The CW’s Arrowverse features a wide range of characters. And, whether for better or worse, many of these characters develop and grow to become well-rounded, nuanced people that audiences fall in love with. We weigh in on some of the best-developed characters on The Flash.
Detective Joe West
A police officer once told me that the longer you spend in the service, the weirder the things you come across. But I think that seeing your adoptive son suddenly develop the ability to move at super speeds and unravel tornadoes was not what they meant. When Joe West, Barry Allen’s adoptive father, discovered his son’s abilities, he took it in stride and eventually began moonlighting as a member of Team Flash.
Between finding out he had a son he never knew about who becomes a hero in his own right and his wife returning after almost 20 years away only to watch her die, Joe continues to make progress and grow into one of the most well-developed characters on The Flash.
Caitlin ‘Kate’ Snow didn’t exactly have an easy beginning. At the start of the show, her career, future and fiancée are all dead. Not exactly pretty. Being around Barry eventually put a smile back on her face and finding and marrying Ronnie started getting things back to normal in her life. But, evidentially, somebody decided that she didn’t deserve to be happy, and Ronnie died in the first episode of season two.
Then, just to twist the knife, her first attempt at romance after her husband’s death turned out to be a maniacal murderer intent on destroying the multiverse. When she finally seemed to be getting over that little fiasco, up popped the Flashpoint to bring out her Killer Frost side. For somebody who just wanted to help the world, the world is not making it easy.
Tom Cavanagh has been a cornerstone of The Flash since the first episode. Playing several characters through his time — including the Harrison Wells of Earths One, Two and Nineteen — none were better nor more well-developed than Eobard Thawne.
During the first season, Cavanagh portrayed two very different sides of the character. During his secret activities as ‘the Man in Yellow’, Thawne would steal and kill freely. As ‘Harrison Wells’, he would go about his day training Barry. At no point was he suspected of leading a double life, or, for that matter, even being able to walk. Right up to “Fast Enough“, Thawne could manipulate everybody in Team Flash to do his bidding.
Brought back through some incomprehensible time travel gimmicks in Flashpoint, Thawne now fights the Legends throughout time. Having apparently learned his lesson about not working alone, he has formed the Legion of Doom with Darhk and Merlyn.
In the beginning of Barry’s run, Cisco was the happy little mechanic that could. But then Barry accidentally stepped back in time and prevented him from dying. Cisco then started dreaming of his death that never happened. With so many meta-humans going bad, Cisco feared his new powers. Luckily, he was able to gain some control over them in the months that followed.
Cisco’s was a very carefully portrayed path of joy, fear, and normality that actor Carlos Valdes played to perfection. Having recently discovered Barry responsible for the death of his brother, Cisco personally hated his friend but continued to work with him to save people. In fact, Cisco only began to forgive Barry after the events in the Legends of Tomorrow “Invasion!” segment in which he accidentally rewrote history.
Barry Allen/The Flash
Saving the best for last, no other character has evolved more than the star of the show, Barry Allen. Unlike the always cheery Kara Zor-El/Danvers or the grim Oliver Queen, Barry has actually swung from highs to lows more times than I can count. His story began with trying to prove his father’s innocence in the murder of Nora Allen. When he finally proves it, Henry Allen feels he must leave. Eventually, Henry returns to live with his son but is killed by Zoom. It’s then that Barry decides that messing around with time is a good idea.
Now Barry has to live with the consequences of his actions. Caitlin struggles against the madness of Killer Frost, Wally has become Kid Flash, and Dante Ramon died in a car collision. The sheer speed he used to breach the time barrier has also attracted Savitar the “God of Speed” who has come after Team Flash and any who stand with them.
This is the second in a four-part series on the Arrowverse’s best-developed characters. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!