When it was announced that the Flash was going to be coming over to the small screen of television, there was a sense of both wonder and nervous energy. Fans of the Scarlet Speedster weren’t necessarily sure how the CW would bring to life one of DC Comics’ premiere superheroes. Though the CW had been largely successful with Arrow, that didn’t call for all the special effects and crazy villains that would be required as something massive like The Flash.
In spite of this, the CW went ahead and introduced Barry Allen, first in Arrow, before giving the character his own spinoff soon after. Currently, The Flash might very well be the CW’s most successful DC Comics property that they have going for them. While there have been multiple hiccups along the way, Grant Gustin’s portrayal of the Flash quickly won over millions of fans, which has allowed the TV show to continue without a hitch. Unlike the cheesiness of Supergirl, the dramatic inconsistent level of storytelling in Arrow (leading to disinterest), and the insanely over-the-top nature of Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash stayed true to its nature. Now, The Flash is struggling and today at CBR we’re looking at 15 reasons why true fans don't watch The Flash.
15 BARRY'S CONSTANT WHINING
Barry Allen’s childhood was not what you’d call a happy one. His mother was killed by the Reverse-Flash and his dad took the rap for the murder and was sent to jail. When Barry moved in with Detective Joe West and his daughter Iris Wet things started looking up. Flash forward to the first couple seasons of The Flash, and Barry is doing all right. Until Season Three and Four come around.
Inexplicably, Barry suddenly became the whiniest, most indecisive superhero on the planet. He seemingly couldn’t make a single decision without having an entire internal struggle about it first. This was not the Barry fans fell in love with. In fact, this wasn’t the Barry from the comics either. Sure, comic book Barry did create Flashpoint, but up until then, and even afterwards, he was consistently written.
14 CAITLIN SNOW
Even back in Season 1 of The Flash, audiences knew that Caitlin Snow would turn into the supervillain Killer Frost. What they didn’t know was that when the transformation finally happened, they’d be subjected to endless hours of indecisiveness on both the screenwriters’ part and that of Caitlin herself.
During the second season, Caitlin started to experience the symptoms of becoming Killer Frost and struggled with trying to retain her control over the darkness her powers presented. The transformation was meant to create tension, but this disappeared when she received not one, but two long-term solutions to manage her powers. Towards the end of Season Three, she was presented a cure off-screen, but the whole thing felt contrived and silly. Since then, Caitlin has tried to use her abilities for good, but very little of the Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost dynamic remains interesting.
13 JESSE AND WALLY'S RELATIONSHIP
Does anybody know what is going on with Jesse and Wally’s relationship? Do you know? Do we know? We do know that for a hot second they were practically Romeo and Juliet, ready to ride off into the sunset together. All the sudden, Jesse suddenly decided to break up with Wally and audiences would never hear the end of it. In the comics, the relationship between Wally and Jesse wasn’t romantic. Jesse did like Wally, but immediately hated him after realizing he was just using her, training her only to further encourage Bart Allen to prepare for the role of the Flash.
Even now, Jesse is off over on Earth-2. Even though Wally has seemingly gotten over his initial heartbreak, leaving Central City randomly and popping back just as randomly, Harrison Wells and his fractured relationship with his daughter has taken center stage.
12 TIME TRAVEL INCONSISTENCIES
Who knows what the actual laws of time travel really are. Still, there are particular time travel theories the majority of fictional works adhere to. The Flash doesn’t. There’s the Butterfly Effect, which says that even the smallest changes can affect the entire course of history. There’s also the idea that the timeline will remain unaltered if you go back in time, because if you alter something in time, you were always meant to go back.
The general rule of thumb in any TV show, movie, etc. is to pick one. The Flash uses both theories in its storytelling, which makes the show a great deal more confusing than it probably has to be. Flash creating Flashpoint and then later running to the future to talk to his Future Self, before saving the day where his Future Self didn’t, made plenty of folks scratch their heads.
