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The Story Behind The Spectre Of The Gun Episode Of Arrow

"Spectre of the Gun" was quite the controversial episode for "Arrow." The superhero drama decided to pivot away from its usual comic book-inspired issues to tackle a real-world problem — gun violence.

Season 5, Episode 13 featured an armed man attacking city hall and killing seven people. This individual was later revealed to be a former gun control advocate who lost his family in a previous shootout. Instead of suiting up and taking him down as the Green Arrow, Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) friends and family convince him to solve the situation using his mayoral status. He then works with the city council on a gun control bill and convinces the shooter to turn himself in.

"Spectre of the Gun" wasn't the first or last time a CW show decided to take a political stance. "Supergirl" never hid its political intentions throughout its six-season run, covering LGBTQ issues, alt-right violence, and immigration (via The Hollywood Reporter). "Riverdale" hid its political themes with its Season 6 villain Percival. His capitalist actions included using mind control to displace the homeless further and convince workers to take non-union jobs (via The A.V. Club).

That all said, the story behind the creation of "Spectre of the Gun" is quite interesting.

Arrow had been planning to cover a real-world topic for quite some time

Executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed at a 2017 DC All Access presentation (via Comic Book) that the "Arrow" team went into Season 5 wanting to cover a political issue. The team landed on covering gun violence because of how naturally it fits with the show. "Gun violence felt like the right topic because of its topicality, but also because of the level of gun violence that is on 'Arrow.' We could have done an episode on abortion, but that's not really where the show lives. So gun violence really felt like the right thing to tackle," Guggenheim said.

The producer also revealed that he was inspired by an older television era when the show tackled the political issue. Back when Guggenheim was growing up, it was common for shows to tackle various real-world topic every week. He cited shows like "Black-ish" and "The Carmichael Show" as two of the few shows that continue this long-standing trend but wanted "Arrow" to repopularize it in modern-day network dramas.

Guggenheim referenced the political divide in the United States following the 2016 election as another reason for "Arrow" to cover this topic. He and fellow executive producer Wendy Mericle wanted to ensure that "Spectre of the Gun" dove deep into the gun control debate rather than staying at surface level and focusing on the second amendment right. Mericle said, "It's important to at least talk about this. At some point, we did get away from that, as a country, and we would like the idea of hearing both sides, and hearing both sides as fairly as possible."

Both The CW and Warner Bros. supported the "Arrow" team's decision to cover the controversial topic, and Guggenheim said there was no interference from either group (via Entertainment Weekly).