|“||I thought of you as a son once, Oliver. I had more in common with you than my own blood, but that's not the reason I'm not going to kill you. Neither is the fact that you are my daughter's brother. The reason you get to live is because death would be a mercy compared to the debt I now owe you!||„|
|~ Malcolm Merlyn|
Malcolm Merlyn (born Arthur King), also known as the Dark Archer, is a major villain in The CW's Arrow. He served as the main antagonist of Season 1, a minor antagonist in Season 2, the secondary antagonist-turned anti-hero in Season 3, the tertiary antagonist in Season 4 and a minor antagonist in Season 5. He also appears as the tertiary antagonist in Season 2 of the spin off series DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
He is the father of Thea Queen and the late Tommy Merlyn (Oliver's half-sister and best friend, respectively). He is the mastermind behind the Undertaking, and the former leader of the League of Assassins. He is based on the character of Merlyn the Archer from the comics.
He was portrayed by John Barrowman.
Malcolm Merlyn is the husband of Rebecca Merlyn and the father of Thomas and was a close friend of Robert Queen, his wife Moira and their friend Walter.
In 1994, his wife was murdered in the Glades section of Starling City. Earlier, Rebecca tried to call Malcolm for help, but he was busy and turned his phone off, unaware of the nature of Rebecca's call. Later, after Malcolm turned it back on, he received a call from a businessman who he negotiated with until he was done, then Tommy woke up in a nightmare. Malcolm comforted him, performing a vanishing coin trick, and promised he wouldn't leave or let anything happen to him but then two S.D.P.D. officers, including a friend of his, showed up at his door step to inform him Rebecca had been murdered. After the death of his wife, Malcolm had a brief affair with Moira in his grief who was deliberately cheating on Robert, who consequently gave birth to his daughter Thea, but Malcolm was unaware of this but felt immense guilt for Rebecca's memory, after the funeral Malcolm sat at Rebecca's burial spot for hours after the event until his cop friend gave him information on the killer. He later tracked him down, pretending to be lost, and pulled a gun on him trying to understand his motives and scolding him for his pain. However, the punk fought back and severally beat Malcolm, but as he walked off Malcolm fatally shot him in the back. Malcolm heard of Nanda Parbat, a place to deal with his pain and despite the insistence of his cop friend, Malcolm was set on leaving and explained to Tommy that he would return. He found his way to Nanda Parbat and was brought before an 8 year old Nyssa al Ghul, member of the League of Assassins, whilst she trained but she immediately believed him to be the League's next victim, but Malcolm clarified and told her he wasn't there to fight her but to train. As Nyssa demanding explanation Malcolm performed the same coin trick on her and impressed her, she gave him a new name for the League, "Al Sa-Her" (ساحر Magician).
He served with them for two years and trained by Al-Owal under supervision of the League's leader Ra's al Ghul, who guided him and helped him see the world for how cruel it truly was and helped him find purpose. After training and serving with them for two years, he was released from the league by Ra's and became the first person to ever be released, on condition that he follow the League's codes. After leaving the League, he also learned additional skills in all manner of combat eventually becoming strong enough to withstand even unbearable pain.
After returning to Starling City, he then gathered with various people including his best friend, Robert Queen and Frank Chen and started a plan to rebuild the Glades and free it of crime, first by forcing criminals to give up their wealth and give it to the needy keeping their names on a list. However Malcolm was estranged from Tommy and took little involvement in his upbringing leading Tommy to believe he cared for no one but himself, leading Tommy to spend most of his time at Oliver's house where he saw Oliver's father Robert as a surrogate father figure. Despite this however Malcolm did bail Tommy out when he got into trouble with authorities.
In late 2007, Malcolm meets with various associates dedicated to fixing the Glades of crime, these included Robert and Frank. Malcolm told them of his plan to level the Glades using an Earthquake device made by Dr. Markov at Unidac Industries. Though some were persuaded by his intentions Robert was wary of Malcolm's intentions. Later after everyone had left Robert met with Malcolm to question his plan where Malcolm revealed the unthinkable circumstances of his wife's death to Robert. Later, Malcolm had Frank rig Robert's boat with explosives to kill him to keep his plan in motion. This would inadvertently cause the eventual creation of Oliver Queen and Sara Lance's respective vigilante identities "The Arrow" and "The Canary". After the boat was sunk and Robert was dead, Malcolm continued his plan and used the criminals on the list to instead buy sections of the Glades and hired other criminals and mercenary's to complete his mission. He also had Moira approve all scientific developments through Queen Consolidated and sub companies called Tempestand Unidac Industries. He also had Moira personally visit anyone working in the Glades who had plans that would endanger the Undertaking, all of this while using her own life and Thea's as a threat to keep her in line.
In 2010, Tommy used Malcolm's jet without his permission to head to China to search for Oliver acting on a tip that he may still be alive, and Malcolm yelled at Tommy on the phone for taking his jet without his consent before Tommy hung up on him.
Moira meets with Malcolm, informing him that Oliver knew nothing of his father's involvement in the plan or that the Queen's Gambit was sabotaged, before he looked in his own version of the list. Malcolm is seen for the first time in person and met with Moira to discuss The Hood. He expressed that he was uneasy about him. At first Moira expected this was because he had a large amount of wealth, but he replied that it was because the Hood was targeting "The List". When Oliver was accused of being the vigilante Malcolm later invited Moira to talk with him upon short notice. They discuss whether Oliver might actually be The Hood, and he holds up his end of the argument that he strongly believes that Oliver is due to the suspicious timing and explainable absences, along with numerous officials submitting hard evidence. After this, he sends a man to kill Oliver based on his assumption but he failed when Detective Lance killed him. After the chaos cleared, Moira went to consult with him. Moira threatened to ruin his life if he ever tried to hurt the Queen family again. Though Malcolm listened he still appeared to have his suspicions.
