- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of the League of Assassins from the Arrowverse. The mainstream version can be found here: League of Assassins.
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|“||I heard about them in Afghanistan from a tribal leader. He claimed there was an ancient sect of assassins, deadly warriors that killed and vanished like ghosts.||„|
|~ John Diggle|
An ancient and mysterious society initially believed to be a mere myth, the aptly-named League of Assassins are a deadly organization of killers and are led by Ra's al Ghul. Their existence is first hinted towards in Season 1 in Arrow, and become anti-heroes in Season 2 (this time done through Nyssa al Ghul leading a squadron of assassins), then the main antagonistic faction of Season 3, then appeared one last time as recurring antagonists/anti-heroes of Season 4. However several former members such as Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa al Ghul and Damien Darhk continue to recur throughout the series.
The first Ra's al Ghul, the title of the group's leader, created the League of Assassins to hunt down and kill people he deems a danger to society and has done so for many years, resulting in thousands of people killed. They were apparently founded in 3200 B.C., with the intention of killing anyone who was deemed too dangerous for the world to let live. All of its members go through a harsh and bitter training that leaves it's trainees either dead or at the peak of human physical condition, so much that they rarely feel pain itself. They are all trained in the arts of swordsmanship, archery, stealth and killing in both the quickest and most discreetest of methods or to make it painful and last for days. All of its members also seem very devoted to Ra's as many of them have been seen killing themselves for the league, allowing Ra's to kill them simply for him to train himself and will carry out his orders without question. At some point during the 1800's, another man took the title of Ra's al Ghul, this man having killed a man at the age of 11 trying to protect his family. He had two daughters in his life, Talia al Ghul and Nyssa al Ghul. Talia left the League at some point to pursue her own path, taking some League members with her.The League also has a deep code of honor and those who violate the code are hunted down and killed by Ra's personally. The League also does not allow any of its members to leave unless they want to die and anyone who tries to run away from the league is hunted down and returned, alive or dead, or if they are unreachable and have families, the families are targeted instead. Despite this, Ra's took pity on Malcolm Merlyn and allowed him to leave with the understanding that Malcolm would obey their code, suggesting Ra's had a certain fondness for Malcolm. If a killer that draws the league's attention, doesn't claim responsibility and face justice the league targets 50 people a day until that person confesses and faces justice. However those who commit crimes against the league or break it's principles are allowed a trial by combat in a fight against Ra's himself, though most of them seem to be afraid to fight him and choose death upfront. When the trial does take place it is upon a mountain that can only be reached by a long and rigorous climb that some do not even survive. Furthermore all members of the league are given a new name of their choosing to be addressed by. Their only known place of establishment is Nanda Parbat.The league tends to be very old fashioned in a lot of things, including communication methods, such as invisible ink that is made visible when exposed to a flame and signal messages, and their sense of justice, which includes the aforementioned killing of 50 people a day in retribution for a crime until the person who truly committed the crime was routed out. They also prefer bows and arrow, staffs, and other weapons from medieval times. They do, however use cellphones as a form of communication. They also train their members so they can escape from any prison.
The League's members take new names in the Arabic language; it appears that learning that language may be a requirement of membership, as many League members (even those whose native language is not Arabic) have been shown speaking it.
Each member has his/her signature weapon. During the course of their training members train to master all kinds of weaponry but eventually specialize in one weapon, and that will be the one they will carry with them at all times during their missions. Malcolm's weapon of choice was a bow, along with Nyssa who also carried a bow, Sara a staff, Al-Owal a sword, unknown members a tomahawk, and a wooden stick.
Members are also sent out with a poison that kills the user quickly and painlessly for members to use in the event they are captured to prevent interrogation. They are also very efficient in finding information, even something as faint as rumors of Malcolm Merlyn fathering an illegitimate child, something Malcolm himself wasn't aware of until recently, even though they weren't able to confirm the rumors. This child is Thea Queen, who was later taught by Malcolm with the League's customs.
The organization was founded in 3200 B.C. as a collective of bandits and warriors seeking to make the world a better place. They mostly operated within Nanda Parbat, a hidden temple containing a Lazarus Pit, a pool of water with magical properties that could heal any wound and give users a longer life span.
Prior to 1936, an 11 year old boy, who later became Ra's al Ghul, killed a man who threatened his family's safety and though he felt sorrow for taking that man's life, he also realized he had given justice to the world by removing that man's evil with his death. From then on, Ra's sought to fix the world by cleansing it of people who sought to do wrong also and created the League of Assassins to carry out this precise mission resulting in thousands of people being killed. While he was ascending the group's ranks, he met Damien Darhk, who also sought to become the leader. They had a bitter rivalry over who would become the next Ra's al Ghul until Damien decided to leave the League and take some of the Lazarus Pit's waters with them, allowing him to live several decades longer than he was supposed to. Ra's had two daughters, Talia and Nyssa al Ghul. Talia left the League to train her own army of ninja warriors and pursue her own path, while Nyssa stayed behind.
