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Oliver Queen's complete Arrowverse timeline explained

After eight seasons, four spinoffs, and multiple crossovers, Arrow has come to an end — but the huge array of shows and characters that it spawned will always be called the Arrowverse. The legacy of Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) will live on in the dozens of heroes whose lives he touched and inspired, both in his home of Star City and the multiverse he restored. What made Oliver so compelling is how deeply flawed he was as a person. At the same time, he never stopped trying to be better. 

He started as a selfish playboy and was transformed by a shipwreck into a survivor and later a killer. He returned to Star City on a mission of vengeance, becoming the vigilante known as the Hood. Over the years, Oliver learned to balance vengeance with justice and even mercy as he assumed full accountability for his actions. Instead of vengeance, love and loyalty became his driving impulses. His willingness to sacrifice his freedom — and eventually his life — not only saved his city but basically all of existence. It all got a little confusing at times, so let's take a few minutes to unravel the entire Oliver Queen timeline. 

Oliver Queen, party boy

Oliver Queen is the oldest son of billionaire developers Robert and Moira Queen. Always a restless bad boy, Oliver is mostly interested in getting in trouble with his lifelong friends Tommy Merlyn and Laurel Lance, although he is very protective of his little sister Thea. He spends most of his time partying, sleeping around, getting kicked out of expensive schools, and otherwise wasting time because of boredom and apathy. The only thing he takes seriously is his relationship with Laurel, though when they are about to move in together, Oliver panics and sleeps with Laurel's younger sister, Sara. One fateful day, Oliver takes a voyage on a yacht with his father, Sara, and a few others. 

Unbeknownst to them, Tommy's sinister father Malcolm has sabotaged the boat. When it explodes at sea, Sara is swept overboard, but Robert, Oliver, and an assistant survive. Adrift in a raft, Robert tells Oliver that the family's wealth was "built on the suffering of others." He puts the burden of redemption on Oliver by killing his assistant and himself, knowing there isn't enough food for all three of them. He gives Oliver one command ("Survive") before he pulls the trigger. This triggers a series of events that reveal Oliver's mettle as well as his great fortune in the number of people who help him. 

Lian Yu

Oliver wakes up on the shore of an island he later learns is called Lian Yu ("Purgatory" in Chinese). He buries his father and finds a notebook in his pocket, which he keeps. When Oliver encounters a man named Yao Fei Gulong, his life changes forever. Yao Fei turns him over to a mercenary named Edward Fyers, who is in the middle of a complicated assassination plan. Oliver learns that Fyers is holding Yao Fei's daughter Shado hostage and frees her with the help of a mercenary sent to stop Fyers named Slade Wilson. During the course of this adventure, Oliver receives combat training from Wilson, archery training from Shado, and survival training from Yao Fei. He proves to be a quick study in each, as nothing is more motivating in acquiring a skill than being threatened with death. Oliver kills Fyers and stops his plan, but not before Yao Fei is killed.

The curse of Mirakuru

A whole new problem arises: a ship called the Amazo and a mad scientist, Dr. Anthony Ivo. He's looking for a strength and agility-boosting serum called mirakuru and doesn't care who he has to kill in order to find it. Oliver winds up on his ship, where he meets future ally and enemy Anatoly Knyazev. To his great surprise, Sara Lance is on the ship as well and seemingly working with Ivo. However, she helps Oliver and Anatoly and joins the others on the island. Ivo gives Oliver a choice of whom he will kill, and when Oliver jumps in front of Sara, Ivo kills Shado. A dying Wilson is given the mirakuru, which boosts his powers but drives him insane. In a pitched battle on the Amazo, Oliver stabs Wilson in the eye with an arrow, but Sara is swept out to sea. 