When Moira was almost shot and hospitalized Malcolm visited her during this time, much to her distaste. He offered her friendship as they previously had, but she was hesitant. Later, his son Tommy came asking why his father cancelled his credit card while the elder was practicing fencing. Malcolm replied that he had permanently cut Tommy off from his trust fund and the family because he had grown tired of Tommy's constant laid back attitude which had grown tiresome. Tommy then argued with his father that it was his trust fund which Malcolm further reminded him is comprised of his money, before resumed his fencing.
Tired of the Hood's interference, Malcolm took up his own vigilante persona, the "Dark Archer", and killed Adam Hunt to lure him out before attending a party at the Queen Mansion where the Hood was the topic of discussion and the killing of Adam Hunt. Malcolm also appeared to still have suspicions as he asked Oliver a few questions of the Hood and his nickname, even suggesting "Green Arrow", and looked at him with suspicion when he left the room the same time as the cops after they reported Hunt's murder to party attendee Commissioner Nudocerdo. Later Dark Archer killed Nelson Ravich to again lure out the Hood and set up a trap in a warehouse which failed, then Malcolm was informed that Walter had more information on the list and consulted with Moira about the predicament and stated that action needed to be taken. Desperate to lure the Hood out, Dark Archer took hostages in a factory and fought him but Dark Archer came out on top, informing Hood that he knew he was targeting the list, and almost killed him but the Hood managed to get away. Malcolm later had Walter abducted and informed Moira that he wouldn't be harmed and would be safe until the Undertaking was over. Oliver's defeat at the hands of Dark Archer gave him nightmares and scared him so much that he refused to suit up again fearing for leaving his family should he be killed. However Diggle was finally able to snap him out of his fear before Oliver became Hood once again.
Malcolm invited his son and Laurel to have dinner with him. At dinner, Malcolm quite openly mentioned to Laurel how his wife was killed, though not before trying to getting Tommy to sign over his mother's clinic, so it could be shut down. Tommy then felt betrayed again and stormed off as Laurel directly confronted Malcolm about the cut off but he told Laurel that he needs it to be stronger just like he was forced to after his wife's death. Malcolm also met with Moira to discus Carl Ballard's endangerment to the Undertaking and she agreed to handle him but demanded proof of Walter's survival first. Malcolm later came to Moira at Thea's birthday party to give her a photo of him and gave her a re-assuring touch on her shoulder, unaware Thea was watching who believed them to be having an affair. Moira met with Malcolm to inform him Carl won't be a problem anymore but Malcolm then reveals that he learned from Walter that Moira had the Queen's Gambit salvaged and orders Moira to destroy it, unaware that Diggle is spying on them in the other room. However Malcolm appeared to have voice amplifiers in the room as when Oliver and Dig played it again Malcolm's voice was cloaked.
Without knowing Moira, tired of being used, hired China White to assassinate Malcolm. Malcolm visited Tommy at Laurel's apartment on his 28th birthday and invited him to an awards ceremony where he was to receive the humanitarian award but Tommy refused. Later though Tommy did attended, albeit reluctant. Frank Pike read out Malcolm's award announcement before handing it to him before Malcolm gave a speech his philanthropy and charitable nature to making Starling City better, but noting that he hasn't done enough but one day he will. As he was giving his speech, the lights were turned off by the Chinese Triad. Malcolm quickly exited and found Tommy, and the two made it up to his office. Malcolm explained to Tommy about his safe room, and proceeded to open the door to it. However, before he could admit to his son his alter ego of the Dark Archer, Malcolm was shot from afar by Deadshot, who had been assigned to his assassination. Before Malcolm could die, The Hood arrived and was able to convince Tommy to give his father a blood transfusion, in order to rid his body of curare poison laced in the bullet. He woke up in a hospital bed some time later and talked to Tommy and confessed his guilt for letting him down as a child. Moira visited, and Malcolm asked her to find his would-be killer, unaware it was actually Moira.
Malcolm began a vengeance mission to find who was responsible for paying Deadshot to kill him and met with a member of the Chinese Triad to find out, promising him a reduced prison sentence. Moira with no choice pinned the blame on Frank Chen and gave evidence that he was the one who ordered the kill. Dark Archer later killed Frank as he met with Moira and wanted to kill his daughter but Moira begged Dark Archer not to which Dark Archer agreed. After quitting his job at Verdant, Tommy visited his father at Merlyn Global Group and asked for a job.
Malcolm received word that the Markov device is ready and celebrates with Moira in honor of Robert and Rebecca. Later Moira storms into a meeting Malcolm has with his Chinese employers about Walter apparently being killed but Malcolm shows her that he is alive, unaware that the Hood is listening in. Later when Walter was rescued by the Hood, Malcolm talked to Oliver about Walter if he knew anything but he didn't and told Malcolm that those who nabbed him would pay. To tie up loose ends Malcolm, as Dark Archer, visited Unidac Industries and eliminated Dr. Markov and his team, including two innocent young scientists for being witnesses, before destroying the labs to eliminate evidence before speeding off in his car. The following day, Malcolm ran in to Oliver in his company's building, while Felicity Smoak attempted to hack the system. Later, when Malcolm realized that Felicity has hacked into his system, he removed the device and had it hidden. Malcolm later paid Walter a visit at the Queen Mansion until Moira returned and accused Malcolm of wanting to kill him to tie up more loose ends, given Dark Archer's massacre earlier, which Malcolm admitted was true. Later Diggle found the device's empty container while Malcolm was personally visited by The Hood. The vigilante attempted to shoot Malcolm with an arrow, but Malcolm caught the arrow before revealing to him that he is the Dark Archer, also noting the irony of Malcolm trying to kill him at Christmas, Hood saving Malcolm a few months before and now Hood trying to kill him. The two of them engaged in hand-to-hand combat, Malcolm ultimately coming out the victor, knocking Hood out. He lifted his hood and discovered his true identity - Oliver Queen.
