Why ‘Arrow’ Doesn’t End With the Death of Laurel Lance

When I often ask myself about the appeal of superheroes to our society, I think about what they represent: hope, love, and protection. But I also think about what makes them so viable: they are representative of us.

While superheroes are often viewed as these indestructible forces of good that always prevail against the forces of evil, the fact of the matter is that heroes don’t always win. Sometimes they lose. Sometimes they fall.

Superheroes are not invincible despite the way in which they carry themselves acting as a beacon of hope and protection for a city that often doesn’t ask for it but also couldn’t imagine life without. Heroes owe us nothing, and yet they give us everything. And sometimes they sacrifice their life for us.

Such was the case for Arrow, where Laurel Lance (aka the Black Canary) met a tragic end as she was fighting the very evil that threatened Star City when Damien Darhk fulfilled a dark promise he made to Quentin Lance in the season premiere by killing his daughter. It was an emotional episode that left the characters and audience in tears and the future in question as the team must now deal with this heartbreaking loss.

Laurel’s death has been met with a lot of anger and criticism with some enraged fans claiming that there’s no Arrow without Laurel. But the fact of the matter is that Arrow is centered on one person’s journey: Oliver Queen. While Arrow is by no means all about Oliver – as we’ve seen with the exploration of the members of Team Arrow and their significance to this show – but it does revolve around him. Everything that happens has some kind of connection to him. In a high stakes world of crime fighting, where our heroes go up against mystical forces like Damien Darhk, the only one safe on Arrow is Oliver Queen. And even he died for a hiatus during season three.

But the death of Laurel Lance, the Black Canary, doesn’t spell an end for Arrow. In fact, it begins a new chapter.

I understand that there is outrage over Laurel’s death. Her fans, rightfully so, are angered over the death of their favorite character; a character that they assumed would always be safe in this world because she was the Black Canary. I won’t deny that I’d have been equally outraged if it had been Felicity or Diggle that had been in the grave because of how much they mean to me. So I understand their anger over Laurel’s death, but let’s make it clear: Arrow does not end with Laurel’s death. Her death is a significant plot point that will make her character more relevant than it has been all this season.

The fact of the matter is that Laurel had to be the one to die. Laurel had to die because her death was significant in a way that impacted everything and everyone on this show, whether it was Team Arrow or Quentin or the legal system. Her death isn’t something that’s going to be easily dismissed. It’s going to drive the rest of the season as it combats with character relationships, dynamics, and Darhk’s ultimate demise.

Also let’s not forget about the other characters on this show whose stories will live on long after Laurel’s death. This show was never called “Black Canary.” This has never been solely about one person. But if it was it wouldn’t have been Laurel — it would be Oliver, whose show this actually is.

I’ve seen a lot of talk about Laurel’s death being a “fake-out” or “temporary,” but the fact of the matter is that the executive producers have said from the get-go that this death is permanent. They cemented it with the destruction of the Lazarus Pit, which ironically was due to Laurel’s determination to save her sister Sara, which she ultimately did. There is no coming back from the dead for Laurel. Sure, she’ll appear on an episode of The Flash later this season as he Earth-2 doppleganger and even voice herself on Vixen’s second season, but the Laurel Lance we knew is not coming back. And it has to be this way.

But the thing is that had her death been a fake-out or something that she ultimately is resurrected from, her death means nothing. It loses all meaning. Her death isn’t something to be glossed over. It’s not something that the characters will easily get over. It’s something that will inspire them. It’s something that will make them better. Team Arrow will honor Laurel Lance the way she honored them and this city. They will fight in her memory and they will do it as the heroes that she knew them to be.

The thing with superhero stories on the small and big screens is that we don’t often see heroes die. It’s not that I want to see these symbols of hope fall to the darkness we fear, but there is no shame in dying. Whether as a hero or an ordinary person. It’s the ultimate sacrifice. Death doesn’t negate your strength, your reputation, or your importance. There is meaning in death. No matter how hard it might be to deal with.

A hero is someone who has given their life to something bigger than them. Arrow will live on without Laurel Lance, but she will be honored in death as she was in life.  And Laurel’s sacrifice will not be forgotten.

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  1. Great article. I wish her fans could grieve this using this reason rather than getting so irrational. There is meaning here!

