What is the Flashpoint Paradox?

Joseph Wilbur
TV Comics
TV Comics Arrowverse DC

WARNING! Spoilers for CW’s Flash Season Finale Ahead!

The 23rd and finale episode of CW’s The Flash Season 2 (titled “The Race of His Life“) aired on Tuesday and in the final scenes of the episode, Barry Allen ran back in time, saving his mother from dying. Nearly immediately, the version of the Flash that ran back in time in the finale of Season 1, faded away, so we know that there are definitely going to be repercussions to this rash action.

Comic book fans will recognize this decision as the one that in the comics, initiated the Flashpoint Paradox. But what exactly is the Flashpoint Paradox? Note: This article will discuss the comic book storyline, not the more recent movie by the same name.

Barry wakes up in a timeline that doesn’t seem to be the one he’s used to. These changes are subtle at first, such as the classic villain Captain Cold being Central City’s hero, not the Flash. His mother is alive and his father died three years ago due to a heart attack, and not in prison. And the greatest change, the Flash has no powers. 

There is also no Justice League, and no one knows who Superman is.


Meanwhile, over in Gotham, Batman throws a criminal off a roof, which points that this isn’t quite the Batman we’re used to. Cyborg subsequently confronts this altered Batman and informs him what is occurring in the world.

In this timeline, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war over a large misunderstanding that involved the death of Aquawoman. Cyborg petitions Batman’s help in reorganizing the rest of the world’s heroes so they can put an end to the two armies before their battle destroys the entire world. However, this Batman refuses in front of the rest of the heroes, discouraging them from helping Cyborg. Then, before Cyborg can reason with him, Batman leaps off the building and rushes back to the Batcave, where he finds that Barry Allen has broken in. Enraged, he demands to know how Barry Allen knows everything
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After a discussion revolving around Bruce, this Batman is revealed to be none other than the father of Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne. In this timeline, his son, not he, died in that alleyway. As a side note, Martha Wayne could not cope with her son’s death, so in this timeline, she became the Joker.

Footsteps of the Father

Just as Barry begins to understand, his head is ravaged by a crippling headache and his memories begin to be realigned with this timeline. However, Batman still refuses to believe Barry, so Barry decides to eject his Flash costume to prove once and for all to Batman that he is indeed a superhero. But out of the Flash rings pops out the costume of not the Scarlet Speedster, but his rival, the Reverse-Flash. This leads Barry to believe that the Reverse-Flash is the reason for this altered timeline.

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After a long discussion with a now believing Batman, they decide that the only possible outcome to defeat the Reverse-Flash and restore the timeline is for Barry to become the Flash once again. They strap Barry into a chair beside racks of chemicals, attach a lightning rod, and await the lightning. This doesn’t quite work out according to plan, resulting in a badly burned Barry Allen. They repeat the experiment, however, and this time its successful. Barry again becomes the Flash, his injuries miraculously healing.

He decides that the Reverse-Flash must have altered the timeline in order to prevent the formation of the Justice League. So Barry decides to bring together the League so they can figure out how to undo the timeline shift. Upon hearing that his son Bruce is alive in this alternate timeline, Thomas decides that he will indeed help Barry. In order to gather the heroes, Flash and Batman team up with Cyborg to see if they can unearth this timeline’s Superman. In this timeline, it wasn’t the Kents who found baby Clark, it was the military. With the help of Cyborg’s computer skills, they discover that the military is hiding an alien in a top-secret facility.

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So they break in, but they don’t find the Man of Steel. Instead, they find a scrawny teenager, who looks as if he’s never seen the sun. Upon breaking out, they’re confronted by military soldiers, and Superman, experiencing a yellow sun sun for the first time, flies off into space, leaving everyone behind. The President then proceeds to inform Cyborg that his efforts to unite the world’s heroes have failed, forcing the U.S. to enter the conflict.

Desperate, the trio break into the Marvel family’s home, to use Billy’s lightning powers to preserve Barry’s memories. The Flash, now seeking to end this once for all, directs everyone to the center of the conflict because he’s heard there have been sightings of a speedster in that location.

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Once they arrive, an intense battle ensues. The Reverse-Flash confronts Barry to explain what changed the timeline. You see, it wasn’t the villain who did this, it was Barry, who went back in time to save his mother from being killed at the hands of the Reverse-Flash. In order to stop his arch nemesis speedster, the Flash pulled the entire Speed force into himself, which shattered the timeline.

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But if there’s no Flash, there should be no Reverse-Flash. So by the fact that the Reverse-Flash is standing there is indeed a time paradox. But before the villain can kill the Flash, Batman kills him.

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As the battle becomes more intense, the Flash comes to the realization that all these people are going to die. As he looks at a now mortally injured Thomas, he wants to help them, he wants to help everyone one of these people. But Thomas confronts Barry, saying that he has to save his son, he has to change the timeline.


The Flash then runs back in time to stop himself from saving his mother, and is successful. He did indeed change the timeline, which he realizes as he runs back.

So in a nutshell, Flash runs back in time, saves his mother, and totally messes up the timeline. Sounds familiar? This directly parallels the final scene of the season finale of the Flash, in which Barry runs back in time and prevents the Reverse Flash from killing Nora Allen. So far we already see one repercussion of this action; the season 1 Flash who ran back in time but merely watched his mother’s death faded away, so what else has changed in the future?

Joseph Wilbur
Joseph Wilbur has been a writer for Fandom for over 2 years. You'll probably find him writing about the Arrowverse shows, or the DC and Marvel universes. He is a Star Wars fanatic, and has read every book in the 'Star Wars Legends' Universe (most of them at least twice).
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