Malcolm had Oliver tied up before he could regain consciousness. Oliver was awoken, and Malcolm explained to him why he had done what he had before leaving, awaiting the destruction of the Glades. Later Tommy visited Malcolm to tell him that Laurel and he were over and that Oliver believed he wanted to destroy the Glades but Malcolm confirmed it much to his shock. Malcolm then played a recording of Rebecca's death to Tommy before violently yelling at him "They deserve to die! All of them!" However then Moira confessed the plan on TV and three cops arrived but Malcolm easily dispatched them and Tommy tried to kill him but Malcolm knocked him out. After this he waited, geared up in his safe room, and The Hood and John soon found him. Dark Archer fought them both simultaneously, despite being on the losing end. He threw a throwing knife at John and managed to escape to the roof. Hood and Dark Archer squared off on the roof, shooting arrows at each other, before engaging in hand-to-hand combat. He managed to get Hood in a choke hold, telling him that he would soon be joined by his mother and sister in death, remembering the last words of his his father Oliver managed to stab Malcolm through the chest with one of Malcolm's arrows, by stabbing himself through his shoulder. Oliver rose from the ground, and after receiving confirmation from Felicity that the device was disarmed, told Malcolm that his plan had failed. Injured, Malcolm revealed he had a second device stationed in the Glades. Believing he had won, Malcolm fell on his side and succumbed to his apparent demise.
Despite everyone's assumptions, Malcolm had in fact survived his brush with death; he had coroners make the police believe he was dead and had left Starling City. However he still had associates in the D.A.'s office including someone close to A.D.A. Adam Donner. The League also learned of his Undertaking which violated their codes but believing Oliver to have killed him they considered the matter settled.
Pursued by the League
5 months following his apparent death, it is now public knowledge that Malcolm was responsible for the Undertaking and he was the Dark Archer. When Al-Owal attacked Oliver looking for Sara Lance, Oliver discovered Merlyn's history with the League of Assassins. When Moira was in danger of being prosecuted Malcolm returned to Starling and used "a little persuasion" to make sure she was acquitted of the charges of being associates with him. After she was acquitted, her driver brought Moira to a remote location where Malcolm was waiting, killed the driver and revealed himself to Moira. Using resources in Starling Malcolm followed Donner's investigation of links between Moira and Malcolm and became suspicions she had kept secrets even from him. A genetics test confirmed his suspicions - Thea is his daughter. Malcolm continues to privately confront Moira at the Queen household and even revealed the guilt he had towards inadvertently killing Tommy and insisting that she owes her life to him after acquitting her. Determined to play a part in his daughter's life, Malcolm demands that Moira tell Thea of her true parentage. Moira refuses and contacts Ra's al Ghul, informing him that Malcolm is alive. She reveals this to Malcolm, advising that he run since Ra's wanted to kill him personally which he did but said the matter wasn't settled.
Felicity discovered Merlyn's secret and told it to Oliver which made him distant from Moira. When Thea was kidnapped by Slade Wilson, Moira quickly suspects Malcolm's involvement. However, despite her fear for her daughter's life, she does not reveal her suspicions to Oliver or to the police. Thea is also told by Slade that Malcolm is her biological father. Thea became distant once she knew Malcolm was her father and starts calling herself "Thea Merlyn". In a limo trip back home Moira, trying to make things right with Thea and Oliver was about to confess that Malcolm was alive but was hit by Slade's truck and killed before she could say anything. When Malcolm heard what happened to Moira he made his way back to Starling City to check up on Thea.
Dark Archer arrives just as Slade's Mirakuru army lays siege on the city, just in time to save Thea from being killed by one of the henchmen and reveals himself to her before killing him. Thea, out of shock and panic, ran away into the subways before Malcolm catches up to her, insisting he wasn't going to hurt her begging her to come with him to safety but she refuses before being attacked by another minion. After he manages to kill him, he temporarily loses consciousness, and when he comes to, Thea is pointing a gun at him. Malcolm tells Thea that he understands her pain as he has endured it too - with Rebecca and Tommy's deaths - just as Thea did with her loss of Moira and Robert. Suddenly Thea fires two shots in his direction. As Thea feels guilt ridden for killing her real father, Malcolm comes to and reveals that he was wearing a kevlar vest. Malcolm, to Thea's disgust, told Thea that she had more nerve than Tommy. When Thea left to find Roy, Malcolm compared Roy to Moira and Oliver: they were all liars. Later, after Thea found out Roy's identity as The Arrow's accomplice, she went back to Malcolm, waiting in his limousine. She requested that he teach her how to suppress her emotions, as she never wanted to feel the same way again, and they soon departed from Starling City.
War with League of Assassins
Following them leaving Starling City, Malcolm and Thea left for Corto Maltese. The two took up residence in a mansion owned by Malcolm. He decided to train her by pouring boiling water on to her hand, to teach her that "pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional". However, she was unable to stand it, and Malcolm decided that he had to train her the same way he had been trained, by physically hurting her to the point that Thea retaliated, pointing a sword, allowing him to determine that he training had began. During this period he trained her in martial arts, swordfighting, stealth and archery. Somewhere during this period he drugged her with a plant votura that made her follow orders without remembering it. He and Thea took a plane to Starling City where he made her kill Sara Lance on a rooftop by shooting three arrows in her chest. The two then flew back to Corto Maltese where they kept training while Thea did not realized about what had happened.
