This article contains massive spoilers for Arrow Season 8 Episode 10, “Fadeout.”
After eight years and 170 episodes, Arrow has officially hung up its proverbial hood. The granddaddy of the DC TV superhero universe said farewell with “Fadeout,” an emotional, satisfying hour that paid tribute to both the recently departed Oliver Queen and the impact of the show that bears his (superhero) name.
Many of us probably wondered how Arrow would handle its final two episodes, given that its leading man was killed off (twice) in the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. Some of us (me, included) may have presumed that Oliver would be miraculously resurrected, left to exist as the DC TV universe’s figurehead, largely absent but available to be dragged out during the next big network multi-series event. But that’s not what happens at all.
Instead, Arrow uses its final hour to explore something most superhero stories never bother with telling – the part that comes afterward, when the suits are put away and the fighting’s done. When we have to reckon with a life’s work, the legacy we leave behind, and all the reasons we fight in the first place. So while Arrow’s ending is perhaps a bit darker than many of us expected, but it’s also cathartic, emotional, and perfect for the show this was – reminding us why Oliver Queen’s story mattered before finally showing us his much-deserved, if slightly bittersweet, happy ending.
Oliver Queen is Really Dead
In what is perhaps the most surprising turn of events, Arrow makes no effort to undo what has come before in this finale. Oliver Queen is really most sincerely dead. No false starts. No takebacks. The events of Crisis on Infinite Earths are final, and though Oliver’s actions brought a new world into being, the price for doing so was his own life.
Honestly, for a former street level rich kid vigilante, it’s not a bad way to go out. It’s the hero’s death Oliver both deserved and was probably always destined for. That Arrow ultimately decides to honor his sacrifice by actually making it stick is probably the true miracle here. The fact that Oliver himself doesn’t appear outside of flashbacks until the episode’s final scene (more on that in a minute) is a testament to both the force of his character and his larger impact on Star City and the world that Arrow has made.
Who Was at Oliver Queen’s Funeral?
His sacrifice resurrects many previously dead characters, from Moira Queen and Quentin Lance to Tommy Merlyn and Oliver’s half-sister Emiko, giving them a second shot at life. Oliver’s funeral brings back a dozen of our favorites from the show’s eight seasons – from Oliver’s sister Thea and the grown-up version of his daughter Mia, to The Flash’s Barry Allen, Legends of Tomorrow’s Sara Lance, and Supergirl’s Kara Zor-El. Even Nyssa and Talia al Ghul show up, to honor the man who had once been their dedicated enemy. The sweeping shot of the mourners at his graveside illustrates just how many lives Oliver has touched over the show’s eight seasons, and the difference he has made in them.
What’s Next for the Arrow Team?
“Fadeout” isn’t just about wrapping up the journey of its main character, however, but also about everything he – and this show itself – leaves behind. The story of Arrow may have begun with one man, but it ends with a squad of dedicated heroes, all ready to pick up Oliver’s bow (literally in his daughter’s case) and fight for the world he wanted.
“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you’ll never get to see.” Or so says a pretty popular musical these days, anyway. Arrow clearly agrees, since its series finale is all about what comes next. The story doesn’t end with Oliver, after all.
When Arrow premiered, pretty much no one could have ever imagined where it would end up. It started as the tale of a selfish playboy with fancy technology, a mask and a hunger for revenge. It ends as a tale of self-sacrifice and redemption, and serves as an object lesson in what superhero television can both do and be. Arrow has spawned six spin-offs to-date (The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, Batwoman, and the upcoming Superman and Lois), a densely interconnected onscreen universe, and features dozens of women, LGBT characters and people of color across its properties. What’s next? What isn’t.
Of course, the season finale is as much about looking forward as it is about looking back. As much about hope as it is about grief. Oliver’s gone, and that’s a tragedy, but he’s taught an entirely new generation of people how to be heroes too. And that’s no small thing.
Oliver’s daughter isn’t the only one following in her father’s footsteps (although her journey looks to be more literal than most). So is Rene, running for public office. So are Thea and Roy, choosing each other even as they face down the bad guys around them. Laurel has fought to become the person Oliver and Quentin believed she could be. Sara is out there leading a team of weirdos and saving the world on the regular. Barry’s still running. And Diggle is 100% going to turn out to be a Green Lantern, if we’re lucky.
These are the things Oliver’s leaving behind that matter, not a statue in his honor. Or, to quote another recent DC property: if you seek his monument, look around you.
Olicity Final Scene: The Oliver and Felicity Reunion
It turns out that Arrow always knew where it was going. Or at least it did since the Season 7 finale, anyway. If we’d been paying attention, we probably could have figured it out – that even an Arrow happy ending has to be a little bit bittersweet.
“You Have Saved This City” hinted that wherever the Felicity of 2040 was headed with the Monitor, a reunion with Oliver waited at the end. “Fadeout” closes that circle as the show returns to that moment in time, and shows us what was on the other side of that portal.
It’s Moira Queen’s office, just as it looked in Arrow Season 1, even down to the infamous red pen that Felicity was chewing on when she and Oliver met. Everything is bright and sparkling outside Queen Consolidated, and the sun is shining. It’s very possible we’ve never seen Star City this clean. It looks beautiful.
Oliver appears, and he and Felicity embrace in what is possibly one of the most earned and satisfying kisses in the multiverse. Because it’s not just a man being reunited with his wife, sweet as that is. And it’s not just a woman that’s been waiting for half her life to see the man she loved again. It’s all a promise – that Oliver’s sacrifices meant something, that he had finally earned his reward, that he gets a chance at the one thing he’s been denied for the past eight years and then some. Peace.
Arrow doesn’t precisely specify where exactly Oliver and Felicity are though. Are they dead, in a heavenly afterlife? Are they living in some kind of perfect dream dimension? There’s event a hint of a parallel with how things ended up for the Golden Age Superman and Lois Lane at the conclusion of the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic, which saw them sent to a pocket dimension paradise to be togethr forever. Is this a Choose Your Own Adventure kind of thing? And does it matter? Personally, I’m here for the afterlife theory, if only because it adds the slightest edge to things and makes it all a bit bittersweet in a way that I find appealing. But no matter where they are, the explanation is the same. Their happy ending is each other, and they’ve earned it after all this time.
And so have we, as viewers.
If the last time we see Oliver Queen is looking out over the best version of the city he worked so hard to save, with Felicity at his side and an eternity in front of them? It’s hard to imagine how Arrow might have wrapped up more perfectly.