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Unresolved Plotlines In Arrow

The Arrowverse has grown to encompass a wide variety of stories and characters. 2019's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event expanded things especially dramatically, via cameos from the worlds of "Smallville," the DCEU, 1989's "Batman," and even 2006's "Superman Returns," courtesy of "Legends of Tomorrow" regular Brandon Routh reprising his star-making role as Clark Kent. This unprecedented crossover isn't just about Easter eggs, however: It sees Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow,  sacrifice himself to restore the multiverse and stop the threat of the Anti-Monitor.

In light of such grandiose, large-scale storytelling, it can be easy to forget this interconnected superhero saga started with the grounded, street-level adventures of a vigilante known as "The Hood." From that modest origin point, "Arrow," which hit the small screen in 2012, follows one man's quest to save his city. He soon becomes someone else — perhaps even something else — in his fight against the criminals and corruption of Starling City. Over the course of eight seasons and 170 episodes (not counting numerous crossovers with the other Arrowverse shows), "Arrow" juggles a lot of storylines — some might even say a few too many. We're here to examine the plotlines "Arrow" leaves unresolved, from changes to the timeline to the fate of John Diggle.

Deathstroke and his sons

Thanks to the Mirakuru serum, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), is one of Green Arrow's most physically threatening and mentally unstable villains. After Queen spares his life and the Mirakuru wears off, Slade becomes contrite, but no less deadly. He uses his power and skills to help Oliver and company during the Season 5 finale, which takes the action back to Lian Yu, the island prison where Wilson has been imprisoned since his defeat at Oliver's hands.

Deathstroke's final proper appearance arrives in the Season 6 two-parter, "Deathstroke Returns" and "Promises Kept." These episodes see the former supervillain track down his son, Joe Wilson. He thinks Joe has been kidnapped by a paramilitary group called the Jackals, only to learn that Joe is actually their leader. Slade also learns that he has another son, Grant, whom Arrowverse fans might remember from the Season 1 "Legends of Tomorrow" episode, "Star City 2046."

Following "Promises Kept," Joe reappears as a member of the Ghost Initiative, a rebranded version of the late Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad. Grant appears in Season 8's "Present Tense," but without any hints of closure or resolution regarding their father. The Wilson boys are likely to have played key roles in the proposed "Green Arrow and the Canaries" show, but sadly, that project failed to take flight.

The Huntress' fate

One of the earliest recurring figures in "Arrow," Helena Bertinelli, aka Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), stars in three different Season 1 episodes, followed by Season 2's "Birds of Prey." According to producer Marc Guggenheim, later seasons were originally supposed to feature Huntress-themed episodes, but those plans never came to fruition. The character was also supposed to cameo in the series finale, "Fadeout," but scheduling conflicts with De Gouw ended those plans (via Entertainment Weekly).

Despite these absences, there are numerous allusions to Huntress in later seasons of "Arrow," most notably in Season 7's "Emerald Archer." This episode features a villain, Chimera, who steals various vigilantes' masks. Huntress' mask is part of his collection, suggesting she is still an active vigilante, or at least was, prior to her encounter with Chimera. The episode ends without revealing Helena's fate, though Chimera is revealed to be somewhat less dangerous than initially thought, so it's likely she survived.

Perhaps there were bigger plans in store for Helena at some point. Season 8's "Green Arrow and the Canaries," an episode in which her daughter plays a key role, sees fit to mention her mysterious disappearance. This suggests the Bertinelli clan plays an important role in the Star City of 2040 and beyond.

Harley Quinn and Arkham Asylum

Task Force X's future on "Arrow" was infamously cut short by behind-the-scenes issues with the 2016 "Suicide Squad" film, which uses many of the same characters (via The Mirror). Characters like Deadshot and Amanda Waller were suddenly killed off, and the Suicide Squad was eventually written out of the show entirely. Season 2's aptly named "Suicide Squad" offers an especially memorable glimpse of what might have been: One of the prisoners at the Task Force X facility is clearly intended to be Harley Quinn. She's only shown via silhouette, but her distinct haircut and reference to herself as a therapist gives it away, as does the fact that she's voiced by frequent Harley Quinn voice actor Tara Strong.

Marc Guggenheim claimed Harley was only ever "intended to be an Easter egg," (via Collider), like similar references to Hal Jordan and Oracle in other episodes. However, series star Willa Holland has expressed a belief that there were originally larger plans for Harley. According to her, "Arrow" was even going to introduce its version of Arkham Asylum, the infamous mental facility that houses Batman's many foes. Sadly, those plans were abandoned at the behest of the big bosses at Warner Bros.

