With a universe as expansive and characters as numerous as those who inhabit the world known as the Arrowverse, the simple law of averages maintains that there will be characters who are highly successful and those who are decidedly not.
In its six seasons of existence, the Arrowverse has introduced audiences to countless adaptations of comic characters, as well as created some of its own standout originals.
Wars have been waged between devoted fans regarding how certain adaptations hold up when compared to their original counterparts, or whether certain characters should have been included in series to begin with.
At the end of the day, everyone clearly has passionate opinions about the Arrowverse’s many characters, regardless of which of the many shows you tune into or which superhero you consider your personal favorite.
Since there are as many opinions as there are people in the world, it’s only natural that your mileage may vary when it comes to whether characters are considered successes or failures.
However, as far as we’re concerned, these are the 7 Best (And 8 Worst) Arrowverse Characters.
15. Worst: Ray Palmer
Poor Brandon Routh has a long history of playing comic characters who don’t quite come up to par when compared with others. While we won’t touch much on his turn as Superman back in 2006, it’s nevertheless worth noting that his tenure as Ray Palmer/Atom isn’t the first time that Routh’s superhero skills haven’t exactly measured up.
In his early tenure on Arrow, Ray was nothing more than the male version of Felicity, a prop introduced to cause tension in an otherwise aggravating storyline. Yet once he began to come into his own as a character, going on to become a part of the Legends of Tomorrow team, it quickly became clear that there wasn’t a whole lot more to Ray than the bumbling oaf he had been initially presented as.
14. Best: Rip Hunter
When it comes to time and dimension traveling, Arthur Darvill is pretty much an expert at this point. And though he spent three years as the goofy and adorable Rory Williams on Doctor Who, his portrayal of Time Master Rip Hunter on Legends of Tomorrow couldn’t be more different tonally.
Roguish and passionate, Rip Hunter acts as a leader to the entire team of Legends, helping them become the unlikely heroes they are. Prone to anger and aggressive means, he’s unafraid of doing what needs to be done all in the name of getting the job done.
Yet beneath that layer of fierce determination and leadership lingers a softer side, one that Darvill plays just as effectively. Wounded and spurred on to revenge by past losses within his life, Hunter quickly grows protective of those within his care, particularly White Canary Sara Lance.
13. Worst: Damien Darhk
Few parts of Arrow are more contrived than its time line, especially when it comes to the League of Assassins. Yet, while noteworthy standout characters such as Ra’s Al Ghul and Nyssa Al Ghul have come out of that plot, the most aggravating result of it is undeniably the character of Damien Dahrk, the latest in a long line of Arrow villains who just won’t seem to go away.
A calculating businessman-slash-politician who was once aided by immortality, Dahrk presented a clearly serious threat to the members of the Arrow team, attacking them on all fronts and holding nothing back as he did so.
However, due to a combination of hammy dialogue and cartoonish acting choices, Dahrk winds up feeling like nothing more than a mustache twirling villain who preaches about his plans and takes up far too much screentime per episode.
Now, well… who knows what he’ll be up to next?
12. Best: Cisco Ramon
The character of Cisco Ramon is truthfully one that could have gone horribly wrong. Often a source of comic relief, and ostensibly the underdog character of the S.T.A.R. Labs squad, Cisco could have been a one note character that could become tiresome very quickly.
However, thanks to Carlos Valdes’ nuanced portrayal, Cisco has in fact become the beating heart of Team Flash. Through his profoundly emotional friendships with both Barry Allen and Caitlin Snow, Cisco is the ultimate support system that anyone could want from a friend.
Add in his own journey with learning the ins and outs of his Vibe powers and Cisco clearly has his own clearly mapped out hero’s journey right in the middle of all the chaos and change that Barry’s impulsive behavior creates throughout the series.
11. Worst: Lena Luthor
On Supergirl, it was only inevitable that a super and a Luthor would cross paths and lock horns. The series isn’t afraid of getting meta on that as well, having commented on the unlikelihood of a friendship between Kara and Lena on many occasions.
