'Arrow': Ranking the Most Formidable Villains

Before season five of The CW's comic book series introduces Prometheus, THR counts down all the worst adversaries Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has faced previously.
Courtesy of The CW

Arrow has offered up some pretty iconic villains over the past four seasons, but The CW's comic book series is doing something entirely new this season when it comes to the main adversary.

During the show's Comic-Con panel, executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed that the season five villain is actually going to be Prometheus, an all-new character created for the show. Although the season-long big bad bears the same name as a DC Comics character, Guggenheim explained that the two are separate entities. 

"It's not the Grant Morrison, Howard Porter Prometheus from the Justice League," Guggenheim said at the time. "He's a new character that fits in with the theme of legacy for this season. He's pretty badass and mean."

According to the producers, Prometheus is actually going to be the direct result of Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) actions when he first returned to Star City (formerly Starling City) back in season one. This is a villain that the hero unwittingly created, which will make the conflict personal this season.

So how will this new villain stack up against all the other foes Oliver has gone up against throughout his time as the Green Arrow? The Hollywood Reporter rounded up all the major villains from Arrow's previous seasons and ranked them from least to most formidable to find out.

9. Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson)

The former head of government organization ARGUS was technically one of the good guys, but the way she manipulated Oliver into doing her dirty work for her during his time on Lian Yu and in Hong Kong while the rest of the world still considered him to be missing/dead was pretty evil. She forced him to become a master at torturing people, and once even tried to call a drone strike to destroy Star City when it was being overrun with sociopathic super soldiers even though Oliver and the rest of his team was working to fight them back. But she actually sacrificed her own life rather than give the access codes to terrorist group Shadowspire when they infiltrated ARGUS headquarters, so in the end she chose the heroic path.

8. Baron Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola)

The head of Shadowspire was inspired to never be helpless again after his small African village was destroyed when he was young. He actually got his criminal start in Afghanistan running an illegal drug ring to fund his project of finding a mystical object hidden on Lian Yu, and even recruited Diggle's brother Andy (Eugene Byrd). Once on the island, Reiter used human captives as slaves to work for him, killing whoever didn't obey orders. After finding an idol that gives its holder magical powers, he was killed by Oliver. 

7. Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot (Michael Rowe)

One of the members of the Suicide Squad actually did the right thing in the end and sacrificed his life to save the lives of others, but that doesn't make up for the fact that he was an assassin who never missed when killing his targets. The countless amount of names of his victims that he tattooed on his chest far outweigh any heroic choice he made in his final moments.

6. Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau)

The former CEO of Queen Consolidated was one cold lady. She earned the trust of Oliver by becoming his business partner, offering to help him save his company, and even ended up sleeping with him. But later it was revealed that she had been working with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) the entire time, working to destroy Oliver's life out of revenge for his father Robert (Jamey Sheridan) dumping her without a second thought after their affair. She was a fierce fighter, using the alter ego of Ravager, but was killed by Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) during her attack on Star City.

5. Ra's al Ghul (Matt Nable)

The former leader of the League of Assassins was a ruthless fighter, but he lived by a code, which is why he's not further down on this list. He treated his daugher Nyssa without love or respect, completely disregarding her feelings for Sara Lance (Caity Lance). He even came close to killing Oliver – he would have, too, if an old friend of Oliver's hadn't saved him from the snow and nursed him back to health.

Ra's actually did kill Oliver's sister Thea (Willa Holland), all because he wanted Oliver to come to him and make a deal: he could use the Lazarus Pit to bring Thea back to life if Oliver joined the League of Assassins and ultimately become the new Ra's al Ghul, which included marrying his daughter Nyssa despite her being a lesbian. Oliver took the deal and pretended to go dark, all so he could take Ra's down from the inside. Oliver ended up killing Ra's and giving Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) the Ra's al Ghul ring, making him the new League of Assassins leader.