While Arkham Asylum finally made its Arrowverse debut in 2018's "Elseworlds" event and "Batwoman" makes frequent reference to the Joker, Harley's collaborator and romantic interest, Harley herself has yet to reappear in the Arrowverse.

The rest of the names on the list

Oliver Queen's quest begins by crossing names off a list given to him by his father. While stranded on a lifeboat with Oliver and a third man named Hackett, Robert Queen gives his son a book listing the names of people who are poisoning Starling City. He commands his son to "right [his] wrongs" before killing Hackett and himself with a revolver.

The list is later revealed to name people involved with the Undertaking, Malcolm Merlyn's (John Barrowman) plan to devastate the Glades neighborhood of Starling City. This forms the backbone of Season 1, the aftermath of which sees Oliver attempt to abandon his murderous ways and cut down on his out-of-hand body count. As his mission evolves, Oliver stops working off the list and starts trying to save the city on his own terms. Still, the list continues to haunt him well into the future, particularly in the form of Season 5's villain, Prometheus (John Segarra), son of one of the list's names.

The show's final episode, "Fadeout," explores flashbacks to Oliver hunting a man named John Byrne, whose name is on the list. But in the end, it's never made clear just how many names remain in its pages, nor whether or not they'll ever see justice for their role in the Undertaking.

Beatrice, Virgil, and the Ninth Circle

Season 7's villain, Emiko Adachi-Queen (Sea Shimooka), is a compelling figure who represents Robert Queen's troubled past. Emiko is the result of a long-term affair the Queen patriarch had in the 1980s and 1990s, whom he suddenly abandoned when she was just 11 years old. Years later, she attempted to reconcile with her father and even presented him with a business plan. Yet he rejected her again, despite the fact that her proposals were all financially viable.

In the present day, Emiko reemerges as a new Green Arrow who aims to destroy Oliver Queen, the person who has taken what she feels is rightfully hers. She works alongside the Ninth Circle, a powerful and clandestine criminal organization, to attack Star City and its vigilante heroes. By the end of the season, Emiko and Dante, the de facto leaders of the group, are both dead, though the organization still functions under the leadership of Beatrice and Virgil.

The Ninth Circle does not reappear in Season 8. Furthermore, when Oliver restores the multiverse, he changes things so that Emiko never joins the organization at all. Perhaps this prevents them from attaining the power they have in the original Earth-1 timeline, or maybe it just keeps them off Team Arrow's radar. Either way, the Ninth Circle are probably still out there, in one form or another.

Oliver's mysterious Kryptonite

"Crisis on Earth-X" follows the heroes of "Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl," and "Legends of Tomorrow" as they battle the fascist forces of Earth-X, a universe where the Nazis won World War II. The four-part crossover is full of top-tier action sequences and strong messages about the horrors of the Nazi regime, giving the sci-fi adventure unique depth and relevance. One of the leaders of the Earth-X military is Overgirl, a Nazi version of Supergirl. At one point in the crossover, Oliver shoots her with an arrow made from Kryptonite. Oliver tells Supergirl he has it "in case an evil you ever showed up," which makes sense ... save for the fact that Supergirl does not exist on Earth-1.

It's never explained how Oliver got his hands on a Kryptonite arrow, and the lack of Kryptonians on Earth-1 is never addressed. Superman and Supergirl's pods might have flown off course and wound up on another planet, for all we know. Moreover, nobody from Earth-38 ever gives Oliver a Kryptonite sample. In the aftermath of "Crisis on Infinite Earths," Earth-1 merges with Earth-38 and the unnumbered Earth from "Black Lightning," meaning this mystery will likely never be resolved. Fans will simply have to accept that Oliver has Kryptonite because, like Batman in the comics, he's always prepared, even when it stretches the audience's suspension of disbelief.

Green Arrow and the Canaries

The penultimate episode of Season 8, "Green Arrow and the Canaries," is the only episode in the entire series that doesn't feature Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen. The installment takes place in the distant future of 2040, and sets the stage for a spin-off series that, unfortunately, was not picked up by The CW (via TVLine). Thus, a ton of plot threads have been left dangling.

"Green Arrow and the Canaries" stars Katherine McNamara as Mia Queen, the next generation's Green Arrow. Tantalizing storylines are established, like Mia's experience in the legendary role, and how the timeline differs from the one in Season 7. Perhaps most notably, Laurel Lance and Dinah Drake (Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy) are mysteriously transported 20 years into the future the day after Oliver's funeral. They're fish out of water in 2040, but they seem to have been transported for a reason: By 2041, crime will apparently return to Star City, and it's up to the erstwhile Canaries and the new Green Arrow to keep the city from falling into chaos.