Yet while series such as Smallville delivered fully fleshed out characters in both Clark Kent and Lex Luthor, Supergirl has failed to make Lena anything other than a watered down version of her older brother, nothing more than a big name with no real sting behind it.
In certain instances, it seems as though the series chickened out, substituting Lena’s villainous mother Lillian and therefore taking away any chance Lena had at becoming a well-written and credible threat.
Add to it the fact that Katie McGrath’s portrayal is confusingly muddled at best (and we don’t even mean the case of the constantly disappearing and reappearing British accent). We’re not sure what Supergirl intends for her character, but at this point, it’s clear that she’s not much more than a waste of screentime.
10. Best: John Diggle
Every superhero is nothing without a good sidekick. While John Diggle is certainly so much more than a sidekick (especially when it comes to a very recent plot twist…), it goes without saying that the Green Arrow would be absolutely nothing without his #2.
As a total kick-butt character with a heart of gold, John Diggle is equal parts fierce protector and lovable teddy bear. A committed father and husband, he has one of the warmest hearts in all of the Arrowverse, and also provides some of the sagest advice in desperate times.
In many ways, Diggle provides both brains and brawn to the Arrow team’s operations, even if he’s rarely given the credit and focus in the spotlight that he deserves. However, again, given that recent plot twist we mentioned before, perhaps Diggle will finally start to get his due.
9. Worst: Roy Harper
As we already mentioned, no superhero is really complete without his trusty #2. Unfortunately, for characters like Roy Harper/Arsenal, that position was already filled before he entered the picture.
Portrayed at various times as crazed, selfish, and out of control, Roy Harper is an odd choice to serve as a foil to the ostensible hero of the series. Despite his unpredictability, he develops a romantic relationship with Thea Queen for a considerable amount of time, one of Arrow‘s overall weak spots.
It’s also as a result of his time spent on violent, uncontrolled acts that Roy later decides to go on a path of making amends for what he has caused others to endure, culminating in a staged death so he can escape from the demons of his past life.
8. Best: Caitlin Snow
It’s a tricky task for any actor: how do you play a character with a storied comic background as a villain, yet make them and their struggles totally sympathetic on the way down?
As The Flash‘s Dr. Caitlin Snow, Danielle Panabaker makes the impossible seem effortless. Caitlin has been through so much in so little time: losing the love of her life, Ronnie, twice pushes her to the brink the first time around. And then, her next love, supposedly Jay Garrick, reveals himself to be the villainous Zoom in disguise.
Add all her love life woes to a tortured family background, an increasing disconnect from the people she once considered friends, and a surge of powers she finds herself unable to control, and you have the makings of a truly tragic figure.
7. Worst: James Olsen
Sometimes, no matter the acting talent that’s put into a role, a character just doesn’t connect. Whether it’s a show’s inability to decide who the character is, or some sort of disconnect between the character and fans, it’s a fairly common phenomenon, and unfortunately the case for Supergirl‘s James Olsen.
Perhaps the failure of this character was one that was built into his adaptation by design. On Supergirl, gone is the affable and nerdy photojournalist Jimmy Olsen of old. Instead, we meet James Olsen, a photojournalist who’s got aspirations for becoming a vigilante, and also the head of CatCo.
His romance with Kara was ill thought out and uncomfortable, as the two suffered from a lack of any real on screen chemistry. Not to mention poor Lucy Lane was strung along all the while as James claimed to fall in love with Kara.
6. Best: Joe West
Father figures and “daddy issues” alike are integral parts of so many superhero origin stories. Whether it’s Clark Kent’s relationships with his biological or adoptive fathers, or Bruce Wayne’s loss of his own, superheroes are tortured and swayed by the presence or absence of these pivotal male figures.
However, when it comes to Barry Allen, he very well may have had the best of the best in his quasi adoptive father, Joe West. One of the most loving and committed fathers on television right now, Joe West portrayed with beautiful conviction by the esteemed Jesse L. Martin, is everything that a father should be.
