In the wake of Arrow's season 5 finale, John Barrowman has confirmed that he will not be returning next season. It wasn't long after Smallville ended that The CW launched its new superhero universe, beginning with Arrow in 2012. The series needed a strong villain to go up against Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow (or the Hood, as he was known back then), and the series found that villain in Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn, aka the Magician/Dark Archer.
Merlyn not only opposed Oliver in the series' first season, but he carried one of the most intriguing arcs throughout the entire Arrowverse. For instance, he came back from the dead, figuratively, and forced his daughter, Thea, to murder her friend. He has fought against and alongside the heroes of the Arrowverse on so many occasions that it's almost hard to keep track. However, the most recent time he aided Oliver was in Arrow's season 5 finale, in which he joined him, Deathstroke, and Nyssa al Ghul in rescuing Oliver's friends (as well as his daughter). Unfortunately, it cost him his life.
Malcolm Merlyn became the type of father to Thea that he should have been all along in the season 5 finale episode, 'Lian Yu'. He sacrificed himself to save Thea and give everyone else a fighting chance at escaping the island. Given that this is a comic book show, and people have a habit of cheating death (not to mention the fact that he has done it once or twice), people may have assumed that Merlyn survived the landmine explosion. Unfortunately, that's just wishful thinking. Barrowman confirmed on Instagram last night that he is officially departing Arrow.
Last month, it was reported that Barrowman wouldn't be returning next season, but this video makes it official, especially considering last night's episode. In the video, Barrowman talks about his upcoming projects and mentions that he will be discussing Arrow in one of his upcoming books, so to stay tuned for that. Here's what he said specifically about his departure from the series:
"I am very sad to be leaving the Arrowverse. I love playing Malcolm Merlyn, and, you know, that's it really. As sad as it may be, I understand how shows must change and also characters must change and develop, but that doesn't mean that I'm not very sad and upset about it. So I appreciate your support and love you all. Thank you and keep watching."
Over the years, Barrowman had expanded his role in the Arrowverse beyond the confines of the network's flagship series. He recently joined the Legion of Doom throughout the second season of Legends of Tomorrow. While the actor will not be returning next season, there is always the chance that he could come back in the future as one of his doppelgangers. Virtually all of the shows in the Arrowverse have brought someone back one way or another. In fact, it's a common trend throughout the network as a whole. Just as Barrowman says in his video, who knows what the future may hold?
Source: John Barrowman