Arrow had multiple Black Canaries, but the only true version of the DC Comics character was Juliana Harkavy’s Dinah Drake – not Laurel Lance.
The only true version of Black Canary on Arrow was Juliana Harkavy’s Dinah Drake. In DC Comics, Black Canary is a key character in Green Arrow comics and the primary love interest of Oliver Queen. The Black Canary mantle had been relevant to Arrow since season 2, but the most accurate interpretation of the character didn’t arrive until season 5.
In the Arrowverse, there are four different heroines associated with the “Black Canary” moniker. The first character to call herself “The Canary” was Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance. She was the younger sister of Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Oliver’s ex-girlfriend and a lawyer who worked in the district attorney’s office in Starling City. Though it was Laurel who shared the name of the Black Canary from the comics, it was Sara who fought crime under the name first. But when she died, Laurel formally became the new Black Canary. Her Earth-2 counterpart started off as a villain called Black Siren, but evolved into a new take on Black Canary by the end of Arrow season 7.
The Lance family was full of characters tied to the DC Comics superhero, but none of them were the proper Black Canary from DC Comics. The only Arrowverse character who can claim that distinction is Dinah Drake, the woman who Oliver picked to take Laurel’s place following her death at the hands of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) in season 4. Sarah and Black Siren were original Arrowverse characters, and Laurel was loosely inspired by Black Canary, whereas Dinah had all the right qualities belonging to the DC Comics hero.
Comparisons to DC Comics’ Black Canary were drawn when Team Arrow first met Dinah, even though at the time she was using the fake name, “Tina Boland”. First of all, her Canary Cry was an actual metahuman power, just like the situation with her comic book counterpart. Both Sara and Laurel had to use tech to unleash her trademark sonic attack. Plus, there’s the matter of her backstory; this character was a detective who began moonlighting as a vigilante after her partner was murdered. She was eager to dish out justice to criminal on the streets, not unlike the comic book hero, who became the Black Canary after her father was killed.
It became crystal clear that the Arrowverse was finally giving fans the true Black Canary when her real name was revealed: Dinah Drake, which was the name of the Golden Age Black Canary. Modern versions of Black Canary have gone by the names Dinah Laurel Lance and Dinah Drake-Lance. One thing that’s consistent with all versions is that the name she goes by is “Dinah”. That’s Laurel’s first name in the Arrowverse, but no one ever called her that. The things that the Arrowverse did differently with Laurel’s Black Canary was corrected in season 5 when it introduced Dinah. This proved to be a good move for the Arrowverse, as she became an important part of the team for the remainder of the series.