The romantic pairing of Arrow's Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) has had a devoted following of fans and shippers since nearly the very beginning of the series. But for all of those devoted to "Olicity," there are fans who are not, and the division between the two have spawned everything from interesting discussion to outright social media wars.
While the Olicity pairing isn't perfect, it's become an integral part of Arrow, and while it may not be universally popular -- and we acknowledge that the whole wedding part of “Crisis on Earth-X” is a solid reason to be unhappy with Olicity -- it does bring a bit of realism to the show in how it not only impacts Oliver’s work as Green Arrow, but in how it allows other characters to develop outside of the trappings of a romantic relationship.
An example of how Olicity and personal relationships in general impact Oliver is Season Five villain Adrian Chase/Prometheus. While Chase didn't solely or directly target Oliver's relationship with Felicity, largely because the pair weren't together most of the season, he did target the things in Oliver's life that mean the most to him: his city, his team his family, his son, his job as mayor, and even Oliver's non-Felicity love interest, Susan. While Chase's methods over the course of the season were seriously dramatic and maybe a bit over the top -- rigging an entire island to blow up and kill people could be considered a little extra -- going after those closest to your adversary is a tactic even real-life bad guys turn to.
While Oliver is ultimately successful in defeating Chase, he doesn't come out of the altercation unscathed. His friends and team suffer significant trauma because of the events on Lian Yu. His son, William, loses his mother. And even Oliver's relationship with Felicity suffers a bit as, now that he's suddenly a full-time single father to a son who is no doubt deeply scarred from what he's experienced, Oliver must figure out how to put his son first over all other things. As fans might recall, William's very existence (or rather Oliver not telling Felicity about him) was a part of why Olicity broke up in the first place.
Another reason the Olicity pairing benefits the show is one that has been most clearly seen and explored in this season, and that's the development of female characters in their own right and not as love interests for the hero. While there are those fans who take issue with someone other than Laurel Lance being part of Team Arrow as Black Canary, Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy) has seen some significant character development this season. Between finding her footing as part of Team Arrow in the wake of the events on Lian Yu as well as the revelation that her believed-dead partner and love is not only alive but one of the bad guys, Dinah has been given some room to develop into a fleshed-out character with her own motivations and history. The same can be said for Earth-2's Laurel Lance/Black Siren (Katie Cassidy). Fans have gotten small glimpses of Laurel's life prior to coming to Earth-1 as well as having gotten to see her operate as an adversary whose only real tie to the team is that she looks like someone they used to know, though the dynamic between her and the Earth-1 counterpart of her father (Quentin Lance, played by Paul Blackthorne) is something the show seems poised to delve deeper into.
Without Oliver being in a relationship -- in this case specifically the Olicity relationship -- neither of these characters would have the same level of character independence. That is particularly true for Laurel Lance/Black Siren, as it would have been all too easy for the show to have pursued a relationship between Oliver and the doppelganger of his dead ex-girlfriend. And while how things play out in the second half of Season Six remain to be seen, with Felicity and Oliver now truly together thanks to their impromptu marriage, it's unlikely that the show would try to go down that road now.
Fans will get to see more of Dinah and Black Siren’s stories, as well as how married life works out for Oliver and Felicity with the threat of Cayden James – who, by the way, will target Oliver’s son in the second half of the season – when Arrow returns from winter break.
Arrow returns on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 9/8c on The CW.