2012 was an important year for The CW when they debuted Arrow. Through this series came an entire franchise of DC TV shows that is now known as the Arrowverse but after almost eight years of protecting Star City, the Oliver Queen drama is set to end in January 2020.
Set for an eighth and final season Oliver and his team have one last mission that will involve the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover as well. With the show’s end approaching, it’s time to take a look at each of the respective seasons of Arrow. Throughout its almost eight years, there have been some solid episodes as well some stinkers, which is the case for any television show. With that said, these are the best and worst episodes of Arrow season 1.
10 WORST: Burned (Episode 10)
Before the Arrowverse became what it is today, Arrow held back a bit on its comic book-y roots. One example is in the mid-season premiere of the first season that brought in a fairly big Batman baddie. Garfield Lynns (Andrew Dunbar) a.k.a. Firefly was introduced, but in a very watered-down way.
After surviving a dangerous fiery incident, Lynns goes after his fellow Fireflies who didn’t join him in stopping the fire that day. While Oliver was certainly off his game after the events of the winter finale, having him go up against this Firefly was lackluster.
9 BEST: Pilot (Episode 1)
Despite only being around 40 minutes, the Arrow pilot had a lot of things packed in. Oliver’s return to Starling City came with its drama, showing various characters being thrilled to see him alive while some were mixed on how to feel.
While the format would change pretty quickly after this, it was interesting to see the lead character beginning his crusade all on his own. The pilot also setup the five-year-long journey of flashbacks that would last till the final episode in the fifth season, telling the story of how Oliver began the lviing weapon he is today.
8 WORST: Vertigo (Episode 12)
One of the recurring themes in the first season was the Vertigo drug that came with the show’s first version of Count Vertigo. Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) fell victim to using Vertigo, which got her into some big legal trouble.
But the twelfth episode was all about introducing Seth Gabel’s The Count who is loosely inspired by the comic version of the Green Arrow foe. Rather than being an actual Count, Arrow’s version of the character was a combination of The Joker and Scarecrow which had its ups and downs.
7 BEST: The Odyssey (Episode 14)
One of the things that early Arrow did was air a deep flashback episode once per season. In the first season, we have the fourteenth episode where we spend a lot of time with Oliver and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) during their time on Lian Yu.
This is where their relationship was fleshed out, setting up their big story in the coming episodes as well as the following season. While we get all of that in the flashbacks, things get serious in the present as well when Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) learns that Oliver is The Hood.
6 WORST: The Huntress Returns (Episode 17)
One of the early DC characters that Arrow brought in was Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. the Huntress (Jessica de Gouw), who Oliver took in. However, her first two episodes made it clear that Oliver wasn't ready to be anyone’s mentor, proven by Huntress' downward spiral.
The seventeenth episode brought her back with an even bigger rage towards her father. But this time, she wouldn’t take him on alone as Helena insisted on Oliver joining her which was easier said than done. Sadly, this episode only puts Huntress on an even worse path.
5 BEST: Year’s End (Episode 9)
As the show began to focus more on Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), this episode brought Oliver’s big foe into the picture more including their first showdown. It all starts with Oliver beginning to look into the mystery of the copycat archer going after the people on his father’s list.
This would eventually lead to Oliver’s first encounter with the Dark Archer who brutally defeats him in the first round. “Year’s End” is what sets up a lot of the second half of the season, especially for Oliver as he now knows that he has a dangerous opponent out there.
4 WORST: Legacies (Episode 6)
It didn’t take long for Arrow to introduce a villainous group as the sixth episode featured its version of The Royal Flush Gang. However, the only resemblances the group had with their comic counterparts were their masks and nothing else.
While one of the members has a history with the Queen family, this episode could have easily done the same story without making this family The Royal Flush Gang. Since we got shows like The Flash and Supergirl, later on, this group could have been portrayed more authentically if Arrow hadn’t already introduced the grounded version of them.
3 BEST: Darkness on the Edge of Town (Episode 22)
The twenty-second episode was one half of the massive season finale and it definitely felt like a penultimate episode. Here, the clock is ticking as the Undertaking approaches. As Malcolm plans to level the Glades, Oliver and Diggle (David Ramsey) put Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) through hell to get more information.
While Team Arrow do what they can to stop the Undertaking from happening, things go really south when Oliver tries to take on Malcolm by himself. In a matter of minutes, Oliver is defeated by Malcolm, who is stunned when he discovers that Oliver is The Hood.
2 WORST: Trust but Verify (Episode 11)
One of the early Diggle-centric episodes in the series was a bit of a bust, to say the least. In the eleventh episode, Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder), Diggle's former mentor in the military, is the next name on Oliver’s list.
With Diggle defending his former mentor, this puts Oliver and him at opposite sides even though it becomes clear early on that Gaynor is up to no good. “Trust But Verify” is dramatically charged as Tommy (Colin Donnell) has another big argument with his father Malcolm.
1 BEST: Sacrifice (Episode 23)
The first season finale went out with a literal bang. Oliver and Malcolm have their final showdown that ends with Malcolm’s death (or so we thought) while Felicity and Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) try to deactivate the Markov Device. While they succeed, they don’t realize that Malcolm had another one that begins leveling the east side of the Glades.
But the finale ends with another tragedy no one saw coming. Tommy is badly wounded after saving Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and while Oliver gets to him, it’s too late. In the finale's last seconds, Oliver watches his best friend die.