- "There are parts of the world where death is an illusion. I've been to one. I learned to be very convincing."
- —Malcolm to Moira Queen[src]
Malcolm Merlyn is a wealthy businessman, the former CEO of Merlyn Global Group, a prominent figure in Starling City, and an acquaintance of the Queen family, as well as the first season's main antagonist, a minor antagonist of the second season, and a potential main antagonist of the third season. He was also the husband of the late Rebecca Merlyn, the father of the late Tommy Merlyn and Thea Queen, the former best friend of the late Robert Queen, and a former friend and lover of the late Moira Queen.
In Season 1, Malcolm planned The Undertaking, an earthquake caused by a device to avenge the death of his wife with the destruction of the Glades using Moira to gain access to the resources he needed through Queen Consolidated. When the vigilante named The Hood began to foil his plan Malcolm took up an anti-arrow persona called Dark Archer and while his plan to level the Glades was partly successful, he was ultimately defeated by The Hood and was believed to be killed. He was considered as Oliver Queen's first archenemy.
In Season 2, Malcolm reveals himself to Moira, being very much alive and the reason she was acquitted of all charges. Malcolm is currently in hiding from Ra's al Ghul's League of Assassins, having betrayed their code with his Undertaking. However when his daughter, Thea was in danger of being killed by Slade Wilson's attack. Malcolm returned and tried to get Thea to safety which after some persuasion he managed to do so and is now with her in parts unknown.
Malcolm Merlyn is the husband of Rebecca Merlyn and father of Tommy but in 1993 his wife was murdered in the Glades section of Starling City. Earlier Rebecca tried to call Malcolm for help but he was busy and turned his phone off, unaware of the nature of Rebecca's call until two SCPD officers told him that same night what happened which sent Malcolm into a state of depression.  After the death of his wife Malcolm began a brief affair with Moira Queen in his grief, who consequently gave birth to Thea, but Malcolm was unaware of this. As he felt bad for betraying his wife's memory,  he left Starling City and Tommy for two years  and visited Nanda Parbat. While there, he met a man named Ra's al Ghul  the leader of the League of Assassins, and was trained by league member Al-Owal. After training and serving with them for two years he was released from the league by Ra's and became the first person to ever be released. He then gathered with various people including his best friend Robert Queen and Frank Chen and started a plan to rebuild the Glades and free it of crime, first by forcing criminals to give up their wealth and give it to the needy keeping their names on a list.
In late 2007 Malcolm meets with various associates dedicated to fixing the Glades of crime, these included Robert and Frank. Malcolm told them of his plan to level the Glades using an Earthquake device made by Dr. Markov at Unidac Industries. Though some were persuaded by his intentions Robert was wary of Malcolm's intentions. Later after everyone had left Robert met with Malcolm to question his plan where Malcolm revealed the unthinkable circumstances of his wife's death to Robert. Later Malcolm had Frank rig Robert's boat with explosives to kill him to keep his plan in motion.  This would inadvertently cause the eventual creation of Oliver Queen and Sara Lance's respective vigilante identities "Arrow"  and "Canary".  After the boat was sunk and Robert was dead Malcolm continued his plan and used the criminals on the list to instead by sections of the Glades and hired other criminals and mercenary's to complete his mission. He also had Moira approve all scientific developments through Queen Consolidated and sub companies called Tempest and Unidac Industries. He also had Moira personally visit anyone working in the Glades who had plans that would endanger the Undertaking, all of this while using her own life and Thea's as a threat to keep her in line.
Malcolm Merlyn is seen in a shadowed out appearance as Moira met up with him, informing him that Oliver knew nothing of his father's involvement in the plan or that the Queen's Gambit was sabotaged, before he looked in his own version of the list book.  Malcolm is seen for the first time in person and met with Moira Queen to discuss The Hood. He expressed that he was uneasy about him. At first Moira expected this was because he had a large amount of wealth, but he replied that it was because the Hood was targeting "The List". 
