TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Arrow TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Drinking, deaths in dark superhero tale beloved by teens.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 50 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 202 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

On one hand, the hero takes revenge on the worst of the worst: people who lie, cheat, and steal their way to power and wealth, often at the expense of the little guy. He's motivated by a quest to right family wrongs that were confessed to him by his father, and his actions make life better for the criminals' victims. On the other, the hero acts outside the legal system and without concrete proof of others' wrongdoing, and he kills in revenge. Many characters are motivated by greed and secrecy, even within families. Prior to the shipwreck, Oliver cheated on his girlfriend with her sister, but in retrospect, he regrets his actions and seeks to make amends for them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Oliver is well-intentioned, and his justification for acting as a vigilante is understandable in light of the fact that he knows most of the city's power holders are criminals. That said, his present-day personality is in sharp contrast to the bad-boy reputation he gained by partying, sleeping around, and generally taking advantage of his privileged status. Some characters are salt-of-the-Earth good guys who stand for justice, but most are involved in shady doings of some kind, and their loyalties are uncertain. Oliver decides to stop killing villains in the show's second season, but still uses violence to subdue those who oppose him. 


Fighting and death by gunfire, beatings, electrocution, strangulation, suicide,  and spine snapping are fair game in this action-packed show. A fair amount of blood, and some scenes of kidnapping and torture. Both "good" and "bad" guys use violence as a means to push their agenda. Oliver vows to leave villains alive beginning with the show's second season; however, he often shoots them with arrows to subdue them, to agonized screams. 


Scenes imply that sex is imminent or has recently occurred, but it occurs off-camera. Women lounge in lingerie, there's some hot-and-heavy kissing, and language mentions "screwing" and women being "hot." Female characters are often dressed in figure-hugging clothing. Refreshingly, though, female superheroes wear leather outfits similar to male superheroes' (though they're tighter and more revealing) instead of short skirts or other hard-to-fight-in outfits. 


Intermittent use of words including "damn," "suck," "hell," and "ass."


Several other series were spun off from this one; viewers may want to watch The Flash, Vixen, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow after watching this, particularly if they see "crossover" episodes featuring characters from Arrow's DC multiverse. Parents may have concerns about Legends of Tomorrow in particular, as this show is more violent than Arrow. Green Arrow is also featured on many forms of merchandise: backpacks, lunchboxes, clothing, etc. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most social and dining events have alcoholic drinks, and a main character is known to do drugs, which she uses to cope with the tragedies in her life. She is eventually arrested for driving under the influence, which sparks a change in her habits. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Arrow is a tense action-adventure series that's loosely based on a DC Comics story about a castaway survivor who returns to his hometown to make up for his past sins by taking revenge on the criminals who plague his city. His weapon of choice is a bow and arrow (hence his moniker), but he's also adept with other weapons and in hand-to-hand combat, so there's a lot of fighting/violence in the show. Main characters die over the course of the show, sometimes shockingly, and their deaths become further crime-fighting motivation. Viewers will also see teen drug use (mostly implied by handling or buying the stuff), drinking, and suggestions of sex. That said, it's notable that the romantic relationship at the heart of the show is one that was damaged by the main character's long-ago act of cheating, and his desire to make up for his mistake helps fuel his vigilantism. Though his actions are in defense of innocent victims, and he chooses his marks carefully, the concept of taking justice into your own hands is an iffy one -- and one of many topics that parents can discuss with teens after watching.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 11-year-old Written byavengerboi February 6, 2019

DC goes from rock-bottom to amazing!

This show may be violent, but it's really good! I watched this at age 11 with rather no problem. Sometimes it depends on the kid but it should be fine at a... Continue reading
Adult Written byHieptrieu April 8, 2016

Favourite superhero show of all time

Okay Marvel may have Daredevil, but DC has got the arrowverse! Don't miss out
Teen, 13 years old Written byBelleJ February 27, 2018

Extremely Innaprooriate I'm NOT exaggerating

I'm not sure if the people writing these review saying 10+ or 13+ just haven't finished the show yet or what, but it is jam packed with adult content... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDeathstroke July 9, 2015


I really like the show Arrow and think it is really thrilling though I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 12.I do find it incredibly gory. There are ma... Continue reading

What's the story?

When shipwrecked castaway Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is discovered on a remote island after a five-year absence, his family and friends celebrate his miraculous return but quickly sense that there's something drastically different about the former billionaire playboy. Little do they know that Oliver has set his sights on cleaning up his hometown of Starling City to make up for his former wild ways, to fulfill his father's dying confession, and hopefully to win back the heart of his former girlfriend, Laurel (Katie Cassidy). Under the cover of darkness and the cloaked alter-ego he creates for himself, ARROW plots revenge on the city's corruptors, all the while keeping up pretenses during the day with his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson); his younger sister, Thea (Willa Holland); his best friend, Tommy (Colin Donnell); and his dutiful bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey). But Oliver's not the only one keeping secrets, and those he trusts most might be the biggest threat of all.

Is it any good?

CW hits the mark with this thrilling, suspenseful series centering on a modern-day superhero who could likely hold his own in a duel with just about any comic-book hero. As superheroes go, Arrow ranks high on appeal thanks to a secretive double life, a genuine desire to oust the bad guys, and a heartwarming affection for the people he cherishes most. He's also easy on the eyes, and his "superpowers" are learned (and thus achievable) skills rather than a supernatural gift (like flying), but it's the subtleties of his personality and his compassion for humanity that are his greatest attributes.

Even so, Arrow/Oliver isn't a faultless hero, and his methods raise some interesting, relevant issues. Who should decide the punishment for crimes? Is violence ever the answer? When, if ever, is it forgivable to take justice into your own hands? Oliver's decision, after killing villains in the show's first season, to dispatch bad guys without snuffing out their lives, is another rich topic for discussion. Granted, Starling City (later called Star City) is an extreme example of the socioeconomic fallout from concentrated power and wealth, but there are some parallels to current events, and with a little effort from parents, this dark series could shed some light for teens on the possible effects of certain financial and judicial practices. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the justice system. Does our court system do an adequate job of punishing the guilty and exonerating the innocent? Are the checks and balances enough that no one has too much power within the system and therefore can corrupt it?

  • Teens: Does our society present fair options for success to everyone? How does a person's socioeconomic status influence their future potential? Is race a factor as well?

  • How does Arrow stack up against the big-hitter superheroes? Do you think his story is worthy of the big screen? Why or why not? Do you prefer the Arrow of the first season, who kills villains without remorse, or the gentler Arrow of later seasons? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate