'Arrow' Showrunner Reveals They Had Wanted Tommy Merlyn to Return Earlier

Arrow fans finally got to see Collin O'Donnell return as Tommy Merlyn on the four-part Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Earth-X," but now, showrunner Marc Guggenheim says he wanted the fan-favorite character to return far sooner.

During the DCTV panel at ACE Comic Con in Long Island today, Guggenheim as asked by a fan about the possibility of Katana (Rila Fukushima) appearing on Legends of Tomorrow. The answer prompted Guggenheim to explain what goes into bringing characters back and revealed that if things had lined up correctly, Tommy Merlyn would have appeared last season on Arrow.

"It really is about two things when we're talking about bringing a character in," Guggenheim explained. "It's we've got to have the right story and the actor has to be available. You know a lot of times like we wanted different characters on different shows to come in and just the actor's not available because like, we wanted, I'll give you an example Collin O'Donnell who plays Tommy Merlyn you know, spoiler, he has a cameo in this year's crossover. We really wanted him for last year's crossover for the Arrow 100th episode. We really wanted, you know, Tommy to return, but he's a series regular on Chicago Med so we couldn't make the schedule work out."

During "Crisis on Earth-X," Tommy returns, but not as the familiar Tommy Merlyn both Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and fans knew. Instead, he came back as the Earth-X villain Prometheus-X, a reveal that visible stunned Oliver when he unmasked after being captured by the heroes. While locked up in a containment cell at S.T.A.R. Labs, Tommy-X first evoked sympathy and dedication from Oliver in reflecting on his life on Earth-X before telling Oliver what the villains had planned -- conquering Eart-1, then enslaving or killing all those on it -- before killing himself with a cyanide capsule.

Tommy-X's death was a surprise to fans just as much as Tommy's death at the end of Arrow's first season was. In that episode, Malcolm Merlyn initiated the undertaking throughout one of Starling City's neighborhoods prompting both Tommy and Oliver to rush to save Laurel. Unfortunately, Tommy became trapped inside a building and Oliver stayed by his best friend's side until his death.

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And while Guggenheim's plan for Tommy to actually return for last year's "Invasion!" crossover didn't work out because of schedules, he did still have a small part of the event. The character, as well as Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) both briefly appeared as holograms.

Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW. The show is presently on winter hiatus and will return Thursday, January 18. 2018.