would gather all of the most devastating moments from Arrow, The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow and put them all in one place!
Here are 15 Most Heartbreaking Moments In The Arrowverse.
15. Moira Queen Dies
One of the problems with being the parent of a hero is that you’re going to need to get killed to help that hero grow. In this case, a Mirakuru-infected Slade Wilson used Oliver’s mother, Moira Queen as a pawn in his game of cat and mouse against the man he considers his mortal enemy. Wilson, who was also in love with Shado, blames Oliver for her death, and decides that in order to avenge her, he is going to take everyone that Oliver loves. In the episode “Seeing Red” (S2 E20), he makes Oliver choose between his sister and his mother, much like the choice that was given to him back on Lian Yu, when he chose to save Sara instead of Shado.
This moment is heartbreaking for a number of reasons. First, Moira is the only parent that Oliver has left and to lose her in such a violent and malicious way is devastating. The fact that Wilson set the scene and made Oliver relive one of the worst moments of his life just added to the feeling of desperation. And finally, Moira’s bravery and insistence that she be the one taken instead of Thea was just the icing on the cake.
14. Captain Cold Sacrifices Himself
Wentworth Miller is one of the best things about Legends Of Tomorrow. His chemistry with the other characters is fantastic and the line he walks between being on the good side and being bad is so fine that he is easily the most interesting one of the bunch. His choice to not actually kill Mick (Heat Wave) when he knew he should, and instead left him in an isolated spot all alone, shows that he’s not necessarily the evil villain that he wants the world to believe he is. His interactions with Barry on The Flash have already shown he’s more than what he seems.
That’s why it was so heartbreaking during the episode entitled “Destiny,” (S1 E15) when Snart decides to take the fall, and sacrifices himself in order to save Mick, who in turn had stepped up to save Ray. That someone who claims to be selfish would make the ultimate sacrifice says a lot about his character and his underlying motivations. While it’s not the last we’ll see of Captain Cold, just due to the nature of time-travel in this universe, it’s still hard to lose one of the originals.
13. Ronnie Can’t Control His Powers
Ronnie Raymond was one of the unfortunate victims of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion, or so everyone thought. When it was discovered he was actually alive, everyone was ecstatic, and none more than his girlfriend, Caitlin. It turned out, though, that not all was well, as the accident had caused a change in him. It had not only merged his consciousness with that of Professor Martin Stein, but it had altered his DNA, turning them into the meta-human, Firestorm. The change wasn’t stable however, and they soon discovered that he is going to explode.
In the episode entitled, “The Nuclear Man,” (S1 E13), as Caitlin tries to stabilize the change using a quantum splicer, she and Ronnie have a heart to heart where they once again profess their love for one another and kiss. When it becomes evident that the device isn’t working, Barry grabs Caitlin, and they run out of the blast radius. This scene is heartbreaking because Caitlin is forced to lose Ronnie a second time. As she cries, trying to get out of Barry’s grip, you feel her pain. Although she at least got a chance to say goodbye this time, it isn’t any less devastating.
12. Eobard Thawne Kills Cisco
When it was revealed that Harrison Wells was in fact the Reverse Flash, audiences were shocked – but not as much as Cisco Ramone, when he figured the whole thing out. When Cisco confronts Wells, Harrison admits to being Eobard Thawne, a time-traveler from the future who killed the real Wells and has been impersonating him since the night that he killed Nora Allen. He then tells Cisco that he was like a son to him, before killing him.
This entire scene was so shocking that it had audiences gasping in surprise. That quickly turned to heartbreak however, when they realized just how devastated Cisco was by Wells’ admission. The man he looked up to and thought of as a father figure had betrayed them all. When the tears rolled down Carlos Valdes’ cheeks and he realized his fate, everyone’s heart’s broke, just before Wells thrust his hand into Cisco’s.
11. Oliver Must Choose Between Shado And Sara
Turns out that life on Lian Yu was more than just trying to survive in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on Oliver’s back. The island ended up being a hotbed for all sorts of illicit activity, as well as the holder of many secrets. Oliver, along with Slade Wilson, Sara Lance and Shado, the daughter of his mentor/rescuer Yao Fei, managed to get caught in the middle of all of it. In the episode entitled “Three Ghosts,” (S2 E9) after Oliver, Sara and Shado are captured by Anthony Ivo, who forces Ollie to choose between the two women.
The reason that this scene is particularly heartbreaking is because Oliver is in love with Shado, and yet he chooses not to save her, instead throwing himself in front of Sara as the gun goes off. The idea that he chose Sara, whom he did love in his own way, out of a sense of obligation and what it meant for Laurel, who was waiting for him back home, is a poignant moment in Oliver’s evolution. That he had to sacrifice one of them at all is devastating and had dire consequences in his future.
