There are many famous archers in the world of fiction, but which one’s the best? With archers appearing in Movies/Tv, Games and Novels, there are a lot to choose from.
Last week the Arrow mid-season break finished, I was about 4 episodes behind so I invited a couple of friends round for a catch-up evening. It was not until Mike brought up that there were not many well-known fictional archers, he must have had too many beers as I thought there were plenty.
It was not until he challenged me to name some, that my mind went blank but I was sure there was a lot. By the end of the evening, we’d manage to list 35 famous archers, not bad work after a few beers.
Famous Archers in Movies, TV & Books
Green Arrow is a comic book archer, who had to learn his skills whilst stranded on a desert island. This was before finding a way back to right the wrongs of his father and to protect his city. The first comic that featured Oliver Queen was published in 1941, continuing to be a fan favorite. Oliver Queen also hit our screens in Smallville when Justin Hartley portrayed the Green Arrow and more recently Stephen Amell has donned the hood for the Arrow series. The only thing we need now is a film, which I would love!
Stephen Amell has done an incredible job bringing Oliver Queen to live, he actually incorporated Archery into his workout routine and actually does a very good job. He does get professional training and has been said to practice over the weekends, some of the shots are naturally CGI but the form looks pretty solid.
You cannot have a list of famous archers, without the Green Arrow appearing in it!
When we think about famous archers, one of the first thing I think about is Legolas from Lord Of The Rings. He is probably one of the most well-known fictional archers and I do think he has probably shot more arrows on screen than any other in the list. He spends a lot of the third film counting how many enemies he has shot, competing against Gimli
A lot of the shooting was naturally done with CGI and your typical target archer would not do the kind of shooting that is done. This type is more for those that are interested in instinctive archery.
It is fair to say that Katniss Everdeen helped to get archery onto the big screen and helped to encourage more young people into the sport. Katniss is a fictional character and the main focal point in the Hunger Games trilogy.
In the Hunger Games, people are chosen from each district and must survive against other districts. It is actually her sister Primrose that was chosen but Katniss took her place and eventually not only won but became the symbol of a revolution.
She learned her skills with a bow by hunting and even though she is self-taught, she becomes very skilled. Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss did get trained by an Olympic archer and you can tell. Yes, there are areas of improvement but overall she had excellent posture, a good anchor and the release/follow through was very good.
Hawkeye is a character from Marvel Comics, who is a member of the Avengers, in the recent movies he is portrayed by Jeremy Renner and has been accepted with mixed reviews. I personally think he is an excellent actor and even though initial his archery was criticised, I do think this has improved over the last few instalments of the Avengers.
Hawkeye unlike many of the Avengers doesn’t actually have any special powers, excels at combat especially the bow. He wears a back quiver which features many “trick/weaponised arrows”
Lara Croft is the main character from the Tomb Raider franchise, starting originally as a game with film adaptations coming a few years later. Originally Lara used pistols, however it wasn’t until the 2013 tomb raider game and 2018 movie where we saw Lara using a bow.
In the games, Lara uses a number of bows including Recurve, Compound and even some specialty ones. It does make it a little less believable when she is shooting flaming arrows or strangling people with the bow.
In terms of the film, there is less of the drama and actually the technique is not bad for someone that has no official training. Although running whilst shooting 4 arrows is still a bit out there when it comes to realistic.
Princess Merida is the main character from the animated movie Brave, created by Disney Pixar. You might be thinking how could an animated character be a famous archer? The artists actually did an incredible job and you can tell they spoke to actual archers to get the stance correct, the draw, the anchor point, and even the release. You clearly see Princess Merida, release the string from her fingers instead of just plucking the bowstring.
One of the first 3D films I saw was Avatar and even now it’s considered one of the most famous films and is in fact still a record holder for the most gross profit generated. Neytiri is the princess of the Na’vi Omaticaya Clan, these are tall blue humanoids from the planet Pandora. It is her role to teach Jake about the ways of the Na’vi and the world of Pandora.
Jake is a human and interacts with the Na’vi through an engineered Na’vi bodies known as an avatar. Na’vi uses a longbow and also teaches Jake how to use one, this makes sense as they are an incredibly strong race which would allow them to draw back more poundage.
