The CW’s Arrow really should be any comic book fan’s dream. The series is not only an entertaining and original take on the classic DC hero. but it’s also a birthed a whole universe of interconnected shows. Thanks to the success of Arrow, it’s subsequent Arrowverse spinoffs have made it possible to watch a superhero nearly every day of the week during the regular TV season. For all that however, Oliver Queen’s televised adventures are far from perfect.
The Green Arrow has filled a lot of bad guys with arrow-shaped holes, but the writers have done their fair amount of damage as well, leaving some major plot holes throughout the five seasons of the series thus far. None of these weird and unexplained moments outright ruin Arrow or its overall quality. In fact. some are so blatantly ridiculous that they only really add to the fun, even if it is in an unintentional way. Some are just so confusing that they must be pointed out and discussed.
Ready your bow and put your thinking cap on, because here are 17 Huge Arrow Plot Holes That You Missed.
17. What About Vigilante?
There is a very good chance that Vigilante’s identity will come out sooner rather than later on Arrow. Yet in the excellent season 5, the identity of Oliver’s second greatest antagonist just hung awkwardly in the air without an answer. Vigilante’s only real purpose in season 5 was to throw off comic book fans into thinking that Adrian Chase wasn’t Prometheus.
All that came crashing down though when Prometheus and Vigilante came to blows. Prometheus picked up Vigilante and threw him off a building, only to reveal himself as Adrian Chase underneath the mask. It was a shocking moment, but it also made Vigilante and his identity annoyingly mysterious.
Of course, the encounter with Prometheus also raised another question about Vigilante. How can he, she (or it?) possibly survive a fall from a skyscraper? When Chase threw Vigilante off the building, no body was shown afterwards, but that was a big fall, and seemingly a deadly one. Yet Vigilante later showed up in the episode ready to kill Oliver. Arrow has a lot of explaining to do when (and if) they reveal this villain’s identity.
16. Oliver’s Long History with Amanda Waller
After season 2, Arrow’s flashbacks (in addition to becoming very, very boring) were also a factory for plot holes and weird twists that were never properly set up by the rest of the show. The first big and confusing twist came when Amanda Waller popped up in the season 2 finale flashback, forcibly hiring Oliver for a mission in Hong Kong. At the moment, it was a jaw-dropping and exciting turn of events, but upon further inspection, it defies all kinds of logic.
Amanda Waller first appeared on Arrow in the season 2 episode, “Keep Your Enemies Closer.” Although Waller primarily interacts with Diggle in that episode, Oliver is quickly made known of her presence. Yet neither Oliver or Waller ever hint that they familiar with one another and that they worked “together” on two very long and dangerous missions. Things stay that way for the rest of season 2, until the big reveal in the finale.
Waller’s secrecy can be pretty easily explained (she is a professional spy, after all). But Oliver has no reason to stay so mum. There are multiple times that Oliver could and should have warned Diggle about what he knows about Waller, but Ollie stays quiet for reasons that are left unexplained, creating the first of many flashback-centric plot holes.
15. Felicity Can Pilot the ATOM Suit
Emily Bett Rickards, who plays Felicity, is 5’5″. Brandon Routh, who played Felicity’s season 3 beau Ray Palmer, is 6’2″. If Ray gave Felicity one of his shirts to wear, she would be swimming in it. There is no way she should be able to fit into Ray’s obsessively engineered armor, the ATOM suit. For whatever reason, which is none, in the season 3 finale of Arrow, that’s exactly what happens, and the ATOM suit fits Felicity like a glove.
A hardcore Arrow apologist could claim that Felicity is able to fit into the suit because the suit can shrink and expand. Ray’s big benefit to his team on the spin-off Legends of Tomorrow is that his suit allows him to navigate any space thanks to its size-shifting powers. So naturally, the suit should be able to shrink to fit Felicity. Except Ray didn’t figure out how to shrink his suit until after the Arrow season 3 finale, where he “died.”
14. How Exactly Does Laurel Know Ollie?
A lot of Arrow fans have questions about Oliver and Laurel’s romance. Depending on the fan and their preferences, those questions can wildly differ too. Yet the one thing that most Arrow fans should be able to agree on is that the history of Oliver and Laurel’s romance makes very little sense. We are told repeatedly, especially in season 1, that Oliver has loved Laurel for half of his life, implying that the two have been in an on-again and off-again romance since they were pre-teens.
This is fine, or would be, except for the information that later comes out that Oliver and Laurel were “college sweethearts.” Putting aside that Ollie, by his own admission, dropped out of four schools, Oliver and Laurel being college sweethearts is completely contradictory to him being in love with her for “half his life.”