Oliver wakes up to find that he's been conscripted to work for the spy organization A.R.G.U.S as an assassin. His travels take him to Hong Kong, back to Starling City, and all the way back to Lian Yu. His boss, Amanda Waller, encourages Oliver to find and use his killer instinct, and he tortures and kills a number of opponents. He also meets and saves John Constantine's life in his first encounter with magic. He leaves A.R.G.U.S behind once and for all, traveling to Russia to make good on a promise: kill a powerful Russian mobster named Konstantin Kovar.

Killing Kovar

Oliver nearly winds up getting killed by the Bratva, another Russian mob, trying to find Kovar. He's spared by Anatoly, a Bratva member whose life Oliver saves on the Amazo. When Anatoly learns that Oliver wants to kill Kovar, he tells him his only chance is with the help of the Bratva, which means joining up. Of course, membership is rather exclusive, requiring a series of horrific pledge tasks before he's initiated. 

Killing Kovar is not an easy task for Oliver. This is partially because some of his Bratva brothers don't like him. One tries to get him killed in a trap, only for Oliver to be saved by disguise expert Christopher Chance. Oliver is captured and tortured by Kovar and learns that the Bratva cut a deal with his enemy. All seems lost until Talia al Ghul comes along and rescues him. Oliver learns that the contents of the book he retrieved from his father is a list of every corrupt person in Starling City, and Talia convinces him that they must die.

Oliver and Anatoly lead a successful mutiny and seemingly kill Kovar, who is plotting to overthrow Russia. His mission seemingly over, he asks to go back to Starling City but realizes that the best way to do it is to go to Lian Yu first. Kovar is not quite dead, but our hero survives once again, kills his foe, and is "discovered" by Chinese fishermen sent by Anatoly to bring him back to America. 

The Undertaking

Returning home, Oliver reunites with his mother, Thea, and Tommy, and begins his crusade against the corrupt businessmen on the list. He kills some and forces others to pay back stolen money, shouting his signature catchphrase: "You have failed this city!" After various attempts on his life, Moira assigns a security guard named John Diggle to watch over Oliver. Oliver first tries to ditch him, then eventually makes him the first member of what will become Team Arrow. A brilliant information specialist named Felicity Smoak is the next to join the team. Oliver is still in love with Laurel, who remains furious over his betrayal. In his absence, she begins dating Tommy.

Oliver learns that a number of prominent businessmen, including his mother and Malcolm Merlyn, are part of what they call "The Undertaking," a plan to set off an explosion that will trigger an earthquake destroying the low-income properties in the Glades, a poor section of Starling City. Oliver seemingly kills Merlyn, the ringleader of the plan, but Tommy dies as well. Grief-stricken, Oliver returns to Lian Yu, abandoning his role as the Hood.

Sins of the father

Diggle and Felicity travel to Lian Yu to bring Oliver back, but this time he wants to seek justice without killing. Now calling himself the Arrow, he rescues Thea from Hood copycats and gains a new ally: Roy Harper. A new vigilante, seemingly obsessed with the Lance family, also appears. To Oliver's shock, it's Sara, who is not only alive but is now an ex-member of the League of Assassins

Oliver has to deal with Sebastian "Brother" Blood, who becomes mayor of Starling City under sinister circumstances. The man behind the throne is a crazed Slade Wilson, who uses his mirakuru-laced blood to develop an army of super-soldiers. Oliver is aided by his new friends Barry Allen, Cisco Ramon, and Caitlin Snow, who investigate Brother Blood's crimes on leave from Central City. 

Slade kills Moira Queen and betrays Blood when he sends his army in to destroy Starling City. The future Team Flash, aided by the League, stop the army with an antidote for mirakuru. Oliver tracks down Wilson, who offers him a choice of whom to save: Felicity or Laurel. The ever-capable Felicity changes the odds when she stabs Wilson with the cure, and Oliver opts to spare Wilson's life. He's sent to a super-max prison on Lian Yu, which A.R.G.U.S. has been using for years. 

