In honor of the series' big finale, we've turned our Waverider back over the past eight seasons to remember some of the show's greatest moments. This being Arrow, though, "best" and "greatest" often means "tragic," "sad," and "brutal." Because, you know, it's Arrow. That early Batman Begins-y vibe made things pretty bleak for a few years there, and even when it got brighter, it was still Arrow.
And a preface before we dive in: There are way more huge deaths, fights, battles, and touching moments than just nine. So that means we weren't able to include all of them. Does that mean Laurel's death, or Quentin's death, or Roy's arrest, or Moira's death (boy there were a lot of deaths!) weren't important? Of course not. They were huge and helped shape the show into the monster hit it became.
But, we wanted to keep it tight — so here are the nine best moments to cry, fist pump, or shoot your air bow over as Oliver and the gang take a final bow.
It begins (Season 1, Episode 1)
Every great story has to start somewhere, and despite a few hiccups here and there, the Arrow pilot was near-perfect.
It introduced the major players (sans Felicity, who didn't show up until a few episodes later), the crux of Oliver’s mission, and set the tone for a series that would go on to inspire an entire schedule full of superhero shows. Seeing Oliver suit up and take out baddies for the first time kicked off a decade of butt-kicking.
Oliver fails the city, and Tommy (Season 1, Episode 23)
The Hood spent all season trying to solve the mystery of a crisis looming for the Glades. He figures it out, tracks down Merlyn/the Dark Archer… and then fails.
The catastrophe happens as planned, a chunk of the Glades are leveled, and most tragically, Tommy Merlyn is killed in the crossfire. The Season 1 finale is a gutsy one, and set the tone that this isn't your usual superhero show where the hero comes through in the end.
Oliver lost, and lost big. And Tommy's death made it clear even the core cast weren't safe in the Arrowverse.
Slade takes Star City (Season 2, Episode 23)
The story of turning Slade Wilson into the Big Bad was a slow burn on Arrow, but it paid off in spades, making for one of the show's most acclaimed seasons with some fantastic moments.
That clash came to a head when Slade's army takes Star City, leading to one of the biggest battles and fights in show history up to that point. Slade was aiming to destroy everything Oliver cared for by killing his mother, kidnapping those close to him, and trying to burn his city to ashes.
It was ambitious, but the story of two brothers in blood stayed close at its center.
Oliver realizes his love for Felicity (Season 2, Episode 23)
As comic fans are well aware, the epic love story of the Green Arrow comic books is between Oliver and Laurel/Dinah Lance. So when some instant chemistry developed between Oliver and his occasional tech support helper Felicity, it threw an interesting wrench into the series plan.
Those flirtations came to a head in the Season 2 finale, as Oliver declared his love for Felicity, but only as a ruse and part of a trap to catch Slade. It was a touching, raw moment (even if part of it was for show). Of course, it all eventually turned out to be true. It was the first bit of payoff for the relationship that would become foundational to the series. Put simply, it was the birth of Olicity.
The first Arrow/The Flash crossover (Season 3, Episode 8)
Sure, in hindsight the first-ever Arrow/The Flash crossover was a fairly simple affair. It featured some rouges of the week, but mostly served as a way to finally get these two casts and heroes together in the same scene — and boy did it work. It was dynamite.
We got Cisco geeking out over the Arrow Cave and cracking jokes. We got Oliver making a bit of hilarious self-examination by comparing himself to the much happier, lighter Team Flash. We got Barry offering Oliver some advice that, yes, the Hood really can inspire people if he wanted to make a bigger difference in his city. It set the stage for much, much bigger events down the line.
But they had to stick the landing with this one to make everything, from Crisis to Invasion, possible.
Oliver vs. Ra's al Ghul (Season 3, Episode 9)
Arrow has had plenty of great villains along the way, and Ra's al Ghul was one of the best. The culmination of their bad blood came to a head with a mountaintop sword fight, and it made for one of the most epic one-on-one fight scenes the show has ever attempted.
It also included a fun twist that was often a hallmark of Arrow — the hero lost. Oliver takes a sword to the chest and is literally tossed off a mountain. (He got better eventually, of course. But that didn't make it any less painful to watch.)
Episode 100 (Season 5, Episode 8)
They pulled out all the stops for Episode 100, a milestone that also happened to fall in one of the show’s wildest crossovers to date, Invasion!
The gist is that the heroes are in a hallucination where the world is "perfect." Oliver never took that fateful trip on the Queen's Gambit, he's engaged to Laurel, Tommy's alive, Diggle is the Green Arrow, and Oliver basically has his dream life. It's a fascinating peek at what could've been, and is loaded with fun Easter eggs along the way.
Of course, our heroes eventually realize the trials and tribulations they've faced were worth the pain — then it was time to take out some aliens.
Constantine helps save Sara's soul (Season 4, Episode 5)
It was one of the most surprising crossovers up to that point, pulling over a fellow DC character from a recently-canceled show on a completely different network. And it was awesome.
With Team Arrow working to restore Sara's soul, they get a little help from the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Matt Ryan's take on the character got his start on his own short-lived solo series at NBC that was canceled after one season. But his appearance on Arrow set the stage for a whole lot more life for the demonologist, who is now a character on DC's Legends of Tomorrow, helping stop craziness across time and space.
Oliver's death to save the multiverse (Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 1)
Oliver's impending death during the Crisis event had been telegraphed more than a year in advance, but they still managed to make it a jaw-dropper.
Instead of saving Oliver's death scene for the climactic battle at the end of the event (though he got one of those, too), the Green Arrow gave his life holding off an unbeatable force to allow a few more million lives to be saved from Supergirl's Earth before it was destroyed. It was the way Oliver was always meant to go out: Fighting for what's right against odds he shouldn't even have a chance of matching. But fighting just the same.