11 KARA AND BARRY
Individually, Supergirl and the Flash are arguably the two most powerful heroes in the Arrowverse. The former possesses all the powers of Superman, while the latter can time travel and go as fast (or as slow) as the plot demands. Together, there really shouldn’t be anything that can challenge them. Yet when the pair does get together to team-up they become hilariously incompetent. When the duo first fights Silver Banshee and Livewire, they get their butts kicked, despite boasting superior firepower.
During the musical episode, which really was just a gratuitous and cute excuse to get the two heroes together, they both run into the middle of a gunfight, even though neither one has their powers to protect them. In the comics and even in movies in TV, it’s always cool to see fan-favorite heroes team up. It’s not so cool when it comes at the expense of their intelligence.
10 TOO MUCH CGI
Okay, this isn’t to say The Flash should totally do away with CGI; it’d be impractical to even try such an endeavor. What we’re suggesting is that the show often finds itself relying a bit too much on CGI. It’s a testament to the CW that they try and go all out, creating huge bombastic moments or makes certain powers appear super awesome, but sadly the CW doesn’t have the budget of a big Hollywood studio.
If they did, the special effects would look better and certain shots wouldn’t be so laughably inept or silly looking. When there’s an overabundance of CGI, the viewers can automatically tell and it takes them out of the experience. There’s a lot to be said for practical effects and maybe The Flash should take a page out of the original Flash TV show.
9 CLASSIC ICONOGRAPHY MISUSED
The Flash comic books are some of the most dynamic and fantastical in all of DC Comics. Sporting amazing villains, alternate dimensions, and engaging characters, The Flash has some wonderfully recognizable and memorable pieces of imagery. A memorable example was the comics version of Savitar. In the comics, he wasn’t an evil Barry, his history more incredible than that, and Wally West trapped Savitar in the Speed Force at the cost of he too being trapped. Wally was thought dead. It’s a wonderful moment that offered up a well-written cliffhanger. This in turn lead to Wally’s mastering of the Speed Force.
The Flash TV show could have taken a similar approach, but did the same thing they’d later do with Barry entering the Speed Force: they’d water it down. There aren’t any memorable moments here, as Barry quietly walks off into the Speed Force. It was an unsatisfying ending.
8 WEIRD TONAL SHIFTS
When it first started, The Flash maintained a steady tone. Science blended together with science fiction, there’d be tongue-in-cheek humor, and the Flash would rush in a save the day from whatever villain needed to be defeated. As the show progressed, there was a myriad of tonal shifts that felt strange and off kilter.
Characters endured major life changes only to turn up the next week with no outward change. Jay Garrick, one of heroes fans of the series were most excited to see, was immediately delegated to sitting inside the Speed Force and doing nothing consequential; one of DC’s Golden Age characters wasn’t mentioned again until the season finale. Then there was Savitar, with a twist so strange that viewers gradually started to lose interest in the show. The Flash was becoming too smart and kooky for its own good.
7 THE FLASH IS WATERED DOWN
The Flash from the comic books is practically unstoppable. He’s outraced Superman, saved the entire multiverse, and fights gods and monsters on a daily basis. The Scarlet Speedster as seen in The Flash is nowhere near as powerful as his comic book counterpart. On some level, it makes sense the showrunners would choose to depower the Flash; if he’s too powerful there is lack of stakes. On the other hand, his powers are extremely inconsistent.
Occasionally, Barry can only run slightly faster than the speed of sound, but other times he running across a city in an instant to get his friends some pizza; that’s a feat greater than Mach 1. In spite of all this, TV Barry is constantly struggling against evil speedsters as they all seem to be dramatically faster than him.
6 THE CRISIS
A fascinating bit of television came when The Flash introduced a newspaper clipping from the future; fans debated its significance. With time travel an active part of the show, the clipping changes every so often, leading viewers and the characters themselves, to read/see different outcomes. The headline read FLASH MISSING, VANISHES IN CRISIS and explained that the Flash went missing when the skies turned red. It was a wonderful easter eggs to the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline where Barry died.