The chief of assassins

Team Arrow defeats a new Brother Blood and seems to have Starling City under control. However, a drugged Thea kills Sara. Turns out that it's really hard to kill Malcolm Merlyn, who draws Thea in with the revelation that he's actually her real father. Sara's death enrages the head of the League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul, who demands retribution. Oliver eventually engages him in a duel and is badly beaten and left for dead. He is saved by former friends from Hong Kong that he had once rescued. 

An industrialist named Ray Palmer buys Queen Consolidated, Robert Queen's old company. Ray begins a romance with Felicity but later becomes an important ally, while Laurel starts her training as a vigilante and eventually joins the Team Arrow as the Black Canary — and Barry Allen is struck by lightning and becomes the speedster known as the Flash. Oliver reveals the truth about his own past to Thea as well as what she did, and he trains her on Lian Yu. They take down Slade Wilson, whom Meryln sets loose as a test for them.

By League custom, Oliver is forced to become the new head of the League of Assassins. Seemingly leaving his own past behind, Oliver is actually working with Merlyn to take down the League from inside. In an epic battle, Oliver manages to kill R'as Al Ghul once and for all. In the aftermath, Roy pretends to be the Arrow and goes to prison to help Oliver. Oliver quits his role as the Arrow and runs off with Felicity to live happily ever after. 

Ollie for Mayor!

Happily ever after lasts about five months before Laurel and Thea beg Oliver and Felicity to come back and fight Damien Darhk. This time, Oliver decides on a new identity: the Green Arrow. He vows to be a hero and symbol of hope for the newly-named Star City. Darhk is a sorcerer and former Assassin whose scheme involves worldwide nuclear devastation while saving a small number of people in an underground Ark. He uses Quentin Lance as an informant, threatening to kill Laurel if he doesn't comply. Oliver decides to run for mayor, but his opponent is Ruve' Adams, who happens to be Darhk's wife. 

However, Oliver first has to help Barry with the mystery of Kendra Saunders and the threat of Vandal Savage. Team Arrow and Team Flash team up to save the once and future Hawkgirl, although their defeat of the immortal savage later proves to be short-lived. Oliver is distracted the entire time because he learns that he has a young son named William that his mother Samantha Clayton had been paid to keep hidden from him. 

Darhk kidnaps William and threatens to kill him if Oliver doesn't drop out of the race. Oliver complies but he and the team keep fighting the seemingly invincible Darhk. Quentin betrays Darhk and as promised, he kills Laurel. That galvanizes Team Arrow once and for all, as Oliver obtains light magic to counteract Darhk's sorcery. Oliver kills Darhk as the people of the city rush to his aid.

The new team

Oliver is elected mayor with Darhk defeated, but Diggle and Thea both quit the team. Felicity suggests a membership drive, and Rene "Wild Dog" Ramirez, Evelyn "Artemis" Sharp, Curtis "Mr. Terrific" Holt, and Rory "Ragman" Regan. Oliver springs Diggle from prison and convinces him to rejoin the team. The new team resents his Bratva-inspired training methods, but Oliver eventually softens a bit. Later, Team Arrow recruits a new Black Canary, a police officer named Dinah Drake. The new threat in Oliver's life is Prometheus, an archer who has a personal grudge with him and inside information about his life.

Oliver teams with Barry, a dimension-traveling Kara "Supergirl" Danvers, and the Legends against an invasion from the alien Dominators. Oliver initially mistrusts Kara because she's an alien, but he turns his attitude around when she helps save the day. Laurel pops up alive, claiming that the Legends pulled her out of the timeline to save her life. This is actually the sinister Earth-2 Laurel, the Black Siren. In a series of betrayals, Laurel and Evelyn are revealed to be working with Prometheus, as is Talia al Ghul. 

Prometheus is Adrian Chase, Oliver's district attorney. Chase's father was one of the Hood's victims, so Adrian decides to engage in an elaborate revenge scheme, destroying Oliver's life and trying to drive him insane. Eventually, they are lured to Lian Yu after William is kidnapped, and William's mother is killed when Chase's death sets off bombs on the island. 