When Oliver was accused of being the vigilante Malcolm later invited Moira to talk with him upon short notice. They discuss whether Oliver might actually be The Hood, and he holds up his end of the argument that he strongly believes that Oliver is due to the suspicious timing and explainable absences. After this, he sent a man to kill Oliver based on his assumption but he failed when Detective Lance killed him. After the chaos cleared, Moira went to consult with him. Moira threatened to ruin his life if he ever tried to hurt the Queen family again. Though Malcolm listened he still appeared to have his suspicions. 
When Moira was almost shot and hospialised Malcolm visited her during this time, much to her distaste. He offered her friendship as they previously had, but she was hesitant. Later, his son Tommy came asking why his father cancelled his credit card while the elder was practicing fencing. Malcolm replied that he had permanently cut Tommy off from his trust fund and the family because he had grown tired of Tommy's constant laid back attitude which had "grown tiresome". Tommy then argued with his father that it was his trust fund which Malcolm further reminded him is comprised of his money, before resumed his fencing 
Tired of the Hood's interferences, Malcolm Merlyn took up his own "Dark Archer" persona and killed Adam Hunt with a bow and arrow to lure him out before attending a party at the Queen Mansion where the Hood was the topic of discussion and the killing of Adam Hunt. Malcolm also appeared to have suspicions still as he asked Oliver a few questions of the Hood and looked at him with suspicion when he left the room the same time as the cops. Later Dark Archer killed Nelson Ravich to again lure out the Hood and set up a trap in a warehouse which failed, then Malcolm was informed that Walter had more information on the list and consulted with Moira about the predicament and stated that action needed to be taken. Desperate to lure the Hood out Malcolm took hostages in a factory and fought him but Dark Archer came out on top and almost killed him but the Hood managed to get away. Malcolm later had Walter abducted and informed Moira that he wouldn't be harmed and would be safe until the Undertaking was over. 
Oliver's defeat at the hands of Dark Archer gave him nightmares and scared him so much that he refused to suit up again fearing for leaving his family should he be killed. However Diggle was finally able to snap him out of his fear before Oliver became Hood once again. 
Malcolm invited his son and Laurel to have dinner with him. At dinner, Malcolm quite openly mentioned to Laurel how his wife was killed, though not before trying to getting Tommy to sign over his mother's clinic, so it could be shut down. Tommy then felt betrayed again and stormed off as Laurel directly confronted Malcolm about the cut off but Malcolm told Laurel that he needs it to be stronger just like he was forced to after his wife's death. 
Moira met with Malcolm to inform him of Carl Ballard's involvement in the Undertaking but Malcolm then reveals that he learned from Walter that Moira had the Queen's Gambit salvaged and orders Moira to destroy it, unaware that John Diggle is spying on them in the other room. However Malcolm appeared to have voice amplifiers in the room as when Oliver and Dig played it again Malcolm's voice was cloaked. 
Malcolm visited Tommy at Laurel's apartment on his 28th birthday and invited him to an awards ceremony where he was to receive the humanitarian award but Tommy refused. Later though Tommy did attended, albeit reluctant. Frank Pike read out Malcolm's award announcement before handing it to him before Malcolm gave a speech his philanthropy and charitable nature to making Starling City better, but noting that he hasn't done enough but one day he will. As he was giving his speech, the lights were turned off by the Chinese Triad. Malcolm quickly exited and found Tommy, and the two made it up to his office. Malcolm explained to Tommy about his safe room, and proceeded to open the door to it. However, before he could admit to his son his alter ego of the Dark Archer, Malcolm was shot from afar by "Deadshot", who had been assigned to his assassination. Before Malcolm could die, The Hood arrived and was able to convince Tommy to give his father a blood transfusion, in order to rid his body of curare poison laced in the bullet. He woke up in a hospital bed some time later and talked to Tommy and confessed his guilt for letting him down as a child. Moira Queen visited, and Malcolm asked her to find his would-be killer, who was hired, unknowingly to him, by Moira. 
