The Flash has been a fixture in millions of homes for four seasons. Because of the show’s earning this status, so, too, has its cast. The nature of the series requires the cast to enlarge and shrink fairly often. Thus, many characters and their respective actors are not as integral to the audience’s viewing experience week after week. However, they remain significant to The Flash’s, and by proxy the Arrowverse’s, DNA. These actors, regardless of screen time received, are essential to the fabric of whichever character they portray. Moreover, their performances can make or break episodes, depending on their integration into the plot.
Therefore, applause is in order for not only the actors who excel, but the casting directors responsible for their hiring. Amid the arguably great casting choices, however, are a few miscast roles. Akin to how a well cast character can carry a show to the highest of heights, a miscast one can relegate it to the lowest of lows. In myriad instances, the actor isn’t the individual deserving of blame; they may have simply been placed in the wrong role, or their strengths as performers are under-serviced. Here are eight roles The Flash has perfectly cast and seven that miss the mark.
15 PERFECTLY CAST: GRANT GUSTIN AS THE FLASH
Without question, much of a television show’s success rests on its lead. No one would argue that Grant Gustin isn’t the right fit. First debuting in what’s considered The Flash’s backdoor pilot, Arrow season two’s “The Scientist” offers Grant Gustin a chance to shine. He flourishes as Barry Allen and continues to do so on his solo series.
Gustin brings to the role levity, wonder, unparalleled emotion, and, most importantly, heart. Passion imbues the actor’s performance even in the most mundane or silly of scenes. This is evident while he dons the Speedster’s suit and while he’s merely playing the part of Barry Allen, forensic scientist. Even if Barry himself doesn’t make ideal decisions, Gustin as an actor never errs in his performance. The Flash could not have cast a better leading man.
14 MISCAST: TOM FELTON AS JULIAN ALBERT
Tom Felton typically gets roles wherein he is typecast as villainous or morally ambiguous. It’s worked since his days of making the house of Slytherin proud as Draco Malfoy. Many, including Felton himself, expected the trend to continue uninterrupted in The Flash’s third season. Cast as Julian Albert, Felton plays a post-Flashpoint colleague of Barry’s at CCPD. He moonlights, however, as an agent of Savitar, Doctor Alchemy. On paper, this sounds perfect. Unfortunately, it isn't executed well.
Felton and his strengths as a performer are grossly underserved. By midseason the tension that pervades the first half of season three all but vanishes. He’s unceremoniously revealed as Alchemy and becomes a member of Team Flash. From then on, Felton is poorly utilized, acting as little more than a love interest for Caitlin Snow. That the actor was not cast in a role befitting his talent is disappointing.
13 PERFECTLY CAST: CANDICE PATTON AS IRIS WEST
Candice Patton’s casting as Iris West wasn’t without controversy. The contention centers squarely on a woman of color playing a historically white character. Like clockwork, the internet was ablaze with fans upset at the race-bending move. In hindsight, many consider it a bold step forward by The CW, one that’s meant the world to underrepresented demographics. But, when all is told, much of the praise is owed to Patton herself. If Iris is Barry’s lightning rod, then the same can arguably be said of Patton’s connection to the show.
She plays the role with grace, taking whatever she is given by writers and directors, then expanding upon it. An energy emanates from her that is especially evinced in moments where Iris is required to ground Barry, imparting wisdom or support in times of adversity. As a second lead in the series, Patton more than rises to the task.
12 MISCAST: HARTLEY SAWYER AS RALPH DIBNY
This entry may seem unfair. After all, none of the Ralph Dibny-centric arcs have been told in full; he’s still a new addition. The characterization of Dibny is what’s particularly troubling. This version of the character is downright unlikeable, selfish and often heartless. Therein lies the problem with the casting of Hartley Sawyer. When portraying the zany side of Dibny, he is perfect. The few instances in which he behaves heroically are also proof of Sawyer’s being a good fit for the Elongated Man role.
The out of character moments raise concerns. For some reason, Sawyer’s performance doesn’t sell Dibny being a jerk. His attitude comes off as more unbecoming than what appears to be intended. Is this a case of the character not being well developed? Possibly. But perhaps Sawyer was simply cast for the wrong iteration of a typically beloved hero.
