Arrow Favorite Moments

Arrow Boss Marc Guggenheim Reflects on 100 Episodes, Favorite Moments — Plus, What's Still on His 'To-Do' List?

If you’re among those who believe that Arrow‘s 100th episode should have been marked independent of this week’s “Heroes v Aliens” crossover event, here’s a little secret: Next week is also the 100th episode. In a way.

Because whereas Arrow‘s crossover episode — titled “Invasion!” and airing Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW — offers up an early Valentine to fans by depositing Oliver in a reality where Moira, Laurel and other loved ones never perished, “What We Leave Behind” (airing Dec. 5) has a special something of its own going on.

“There was a lot of temptation to do the crossover at a different time or, like you [suggested], ‘cheat the math,'” Arrow co-showrunner Marc Guggenheim shared with TVLine in an in-depth interview, “but I actually took an idea that I had for the 100th episode and moved it to the 101st, and that is ‘flashbacks to Season 1,'” as a new clue surfaces linking the villain Prometheus to Oliver’s past. “That was something that I wanted to do for the 100th episode, but there just wasn’t any room to tell a flashback story.”

Instead, using that nostalgic narrative device back-to-back with this week’s guest star-studded alternate reality “worked out really well,” he notes.

Having been with Arrow from go, Guggenheim needs neither alien mind control nor flashbacks to appreciate all that the series has brought to the table, up to and including spawning not one but three other superhero shows, all woven into this week’s #DCWeek event. In the photo gallery above right, the EP shares favorite memories and musings from the past 100 episodes — Which casting was a “happy accident”? What stunt still wows him? Did “Olicity” happen too soon? — as well as offers some behind-the-scenes secrets.

Want more scoop on Arrow, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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44 Comments
  1. jj says:

    I actually think the crossover works great for the 100th. All of the spinoff are part of Arrow’s legacy.

  2. Max says:

    Finally an interview from Marc Guggenheim that left me smiling. Thanks Matt.

  3. Lex says:

    . . .And once again Marc Guggenheim shows he doesn’t understand the feminine audience. Shipping is a natural way for women to consume media: what it really is about is prioritizing relationships above plot devices. I’m not saying all women are shippers or that all shippers are women, but as a mode of media consumption it’s focusing on feeling and emotion rather than action. Maybe if he were more aware of his audience it wouldn’t be the polarized mess it currently is.

    • Wordsmith says:

      Defining your characters by their romantic relationships is really just as limiting as defining your show by its action sequences – it’s just a different kind of visceral thrill.
      I’m an action junkie and a shipper, but I will freely admit that when the writing of a show pivots to cater to the desires of either fan base, the overall quality suffers. I say it’s best to let the world develop organically, and I think that’s what Guggenheim was saying too.

      • Lex says:

        Thank you for your respectful comment. I did academic research on the subject of shippers, and usual response is full of profanity and bad spelling. I do, however, think that character should always drive plot, and that hasn’t happened much on Arrow lately.

      • kath says:

        The problem with Arrow this season is that the female characters are defined almost entirely by their relationships with men — Thea does nothing but help Oliver and Quentin do their jobs; Felicity supports Oliver in his role as Green Arrow and mentor and now needs engineerCurtis to help her write algoritmns; Evelyn listens to Rene complain; Susan Williams uses Oliver’s sexual attraction to her to get the dirt on him.
        _
        Put Speedy back in the field with her own storyline, give Felicity back her agency and a job and stop making her only about her personal relationship, and pull back on the mask!men!fight! that has dominated this season and most people will stop complaining about the lack of Olicity.

        • Luis Roman says:

          A very wise and prescient comment.

        • Lex says:

          I think this is a very good point… the majority of the time when people are talking about how much they love Olicity, it’s also conflated with general love of Felicity. It may just be the female fan spaces I hang out in, but the complaint about Olicity is always accompanied by “give Felicity something to do” complaints. However, I’ve read some condescending reviews saying “Felicity is where she’s supposed to be,” meaning that giving her separate storylines and an identity outside of Oliver is “wrong” somehow.

    • Michael Summerset says:

      It’s precisely because he’s well aware of his audience that the show is the way it is. You’re talking about a character that was created to appeal to boys. Naturally the story would lean towards the action. Supergirl is the relationship show.

      • Lex says:

        Oh, they went into Arrow wanting to court a female audience. Why else was their entire marketing campaign for season 1 based entirely on Stephen Amell’s abs?

