'Arrow' Showrunner on Willa Holland's Exit

Willa Holland appeared in her final episode as a series regular on Arrow last night, with Thea Queen leaving Star City to go out into the world and right some of the wrongs wrought by her biological father, Malcolm Merlyn.

The move came after two years of Thea having a reduced role, which was sometimes controversial with fans and had been a topic of conversation for quite some time. Producers explained in season five that the reduced role was Holland's choice -- as was leaving the show entirely with last night's "The Thanatos Guild."

"Season six is the end of her contract, and going into season six, with all of us knowing it was the end of her contract, Willa expressed the desire to move on, not re-up," executive producer Marc Guggenheim told Entertainment Weekly. "She expressed a desire to be written out at a certain time in the season, which is around episode 16, so we accommodated her on that front as well."

Thea left the series as most fans expected her to -- with Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), her longtime onscreen love interest, who had come to Star City for a two-episode arc that centered on Thea. Elements of her family's past, including Malcolm's time as the head of the League of Assassins, played in as well.

"We love Willa, we love Thea the character and we particularly love Thea's relationship with Oliver," Guggenheim told ComicBook.com in October. "That said, Willa came to us at the end of season four and she, very honestly, expressed a desire to cut back how many episodes a season she was doing. She's a member of our family, and we wanted to honor that request. That's what happens when you have a show that goes over a hundred episodes, people start to say, 'hey, I would like to pull back,' some people don't want to renew their contract. There's a whole host of different things that start to come into play and you work that into the storytelling."

This week, he reiterated many of those remarks, providing a little more detail.

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"That relationship is one of the things that we deviated from the comic book early on. It was one of the very first major creative decisions we made in terms of adapting the Green Arrow comic for live action television. So it’s always been an incredibly important, critical part of the show for us," Guggenheim admitted in the EW interview. "We never want to stand in the way of someone wanting to express themselves creatively in a different way, on a different show, or through a different medium. So we took Willa’s request and took it seriously, and decided 'Okay, well, if this is the hand we’re dealt, how do we play it as best we can and write off Thea in the most emotional and interesting way possible?'"

Arrow airs on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, following Supernatural.