- For the episode of the same name, see League of Assassins.
- "I heard about them in Afghanistan from a tribal leader. He claimed there was an ancient sect of assassins, deadly warriors that killed and vanished like ghosts."
- —John Diggle to Oliver Queen[src]
The League of Assassins was a secret organization of highly trained vigilante assassins led by Ra's al Ghul. They train their members out of Nanda Parbat. The leader of the League will always assume the title of "Ra's al Ghul" from their predecessor. After Nyssa took over the League, she disbanded it, believing no one else should be held prisoner.
The League was created some time before 3200 B.C. It's purpose is to hunt down and kill people deemed a danger to society and the world at large, and has done so for many years, resulting in thousands of people killed. All of its members go through a harsh and bitter training that leaves its trainees either dead or at the peak of human physical condition, so much that they rarely feel pain itself. They are trained in the arts of swordsmanship, archery, stealth and killing in both the quickest and most discreet methods or the most painful and drawn out ways. All of its members also seem very devoted to Ra's as many of them have been seen killing themselves for the league, allowing Ra's to kill them simply for him to train himself and will carry out his orders without question.
The League also has a deep code of honor and those who violate the code are hunted down and killed by Ra's personally. The League also does not allow any of its members to leave unless they want to die and anyone who tries to run away from the league is hunted down and returned, alive or dead, or if they are unreachable and have families, the families are targeted instead. Despite this Ra's took pity on Malcolm Merlyn and allowed him to leave with the understanding that Malcolm would obey their code, suggesting Ra's had a certain fondness for Malcolm. If a killer that draws the league's attention, doesn't claim responsibility and face justice the League targets 50 people a day until that person confesses and faces justice. However those who commit crimes against the league or break it's principles are allowed a trial by combat in a fight against Ra's himself, though most of them seem to be afraid to fight him and choose death upfront. When the trial does take place it is upon a mountain that can only be reached by a long and rigorous climb that some do not even survive. Furthermore, all members of the league are given a new name of their choosing to be addressed by. Their only known place of establishment is Nanda Parbat.
The League tends to be very old fashioned in a lot of things, including communication methods, such as invisible ink that is made visible when exposed to a flame and signal messages, smoke to show location, and their sense of justice, which includes the aforementioned killing of 50 people a day in retribution for a crime until the person who truly committed the crime was routed out. They also prefer bows and arrow, staffs, and other weapons from medieval times. They do, however use cellphones as a form of communication. They also train their members so they can escape from any prison.
The League's members take new names in the Arabic language; it appears that learning that language may be a requirement of membership, as many League members (even those whose native language is not Arabic) have been shown speaking it.
Each member has his/her signature weapon. During the course of their training members train to master all kinds of weaponry but eventually specialize in one weapon, and that will be the one they will carry with them at all times during their missions. Malcolm's weapon of choice was a bow, along with Nyssa and Oliver who also carried a bow, Sara a staff, Al-Owal and Maseo a sword, unknown members a tomahawk, and a truncheon.
Members are also sent out with a poison that kills the user quickly and painlessly for members to use in the event they are captured to prevent interrogation. They are also very efficient in finding information, even something as faint as rumors of Malcolm Merlyn fathering an illegitimate child, something Malcolm himself wasn't aware of until recently, even though they weren't able to confirm the rumors. Malcolm likely used the League's resources to learn that Oliver Queen has an illegitimate son named William.
They also have very efficient and fast forms of transportation, having gone from and to Starling City from Asia multiple times in a relatively short period of time.
The League is stated to help people struggling with negative emotions such as anger and help them forge it into something new, meaning at least a few of their members came to the League because they couldn't cope with themselves. Most if not all members go through a process of reprogramming by stripping their former identities while embracing their new name. Their former identities became a memory, though some members do have parts of their former selves within, Malcolm's need for vengeance for his wife, Sara's love and concern for her family, and Maseo's friendship and loyalty towards Oliver.
The League have their own traditional weddings in Nanda Parbat. Members are allowed to be married to another though it's rare. This type of wedding is exclusive to Nanda Parbat and not known to other societies. Members who attend the wedding would gather together and raise their swords up and allow the bride to pass through. To seal the union, the priestess would get a hand from the bride and from the groom, she would put them together to complete the union. The most recent wedding is between Oliver and Nyssa.
According to Ra's al Ghul, the League adheres to the request of the current Ra's al Ghul, even renouncing killing, if he so chooses.
After Oliver and Diggle attempt to rescue Malcolm Merlyn from Nanda Parbat only to get caught by falling into a trap, Ra's al Ghul states that he wishes to make Oliver Queen his successor (new heir) instead of killing him. Malcolm then states that it is a prophecy that will come true. Maseo then confronts Oliver (who declined the offer) and tells him to embrace it. The League then travel to Starling City and start to kill people. While posing as the Arrow himself forcing Oliver to accept his offer with no other choice; after his maternal younger half-sister Thea was nearly killed, Ra's al Ghul offered to bring her back from the brink of death using the Lazarus Pit in exchange for him joining the League of Assassins and becoming his heir.
After defeating Ra's, Oliver was given the mantle of "Ra's Al Ghul", but he had an arrangement with Malcolm Merlyn to make Merlyn the new Ra's Al Ghul in exchange for his help.
Each member is given a quick and painless suicide tool to use in the event they are captured to avoid giving information to the enemy. They are also apparently brainwashed to obey every command from Ra's al Ghul, including committing suicide. Whether this programming was undone when the League disbanded has not been clarified. However, some members of the League are still loyal to Malcolm and serve him despite the League's disbanding.
- "All Star Team Up" (mentioned)
- "Duet" (mentioned)
DC's Legends of Tomorrow
Arrow: Season 2.5
- "Assurances" Suicide Squad: Crisis in Kahndaq
Arrow: The Dark Archer
- The League of Assassins play a major antagonistic role in each season of Arrow, with the exception of the second season, and in DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
- Malcolm Merlyn, the main antagonist of the first season of Arrow, was a former member of the league and wore his league uniform while fighting Oliver as "Dark Archer".
- Ra's al Ghul and the league were the main antagonists of the third season of Arrow, while Malcolm played a major antagonistic role instigating the events of the season.
- Damien Darhk, leader of H.I.V.E. and main antagonist of the fourth season of Arrow, was a former member of the league. The league themselves were also present as recurring antagonists until their disbanding, though Malcolm and the league's remnants continued to aid H.I.V.E. afterward.
- Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's and a former member of the league, and Adrian Chase, Talia's student, are the main antagonists of the fifth season of Arrow.
- Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn also appear as secondary antagonists in the second season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, as part of the Legion of Doom led by Eobard Thawne.
Behind the scenes
- This is the second live-action adaptation of the League of Assassins the first being in the Dark Knight Trilogy, though the first time by its DC comic book name rather than the alternative name "League of Shadows".
- The League of Assassins bear striking resemblances to The Hashshashin, a medieval Islamic Order of trained combatants and assassins. They are lead by the mysterious "Old Man of the Mountain".