10. Eddie Thawne Sacrifices Himself For The Greater Good
The reveal that Harrison Wells was not only the Reverse Flash but was also a time traveler from the future came as a bit of a surprise to viewers. When he finally revealed his true identity, he also revealed that he was a distant relative of Joe’s partner, Eddie Thawne. Realizing that he may be the key to ending Reverse Flash for good, in the episode entitled “Fast Enough,” (S1 E23), Eddie shoots himself, ending his branch of the Thawne line and wiping Eobard from existence.
This scene was so unexpected that it shocked not only the Flash team, but also left the audience sort of speechless. Whenever anyone makes the ultimate sacrifice it’s always heart-wrenching, but when it’s a character that the audience has come to know and love, it becomes devastating. Even though Eddie had so much to look forward to in the future, he sacrificed it all for those he loved.
9. Barry And Henry Talk About Letting Go
Barry was forced to grow up without his parents. His mother was killed and his father was accused and convicted of her murder. Although he always maintained his innocence, no one other than those closest to Henry Allen, believed that he didn’t kill his wife. When Barry visits his father in prison in the episode entitled “The Man In The Yellow Suit,” (S1 E9), the two discuss how Barry let his mother’s killer slip through his fingers, and how he feels guilty about failing to get his dad out of prison. Henry counters with Barry trying to let the weight of everything go, because Reverse Flash has taken too much from them already.
Grant Gustin is a fantastic cryer and when he turns on the waterworks, you feel his emotion, deep down in your gut. This scene is so breathtaking, not only because Gustin and John Wesley Shipp have such incredible chemistry, but because you can feel Barry’s frustration at not being able to help his father, especially when he had a chance to end it. The two absolutely shine when they interact on screen and this scene does not disappoint, even as it breaks your heart.
8. Black Canary Is Killed
Sara Lance has had a rather tumultuous time on the series. She was lost at sea and presumed dead, but somehow managed to survive. She was once again presumed dead when she and Oliver defeated Slade Wilson on Lian Yu. Of course, she wasn’t actually dead, and was trained by and joined the League Of Assassins in the missing years. Her return to Starling City had her leaving the League and taking on the Black Canary persona. They say the third time’s the charm, but not in Sara’s case. In the episode entitled “The Calm,” (S3 E1) she was murdered by a drugged and brain-washed Thea Queen, at the order of Malcolm Merlyn.
Not only was Sara’s death a shock to viewers, it was also a shock to her sister Laurel, who was the one who found her body. Laurel even went so far as to keep Sara’s body in the freezer, as she frantically searched for a way to bring her sister back to life. Once the team realizes they need to let her go, they bury Sara’s body in the grave that her family had placed back when she was lost at sea. Full circle heartbreak at its finest.
7. Henry Allen Dies
Barry grew up without his family, and although Joe West took him in and raised him like his own son, it had to be a relief when his father was exonerated of his mother’s death, and released from prison. Henry Allen then inexplicably decided to leave Central City, citing the need to not get in the way of Barry being The Flash. When he decided to return, it seemed that everything would be alright and that Barry would get a chance to experience the whole family thing.
Zoom had other plans though. In the episode entitled “Invincible” (S2 E22), as a way to prove to Barry that they are really very much alike, Hunter Zolomon kidnaps Henry during his welcome home party, and then kills him while Barry watches. (Zolomon’s reasoning is, he saw his own father die, so Barry needed to witness his own father’s death). Henry’s murder was so abrupt and shocking, that it left audiences speechless, and Barry devastated. Just when he thought his life was about to change for the better, everything was once again ripped right out of his grasp.
6. Robert Queen Shoots Himself
Robert Queen took parental sacrifice to a whole new level in the Arrow pilot. He killed himself so that his son Oliver could not only live, but exact vengeance for all that had happened in Starling City. Robert, knowing that there weren’t enough rations to keep both he, Oliver and a third survivor alive, shots the other man and then himself in the life raft after making Oliver promise to fulfill his last wish; for Oliver to survive. Oliver was then forced to bury his dad when the raft eventually washed up on Lian Yu.
What makes this particular scene so heartbreaking is the fact that Oliver is not the hardened vigilante that audiences have come to know and love. This is the selfish, childish, womanizer who knows nothing about sacrifice, or real life, for that matter. His crash course is the kind that hits you right where it counts. That a shell-shocked and grief stricken Oliver was forced to grow up so quickly, and then dumped out into the wilderness all on his own (or at least we thought), makes the moment even more poignant.
5. Laurel’s Death Bed Confession
It’s easy to see why Oliver and Laurel’s relationship could be considered complicated. The audience’s first glimpse of said relationship was of Oliver taking her younger sister on a weekend voyage on the family yacht. Although Oliver used a picture of Laurel as his tie to his life back home, by the time he made it back to Starling City, both he and Laurel had become different people. Although they briefly tried to rekindle their romance, there was too much between them and they eventually decided to remain good friends.