11 PERFECTLY CAST: JOHN WESLEY SHIPP AS HENRY ALLEN/JAY GARRICK
Anytime John Wesley Shipp guest stars on The Flash is an amazing time. His presence on the show never fails to incite excitement amongst the audience. Furthermore, both of his roles -- Henry Allen and the Speedster, Jay Garrick -- are continually well utilized for plot purposes. Not many guest stars in the Arrowverse can say the same.
As Barry’s father, Shipp is at the nexus of Barry’s early heroic journey; needless to say, he plays it expertly. Out of his performance is a warmth that makes audiences believe that The Flash is the offspring of a man wrongfully convicted for murder. Shipp’s portrayal of Jay Garrick can be described as nothing if not a series highlight. The actor’s donning a Speedster suit again continues to excite Flash fans old and new. These roles allow Shipp to play the honorable father figure in different ways, though consistently grounded in wisdom and inspiration.
10 MISCAST: DEVON GRAYE AS AXEL WALKER
The Trickster is an inherently absurd Flash rogue. Because it’s his shtick, this typically works. There is a caveat, though; it works best when done well. With Mark Hamill in the role of James Jesse/Trickster, the zaniness is turned to 11. When Jesse’s son Axel Walker (played by Devon Graye) takes over, the absurdity increases tenfold. Of The Flash’s innumerable villain-of-the-week types, the new Trickster is among the list of unfavorable foes.
Many contend this iteration is too off the wall, even for the show’s more comedic ventures. However, fans seem to generally enjoy Walker’s mother Zoey Clark/Prank (played by Corinne Bohrer). Is the problem in Graye’s portrayal of the junior villain, then? Acting is, ultimately, all about choices a performer makes. It appears Graye’s decisions are not as strong as those made by Hamill and Bohrer.
9 PERFECTLY CAST: NEIL SANDILANDS AS THE THINKER
Savitar remains The Flash’s most divisive main villain. Therefore, upon returning for a fourth season, the show had to flip the script, especially after three years of Speedsters as a threat. Enter The Thinker, a little known DC rogue who becomes one of the Arrowverse’s most compelling characters in a short period of time. This villain is expertly written and his arc, though still in progress, continues to fascinate. These successes are thanks to Neil Sandilands’ dynamic performance in the role.
Because Thinker isn’t a physical threat, often shown confined to a wheelchair, the actor communicates his supremacy through intellect. Sandilands’ villain is deliberate, even in speech, methodical, and perpetually one step ahead. All of these traits, and countless others, are conveyed in Sandilands’ captivating performances. In truth, season four hasn’t been the same since his departure.
8 MISCAST: TOBIN BELL AS THE VOICE OF DOCTOR ALCHEMY
Saw’s Tobin Bell, was cast as a Flash villain. This equates to nothing if not a massive get for The CW, especially since Tony Todd is so beloved as the voice of Zoom. With another icon of horror on the series, Doctor Alchemy was expected to be the show’s next best thing. Sadly, he is hardly remembered. An actor who’s been haunting the big screen for over a decade is cast as villain that cannot incite fear on a drama marketed to younger audiences. To talk of Bell’s talent in this regard as underutilized is an exercise of restraint.
Bell’s casting, or rather his miscasting, denotes an example of an actor garnering a role that is beneath their abilities. In hindsight, Alchemy didn’t have a need for a “scary” voice, other than that such a character trait previously won audiences over.
7 PERFECTLY CAST: WENTWORTH MILLER AS CAPTAIN COLD
Were this list ranking the best casting in superhero franchises, Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold would be near the top. Miller’s iteration of the rogue has been revered since debuting in The Flash’s pilot season. In every instance, he chews the scenery and perfectly plays opposite other characters. From his careful intonations to his eerily captivating mannerisms, Miller cements Captain Cold as the compelling character few guessed he could become.
Setting aside mustache twirling villainy, Snart also evolves into a hero. Watching this development is enthralling. Interestingly, Miller’s ability to navigate changes in the character is most notable when Leo, Earth-X Captain Cold, debuts during “Crisis on Earth-X.” This version wears heroism on his sleeve, enjoys engaging with others, and is happily in love with fellow superhero, Ray Terrill. In short, Wentworth Miller’s tenure as Captain Cold is triumphant.
6 MISCAST: AMANDA PAYS AS TINA MCGEE
The Arrowverse is known for returning DC TV legacy actors to the franchise’s small screen ventures. Notable examples include, Mark Hamill, John Wesley Shipp, Dean Cain, and Lynda Carter. Amanda Pays is one of the smaller names, an alum of the '90s Flash series, where she played Christina McGee opposite Shipp’s Barry Allen. In the older series, McGee is a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist who aids Barry in understanding his powers.