  4. ndixit says:

    To be honest, the shipping complaint is both very valid and very hypocritical. Because Guggenheim spent so much time in the last several seasons egging on the Olicity shippers. That’s never a good sign. When the fanatical shippers, and I mean fanatical, start thinking the creators are on their side, they lose their minds and take over any conversation about the show, which creates a strong backlash among the others. That’s exactly what has happened with Arrow where you have the Olicity fans and the anti-Felicity and ant-Olicity fans that are both very vocal, but they are vocal because the creators engaged them on that topic. If Guggenheim and co hadn’t done that, those shippers and anti shippers would have still been there, but would have been a lot quieter and not drowning out all other conversation about the show.

  5. Googy keeps saying he doesn’t write for Olicity shippers but the DMs he sends to reassure them, the fact he gives them private interviews where he holds hands with them and fangirls with them and the fact he follows and regularly interacts with the most hateful ones shows the real truth.

    • Max says:

      Have you been around social medial lately? Like right this moment for example? This dude thrives on controversy. His favorite quote is “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy”. He’s not taking sides, he yanks the chains of one fandom over another and then flips it around because he knows he’s losing buzz. He started losing it last season when they simultaneously ended Olicity and killed off Laurel. Meanwhile you’re all fighting each other and he’s enjoying his pay check while he writes whatever the hell he wants.

      • Lyla says:

        ”He started losing it last season when they simultaneously ended Olicity and killed off Laurel” That is very true. I totally agree that both things could’ve happened – it was perhaps too early for the endgame couple live happily ever after, and Laurel – the show had made her a 5th wheel; those usually get killed of from tv shows. But both elements – Laurel’s ”iconic” comic book status and Olicity have quite a decent fan base. So, ending both almost at the same time – who on earth did they think will actually LIKE 4B? Like overall they had the 2 big fan groups annoyed. Agree about Guggenheim as well.

        • Max says:

          No one liked 4B. Not the passionate fanbase. I have no way to know what the casual viewers thought about it but I’m guessing it’s apathy because it was a bleak run for every character, every relationship, even the villain arc was poorly done.
          Funny how I wrote this comment and a couple hours later, a new interview was released where he talks about how he mistreated the olicity relationship in season 4. He can’t handle criticism from the fan because he’s well aware they’re paying close attention to the writing.

      • He killed Laurel with Olicity on her lips. He builds Felicity as flawless or makes her flaws seem adorable while having everyone trash Laurel just for breathing. He’s never done a thing to appease or reassure a single member of any other fanbase the way he bows and scrapes to the Olicity fandom.

        What he thrives on is butt kissing, both giving and receiving.

        • Lyla says:

          Laurel as a character didn’t work from the get go. No-one invited Felicity/Emily Bett to the show to trash Laurel. She was there for a few fun moments. But people, including the network president, who according to Amell called and asked for ”more of the blond girl”, loved her. These things happen on TV. As a big fan of tv in general, I can tell u, if u haven’t noticed – a lot of things on TV don’t happen like originally planned. One of most famous changes being Breaking Bad not killing off Pinkman/Aaron Paul on 1st season, because he became an absolute fan favorite. It was not supposed to happen, but it did. Felicity and ”Olicity” was also not supposed to happen, but it did. U might not like it, but TV is business, dude. If the couple or blonde IT girl weren’t that popular with the audience, why would the writers and producers make them happen? No reason. So, what exactly didn’t he do to appease the Laurel Lance fandom? Didn’t make her wear stockings, lol? I’ll tell u what he DID do – he clearly killed Sara Lance to make room for Laurel’s ”iconic” BC journey. Sara – a character that was 10 times more loved than Laurel. He pushed Oliver off the cliff so Laurel had time to join the group and be in the spotlight. So, don’t tell me they didn’t try to write stuff for her. People just did not like it. And the fact that the romance between Oliver and Laurel was an epic fail was only partly due to the writers. I’d say the biggest problem was always the actors always looking like they’d better be anywhere, but in a scene together. Or u know what, I’ll be honest – the biggest problem was in the casting. If Caity Lotz, for example, had been cast as the original Black Canary/Laurel Lance, I can bet you, a lot of things on Arrow could be different.

