In a shocking turn of events, Arrowverse actor Brandon Routh made his final appearance as Ray Palmer/The Atom in this week’s episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Routh has played the character in multiple series set in the Arrowverse, having first appeared in the season three premiere of Arrow in 2014. Since then, Routh has been a mainstay of Legends of Tomorrow for its five seasons, playing the good-natured scientist Dr. Palmer and his superhero alter ego The Atom. In the most recent three seasons of Legends of Tomorrow, Routh got the opportunity to star alongside his real-life wife, Nora Dahrk actress Courtney Ford, who will also depart the series.
The circumstances involving Routh and Ford’s departure centered around the wedding of Palmer and Dahrk. In an emotional moment, the two realized that they could not build a life together if they were jumping around the timeline in the Waverider, the team’s time machine. While the episode mostly focused on Palmer and Dahrk’s wedding, it also featured a comedic take on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. When the team went back in time in an effort to locate the Loom of Fate, they accidentally convinced the venerable playwright to retitle his tragic masterpiece Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness.
In talking about his exit from Legends of Tomorrow, Routh said that it came off as very emotional and unexpected. The show’s writers let slip that Routh and Ford would be leaving the series this season last summer. Since then, Routh has made it clear that he was not happy with the show’s decision. Phil Klemmer, the show’s executive producer, explained to TV Guide that their decision to write Palmer and Dahrk out of the series was based on character development. Klemmer went on to say that Legends were drawn together because they were misfits in the wider world. Upon finding their place, they needed to leave the team and start their real lives.
Speaking with SYFY WIRE, Routh said that filming the entire season was deeply emotional for him and Ford. While they understand the writing team’s decision, they still felt deeply invested in their characters. Overall, Routh feels that the duo’s exit was not handled well by The CW. When asked if he would ever reprise his role again, he said that he would be open to appearing on any Arrowverse series but that it would be difficult to return to Legends of Tomorrow after the handling of his departure.