Even if you want to accept that Oliver was in love with Laurel since they were kids but they didn’t start dating until college, there are a whole host of other questions. There is no reasonable explanation for why Laurel, a daughter of two very blue collar workers, would be playmates with the sons of billionaires like Oliver and Tommy Merlyn.
13. Where Was Constantine?
Here’s another big problem caused by the flashbacks. John Constantine joining the Arrowverse in season 4 was an event that was greatly anticipated by fans, and with good reason. Matt Ryan proved on the short-lived Constantine TV show that he was a fantastic fit for the part. Ryan being able to extend his time with the character was a dream come true for fans. While John’s season 4 Arrow episode is a lot of fun, it’s also incredibly confusing.
Constantine makes his first Arrow appearance in present day and the flashback storylines. In the present, John helps the newly resurrected Sara get her soul back. In the past, he gives Oliver some tattoos that later save his life. This latter story is not only very boring, but it makes no sense. The flashback establishes that Oliver knew about magic (and a magician) years before he even became the Arrow. Yet not once before season 4 does Oliver ever mention or even consider calling up his friend Constantine.
Oliver does have the whole lone wolf routine down pat. A friendly magician still would have been a lot of help when Ollie was facing down the Dark Archer, Deathstroke, or literally any other villain before season 4.
12. Oliver Stopped Reverse Flash While “Brainwashed”
While this big plot hole occurs on The Flash, it is indeed mentioned on Arrow, and it’s only confusing because of the events of the latter series. When Barry was getting ready to face off against the Reverse Flash, he called in some help from Oliver and the original Firestorm.
It’s a very cool moment, and not just because the Amell cousins are sharing the screen together. The big issue is that this rescue mission is happening at the same time that Oliver has evidently been brainwashed by the League of Assassins and is disavowing all knowledge or loyalty to his friends and family.
Barry Allen is fast, it’s kind of his whole thing. It is highly unlikely that he is fast enough to run to Nanda Parbat, grab Ollie, have him engage in a big brawl, and get him back before Ra’s al Ghul even notices. Even if Barry could manage that, Ollie wouldn’t take the risk. Oliver is fully committed to his brainwashed role to trick Ra’s, and he goes so far as to imprison his former team. Reverse Flash is a big deal but for Oliver; Ra’s (who killed his sister) is a much bigger one.
11. Thea’s Amazing Resume
When Arrow season 1 began, Thea Queen was at some indiscriminate age, but clearly in high school. There is no mention of Thea preparing for graduation, however, so it’s doesn’t seem like she’s a senior. Yet when season 2 rolls around, occurring only a few months after season 1, Thea has not only graduated, but she’s running an entire business, overseeing Oliver’s Verdant night club. This makes no sense.
It’s not that weird that Thea is able to land the job. Oliver does own Verdant, and their family’s money is all tied up in the business. The strange thing is just how excellent Thea is at the job. For a high schooler who had an aggressive drug problem, Thea is an top notch manager, and the reason why is never explained.
Managing Verdant when she is just 18 years old is not even Thea’s most inexplicable achievement. A few years later, after she had trained to be an accomplished assassin, Thea becomes Oliver’s chief of staff when he is Star City Mayor. In fact, Thea seems to be single-handedly running the mayor’s office as Oliver is frequently occupied with Green Arrow matters. How?!?
10. Felicity’s Even More Amazing Resume
Unlike Thea, we know exactly what level of education Felicity received. She’s a certifiable genius who went to MIT and graduated with a Master’s Degree in four years. When we meet Felicity in season 1, she’s just an IT girl, but she quickly expands out of that role. In three seasons, Felicity becomes the CEO of the very company she was working for in season 1. Felicity’s meteoric rise should be impossible.
Arrow started off slow with Felicity, moving her from IT girl to Oliver’s secretary in season 2. It’s when Ray Palmer takes over the company that things go bonkers. Ray makes Felicity Vice President at his company because she is “so smart”, and when Ray “dies”, he leaves the entire company to her. Ray making her VP is somewhat plausible – it’s company and he can do what he wishes. But naming her CEO is insane. Felicity is in no way qualified for the job, having barely gotten her feet wet as a VP. No board of directors would ever approve Felicity’s appointment.
9. Wildcat’s Very Existence
When Oliver is rescued from Lian Yu and arrives in Starling City during Arrow season 1, the entire city is shocked that a vigilante starts popping up. No one, especially the police department, knows how to handle Ollie’s alter ego, because they’ve never seen one before now. Yet according to season 3, Star(ling) City’s best and brightest just have very short memories. Shortly before Oliver returned to his hometown another vigilante was prowling the streets, Ted Grant otherwise known as Wildcat.