After 6 months, Malcolm saw his daughter able to take down multiple trainers and congratulated her. When Oliver arrived looking for Thea and arrives at the mansion Malcolm readied his bow but Oliver was called off. Malcolm later spied on Thea as she talked to Roy. Thea later requested to head home and proved her training's worth by fighting Malcolm with swords and disarmed him, but Thea implied that he let her win. Malcolm returned to Starling City after Thea in order to watch over and protect her. He also bought shares for Verdantand the nearby foundry (the Arrowcave) to help Thea put it back in business, which makes Malcolm the owner of Oliver's base. Nyssa also informed Oliver of Merlyn's survival after believing him to be Sara's killer. After following leads Nyssa tracks Malcolm and fights him and Oliver tags him with an arrow but doesn't kill him much to Laurel and Nyssa's anger. Malcolm later privately contacts Oliver and pleads his innocence in Sara's death knowing that killing her would only provoke Nyssa and Ra's and Oliver believes him. Laurel however begs Nyssa to kill Malcolm at any cost but she kidnaps Thea to lure him out where Dark Archer, Arrow and Nyssa fight each other and Dark Archer manages to defeat Nyssa but Arrow holds an arrow to him. Malcolm admits his high body count but protests that he didn't kill Sara and Arrow contemplated killing him for his past crimes but was unable to due to his vow and let him go and proclaimed Malcolm to be under his protection until Sara's true killer was found. Later Malcolm contacted Thea to tell her that he would protect her at any cost.
Malcolm continues to train Thea without Oliver's knowledge and allows her access to his wealth so that she could buy herself an apartment while rebuilding the club, much to Oliver's chagrin. He later spied on Thea and saw Oliver at her apartment, much to his annoyance. Malcolm was later contacted by Thea after Oliver visited her loft as the Arrow to find out if she was responsible for Sara's murder, he later confronted Oliver inVerdant and after being attacked, he revealed that he had Thea kill Sara through a plant called votura which thrives in Corto Maltese which was used to erase her memory of the incident. His whole plan was to make Ra's al Ghul focus on the killer and force Oliver to confront Ra's as he did not want to put Thea in danger, his aim that Oliver would kill Ra's al Ghul so he would no longer be hunted by the League.
Malcolm continued to train Thea in her apartment but she expressed worry over Oliver for not calling as it had been days since he did so, but he promised her to look into it as he regarded Oliver as family. Malcolm then visited Felicity, Diggle and Roy in the Arrowcave to ask them if they'd seen Oliver which they denied and Malcolm suspected Oliver's death at Ra's hands. Malcolm then visited the site where Oliver and Ra's had dueled but only found a sword with Oliver's blood and returned to Starling in the Arrowcave to inform the team of the news and present the sword. Though Malcolm offered his condolences but Feliciy and Diggle scolded Merlyn for getting Oliver killed. Malcolm then arrived in Thea's apartment where she threw a letter opener at him (which he caught). He informed her they were leaving Starling forever, but decided not to reveal her brother's fate to her.
He later visited her at her apartment expecting her to be packing. However she was gone and he found her at Verdant. He asked her why she was not packing and she told him he did not explained why they had to leave, and said she wasn't leaving unless he told her why. He later went to her apartment were Roy confronted him who told him to stay away from Thea and said he would not allow Thea to go with him. Roy also scolded him for manipulating her into killing Sara and told Malcolm he would lose her forever, but Malcolm told him it was a family matter, and he wasn't family. Malcolm later met her at her apartment and apologized to her, and told her the truth. He explained Ra's wants to kill him and his family for the undertaking, but later Thea told Malcolm they weren't leaving and told him not to be afraid of Ra's just like he taught her not to be and to face Ra's together. Malcolm agreed and they decided to stay.
Malcolm continued to train Thea using even more brutal methods and insisted that she needed to be willing to kill in order to beat Ra's but she asked how he is so willing to kill, and he told her that it started when he killed the man who murdered Rebecca. Later Malcolm spied on Team Arrow in the cave, via hacked webcam, and learned that Danny Brickwell/Brick killed Rebecca. As Arsenal and Black Canary pursued Brick into a police precinct Dark Archer followed and arrived in time to save them from Brick executing them as Dark Archer stated he needed to talk. In the Arrowcave Malcolm proposed an alliance with Team Arrow, as they have the same enemy. Laurel and Roy, despite still resenting Malcolm, where willing to consider but Felicity and Diggle were not and declined Merlyn's offer. Later Malcolm prepared to kill Brick himself despite Thea begging him not to trying to see a goodness inside. As the people of the Glades fought back against Brick's army, forcing Brick to flee, Brick ran into Dark Archer again in the ally and was easily subdued by Dark Archer who revealed his identity and prepared to kill him. Brick revealed that he murdered Rebecca not just to join a gang but because she was weak angering Malcolm more but before he could pull the trigger Arrow, very much alive, arrived and begged him to spare him for Thea's sake. Malcolm was persuaded and spared Brick so he would face court justice. As Malcolm told Thea the new choice he made Oliver walked in and was ok with Malcolm's presence, despite Thea being aware of their distaste for each other. Though Oliver admitted to Malcolm that he still despised him for having Sara killed and committing the undertaking, he asked Malcolm to train him to face Ra's al Ghul.
A week later Malcolm visited Team Arrow and told Oliver if they were to survive he needed to tell Thea the truth, though Oliver believed telling her would shatter their relationship forever. Malcolm visited Thea at her apartment after Oliver told her the truth but she became distrusting of him for not telling her and left, determined to avoid the issue of Ra's al Ghul. Later when Chase, a League agent, ambushed Thea in an attempt to assassinate her Dark Archer and Arsenal arrived to stop him as he committed suicide with cyanide. As Oliver arrived to see what happened Malcolm, despite knowing Thea's new found scorn for him, informed them that to be Ra's they needed to purge their fear and the only place on Earth capable of doing that was Lian Yu. Unbeknownst to either Malcolm visited Lian Yu and freed Slade Wilson promising him to chance to escape via the plane Oliver and Thea used.
After learning the Slade escaped Oliver called Malcolm who admitted his actions and informed him Slade's release is a test to help him regain his killer instinct and disabled their cellphones. After Oliver and Thea narrowly escaped Slade on the island and returned home, they confronted Malcolm about his actions and when Malcolm insisted his actions were out of love, Thea scorned him for making her kill Sara. Malcolm was highly enraged that Oliver told her and she insisted that though she was still Malcolm's student she was no longer his daughter highly irritating him.