In the episode's closing moments, more twists occur. William, Oliver's son, is kidnapped by unknown assailants, while John Diggle Jr. is attacked and has his memories of the old timeline restored. Where these plot threads might have led will sadly remain a mystery.

Artemis and Malcolm Merlyn's deaths

Season 5 initially revolves around Oliver building a team of recruits who will help protect the city while he takes on a backstage leadership role. These plans ultimately don't pan out, but characters like Wild Dog and Mr. Terrific do stick around and remain loyal allies for years to come.

One of the recruits is Evelyn Sharp, aka Artemis (Madison McLaughlin). She ultimately betrays Oliver and his team to Prometheus, aka Adrian Chase. In the season finale, set on the remote island of Lian Yu, she is defeated and locked in a cage, though Oliver promises to return for her after capturing Prometheus. Unfortunately for Artemis, Chase is never going to be captured: He rigs a series of bombs on the island tied to his own heartbeat. Upon his death by suicide, they detonate. This presumably kills Artemis, but her fate is left ambiguous.

It seems like the stage was set for Artemis to return at some point, either looking for redemption or doubling down on revenge against Team Arrow. But she never appears again, and is ultimately forgotten. A similar fate befalls Malcolm Merlyn in the same episode: He steps on a landmine and sacrifices himself to protect his daughter, Thea. As with Artemis, Merlyn is never confirmed to have survived, though few believe he's really dead. It's an anticlimactic end for one of the show's most complex and compelling characters.

The timeline's post-Crisis changes

When Oliver sacrifices himself to restore the multiverse in the climax of "Crisis on Infinite Earths," Earth-1 is merged with the realities from "Supergirl" and "Black Lightning" to form Earth-Prime, a new universe that resembles Earth-1 with some key changes. Characters who died on "Arrow" have been revived, like Moira Queen, Tommy Merlyn, and Emiko Queen. Additionally, instead of a single son, Superman and Lois Lane now have two children, and John Diggle's daughter Sara, who had previously been erased in "Flashpoint," is brought back as JJ's twin sister.

What remains unknown, however, is how the story of "Arrow" is impacted by these changes. How does the war between Deathstroke and Oliver change without the catalyst of Moira Queen's death? What happens to the Ninth Circle without Emiko Queen among their ranks? Oliver rebooting the universe is essentially a "get out of jail free" card for writers of shows set on Earth-Prime. If anything contradicts past stories, they can just say, "Hey, Oliver changed it when he made Earth-Prime!"

John Diggle, possible Green Lantern

Throughout the show's run, "Arrow" fans frequently speculated that John Diggle, Oliver's best friend and sidekick, would take on a known superhero identity. The most popular suggestion was that he would become the Arrowverse's version of Green Lantern. There were numerous teases and Easter eggs supporting this notion, like the appearance of Diggle's stepfather, Roy Stewart (Ernie Hudson), and the scene in "Elseworlds" where Barry Allen from Earth-90 sees Diggle and asks him why he's not wearing his ring.

In Diggle's final scene in "Arrow," he discovers a mysterious glowing green object that descends from space. Though the viewer doesn't get an explicit look at the object, it's likely a Green Lantern ring. Diggle has made sporadic appearances on other Arrowverse shows following the conclusion of "Arrow," in which he is tormented by headaches and the message "Worlds Await." Presumably, this is all connected to the glowing green object he found.

What does the future hold for Diggle? No one yet knows. One thing is clear, however: Arrowverse fans want to see where his story goes.

Multiple futures in multiple shows

In the end, the Arrowverse is just that — an entire universe of storytelling where forgotten plotlines can be picked up at any time. Here's one illuminating example: "Batwoman," "The Flash," "Superman and Lois," and "Legends of Tomorrow" all take place on Earth-Prime, and have each continued John Diggle's story in some form or fashion. It's entirely possible that other unresolved plotlines will get some form of closure in a similar manner.

When NBC's "Constantine" was canceled, Matt Ryan was able to reprise his character on "Arrow" before becoming a regular on "Legends of Tomorrow." There's no reason to believe the same thing couldn't happen with characters on "Arrow" who still have stories left to be told. "The Flash" deals extensively with time travel stories — maybe he can run to 2040 and see how the various cliffhangers from "Green Arrow and the Canaries" were resolved. Perhaps the Ninth Circle will appear as a villainous organization in "Superman and Lois," and be taken down once and for all. The possibilities are endless, so long as the Arrowverse lives on: Any unresolved "Arrow" story might get closure. Longtime fans will just have to be patient and hope that their favorite plot threads will finally be tied up.