Best Green Arrow villains of all time

Image of Green Arrow fighting Deathstroke
(Image credit: DC)

Over the last few years, one-time B-lister Green Arrow has become a fan-favorite DC hero, thanks to his long-running TV show Arrow and his own solo comic book title. But with both his show and title currently finished, Green Arrow fans may be looking for their fix of the Emerald Archer.

While cancellation and hiatus are powerful enemies in their own right, Oliver Queen has faced down even more deadly foes, from Deathstroke, to Merlyn, and beyond. With that in mind, we're counting down the best Green Arrow villains of all time!

10. China White

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Although China White has only been around since 2007, this South Pacific drug kingpin quickly climbed to be one of Green Arrow's signature villains. Known in criminal circles as the 'Queen of the Pacific,' Chien Na Wei was responsible (according to 2007's Green Arrow: Year One) for stranding Oliver Queen on the deserted island which forged him into the hero known as Green Arrow.

In the hit television series Arrow, frequent superhero film alum Kelly Hu played China White – this time as the leader of Star City's branch of the Triad. 

Employing others like Bronze Tiger and Deadshot in various missions of drug-dealing, assassination, and other villainy, China White is one of the foremost kingpins of the criminal underworld.

9. Onomatopoeia

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Created by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester during their run on Green Arrow, the simple-masked villain became a top threat with his deliberate, efficient methods and his mimetic repeating of sound effects in an eerie manner. 

One-on-one, Green Arrow has never been able to defeat Onomatopoeia. He put Connor Hawke in the hospital, and went to finish the job and was only turned back when Queen had back-up from Black Canary.

Onomatopoeia's modus operandi is to kill non-powered superheroes, a trait Green Arrow and Batman share. And although this is a Green Arrow list, the ability for Onomatopoeia to stand up to Batman as he did in Batman: The Widening Gyre only broadens his threat level to be on this list.

Look for Onomatopoeia to resurface next in the Future State: Catwoman title in January and February. 

8. Komodo

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Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's Green Arrow run was a real thrill ride - and at the villainous center of that was Komodo. Created as the former protégé of Green Arrow's father, the man born Simon Lacroix betrayed the Queen family in an attempt to take the Arrow Totem.

A number of Green Arrow adversaries wield the familiar bow and arrow, but Komodo takes that to an entirely new – and vicious – level. Although he's missing an eye thanks to Oliver, that injury only further fueled Komodo's passion to kill Queen. His company, Stellmoor International, forcibly bought out Queen Industries and destroyed Ollie's off-shoot Q-Core. 

Not bad for only being around for a year at the time.

7. Cupid

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It seems every DC hero needs a creepy, off-kilter villain in their rogues' gallery… and for Green Arrow, it's Cupid. One-part stalker, one-part special forces, Carrie Cutter is a serious threat to Oliver Queen.

After participating in a secret government program that left her mentally unbalanced, she got eyes for Ollie when he inadvertently helped her kill her estranged husband. If that wasn't enough, she carved a heart with an arrow through it – using one of Ollie's arrowhead – in her chest, which stands to this day. 

With a misguided case of love, Cupid went about offing some of Ollie's secondary villains in an attempt to win his heart. I don’t know about you, but that’s more creepy than endearing.

Cupid went on to appear on Arrow, played by Amy Gumerick as a part of the show's Suicide Squad.

6. Constantine Drakon

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Step aside, Elektra; there's room for more than one Greek assassin.

Constantine Drakon came into Green Arrow's life when Ollie stumbled upon the assassin's string of hired murders in Star City. Queen's first battle with Drakon didn't go too well for the emerald archer; Drakon killed one of Connor Hawke's friends and left Ollie crucified with his own arrows. 

They've crossed paths several times since, but Ollie's never yet gotten any revenge or justice for the caliber of beating he got from Drakon.

5. The Clock King

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Tick tock, it's someone who wants to clean Ollie's clock.

Created back in the '60s as a cartoonish adversary for Green Arrow, he re-emerged in DC's 'New 52' as a Seattle crimelord and bar owner. In both incarnations, he's been a thorn in the side of Ollie, on one hand as a costumed villain and the other as simply a well-dressed criminal. Either way, Clock King always has time for Ollie, it seems.

There's yet another iteration of the Clock King in the hit series Arrow; actor Robert Knepper played the Clock King as a brilliant thief and safecracker, as seen in season two's 'Time of Death.' Knepper did an excellent job in this more street-level version of the Clock King.

4. Brick

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Star City's an interesting place – from its gleaming towers down to its darkest depths. And its depths are ruled with an iron fist by the crime-lord known as Brick.

Originally just a low-level thug, Daniel 'Brick' Brickwell rose to power in Star City after a power vacuum emerged in the city's underworld. His biggest claim to fame was to unite Star City's various street gangs under his leadership, even usurping the various mafia families who had ruled the city for generations. 

Brick even got away with killing a city major and a district attorney and got off with only a warning for Green Arrow; Ollie might tell you different, but Brick was left free under Green Arrow's watch, and later even hired someone to blow up Green Arrow's house and got away scot-free.

Brick has metahuman abilities such as invulnerability and super-strength, but his real power lies in his influence and intelligence when it comes to matters of crime in Star City.

3. Deathstroke

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Some might argue that Slade Wilson isn't a part of Green Arrow's rogue's gallery, but if you're one of those then you haven't seen Arrow. With his induction and expert usage in Arrow, Deathstroke has rocketed to the top of the list of Oliver Queen's prime enemies and he's a proven and optimal adversary for a man like Ollie.

For most of his comic book life, Deathstroke has been a villain in various Teen Titans books, but he's crossed paths with Ollie before. In Identity Crisis, Slade nearly bested an entire Justice League team which included Ollie. 

The day was saved by Green Lantern, but Ollie got his revenge when he blinded Slade with an arrow to the eye socket. Since then, Slade has carved out time to pursue Green Arrow on multiple occasions to get some measure of revenge.

2. Count Vertigo

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Although the Vertigo imprint might have stolen some of his name thunder, Count Vertigo would never let on. Eastern Bloc royalty with a high sense of entitlement, Werner Zytle took to a life of crime to obtain the riches he believed was rightfully his. 

Created as a villain for Ollie in World's Finest Comics #251, Count Vertigo expanded his horizons for a time as part of the Suicide Squad and the Injustice Society, but DC's 'New 52' saw the Vtatavan ruler refocus himself on Green Arrow's exploits.

Over the years, Vertigo has also skewed to the side of the angels as a member of the Suicide Squad and Outsiders, though his first role is always as a villain.

1. Merlyn

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In one version of Oliver Queen's origin, he picked up a bow after seeing an expert marksman as a child. That marksman was Merlyn, and as an adult, the Green Arrow faced off with him on numerous occasions – and lost on many of them. 

Over the years, the story of their relationship has changed, but however you cut it, Merlyn is without a doubt Green Arrow's chief nemesis.

Possessing abilities with a bow at the same level (and perhaps greater) than Green Arrow’s, Merlyn constantly puts Ollie on his heels when in battle. Like Ollie, he is prone to using trick arrows, but Merlyn has a killer instinct Green Arrow doesn't show and leads to the hero having to use nontraditional means to get the best of his idol-turned-enemy.

In the hit series Arrow, Merlyn was not just one archer – but a whole family. Between Ollie's childhood friend Tommy and his dad Malcolm, the Merlyn family are Oliver's best friends and worst enemies. The elder Merlyn, going by the moniker of the Dark Archer, was the 'big bad' of the first season (played by John Barrowman), and subsequently became more than just a bad guy down the line.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)