From a reckless rich playboy to a stern vigilante who sacrifices himself to save the multiverse, Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow has come a long way!
The storytelling in Arrow has not always been chronological, which can be confusing to some fans who are trying to page together how the past events affect the current timelines as well as understand which characters are returning from Oliver’s past. Thankfully, I’ve streamlined it all for you so you can enjoy the show better!
Without further ado, here’s Oliver Queen’s timeline in Arrow explained, outlined by key events. Take a look!
1. Pre-Origin Story (Flashbacks + Season 1)
Oliver Queen’s chronological timeline begins with his “pre-origin” story/backstory as a rich partying playboy. These events are mainly depicted as flashbacks, majorly in S1 and a few others through S2-8.
When you watch Arrow’s premiere episode, it starts off with Oliver returning to Starling City, adorning the Hood. Little do we know that he was not always a broody crime-fighting vigilante.
One of the most tragic things that happen to him is when his boat gets sabotaged by his adversary Malcolm Merlyn. Knowing that only one of them can survive the sinking ship, his father sacrifices himself, but not before telling Oliver that his family wealth was built from all the corruption in Starling City.
2. Stranded on the Island, Lian Yu (Flashbacks + Season 1)
Following the sinking boat incident, Oliver lands up on Lian Yu where he eventually trains to become the Arrow for five years. These events are also depicted as flashbacks in S1.
The basis of Oliver’s Arrow is created here on this island, through Slade Wilson’s combat training, Shado’s archery training, and Yao Fei’s survival training. During this time he also has a few missions that he undertakes including Dr. Anthony Ivo, working for ARGUS, saving Constantine, and killing the Russian mobster named Konstantin Kovar.
3. Return to Starling City (Flashbacks + Season 1)
Oliver learns that his father’s book contains all the names of the corrupt people in Starling City. Talia convinces him to return to Starling City to take care of this menace once and for all. All of these events take place in Arrow S1.
We finally arrive at the present timeline, where Oliver is constantly heard saying, “You have failed this city!” Here is also where Team Arrow is assembled with the introduction of John Diggle and Felicity Smoak.
This season’s main antagonist is The Undertaking, controlled by Merlyn. Although Arrow manages to defeat these parties, innocent Tommy Merlyn also dies in the process. The grief makes Oliver rethink his stance as the Hood and he retires to Lian Yu for some time.
4. Slade WIlson’s Betrayal (Seasons 2-3)
After John and Felicity convince Oliver to come back to Starling City, he takes on the moniker of Arrow. He now faces the new threat of his former mentor Slade, who has turned villainous due to his mirakuru-laced blood. These arcs take place over Season 2 and 3.
During this time, Oliver and Team Arrow have to deal with a few lower-stakes dilemmas such as well such as copycat Hoods, the League of Assassins, and the sinister Brother Blood.
However, the big shocker is Slade’s return as a villainous entity which happens due to his blood transfusions. In a tragic twist of events, the mirakuru-laced blood which was used to save Slade’s life turns him psychotic, to the point that he even kills Oliver’s mother and threatens to kill Laurel and Felicity.
While Slade is eventually given a cure, it doesn’t undo all the damage he has done. The chaos ends with Oliver finally taken down Ra’s Al Ghoul and the League of Assassins.
5. The Green Arrow vs Damien Darhk (Season 4)
The main threat in Arrow S4 is Damien Darhk and his wife who are running against Oliver to be the Mayor of the renamed Star City. Darhk is actually a former member of the League of Assassins and wants to carry out a nuclear attack.
Sadly, in the attempt to beat Darhk, Team Arrow loses Laurel who dies at Darhk’s hands. Her death, however, allows Oliver to attain light magic that helps him to defeat Darkh’s sorcery.
6. Arrow vs Prometheus (Season 5)
The showdown with Darhk causes a new Team Arrow to form, with Wild Dog, Artemis, Mr. Terrific, Ragman, and Black Canary joining the crew. These events take place in S5, with Prometheus acting as the main antagonist.
Laurel’s death shakes up the old Team Flash, causing Diggle and Thea to leave and inviting new members in. Along with training the green team and depicting their new dynamics, this season is all about Adrian Chase/Prometheus’ enmity with Oliver.
Turns out Chase’s father was killed by the Hood, which is why he wants to take out his vengeance on Oliver. This results in massive loss of life, as Chase carries out a bomb blast on Lian Yu in the season finale.
7. The “Retired” Arrow (Season 6)
After defeating Prometheus, Oliver retires so that he can spend time with his son, whose existence he found out about in the previous season. The Dragon is the main antagonist of season 6.
Despite being “retired,” Oliver faces a new threat in the form of hacker Cayden James and FBI agent Samanda Watson who want to rid Star City of vigilantes like Arrow. He soon finds out that they’re actually being given orders by the Dragon, who is trying to break up Team Arrow and take control over the city.
Although the Dragon is defeated, he escapes without getting killed.
8. Showdown with the Ninth Circle (Season 7)
Season 7 introduce Oliver’s half-sister, Emiko Adachi, who turns out to be the leader of the terrorist organization called the Ninth Circle.
This season also deals with the Monitor, whose reckless decision causes chaos across the multiverse — including Barry and Oliver switching lives! This chaos will continue into S8 as well.
Emiko, on the other hand, starts off the season wanting to kill Oliver but ends up making up with him, evening managing to finish off the Dragon once and for all. Sadly, she too is killed by the Ninth Circle for switching sides and allying with Oliver.
At the end of the season, Oliver and Felicity go into hiding and prepare for the birth of their kid.
9. Arrow saves the Multiverse (Season 8)
Monitor asks Oliver to help him defeat Anti-Monitor who is set to cause the Crisis on infinite Earths. Ultimately, Oliver will sacrifice himself to save the entire multiverse. These events take place in Arrow S8 and will bring the show to a close.
After such an epic journey, Oliver’s story as the Green Arrow meets its climax with his faceoff with Anti-Monitor who wants to erase everything imaginable. We’re in for a real shock as well here, seeing Oliver die twice — once in his human form and the second in his Spectre form, both of which he does in order to defeat Anti-Monitor and restore the multiverse.
We get a small happy ending in the form of Felicity reuniting with Oliver in the afterlife.
10. How will Oliver reappear in The Flash S9?
Oliver Queen has been teased to return one final time to the Arrowverse in The Flash S9. However, it hasn’t been disclosed in what form he will appear.
While fans hope that Oliver will appear as himself and not the Spectre, there’s no telling which way the story will go. After all, there’s no way the franchise can resurrect him, right? The only viable possibility is see him once again in the Afterlife.
The Flash S9 is set to premiere very soon and we shall have all our answers then — as well as see the Green Arrow for one last time!
11. About Arrow
Arrow is an American superhero television series developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, a costumed crime-fighter created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp, and is set in the Arrowverse with other related television series. The series premiered in the United States on The CW on October 10, 2012, and was primarily filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Arrow follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who claimed to have spent five years shipwrecked on Lian Yu, a mysterious island in the North China Sea, before returning home to Starling City (later renamed “Star City”) to fight crime and corruption as a secret vigilante whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrow.