Answering Arrow Season 5’s Greatest Mystery: Where’s Thea? Answering Arrow Season 5’s Greatest Mystery: Where’s Thea?
Thea's absence from recent Arrow episodes is explained. Answering Arrow Season 5’s Greatest Mystery: Where’s Thea?

A lot of Arrow fans on social media have noticed that the last few episodes of the series were missing an actress who has been one of the best parts of Season 5: Willa Holland, who plays Thea. Fret not; it’s not a conspiracy to steal away our Speedy, but just a [sometimes] unfortunate lesson in the form of the 23-episode TV season. And, yes, Thea is back with a major role in this week’s new episode “Spectre of the Gun” and it sounds like she’s in next week’s show and several more to come after it as well.

“Everyone’s, like, ‘where’s Thea?’ Well, Willa’s [in] 14 out of 23 episodes this year. She’s not in all 23. That’s not her contract. So we’ve had to write around that,” Arrow Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim addressed during a Q&A at the CW headquarters in Burbank this morning. [Editor’s note: Marc didn’t clarify if the crossover episodes were part of that 14]

Usually, series regular contracts, despite being credited for 23 episodes, result in actors appearing less than that, though usually they are guaranteed something between 11-13 episodes per year, with more as the story and actor availability permits. We saw this before when John Barrowman would miss episodes of Arrow; you’ll also notice that Paul Blackthorne is not in every episode of the show, and he, too, hadn’t been seen a whole lot for a few weeks before his return in “Bratva.”

This happens on other CW series as well. Fans of Smallville remember those years when Erica Durance wouldn’t appear every week as Lois. On The Vampire Diaries, it worked like clockwork that inevitably, Jeremy, Bonnie, and/or Tyler would “be out of town” for a few weeks in the middle of every season. Sometimes it’s noticeable when an actor is missing; other times, so much is going on in the series that we, the audience, don’t even notice they’re gone on a particular week.

“It’s complicated,” Guggenheim admitted. “We try to make the process invisible in terms of our storytelling, but there are just human realities and contractual realities that not only tie our hands, but tie the hands of everyone running a show these days.”

Willa Holland returns to Arrow on Wednesday, February 15 with “Spectre of the Gun.” And, no, she is not Prome-thea-us.

Craig Byrne

Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.

  • Delaney

    February 13, 2017 #1 Author

    Meanwhile fourth billed Emily gets to be in 23 eps. Hm. Weird how that works that your top billed actresses get less screen time than her.

    They do to Willa like they did do Katie
    Pretty soon Thea will be dead – I know they said that’s repeating themselves but they are proven liars – and Emily will finally get top actress billing. Ramsey better be carful. He’s probably next so she’ll be second billed.

    Reply

    • Ashley

      February 13, 2017 #2 Author

      Lol why scheme to get second billing when she’s already the lead in “Felicity and Friends?” I thought according to the anti’s, Emily has had more total screentime than Stephen since her first appearance? 🙁

      Reply

      • Delaney

        February 13, 2017 #3 Author

        LOL who said anything about Emily scheming? Do her fans have some dirt/inside info?!

        Reply

    • Canadagraphs

      February 13, 2017 #4 Author

      I realize not everyone understands celebrity contracts, but what this means is Willa actually had much more negotiating power than Emily did when she signed her deal.
      For Willa to have negotiated to only work a total of 14 episodes maximum, compared to Emily who would have had to just accept that her season contract is for however many episodes they want, is to the credit of the actress that managed to get paid a full season but only allowed to appear in X amount of episodes.
      Same as how shows leads like with Castle, Supernatural and even yes Arrow, have negotiated that they can only work a maximum of 4 (or less) days a week. The bigger a star (especially when the series has been around for awhile), the more demands they can make when they sign a deal.
      Since Emily was quite literally a nobody when she signed her deal, she had no choice but to accept that the show decides how many episodes & how many days she has to work, where as Willa, coming off several movies & a season of The OC had enough name recognition that she was able to make demands when she signer her deal. This is partially why EBR has so much screen time, because theres no cap on how many days/episodes they can put her in for… so shes an easy space filler.
      As much as I dislike Felicity & Emily, this has nothing to do with HER. This is what WILLA wanted. She didn’t want to work all 23 episodes, and they gave her that. You’d be surprised what type of minimum & maximum screen time/episodes/work days deals actors have. Right now in Vancouver I know of at least 8 actors with 4 (or less) day work week caps, and I am sure theres many more.

      Reply

      • Jesse

        February 13, 2017 #5 Author

        If you wouldn’t mind saying, why don’t you like Emily?

        Reply

        • Craig Byrne

          February 14, 2017 #6 Author

          I just always assumed Emily’s deal was different because she wasn’t made a series regular until Season 2. Stephen and everyone else signed to what they did with Season 1. But it also may be not that Emily has “no negotiation power” so much as that Felicity has become such an integral part of the show that the show just can’t do without her, and she’s willing to do those 23-episode seasons.

          Or, maybe her contract was for the entire seasons when she signed it. We’ll never know.

          Reply

      • Lyla

        February 13, 2017 #7 Author

        Dude, everyone who pays attention knows WHY u dislike Emily so much 😉 You are in the now of some inside stuff, but you’re also incredibly transparent. If Emily was such a nobody to the show, it’s hard to understand why they got the shows female lead fired to give her the spot. And the other woman left sidelined in order for Emily to get the leading role happen? Willa wanted that u say? Why is it that everyone in the know sees she just wants out BECAUSE she’s sidelined, not the other way around. Your Emily bashing isn’t working, sorry. Btw, I really like Willa, hope she stays,. Thank god Katie’s gone though, never made a good character. You never cared about characters though, did you, ”Canadagraphs”, because u seem to only care about women that reject you 😉

        Reply

      • Stacey

        February 13, 2017 #8 Author

        All the people hating on Emily in this thread. Very sad. NONE of you know why Willa is only working 14 episodes and how does that have anything to do with Emily’s contract? Its disappointing to see how many people assume they know what happens on Tv when the reality is, none of us know anything really lol.

        Reply

      • Lyla

        February 13, 2017 #9 Author

        Also , ”Canadagraphs”, the deals these actors made when they signed on are incredibly different from what they’ve signed now. Starting from Stephen Amell whom I bet you know doesn’t get only 30 000 per ep now to other actors/resses, including Emily, who sure as hell is not being looked at the same way as before. Even though she rejected you ;( ;( ;(

        Reply

        • Carla

          February 14, 2017 #10 Author

          Stephen would’ve been signed to a 5-year contract as the show lead. Emily would’ve gotten a guest contract, and then a new contract once she was made a regular.

          Reply

      • 2310

        February 14, 2017 #11 Author

        why don´t you like Emily, do you know her private?? if it ´s because you don’t like felicity ?that has nothing to do with the private person Emily is and it is so sad that you all hate Emily on this site.. I don´t like the oliver character very much but don´t trash Stephen so grow up and respect others

        Reply

  • Lyla

    February 13, 2017 #12 Author

    I really enjoyed Thea in the beginning of this season.. Hope she gets to be in some of the good episodes left!

    Reply

  • Carla

    February 14, 2017 #13 Author

    TV standard is 13 episode minimum for a 22 episode season. Otherwise knows as more than half. And yeah, it’s normal that secondary characters are not in every episode of a season. Only the main has to do that.

    Reply

  • Maria

    February 14, 2017 #14 Author

    Oh the haters are so hilarious. Canadagraphs you mad Emily turned you down? Maybe you should just leave her alone?

