If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of Arrow, this post will have some *SPOILERS* (come to think of it, the title is kind of a spoiler already—oh well).
After some Arrow bingeing on Netflix, I discussed the cast of characters with my friend who thought the show forcibly added attractive women into the cast and didn’t know what to do with them (story-wise). In that friend’s opinion, a lot of the female characters are underdeveloped.
This prompted me to list the main and recurring characters to see how many characters were of either sex. With just the characters off the top of my head, I found there were more male characters than female: seventeen men, and thirteen women. What I found most interesting was that of the thirteen female characters on my list, Oliver Queen—the show’s protagonist—sleeps with six of them and is romantically interested in a seventh.
1. Dinah Laurel Lance, Esq.: Oliver dated her prior to the start of the show and they have some relapses during Season 1 (poor Tommy).
2. Dinah Sara Lance/Canary: Oliver cheats on Laurel with her sister in flashbacks, and when Sara returns on the island, and as the Canary, there’s a bit of something going on there.
3. Felicity Smoak: It’s been demonstrated that they at least have crushes on one another—Felicity lets it slip that she imagined Oliver holding her, and that she likes watching him do that pull-up-cross-fit-y exercise (looked it up—it’s called the Salmon Ladder), and she’s also jealous when Oliver’s with other women; and Oliver is super jealous of Barry Allen when Felicity is all smitten with the Flash-to-be.
Canary, Laurel Lance, and Felicity Smoak
4. Helena Bertenelli/The Huntress: Arrow sleeps with his fellow masked vigilante.
5. Detective McKenna Hall: A female detective showed up, so he had to date her.
6. Shado: Oliver’s island-flashback relationship in Season 2. Why have Oliver be taught archery by a man when you can kill that man off and let Oliver roll in the sand with his daughter?
7. Isabel Rochev: Yay, Summar Glau’s here—oh, well, couldn’t stop Oliver from getting all up on her for too long.
The Huntress, Detective Hall, Shado, and Isabel Rochev
To be fair, the character of Oliver Queen is a billionaire playboy in the comics, so Arrow giving the guy so many romantic interests stays true to the source material (and, I suppose in real life, lots of people date seven or more people within two years).
Notably, John Diggle also has two romantic interests on the show: his brother’s widow, and his own ex-wife, both of whom aren’t very developed as characters. When I tried to come up with a list of shallow male characters who exist primarily as love interests for a main female character, I couldn’t come up with anything (Roy Harper, Robert Queen, and Walter Steele are considerably significant characters).
Overall, though, you can’t say that Arrow capitalizes on women’s looks alone:
Pointlessly Shirtless Men of Arrow: Slade Wilson, Oliver Queen, John Diggle, and Roy Harper.