He started training Thea and Oliver in sword fighting. He easily beat both of them at once in a practice fight as he stressed the importance of fighting in unison. Thea remarked that it is his fault the League is after them. John tells them that the club is now highly secured and Malcolm told Oliver it might be wise for him and Thea to stay here. He explained that the only reason the League has not killed him is that they do not know where to find him. Oliver says they will stay at the loft, after which Malcolm says they clearly have their stubbornness from their mom. Malcolm later got followed as he realized it is Laurel. Laurel attacked him, but he easily fended her off. He says she has an identity crisis and that she could never beat him with just a stick. A furious Laurel pulled a gun on him and Malcolm said he will find out if she is a truly a killer. Suddenly they got surrounded by assassins who disarmed Laurel and held her back. Nyssa told Laurel to stand back and Malcolm engaged her in single combat. After a short fight, Nyssa quickly overpowered him and knocked him out. Malcolm gets tied up and brought to a chopper as Nyssa tells him he will face torture for what he did. Malcolm told her that he would only be punished for the Undertaking and that she will never succeed her father after her relationship with Sara. Oliver attacked them and Nyssa fights him while Malcolm gets dragged to the chopper. Malcolm attempted to fight back, but got pulled in the chopper and flew away. Nyssa was defeated by Oliver and did not make it back to Nanda Parbat. He later gets brought before Ra's Al Ghul who told him about how he once met an amazing magician who was a shade of himself as he met him nearly 25 years later. Ra's said magicians can cheat many things, but not death. Malcolm begged him for mercy to which Ra's replied that he should die at least with some dignity. A screaming Malcolm got dragged away to be tortured. Barely conscious after the torture, Malcolm gets hanged above a fire. He woke up as Oliver and Diggle came to save him. He tried to tell them it was a trap, but Ra's quickly captured them.
Following Ra's death at the hands of OIiver Queen and the doom of his Omega Virus, Malcolm became the new Ra's al Ghul and leader of the League.
As Ra's al Ghul
Thea and Laurel travel to Nanda Parbat to find a cure against Thea's bloodlust. Malcolm tells her that the bloodlust can be held at bay for a time by murder, but ultimately Thea needs to kill the one who almost murdered her, to be freed from the bloodlust for good. As Ra's al Ghul has already died, this is impossible. Malcolm then sends two of his men to Thea's bedrooms, to have her kill them. This keeps Thea's bloodlust at bay for a few months. Also, after previously having denied the request, Malcolm allows Laurel to revive Sarah in the Lazarus Pit. Furiously, Nyssa destroys the Lazarus Pit as she thinks Malcolm is misusing it. For this, Nyssa is imprisoned by Malcolm.
Legends of Yesterday
Malcolm appears in The Flash cross-over episode "Legends of Yesterday", in which he has rather uncertain motives. While "Team Arrow" and the Flash were in Star City facing Vandal Savage (who was trying to kill Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl), Malcolm and several members of the League appeared at the Arrowcave to let his friends know what they're dealing with; he proceeds to explain that Savage is immortal and was associated with Genghis Khan and Julius Ceaser's plots during history and that no way to stop him is known to mankind. After having captured Carter Hall and interrogated him, Malcolm appears and reveals to the heroes and says that Savage has left Star City and is after the Staff of Horus, an item he has used throughout history to kill Hawkman and Hawkgirl's previous incarnations throughout history. Savage escapes and Malcolm arranges a meeting between him, Oliver and Barry Allen/Flash to talk of a truce, since negotiation would be the right way to handle this. Savage wants Kendra and Carter handed over and says that he will destroy Star City and Central City if he doesn't get what he wants; Malcolm claims that handing over the two will be the right choice, but he couldn't stop the Arrow and Flash from destroying Savage using the Staff of Horus, turning him into a pile of ashes. Malcolm returns to the location shortly after and gathers up the ashes; what he plans to do with them is unknown, but some believe he wants to bring Savage back to life.
Malcolm returns to Star City once again to save his daughter when Thea, Felicity and Diggle have been captured by Damien Darhk. When Oliver gives himself up to Darhk, Laurel and Malcolm, who is disguised as the Green Arrow, attack Darhk and H.I.V.E: and are able to save the captives. While Laurel brings her weakened friends to safety, Oliver and Malcolm fight Darhk together and overpower him, blowing up the entire building and almost killing Darhk.
Losing the League
When Thea, weakened by not answering her bloodlust, seems to be dying, Nyssa, who has fled her prison, approaches Oliver, promising him a cure for Thea under the condition that Oliver kills Malcolm. Determined not to kill Malcolm, Oliver manages to convinve Merlyn to step down as Ra's and hand the ring to Nyssa. Simultaneously, Laurel talks to Nyssa and Nyssa accepts these conditions. However, when both meet, Malcolm has Nyssa attacked by Assassins. Nyssa escapes. This results in a civil war fought in the streets of Star City, with mostly innocent civilians dying in the crossfire. To end this, Oliver proposes that Nyssa and Malcolm end their feud in the traditional way - a duel to the death.
Both accept, but when the fight is about to begin, Oliver states that he will fight Malcolm instead of his wife, as is his right. Nyssa furiously refuses to let someone else fight her battles for her, but Oliver tells her that if he has to chose between the death of Nyssa or Malcolm, he would definitely choose Malcolm. Malcolm and Oliver then battle and eventually, Malcolm is overpowered. With his opponent on the ground, Oliver tells Malcolm to yield, but Malcolm states that Oliver has to kill him. To prevent having to kill Malcolm, Oliver merely cuts off Malcolm's hand. While Malcolm passes out Oliver hands the ring to Nyssa, making her the leader of the League of Assassins.
Now forced to obey Nyssa, Malcolm arrives when she later summons her and Oliver Queen. When Nyssa thanks both for coming, Malcolm remarks that he did not have a choice. Both Oliver and Malcolm are surprised, when Nyssa takes off the ring and throws it into the fire, claiming that she earlier disbanded the League and released its assassins. Nyssa then leaves, leaving Malcolm and Oliver behind. Malcolm then turns to Oliver, claiming that the only reason that he won't kill Oliver is because death would be a mercy compared to the debt Malcolm now owes him.
