The CW’s Arrow has been a surprisingly dark superhero series that isn't afraid to kill off some of Oliver Queen’s nearest and dearest. Those deaths have affected Oliver’s journey as a superhero in a big way, and it turns out that one death in particular changed his attitude toward crimefighting. CinemaBlend’s Greg Wakeman spoke with star Stephen Amell ahead of the release for his upcoming feature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and when asked which of Arrow's many deaths hit Oliver the hardest, here’s what Amell had to say:
Well, the death of his father was one thing, but just speaking about the present day since we started the series and not just the flashbacks I’d say Tommy. That’s obviously informed a lot of his modus operandi and his no-killing rule for the past several years.
Arrow fans will remember well the big death from the Season 1 finale of Arrow. The city was falling apart, the damsel was in distress, and the hero who saved his fair lady was...Tommy Merlyn, rather than Oliver Queen. Tommy saved Laurel Lance, but he was crushed by debris in the process. Oliver arrived just in time to watch his best friend die, and the vigilante was left with the very vivid memory of Tommy calling him a murderer.
Tommy wasn’t exactly wrong. Oliver of Season 1 did an awful lot of killing as the Hood, and an awful lot of that killing could have been avoided. The heartbreak of losing his best pal when his best pal thought that his methods were wrong was enough to push Oliver toward the superhero straight-and-narrow of not killing. Oliver has suffered plenty of tragedies in the present over the four seasons so far, but none has changed the course of his mission nearly as much as the death of Tommy Merlyn.
The friendship between Oliver and Tommy was actually one of the best elements of Season 1. Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell had a great chemistry as best buddies, and Tommy learning Oliver’s costume-laden secret was a turning point of the whole season. For all that Oliver hopped between beds and love interests in the first season, his most important non-familial relationship was with Tommy. It’s hard to imagine that any other death, circa Season 1 or otherwise, might have had the same effect on Oliver as Tommy’s.
Stephen Amell mentioning Tommy as the death that affected Oliver most is a solid reminder that he’s been one of the most consistently good aspects of Arrow from the very beginning. Amell has carried the show through some dark times, and it’s nice to know that all of the magic and all of the superpowers of seasons since haven't eclipsed for him the importance of Tommy Merlyn in Oliver’s journey.
Of course, Oliver actually has killed in the years since Tommy's death, but he’s shown such restraint that Tommy would certainly be proud of the hero that Oliver has become, if possibly with some slight criticisms. Unfortunately for Tommy fans, he really needs to stay dead in the present to remain as impactful a character as he has been to this point, so no supernatural and/or time travel shenanigans should be used to bring him back.
To see how Oliver continues to honor Tommy’s death, tune in to the Season 4 finale of Arrow on May 25 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Take a look at our schedule of midseason premiere dates for what you can watch over hiatus, and be sure to check out Stephen Amell in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in theaters on June 3. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for other factoids from Stephen Amell’s exclusive interview.