When Laurel is seriously wounded in the episode entitled “Eleven-Fifty-Nine” (S4 E18), she confesses her love to Oliver, telling him that while she knows she’s not the love of his life, he will always be hers. Having revealed the truth, she then dies, leaving a grief stricken Oliver and an utterly devastated Quinten Lance behind. If her confession and subsequent death wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, the scene where Paul Blackthorn’s character learns of her death just twists the knife even deeper into the heart.
4. Tatsu Kills Maseo
It’s never easy when young ones die, even when it’s fictional characters on a television show. But that’s exactly what happened when Maseo and Tatsu’s son, Akio, was killed by the outbreak caused by the Alpha and Omega virus. While that was heartbreaking in and of itself, the fact that it drove Tatsu and Maseo apart added insult to injury. Like a lot of parents that lose a child, the couple couldn’t make it work. Maseo turned his grief inward, joining the League Of Assassins and giving up his former life and identity. Tatsu chose a quieter path, instead going into seclusion. When Oliver was stabbed by Ra’s, Maseo took him to Tatsu, who helped heal him. She was then recruited into the fight to stop Ra’s from unleashing the Alpha-Omega virus.
In the episode entitled “This Is Your Sword,” (S3 E22) she ends up battling her husband and just as it looked like she is going to lose, the tables turned and she stabs him. The wound is mortal and as Maseo falls, Tatsu holds him in her arms and sings him the song that she used to sing to their son. The love that they have for one another is clearly evident and the scene is absolutely heartbreaking. As the tears stream down Tatsu’s face, you can almost see her heart breaking at what their relationship eventually became and how much she regretted all of it.
3. Barry Spends The Day With His Mom
The Kevin Smith directed episode of The Flash, entitled “The Runaway Dinosaur” (S2 E21) is considered one of the best to date, and for a good reason. After Barry is basically absorbed by the Speed Force, the team left behind races against the clock to find a way to rescue him. While trapped, Barry is led on a chase until he comes to the house that he lived in when he was little. Once there, he gets a chance to spend some time with his mom, and is finally able to come to grips with her death.
The episode is so full of hope and heartbreak that it is the kind of television that sticks with you, long after the credits roll. Barry is forced to confront his mother’s death head on, something that he hasn’t been able to given everything that’s gone on in his life. It’s touching and beautiful, which turns to heartbreak when Barry finally lets her go.
2. Tommy Merlyn Dies
As the first season of Arrow came to an end, and Oliver wasn’t able to stop the Undertaking, the audience held its collective breath as the after effects of the event were felt all over Starling City. In the episode entitled “Sacrifice” (S1 E23), Laurel is trapped in her office in the Glades as the events unfold. Tommy arrives just in time to save her, but is caught as her office building comes down on top of him. When Oliver arrives, he manages to dig Tommy out of the rubble, but he’s too late. Tommy dies of his injuries.
Tommy’s death was not only heartbreaking, but completely shocking to viewers. The showrunners showed that they were willing to go there and kill off one of the major players on the show, meaning that in the end, no one was safe. Tommy’s death was felt by everyone and even went so far as to change Oliver’s philosophy. But it’s his apology to Oliver, and that final thank you that hit you right in the feels.
1. The Flash Doesn’t Save Nora Allen
When Barry Allen realizes that his powers afford him the ability to move through time, like all of us, he decided to go back in time and save his mom. Even though he had been warned that messing with the timeline often had dire consequences, he couldn’t just stand aside and do nothing as his mother was brutally murdered by the Reverse Flash. But in the episode entitled “Fast Enough,” (S1 E23) that’s exactly what he did, once he got to that one moment in time. He stood by and watched as Eobard Thawne killed Nora, making sure that the present that he knows remains intact.
This scene is so utterly heartbreaking that it’s impossible to watch without getting teary eyed. The fact that Barry got a chance to say goodbye to his mom, and to assure her that he grows up just fine is the kind of closure that both Barry and the audience needed. It’s heart-wrenching in its execution and delivery and is well deserving of the top spot on this list.
It doesn’t seem like Greg Berlanti and his teams are shying away from the tragedy, as each season of the respective shows seems to get more and more intense. Just when you think that everything is going to be alright, they throw a curve ball and change the game, often while breaking your heart.
Yes, so there was a lot of death on this list. But when the shows in question have no qualms about killing people off left, right and center, it’s going to play a huge part in a list that’s dealing with emotions. So much has happened to these characters that sometimes it’s hard to fathom how they even get up in the morning. It will be interesting to see the additional heartbreak that Supergirl and her people bring to the table, when they officially, officially become a bigger part of this universe during season two. So, did your most heartbreaking scene make the list? Did we miss anything? Should we have included Supergirl here? How are the show runner’s going to top these tragedies? Let us know in the comments.