To make Oliver suffer, Malcolm meets with Damien Darhk later, revealing to Damien the identity of Oliver's son William, the person Oliver loves most.
Association with H.I.V.E.
Now having joined H.I.V.E., Malcolm is present during the conference in which Damien Darhk explains the progress on Operation Genesis to the H.I.V.E. leadership. When Milo Armitage and Phaedra Nixon adress the matter of Quentin Lance, Malcolm confirms that Quentin is associated with the Green Arrow and his Team. Damien claims that Quentin will soon be dealt with, as he has instructed the Demolition Team to do so. After Darhk kidnaps William to force Oliver to drop his mayoral candidature, Oliver claims that they should focus on Malcolm as he was only one to know of William. Thea meets Malcolm who claims that it would have been batter if Oliver had just chopped off his head. Thea accuses Malcolm of valuing the League more than his own daughter, but Malcolm claims that his intentions were to keep the League while saving Thea. Thea asks him if he told Darhk about William but Malcolm refuses to answer, claiming that Thea knows him well enough to know the answer.
After William is freed, he reveals that Malcolm was the one to take him. This causes Thea to break with Malcolm although the latter claims that he only did it to protect Thea. Furiously, Malcolm claims that without him Thea would be dead ten times over, that he was the one to train her and that all he got in return was her venomous spite. Revealing that he would rather see Thea hate him while being alive instead of love him while being dead. Malcolm then storms out of Thea's appartment.
Malcolm visited Damien in prison and told him that H.I.V.E. has lost favor with him, mainly for killing fellow members whenever he gets annoyed, and they are moving ahead with Genesis without him. Damien angrily attempts to use his magic but to no avail and Malcolm sarcastically tells him "performances issues are common for men of your age" and leaves. Malcolm later meets up Andy Diggle and discusses how to get Damien out of prison.
Malcolm orchastrated a highjacking of missiles being delivered into the city, with Andy leading some of the few League of Assassins members still loyal to him, which distracted Green Arrow and Spartan's attention. While this occured Malcolm personally lead an attack on the Arrowcave to retrieve Damien's idol and was forced to fight Thea, and despite her gaining the upper hand was unable to kill him. Malcolm took this chance to regain the upper hand and stole the idol while she was distracted. Malcolm took the idol back to Damien in the prison, revealing that he is only helping him in order to ensure he and Thea are spared from the outcome of Genesis, but Damein becomes irritated and points out that the idol is missing a piece. In order to get Andy even closer to Team Arrow Dark Archer mislead the team to a warehouse, and had several crossbow rigged to fire at Green Arrow but Andy took the hits, making John trust him more and eventually gave up where the last piece was. Malcolm later lead several more of his men in an attack on Iron Heights prison to free Damein, and he and Andy succeeded in restoring his powers which resulted in Laurel's death but Malcolm, Damien and Andy were able to escape.
Before his wife's death, Malcolm was a kind man who loved his wife and son very dearly, and was a devoted businessman and humanitarian, striving to save Starling just like his wife, Rebecca. After his wife's death, he became heartbroken and was haunted with guilt that he had not been able to help her. During his mourning period he also had an affair with Moira, which guilt-riddled him even more. He seemed to enjoy spending time with Tommy, even smiling when he heard Tommy having nightmares because it gave him an excuse to spend time with his son. He was shocked and confronted the (presumed) killer which ended with Malcolm killing him. Unable to live with what he had done he left his son and went to Nanda Parbat. Training there he changed his perspective on the world and how he could help his city. He returned as an apathetic, calculating, and ruthless man. He began to develop a plan to destroy the Glades completely, believing that this way he could help the city. He believed what he was doing was right and is for the greater good, and was willing to do anything, regardless of the number of lives he ruins and will kill anyone who gets in his way to see his goals fulfilled, which makes him somewhat of a sociopath. He truly believed in the righteousness of his cause, projecting this in his acceptance speech for "humanitarian of the year". He also truly loved his wife, still wearing his wedding ring so many years after her death.
Malcolm is a charismatic person, able to project his own beliefs and self-righteousness into his words. His acceptance speech for the humanitarian of the year award was so compelling it even managed to catch the attention of China White. Malcolm seemed to have a slight ego as Robert Queen said that Malcolm had "something of a God-complex" and had a hostage read out that he will kill them if The Arrow "doesn't surrender to his authority". He blames all the people living in the Glades for his wife's death, not just the person who killed his wife, but also the ones who walked past his wife while she was dying which unfortunately results in his own son's death. Like Oliver, he is prone to emotional outbursts, although this rarely happens due to him being calm and level-headed. Malcolm also has no guilt and remorse using people for his personal gain and then killing them once they became loose ends to keep them from going public with information he wouldn't otherwise want to be public information. Malcolm is also tactically intelligent, as once the Undertaking was nearing, but the Arrow was endangering his mission, he began his own "anti-Arrow" persona as the Dark Archer knowing that the police would blame the Arrow and people would lose faith in him. He was shown to be quite confident in his fighting skills as he beat The Arrow multiple times in combat. He mentioned the reason he came out on top was because he knew what he was fighting for. Malcolm is calm in battle and willing to fight anyone that is a threat to himself or the ones he cares for. So far, the only person he is afraid of is Ra's Al Ghul.