    Reply

  • Maria

    February 23, 2017 #15 Author

    Concerning the comments about hate towards EBR, and how it is prompted by personal malice on the part of the haters, I’ll take the opportunity to ask the assembled Olicity fans here if they can explain why so many of their own BNFs seem so consumed by hate towards Katie Cassidy and Stephen’s wife Cassandra Jean? For example. Canadagraphs’ post about EBR seems pretty mild in comparison to that that infamous long-ass libel about KC being a “mean girl”.that was posted on tumblr….and yet that post got hundreds of tumblr “likes” and was widely disseminated throughout the Olicity fandom. And then you have the owners of some pretty prominent twitter accounts, who seem to spend quite a lot of their fandom time shading Katie Cassidy, For the record, these accounts are not “fringe” at all. They’re very much part of the Olicity mainstream, with thousands of followers and much influence and clout in the fandom.

    Since you’re so well informed about the REAL and personal reasons for CG’s dislike for EBR, it would be interesting to hear you explain why some members of your own fandom dislike Katie Cassidy so much that they continue to monitor her every interview/tweet/con appearance etc. in order to find things to trash her for, even though she’s left the show. What has Katie Cassidy done to them to deserve this kind of treatment?

    And while you’re at it, maybe you can explain why so many members of the Olicity fandom seem to dislike Cassandra Jean so much, or think that she is such a bad person/wife/mother? What did Cassandra Jean do to them to deserve this derision (which would be labeled “hate” if it had been directed towards EBR)? Heck, the Stemily peeps even resurface on Stephen’s FB page/twitter with passive-aggressive comments and memes about the alleged “fakery” surrounding his marriage and weirdly intrusive posts about his alleged alcohol problems. And again, we’re not talking about a small fringe here, since the derision towards Cassandra Jean is pretty widespread in the Olicity fandom, as the comments and receipts in these articles show.

    http://heavy.com/entertainment/2016/01/stephen-amell-wife-cassandra-jean-daughter-family-photos-pictures-model-hot-arrow-cw-tv/

    http://aminoapps.com/page/comics/7609301/separating-fictional-characters-from-real-life-actors

    I think I know what some of you will respond. You’ll give the standard Oliciter reply that the KC/CJ detractors don’t “tag their hate” (which they often actually do), which means that it is OK. Well, most of “the comic book fanboys ” that you accuse of hating Felicity/EBR don’t “tag their hate” either…and yet you all are very upset about what they say about Felicity or EBR. So, it seems like you apply different standards to different parts of the fandom. The only way that these double standards make any sense is if I presume that you consider yourselves more entitled than other fans. Some Olicity/Stemily shippers clearly believe that it’s OK to shade Cassandra Jean or the Amell marriage (as long as they do it behind Cassandra’s and Stephen’s back) but if Felicity/EBR is subjected to very similar (or even much milder) untagged shading, it is considered “hate”. Or maybe the entitlement of some members of the “Arrow” fandom goes so far that they believe that their own behavior is acceptable since it’s directed against women who THEY have deemed unworthy of their respect? I mean, when oliciters are confronted with actual receipts that expose the internalized misogyny of their own fanbase, they often put forth arguments that makes it sound as though they actually have the right to speak about some “Arrow” women the way they do, because they KNOW what bad persons they really are (those DEEP and reliable Oliciter sources!)….while EBR is presumably such a perfect human being that anyone who says anything bad about her is a hater, who must be subjected to public flagellation.

    In short, the double standards when it comes to how “Arrow” actors and spouses are treated is pretty fascinating. There are quite a few Olicity BNFs who complain all over official “Arrow” social media about the sexism and misogyny they and their favourite character/actor are subjected to, but who apparently don’t think it’s misogynistic to give Cassandra Jean code names such as “Voldy” or “Tarantula”, mock CJ’s and KC’s looks, or post insulting messages on their IG accounts.. To me that reeks of fake feminism, I mean, if these fans were really serious about respecting women, they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, right?

    I realize that this is contentious, and Craig might decide not to let me post. That’s not a problem for me. I just wanted to point out that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in these oliciter allegations of hate towards Felicity/EBR/her fans, since there are plenty of receipts of their own hate, some of which go all the way back to the first season of “Arrow”. Members of the Olicity fandom like to represent themselves as the innocent victims of some male fanboy conspiracy, but those who have been around for a while know that some of them have themselves actively contributed to the toxicity of the “Arrow” fandom with their online behavior.

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