Arrow and its spinoffs have never been afraid to play fast and loose with death. Between the Lazarus pit, time travel, and alternate universe doppelgangers, there’s always a way for a character or, at least their actor, to return. This trend continues as a photo of a table read, recently tweeted by Guggenheim showed an actor no one ever expected to see again. Jamey Sheridan, who played Robert Queen, will be in Arrow’s hundredth episode.
The photo was accompanied by the tweet “Arrow 100th Episode Table Read. No Flashpoint. No flashbacks.” This removes the two most likely reasons for his return. The creators had already promised that the hundredth episode would have no flashbacks, so this part of the news wasn’t a surprise. “Flashpoint” reset the timeline on The Flash so it could have easily reset Robert’s death. Even if the flashpoint paradox isn’t responsible, there’s still a chance that time travel is involved if the characters from Legends of Tomorrow come into play. I believe these next two possibilities are more likely.
This Robert Queen could possibly be his doppelganger from earth two, but I don’t think that’s going to be it. Arrow has always been the most down to earth superhero show and with the writers insistence on going “back to basics”; I don’t think they’d mess around with the multiverse. However this episode will take place in a multiple part crossover of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl so there’s a chance the multiverse will be part of a story this big.
I believe the most likely explanation for this return is that Oliver is hallucinating. It wouldn’t be the first time, he hallucinated several of his dead friends in the season two episode “Three Ghosts.”. This would fit the new “back to basics” model that the writers are insisting on and would give Oliver the best chance to deal with his doubts about what kind of hero he should be.
The pilot of Arrow showed Robert Queen shooting himself in the head to give his son the best chance to survive. Oliver buried him on an island and promised to right his father’s wrongs once he got home. This doesn’t make him an easy candidate for the Lazarus pit because his body would have decomposed too much in the eight years since then.
Whatever form Robert’s return takes, there’s no doubt it will take a toll on Oliver. It could be one of his turning points as a hero if the writers do it right. The fandom of Arrow is deeply divided after some controversial stories last season, but that doesn’t mean the show has lost its touch. I think the writers have succeeded more than they failed so there’s a chance they can pull this off. The crossover will absolutely be incredible, but will the return of Robert Queen help the story or hold it back? We will just have to wait and see.