Malcolm began a vengeance mission to find who was responsible for setting up Deadshot on him and met with a member of the Chinese Triad to find out. Moira with no choice pinned the blame on Frank Chen and gave evidence that he was the one who ordered the kill. Malcolm later showed up as Dark Archer to kill Frank as he met with Moira and wanted to kill his daughter but Moira begged Dark Archer, unaware that he was Malcolm, to which Malcolm agreed to.  After quitting his job at Verdant, Tommy visited his father at Merlyn Global Group and asked for a job. Malcolm received word that the Markov device is ready and celebrates with Moira in honor of Robert and Rebecca. Later Moira storms into a meeting Malcolm has with his Chinese employers about Walter apparently being killed but Malcolm shows her that he is alive, unaware that the Arrow is listening in. Later when Walter was rescued by the Hood Malcolm talked to Oliver, unaware he was the Arrow, about Walter if he knew anything but he didn't and told Malcolm that those who nabbed him would pay. 
To tie up loose ends Malcolm, as Dark Archer, visited Unidac Industries and eliminated Dr. Brion Markov and his team, before destroying the labs in which they were working. Dark Archer even killed two innocent young scientists simply for being witnesses. He sped off in his car following this. The following day, Malcolm ran in to Oliver in his company's building, while Felicity Smoak attempted to hack the system. Later, when Malcolm realized that Felcity has hacked into his system, he removed the device and had it hidden. Malcolm later paid Walter a visit at the Queen Mansion until Moira returned and accused Malcolm of wanting to kill him to tie up more loose ends, given his massacre as Dark Archer earlier, which Malcolm admitted was true. Later John Diggle found the device's empty container while Malcolm was personally visited by The Hood. The vigilante attempted to shoot Merlyn with an arrow, but Malcolm caught the arrow before revealing to him that he is the Dark Archer, also noting the irony of Malcolm trying to kill him at Christmas, Hood saving Malcolm a few months before and now Hood trying to kill him. The two of them engaged in hand-to-hand combat, Malcolm ultimately coming out the victor, knocking Hood out. He lifted his hood and discovered his true idenity - Oliver Queen. 
Malcolm had Oliver tied up before he could regain consciousness. Oliver was awoken, and Malcolm explained to him why he had done what he had before leaving, awaiting the destruction of the Glades. Later Tommy visited Malcolm to tell him that Laurel and he were over and that Oliver believed he wanted to destroy the Glades but Malcolm confirmed it much to his shock. Malcolm then played a recording of Rebecca's death to Tommy before violently yelling at him "They deserve to die! All of them!" However then Moira confessed the plan on TV and three cops arrived but Malcolm easily dispatched them and Tommy tried to kill him but Malcolm knocked him out. After this he waited, geared up in his safe room, and The Hood and John soon found him.
Dark Archer fought them both simultaneously, despite being on the losing end. He threw a throwing knife at John and managed to escape to the roof. Hood and Dark Archer squared off on the roof, shooting arrows at each other, before engaging in hand-to-hand combat. He managed to get Oliver in a choke hold, telling him that he would soon be joined by his mother and sister in death, remembering the last words of his his father Oliver managed to stab Malcolm through the chest with one of Malcolm's arrows, by stabbing himself through his shoulder. Oliver rose from the ground, and after receiving confirmation from Felicity that the device was disarmed, told Malcolm that his plan had failed. Injured, Malcolm revealed he had a second device stationed in the Glades. Believing he had won, Malcolm fell on his side and succumbed to his apparent demise. 
Season 1 and 2 Interm
Despite everyone's assumptions, Malcolm had in fact survived his brush with death, later claiming to have been to a place where "death is an illusion" and learned to be "convincing" and had left Starling City. However he still had associates in the D.A.'s office including someone close to A.D.A. Adam Donner. 
Five months following his apparent death, it is now public knowledge that Malcolm Merlyn was responsible for the Undertaking, which destroyed the Glades, and he himself was the Dark Archer. When Al-Owal attacked Oliver looking for Sara Lance, Oliver discovered Merlyn's history with the League of Assassins. When Moira was in danger of being prosecuted Malcolm returned to Starling and used "a little persuasion" to make sure she was acquitted of the charges of being associates with him.
