In an extended trailer for the upcoming season, the DC Comics villain was revealed via a voiceover of dialogue from the Season 1 episode "Dead to Rights," in which Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) discussed his time in Nanda Parbat, as well as other mentions of Ra's throughout the series. The role has not yet been cast.
The leader of the League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul was a looming presence throughout the first two seasons, with Malcolm being revealed as the only member Ra's has ever allowed to leave the League — though Ra's came to regret it because of Malcolm's part in The Undertaking and now wants to kill him. In Season 2, Oliver (Stephen Amell) discovered that not only was Sara (Caity Lotz) a member of the League after getting off the island, but she was also dating the daughter of Ra's, Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law), with whom she left Starling City in the finale.
"We wanted to present Oliver with a new challenge with a villain that would speak to what Oliver was going through emotionally," executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells TVGuide.com. "This season, Oliver is wrestling with, 'Is there a life for me beyond being the Arrow?' What the Season 3 villain comes to Oliver and says is, 'The reason you're not fully successful as the Arrow is because you're holding on to Oliver Queen. I have let go of my identity and embraced my cause and you should do the same.' It's a whole new thing where the enemy actually, in some ways, admires the Arrow and what he's doing. He just thinks that the Arrow is thinking too small."
Interestingly enough, the introduction of Ra's al Ghul in Season 3 might actually force Oliver to work with the Dark Archer, who took his sister Thea (Willa Holland) out of Starling City in the finale. "We've already established that the Season 3 villain has a strong animosity towards Malcolm," Kreisberg says. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It's going to be a lot of asking, 'Who hates who more?'"
But what that means for Sara and Nyssa when the latter's father arrives remains to be seen. "Alliances and loyalty are another big theme of the season," he says. "There's another war coming and whose side people are going to be on is going to be the thing that drives the season."
Are you excited to see Ra's al Ghul on Arrow?
Arrow returns for its third season on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)