BySteve Smith, writer at
I'm a nerd, roleplayer, amateur author, Star Wars fan, gamer, and all around pop culture junkie. I'm a Dudist Priest for several years now,
Steve Smith


Damnit. The Flash and The Arrow make me happy that comics are on TV now, but if they can't do time travel correctly, they need to stop.

I've had the conversations about this with several people. Some say it's correct, because the multiverse makes it work. Some say it's correct, because it creates pocket timelines. Neither of those work for me. Here's my problem with the plot. Spoilers are afoot, for those who are interested in the show(s) but haven't watched yet.

The Flash begins with Barry Allen, as a child, witnessing his mother's murder, and his father being wrongfully accused of it. Fast forwards some years, and you find Barry has taken a job as a CSI with the Central City police force. He's secretly investigating all the clues he can find on his mother's death, to try to prove his father's innocence, even though it's long ago been considered case closed. A superscientific storm causes lightning to strike Barry on the night of the Star Labs explosion, which causes Barry's connection to the speed force to emerge. But before that, he's put into a coma. During his time in a coma, Detective Joe West (Barry's adopted father who was also left partnerless, on the night of the explosion. More on that in a bit.) is approached by Star Labs lead scientist, Dr. Harrison Wells. Wells lost the use of his legs in the explosion, as well as the life of one of his employees, Ronnie Raymond, who was essentially disintegrated during the explosion. He approaches Det. West to offer to help Barry as a means to make partial recompense for in effect causing the disaster. We later come to discover that his intentions are far from altruistic. Barry wakes up, and Wells begins grooming him to be the Flash. He discovers his super powers, and prunes them, alongside Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, and under the wing of Dr. Wells, to become the super hero of the show. After several clues, it's finally revealed that the show's main villain, Cisco's so-called "Reverse Flash", is not only the actual murderer of mother Allen, but also none other than Harrison Wells...or, more accurately Eobard Thawne, who was the Reverse Flash from the future, who traveled back in time to kill Barry Allen before he could become the Scarlet Speedster, and the reason behind the supernatural looking situation young Barry witnessed during his mother's murder. It turns out that future Flash, and Reverse Flash were battling it out, super speed style, all through out the Allen home. As such, young Barry couldn't see what was happening, other than the speed lightning (a "natural" side effect of super speed), and blurs. As the speedsters fought, Flash took his younger self, and ran him away, to save his life. Having been thwarted, Thawne (that was fun to type) resorts to killing Barry's mother, instead, hoping the tragedy would so impact Barry that he fails to become the hero of the future. As he is leaving the scene, however, he loses his connection to the speed force, thus preventing him from traveling back to his own time. So, in order to return to his time, he now must insure that Barry becomes the Flash, and has to do so sooner than he did in the initial timeline. So he takes the identity of Harrison Wells, killing him in the process, and begins his plan to train Barry Allen to become the Flash prematurely, since, according to his timeline, he'd have to wait until 2020 for it to happen as it was originally supposed to. So he takes steps to advance the process, and regain the ability to get home, sooner. In doing so, he sets in motion the events that bring his ancestor, Eddie Thawne, to replace the detective that was killed on the night of the particle accelerator explosion, as Detective Joe West's partner. Over the course of the plot, Eddie falls in love with Iris West (Joe's daughter, and Barry's future wife/current adopted sister/love interest, and eventual mother to Wally West, who is a future speedster, and eventual Flash. *Note: I can see how they could get sideways on a plot line, but the points I'm going to make don't even involve most of these little twists. I'm just setting the scene.)

So this all eventually brings us to a showdown between Eobard Thawne as the Reverse Flash, having a showdown against Barry Allen, Detective West, and crew, to allow him to get home through a time vortex that they have opened. Eobard is leveraging his kidnapping of Eddie to force Barry to let him go home. There are a few more details, but this is the gist of the situation. However, in a twist brought about by his cruel, and essentially unnecessary condemnation of his ancestor Eddie Thawne as being the only useless member of the Thawne family throughout the ages, Eddie decides to throw a big "screw you" into Eobard's face by shooting himself, thus severing the family line before it had a chance to beget Eobard. As a result, bad-guy Thawne disappears in a swirling mist of "goddamnit", as Eddie fades into heroism with his last breath. Yay.

Now, I'm all for heroic sacrifices. It makes for interesting writing, and good story telling. If what Eobard had claimed was true, Eddie would go on to have never accomplished anything further than spawning eventual shitheels to do bad things to the world. So why not go out with a literal bang, and save many lives in the process?

Oh, that reminds me. Since Eobard is the person that killed Barry's mother, she's alive now, because the person that killed her was never born. His timeline ended generations before he was ever even a gleam in (at that point) Daddy Thawne's eyes...who ALSO never existed. So Barry's homelife was willed with hearty helpingss of mother's meatloaf, and rousing games of LIFE around the family dinner table, right?

Wrong. Because, somehow, even though the person who did it never existed, he still managed to exist right up to the point of him disappearing for never having been born. This creates a problem that no amount of pocket timelines, or multiverse solutions will fix. The REASON he disappeared was because he never existed to begin with, so you can't keep the actions he's committed in the past, because he never existed to commit them. Oh, and everyone remembers him existing, even though he should never have existed to create those memories, and nothing he did ever actually happened, because he was never a thing. Oops.

"You're being too critical, man. It's a show about super heroes. They can bend the rules a bit". Wrong. You can't bend the rules that you create. Here's the thing...yeah, there are super heroes in their story. But that's because they establish that super heroes are a thing. They made the rules that make that possible. Which is exactly why this is a problem. They made the rules that said "Time travel is possible, and all this happened because of it". Great, that makes it possible, in their world. Then, they said "Because this guy was a product of that guy, and had traveled back in time, then when this guy kills himself, this other guy goes away". Okay, that works too. But here's the can't have everything that guy did remain static when the entire reason you say he ceases to exist is because his ancestor killed himself before he had a chance to set in motion the actions that would someday create that bad guy. In order for Eobard Thawne to have killed Barry's mother, he'd have had to travel back in time. In order to do that, he'd have had to get super speed. In order to have done that, he'd have had to be born...which he never did, because Eddie killed himself before it happened. But by the way they're running with it, all that happened, and somehow, Eddie killing himself just happened to snuff out future Thawne, for no apparent reason.

Which is not to say there's no way it could have been done. Future Thawne form another multiverse could have come and chatted with Eobard, and swapped places with him, so that the one responsible for all the past hardship in Barry's life is still running amok, but then that begs the question of why would this multiverse Thawne be willing to risk that he be snuffed out, just to accomplish the desires of evil-otherverse Thawne, when they have no reason to be connected? Even more importantly, why wouldn't any of that be touched on in the story? I'm sure there are other ways, but the existence of one method of it happening is proof of life for potentially other methods. But I think the BIGGEST reason this happened is because the writers figured that no one would pay close enough attention to catch it, or wouldn't care, or understand, enough to call bullshit. But one of the hallmarks of a good story is that you can't punch plot holes in it. And this is a major plothole, in my opinion. You'd think that with 75 years worth of storylines, and several different incarnations, they'd be able to come up with a better way of handling the situation they created.

So am I the only one that has an issue with this?


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