Considering it is made up of four television series, it’s understandable that there have been a huge number of memorable DC supervillains to feature in the Arrowverse. But it seems fair to say, that while we have enjoyed watching the likes of Deathstroke, Lillian Luthor and Malcolm Merlyn carry out their dastardly deeds, The Flash arguably boasts the best -- and most interesting -- antagonists of the lot.
The Flash’s roster of rogues mixes big bads as well as some pretty great villains of the week, too. From Barry Allen’s arch nemesis Reverse-Flash, who dominated the show’s first season, to villains such as Pied Piper and Mark Hamill’s Trickster -- characters that have only showed up a brief time -- they always manage to make an impact. It’s not only the differences in their involvement that sets them apart, it’s how well many of them are fleshed out. Since its debut, we’ve been introduced to villains that aren’t so villainous (Captain Cold and Heatwave), good girls gone bad (Killer Frost) and other speedsters (Zoom); all of whom have great backstories. Some are much more competent than others though and with that in mind, CBR has ranked those who have come up against the Scarlet Speedster from least to most powerful...
20 WEATHER WIZARD
Shortly after he got his speedster abilities -- thanks to the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion sending waves of genetic code-altering energy all over Central City -- the Flash was forced to face Clyde Mardon, a metahuman who is able to control the weather. Unfortunately for Barry Allen, Clyde was a serial bank robber before the explosion altered his genetic make-up, and his newfound skills only made his success much more likely in such endeavors.
Unfortunately for Clyde, Barry learned how to use his own powers rather quickly and managed to put a stop to the destruction caused by his opponent.
How? By running in the opposite direction of a tornado, reversing its effects. In his desperation, Clyde tried to kill Barry with a gun but Detective Joe West managed to shoot him dead before he had the chance.
19 ABRA KADABRA
Originally from the 64th century, Abra Kadabra was a time-travelling criminal who turned to violence and caused devastating destruction in his pursuit to get back to his own era. His powers included teleportation, technopathy -- which enabled him to control certain objects -- conjuration, immunity to Vibe’s location skills and techno-magic, thanks to his nanotechnology-based body augmentations.
It is documented that in his desperate attempts to get home, he travelled to Earth-19 in the year 2014 and murdered several people, including the partner of collector and Team Flash ally, Gypsy. Despite his many skills and reckless behavior, the Flash, Vibe, Kid Flash and Gypsy eventually captured Abra Kadabra, having worked together, and he was taken back to Earth-19 to face trial and execution. He is now presumed dead.
In the show second season, Caitlin Snow developed a super serum that enhances speedsters’ abilities and can also turn normal humans into metahumans. Long term and heavy usage of the drug -- labelled Velocity 9 -- can be harmful however, as it’s known to cause cellular degeneration, mental instability and even death. It was the scientist that helped Caitlin perfect it who discovered its negative effects, having injected herself with it in the hopes it would speed up her research.
Over time, Eliza Harmon developed a second identity, which she nicknamed Trajectory, and started committing crimes.
When Team Flash started to get in the way, her addiction to Velocity 9 grew stronger and she eventually took so much that her cells completely broke down and she faded into nothing. She might have been able to run faster than Barry briefly but her powers ultimately led to her own ruin.
In the first season, the Flash took on a metahuman called Kyle Nimbus. Nicknamed the Mist by Cisco Ramon, Nimbus was affected by the particle accelerator explosion during his intended execution via gas chamber. Because of the energy emitted from the blast, he survived the procedure and instead was granted the ability to turn himself into poisonous gas, escaping from Iron Heights Prison morgue that night.
When he returned to Central City, he targets the Darbinyan crime family -- whom he previously worked for -- and later set his sights on Judge Howard, who convicted him, and Detective Joe West, who arrested him. Fortunately, the Flash managed to defeat him before he got to Joe by using his super speed to suffocate him by keeping him in gas form. When Nimbus awoke, he found himself locked in the makeshift particle accelerator prison under S.T.A.R. Labs.