Despite his insanity, ruthlessness, and cold heart he still loves his son dearly and wants what's best for him but has a rather harsh way of showing it which often leads to Tommy pushing Malcolm away, such as cutting off his trust fund to "jolt him into adulthood". After the undertaking, he is deeply upset about causing the death of his son making him desperate to have a relationship with Thea. He started to pressure Moira in telling Thea the truth and was convinced she needed him as her father. The only reason he stopped this was when she informed one of the few he feared Ra's Al Ghul about his survival. This forced him to flee. He was willing to return to Starling City after Moira was killed to check up on Thea, despite still being hunted by the League of Assassins, and tried many times to get her to safety and eventually succeeding. Malcolm, like Tommy, does love Thea but when training her was willing to hurt her to push her enough to fight back and managed to train her to tremendous skills after 6 months, but does go easy on her and originally wanted to take a less aggressive approach to her training. Malcolm can be very convincing as he continually stressed to Oliver that he was not responsible for killing Sara and swore on Thea he did not do it. Even when Oliver had a bow aimed at him and when Nyssa kept trying to kill him having not believed him, and was completely honest about the body count on his hands admitting it was too numerous to count. Malcolm does show strong parental instincts as the most merciful thing he offered Chase for attempting to kill Thea was a quick painless death.
It was later revealed he had been lying after all, as he had drugged Thea and made her kill Sara to force a reaction of the League of Assassins. Knowing Oliver would try to protect his half-sister, he used this to create a duel between Oliver and Ra's. He hoped Oliver would manage to somehow kill Ra's al Ghul, which would make the League stop hunting him. In the process he had lied to and manipulated everybody including his own daughter. This caused Oliver to ponder whether Malcolm is even capable of loving someone, as his actions only seek to serve himself. However despite Oliver's beliefs, Malcolm is devastated by his death and revealed to Thea that he regards him as family, truly believing Oliver's desire to save Thea would have been enough to kill Ra's. It is shown in "The Undertaking" that Malcolm does care for Oliver, an example of this is when he beat The Hood to a pulp and expressed regret after he unmasked him and realized he was actually Oliver.
He had some trouble sharing his secrets with Thea; however, he became more open to her after she demanded explanation about his actions. He was shown to deeply regret his decisions in the past after he learned the real killer of his wife was still alive. In an emotional moment he told Oliver all his decisions and the deaths he caused could have been avoided if he had not killed the wrong person for the death of his wife. He seemed to look for redemption as he spared Brickwell and was willing to train Oliver.
Malcolm is shown to have a deep interest in various warrior cultures. This was shown as his office was decorated with Asian statues and Japanese swords. In his secret room he had racks of swords and other weaponry from multiple cultures.
- Kendrick Weller
- Robert Queen (Caused)
- Josiah Hudson (Caused)
- Adam Hunt
- Nelson Ravich
- Frank Chen
- Brion Markov
- Tommy Merlyn (Indirectly Caused)
- Sara Lance / The Canary (Caused; Resurrected)
- Laurel Lance / Black Canary (Indirectly Caused)
- Jeff Devaeu's wife (Caused)
- Aglin's wife (Caused)
- Colton's sister (Caused)
- 8 of Roy Harper's friends (Caused)
- 451 Glades residents (Caused)
- 2 unnamed Mirakuru soldiers
- 2 unnamed Chineese Triad members
- 5 unnamed Unidac Industries scientists
- Numerous League of Assassin members (Caused and Direct)
- Numerous H.I.V.E. members (Direct and Caused)
- Numerous unnamed people (Caused and Direct)
- Peak of human physical condition: As a highly skilled assassin, Malcolm is shown to be in top physical condition. In all three of his confrontations with Oliver, Malcolm has demonstrated to be quite a match if not a superior fighter. In their first confrontation, Malcolm was strong enough to severely injure Oliver and was able to break three of Oliver's ribs by kicking him in the abdomen repeatedly. He has also demonstrated sufficiently high enough strength to break Oliver's bow in half with a single strike and knead a steel beam with a single kick. His reflexes allowed him to catch an arrow shot at him by Oliver during their second confrontation. He was also shown himself to be able to dodge an arrow and fire one directly after Oliver tried to shoot him in their first confrontation.
- League of Assassins training: Malcolm has gone through the training all League members do. He likely possesses skills with a variety of other melee weapons such as swords,
- Master archer: As the Dark Archer, Malcolm proved himself as an expert archer with astounding archery skills, a feat acknowledged by Oliver seeing how tightly grouped the arrows shot to Adam's body were.He was able to shoot three arrows at once and pin Nyssa to the wall by her clothing without injuring her. He was successfully able to catch Oliver off guard and wound him. Because of this, Malcolm's archery skills can be considered equivalent if not superior to Oliver's. He uses a customized compound bow. He was even able to combine his CQC techniques with his archer abilities to pin down Nyssa without killing her.
- Master hand-to-hand combatant/Martial artist: Malcolm has shown to be a highly skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant, learned from the League of Assassins during his time in Nanda Parbat and other training he received elsewhere. He was able to incapacitate two Chinese Triad members (disarmed one and kill the other with his own gun). Malcolm was able to best Oliver in hand-to-hand combat once, even knocking him out after a brutal fight in their second encounter. In a third encounter he was able to fight both John and Oliver at the same time. He was able to fight a Mirakuru-enhanced henchman at close range, landing multiple strikes without taking a hit. While being attacked by Nyssa al Ghul he dodged her sword strike and tossed her to the floor in mere seconds. However now that Oliver had been trained by Ra's al Ghul, Oliver was able to subdue Malcolm in a sword fight within seconds.
- Stealth: As a highly trained assassin Malcolm was shown to be highly skilled in stealth. This was shown as he was able to approach and kill targets without being noticed. After his first fight against Oliver he escaped the scene without being seen.
- Skilled tactician/Genius-level intellect/Great business acumen: In his daily life, Malcolm was the CEO of Merlyn Global Group, overseeing its daily activities and ensuring its success as a multi-billionaire corporation. Malcolm has proven himself to be remarkably clever when it comes to devising plans and battle strategies, He even managed to catch Oliver off guard on at least 2 occasions and was almost able to kill him. One of Malcolm's plans involves the deaths of thousands of people living in the Glades, However, after he found out Oliver is The Arrow, and that he knew about The Undertaking and the Markov Device, he accelerated his plan to level the Glades that same night. As a fail-safe for his master plan (and in an attempt to maximize devastation upon the area) he had a second device placed in the east sector of the Glades, devoted to leveling this sector.