In later years, the League gave special training to Malcolm Merlyn and Sara Lance, and the both of them soon left the organization. Merlyn went on to dress up in League clothing with a bow and custom-made arrows to battle the Arrow, Oliver Queen as a vigilante. Sara betrayed the League and was pursued by Nyssa and other members of the group until Nyssa releases her from their control. Ra's never really approved of Sara during her time as a member, knowing how Nyssa felt about her and feared that their relationship would end only in heartbreak. Maseo Yamashiro, mourning his son, later joined the League and was given the title of Sarab, meaning "phantom" or "mirage" in Arabic.
A unit from the League of Assassins led by Ra's daughter Nyssa went to Starling City to locate Sara Lance in late 2013, since she had left the organization and their code says to kill her. During the resulting hunt, Sara reveals to her father Quentin Lance that she is alive, as well as revealing this to Oliver Queen, who has now become a vigilante in Starling City called "the Arrow". Sara is pursued until Nyssa is eventually convinced to release her from the League's control on behalf of her father. Meanwhile, Moira Queen, Oliver's mother and Malcolm's previous lover, finds her way to Nanda Parbat during the time that Slade Wilson was plotting to destroy the city, meeting Ra's personally and informing him that Malcolm was alive. Moira claims that she was trying to get Malcolm to leave her and their illegitimate daughter Thea Queen alone.
In early 2014, Nyssa helps Oliver battle against the minions of Slade Wilson as he tears Starling City apart. Nyssa kills Isabel Rochev during this in order to prove to Liver that it's the only way to defeat Slade. During all this, Malcolm locates Thea at a train station under attack by Slade's henchmen and convinces her to leave the city with him so she can learn to no longer feel any pain and become perfectly capable of defending herself. Despite Nyssa's insistence, Oliver fights and defeats Slade, imprisoning him on Lian Yu. Sara left with Nyssa shortly after.
In late 2014, Malcolm, still being pursued by the League and teaching Thea to fight, realizes that there is a way to get Ra's off his back, and leaves Corto Maltese temporarily with a drugged-out, mind-controlled Thea to return to Starling City. Once they arrive, Malcolm, still choosing not to reveal himself to Oliver, tracks down Sara and sees her on a rooftop, and orders Thea to fire multiple arrows into her chest. Malcolm records the whole scene with his cell-phone and Sara falls off the building dead, and thus they return to Corto Maltese, with Thea not remembering anything that happened. Malcolm's goal in all this was to use the video of Thea killing Sara as leverage, while Nyssa's return to Starling City indicated that the League wanted really badly to know who did it. His grand scheme was to get Oliver, whom he knew to be a very-proficient fighter, to take the blame for Sara's death and challenge Ra's to a trial by combat, hoping that Oliver would be able to kill Ra's; he claimed that if he didn't, he would show Ra's the video of Thea killing Sara and thus result in Nyssa going after her and killing her. Oliver didn't believe that Malcolm would really betray his own daughter like this, but he is ultimately convinced to go along with the plan.
While the League tries to figure out who killed Sara, Nyssa is captured by Oliver and locked up in the "Arrowcave", his hideout. Nyssa, clearly in mourning, desperately begs for them to explain how Sara was killed, but they have no idea themselves. Later, Nyssa returns to Nanda Parbat and tells Ra's that she has no idea what killed Sara. Ra's, furious, sends the League's warriors to Starling City to take hostages, as he assumed that someone on Oliver's team was responsible, threatening to kill them if the culprit didn't step forward. As per Malcolm's plan, Oliver meets with Nyssa, Ra's and Maseo and tells them that he killed Sara because she begged him to do, straight-up lying to them about how she wanted to die rather than stay a slave of the group. He challenges Ra's to a trial by combat, which he says no-one has done in 67 years, which he accepts. On a snowy mountain somewhere in Asia, Oliver scales the side and reaches Ra's and Nyssa at the top, waiting for him. Oliver and Ra's remove their shirts and engage in sword combat, with Oliver managing to put up a valiant fight, but Ra's ends up stabbing him and throwing him off the mountainside, leaving him to die. However, he is saved by Maseo and his ex-wife Tatsu, whom he knew as friends during his time in Hong Kong.
When the League learns that Oliver has survived and is now back in Starling City, Ra's travels there and dresses in a replica of Oliver's "Arrow" outfit and kills some drug dealers, wanting to give Oliver a bad reputation and hopefully convince him to join the League, since they recognized that he has potential and was strong enough to fight off their strongest warriors. The SCPD chase after the Arrow in order to arrest him, but Roy Harper, Oliver's protege, agrees to take the fall instead, later being sent to prison, faking his death and leaving the city "forever". Ra's breaks into Thea's penthouse and kills her leaving her body behind for Oliver to find. Oliver, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle arrive at Nanda Parbat with Sara's body, and Oliver tells Ra's that he will join the group if he agrees to use the Lazarus Pit to return Sara from the dead.