16 KING SHARK
What is there to say about King Shark, really? He looks pretty cool; we’ll give him that. If anything’s going to make you sit up and take notice of a television show, it’s a half-human half- great white shark hybrid that pops up rather unexpectedly. But when it comes to power, Shay Lamden’s are disappointingly limited.
He’s animalistic in nature and is therefore pretty incapable of mentally besting the likes of Team Flash.
Instead, he can only rely on his enhanced strength and durability, as well as his stealthy abilities. He is incredibly intimidating to look at too but that’s still not enough to earn him a place higher on this list. One of his biggest weaknesses is his dependency on water. Being half-shark Shay must stay in or regularly return to water to re-oxygenate his blood, which isn’t so handy when you’re trying to defeat foes on dry land...
15 CAPTAIN COLD AND HEATWAVE
Captain Cold and Heatwave have always been regarded as two of the Flash’s least-threatening opponents. Why? Well, their villainy has always erred on the softer side for starters, with the duo concentrating more on stealing jewels than enacting citywide domination.
While they might be fan favorites, we can’t justifiably describe Leonard Snart and Mick Rory as powerful villains either, as all the abilities they possess stem from two outside sources; their guns. They’re pretty simple too; one shoots icy blasts while the other is essentially a glorified flame-thrower. Snart and Rory have to be relatively close to their opponents for their guns to have any real impact and anyone can steal and use them! It’s a good job their personalities are so top notch, isn’t it?
14 MUSIC MEISTER
Music Meister was the antagonist during the musical crossover episodes of The Flash and Supergirl. His abilities include singing and dancing but you’d be wrong in thinking that he can’t do anything that bad too…
He can also manipulate sound, meaning he can force his enemies to carry out morally questionable tasks while under hypnosis.
In the crossover, he put both the Scarlet Speedster and the Girl of Steel into a coma, which not only left the real world without protection but saw the twosome face a dream reality where they were powerless and vulnerable too. While he may be powerful, he’s certainly not as evil as some of the Arrowverse villains though. He eventually let Supergirl and the Flash go, satisfied that they’d “learnt their lesson” about allowing themselves to be saved and it’s because of his lack of absolute conviction that he ranks quite low on our list.
13 MIRROR MASTER
Sam Scudder, aka Mirror Master, is a metahuman that can travel through mirrors. He didn’t appear until the third season of The Flash yet he has a shared history with Captain Cold himself, Leonard Snart. Along with Scudder’s girlfriend Rosa Dillon, the threesome used to carry out heists together but when Sam and Rosa got reckless and Snart challenged their methods, Sam attempted to kill Snart.
During their brawl, Sam was thrown into a mirror -- at which time the S.TA.R Labs particle accelerator exploded -- and he vanished. Three years later, he returned to Central City to rescue Rosa from Iron Heights Prison and put an end to Snart. In his pursuits, Sam did momentarily manage to trap Flash in a mirror but the Scarlet Speedster escaped with the help of his friends. If they hadn’t been there though, who knows who would have come out on top?
12 BUG-EYED BANDIT
Brie Larvan, nicknamed the Bug-Eyed Bandit by Cisco Ramon, previously worked for Mercury Labs and was tasked with developing robotic bees for agricultural purposes. Instead, she secretly engineered some so that they could be used by the military and when her boss found out, she was dismissed. Angered by her former employers, Brie began targeting the co-workers who snitched on her underground developments and killed them using her bees and their highly venomous stings.
Her murderous spree was eventually thwarted by the Flash but not before a swarm stung him -- an act that would have proved fatal if not for his accelerated healing.
She might not have any superhuman abilities but her powers lie in her intelligence and in-depth knowledge of mechanical engineering. She proved quite the match for Barry Allen and the S.T.A.R. Labs team but of course, the good guys came out on top?
11 THE TURTLE
Nicknamed the Turtle by… you guessed it… Cisco Ramon, Russell Glosson was a metahuman that could manipulate the kinetic energy around him leaving everyone and everything in his vicinity in a temporary state of potential energy. Basically, he can slow everything down around him -- a seemingly well-suited foe of a speedster, right?
