The CW superheroes show, collectively known as the Arrowverse, have crafted quite an interconnected world of spandex and pleather. What started with Stephen Amell's grounded performance of Oliver Queen has expanded into an entire multiverse. With all the great heroes that the Arrowverse has created there have been some equally compelling, if not superior, villains. We've ranked the 13 best villains from worst to best or, it might be more accurate to say, from the bad to the terrible.
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13. Leslie Willis AKA Livewire
A quick perusal of this list will show that Supergirl doesn't exactly have the strongest rogues gallery. There have been some standouts but the show stands much more on the strength of its hero, literal and figurative, than any foe she has faced. Supergirl has made an effort to try to portray Livewire as Kara's nemesis and while Livewire has certainly appeared the most, she isn't exactly the most threatening villain for the girl of steel. Yet Livewire does manage to make up for her lack of power with some campy fun. She is far from terrifying but she works as an entertaining obstacle.
12. Queen Rhea of Daxam
Supergirl season 2's version of alien invader did wipe away the bland taste left in everyone's mouth by season 1's boring Big Bad, Non. While Rhea was certainly more fun to watch than Non she didn't have much more depth. If anyone but Teri Hatcher hadn't been playing Rhea, this villain would have likely been a total dud. Rhea's motivations weren't recognizably human (or alien), they were just power-hungry and evil. It was fun to watch Hatcher be as hammy as possible but there was no depth with Rhea, even though the show tried to create some.
11. Laurel Lance AKA Black Siren
The only reason the Earth-2 Laurel Lance is coming in so low is because she is so new. In her few appearances, the "evil twin" of the Black Canary has been great but fans haven't seen what she is made of quite yet. Black Siren has been a goon of bigger villains thus far in her Arrowverse career. It is not even clear if she is an antihero or just as depraved as the villains who have employed her. Yet no matter how murky her motivations are, Katie Cassidy is a hellish amount of fun playing the darker version of her original character.
10. Gorilla Grodd
There is no reason an evil mind-controlling gorilla should be on network TV and not be a punchline. Yet The Flash has made Gorilla Grodd into a viable and entertaining occasional menace for Barry and crew. Due to budget concerns, the show can't bring the giant primate out too often, but when he appears, Grodd cuts a commanding and terrifying figure. Grodd's strength is enough but it's his mind-control powers and the way The Flash utilizes them that raise him to terrifying status.
9. Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot
With Lawton, Arrow took a rather nondescript villain from the comics and made him an important figure for a few seasons. Deadshot wasn't really Oliver Queen's nemesis but Lawton did plenty to torture and taunt Ollie's right-hand-man, John Diggle. The relationship between Diggle and Deadshot, before the latter was killed off, was one of the more fascinating in the series. Even though Deadshot had a tendency to over-act, the traits he brought out in Dig and the stories he created were completely worth it.
8. Damien Darhk
Damien Darhk was such an overpowered villain that when he made his introduction to the Arrowverse, in Arrow season 4, it was a bit of a mess. Darhk should have killed Oliver with a flick of his wrist in their very first meeting. Yet there is no denying that Neal McDonough reveled in playing the cheerfully deranged Darhk. His great performance in Arrow season 4 led to him appearing in Legends of Tomorrow season 2. Darhk was often played for laughs on Legends but he never stopped being deadly and disturbing.
7. Lillian Luthor
It's hard to call Lillian Luthor original because she takes A LOT of inspiration from her more famous villainous son, Lex. Actress Brenda Strong managed to add a lot of depth to her character in Supergirl season 2 and somehow make herself, an average human, a threat to Kara Danvers. Lillian is just the right amount campy while still being able to use her brains to match Kara's brawn.
6. Malcolm Merlyn AKA the Dark Archer
Throughout his five-year run on Arrow, there were times when the show fell a bit too much in love with its original baddie. Malcolm went from Oliver's first major foe to unreliable ally on far too many occasions. Oliver should have put an arrow in Malcolm's heart, not continually put his life in Malcolm's hands. Yet there is no denying that John Barrowman took a character, who is nothing in the comics, and made him into a threatening legend on TV. If Malcolm hadn't been used so much he would have been higher but even with his overexposure, when Malcolm worked, he worked extraordinarily well.
5. Caitlin Snow AKA Killer Frost
The way that The Flash introduced Killer Frost was a bit clumsy. Caitlin Snow turning from one Barry's closest friends to one of his bitterest enemies was due to Barry's stupid rewriting of the timeline. No matter how it was delivered, though, Danielle Panabaker was extraordinary when given the chance to play the icy villain. The camp meter was dialed up to an insane degree with ice puns galore but it didn't matter. Team Flash was helpless to stop Killer Frost -- their former friend -- and Killer Frost rarely held back against her former team. Killer Frost is the definition of less being more when comes to villains.
4. (Evil) Rip Hunter
The leader of the Legends of Tomorrow turned against his team due to some brainwashing. So Rip's tenure in the supervillain alliance of the Legion of Doom was never going to last. Yet while the evil version of Rip was running around, the Legends of Tomorrow were in serious trouble. Rip knew exactly how to cripple his former team, which made him a humongous threat, and he nearly destroyed his friends while under the Legion of Doom's control. Adding on that fact was that Arthur Darvill turned in one of the most chilling performances ever as the evil Rip. He wasn't completely one-dimensional; Rip was himself as a villain but he was devoid of any of his humanity and warmth.
3. Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke
In Arrow season 2 the show told the classic story of two best friends becoming mortal enemies. While it wasn't exactly original, the transformation of Slade Wilson from OIiver's brother in arms to his arch rival was as terrifying as it was terrific. Slade systematically went about destroying Oliver's life. The conflict with Slade was personal and incredibly challenging for Oliver. It took everything, mentally, emotionally and physically, for Ollie to beat Deathstroke. It was a heartbreaking battle but incredibly compelling. Slade arrived early in the Arrowverse's life but he reigned supreme for a very long time until ...
2. Adrian Chase AKA Prometheus
Before Chase, Slade was Oliver's most personal foe. Yet in Arrow season 5, the show took everything that worked about Deathstroke and made it 10 times more horrifying for Prometheus. It was almost ridiculous how prepared Prometheus was to destroy Oliver's life but the show made it all plausible. Chase was deranged, without feeling one-dimensional, and he forced Oliver to really consider the consequences of his actions. Slade really challenged Oliver's skills but Chase challenged Oliver internally. Chase tried to destroy Oliver but oddly, he made him into a better hero.
1. Eobard Thawne AKA Reverse Flash
Prometheus is the best villain from Arrow but Reverse Flash, for his appearances in The Flash season 1 and Legends of Tomorrow season 2, is the best villain from the Arrowverse. With Reverse Flash The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow did something that many shows try to do with their villains but fail. Eobard Thawne is selfish and consumed with power but it is incredibly easy to see his point of view. Thawne isn't evil; he just doesn't care for anyone but himself. It easy to say that a villain is the hero of their own story but with Thawne that was absolutely true. He killed people and manipulated them to his will but he never felt like he wasn't a fully fledged character. Even the best villains from the Arrowverse are a little crazy but in his every appearance Eobard Thawne was constantly in control and usually getting exactly what he wanted.
But what do you think of this list? Do you agree? Did we leave any villains out? Are some of these villains more anti-heroes than straight up bad guys and girls? Who is your favorite villain from the Arrowverse?
(Images courtesy of The CW)