Why Arrow ending is bittersweet news


We now know that the eighth season of Arrow will be its last. The Arrowverse’s flagship series has been a bumpy ride, but we will be sad to see it go.

Last year, I wrote a rather vehement article for Culturess arguing that The CW should pull the plug on Arrow after its seventh season. After wrapping up its original arc with a stellar season 5, the show seemed to lose its sense of purpose, not following a plot so much as throwing plot at a wall and seeing what stuck. It was time to put it out of its misery (or at least put the audience out of ours).

So, when news dropped on Wednesday that Arrow is indeed coming to an end, I was surprised to feel a twinge of sadness.

There was relief too, of course. Eight seasons is a good run for any show, especially one with a heavily serialized narrative like Arrow. And even though it’s common nowadays for TV shows to end on their own terms rather than running until the ratings flag or the network decides it’s too costly to sustain, the prospect of a favorite show dragging on well past its prime still induces anxiety. If six seasons reduced Arrow to wheel-spinning, 10 would’ve turned it into a circus act.

Yet, somehow, 18 episodes don’t seem like enough. Season 7 hasn’t quite reached the heights of seasons 2 or 5, but it suggests there are stories left to tell in Star City. Oliver’s stint in prison and current partnership with the police opened the door for a more introspective examination of the criminal justice system. Lyla and Diggle’s work at A.R.G.U.S. allowed the show to dip its toe in spy thriller territory, not to mention bring back the Suicide Squad. I would gladly watch a season that traces A.R.G.U.S.’s evolution from a shady government agency to an outright dystopian one.

Speaking of dystopia, the flash-forwards, which find an adult William looking for Felicity, have been an unexpected boon. To be sure, they don’t exactly unfold at lightning speed, but unlike the flashbacks of past seasons, they aim to create gaps rather than close them, expanding the world and injecting mystery into a now-formulaic narrative. Plus, it must be noted, they offer an escape from Oliver. At one time, it was impossible to imagine Arrow without Stephen Amell’s playboy vigilante, but now, he’s less an anchor than a burden, hampering the show’s imagination.

Comics have endured in part due to their willingness to reinvent themselves. While it’s always a risk for a show to lose its lead, it feels like a missed opportunity for Arrow to introduce a new generation of superheroes, particularly ones as compelling as William, Zoe, Connor Hawke, and Mia Smoak, and not at least try to pass on the mantle.

Or maybe I’m just not ready to let go.

Except for Game of Thrones, no currently airing TV series has been part of my viewing schedule for as long as Arrow. It launched The CW’s now-thriving DC Comics universe, and even though other entries (namely, Legends of Tomorrow) have earned my loyalty, it will always be the one closest to my heart, thrilling me with dynamic fight sequences and gut-punching me with its cathartic portrayal of trauma. In a way, it’s comforting to know that despite everything — the uneven seasons, botched plotlines, and misused characters — I still care about it.

Either way, I hope these last 18 episodes are ones worth savoring.

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Arrow airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.