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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 antagonist in The CW's Arrow and one of the main antagonists of the Arrowverse, as the main antagonist of Season 1, an anti-villain in Season 2, and an anti-hero in Seasons 3-5. He also appears in Season 2 of the spin-off series DC's Legends of Tomorrow as one of the two secondary antagonists (along with Damien Darhk) and a member of the Legion of Doom.

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.

Personality

Malcolm was once a well-meaning and kind man and a rising businessman. But after his wife Rebecca died after being mugged in the Glades, the criminal part of Starling City, Malcolm left his young son Tommy behind and went on training in the martial arts.


Killed Victims

  • Kendrick Weller
  • Adam Hunt
  • Nelson Ravich
  • Frank Chen
  • Brion Markov
  • Cal DeVito
  • Jefferson Jackson / Firestorm (Time Aberration)
  • Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang
  • Himself
  • Unnamed driver
  • 2 security guards
  • 2 Mirakuru soldiers
  • 2 Chinese Triad members 
  • 5 Unidac Industries scientists
  • Numerous League of Assassins members
  • Numerous H.I.V.E. members
  • Several unnamed Switzerland bank workers
  • Numerous unnamed people

Indirectly

  • Robert Queen
  • Josiah Hudson
  • Tommy Merlyn
  • Sara Lance / The Canary (Revived)
  • Laurel Lance / Black Canary
  • Jeff Devaeu's wife
  • Aglin's wife
  • Colton's sister
  • 8 of Roy Harper's friends
  • 451 Glades residents
  • Numerous League of Assassin members
  • Numerous H.I.V.E. members
  • Numerous people

Abilities

  • 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 before he was trained by Ra's, Malcolm has demonstrated to be physically more powerful than him. 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. Malcolm is even powerful enough to physically battle and ultimately kill a Mirakuru enhanced individual. Even after his hand was cut off,he was still very formidable,able to easily best Thea. After getting a Cybernetic Hand, Malcolm became able to effectively continue his physical activities and he was powerful enough to compete with the extremely strong Sara Lance.
  • 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. He was able to easily disarm a League Member. However, Malcolm still knows his limits as he knew that Ra's still surpass him in skill and this was proven when Damien easily beat him, albeit he had Magic and Oliver defeated and cut Malcolm's hand in 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. He is also a master of hypnosis.

Equipment

  • 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 arrowheads 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 variety 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 incapacitating Nyssa, he threw a smoke bomb to quickly escape the scene.

Appearances

Arrow

Season 1

  • "Honor Thy Father" (unseen)
  • "An Innocent Man"
  • "Damaged"
  • "Muse of Fire"
  • "Year's End"
  • "Burned" (flashback)
  • "Trust but Verify"
  • "Betrayal"
  • "Dead to Rights"
  • "Salvation"
  • "Unfinished Business"
  • "The Undertaking"
  • "Darkness on the Edge of Town"
  • "Sacrifice"

Season 2

  • "State v. Queen"
  • "The Scientist"
  • "Deathstroke" (flashback)
  • "Streets of Fire"
  • "Unthinkable"

Season 3

  • "Sara"
  • "Corto Maltese"
  • "The Magician"
  • "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak"
  • "The Climb"
  • "Left Behind"
  • "Midnight City"
  • "Uprising"
  • "Canaries"
  • "The Return"

Season 4

  • "Restoration"
  • "Brotherhood"
  • "Legends of Yesterday"
  • "Dark Waters"
  • "Blood Debts" (mentioned)
  • "Unchained"
  • "Sins of the Father"
  • "Code of Silence"
  • "Taken"
  • "Beacon of Hope"
  • "Eleven-Fifty-Nine
  • "Genesis"
  • "Monument Point"
  • "Lost in the Flood"
  • "Schism"

Season 5

  • "Legacy" (mentioned)
  • "Invasion" (dream)
  • "Missing"
  • "Lian Yu"

Legends of Tomorrow

Season 2

  • "The Chicago Way"
  • "Raiders of the Lost Art"
  • "The Legion of Doom"
  • "Fellowship of the Spear"
  • "Doomworld"
  • "Aruba"

Comics

Arrow

  • "Prey"
  • "Fathoms"
  • "Hunters"

Gallery

Trivia

  • 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 supervillain 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 at 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.
    • His death is very similar to that of Merlin in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
  • 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 the main character followed by Slade Wilson. He is shortly followed up by Prometheus in Season 5 and Black Siren in Season 6.
  • 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.
  • Malcolm was currently the longest surviving antagonist in the series since his first appearance on Arrow.
  • For now, Malcolm was one of the main antagonists of the Arrowverse to be still alive. The other was Hunter Zolomon and Slade Wilson. Hunter is killed by Caitlin Snow, became Killer Frost, in the Flash Season 3 finale "Finish Line", and in Arrow Season 5 "Lian Yu" Malcolm Merlyn is killed by a landmine and Slade Wilson only of the main antagonists to be alive in Arrowverse.
           Arrowverse Villains

Arrow
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The Flash
Abra Kadabra | Alchemy | Amunet Black | Anthony Bellows | Atom-Smasher | Axel Walker | Black Arrow | Black Bison | Black Siren | Brie Larvan | Captain Boomerang | Clay Parker | Clifford DeVoe | Clive Yorkin | Clyde Mardon | Danton Black | Dominators | Dr. Light | Eobard Thawne | Everyman | Farooq Gibran | General Wade Eiling | Geomancer | Griffin Grey | Grodd | Henry Hewitt | Kilg%re | Killer Frost | Killer Frost (Earth-2) | King Shark | Kyle Nimbus | Leonard Snart | Lewis Snart | Lucius Coolidge | Magenta | Mark Mardon | Marlize DeVoe | Mick Rory | Mirror Master | Music Meister | Norvok | Overgirl | Pied Piper | Plunder | Prank | Prometheus (Earth-X) | Quentin Lance (Earth-X) | Reverb | The Rival | Rogues | Roy Bivolo | Rupture | Samuroid | Sand Demon | Savitar | Shade | Shawna Baez | Simon Stagg | Siren-X | Solovar | Tar Pit | Time Wraiths | Trickster | Top | Turtle | Tony Woodward | Trajectory | Vincent Santini | Zoom

Legends of Tomorrow
Black Arrow | Black Flash | Bud Ellison | Cassandra Savage | Chronos | Colonel | Damien Darhk | Dominators | Eobard Thawne | Grant Wilson | Henry Stein | Hawk-Beasts | The Hunters | John Valor | Kuasa | Krieger | Leviathan | Malcolm Merlyn | Mallus | Mr. Blake | Nora Darhk | Per Degaton | The Pilgrim | Overgirl | Prometheus (Earth-X) | Quentin Lance (Earth-X) | Quentin Turnbull | Samurai | Leonard Snart | Shogun | Stillwater Gang | Valentina Vostok | Vandal Savage | Zaman Druce

Supergirl
Astra | Beth Breen | Bizarro | Black Arrow | Bloodsport | Colonel James Harper | Cyborg Superman | Dirk Armstrong | Eobard Thawne | Ethan Knox | Hellgrammite | Indigo | Jemm | Livewire | Lillian Luthor | Master Jailer | Maxima | Maxwell Lord | Metallo | Miranda Crane | Mister Mxyzptlk | Morgan Edge | Music Meister | Non | Overgirl | Pestilence | Phillip Karnowsky | Project Cadmus | Prometheus (Earth-X) | Psi | Purity | Reactron | Red Tornado | Reign | Rhea | Rick Malverne | Scorcher | Silver Banshee | T.O. Morrow | Thomas Coville | Toyman | Vartox