As a superhero, the Flash is a character that is really booming in popularity. On the big screen, his character was one of the major highlights of the Justice League movie, providing humor and warmth to a cinematic world that usually lacks these things. Meanwhile, the CW Flash series has continue to recruit new fans of the Scarlet Speedster. It’s not uncommon for even casual TV viewers to know who the Flash is, who his friends are, and even the details about his tortured background.
This has led to an issue that comics fans understand all too well. The CW Flash show has taken quite a few liberties with the character and his stories, and this leads to some pretty serious divergence from the comics. And as the TV show gains popularity year after year, more people than ever think they understand the Flash without truly understanding the character. Fortunately, you don’t need to travel back in time and do something drastic is you meet his description. It’s not too late to get some actual “Flash facts” and learn about your favorite character. Furthermore, this is a great chance to peek at the secrets the CW has kept from you.
15 JOE WEST IS AN IMPORTANT CHARACTER
One of the central supporting characters of the Flash TV show is Detective Joe West. He is not only an important part of Team Flash (coordinating their efforts with that of his police department), but he is a father figure for Barry Allen. West has had this role since Barry’s biological father was falsely imprisoned. However, would you believe this character doesn’t exist in the comics at all? Iris West is still a character in the DC Comics Universe. However, her parents are from the far-flung future, and they sent her to be raised by the Wests in the past.
However, there is no Detective Joe West in this family dynamic.
He remains a character invented solely for the TV show, though we have to admit he’s one of the best parts!
14 CAPTAIN COLD STOLE HIS GUN
Something that is accurate about the Flash TV show is how prominent a role Leonard Snart plays. As the villain Captain Cold, he has used his freeze ray to fight the Flash, and he sometimes even fights on the side of angels and helps our heroes. The Snart of the show is a career criminal, and we see that thievery is exactly how he got his freezing gun.
That part, though, is not accurate at all. While the show gives us a Snart who steals a gun perfected by Cisco, the Snart of the comics designed his own freeze gun. He also put some professional pride in it as well, believing that he could make a much better gun than the one used by the Batman villain Mr. Freeze!
13 CAITLIN IS MOSTLY GOOD
Caitlin Snow began the show as nothing more than a brilliant scientists. Eventually, though, she developed special ice-based powers that manifested along with an entirely new personality. This new personality, Killer Frost, has been portrayed as a villain at times, but for the most part, both Snow and Frost have been supporters of the Flash. This is wildly different from the DC Comics Universe.
The name has been used by multiple other characters over the decades, and the comics didn’t see a Caitlin Snow Killer Frost until just a few years ago (to coincide with the beginning of the show).
Also, this character has almost always been portrayed as a cold-hearted (so to speak) supervillain. It is only very recently that the comics have shown us a truly heroic Killer Frost, and this is clearly a response to the character’s popularity on the Flash TV show.
12 EDDIE THAWNE IS A BIG DEAL
In the first season of the Flash, Eddie Thawne was a character who only grew in importance as the season went on. First, he seemed like little more than a colleague to Barry and Joe and a romantic rival for the affections of Iris West. Later, he’s revealed to be a great ancestor of Flash supervillain Eobard Thawne, and he heroically sacrifices himself to try to stop the villain.
Based on all of this, many fans thought Eddie Thawne was an important character in the comics. However, like Joe West, he does not exist in the comics at all. The closest thing we have to a version of Eddie is Malcolm Thawne, who is the present day ancestor of future supervillain Eobard Thawne. Malcolm, in turn, is a twin brother of Barry Allen, and a walking reminder of why new readers find comics so confusing.
11 HARRISON WELLS IS A MAIN CHARACTER
Harrison Wells has been a complicated character on the Flash TV show. The big reveal of the first season was that “Harrison Wells” was actually Eobard Thawne in disguise. Later, we get a Harry Wells from a different Earth, and over time, we have seen several different versions of this character from several different realities.
Given that Wells seem to be a multiversal constant in the show, you’d expect him to play a major role in the comics. However, the character seems to be made entirely for the show.
We say “seems to be” because there was a random S.T.A.R. Labs scientist named Harrison Wells based on a non-canonical comic of the original Flash TV show. However, the gruff and grumpy dimension-hopping Harrison Wells that we all know and love has been purely created for the show!
10 BARRY IS THE FIRST FLASH
One of the sacrifices that the Arrowverse makes is that it cannot fully draw on the history established by DC Comics. For instance, the existence of metahumans is a relatively new development in this universe, which is why Barry Allen is the first speedster to call himself the Flash. This is very different from the comics, although the show likes to wink and nod to this fact.
In the DC Comics universe, the predecessor to the Justice League of America was the Justice Society of America. On this team was Jay Garrick, who was the original Flash well before Barry Allen was created for the Silver Age. While Barry remains the first Flash in his own reality within the Arrowverse, his dimension-hopping adventures have allowed him to meet versions of Jay Garrick (complete with goofy hat).
9 CISCO IS REALLY SMART
Considering that he serves as both the emotional center and the technological brains, it’s safe to say that Cisco Ramone is both the heart and soul of the team. Unlike some of his teammates, this character has a long history of appearing in DC Comics. However, he’s almost completely different! The comic counterpart still goes by “Vibe,” and he still has vibration-based powers.