- Master swordsman: Malcolm is trained and highly skilled with a variety of swords. In "Muse of Fire", Malcolm was shown fencing with experience, also in "Trust but Verify", Malcolm's secret room where he keeps his Dark Archer equipment was shown to house several racks of swords of various kinds.
- Indomitable will/High tolerance for pain: Using his will he is able to ignore pain and can pour hot water over his hand without flinching.
- Network: Malcolm has a very high network of people all over Starling City, including one in the coroner's office, which he used to fake his death.
- Toxicology: Malcolm was able to use votura to create a drug that made Thea kill Sara without remembering it.
- Expert computer hacker: Malcolm was able to spy on the computers in the Arrowcave without Felicity being aware of it.
- Skilled magician: Malcolm can perform slight-of-hand magic trick including making a coin seemingly appear out of nowhere.
- Customized PSE Chaos AD Compound Bow: Malcolm. as the Dark Archer, uses his signature weapon of choice: A Customized Compound bow.
- Customized Hunting Arrows: Malcolm creates and designs his arrows himself. The arrows he used have arrow heads with three "Teflon-coated titanium blades" on each arrow, with the blades serrated for splitting bones, and the shaft itself is made of "specialized polymer stronger than typical carbon fiber". As such, it is safe to assume that the arrows he uses are deadlier than those used by The Arrow.
- Trick arrows: In "Streets of Fire", shortly after his return, Malcolm uses an explosive arrow to save Thea and seemingly kill one of Slade's Mirakuru henchmen.
- Quiver: An arrow container strapped to Malcolm's back.
- Throwing Knives: When fighting Oliver and John, Malcolm utilized double bladed throwing knives.
- Swords: Malcolm uses a huge variaty of swords from different cultures. He first used a scimitar to kill two police officers, during his third fight with Oliver. Malcolm was shown using a scimitar against Oliver, though he was very quickly disarmed by Oliver. While training Thea they used both Japanese and Chinese swords. When preparing to kill Brickwell he carried a Chinese Dao.
- League of Assassins Costume: Malcolm wears a costume, used by the members of the League of Assassins, as his villain alter-ego, the Dark Archer, to hide his identity from his victims. The majority of the materials it's made out of are unknown, with the exception of Kevlar.
- Voice Filter: Malcolm uses this device to change his voice regardless of who he spoke to as the Dark Archer. This could be for the purposes of intimidation as it changed his voice to a deep, low growl.
- Smoke bombs: After incapicating Nyssa, he threw a smoke bomb to quickly escape the scene.
- Prior to "Muse of Fire", Malcolm was simply known as the "well-dressed man". His identity as Tommy's father was discovered in that episode while he was practicing fencing. Malcolm, at the time, was masked, when Tommy confronted him about his empty credit cards. Malcolm took off his mask to reveal his face to the audience, confirming his identity. His first name however wasn't revealed until "Trust but Verify".
- In "Year's End", after Oliver claimed that the vigilante needed a new nickname other than "The Hood", Malcolm suggested the name "Green Arrow", a clear reference to the vigilante's original DC comics name. However, Oliver disliked the name, stating that it was lame.
- The arrows Merlyn uses resemble the ones used by Smallville's version of Green Arrow, portrayed by Justin Hartley.
- In DC comics this character's real name is Arthur King who uses the name Merlyn as his super villain alias.
- His first name may be a reference to Malcolm McDowell who voiced the Merlyn character in the Green Arrow animated short film.
- Alongside Billy Wintergreen and Helena Bertinelli, Malcolm Merlyn was one of the only three characters in Season 1 shown to be swift enough to catch an arrow in mid air. However, while Helena and Billy only performed this once, Malcolm performed this feat twice.
- It was revealed in the end of "Dead to Rights", Malcolm spent two years in Nanda Parbat when Oliver was around 9, and Tommy was around 8 where he received mentorship from another individual. It is most likely (confirmed in the DC comics) that it is where Malcolm learned archery and how to fight. This would explain why he was able to almost best Oliver in their first fight and defeat him in their second fight as he has been training a lot longer. Therefore, he has at least 20 years of experience on him.
- Malcolm is currently the longest surviving antagonist in the series since his first appearance on Arrow.
- Malcolm is one of the only characters to have bested Oliver in combat more than once, and one of even fewer who have managed it without the aid of Mirakuru.
- While training Thea, he was seen wearing a hakama and Japanese clothing. He also referred to Japanese philosophy. This implies he probably has had training in martial arts outside the League of Assassins.
- While a member of the League of Assassins, Malcolm was known as "Al Sa-Her" (in Arabic: الساحر), which in Arabic means (the) Magician. Nyssa Al Ghul fist called him like this after he performed a magic trick. This name was possibly also chosen as a play on his surname "Merlyn," (which is a variant form of the name Merlin) due it coming from the legendary figure, Merlin, who is best known as the wizard (or magician) featured in Arthurian legend. It's also a reference to the comics, since Arthur King (the Dark Archer's civilian identity) presents himself as "Merlyn the Magician" during his debut.
- The other members of the Undertaking are unaware that Malcolm is the Dark Archer; whenever he is with the Undertaking, he simply refers to his alter-ego as "our associate", and occasionally threatens them with a visit from "our associate". Therefore, he acts as his own Dragon.
- Malcolm was initially the main antagonist in season three, but was eventually outranked by the true main villain.
- He is the second main antagonist to be credited as a main character followed by Slade Wilson.
- Malcolm has been confirmed to become a series regular for not just Season 5 of Arrow, but Season 3 of The Flash and Season 2 of DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
- Malcolm is the overarching antagonist in Arrow because he has appeared more than any other villain, and his actions have impacted the heroes in one way or another.