Susan Pevensie is one of the main characters from the fictional world of Narnia, first seen in the book and film The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. She plays one of four children that left London during the war and went to the house of Professor Digory Kirke (Who also appeared in earlier books).
Here they discover the wardrobe that transports them to Narnia, where they soon battle against the evil witch with Aslan. Susan is known as one of the Queens of Narnia and is given a horn and a bow to help fight the dark forces. The arrows are said to never miss their intended target, I wish I had a few of them!
Even though she would not be considered a famous archer herself, the story of Narnia is well-known and therefore earns her a spot on the list.
If you like your horror TV series then no doubt you have heard of the walking dead! Daryl Dixon is a fictional character from that and even though he may not be considered as a famous archer, he is certainly well-known by fans of the show.
There is a zombie outbreak and Daryl uses his skills in hunting, tracking, and navigation to keep himself safe from the zombies as well as the remaining survivors. Some would argue that he is not actually classed as an archer since he uses a crossbow, but I do think he deserves a mention.
Malcolm Merlyn is a fictional super-villain who also goes by the name of Dark Archer or Merlyn the Magician. He is the Green Arrows Arch Nemesis but also takes on other heroes such as Batman.
In more recent years he was portrayed by John Barrowman in the hit series Arrow. Malcolm is friends with the Queens and is set up early on in the first series as the one that caused Oliver to be stranded on the deserted island and his father to kill himself.
He became obsessed with becoming unstoppable when his wife was robbed and killed. He lost himself and was soon found by Ra’s al Ghul, leader of the League of Assassins. Later Oliver Queen passes the mantle of Ra’s Al Ghul to Malcolm. Now he is supposedly dead but as a body has not been found, it keeps it open for him to return.
Abigail Whistler was a sidekick to blade in the third film of the Trilogy, alongside Wesley Snipes and Ryan Reynolds. In the film, Dracula has been resurrected and Abigail is a member of a group known as the Night-stalkers, it’s their mission to destroy Dracula and as many other vamps along the way.
Naturally, you don’t want to get too close to a vampire, which is possibly one reason why Abigail favours a bow. She actually shoots using a single cam compound bow, which makes sense as she can walk around better with it being fully drawn due to the let-off.
Will Treaty is a fictional character in the Ranger’s Apprentice novels, which consists of an impressive 12 books. I have worked my way through all of them and have to say the character development and story really is gripping. The author John Flanagan actually goes into some initial details on describing Will correctly Nocking an arrow, getting the release right etc.
Will is an apprentice in the ranger corps, a secret organisation of Rangers that answer to the king and look after selections of the kingdom. Through the books, Will goes on a number of adventures and uses his skills as an archer to protect his friends, as well as his Kingdom.
Artemis is a fictional character found in a number of DC comics, she has been portrayed in several different ways both as a superhero and super-villain. She does also go by the name of Tigress and is the daughter of villains Paul Brooks and Crusher Crock.
With her superhuman fighting skills, she is also an incredibly skilled marksman. Her weapon of choice is a crossbow. Perhaps not the most famous archery in the fictional world of comics, but worth mentioning.
Famous Archers in History & Mythology
Robin Hood is a legendary character that originally came from England, said to be from the Late Middle Ages (15th Century). There have been many programs and films to feature Robin Hood, showing him as a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Many versions had shown him returning from the Crusades to land that was taken away from him by the Sheriff of Nottingham. He joined forces with his Merry Men and his lover Maid Marian to try and stop the Sheriff from helping prince John take the throne from under King Richard.
One of the most famous scenes from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was when Robin (played by Kevin Costner) shot an arrow at a tree and then shot another straight into it. Now in archery, this has even been given the name a “Robin Hood”, something that more advanced archers want to avoid due to the cost of some arrows.
Since the 1900’s there have been 77 appearances of Robin Hood on Tv or in the Moves, thus securing him the number one spot of the most famous archer.
Perhaps not who you would think when we talk about archers that are famous or well-known, but when you think Cupid you do automatically think about bow and arrow. Cupid is a mythological god and son of Mars the god of war and Venus the goddess of love.