Enter the Dragon

In an effort to get to know his son better, Oliver gives up being the Green Arrow and entrusts the job to Diggle. A recovered Slade Wilson asks Oliver for help with his own son, which makes Oliver more resolute than ever to be with William. Oliver has two problems to deal with, however: super-hacker Cayden James and his crime empire and crusading FBI agent Samanda Watson, who's out to expose the Green Arrow and wipe out vigilantes. Oliver apparently killed James' son by accident, so he seeks revenge with his own team: the Black Siren, Anatoly (who feels betrayed by Oliver over a botched deal), and a quiet criminal named Ricardo "The Dragon" Diaz. 

Oliver takes back the mantle of the Green Arrow just as legislation is passed to outlaw vigilantes in Star City. Attending the wedding of Barry and Iris, the superheroes have to deal with an invasion of Nazi versions of themselves from Earth-X. After being held captive, Oliver and his friends escape and defeat their doppelgängers, and Oliver and Felicity decide to get married at the same time as Barry and Iris. Talk about stealing the spotlight!

It's revealed that Diaz is the real brains behind James' operation, having manipulated everyone else. Diaz either buys or blackmails everyone in city government. Even worse, a lack of trust splits up Team Arrow, as Rene, Curtis, & Dinah form their own team. Eventually, Black Siren and Anatoly switch sides and Diaz is defeated but escapes. 

You have saved this city

In order to defeat Diaz, Oliver needs the help of the FBI. In exchange for that help, Oliver gives himself up to Agent Watson and goes to prison. After some harrowing encounters with his ex-foes, Oliver is freed in exchange for testifying against Diaz. Of course, Diaz somehow arranges to break into prison to kill Oliver, but his plans are foiled.

Upon being freed, Oliver wakes up one morning and finds himself living the Flash's life, and he soon discovers that the same thing has happened to Barry. They manage to convince everyone that they're not crazy and seek help from Supergirl, who properly recognizes them. It turns out that a cosmic being named the Monitor has given deranged psychiatrist John Deegan a magical book that he uses to change reality. Eventually defeating him, Oliver makes a deal with the Monitor in exchange for Barry and Kara's lives. 

Diaz is killed in prison, but not before he reveals his connection with a shadowy figure named Dante, the leader of a terrorist organization called the Ninth Circle. Another green-clad archer appears: it's Emiko Adachi, another half-sister of Oliver's, this time on his dad's side. She initially appears to reconcile with Oliver but is revealed to be the secret leader of the Ninth Circle. She eventually switches sides and forgives Oliver before she's killed by her own group. The bad guys are defeated, but Oliver and Felicity go into hiding as she gives birth to their daughter, Mia.

You have saved this multiverse

Oliver and Felicity are happy for a while with baby Mia, until the Monitor comes calling and Oliver is needed to help stop the impending Crisis on Infinite Earths. He teams with Barry, Kara, Sara, and a future version of Mia to defend Earth-38, but Ollie suffers a fatal wound helping to save billions of lives. His friends don't accept this and travel to an Earth with a working Lazarus Pit — which resurrects him, but without a soul. John Constantine solicits the help of Lucifer Morningstar, who sends them to Limbo. Before Oliver's soul is restored to his body, he decides to accept an offer to become the new incarnation of the Spectre, the cosmic personification of justice.

With everyone else in existence annihilated, the Spectre rescues his surviving friends and they battle the cause of the Crisis, the Anti-Monitor, at the dawn of time. Shouting "You have failed this universe," Oliver defeats the Anti-Monitor and recreates all of existence, combining some realities (for example, the Earths of Supergirl and Black Lightning now co-exist with his world). He also resurrects his mother, Tommy, and Emiko. Sara brings Mia from the future to meet the Felicity of today. A monument and eternal flame are erected for Oliver by Barry in the new headquarters of what will become the Justice League. In 2042, Felicity calls upon the Monitor to reunite with Oliver in the afterlife, and this time they really do live happily ever after.