        • Max says:

          Fandom idealizes their favorite characters. Not one character on the show is flawless and I’m grateful because I – a Felicity fan – never wanted her to be flawless or saw her as flawless.
          Maybe you should look around and dip your toes in the comic book fandom where people simultaneously call Felicity a “mary sue” while pointing out flaws that her own fans celebrate. A mary sue because she’s a beautiful woman who’s skilled at her job and is canonically a genius. If you spend more time trashing a character than talking about your favorite character, there’s a whole world outside that deserves to be seen. Just a suggestion…

  6. ALM says:

    I find many of Marc Guggenheim’s comments sadly funny or out of touch with the reality he created. If you want people to be entertained, don’t blame their ‘shipping of characters. Make the show entertaining! Something you seem to have forgotten how to do, in my opinion. But I admit to only watching one full episode this season and parts of two others, with which I wasn’t impressed or entertained. And yes, Felicity did pop as a character, but when you change that character completely, she no longer pops but annoys endlessly! You took loyal Diggle and made him boring beyond measure. You said you wanted to get back to the core three, which I do not necessarily agree with, but then you add a slew of characters that don’t work with that core team. And by the way, your version of Mr. Terrific is laughable, and not in a good way. I want a superhero show. Go back and watch many episodes of the Flash and see why it is the top show. It is fun, and while the characters are changing over time, they are not vacating what they were created to be. (Just beware, Flash, too many speedsters are spoiling the mix.) As for wishing people wouldn’t ‘ship, you created this. The first season was set up for Green Arrow and Black Canary to get together eventually, but then you ‘shipped Felicity and changed course. What do you expect? For me to return, I wish you would take the show back to what it was supposed to be: a superhero show about Green Arrow and Black Canary. I don’t need them to get together, but I would like to see her character developed. Bring in Black Siren and make her the new Black Canary and let’s see a good version of that character, not just an underutilized sidekick, with versions of some of her DC stories adapted. She could have brought in different powers and abilities, which was sorely needed. Do some of the same for Green Arrow as to adapting DC stories. Also, the season arcs and flashback stories are killing the momentum in my opinion. There is little risked in the flashbacks as we know what happens later with the main characters, and the season villains make them all look incompetent as they don’t stop them for so long. (Learn this, too, Flash and L of T.) So stop moaning about the fans you have and make the product better.

    • KatsMom says:

      Well said.

    • Luis Roman says:

      Here;s a basic problem with the Green Arrow/Black Canary dynamic vis a vis “Arrow-” Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy had ZERO chemistry. The scenes between them were so cold she could have been cast as Killer Frost. Given how Oliver and Laurel’s relationship was established – he cheated on her, with her sister, who he took on his father’s yacht, where she DIED (or so they thought,) it’s frankly miraculous Laurel didn’t try to kill Oliver herself, much less take him back as a lover. People might hate ‘shippers and hate Ollicity, but Guggenheim is correct, the chemistry between Stephen and Emily was always ten thousand times better than the chemistry between Stephen and Katie. It;s nothing against Katie, I thought Laurel was the most underwritten character on the show.

      • Lex says:

        Laurel and Oliver’s relationship was problematic beginning in development, even before any casting was done. I can’t help but think no women were consulted when the relationship between Oliver and Laurel was established. Any woman would tell you “taking back the ex-boyfriend who ran away with your sister” is not the stuff of epic OTPs. Laurel was doomed from the start, and she was never written to Katie Cassidy’s strengths. When I see her as Black Siren I recognize all the reasons why I loved her as Ruby on Supernatural. And there’s no denying the chemistry between Stephen and Emily was there from the beginning, while it was totally lacking with Stephen and Katie. Why else would Olicity be a subject for Larry King to talk about, unless the chemistry between Oliver and Felicity was already crackling and catching the attention of even the network executives?

    • ALM says:

      I agree with a lot of what you are saying about Arrow and Canary and the relationship. I just don’t really like the relationship of Oliver and Felicity either. I think the common denominator is the character of Oliver. I like Stephen as Green Arrow a lot, but as in the case with Batman, any actor is usually only good at Batman or Bruce Wayne and not both. Stephen is not a good Oliver in my opinion and has little chemistry with either Laurel or Felicity. Emily is great at chemistry, evidenced by her time with Grant as Barry and Brandon as Ray. She was better, much better, with either of them than with Oliver anytime. I just think the show would have been better with proper story lines for Laurel/Black Canary than worrying about Olicity or any other shipping, for that matter. Bring back the superheroes we want to see adapted for the screen!