4. Malcolm Merlyn aka the Dark Archer (John Barrowman)

One of Arrow's worst villains, Malcolm can't seem to ever stay down after getting beaten actually did everything all in the name of love. First, he plotted The Undertaking to destroy the Glades, including all the people who live and work there, with an earthquake machine out of revenge for his wife getting mugged and killed there years before. Because of that attack, he was responsible for his own son's death. Trained by the League of Assassins, he also tried to set up the Green Arrow by murdering people with a bow and arrow. He faked his own death to get out of facing the consequences of his actions.

It was revealed during season two that Malcolm is the biological father of Thea, and brainwashed her into murdering Sara Lance in order to get Oliver to fight Ra's al Ghul in his place, knowing that Ra's would come after the person who killed his daughter's beloved. He blackmailed Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) after having an affair with her. He constantly betrays Team Arrow any time they reluctantly join forces. He even worked with Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough) and HIVE, helping nuke an entire city before defecting back to Team Arrow in order to protect Thea. Malcolm has done so many despicable things in the past, and he's also set to accomplish even more evil acts as part of the Legion of Doom on Legends of Tomorrow season two.

3. Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough)

An evil man with magical powers who could literally drain the life force out of people was almost too much for Team Arrow and Oliver to defeat. The former member of the League of Assassins was actually the ex-best friend of Ra's, but when he was passed over as a successor of the leader of the League, he stole some of the water from the Lazarus Pit, as well as loyal followers, to create his own organization named HIVE. He lived a long life, using magic and the Lazarus Pit water to stay the same age. He tried to steal an earthquake generator like the kind Malcolm used in season one. He helped terrorists with their plots. He launched a killing spree in Star City, resulting in many civilian casualties.

He blackmailed Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) into helping him as a part of HIVE by threatening to kill Lance's daughter Laurel (Katie Cassidy), before eventually killing her by sticking an arrow in her side. He killed all the leaders of Star City in an attempt to let the city die and let a new one grow in its wake. He also was the reason why Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert) went crazy and became the murderous Anarky. He kidnapped Oliver's son, which eventually lead to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) finding out about his secret proginy and breaking off their engagement. He incited a prison riot, killing many guards just to lure Team Arrow to him. He destroyed an entire city with a nuclear bomb, and attempted to do that to every city in the world before the Green Arrow stopped him and killed him.

2. Ruvé Darhk (Janet Kidder)

Damien's wife was actually crueler than he was. Case in point: When the Green Arrow revealed to Damien that he had actually saved his wife and daughter from Anarky, Damien gave him a few weeks' head start before coming after him to kill him, whereas Ruvé wanted him dead immediately. She also was Damien's inspiration to destroy the world in order to build a new one. Her death caused Damien to grow unstable and reckless, almost killing himself in his plans to nuke the entire world.

1. Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke (Manu Bennett)

The all-time most formidable Arrow villain actually started off as Oliver's ally on Lian Yu. The former member of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service taught Oliver how to fight while they lived on the island. Slade was in love with Shado (Celina Jade), despite the fact that she was with Oliver. After getting injected with the Mirakuru serum, he went crazy and ended up blaming Oliver for Shado's death. He vowed to get revenge on his former friend/ally, and Oliver ended up putting an arrow through his eye when he attacked. But Slade survived, and came to Star City years later after adopting a mercenary alter ego, Deathstroke.

As Slade Wilson in the political sphere and Deathstroke in the shadows, he worked with Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) and Isabel Rochev to take away everything Oliver loved. He killed Oliver's mother right in front of her kids and revealed the identity of Thea's real father to her in an effort to destroy the Queen family. He created an army of Mirakuru-enhanced super soldiers, leading them in an attack on Star City. During the attack, Team Arrow was able to cure Slade of his Mirakuru powers and he currently is being held in an ARGUS prison cell back on Lian Yu. While Slade didn't cause the most damage – that honor goes to Damien and his wife – he did cause the most emotional turmoil for Oliver, especially since he was once his closest friend.

Who do you think is the worst villain yet on Arrow? Let us know in the comments section below.

Arrow returns for season five on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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