After she was her driver brought Moira to a remote location where Malcolm was waiting. Malcolm then killed the driver with his bow and revealed himself to Moira. Using resources in Starling Malcolm followed ADA Adam Donner's investigation of links between Moira and Malcolm with keen interest and became suspicions towards Moira. A genetics test confirmed his suspicions - Thea is his daughter. 
Malcolm continues to privately confront Moira at the Queen household and even revealed that guilt he had towards inadvertently killing his own son and insisting that she owes her life to him once again after he helped her in her trial. Determined to play a part in his daughter's life, Malcolm demands that Moira tell Thea of her true parentage. Moira refuses; to prove her unwillingness to compromise, and that she will no longer tolerate having to constantly fear him, Moira contacts Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins, informing them that Malcolm is alive. She reveals this to Malcolm, advising that he run since his Undertaking was a betrayal to the League's code of honor, and that Ra's al Ghul was delighted to learn of Malcolm's survival, so that he could personally kill Merlyn. As Malcolm left he told Moira that "this isn't finished". 
Felicity discovered Merlyn's secret and told it to Oliver which made him distant from Moira.  When Thea is kidnapped by Slade Wilson, Moira quickly suspects Malcolm's involvement. However, despite her fear for her daughter's life, she does not reveal her suspicions to Oliver or to the police. Thea is also told by Slade that Malcolm is her real father.  Thea became distant once she knew Malcolm was her father and starts calling herself "Thea Merlyn".  In a limo trip back home Moira, trying to make things right with Thea and Oliver was about to confess that she knew Malcolm was alive but was hit by Slade Wilson's truck before she could do so and was shortly after executed by Slade.  When Malcolm heard what happened to Moira he made his way back to Starling to check up on Thea.
Malcolm, as the Dark Archer, arrives just as Slade Wilson's Mirakuru army lays siege on the city. He appears just in time to save Thea from being killed by one of the henchmen and reveals himself to her before killing him. Thea is later seen running through the empty subway system with Malcolm catching up to her and begging her to come with him to safety. However she replies by telling him that she wants nothing to do with him. Malcolm keeps trying to persuade her but is attacked by the same Slade minion. After he manages to defeat him, he temporarily loses consciousness, and when he comes to, Thea is pointing a gun at him. Malcolm tells Thea that he understands her pain as he has endured it too - with Rebecca and Tommy's deaths - just as Thea did with her loss of Moira and Robert. Suddenly Thea fires two shots in his direction , lodging a bullet in his kevlar vest. leaving him very much alive.
Malcolm, to Thea's disgust, tells Thea that she is just like him, and is willing to kill, unlike her former half-brother Tommy. After Thea leaves to find Roy, Malcolm tells her that Roy is just like Moira and Oliver: a liar. He also tells her that he will be there for her when she most needs him. Later, after Thea finds out Roy's identity as Oliver's sidekick, she goes back to Malcolm. They then depart from Starling City in his limousine.
Before his wife's death Malcolm was a much kinder man who loved his wife and son very dearly and was a devoted businessman and humanitarian to save Starling just like his wife, Rebecca. After his wife's death, he shut his son out and went away for two years, later revealed that during his time of grievance he had an affair with Moira which guilt riddled him so much. He returned as an apathetic, calculating, and ruthless man. He believed what he was doing was right and is for the greater good, and will do anything, regardless of the number of lives he ruins and will kill anyone who gets in his way to see his goals fulfilled, which makes him somewhat of a sociopath. He truly believed in the righteousness of his cause, projecting this in his acceptance speech for "humanitarian of the year." He also truly loved his wife, still wearing his wedding ring so many years after her death.
