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A good antagonist can make or break a hero, set a tone, offering a challenge to make them a worthy opponent. The best of the best have provided amazing seasons of Arrowverse shows. These are rankings of all the Big Bads — the ultimate villains for showdown at season's climax — that has had. Please be warned that there are full spoilers for all four Arrowverse shows.

12. Vandal Savage (Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1)

'Legends of Tomorrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Legends of Tomorrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 3

Effective antagonist: 3

Entertainment value: 0

There is hardly a character in all of Arrowverse who was more miscast than Vandal Savage. Casper Crump isn't a bad actor, per se, but he lacked the proper menace and megalomania the character deserved. This made him a serious drag on Legends of Tomorrow when he was around, reflecting the myriad problems affecting the show's messy first season. Episodes devoid of Savage were regularly among the best, and it was with a great sigh of relief when we said goodbye to him at the end of the year.

11. Hunter Zolomon/Zoom (The Flash Season 2)

'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 2

Effective antagonist: 3

Entertainment value: 1

Second season of The Flash came in riding high off the success of its first year, which gave it a lot of leeway at the start. Unfortunately, that leeway was squandered on a second outing of an evil speedster masquerading as someone else gunning for Barry's powers. While the bait and switch with Jay Garrick looked good on paper, it failed in execution. This was due to the fact that Zoom's motives never evolved beyond "evil" and that the fake Jay Garrick was incredibly dull — even more so once his identity was revealed. At least we got the enjoyment of watching him be eaten by Speed Force banshees when all was said and done.

10. Non (Supergirl Season 1)

'Supergirl' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Supergirl' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 6

Effective antagonist: 2

Entertainment value: 0

Supergirl's first season hit a snag when it lost Laura Benanti, who had been serving double duty as Kara's mother as hologram/flashback, as well as the season's seeming Big Bad in Kara's evil Aunt Astra. Benanti's abrupt departure meant evil villain duties fell on the shoulders of Astra's husband, Non: a sniveling, underdeveloped support to his wife's larger plans. Non barely ever resonated as a screen presence and his motives and intentions never gained much coherency. In the end, he faded into the legacy of forgettable antagonists.

9. Evil Barry Allen/Savitar (The Flash Season 3)

'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 9

Effective antagonist: 1

Entertainment value: 3

The Flash's third season really started to hit troubled waters in its back half, where the recent reveal of yet another evil speedster combined with a flash forward vision of Iris's death became the framing elements for the show. The question of Savitar's identity was dragged out far longer than it needed to be, and the reveal of an evil Barry Allen came as little surprise to much of the fandom. In the end, his motives remained unclear, and what could've made for an interesting exploration of Barry's dark side was consumed by time travel/time remnant/Speed Force/Iris-is-being-victimized-again nonsense.

8. Ra's Al Ghul (Arrow Season 3)

'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 5

Effective antagonist: 7

Entertainment value: 5

Arrow's third season gets a lot of flak from fans, yet it's a better outing than its reputation suggests. Ra's al Ghul proved an organic evolution for the show, given all the appearances the League of Assassins had made in the first two seasons. His character helped emphasize the shifting morality of his organization: sometimes ally, sometimes not. He made a great foil for Oliver, driving his identity of self-doubt into a crisis. Though it landed poorly in the end, there was still plenty of meaty material along the way.

7. Damien Darhk (Arrow Season 4)

'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 2

Effective antagonist: 6

Entertainment value: 9

It is almost universally agreed that Neil McDonough's turn as Damien Darhk was one of the high points of Arrow's lackluster fourth season, playing the part of the immortal, megalomaniacal magic wielder with a delightful joie de vivre. McDonough alone could, at times, bolster up the flailing season, as Darkhe's appearances never failed to entertain. Unfortunately, his impersonal connection to the team made for less compelling story material, and his plan in the end was a bit too perplexing to be all that interesting.

