Though DC Comics introduced the Green Arrow back in 1941, it took until 2012 for the character to get his own solo TV series in The CW's Arrow. Since then, the series has spawned a whole connected universe of superhero spinoffs—including The Flash—which has come to be known as the Arrowverse.
To find out more about the show that started it all, here are 10 facts about Arrow.
1. Stephen Amell wasn't the first live-action Green Arrow on The CW.
Back when The CW announced it was developing a series centered around the Green Arrow, many fans assumed the role would be offered to Justin Hartley, who appeared as the Emerald Archer from 2006 to 2011 on the WB/CW drama Smallville. But it turned out that Arrow would be a complete redo of the character, with actor Stephen Amell replacing Hartley.
Hartley, who went on to star in the hit series This Is Us, still looks back on his tenure as the Green Arrow fondly. "When you saw that show and you saw when Oliver came on and how he interacted with Clark and what he brought out in Clark and how he moved Clark in a direction where we know he's going—Superman—it became like an essential part of the show and I'm really proud of it," Hartley told Entertainment Weekly. "And I always loved the fact that he was mortal. I loved the fact that when he got hit, he got hurt. And he could die."
2. Stephen Amell inspired Oliver Queen’s workout.
One of the most talked-about moments of the Arrow pilot was Stephen Amell's "salmon ladder" routine. This is an exercise where the participant basically propels themselves up a series of vertical rungs using a bar to reach each new level. (And yes, it is as hard as it looks.) Turns out, the exercise was part of Amell's normal workout routine at the time, and when the show's creators saw it, they knew it had to be incorporated into the series.
3. John Diggle's name is an Easter egg.
It’s no secret that the character John Diggle (played by David Ramsey) was created specifically for the show. What fans might not know is that the name is a tribute to Andy Diggle, writer of the comic series Green Arrow: Year One. The comic inspired many of the series’s central characters and storylines, including much of what happens to Oliver on the island.
4. Liam Neeson wanted to reprise his role as Ra’s al Ghul.
Before it was settled that Matt Nable would play the villainous Ra's al Ghul during Arrow's third season, there was actually a chance that Liam Neeson would reprise the role that he originally played in 2005's Batman Begins.
When word got out that Arrow would be introducing the infamous Batman villain, an MTV reporter asked Neeson if he would return. Much to the reporter’s surprise, Neeson said he would reprise the role “in a heartbeat.”
After word of Neeson’s interest made its way to The CW president Mark Pedowitz, Pedowitz reached out to Neeson with an offer. However, Neeson was unable to work the filming requirements into his schedule.
5. There's a reason for the different pronunciations of Ra's al Ghul.
Ever wonder why some characters pronounce Ra’s al Ghul like Raysh while others pronounce it as Raaz? Turns out that there is an explanation for the different pronunciations of Ra’s al Ghul’s first name.
During a WonderCon panel, Arrow writer and producer Andrew Kreisberg revealed that the pronunciation of the villain's name all comes down to the character’s background. If the character is a member of the League of Assassins, they will refer to him as Raysh, while all other characters will refer to him as Raaz, which is how it was also pronounced in Batman Begins. This was basically an attempt to please both camps.
6. Nyssa al Ghul helped differentiate the show from 'The Dark Knight Rises.'
Though Arrow may share some similar tones to Christopher Nolan’s beloved The Dark Knight trilogy, The CW and the Arrow writers went above and beyond to avoid comparisons to the Batman franchise.
In fact, it was because the series wanted to avoid comparisons to The Dark Knight trilogy that they opted to introduce Ra's al Ghul’s lesser-known daughter Nyssa al Ghul over the more widely known Talia al Ghul, who was played by Marion Cotillard in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises.
In the DC Comics, Nyssa is Talia’s half-sister raised outside the League of Assassins—however, Nyssa has also trained as a hardened warrior. In the Arrow universe, the character (played by Katrina Law) is the sole daughter of Ra's al Ghul and is raised under his tutelage.
7. The show features some Bruce Springsteen references.
Throughout Arrow‘s first three seasons, the title of the penultimate episode of each season was the name of a Bruce Springsteen song.
For Season 1, there's “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” followed by “Streets of Fire” in season 2, and "This Is Your Sword” for season 3. It remains unclear what the connection is between the songs and the episodes, but someone on the Arrow team must have been a huge fan of The Boss.
8. 'Olicity' almost never happened.
Can you imagine Team Arrow or Arrow as a series without Emily Bett Rickards’s Felicity Smoak? The series just doesn't work without Felicity, but if the writers had stuck to their original plan, that would have been the reality.
As it turns out, the character of Felicity Smoak was only set to appear in one episode in the series's first season. However, Rickards’s chemistry with Amell was so great that the network quickly took notice. What was set to be a one-and-done appearance quickly turned into a leading role.
9. The show featured Harley Quinn's first live-action appearance (sort of).
In season 2’s “Suicide Squad,” Amanda Waller works to assemble her team of villains in order to stop Gholem Qadir from selling off a dangerous weapon. While on location at Waller’s secret prison/containment area, Harley Quinn can be heard screaming in the background as Diggle and Lyla pass by.
For the vocal cameo, actress Tara Strong was brought in to reprise the character, who she voiced in the Batman: Arkham City and Injustice: Gods Among Us video games. In a deleted scene available on the Arrow season 2 DVD set, Quinn is shown from behind sporting the character’s signature hairdo. This technically marked the character’s first appearance in a live-action DC project.
10. Oliver Queen's mansion also appeared in the 'X-Men' movies.
Have you ever looked at the exterior of the Queen Mansion and gotten a strange sense of déjà vu? The Hatley Castle in Colwood, British Columbia, is the same mansion used in Smallville as the Luthor home and in the first two X-Men films as the X-Mansion.