When a TV series is on the air for a considerable number of years, it's only natural that fans of the show will rank each season in order of superiority. In fact, sometimes the cast and crew of said show will do the same, voicing how proud they are of certain outings while acknowledging issues they encountered on others. And that's the kind of honesty that we always see from Arrow star Stephen Amell.
Amell has always been vocal on social media about how much he loves being a part of Arrow, but is also open to the idea that some seasons weren't as great as others. However, when attending the Heroes and Villains FanFest in New York City, he was asked to rank the seasons of the show in order of greatness, and that's exactly what he did. Check out the video below:
According to the Twitter user who posted the video, Amell followed the ranking up with the statement, "I'm going to get in trouble for this." And the likely reason for that comment is down to the fact that the critically reviled Season 4 is noticeably absent from the list.
While all shows are open to interpretation, it's almost universally agreed that Season 4 was by far the show's worst outing. Thus, he likely won't get much backlash from fans for its absence on his list. But what about the rest of the seasons? Let's take a look and see if Amell's rankings are up to scratch before looking at why he was right to exclude Season 4.
Is Amell's Ranking Of Each Season Correct?
Amell began his ranking of Arrow's seasons with Season 1, citing it as the best, and I don't think he'd get much argument there. The show undoubtedly began on a high and featured some of the strongest installments. Known for its gritty realism and emotionally harrowing episodes, it was much darker back then and was even compared to Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed The Dark Knight Trilogy. The same applies to Season 2, as both of Arrow's first two seasons are universally considered to be its strongest outings.
But alas, Amell placed Season 5 in second place instead, relegating Season 2 to the number three spot. This was definitely an interesting choice, because while the fifth season was undoubtedly the best we've seen since the first two (not to mention, an incredible comeback following Season 4), I'm not sure it's quite on the level of Season 2. Don't get me wrong, Season 5 has an incredible villain in Prometheus, a much welcome return to the darker storytelling and the long overdue introduction of Black Siren.
However, being a part of the Arrow fandom for years, it seems that the vast majority of fans seem to believe that Season 2 was actually the best season of the show. With the introduction of Deathstroke, the debut of Sara Lance's Canary which created golden conflict with her sister Laurel and the arrival of Barry Allen, Season 2 wasn't just better than Season 5, it was arguably the best offering Arrow has ever given us.
Amell then closed out his ranking with Season 3 in "last place," which he also won't likely receive much backlash for. During that season, Arrow had to become colorful to incorporate the metahuman-filled world of spinoff #TheFlash. Moreover, the almighty Ra's Al Guhl wasn't necessarily as great as he could have been and the "Olicity" drama began to drag the show down. While many of us had been enjoying the chemistry between Oliver and Felicity, Season 3 ended up turning it into a melodramatic tearjerker. And that wasn't what either character was about.
However, we shouldn't write Season 3 off completely. It may have felt like a watered-down version of the previous two seasons, but there were some great standout episodes and arcs that deserve a lot of credit. The "Canary Trilogy" which guest-starred Vinnie Jones, finally gave us Laurel Lance's long-waited evolution into the Black Canary, as she saved Star City in the Arrow's absence. Those episodes were among the best of the season.
Why He Was Right To Exclude Season 4
While Amell's exclusion of Season 4 may have been a harmless joke, Season 4 was anything but harmless. The "Olicity" drama became so overwhelming that it felt like we were watching a melodramatic daytime soap opera; the Big Bad, Damien Darhk, was the kookiest villain yet (despite an excellent performance from Neal McDonagh), and the writers crafted a "who's in the grave?" storyline without actually knowing who they would kill off.
But the final nail in Season 4's coffin came when the identity of the person in the grave was revealed to be the iconic Black Canary, Laurel Lance. Despite having a number of expendable original characters, this comic book-inspired #TV series decided to kill off one of the most legendary comic book characters.
Furthermore, after watching four years of drawn-out storytelling, we finally got to see Laurel achieve her comic book destiny (becoming the Black Canary), only to have her ripped away from us when she overcame her demons. Moreover, actress Katie Cassidy was still the female lead of the show, but in Season 4, her character was consistently relegated in favor of the overly-dramatic Felicity. Thus, to ultimately kill her off just felt like a major injustice to a beloved character, a great actress and the show in general.
The decision to kill off Laurel ended up impacting Arrow dramatically, and garnered a lot of backlash from fans. The ratings noticeably declined after her death and some fans even started petitions to bring her back. But the showrunners remained inexplicably steadfast and refused to budge. And after fans caught on that Laurel wasn't returning, the ratings began to plummit.
The backlash from Season 4 ensured that the writers produced a much stronger and all-round more enjoyable fifth season. Thanks to a better villain, new characters and the lack of relationship drama, we saw a dramatic improvement in Season 5. In addition, Oliver and Felicity were once again the characters we first fell in love with.
But despite the strong outing, the show was struggling in the ratings more than ever. While the showrunners tried to bring in a new Black Canary for damage control, the ratings never improved. Thus, they finally caved and brought Cassidy back as Laurel's evil Earth-2 doppelganger, Black Siren. And while this definitely added to the strength of Season 5, it felt like a lot of damage control in order to try and undo the major mistakes of Season 4.
Amell's rankings of Arrow's seasons are certainly interesting. While the placement of Season 5 and Season 2 are up for debate, it seems like he shares the collective opinion of fans when it comes to Season 3. But the ambiguous absence of Season 4 on that list speaks louder than the ranking itself.
The fourth season of Arrow impacted the show dramatically and resulted in a significant decline in ratings, that it has yet to recover from. But having said all that, the show must be commended for learning from its mistakes and bouncing back for Season 5. With a return to form last season, we have to wonder: Where will Season 6 rank on the list when it debuts in October?
Do you agree with Amell's Arrow ranking? Let us know in the comments below!