He carries a bow and arrow, which it is said when shot with one of his arrows you fall in love. This is why he is known as the god of desire, love, and attraction. Now in terms of his archery skill, you would hope he was pretty decent or he might end up hitting the wrong person!
Paris was the son of King Priam and Hecuba, he was said to be the doom of troy. He is well-known for running away with the Queen of Sparta, Helen. Paris fought in the Trojan War and was said to have used the bow and arrow. He was said to be incredibly skilled with the bow as he was able to defeat greek heroes Menethius and Phylomedusa.
William Tell is a legend supposedly from the 14th century, and is a folk hero from Switzerland. There are a number of references to William Tell throughout history and from many different cultures.
Legend tells us that he uses a crossbow and is an expert marksman. One story of Tell, is about how he shot a bolt from his crossbow and had to hit an apple that sat on his son’s head. Even today, this is said to be a challenge that many trick shot archers do try to attempt (although I wouldn’t recommend it)
Minamoto no Tametomo
Minamoto no Tametomo is a legendary samurai from Japan. Historical records show him being alive from 1139-1170 and is said to have fought in the Hogen Rebellion. He is said to have a powerful shot as he was able to draw the bowstring back further, as supposedly his left arm was 4 inches longer than the right. One story about Monamoto no Tametomo is that he sank a ship by shooting a single arrow.
If you have done any research into archery equipment, you will probably have come across bear archery. This is the company that Fred Bear started, creating high quality hunting bows. Fred started archery in his late twenties and is said to be a pioneer in bow hunting.
Horace A Ford
The English are well-known for their archery and part of this is thanks to Horace A Ford. He is still said to be one of the best archers of all time, he held the high score for over 70 years. Horace was born in 1822 and picked up his first bow in 1845.
There are some incredible famous female archers and Skaði is one of them, in fact she is known as the goddess of bow hunting and archery in Norse mythology. She is said to have gotten into archery because of her father, who had been killed. Skaði was married to Njörðr as a gift from the gods for her father's death, it is said however that she eventually left Njörðr and married Odin.
Tomoe Gozen is another talented female archer and was a samurai warrior who commanded 300 samurais against an army of 2000. She was born in the late twelfth century and supported her husband Minamoto no Yoshinaka in the Genpei War.
Apollo is a god from Greek mythology, known as the god of sun, light, knowledge, poetry, truth, music and plague. It is being the god of plague that he is most well-known for, as he supposedly shot arrows that contain a plague during the Trojan War.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto and had a twin sister called Artemis. He used a golden bow, which is said he got from Hephaestus to kill Python.
Diana is from Roman Mythology and is the goddess of the hunt and the moon, she is said to have carried a bow that shot golden arrows. She would be compared to Artemis who was the goddess of the hunt in Greek Mythology.
Yue Fei was born in 1103 and was a general in the Chinese military. He was incredibly skilled at the bow and is said to have shot 9 arrows into the bullseye from an impressive 240 paces away. I do wonder if Yue Fei was the inspiration for the character Yao Fei from the TV series Arrow. He trained Oliver Queen how to shoot on Lien Yu and was also a general in the Chinese military.
Famous Archers in Video Games
I have spent a lot of my young adult life enjoying World of Warcraft, joining the series just after the release. I originally started out as a warrior and my main still is, however, I really enjoy playing a hunter so I can use a bow. Although back when I first started, I’m sure I remember warriors being able to use them and arrows actually ran out!
In the World of Warcraft, the most famous archer would be Sylvanas Windrunner, who founded and leads the Forsaken faction. She is a member of the Horde but was originally a part of the high elves of Silvermoon, until you were murdered by Arthas Menethil. He didn’t however just murder her but ripped her soul out and made her a Banshee. Once she recovered your body, she vowed to get her revenge.
Link is the main character from the well-known Legend of Zelda series of games and even though he is often pictured with a sword, the bow does make an appearance in most of the games.
He uses the bow to be able to shoot enemies from a distance, the most common bow in the series is the “Hero’s Bow”. Initially Link was only able to shoot standard arrows, however, he was soon able to start shooting fire and ice arrows.