To Arrow’s credit, Wildcat had a very short career as a vigilante. But he was still present enough that newspaper articles were written about him and that his alter ego’s name was recognizable. Wildcat even operated long enough that he managed to gain a (very unstable) sidekick in the form of Isaac Stanzler.
It’s not that much of a plot hole that Wildcat existed before Oliver Queen. Even though Oliver is presented as the first superhero the world has ever seen in season 1, Arrow doesn’t show much of the world outside Starling City. The problem is that no one even mentions Wildcat when The Arrow starts killing people. Wildcat should be fresh in everyone’s mind, especially Quentin Lance, given his extreme hatred of vigilantes.
8. Damien Darhk’s Selective Mercy
Neal McDonough did a tremendous job as Arrow’s season 4 villain. He was menacing, charismatic, and the perfect balance of evil and fun. It’s a shame that the writing surrounding Dahrk didn’t always support him. In season 4, Darhk should have killed Oliver several times over, but the show found increasingly bizarre ways to keep its hero alive. These included Darhk deciding not to kill Oliver out of respect and Barry Allen whisking him away at the exact right moment.
Arrow is a TV show, though, and a show really can’t definitively deal with the season’s central villain until the finale or right before the finale. But Arrow really did bend over backwards and provide contradictory statements for why Darhk wanted and didn’t want to kill Team Arrow in season 4.
The most glaring incident is the one murder that Darhk pulled off, that of Laurel Lance. Apropos of nothing, or relatively nothing, Darhk decided to kill Laurel, delivering on his earlier threat to Quentin. Rather than snapping her neck, stopping her heart or draining her off all her life force, though, Darhk just stabbed Laurel in the side. Darhk was fully in control of his powers at that point, and could’ve killed everyone in the room but instead he just attacked Laurel in the most pathetic way possible.
7. Ray Almost Killed Roy … And No One Talked About It
About halfway through Arrow season 3, Ray and Oliver’s rivalry came to real blows when Ray arbitrarily decided that Oliver is a menace, and that he, Ray, is the only rightful vigilante in the city. Palmer believes that Oliver is a murderer, and resolves to show his rival how wrong he is … by trying to kill Oliver’s sidekick, Roy Harper.
Ray’s intention is not to kill Roy. It is also not the intention of the scene, but the way the confrontation plays out that makes it look that way. Ray comes head-to-head with Roy and Oliver in an alley, and Ray’s first move is to hit Roy with a beam of electricity. Arsenal goes flying into a chain link fence and seizures violently, crumbling lifeless to the ground. It’s an incredibly villainous moment which hilariously undermines Ray’s sense of morality, but the worst and most confusing thing is yet to come. Ray and Oliver both just leave Roy there when their fight is over.
No one goes to check on Roy. Oliver doesn’t even help his brother-in-arms get to his feet. Both “heroes” just walk away. They just leave an unconscious Roy for him to presumably wake up later, very confused and very alone.
6. Oliver’s Incredibly Convincing Fake Hair
The fake hair that Arrow forces Stephen Amell to wear is ludicrous. From the very first moment Oliver was seen on-screen being rescued from Lian Yu, his wig was a terrible/wonderful sight to behold. Oliver’s island hair and beard were so bad (and illogical, since he didn’t really spend five years on that island) that it was retconned in the season 5 finale that Oliver was actually wearing a wig and fake beard during his rescue. This does explain why Oliver looks so bad in that first scene of the series, but literally nothing else.
In the pilot, Oliver is taken right from being rescued on Lian Yu to the hospital. He is under supervision or with company nearly the entire time, because people are worried about what happened to him while he was presumed dead. How did no one notice that he was wearing a wig and fake beard in all that time? Furthermore, how did Oliver remove the wig and beard so no one was suspicious? He obviously couldn’t have shaved it.
The only reasonable explanation, as one must be created for ourselves, is that in that emotional reunion scene between Moira and Oliver in the pilot, Ollie had his fake tucked away underneath his hospital bed.
5. Prometheus Found William Out of Nowhere
Following his kidnapping at the hands of Damien Darhk, Oliver’s son William was supposed to be taken to some location that no one would have been able to find him. Oliver didn’t know where William was and neither did Felicity, who helped set it all up. Yet somehow, in season 5, Prometheus uncovers this super-secret location. Prometheus found out a lot of things that he shouldn’t have known, but the show always came up with a reasonable explanation. William’s arc received no such courtesy.
