13 Times Oliver Queen's Hair Almost Made Me Stop Watching Arrow

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Arrow's Oliver Queen is responsible for launching the entire DC TV universe on the small screen, and we can be sure that superheroes on the small screen would not be what they are today if not for the success of his show way back in 2012. In the years since, Oliver has endured his fair share of terrible cuts, ill-advised growth, and poor decision-making that have impacted his journey in absolutely monumental ways. I am referring, of course, to his hair.

There's no getting around the reality that Stephen Amell is a good-looking guy. In fact, when I first started watching Arrow, I figured that whatever happened on this CW show, at least the scenery would be pretty, because there was surely nothing that could be done to completely change the leading man's look as a badass creature of the night. Then, I discovered the flashbacks. Oliver would grow to become one of my favorite superheroes of all time, but even I can't overlook some of his most egregious hair mishaps. So, join me on a blast to the past for 13 times that Oliver's terrible hair almost made me give up.

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Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

You might think that Oliver's original Tarzan hair from the pilot, complete with two feet of scraggly hair and beard, would be the first 'do to make me want to change the channel, but I endured that. Hey, he spent five years on an island in the South China Sea! Of course he's not going to look his most dapper. His pre-Lian Yu hair, however, is a different story. Stephen Amell barely seems like the same person when he has what I've come to call the "Pre-Island Ollie" look, and I know which version of Oliver I prefer.

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Season 1, Episode 2: Honor Thy Father

In Oliver's defense on this one, I'll admit that the cargo shorts don't do him any favors during the flashbacks in "Honor Thy Father," but his Pre-Island Ollie hair is pretty bad here. Frankly, I don't blame Yao Fei for shooting him at the end of the episode. Oliver doesn't have the visage of somebody who should be trusted to roam alone without messing everything up. He looks like the embodiment of bad judgment.

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Season 1, Episode 21: The Undertaking

Oh, Pre-Island Ollie. What dreadful thing did I do to deserve having you on my screen? This particular flashback scene actually features Oliver at what I consider his most unappealing. He's getting ready to set sail on that fateful trip on the Queen's Gambit when his doting girlfriend Laurel surprises him to say goodbye in person, prompting him to give her sister Sara the heads up to circle the block a few times before they can go off on their sex cruise together. And his hair looks like that. Just... ew all around.

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Season 1, Episode 20: Home Invasion

Ah, yes. The Lian Yu hair. I actually give Oliver a pass on a lot of his hair in the flashbacks for the second half of Season 1 and all of Season 2, simply because he is stuck on a horrible island without access to creature comforts, like indoor plumbing, toiletries, and not being hunted by mercenaries. Still, I have to bring it up in this case. I have suspended my belief for many things on this show, but Shado starting to fall for bumbling Ollie with that hair, when the hyper-competent Slade Wilson was right there? Come on, Arrow.

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Season 2, Episode 8: The Scientist

I can't give Oliver his Season 2 pass in this case for one simple reason: Sara, Shado, and Slade all look pretty well-coiffed, all things considered. Sara's been through hell with Ivo's crew, Shado has been living in the wilderness, Slade had half of his face burned off, and they all look more spiffy than our boy Oliver. If they could do it, he could have done it. Maybe he needed some Mirakuru.

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Season 2, Episode 12: Tremors

I totally get how you feel, Slade. Just aim a little higher and off to the side, and you're perfect. If only his mind hadn't already been warped by the Mirakuru, Slade might have been able to explain that all he really wanted to do was give Oliver a haircut via bullet. I mean, it wouldn't be the most conventional way of trimming his hair, but desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

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Season 3, Episode 4: The Magician

The pass that I mostly gave Oliver in the Season 2 flashbacks absolutely does not apply to the Season 3 flashbacks. The guy made it back to civilization and was staying in a home with a family. He had access to the resources for a shave and a haircut. Tatsu probably would have loved an excuse to use a pair of shears close to his face at this point. Instead, he's trying to blend into a Hong Kong crowd with a dirty blonde mop on head as the least stealthy assassin ever to work for ARGUS.

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Season 3, Episode 11: Midnight City

In "Midnight City," Oliver and Maseo ventured out to infiltrate a nightclub and rescue Tatsu. Oliver dressed decently for the first time in the flashbacks since... well, pretty much ever. It would have been the perfect time to give himself a trim. Instead, he apparently gave himself a blowout to hit the town. Way to strike fear into the hearts of the Hong Kong underworld, Oliver.

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Season 3, Episode 14: The Return

I'll concede that longer hair did make a certain degree of sense when Oliver returned to Starling City during his flashback period. He wouldn't want to be recognized when he's supposed to be dead and at the bottom of the South China Sea, so I'll give him a freebie on this one. The same can't be said for the hat, however, which seems to be actively trying to separate itself from what he has going on top of his head.

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Season 3, Episode 18: Public Enemy

In "Public Enemy," we have the SCPD getting ready to hunt down Oliver and prosecute him for his murders as the Arrow. In case any of the Starling cops somehow have forgotten what the city's foremost former billionaire looked like, they have a handy picture of him... that is at least eight years old and was apparently taken while Oliver was in his "What's the best way to look like a serial killer?" hair phase.

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Season 3, Episode 21: Al Sah-him

And here we have our one and only instance of Oliver's hair in the present unsettling me. It's not even that Oliver looks terrible with the shaved head. I mean, I can't say that I ever needed to see the shape of Stephen Amell's skull, but it's no Pre-Island Ollie for me. In his Al Sah-him stage, he just always seemed like he needed to be wearing a hat over his ears to keep from catching cold, and that's not something I want to be thinking when looking at what's supposed to be a ruthless assassin.

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Season 5, Episode 6: So It Begins

We get to skip Season 4 thanks to Oliver's early flashback haircut, but he just had to go ahead and grow it all back out for Season 5. Again, it wasn't so bad when he didn't have the time or resources to give himself a once-over every day. I could easily excuse his terrible hair early in the Season 5 flashbacks due to the fact that I can't imagine I'd be especially well-coiffed either if I was hanging out in Russian fight clubs. Once he was in with the Bratva, however, his free pass expired. If Anatoly can look decent in the Bratva, then damn it, so can Oliver!

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Season 5, Episode 17: Kapiushon

Honestly, I just feel bad for Stephen Amell at this point. It's like everybody at Arrow conspired to make him look as silly as possible in this episode. Apparently, this version of Oliver had not yet learned that weirdly-layered long hair doesn't really go with formalwear. I'm only bummed that we never saw him in the helmet that he must have worn to give his mop that particular shape. It's okay, Oliver. I'd be making that face too.

Honorable Mentions

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

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Hello darkness, my old friend...

Season 3, Episode 11: Midnight City

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Oops, I think his barrette fell out.

Season 3, Episode 14: The Return

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"Son, I'll woo them in, and you murder them and hide their bodies."

Season 5, Episode 6: So It Begins

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Way to go, Oliver. Your hair has driven poor Kovar to drink.

Arrow airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule for a look at all your other viewing options, and don't forget to drop by our rundown of the 2017 TV renewals and cancellations so far.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).