  7. spindae2 says:

    I was really a huge Arrow fan but since season 2 ended the show hasn’t found it’s mojo again. The show started accomodating plot points to prop the Olicity ship instead of being organic and make it happen alongside the main plot.

    And the episode he could take back is Huntress introduction?? Really ? Not the one where a 2-3 month paraplegic woman starts walking like a pro out of nowwhere? Or Felicity’s origin ep, which totally gelled with the show? Weird answeres Marc.

    Season 5 seems like an improvement over especially 3B & 4B but still very low compared to what this show once was. Looking forward to Laurel, Moira and Robert retutning for this one though.

    • Max says:

      Sure… Let’s take back the origin episode of a pillar character who hasn’t had a proper backstory for 2 years despite being forefront. I’d gladly take back 4×15 though. Nothing about that episode was about her. It was all about dramatizing her break up with Oliver.

    • Lex says:

      Well, if you want to talk about glossed-over disability storylines, look no further than Laurel’s addiction/depression arc in season 2.

      • spindae2 says:

        Yep that was a good one. It slowly progressed, peaked and than started to get resolved and was carried through further seasons. Imagine that. Well rounded story the writers surprisingly could handle. Meanwhile Felicity was rushed through what 3 eps, not showing any real struggle than her being part of the team. Cause that is the most important thing about being paraplegic.

  8. Agent 86 says:

    Um. They have clearly and deliberately baited and fed the shippers for a long time. It’s bizarre that suddenly the shippers would be a cause for concern.
    Also, I’m glad that they realised that they completely screwed up the character of the Huntress. I still hope that they can somehow make that character work, because Helena is a compelling character and would be a decent fit for the show. Also, if they do introduce The Question, then I hope that it is done well. And even better, I hope that they use the Renee Montoya version of The Question (leaving it open to introduce her mentor / predecessor Vic Sage at a later date).

    • Ted says:

      Odds are it’ll be Vic Sage, since Montoya is a Bat-universe character and featured on Gotham right now. Besides, Montoya as the Question was terrible in the comics…they only did that as a hail mary to keep her relevant, since she was a pet character for one of the big writers there at the time whose book that starred Montoya was being cancelled.

  9. Lyla says:

    One thing that is true – with such divided and yet strong/loud fan base, the writers and producers can really be stuck between a rock and a hard place, can’t they? Like, the majority really likes Felicity – and not only on internet, go to a real life event or con, people are mostly buzzing about her and they are full with little girls and grown women dressed up like her. But there is also a decent group that truly hate her and threaten the actress. So, of course, taking in the last season’s events – the fact that they killed their intended female lead, and ended the season with Felicity saying ”I’m not going anywhere”, I think it’s pretty clear where the writer’s loyalties lie as well. But they sure as hell have to constantly figure out ways to calm down either side who is making their online lives hell.
    So, I can understand that the main spokesperson – Guggenheim – can feel tired of people always asking for something. Yes, a lot of show-runners don’t have this ”problem”. But most of them also don’t have a show so successful, with 5 seasons in, the 6th a sure thing. Arrow is a phenomena. It has made TV history already, if only with the legacy of the other DC shows it gave a chance. Arrow might not be the highest quality of them all anymore (still my favorite though), but it is the cornerstone. Guggenheim helped create that, sure, but it was also the incredible luck he has had with the passionate fan base. Loud, loving, enthusiastic. And the biggest part of that IS the Olicity group. And I don’t mean viewers in general, I mean the people who loudly support the show. Guggenheim doesn’t have to write to appease and pander to fans of one couple. But not admitting the importance this particular fan base has given to this show, makes him look hypocritical.

  10. Betty Boop says:

    What a strange thing to say. Basically – I love their passion, but I wish they weren’t so passionate.

    People responded to the story you told, that’s a compliment.

  11. ScottJ says:

    Television survived for decades without shipping. I suppose it probably happened but it would have been quiet and private. But now because people can put all sorts of rubbish online they think they have some sort of ownership right over what happens. You don’t, and many of us consider your opinions to be both annoying and irrelevant.

    Shippers are nothing but a distraction that tries to ruin everything. The sooner you all fall into a hole in the ground the better.

    • kath says:

      Television came into existence with shipping. The first serialized dramas were the soap operas brought over from radio like Guiding Light. The first TV shows I remember like I Love Lucy and The Donna Reed Show (a character Felicity very much resembles this season) had shipping. Unless it was a variety show like Your Show of Shows or the Ed Sullivan Show, or a news program, there was shipping.
      Social media means the audience, shippers and non-shippers, can now be heard by the people who make television. Before we just stopped watching.