His power helped inspire Cisco to look at their task of stopping Zoom in a different light; instead of speeding Barry up to match Zoom (as they originally intended), they then began looking into slowing Zoom down. So in that sense, Turtle was pretty darn powerful… as well as useful. Not only did he get away with a couple of seriously big thefts too but he also kidnapped Patty Spivot and almost turned her into a not-so-living doll for his creepy collection alongside his ex-wife. Fortunately, Team Flash got there just in the nick of time!
Bio-geneticist Danton Black actually had two nicknames after becoming a metahuman, Captain Clone and Multiplex, but as you might have guessed, it was the latter that stuck. He used to work for Stagg Industries and specialized in therapeutic cloning -- which corresponded with the powers he got after the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator exploded, as most metahuman abilities tend to do.
So what exactly were his powers? Well, replicating himself, to put it simply.
Unlike most of the villains he faces, the Flash really struggled to defeat Multiplex and while he obviously did in the end -- (we’ve come to expect our heroes triumphing these days) -- it was no easy task! Realizing he didn’t have the strength to beat all versions of Multiplex, Barry managed to identify Danton’s prime self and knocking him out. Danton later died, having fallen out of the window of a tall building.
One of the most memorable episodes of The Flash’s earliest season has got to be “Tricksters”; an episode which saw Stars Wars actor Mark Hamill star as James Jesse, a criminal mastermind formerly known as Trickster. In the instalment, Barry Allen and Detective Joe West ask James for help when a copycat killer starts wreaking havoc in Central City.
But their day goes from bad to worse when the new Trickster breaks his idol out of prison and the pair join forces, kidnap Henry Allen and hold the entire city to ransom. He might not be a metahuman but James’ power lies in his ability to make truly terrifying terrorist weapons and his psychotic dedication to causing death and destruction. He’ll stop at next-to-nothing to carry out his menacing plans and that’s a pretty scary personality trait for a baddie to possess.
8 PIED PIPER
In the first season of The Flash, Barry Allen was tasked with taking down villain Hartley Rathaway (aka Pied Piper), a former S.T.A.R. Labs employee who was fired by Harrison Wells. Hartley believed that the Particle Accelerator would explode, a theory that eventually turned out to be correct despite Wells’ dismissal, and in the blast, Hartley’s hearing was heightened to superhuman levels.
Scorned, he set out to kill his replacement and Wells’ new protégé, Barry, and he certainly proved to be a serious match for the titular speedster.
Not only is Rathaway a metahuman but he’s incredibly smart too, designing and creating Sonic Gloves that made him even more powerful. The gloves enabled him to take over Barry’s suit in their final standoff. Of course, our hero defeated him in the end but Pied Piper was definitely one of the villains that came the closest to besting Barry.
We’ve not seen all that much of him yet, seeing as he only made his physical debut in The Flash’s most recent season, but Clifford DeVoe, aka the Thinker, seems like he’s going to be bad news for Barry Allen and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs. His powers mainly revolve around his superhuman intelligence, which means he’d rather manipulate other baddies to do his dirty work for him rather than get too close to the Flash himself. It’s a technique that is bound to make him seriously hard to defeat.
It’s still early days but according to Abra Kadabra’s future -- or so he says -- DeVoe turns out to be one of the Flash’s greatest enemies, tied with Zoom and Reverse-Flash. If that really is true, our Scarlet Speedster better brace himself for some seriously trying times ahead.
6 KILLER FROST
We’re happy to go out on a limb here and say that Killer Frost is one of The Flash’s most interesting characters. Heck, she might even be one of the Arrowverse’s most interesting characters. Since her introduction, we’ve seen two versions of her; Earth-2’s sharp-tongued ice queen and our very own Caitlin Snow, who developed Killer Frost-type powers -- and anger issues -- after speedster Barry Allen significantly altered the timeline.
