[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the series finale of Arrow. Read at your own risk!]
Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) may have perished before all was said and done on Arrow, but that doesn't mean he didn't get a happy ending. The series finale of The CW's first Arrowverse show has come and gone, and even though Arrow has always been a dark show, the series managed to find a surprising amount of light in its final hour.
The finale spent most of its time honoring Oliver Queen and the journey that took him from billionaire playboy to merciless vigilante to beloved hero. His funeral scene, which saw the return of so many familiar faces including resurrected characters like Moira (Susanna Thompson) to Tommy (Colin Donnell) to comrades in arms Barry (Grant Gustin) and Kara (Melissa Benoist), was a beautiful celebration of not just Oliver's death and sacrifice, but his life too.
The final scene of the series finale (which coincidentally was also the final scene shot for the episode), picked up right after that Season 7 cliffhanger, which saw Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) step into a portal that would take her to Oliver in the afterlife. It turns out, heaven looks a lot like his mother's office at Queen Consolidated! Oliver met her there, more peaceful than we've ever seen him, and explained his mother's office was where he saw Felicity for the very first time (in a Season 3 flashback), so naturally, that's what his personal heaven would look like. Together, they gazed out over a peaceful city, finally ready to enjoy an eternity together.
"Originally, Beth and I, we had almost all the pieces," Guggenheim told reporters at a screening of the series finale. "We knew it would be a Coda, we knew there'd be a Season 1 flashback, we knew the build-up to the green box. The very last scene, we've known for months and months and months — since June, I think. So we've known almost everything... The big question was, is Emily coming back to be in it? I'm like, 'Well, now she really has to because I really love the scene."
"We didn't even think of another ending," Schwartz added. "Like, we didn't have a backup plan at all. We were just like, Emily needs to do this and luckily, she did."
Given that this happy ending was not only the final bookend on Oliver story but also the final scene shot before the show was wrapped, it held extra significance to everyone involved. And thus, it drew a crowd.
"It was past midnight," Guggenheim said. "We were all there, including several cast members who didn't even work that day. Colin Donnell showed up, Ricky [Gonzalez], Juliana [Harkavy]," Guggenheim continued.
"We finished [shooting] a little bit before that, but everyone stuck around," David Ramsey later told TV Guide. "It's the last time, right? And everyone kind of wanted to see that scene too. So it was a beautiful moment, a beautiful scene. It was wrapped up appropriately, and there were tears all around."
Another relationship that got its time in the sun in the finale was the brotherhood between Oliver and Diggle. Since all the way back in the pilot, Diggle has been an integral part of Oliver's journey, especially during the first season when he was trying to toe the line between justice and bloody vengeance. In those days, Diggle served as a safety-valve of sorts, determined to step in and keep the death toll low when Oliver would take on Star City's worst criminals.
The finale saw Diggle back in that role, as a series of flashbacks took us back to Season 1, showing us scenes and moments we'd never seen before. Guggenheim and Schwartz revealed that they'd always planned to have Season 1 flashbacks in the series finale in order to make sure Amell was a significant part of the episode, but also to honor the flashback narrative device which was a huge part of the DNA of the show in its first five seasons.
Those never before seen moments dovetailed nicely with the eulogy Diggle ended up giving at Oliver's funeral, which was enough to bring people to tears. In the end, it felt very fitting that the man who'd stood by Oliver through thick and thin delivered this one last tribute to him.
"The original plan was for it to be something with Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle, probably circa, like right after Episode 114, when Felicity was sort of brought into the circle of trust," Guggenheim told reporters. "The problem was that Emily was only available to us for two days. And that meant — basically, if we had a third day with her, we would have been able to tell that story. Once that didn't materialize, we were like, 'OK, well, our backup plan is do something circa , after Oliver and Diggle started working together and just tell us a piece of the story you didn't see, which is really the start of their relationship.' I think, as partners, and as Diggle says later, as brothers, you kind of see, as Oliver says, the proof of concept. What that relationship could be. And I think it's what was very nice and rewarding for us to see was how that and the eulogy speak to each other and you really do see how much things have changed."
The only real question we're left with — besides is Diggle about to become to Green Lantern — is whether or not this is truly the last we'll see of Oliver Queen. The Arrowverse is best known for bringing people back from the dead (case in point, this finale), be it by rewriting timelines, dunking them in a Lazarus Pit, or just pulling a last-minute gotcha!
Schwartz and Guggenheim say they're not ruling out the possibility that some incarnation of Oliver Queen could return to the Arrowverse in the future — anything is possible in the not-so-multiverse.
"As we've sort of said in the saga, he's become something else," Guggenheim said. "The whole point of making him the Spectre was just to give us opportunities, to give us story opportunities because who knows what's going to happen in the future? And the one thing I always say, every time a character dies on any of these shows, it's like, we've got alternate realities, we got time travel we've got, flashbacks, you name it! We have all these different devices. No one's ever really gone. I mean look at Colin Donnell, I mean, Jesus Christ! How many times — he's practically a series regular still into Season 8."
As far as honoring the character's happy ending and the fear that his return might dishonor that, Guggenheim says it's all very dependent upon the future storylines that might facilitate that return.
"I would love to always see Stephen, to speak to [the] question, 'Are we honoring or dishonoring,' I think would be how we brought him back and when. If we brought him back in the seventh season premiere of The Flash, it would probably diminish this a bit.
"There's always the opportunity to cut to him and Felicity in the afterlife just hanging out. Living their best life!" Beth Schwartz added.
Personally, we'll now feel cheated if there isn't a scene in Mia Smoak Queen's (Katherine McNamara) spin-off of Oliver and Felicity eating popcorn while watching her kick butt and save the city from the beyond.