Malcolm is a charismatic person, able to project his own beliefs and self righteousness into his words. His acceptance speech for the humanitarian of the year award was so compelling it even managed to catch the attention of China White. Malcolm seemed to have a slight ego as Robert Queen said that Malcolm had "something of a God-complex" and had a hostage read out that he will kill them if The Arrow "doesn't surrender to his authority". He blames all the people living in the Glades for his wife's death, not just the person who killed his wife, but also the ones who walked past his wife while she was dying which unfortunately results in his own son's death. Malcolm also has no remorse using people for his personal gain and then killing them once they became loose ends to keep them from going public with information he wouldn't otherwise want to be public information. Malcolm was also tactically smart as once the Undertaking was nearing but the Hood was endangering his mission, he begun his own "anti-arrow" persona as Dark Archer knowing that the police would blame the Arrow and people would loose faith in him.
Despite his insanity, ruthlessness, and cold heart he still loves his son dearly and wants what's best for him but has a rather harsh way of showing it which often leads to Tommy pushing Malcolm away, such as cutting off his trust fund to "jolt him into adulthood". In Season 2 he is deeply upset about causing the death of his son making him desperate to have a relationship with Thea. To this end he was willing to return to Starling after Moira was killed to check up on Thea, despite still being hunted by the League of Assassins, and tried many times to get her to safety and eventually succeeding.
- Peak of human physical condition: In all three of his confrontations with Oliver, Malcolm has demonstrated to be quite a match if not a superior fighter. In their first confrontation, Malcolm was strong enough to severely injure Oliver and was able to break three of Oliver's ribs by kicking him in the abdomen repeatedly. He has also demonstrated sufficiently high enough strength to break Oliver's bow in half with a single strike and knead a steel beam with a single kick. His reflexes allowed him to catch an arrow shot at him by Oliver during their second confrontation (a feat only the highly skilled Billy Wintergreen, Slade Wilson, Al-Owal, and the formidable Helena Bertinelli have demonstrated). He was also shown himself to be able to dodge an arrow and fire one directly after Oliver tried to shoot him in their first confrontation. Despite defeating him on two occasions, Malcolm claims that due to his youth, Oliver is faster than he is.
- Master archer: As the Dark Archer, Malcolm proved himself as an expert archer with astounding archery skills, a feat acknowledged by Oliver seeing how tightly grouped the arrows shot to Adam's body were. He was successfully able to catch Oliver off guard and wound him. Because of this, Malcolm's archery skills can be considered equivalent if not superior to Oliver's. He uses a customized compound bow.
- Master hand-to-hand combatant/Martial artist: Malcolm has shown to be a highly skilled martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant. He was able to incapacitate two Chinese Triad members (disarmed one and kill the other with his own gun). Malcolm was able to best Oliver in hand to hand combat once, even knocking him out after a brutal fight in their second encounter. In a third encounter he was able to fight both John and Oliver at the same time. Based on what has been shown, his style seems to be a mix of martial arts similar to Oliver's, but with a more grounded focus on close combat. It should be noted that in the situations where he had bested or almost bested Oliver in combat always take place in tight quarters, suggested he was a superior fighter in terms of technique. This is possibly due to training for almost 20 years. He was able to fight a Mirakura injected henchman at close range. Landing multiple strikes without taking a hit. He killed the henchman by stabbing a arrow in his neck when he got grabbed.
- Skilled tactician/Genius-level intellect/Great business acumen: In his daily life, Malcolm was the CEO of Merlyn Global Group, overseeing its daily activities and ensuring its success as a multi-billionaire corporation. Malcolm has proven himself to be remarkably clever when it comes to devising plans and battle strategies, He even managed to catch Oliver off guard on at least 2 occasions and was almost able to kill him. One of Malcolm's plans involves the deaths of thousands of people living in the Glades, However, after he found out Oliver is The Arrow, and that he knew about The Undertaking and the Markov Device, he accelerated his plan to level the Glades that same night. As a fail-safe for his master plan (and in an attempt to maximize devastation upon the area) he had a second device placed in the east sector of the Glades, devoted to leveling this sector. After being injured in his final confrontation with The Arrow, he faked his own death and left for five months.
- Master swordsman: Malcolm might be trained and particularly skilled with swords. In "Muse of Fire", Malcolm was shown fencing with experience, also in "Trust but Verify", Malcolm's secret room where he keeps his Dark Archer equipment was shown to house several racks of swords of various kinds. Furthermore, In "Sacrifice", he was able to easily dispatch 3 heavily armed police officers using a scimitar.