We can’t help but love them both but the most recent one has got to be our favorite, as there’s just something intriguing about a baddie that doesn’t want to be bad.
When Caitlin adopts her Killer Frost alter ego, be it intentionally or not, she still possesses her genius-level intellect but also has accelerated healing, a superhumanly high pain threshold, freeze breath and cyrokinetic abilities. She can also glide on the ice she creates! She’s awesome.
Grodd -- known as Gorilla Grodd in the comic books -- is a silverback gorilla that was previously experimented on by Harrison Wells, Caitlin Snow and other scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs (however, the two characters mentioned weren't initially aware of the inhumane torture their colleague Wade Elling was inflicting on him).
When the particle accelerator exploded, he was exposed to his genetic code-altering Dark Matter and gained heightened intelligence and powerful psychic abilities. He escaped from his captors and took to the sewers but he was later discovered by Eobard Thawne (disguised as Harrison Wells). Due to his unrivalled mind control skills, Grodd is a very difficult opponent to overcome. Occasionally, characters have managed to appeal to his more compassionate side by showing him immense kindness but it doesn't work all that often -- it's proved much more successful to zap him to other Earths instead!
4 SAVITAR/DOCTOR ALCHEMY
Savitar’s storyline, which dominated The Flash’s third season, was disappointing but when it comes to pure power, the God of Speed was pretty formidable. Not only was he impossibly fast, he psychologically tormented Barry Allen, with his promise that he was going to murder Iris right in front of him.
As the date in which he supposedly carried out the deed loomed, Barry became doubtful of his own abilities and in a way that was Savitar's greatest achievement.
He also possessed the ability to control others, something that was showcased with his manipulation of Julian Albert. Savitar previously connected with Julian on a telepathic level so that the latter would search for the Philosopher's Stone, on the promise it would resurrect his sister. In actuality, it released Savitar from his Speed Force prison and enabled him to possess Julian. They used the disguise of Doctor Alchemy to hide Julian’s identity.
In a similar way to Savitar's arc, The Flash’s reveal of Zoom’s real identity wasn’t so well received either. It wasn't that it was bad per se -- at least it made sense, unlike the future Bartholomew Allen nonsense -- but it was yet another mentor of Barry Allen's who turned out to be the big bad all along. Yes, it was Jay Garrick... or more accurately Hunter Zolomon (Teddy Sears)... that terrorized Team Flash for the entire second season, all while he developed a close friendship with the employees of S.T.A.R. Labs in the process.
Zoom was obsessed with being the fastest speedster alive and for the most part, he succeeded, but his greed and frequent disregard for the Speed Force's rules meant that Time Wraiths eventually caught up with him and made him pay. The Flash definitely needed their help so Zoom had to rank highly here.
2 VANDAL SAVAGE
While he was predominantly an antagonist in Legends of Tomorrow, Vandal Savage did show up in a fair few episodes of The Flash too. There was no leaving him off really because oh boy, was he a tough one to beat even when facing ALL of the heroes within the Arrowverse. So, why is he considered so powerful? Well, he was immortal for starters and since he was around so long, he influenced historical figures to start wars, commit crimes and invent technology, all for his own personal gain.
He wanted to rule the world, of course.
The only reason we can't offer him first place is because it took him over 3,700 years to even get close to realizing his plan. He had a good go of it though -- if Barry Allen didn't run back in time he would have killed the likes of Oliver Queen and co!
In our opinion, there is no other villain that could have come close to beating Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse-Flash, to the top spot of this ranking. Not only did he manage to deceive every employee at S.T.A.R. Labs -- by pretending to be someone he wasn't for years -- and the close friends of the first version of Harrison Wells we were introduced to, he is also a super-fast speedster in his own right.
Not only were his abilities hard to match -- even for Barry Allen -- he caused the titular hero so much emotional torment having killed his mother all those years previous. Reverse-Flash’s hold over Barry is definitely his most intriguing aspect and his powers only add to his menace. Thawne still shows up throughout the Arrowverse today, emphasising what a great baddie he is. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of him yet.