6. Queen Rhea (Supergirl Season 2)

'Supergirl' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Supergirl' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 6

Effective antagonist: 8

Entertainment value: 8

Actors do really make the villain, and almost no one demonstrates that better than Teri Hatcher as Queen Rhea — a vicious, self-serving queen who will kill even her own husband when she feels she's been betrayed. Her emergence as the season's Big Bad came as something of a surprise, but certainly not an unpleasant one. The show smartly crafted a vendetta between her and built on the mutual distrust between Daxam and Krypton. While her sense of entitlement drove her to try and take over Earth for her people, creating a wonderful crisis for the team to manage, in the end, she became one of the very best things out of Supergirl's strong second year.

5. Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer (Arrow Season 1)

'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 8

Effective antagonist: 7

Entertainment value: 9

It's fair to say that Arrowverse wouldn't be the same without John Barrowman's contributions. From the get-go, he's played the role of Merlyn with a delightful menace — a sociopath that's seemingly aware of the moral lines he's crossed, yet just crazy enough to find justification for his dark deeds. Though he would later become a shifting ally and nemesis, Season 1 was his year, and he gets extra marks across the board. His history with the Queens, his crazed plan for the Glades, even the fact that his actions (in destroying the Queen's Gambit) effectively set Arrowverse in motion; the importance of his role to this universe cannot be overstated.

4. The Legion Of Doom (Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2)

'Legends of Tomorrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Legends of Tomorrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 7

Effective antagonist: 9

Entertainment value: 10

Legends of Tomorrow's second year had a substantial uptick in quality, and the change-up in villains played a undeniable role in that effect. Bringing together the likes of Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn and Eobard Thawne proved a genius move that continued to pay out dividends as the season progressed. Their disdain for our heroes, the constant bickering between Merlyn and Darhk, the collective obsession for selfish gain, made for a delightful set of antagonists. Captain Cold's appearance late in the game only raised the bar even further, as they successfully crafted the Spear of Destiny and created their own idealized Doomworld. The Legion of Doom goes to show, in all the best ways, that just because the bad guys might team up doesn't mean they're all going to get along.

3. Fake Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash (The Flash Season 1)

'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'The Flash' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 8

Effective antagonist: 9

Entertainment value: 9

All respect to Matt Lescher's Reverse Flash, but Tom Cavanagh entirely owned this role in The Flash's first year. In the show's three-year history, no other character has proven more complex or compelling. Cavanagh brought an extraordinary sense of fatherly care to the people working for him, overseeing the team with a guiding hand seemingly driven by generosity and the well-being of others. The reveal that he was really Reverse Flash — Barry's archenemy from the future — made him all the more intriguing. Though he had to die, it was difficult to say one way or the other if he was truly evil or truly good in the end.

2. Adrian Chase/Prometheus (Arrow Season 5)

'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 9

Effective antagonist: 9

Entertainment value: 10

There's no better demonstration of Arrow's rebound in quality for fifth season than Prometheus. A reveal for a character that came as a genuine surprise, re-contextualizing all of Adrian Chase's earlier scenes with a disturbing undercurrent of menace. His personal vendetta against Oliver made for an immensely compelling narrative — not just in the exploration of legacy, but in his tactics for psychological warfare above all else. Josh Segarra regularly brought an impressive level of unhinged to the character, even before the reveal. This was a reminder to the audience that emphasized the true terror lurking beneath that charming veneer.

1. Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Arrow Season 2)

'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]
'Arrow' [Credit: Warner Bros. TV]

Team connection: 10

Effective antagonist: 10

Entertainment value: 10

In the realm of comic book adaptations, very few rise to the ranks of Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson — a brilliant, complex and layered villain built over the course of two seasons as ally-turned-enemy to Oliver. In the show's near-perfect second year, the audience witnessed his slow transformation into the menacing Deathstroke, brought on by the death of Shado and the Mirakuru serum. Bennett always kept a grounded element to the portrayal, of a man dangerously in-control even while driven by anger and revenge. His personal connection to Oliver — and the emotional complexity of the situation that brought them there — made for some of the very best storytelling Arrowverse has seen.

We have new seasons gearing up for all four shows in the fall, so here's hoping they can add more great villains to the pack.

Who are your favorite Arrowverse villains? Please share in the comments below.

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