Rope Arrow

The Rope Arrow is notable for a number of reasons.In Green Arrow’s first appearance, More Fun Comics #73 (1941), the Arrowline (one of the many names for this trick) is the first non-standard arrow we see being used. Years later, Green Arrow’s origin as revealed in Adventure Comics #256 (1959) shows a shipwrecked Oliver Queen using a makeshift bow and arrow to hunt and forage on Starfish Island. He created a few special arrows to aid in his survival, and the Rope Arrow is the very first one he created. This makes the Rope Arrow the first one we see chronologically as well as the first one created in story.

HE-Ropearrow-1The Rope Arrow has many different names and a variety of technical specifications today. The essentials are always the same, though. Similar to a small harpoon, the Rope Arrow is a projectile with a line of some kind attached.

The line itself could be a very high-tech, composite, ultra-light material or a simple construct using whatever is available. Arrowlines have been seen composed vine, rope, cloth, leather, nylon, steel cable, and even carbon fiber. The line is attached to the arrow by either tying it to the arrowhead through a hole, tied around the body of the shaft, or the line could run through the body of the arrow and come out rear near the nock of the arrow. On the other end, the line is usually anchored to a reel that is attached to the archer’s belt or the bow.

As a universal utility arrow, the Rope Arrow has had the widest variety of arrowheads. Aside from the standard broadheads, the Arrowline can be seen attached to a sticky mass (i.e. glue or putty), a suction tip, or a grappling hook/claw. In fact, it has been used in conjunction with many special arrows, such as the Boomerang Arrow or the Bola Arrow. On Starfish Island, the first crude Drill Arrow was attached to a line for retrieving coconuts.

VG-Ropearrow-TREvery genre archer uses this arrow today, from Green Arrow to Hawkeye to Lara Croft. It is an absolutely indispensable tool for any archer that is most commonly used for transportation. It’s been seen in comics, on TV, in animation, and in video games. In fact, Thief and Tomb Raider make it a standard part of the heroes’ toolkit.

Another aspect that makes the Rope Arrow stand out is that it is real. While the stories enhance and exaggerate what it does, especially in modern stories, the arrow with a line attached has existed for centuries. People still use it for bow-fishing today. It can also be used as an engineering tool. The arrow can stretch ropes across chasms and over rivers. It can get the ends of ropes into high trees, over walls, and on ledges.


  • Type: Utility Arrow
  • Frequency: Universal
  • Effects: An arrow with a line of some kind attached. It can be used as a swingline, a zipline, or a grappling line.
  • Also Known As: Arrowline
  • Variations: Cable Arrow, Grappling Arrow, Harpoon Arrow, Needle-and-Thread Arrow, Swing-Line Arrow, Vine Arrow, Zip-Line Arrow
  • First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (1941)

Reality Check

In 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit walked on a line suspended between New York City’s Twin Towers. His team used a rope arrow to bridge the gap between the towers. They first shot a fishing line across. The fishing line was attached to successively larger ropes, finishing with a 450-pound steel cable.