Arrow TV Poster Image




Dark superhero tale raises discussion points for teens.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Network: CW
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

What parents need to know

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 the impropriety and seeks to make amends for it.

Positive role models

Oliver's motivations are well intentioned, and his justification for acting as a vigilante is understandable in light of the fact that most of the city's power holders are those he knows to be 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.


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.


Content implies that sex is imminent or has recently occurred, but there's no simulation of the act. Women lounge in lingerie, there's some hot-and-heavy kissing, and language mentions "screwing" and women being "hot."


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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Most social and dining events have alcoholic drinks, and a main character is known to do drugs, which she has used for coping with the tragedies in her life.

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. 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.

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 within his family might be the biggest threat of all.

Is it any good?


CW hits the mark with ARROW, a thrilling, suspenseful series centering on a modern-day superhero who could likely hold his own in a duel with the more infamous cloaked vigilante of Gotham City fame. 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. Not being hard on the eyes is a bonus, too, as is the fact that his "superpower" is a learned (and thus achievable) skill 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? Granted, Starling 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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Premiere date:October 10, 2012
Cast:Colin Donnell, Katie Cassidy, Stephen Amell
Topics:Superheroes, Adventures, Great boy role models
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of Arrow was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Superman's origin story gets sexier, more violent over time.
  • Hero-driven drama is "super" for teens and up.
  • A dark, violent comic book comes to life.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byLiana B October 21, 2013

About arrow

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byWayward Girl December 4, 2012


I was not looking forward for this show AT ALL when I saw the promos. It looked like a lame ripoff of Batman, and i still have to admit that the "Billionaire Turned Vigilante" routine is getting old. But still, Arrow is worth it!! It's action-packed, with great characters, good plots, and even has some romance. It's a really interesting show, with mystery and intrigue, and I think tweens and teenagers and adults will love it. It's a superhero show, so of course there's going to be violence, and then as far as smexy stuff goes, it's mild: passionate kisses and characters waking up together is as far as it goes. It's a great thriller for everyone.The boys will be interested in this show because of the action, and the girls, I mean, c'mon. Have you seen Stephen Amell? He's gorgeous. Yeah, this show is a total win-win. I can't wait to see where it goes.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 11 year old Written byRedSnakeGaming October 7, 2014

Good Superhero Show Great for Kids

I think that this is a very good television series for any kid really. It hardly has any nudity but there is some violence but nothing too graphic. Overall this is a good superhero television series
What other families should know
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?