Moira buried all knowledge of her illegitimate grandson. Oliver only found about William because he happened to run into his mother while in Central City. The only way that Adrian Chase would have known about William’s existence, let alone where he was hidden, is if he was in the room when Oliver confessed to Team Arrow about his son. Chase watched Oliver closely before he struck in season 5, but not that closely.
4. HIVE Soldiers Suddenly Forget How to Shoot
According to Damien Darhk, his army of HIVE Ghosts were among some of the most well-trained and deadly soliders in the world. The Ghosts did cause a fair bit of problems for Oliver and company in season 4. But when it really mattered, the Ghosts morphed into Star Wars Stormtroopers.
In the season 4 finale, “Schism,” an all-out war breaks out between HIVE and the citizens of Star City. This should be no contest at all. The civilians are armed with pipes and their fists, and HIVE has semi-automatic weapons. Yet the HIVE soldiers completely neglect to use their guns and start pummeling people in hand to hand combat. It’s not in an effort to minimize casualties either, since HIVE is planning on causing the apocalypse. It’s just to provide background noise for Oliver and Damien’s fatal clash that doesn’t involve the shot of gunfire and screams of innocent people getting slaughtered.
This weirdness might be excusable if the Damien and Oliver fight was interesting to watch – but it’s not. Amell and McDonough just look bored as they fight for their lives. The whole scene, but especially the actions of HIVE, is supremely lazy.
3. Felicity Can Stop a Nuke with Her Tablet
Despite the bashing of Felicity that has been done in other entries on this list, she is a legitimately great character. Felicity balances Oliver out and gives the show a necessary level of optimism it often lacks. Arrow just tends to make Felicity so capable that she becomes their “get out of jail free” card. The height of Felicity’s insane achievements also occurs in “Schism.” After having stopped one nuke by redirecting it to another city in an earlier, hard but realistic decision, Felicity stops another, and nothing about the latter move makes sense.
Armed with a tablet and a friend holding a tiny camera, Felicity can repel a nuclear mission hurtling towards the city through the magic of hacking. There is some explanation given for how Felicity manages this miraculous feat, but it’s really all techno-babble nonsense.
No hacker in the world can do whatever Felicity pulls off in the season 4 finale, and if they can there is no reason that the guy with a bow and arrow should be the main hero. If Felicity can disarm a nuke with a tablet, then Adrian Chase should have been arrested and discovered in the very first episode of season 5.
2. Laurel Lance: Zero to Hero
With this entry, you can at least say that Arrow tried. When Laurel Lance took over for her sister Sara as the Canary of Star City, it did not go well. Laurel got beat up, struggled to make a name for herself as the Black Canary, and wrestled with doubt throughout season 3. By the end of the year, Laurel was still a bit of a loser vigilante, getting beat up by a common thug in a late episode. But in just a couple episodes’ time, Laurel is standing toe-to-toe with members of the League of Assassins and holding her own.
The half-hearted explanation given by Arrow is that Nyssa al Ghul, a member of the League, trained Laurel. But Laurel had been under Nyssa’s care when she was taken out by just a random criminal. Laurel needed to stand up to the League because the plot demanded it, not because she was remotely ready for that fight.
It’s admirable that Arrow tried to approach Laurel’s journey to becoming the Black Canary with a level of realism. The problem is that the show had Laurel flounder for so long, it made no sense when she did finally handle herself.
1. How is Oliver Not Dead?
Of all of Arrow’s weird and unexplained moments, this is by far the most confusing. The episode in which it occurs, “The Climb,” is one of Arrow’s best hours in large part because of its final swordfight. Ra’s and Oliver’s deadly duel culminates in Ra’s stabbing Oliver in the chest and kicking him off a mountain, seemingly putting an end to the hero. The very next episode proves that Oliver is not quite well, but still very much alive. This is moronic.
The explanation Arrow gives for Oliver’s survival is that Katana nurses him back to health with some powerful herbs. The show never explains how Oliver didn’t die in the first place, however. It could be argued that the extreme cold stopped him from bleeding out, but hypothermia should have kicked in, and his wound likely would have gotten infected for lack of proper treatmeant. Most importantly, the fall off the cliff should have broken every bone in Oliver’s body. Yet he is completely fine because he landed on (maybe) an inch of snow.
“The Climb” is one of Arrow’s best episodes because of how shocking Oliver’s defeat is at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul. The very next episode does away with all that by just treating the stabbing as a minor flesh wound. This type of thing works in Monty Python, but not Arrow.
Did we miss any big plot holes on Arrow? What is your least favorite confusing moment from the show? Sound off in the comments!
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