Tonight, Arrow reaches a major milestone in any TV show's life with its 100th episode.
It comes in the middle of the CW's giant four-show crossover and deals with half its characters having been abducted by aliens, but still manages to play as a tribute and a look back at where the show came from—before everyone died and two other shows were spawned.
In fact, this entire season is meant as a kind of return to the show's roots.
"We really wanted to honor season one," executive producer Wendy Mericle tells us of season five. "It's very much a look back at season one, and one of the ways to do that is to really make it more of the gritty crime drama that I think the fans really responded to in that first season, and that's why we're not coming out of the gate so much with concepts like oh my gosh, there's going to be someone in a grave, but much more about wow, the city is in crisis, and how is Oliver going to deal with this explosion of crime? I think that really gets to the root of the show, which is that's just who he is. He's out there, he's trying to save the city, and that's his mission this season."
One of the nicest things about this season for me is that we're living within Star City, and all the things that we're doing really focus on our core mission, which is always making the city a better place," Stephen Amell says. "So there's no [real] darkness yet, but it's never far around the corner."
In that spirit of taking a look back at the show's core mission, we had some of the cast and executive producers look back on the past 100 episodes and the moments that meant the most to them.
On when they realized the show was a success:
Greg Berlanti (executive producer): The first two or three months when we were making it, we really didn't know. We just kept doubling down on maybe, maybe this will work, this is what we like, you know. Then it started to air and people started to talk about it, and I went out on Halloween and saw two or three kids—it had only aired for like a month—dressed as Arrow, and I thought OK, that's cool.
Marc Guggenheim (executive producer): The first season finale felt really really special, and it felt really really big, and I remember being on the set of the first season finale and it's raining and we're out on this incredible set, and we're filming the aftermath of the season one earthquake, and I just remember looking out on this huge street and all this equipment…and going what have we wrought? That was a really special moment.
Wendy Mericle (executive producer): I think at comic con the very first season, we went to premiere the pilot for the fans. It was such a tremendous thing to feel that energy. I had only felt that at concerts of major rock bands, and it was a unique experience.
On their proudest or most defining moment on the show:
Stephen Amell: I'm very proud of the pilot. It's always going to be the pilot. And I've thought a lot about the pilot recently, not just because of hitting 100 episodes, but just as we've been shooting our 8th and 9th episodes this year. I'll always be super proud of the pilot. That was a beast, you know. Until you put the suit on, you don't know if you're going to do a good job.
Katie Cassidy: Honestly, I feel like there's not a specific moment, but the way they wrote my character, the arc, and the way she goes from season one to the middle of season four. I think season four we saw her, she's hit rock bottom, comes back to the top, and is transitioning into the Canary. Putting on that jacket for the first time was a huge moment for me, and I know it was for the fans. I just think that overall, the whole entire journey was something that I've been really lucky to have gotten to play.
David Ramsey: There are a few moments I think define Diggle, because there are a lot of different moments that were awesome. I think the moment that defined Diggle was in the first season when he's offered the job with Oliver as the first team member, and he refuses. Then he comes back to Oliver, and he says, I'm going to stay with you because you really don't know how much you need me, and you have no idea what killing people does to your soul. I know, because I've had to do it. And I think that idea resonates throughout the whole season, how Diggle helps Oliver regain and retain his humanity. I think that's probably his defining moment for me.
Paul Blackthorne: There was something about that hospital bed scene—I don't know which season it was now, season three?—where Laurel knew who the vigilante was and wanted to tell me, and I told her not to tell me. There was something about what happened in that scene, where he just didn't want her to tell him, even though it was everything he wanted to know. It was a very powerful scene between the two of them, father and daughter.
Echo Kellum: I really felt like the episode with the bees from season four was really that moment of like, this is who he really is. He found out all of these secrets and things that were actually happening and getting to be a part of the team for a moment. I think that's really what crafted him to get on this wavelength that he's on now, where he really wants to get out there and try to be more active and help protect Star City. That was the catalyst for him, and I think it's just a real fun moment for him, and a moment that shows his strength and what he can bring to the table.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.