- Customized Compound Bow: Malcolm as the Dark Archer, uses his signature weapon of choice: A Customized Compound bow.
- Customized Hunting Arrows: Malcolm creates and designs his arrows himself. The arrows he used have arrow heads with three "Teflon-coated titanium blades" on each arrow, with the blades serrated for splitting bones, and the shaft itself is made of "specialized polymer stronger than typical carbon fiber". As such, it is safe to assume that the arrows he uses are deadlier than those used by The Arrow.
- Trick Arrows: In "Streets of Fire", shortly after his return, Malcolm uses an explosive arrow to save Thea and kill one of Slade's Mirakuru henchmen.
- Quiver: An arrow container strapped to Malcolm's back.
- Throwing Knives: When fighting Oliver and John, Malcolm utilized double bladed throwing knives.
- Swords: Malcolm first used a scimitar to kill two police officers, during his third fight with Oliver. Malcolm was shown using a scimitar against Oliver, though he was very quickly disarmed by Oliver.
- League of Assassins Costume: Malcolm wears a costume, used by the members of the League of Assassins, as his villain alter-ego, the Dark Archer, to hide his identity from his victims. It's unknown what materials it is made from.
- Voice Filter: Malcolm uses this device to change his voice regardless of who he spoke to as the Dark Archer. This could be for the purposes of intimidation as it changed his voice to a deep, low growl.
- Prior to "Muse of Fire " Malcolm was simply credited and known as the "Well-Dressed Man". His identity as Tommy's father was discovered in that episode while he was practicing fencing. Malcolm, at the time, was masked, when Tommy confronted him about his empty credit cards. Malcolm took off his mask to reveal his face to the audience, confirming his identity.
- In "", after Oliver claimed that the vigilante needed a new nickname other than "The Hood", Malcolm suggested the name "Green Arrow", a clear reference to the vigilante's original DC Comics name. However, Oliver disliked the name, stating that it was lame.
- The arrows Merlyn uses resemble the ones used by Smallville's version of Green Arrow, portrayed by Justin Hartley.
- In DC comics this characters real name is Arther King who uses the name Merlyn as his super villain alias.
- His first name may be a reference to Malcolm McDowell who voiced the Merlyn character in the Green Arrow animated short film.
- Alongside Billy Wintergreen and Helena Bertinelli, Malcolm Merlyn was one of the only three characters in season 1 shown to be swift enough to catch an arrow in mid air. However, while Helena and Billy only performed this once, Malcolm performed this feat twice.
- It was revealed in the end of "", Malcolm spent two years in Nanda Parbat when Oliver was around 9, and Tommy was around 8 where he received mentorship from another individual. It is most likely (confirmed in the comics) that it is where Malcolm learned archery and how to fight. This would explain why he was able to almost best Oliver in their first fight and defeat him in their second fight as he has been training a lot longer. Therefore he has at least 20 years of experience on him.
- Malcolm Merlyn is the eighth person to discover Oliver Queen's secret identity, The Hood. He discovered this in "".
- In "Sacrifice", everyone in Starling City now knows the Queen's Gambit's boating accident, was not an accident at all, it was sabotaged by Malcolm Merlyn, and they know he was the mastermind behind the conspiracy known as The Undertaking.
- In "League of Assassins", Oliver learns that Al-Owal, the Assassin sent to capture Sara Lance, was the one who trained Malcolm Merlyn in Nanda Parbat.
- Like Sara Lance, Malcolm Merlyn had betrayed the League of Assassins as revealed in "" when Moira told him she contacted Ra's al Ghul who believed the Undertaking broke the League's code of honor.
- Malcom was the first person to ever be released from The League of Assassins.
- Malcolm is currently the longest surviving antagonist in the series.
- Malcolm is one of the only characters to have bested Oliver in combat more than once,and one of even fewer who have managed it without the aid of Mirakuru.
- Malcolm is the only person so far to be shown beating someone injected with Mirakuru without explosives or trick Arrows.