Okay, first off, obviously spoilers on for tonight's episode of Arrow, titled "Dark Waters."
It literally doesn't bear much more thought than "no" to answer the question the headline. It's pretty clear to me that Felicity Smoak isn't actually dead, not least of all because I don't believe the showrunners have the will or desire to do it.
But, hey, you came all the way here and clicked on the link and probably went down to the comments to complain about spoilers, so hey, it wouldn't be very nice of me to just say "no" and drop the mic, right?
So, here goes.
To bring you up to speed, tonight's episode of Arrow ended with Felicity Smoak and Oliver Queen being shot up by numerous gunmen in an apparent assassination attempt. Oliver shielded Felicity for as long as he could before deciding to take their chances and getting into the driver's seat to make an escape. Once clear of the gunmen, he removed her from the vehicle and she appeared lifeless.
The trailer for the 2016 premiere of Arrow debuted at the end of tonight's episode and, along with the inclusion of certain clips in tonight's "previously on Arrow segment, it strongly implies that the person in the grave at the end of the Season Four premiere was Felicity Smoak:
First of all, the way they're pounding home linking the grave site seen at the start of the season with Felicity rings hollow, for a few reasons.
First of all, that scene took place six months in the future. Arrow tends to unfold roughly in real time, meaning that the death would be more like March, April or May than December. That's something that could be fudged if they weren't playing with real time, but we do know that last year during the attack on Starling City, somebody (Lance?) made a crack about how this "happens every May." Context clues told us that Oliver and Felicity had been out of town pretty much exactly as long in-story as the series was off the air in real life, which places the season premiere at roughly the same point in Arrow time as in real time.
Fast-forward to the present. Oliver Queen -- a mayoral candidate and the presumptive winner, since he's running unopposed -- had a ceremonial tree lighting at his holiday party, which is not something that typically happens on Christmas. Given that the menorah had either three or four candles in place when Felicity brought it to the cave, it's likely this episode was meant to take place today -- the fourth night of Hannukah. It would explain the tree lighting, and why the "holiday" party took place early enough to include Hannukah, since Christmas is still a couple of weeks away.
So, in all likelihood, we haven't come close to six months yet.
Even if that weren't the case, when Barry Allen shows up, he apologizes for missing the funeral, and attributes it to a fight with Zoom -- something that we know doesn't happen before Christmas.
How do we know that? Well, because The Flash actually happened ON Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, based on dialogue. And leaving aside the fact that Barry didn't take on Zoom last night, there's the fact that if his ex-girlfriend had been killed sometime in the last week or so, it likely would have come up on The Flash.
UPDATE based on the comments: We'll also point out here that in dialogue from the episode, Felicity mentioned it had been three months since they returned to Star City. I totally spaced on that.
We will not make an argument out of set photos, since those are not official releases and exist totally without context. Recent set photos seem to tell a particular story, but they can be used for misdirection as easiliy as the trailer can.
Anyway, you can easily enough dismiss all of that with "Well, maybe she doesn't die right away and her funeral isn't for months."
That's when something comes down to TV conventions.
A character as important as Felicity isn't going to die on the operating table a month and a half after she's shot. The fact that she's still alive in the hospital next episode is a pretty good assurance she's not dying.
Hell, she was moving in that last shot...
...See how her head turns without Oliver turning it? Yeah, he moves her a bit, but after he stops, her head continues to roll up and toward him -- that's not a natural direction for gravity to take things. So clearly she's moving her head.
But...yeah. TV tropes-wise, killing her on the operating table in a month would feel...off...for a character so integral to the series. And honestly, having it happen at the hands of faceless thugs would be unlikely, too -- but that we could ignore if not for everything else, because those thugs were, after all, acting on orders from Darhk.
There's another thing, of course: In the funeral scene, we see that Oliver is alone when Barry comes to see him. There's really no reason he should be alone at a fresh plot, if Felicity was the one being buried and her mother is in town. In fact, the "family" dynamic they're trying to build up with Team Arrow really only makes Oliver standing alone at the gravesite logical if the grave belongs to his William, or his mother Samantha.
...Oh, yeah. There's that, too. Remember last week, when Olicity shippers were going crazy because of comments by the producer that there would be "consequences" because of Oliver's decision not to tell Felicity about his son.
“I can't tell you exactly how that's going to happen. But...obviously for the arc of Oliver and Felicity's relationship this season, the fact that he's keeping this from her—true to what we've done on the show, if there's a secret somewhere, it's going to come out and it's going to have some serious consequences,” said executive producer Wendy Mericle.
It would be extremely difficult to have those consequences play out if Felicity died.
(See, Olicity shippers? Suddenly, your least favorite interview of the year became your favorite!)
And why focus on the funeral scene so much? Becuase The CW did. That whole trailer is full of imagery meant to suggest that Oliver is at Felicity's gravesite...and the fact that it can't possibly be her funeral means that the whole trailer is suspect. If they're intentionally misdirecting us about that important point, what else could they be misdirecting us about?
We'll find out on January 20, when Arrow returns with new episodes at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.