So what happened? Well it seems to have already happened. When the Speed Force spewed forth uncontrollably in the Season Three finale, the skies turned red and Barry was lost in the Speed Force. His friends made the excuse he was on sabbatical and that’s it. Crisis over. The infamous red skies crisis, teased since the first season, was over in less than seven minutes with zero set-up.
5 FLASH VILLAINS WERE RUINED
The Flash has one of the largest and most colorful rogues gallery in comic books. It’s one of the defining staples to his stories. Many of the villains who fight the Flash are also incredibly interesting and tormented souls. The Flash TV show decided to do away with all that and took more of a villain-of-the-week approach. With the debut of bad guy after bad guy, they gradually started to become more and more uninteresting.
It became evident in relatively short order that the show preferred to focus on villains like Reverse-Flash, Zoom, and Savitar; Gorilla Grodd got a couple episodes, but after his initial debut, they were sadly lackluster. The writers haven’t been able to decide with any meaningful cohesion which villains should be focused on and why.
4 BARRY IS A JERK
Barry Allen is a jerk. At least he is these days. Sad but true, once upon a time Barry Allen featured the traditional characterizations you grew to know and love. He was humble, down to Earth, and kind. Grant Gustin’s portrayal Barry Allen was just wonderful. His happy-go-lucky personality quickly won fans over; he added a ray of sunshine to the otherwise dark Arrowverse.
After Flashpoint, everything changed. Barry is now a jerk to everyone, holding nothing back when it comes to showing distrust or dislike in another individual. Ignoring how he created an alternate timeline and keeps time travelling to satisfy his own goals, which in turn alters the lives of literally everyone on the planet, Barry’s attitude had gone up to new levels of jerkiness. He’s blamed his friends constantly, and has all but demanded everyone take pity on him whenever things get rough.
3 INCONSISTENT WRITING
The Flash was a bold decision for the CW. When they introduced Barry Allen on Arrow and decided to do a spin-off for the character, there was a certain amount of risk involved. Not everyone knew whether the character would work and if audiences would welcome the Flash into their household. They did and the Flash became a phenomenon. This was in part due to the coherent and crisp writing.
The early seasons were a nonstop roller coaster of excitement and intriguing plots. As time wore on, the threats became slightly less threatening and even the dialogue started to feel overly cheesy and dated. Once Season Three and later seasons debuted, what was an exciting show now felt labored and awkward. The attempts to make The Flash funny while maintain a sense of seriousness haven’t always worked.
2 TOO MUCH MELODRAMA
The Flash comic books are full of high-flying adventure, time travel, and saving the world from insane threats. Though they do have certain levels of drama, just like people in real life, in no way are they a soap opera. Granted, The Flash takes place on the CW, which is known for the melodrama included in nearly all of its shows, but it doesn’t mesh particularly well with The Flash.
Much of the melodrama, especially when it comes to relationships or characters struggling to find their identities, comes across as trite and unnecessary. These are the moments that take the viewers out of the show. Rather than focusing on important matters, like the Flash and his relationship with the multiverse, the show often diverges to Barry and Iris’s love life or the romantic entanglements of pretty much every other character.
1 THE LOSS OF CAPTAIN COLD
Out of all the characters on The Flash, perhaps the most satisfying was actor Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold. Arguably the most well-known character in the Flash’s rogues gallery, Captain Cold has proved, both in comics and the TV show, that he doesn’t need fancy powers to take on the Scarlet Speedster. With enough wits and ingenuity, he’s been able to take on Barry rather handedly.
Their rivalry in the comics was translated perfectly onto The Flash; audiences realized the dynamic and respect the two characters had for one another, despite being on opposite sides of the law. Just before the TV show let them fully explore their relationship and became part of the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and became a part of Rip Hunter’s time travelling team. Captain Cold is many things, but a time travelling anti-hero is not one of them.