    1. Being a European, I never understood shipping, so take this as an objective thought after coming across lots of these arguments in the social media. Threatening staff because you hate their screenwriting decisions is awful. Kissing the writers’ asses for the same cause is awful as well. Canary fans acted irrationally. So did Olicity fans, with the celebration of Canary’s death and the whole “raise money to say thanks” gimmick right after they killed the canary. Equally irrational and low in my opinion. Yes, I know it’s going for charity, but let’s be serious. The timing betrays the intention. If both sides could step out of this war and look at it as someone more distanced, they’d soon realise the ridiculousness of it.

      1. Oh, there’s hateful people on every side of the fandom divide. Always. I think it’d be awesome if we could all remember that you’re insulting a real person because of a fictional character. Alas, sometimes I think that’s too much to ask.

      2. Of course there is, but it also seems that the show’s writers are handling this so called war in the wrong way. Instead of ignoring both sides, they seem to lean towards one of them. That does not really help things become more calm.

      3. They clearly don’t understand the difference. Just like they don’t understand the difference between a television show and comic books.

      4. I agree. If I could just express my dislike of Laurel without being told to kill myself or get cancer and die that would be great. Plenty of people don’t like Felicity’s character and I’m fine with that. I won’t however let attacks on Emily,her fans and misogyny go unanswered for.

    2. They’re merely blinded by hate and blaming everyone when instead they need to see the meaning here.

      1. I can understand the strong feelings but I think resorting to hate and blame really dilutes any good message they might have to deliver.

  2. Yes, exactly. The only thing that would end Arrow would be the actual for real death of, you know, the Arrow. I thought Laurel’s death was underwhelming and just plain bad and could have been executed better, but this definitely pushes the show into a new chapter where anything could happen. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and where they go from here.

    1. Some people forget this show is called “Arrow” and not “Black Canary.” And I mean this is the first significant storyline involving Laurel in a long time. I’m intrigued to see how this affects everything moving forward.

      1. Exactly. If the show was called Arrow and Canary I would understand the outrage but it’s not. This is about Oliver Queen, everyone else is supporting. It’s not that hard to understand. Or maybe it is for some?

      2. I swear if I hear the “but in the comics” argument again…

        Both of these characters have existed as separate entities especially in the New 52 where they don’t even know each other so…

      3. Ugh, I know. It’s so boring and predictable at this point.

        The thing that really gets me is that comic books don’t even have a specific set-in-stone, one size fits all, canon. They can change with every new creative team/writer/artist. Didn’t the latest run have Oliver as a werewolf? That’s the great thing about comics. They can pretty much do anything and get away with it. So I just view the TV show as a different interpretation of canon.

      4. Hey, this my first comment. I usually don’t discuss Arrow online. I read sometimes comments and that’s it. But since the season started with the whole grave mystery and the season progressed I read a lot of silly things online.
        First of all I never read any comic books in my life but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy stories about heroes. I care what happens of my favourite TV show based on comics or not.
        Second I like the cast and did not want anyone to die on this show. But I also understand that sometimes when you tell a story you have to make choices which not anyone agrees with. In this case with the Black Canary. (And yes although I am a fan I did not enjoy every storyline on Arrow…*cough* baby mama *cough*).
        Since I started watching the show the most comment I read was: “But in the comics”….and I agree with Alyssa I can’t hear or read this anymore. I understand that as a comic book fan you want your favourite characters represent in the right way but this fact should not limit your story choices. The comic book fans are basically saying that everyone is fair game but don’t touch the acutal comic book characters from Arrow….well for me this is not good storytelling, sorry.
        The producers knew this would made a lot of people furious and I understand that they are sad that her favourite character died but to blame one character or the whole show that for me is just childish. And by the way the producers never said we are creating a show about Arrow and the Black canary plays a part and no matter what happens in the show they will end up together.
        And before everyone attacks me Yes I am a fan of olicity, OTA and Thea etc and No I am not a teenage girl anymore. And yes I would be very sad if one of them dies but I also know that sometimes this is how the stories goes. I will certainly not attack acutal people (producers, actors, writers etc.) for not following my preferred story. Thats just insane and kind of scary. I would have decide for myself I want to continue this journey with the show.
        Sorry this post was so long but I just had to write this down for my own good. 😉

        Thank you for reading this and please be kind English is not my first language. 😉 Thanks.