However, this comics version actually starts his journey as the leader of a street gang before turning to life as a hero.
He even rolled with the Justice League for a while, but he managed to embarrass members like Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. He was never as smart as his onscreen counterpart, and he ended up sadly dying in the line of duty.
8 PARTICLE ACCELERATOR IS A BIG DEAL
Because the world of Arrowverse did not previously have many people with powers, the Flash TV show needed to find a way to explain the various villains that our hero would tangle with. This explanation was the explosion of the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator, which gave Barry Allen his powers while also creating many of his worst enemies. You’d think the accelerator would play a major role in the comics. However, it plays no role whatsoever.
This is because metahumans are an established part of the DC Universe, either by being born that way (kind of like mutants over in Marvel) or being created via freak accidents. In fact, a freak accident is how Barry gets his powers in the comics -- no particle accelerator necessary.
7 S.T.A.R. LABS IS IMPORTANT
S.T.A.R. Labs plays a vital role within the world of the Flash. It not only serves as the headquarters for our favorite characters but also serves as a public liaison with the police when they must tackle metahuman threats. And as the Flash TV show grew in popularity, it has become more common to spot fans wearing S.T.A.R. Labs shirts and hoodies, just like Dr. Wells, Cisco, and the rest.
It may surprise you to learn that S.T.A.R. Labs does not play such a major role in the comics.
The labs are certainly part of the comic world, but they usually serve as a backdrop for some of the more shady plots involving mad science going wrong. This iconic on-screen location has almost no relevance to the Barry Allen of the comics!
6 WALLY IS BARRY'S BROTHER
Even those who love the character of Barry Allen must admit that his family life is pretty strange. For instance, he is raised by Joe West and falls in love with Joe’s daughter Iris...despite the fact that they would have been more like brother and sister for all of their lives. And things only got a little weirder when Wally West came into the picture.
Wally is Joe’s long-lost son, and when Barry finally married Iris West, our hero become a brother to Wally West. This is different from the world of the comics, though, where Wally is actually the nephew of Iris instead of being her biological sister. And in the comics, Wally eventually ditches the “Kid Flash” moniker and becomes a hero in his own right as the Flash.
5 TEAM FLASH IS REAL
This next misconception is one that you can basically blame on Arrow. When that show first started, it took a lot of cues from Batman, and that included having a growing support squad to help out with both technological challenges and supervillain shenanigans. So when the Flash show debuted, we ended up getting a Team Flash to help him out.
As you may have guessed, the comic book Flash does not really have a Team Flash of his own.
He obviously has his wife Iris for emotional support, and he can always bring the Justice League in when things get too serious. But in his day to day life as a hero, he doesn’t need a support system to track and stop the villains who threaten his city.
4 CAPTAIN COLD HAS A CODE
Leonard Snart (also known as Captain Cold) became the first villain to actually help the Flash out. This redemptive arc continued when this character became one of the Legends of Tomorrow. The key to his surprisingly heroic turn comes from the fact that he has a moral code, and this code has both compelled him to save lives and even protect the secret identity of the Flash.
In the comics, Leonard Snart is not held back by any kind of moral code. He has a kind of baseline loyalty that he extends to other members of Flash’s Rogues Gallery, but there is nothing that would compel him to suddenly save the day or protect the secrets of his opponent. Fittingly enough, his heart is ice cold on this matter.
3 BARRY'S MOM DIES WHEN HE'S YOUNG
The death of Barry’s mother is an event that truly sets his life in motion. She dies when he is very young, and his father ends up in jail for a crime he did not commit. Barry later finds out that his mother was killed by Eobard Thawne, and his attempts to save her life end up altering all of reality. Surprisingly, much of this is faithful to the events of the comics. There is one key difference, though.
In the comics, Barry’s mother originally lived a longer life, and she was able to witness her son grow up and become the Flash.
To be fair to the show, though, this was later retconned in the Flash: Rebirth series, so the show’s portrayal is (fittingly enough given Barry messing with the timelines so often) fitting for one reality or another.
2 CISCO MAKES THE SUIT
Cisco Ramone is a man with many hats in the universe of the Flash. In addition to helping Team Flash track and capture powered villains, he helps design weapons, costumes, and pretty much anything else our heroes might need. It’s no surprise, then, that he ends up designing the Flash suit for Barry Allen, and he remains responsible for upgrading its look and function throughout the series.
In the comics, though, there is a different costume designer. It’s not Barry, but instead Ira West. He is the adoptive father of Iris West, and he was able to use his professor brains to design a suit resistant to friction and wind. On top of that, the suit can shrink down and fit inside a ring that Barry wears. This lets him easily take his costume wherever he goes.
1 KID FLASH GOT HIS POWERS FROM A ROCK
Kid Flash is a character that has become increasingly prominent and important as the show goes on. He has speed powers similar to Barry’s, and he uses them to save lives across multiple different realities. In the show, there is a convoluted story where he ends up with his superpowers by touching the Philosopher’s Stone provided by the villain Alchemy.
However, the Kid Flash of the comics received his powers in a completely different way.
Or perhaps we should say he received them in the same way, as he gets his powers in almost the exact same way that Barry Allen did! In the comics, Wally goes to visit Barry at work when a freak laboratory accident covers him in chemicals. These electrically-charged chemicals give him powers, and just like that, a new speedster was born!