    • Lex says:

      Shipping existed since the beginning of the novel. Any time group engagement with media has existed, they’ve discussed relationships, hence shipping. Dangerous Liaisons was big time shipping material for Marie Antoinette and her court, and Louisa May Alcott was in Guggenheim’s place when it came to readers of Little Women who shipped Jo/Laurie.

      As mass media grew “fandom” became a thing, as the readers of sci-fi magazines in the 1920s created ‘zines and held conventions where they could all meet each other, and talk about the works they love… including the relationships. It’s worth noting that even then there were misogynistic a-holes saying women have no place in sci-fi and/or fandom. There was also similar engagement with the movies, but most of the extra-textual material came from the studios, not fans.

      Like Kath said, shipping became an even bigger deal with television. Star Trek was moment when media fandom came of age. The women who watched Star Trek (and shipped Kirk/Spock, because it was the most fully-formed relationship on the show) were being excluded from traditional sci-fi conventions because they were cluttering everything up with their fanfiction and shipping, so they started their own conventions.

      Yes, the first Trekkies, who started conventions that would eventually grow up to be huge events like Comic-Con and Dragon-Con were women. You can read all about it in Henry Jenkins’ “Textual Poachers” or Camille Bacon-Smith’s “Enterprising Women.” Those shippers who you hate so much are the reason why fandom has become such a large part of the way we engage in media today.

      “But now because people can put all sorts of rubbish online they think they have some sort of ownership right over what happens.” Well, you’re putting “rubbish online” right now by complaining about Arrow’s audience, as if you had “some sort of ownership right” to who watches the show and how they engage with it. But please, continue to be hypocritical and share your uninformed opinions with the rest of us.

  12. Joey Padron says:

    Good interview with Marc. Excited to see the 100th episode and what they have planned for midseason finale episode!

  13. kath says:

    Marc Guggenheim missed the point. It’s not that shippers are fanatically insisting that Olicity get together, it’s that the writing for all female characters this season has been garbage. A large segment of the viewers want something, anything, they enjoy enough to tune in for.

    Stop making Felicity a combination of Lucy Ricardo and Donna Reed, make Thea strong and independent again, and stop spending so much time of off-putting characters like Wild Dog and the cries for Olicity to be together again will tamp down.

    It’s not the best idea to antagonize fans that provide you with all that free social media that the CW can’t be bothered to do.

    • Max says:

      I didn’t even care about Evelyn but sexualizing a 17 year old and putting her in a that dress to use her as bait is a problem. Having wild dog call Felicity “blondie” stopped being funny the third time after she told him to stop. Having Mick refuse to call Kara by either her name or her superhero name and choosing to call her “skirt” was cringe-worthy. All these little things stick with the audience and they reflect on everything that’s wrong with the writing for Felicity & Thea.

  14. Luis Roman says:

    Thanks, Matt, it was a great interview. Some personal observations:

    1. The Boxing Glove arrow is EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. Jonathan Banks? Yes, Yes, TEN THOUSAND TIMES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    3. The Question, The Question, The Question, THE QUESTION!!!!!!!!!! Marc Guggenheim is my soulmate!

    • Lex says:

      But who would Jonathan Banks play? My personal dream bad guy is having Michelle Yeoh as Lady Shiva, who has a bad history with Malcolm from the League, and is planning on killing Thea for revenge…

      • Ted says:

        I would cast Banks as Lee Travis, the Crimson Avenger, the first masked vigilante to appear at DC (beating Batman by a year). CA was cut from the pulpy, Shadow/Green Hornet vein. Make him Star(ling) City’s first vigilante from decades ago and use him to introduce the modern-day version, who’d fit in this universe perfectly as she’s a mix of urban vigilantism and low-level mysticism (cursed guns).

        • Lex says:

          This would actually make for an amazing season 6… instead of Oliver’s flashbacks we could see a young Lee Travis at work, maybe saving a very noir version of Starling City. Meanwhile, we have Banks training Oliver & Co while hiding a dark secret from his past that has something to do with the season’s Big Bad.

        • Luis Roman says:

          That is such a cool idea!

      • Lex says:

        Darn! I just found out Michelle Yeoh’s gonna be busy on Star Trek: Discovery!