Even though archery doesn’t make a big part of the Legend of Zelda series, it does give us the opportunity to use a bow and arrow in what can only be described as a great series of games.
Hanzo is a character from the popular game Overwatch, giving people the opportunity to play the game as a skilled archer. Hanzo was the eldest son to the Shimada family, a clan of assassins. He took control of this clan when his father passed, his younger brother was unruly and did not want to help rule the empire.
Due to this Hanzo attempted to kill his brother which broke his heart and made him no longer wish to follow the Shimada clan. The clan exiled him and continued to send assassins to kill him, although they failed.
Since then he has vowed to only ever use his bow and doing so has become a master archer. Being able to shoot with different abilities such as sonic arrow allowing him to track enemies or the storm arrows ability, allowing him to shoot multiple arrows at his target.
Shinon is from the game Fire Emblem, starting the series in Path of Radiance. He is incredibly skilled with the bow and even though his sarcasm and bad attitude can rub other people the wrong way, no one can deny he is a skilled mercenary.
He shoots with great accuracy and has skills in bow making, which he put into use when training Rolf. Shinon continues to develop his archery skills and in Radiant Dawn, uses these by saving Lady Lucia’s life. She was to be hung and Shinon shot an arrow straight through the rope.
I love the Star Ocean series and in The Last Hope we are introduced to Reimi Saionji. Reimi is an incredibly skilled archer has a number of arrow-based attacks, some slightly crazy such as arrows exploding and multiplying, to arrows that draw lightning from the sky. Reimi and her friend Edge are apart of the Space Reconnaissance Force, finding planets in the universe that humans can habitat.
Rufus is the best archer in the Valkyrie Profile series, being able to shoot arrows that turns his enemies into stone, shoots multiple arrows at his targets and even shoots arrows that attract lightning. Rufus is an interesting character that reminds me a lot of Jack Sparrow from pirates of the Caribbean. Personality wise he is a little cocky, easy going, enthusiastic and also very optimistic.
Rufus was treated like rubbish by all of the elfs within the Forest of Spirits as he was a half elf and was destined to be a vessel for Odin, if his body was ever to become damage. Rufus hated the thought of this and eventually left the Forest of Spirits to try and find a way to stop Odin from using him.
Ashe is a character from the League Of Legends and uses an incredible bow that is carved from Ice. It is believed that she was given this bow by the Freljord queen to unite her people. When she originally held the bow, it covered her hands in ice and eventually gave her the ability to shoot arrows made from ice. Ashe is an incredible marksman and shoots based on instinct and is skilled at crowd control, since she is able to shoot at multiple targets.
Pit is a character from the Kid Icarus series, where he is a skilled archer and uses this skill to fight his way up from the underworld to save the Goddess of Light. During his adventures he gains access to a number of bows, each with different abilities.
For example using the Angel bow allows him to shoot arrows that seem to home onto the intended target. Using the Sagittarius bow would allow his arrows to shoot multiple opponents and then the Hawkeye bow would be ideal for long distances.
I remember the Thief game really well, as it was one of the first stealth based games that I had played. You played the character Garrett who was very skilled at archery but also a skilled thief. The company behind Thief put a lot of effort into archery within the game, and made the physics of shooting an arrow realistic by giving it that rising arc instead of just shooting in a straight line.
Not many games incorporate archery but for a game all about stealth, it makes sense. Shooting an arrow is much quieter than firing a gun and can also be shot from a distance, allowing you to keep in the shadows.
Garrett used a number of different arrows, such as those that would put out fires. Interestingly he also used moss arrows that would help to soften his footsteps. As a thief you need to distract people from finding you, making noisemaker arrows perfect.
One of my favourite series of games is the Elder Scroll series, I started playing the series with Daggerfall. Skyrim is possibility one of the most well-known and I am a big fan. I like it as most games use a bow as an additional weapon and but with Skyrim you can generally become an archer and have over 30 different bows at your disposal.
So after a few beers, I think we put together a pretty decent list of famous archers from fiction. I hope you have liked the list if you think I have missed any Id love for you to mention them in the comments below.