5. Worst: Malcolm Merlyn
If you’re in need of a charismatic actor who’s skilled at genre shows of all forms, you don’t really have to look much further than John Barrowman, whose impressive resumé really speaks for itself.
However, not even Barrowman could save the character of Malcolm Merlyn from long overstaying his melodramatic welcome.
Whether it’s the sheer number of ridiculous death defying stunts Arrow pulled with him, the exhausting trope of villainous paternity reveals, or the fact that he seemed to show up everywhere at the worst possible times in not one, not two, but three different series within the Arrowverse, any and all gravitas Merlyn offered as a Big Bad had long since been replaced by an overall feeling of dread and irritation by the time his arc appeared to end… again.
4. Best: Alex Danvers
It’s not easy being the sister of a beloved superhero. However, when it comes to Alex Danvers, it wouldn’t be hard to make the case that she’s the real hero in the Danvers family.
As we’re introduced to her, Alex is a completely badass DEO agent and the protective and loving older sister of Kara Danvers. Over the course of the first season, her character is fleshed out even further, perfectly balancing strength with vulnerability. However, from season two onward, Alex truly gets her chance to shine.
Boasting one of the Arrowverse’s best performances from series standout Chyler Leigh, Alex comes to a crucial realization about herself in a gracefully handled coming out arc. She experiences all the requisite feelings of anxiety, re-evaluation, acceptance, and, finally, joy as she for the first time in her life feels comfortable in her own skin.
With that renewed sense of confidence, Alex is able to hold that much more of the world on her shoulders. She may not bear the symbol of the House of El on her chest, but Alex Danvers is certainly super in her own right.
3. Worst: Felicity Smoak
Generally speaking, Mary Sue is a horrible term that is bandied about much too freely to criticize female characters who show any remote sense of agency. However, in the case of the Arrowverse, they’ve perhaps inadvertently crafted one of the true Mary Sues of all time.
Felicity Smoak was intended as a minor character in season one. Somehow, five seasons later, the epitome of the Manic Pixie Dream Nerd Girl trope is the series’ female lead.
Furthermore, she’s not only just an IT girl with hacking and comms skills anymore. No, Felicity has had her own time in the spotlight as a vigilante with a dark past. She’s whoever the writers need her to be, whenever they need her to be it.
On top of that, she, along with the whole mess of a ‘ship that is Olicity, has taken time away from other more important plots and characters, and totally eclipsed prominent comics characters such as Laurel Lance/Black Canary.
2. Best: J’onn J’onzz
At its heart, Supergirl is a show about a heroic alien, transplanted very far from their home, who is forced to integrate into an unfamiliar society. As a result of their integration, they take on a role of a guardian, to those closest to them and to the world at large.
Supergirl may be Kara Danvers’ story, but it’s quite clear that much of what the show has tried to do with her narrative, it has done in a far more successful way with J’onn J’onzz.
Buoyed by David Harewood’s phenomenally resonant performance as a father figure/fish out of water/survivor, J’onn’s arc over the course of the series so far has provided some of the series’ most emotionally meaningful moments to date.
Whether giving his all to protect the Danvers sisters, or reuniting with his father, or falling into a literally star-crossed romance with White Martian M’gann M’orzz, Supergirl‘s resident Green Martian has proven time and again that he’s the hero we all deserve.
1. Worst: Oliver Queen
However, when the main character of a show is meant to be a superhero, whose ostensible end goal is justice for all, it’s a real problem when he’s more or less insufferable.
Look no further than Arrow‘s Oliver Queen, a fully realized Batman wannabe who delivers everything in such joyless monotone that it’s hard to tell where the disguise of the Green Arrow ends and begins.
Tortured by so many demons and mistakes that the flashbacks have become unbearable, Oliver is almost wholly unsympathetic at this point six seasons in. There’s none of Oliver’s traditional charm or passion present in him; instead, all we have is the greenish shadow of a wannabe bat.
Who do you think are the best and worst characters of the Arrowverse? Let us know in the comments!
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