The CW cast Pays in a similar role, where Tina McGee heads a S.T.A.R. Labs competitor, Mercury Labs. Pays appears in a recurring guest role during season one. Other than fan service, her contribution is relatively uninspired. She plays the role dryly, never giving the character any semblance of emotional range. Could Tina McGee ever be of any interest? Unfortunately, we may never know.
5 PERFECTLY CAST: TONY TODD AS THE VOICE OF ZOOM
With an iconic voice and a captivating screen presence, Tony Todd, in the eyes of horror fans, can do no wrong. His voicing The Flash’s second season villain, Zoom, reinforces that belief. No villain in the Arrowverse, or any other currently running comic book television series, is quite as terrifying as Zoom. Todd’s speech, meshed with a few technological enhancements make his demonic voice one to remember.
Alongside Todd’s iconic vocals is an equally terrifying design for the villain’s suit. The menacing appearance of Zoom’s cowl is comparable to the voice its paired with, as the space for his mouth bears a crudely stitched look. Needless to say, all of this and more adds to the villain’s terror-inducing presence. Undeniably, a better person could not have been cast in the role.
4 MISCAST: CIARA RENÉE AS KENDRA SAUNDERS
Ciara Renée seems to effortlessly exude charm. When a scene requires humor, she’s funny. Awkward? She nails it. However, a character like Hawkgirl, who audiences are most familiar with due to Justice League’s animated series, is rarely either of these. Of course, this likely comes down to a decision of characterization. The story being told calls for this version of Hawkgirl to behave in a manner conducive of someone confused about their past. Ultimately, little success is found by taking such a route.
In addition, Renée’s charm doesn’t always work for the character. Many of the emotional beats feel weightless; it’s difficult to determine whether this is the fault of the writing or Renée’s performance. This extends to her tenure on Legends of Tomorrow as well. Maybe another actress would have also been unable to elevate the material. Regardless, the Arrowverse’ Hawkgirl isn’t a favorable one.
3 PERFECTLY CAST: VICTOR GARBER AS MARTIN STEIN
Simply put, Victor Garber’s prolific career comes from his sheer talent, which thankfully graces the Arrowverse. Debuting in The Flash’s first season, Garber plays a scientist, Martin Stein, developing the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project who eventually adopts the role of a superhero. What Garber brings to Stein is far more than what could have been asked of him. Stein is easily excitable, sometimes jittery, and fiercely passionate—often times, Garber conveys all of this and more in a single episode.
His performances are an example of the actor elevating the character to a status beyond what is initially anticipated. Because of his long stint on Legends of Tomorrow, Garber explores other facets of the character as well. His exit from the franchise marks the end of something special, a presence that cannot be replaced.
2 MISCAST: SUGAR LYN BEARD AS BECKY SHARPE'S THINKER
As a recurring guest star, Sugar Lyn Beard is a wonderful addition to The Flash. She debuts early in season four, playing the hapless Becky Sharpe who stumbles upon the power of luck. In the role, Beard is fun, her performance vibrant and easily likable. Upon returning later in the season as a prisoner abducted for Amunet Black’s nefarious business deals, Beard soars once more. Her second appearance even gives Becky more emotional depth.
Beard’s being miscast, then, is in reference to her becoming the Thinker’s second host. Kendrick Sampson plays the first host, and perfectly captures actor Neil Sandilands’ speech patterns and mannerisms. It seems Beard is unable to do the same. Her depiction of Thinker’s behavioral changes work; they just don’t jive with the essence of the character Sandilands previously brought to life.
1 PERFECTLY CAST: TOM CAVANAGH AS EVERY HARRISON WELLS
Tom Cavanagh has played so many versions of Harrison Wells that it’s hard to keep count. As evidenced by an earlier episode of season four, wherein Team Flash invites several Harrisons from the multiverse, some versions are superficially explored. However, season one Wells along with his Earth-2 and Earth-19 counterparts are intricately defined.
Cavanagh brings an unparalleled energy to The Flash’s cast. He can play the villain, a bumbling heroic figure, and a flustered scientist, all on one show and as variations of one character. It’s admirable to say the least. Of late, the series sticks to Earth-2's Harry. Thus far, this focus on one Wells allows the character to grow, giving Cavanagh even more in-depth material to work with. Harrison Wells as a whole is better for it.