After Thea is healed, Oliver joins the group as "Al Sah-him" (meaning "The Arrow" in Arabic). Ra's later informs Oliver of his plan to kill the whole population of Starling City, all with the intention of killing his nemesis Damien Darhk, the leader of H.I.V.E. and a powerful sorcerer. They were planning to use the Alpha-Omega Virus, which was used on Hong Kong by the late Matthew Shrieve, but they were opposed by Oliver's former team. Oliver, however, was secretly working with Malcolm to undermine Ra's and stop him from destroying the city. Ra's tells Nyssa that she is to marry Oliver, with the intention of solidifying his commitment to the League and to produce an heir. Though she didn't want to do this, she was forced to by the League. She and Oliver left with Ra's on a plane to use the Virus on Starling City, where they betrayed him. Oliver confronts Ra's on a dam outside the city and engages in sword combat with him, with Oliver managing to perform the same finishing move on his enemy that he did on the mountain months ago. Ra's dies on the dam, while Team Arrow stops the League from using the Virus. When all the chaos is over, Oliver gives Malcolm a ring that Ra's wore, thus making Malcolm the new Ra's al Ghul and leader of the League. He returns to Nanda Parbat with his new title while Nyssa plots to overthrow him.
The League appears to help Team Arrow and Flash fight the immortal Vandal Savage, with Malcolm later collecting the villain's ashes after his demise. Nyssa later begins her coup against Malcolm, recruiting warriors to her cause, but he would always manage to beat them.
In late 2015, Laurel Lance returns to Nanda Parbat with Sara's dug-up corpse with the intention of resurrecting her using the Lazarus Pit. Though Nyssa warns Laurel not to, as it would cause Sara to return as a mindless freak, she ultimately decided to let it happen. Laurel takes the resurrected Sara back home, while Nyssa uses a potion to destroy the Lazarus Pit and take away its healing properties, turning the remains of it into regular water.
In early 2016, Oliver participates in Nyssa's coup in exchange for spare Pit water to heal a badly-beaten Thea. He challenges Malcolm to a trial by combat and severs his hand during the battle, but chooses not to kill him. Nyssa, now the leader of the group, decides to disband the group so that they can't be controlled by another man like Malcolm. With the group no more, Nyssa went off on her own path while the rest of its members either returned to their normal lives or joined Talia's separate faction.
- Nyssa al Ghul (leader, formerly)
- Malcolm Merlyn (known as Al Sa-Her; meaning The Magician, Leader)
- Mesi Natifah (known as Talibah; meaning "Seeker of Knowledge", or "Student")
- Al Sah-him (Oliver Queen; second-in-command; Ra's heir, formerly)
- Sara Lance (known as Ta-er al-Sahfer; meaning The Canary)
- Talia al Ghul (formerly)
- Al-Owal (The First)
- Chase (League's spy)
- Unnamed (League's sentry)
- Ra's al Ghul (Leader)
- Maseo Yamashiro (known as Sarab; meaning Phantom)
- "City of Heroes" (Sara only)
- "Broken Dolls"
- "Crucible" (Sara only)
- "League of Assassins"
- "Heir to the Demon"
- "The Calm" (Sara only)
- "Corto Maltese" (Nyssa only)
- "The Magician"
- "Draw Back You Bow" (Chase only)
- "The Climb"
- "Left Behind" (Maseo only)
- "Midnight City"
- "Canaries" (Chase only)
- "Nanda Parbatt"
- "The Offer"
- "Suicidal Tendencies"
- "Public Enemy"
- "Broken Arrow" (Ra's al Ghul only)
- "The Fallen"
- "Al Sah-him"
- "Beyond Redemption" (mentioned)
- "Haunted" (vision)
- "Brotherhood" (Malcolm only)
- "Legends of Yesterday" (Malcolm only)
- "Dark Waters" (Malcolm only)
- "Sins of the Father"
- "All Star Team Up" (mentioned)
- "Legends of Today"
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
- "Pilot, Part 1" (mentioned)
- "Fail-Safe" (mentioned)
- "Star City 2046" (mentioned)
- "Left Behind"
- "Progeny" (mentioned)
- "Last Refuge" (mentioned)
- "River of Time" (flashback)
- "Out of Time" (mentioned)
- "The Justice Society of America" (mentioned)
- "Shogun" (mentioned)
- "The Chicago Way" (mentioned)
- "Raiders of the Lost Art" (mentioned)
- "The Legion of Doom" (mentioned)
- "Turncoat" (mentioned)
- "Aruba" (mentioned)
- This is the second live-action adaptation of The League of Assassins, though the first time by it's DC comic book name rather than the alternative name "League of Shadows".
- The League bears some similarities to the Hand from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: both are warrior ninja-based groups that seek to undermine cities and dominate the world. Talia's relationship with the League appears to be similar to Bakuto's relationship with the other Hand factions, being a separate entity from their respective main groups.
- In some incarnations, like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, the League of Assassins is known as the League of Shadows. However it should be noted the original name is the League of Assassins as it was the name used in the DC comic books.
- Talia was a member of the League long before the events of Arrow. She trained Yao Fei and Oliver, gave them suits based of the traditional assassin attire, meaning the League has had a significant effect on Oliver's life since the beginning of the show.