      5. The whole “but in the comics” has literally no meaning here because Arrow has proven over the course of four seasons that it’s nothing like the comics. Sure there are elements from the comic books, but they’ve never been held down by comic canon, which has made this a damn good show.

      6. The whole “but in the comics” has literally no meaning here because Arrow has proven over the course of four seasons that it’s nothing like the comics. Sure there are elements from the comic books, but they’ve never been held down by comic canon, which has made this a damn good show.

      7. Thank you. This statement “but in the comics” is bugging me since I started watching the show. 😉

      8. I swear if I hear the “but in the comics” argument again…

        Both of these characters have existed as separate entities especially in the New 52 where they don’t even know each other so…

  3. Yes, exactly. The only thing that would end Arrow would be the actual for real death of, you know, the Arrow. I thought Laurel’s death was underwhelming and just plain bad and could have been executed better, but this definitely pushes the show into a new chapter where anything could happen. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and where they go from here.

  4. I get people being upset but there is so much good that’s coming from this death that I can’t say it wasn’t ultimately for the best of the show and the other characters. I’m especially excited to see Diggle go through such a dark arc of self doubt and pain and vengeance, Quentin being so broken that he will have to lean on his new family(by Paul Blackthorne’s own words) of Team Arrow and I’m happy we get to see more Quentin with everyone else because of it, Thea and Felicity I think will have some really great development because of this as well though the writers haven’t made that clear yet what they’ll be, but ultimately this will affect Oliver the most, the main hero, the star of the show with his name in the title.
    Oliver will be the guiding light who will get his four family members out of the dark like they’ve always done for him. Talk about character development

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Laurel’s death will serve a significant purpose. It’s not senseless. This is going to affect everyone on this show moving toward the end of the season.

  5. The comic canon argument is just dumb to me. Plenty about this show isn’t in the comics yet Felicity’s character gets the majority hate for that. I’ve never liked Laurel’s character so her death in itself doesn’t move me. I am however interested to see how the other characters move on. Personally for me I think Oliver will be the light to bring Felicity,Dig and Thea back from the darkness. Also I’m looking forward to see how Lance deals with everything because Paul Blackthorn is going to kill it with that.

    1. Paul and David in particular I thought were phenomenal in 4×18 and I definitely think it will be even juicier this time around for Paul because as he said in his interview, Lance will lean on his new family Team Arrow and I can’t wait for those scenes and how those actors will pull out great stuff from each other

      1. I’m really looking forward to Paul’s storyline for the rest of this season and next. It’s about time. He’s a phenomenal actor and this will give him a lot to really dig into emotionally.

      2. I’m really looking forward to Paul’s storyline for the rest of this season and next. It’s about time. He’s a phenomenal actor and this will give him a lot to really dig into emotionally.

    2. Exactly. Some people are so blinded by hate that they can’t see that Laurel’s death is going to serve a purpose for the team and in ultimately defeating Damien Darhk. Her death isn’t meaningless. There have been worse deaths on television before. Laurel’s was honorable. And the only person safe on this show is Oliver.

  6. I agree that the death of Lauren will be evolutionary to all the characters. A change where we will know the different reaction of them. I believe that the death of Lauren, will bring a significant change in each character to the arrow team and we will know the strengths andweaknesses of each team member of the arrow. I consider myself a fan of tv arrow 🙂

  7. The irony is thick here.

    When Sara was killed off at the start of Season Three, I protested how utterly pointless the death was in my episode guide for the series and in a separate article. Sara’s death served no purpose but shock-value and spurring-on Laurel’s replacing her. The problem is they could have done it much more effectively had Sara died at the end of Season Two. She could have made a heroic sacrifice in the battle to save her city and inspired Laurel to take up her mantle as a way of honoring her rather than as some substitute for her drug addiction/a coping mechanism for her death.

    And I complained about every horrible moment that tore Sara down in order to build Laurel up (i.e. Felicity’s awful “you have a light” speech.), that pretty much pissed on everything Sara had been and her journey for redemption and her struggle to use the skills she learned to survive to try and help people and be more than just a killer.

    When I voiced these concerns, the Laurel fans told me to suck it up and get over it because nothing I could do would change the show-runner’s minds.

    Now here we are a year later…. and Sara Lance was brought back by popular demand. Because the writers agreed when it was pointed out, “Yes, we COULD have done more with her story.” And, on Legends of Tomorrow, they have.

    Something to consider.

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