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The 10 Best Cliffhangers On Arrow

With the CW and DC Comics new series, Naomi, premiering on Tuesday night, DC fans were left with questions over the episode’s last-minute reveal. Fans of the CW and of DC TV, in particular, aren’t new to thrilling character reveals or shocking moments in an episode’s final moment, as Arrow laid out the blueprint for what this form of superhero television could offer.

Related: 10 Best Shows Like The CW’s Naomi

In the series’ 8 season run, Arrow left audiences on their toes with strong cliffhangers. Unmasking notorious villains, birthing fan-favorite heroes, betrayals, tragic deaths, resurrections. Arrow had them all. Loyal fans of the Green Arrow and greater DC mythos would see comic-inspired plotlines coming from miles away, and often the greatest and most compelling cliffhangers were those that subverted the fan’s expectations.

10 Moira Queen Arranged The Abduction Of Oliver. Season 1 Episode 1 – “Pilot”

The episode that started it all. The end of the pilot reveals that there is a deeper scheme at work and that Oliver’s mother is a part of it.

This was the beginning of the Undertaking plotline that would take up most of the show’s first season, and the pilot’s cliffhanger left just enough mystery and intrigue to come back and watch the villainous plot unfold.

9 Oliver Reveals Himself To The World. Season 6 Episode 23 – “Life Sentence”

The conclusion of Season 6 saw the law finally close in on the Green Arrow. After the thrilling climax, Oliver is forced to turn himself in.

Fans were left to speculate in the offseason over Oliver’s imprisonment, and over what would happen to Team Arrow with Ricardo Diaz still at large and seeking revenge. This was the first time a season’s main villain hadn’t been dealt with in the closing episode, leaving excitement for unfinished business.


8 Malcolm Merlyn Is The Dark Archer. Season 1 Episode 9 – “Year’s End”

The first season’s midseason finale saw the Arrow taking on one of his major comic book villains, Merlyn. The climactic moment of the episode reveals Malcolm Merlyn unmasking himself.

Merlyn would be a fan favorite villain throughout the show, and the excitement of his first reveal would become a staple of the Arrowverse’s writing style throughout many seasons of shows to come. This is the first episode where Oliver is bested in combat, and where he does not succeed in his mission. This would become the blueprint for a midseason finale in the Arrowverse, giving a small taste of the final boss.

7 Deathstroke Is Alive. Season 2 Episode 9 – “Three Ghosts”

Though fans were kept interested by Sara Lance’s Black Canary, Brother Blood, and Barry Allen in the first half of Season 2, it was Slade Wilson being revealed as alive in the present timeline that left fans with tremendous excitement for the back half of the season. Deathstroke’s storyline would become a fan favorite.

Deathstroke’s revealing his revenge plot against Oliver was the first of two cliffhangers in “Three Ghosts” that had fans buzzing to get back after the midseason break. Similar to the reveal of Merlyn in Season 1, this episode unveils the main villain of the season. However, the emotional impact is far greater as this time around, the villain is a character who had been friends with Oliver in flashbacks until this point.

6 Green Arrow Saves The Universe. Season 8 Episode 8 – “Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part Four”

Oliver dies during Crisis on Infinite Earths

Similar to Avengers: End Game, fans of the Arrowverse had been theorizing over the hero deaths that would inevitably come in the fictional universe’s first major climax. Like in End Game, it was the man who started the universe who had the last iconic line and the heroic sacrifice.

This cliffhanger carried the emotional weight of eight seasons and thirteen years of Oliver Queen’s life. With two episodes remaining in the show’s final season, fans wondered what Arrow would be like without Oliver Queen.

5 Barry Allen Is Struck By Lightning. Season 2 Episode 9 – “Three Ghosts”

Barry Allen gets hit with a bolt

The two-episode arc featuring a loveable traveling CSI, Barry Allen, introduced world-building on a scale the show hadn’t seen just yet. These episodes revealed the existence of Central City, Star Labs, Caitlin Snow, Cisco Ramone, and of course, Barry Allen.

Somehow a man being struck by lightning may be the happiest of cliffhangers on this list, as even casual fans understood it could only mean one thing: The Flash was coming soon. Though it would take some time for the characters of Arrow to see the effects of this scene, the birth of the meta-humans would have a lasting impact on the Arrow universe.

4 Moira Queen Is Murdered By Deathstroke. Season 2 Episode 20 – “Seeing Red”

Moira - Women Heroes of Arrow

In just the same episode as the touching moment between Oliver and Moira where she reveals that she knows he is the Arrow, she is ripped from his life by the vengeful Deathstroke.

Related: The Best Character in Each Season of Arrow

The cliffhanger resulted in another major character death, reinforcing the idea that no one in Oliver’s life was truly safe from his enemies. A message that would remain consistent throughout the series. This moment forces Oliver into one of his lowest points in the series, feeling responsible for the effect he has had on those around him.

3 Adrian Chase Unmasks Himself. Season 5 Episode 15 – “Fighting Fire with Fire”

Arrow Season 8 Adrian Chase The Hood

One character that truly distanced himself from his comic book alternative was Adrian Chase. Chase’s comic book alter ego, Vigilante, was actually used as a red herring to deter fans from the theory that the justice-seeking district attorney could actually be the villain Prometheus. The episode fully displayed how intelligent Prometheus really was.

After months of theorizing, fans received answers, and more questions, as Prometheus unmasks himself randomly at the midway point of the episode. The delay of the villain reveal all the way to Episode 15 of the season, as well as the use of comic book knowledge against the audience, makes this the strongest unmasking on the list.

2 Adrian Chase Detonates Lian Yu. Season 5 Episode 23 – “Lian Yu”

The acclaimed season finale had the perfect blend of action, emotion, and shock. The season’s cliffhanger ending had audiences truly gasping for more as Prometheus made his final move.

Related: 9 Unpopular Opinions About The Villains Of Arrow, According to Reddit

This ending left fans wondering who of Team Arrow remained alive in between seasons and well into the next, as Season 6 would slowly reveal exactly what actually happened on the island. It also showed fans and Oliver, truly how mad Adrian really was.

1 Oliver Is Defeated By Ra’s Al Ghul In The Trial By Combat. Season 3 Episode 9 – “The Climb”

Though Season 3 as a whole received mixed reviews from fans, it’s almost unanimous that Oliver’s mountaintop trial by combat with Ra’s al Ghul was the greatest cliffhanger of the series.

Unlike in previous seasons, Season 3’s villain had been revealed early on and there was no unmasking to reveal in the midseason finale. Instead, fans were left over the winter hiatus to ponder whether their hero was still alive. The cliffhanger created a ton of buzz in the weeks to follow until the next episode.

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