The Flash. The Scarlet Speedster. The Crimson Comet. The Sultan of Speed. The Scarlet Knight. The Fastest Man Alive.
Jay fought a mix of racketeers, saboteurs, normal criminals with a gimmick, aliens, and super-powered villains. Meanwhile, he also maintained a day job as a chemical research scientist. Jay wasn't always careful to keep up a Secret Identity, which sometimes caused problems in his relationship with his girlfriend Joan Williams. In a pleasant variation from the norm, Joan was in on his secret from the beginning.
Debuting in January 1940 as the lead feature in the new anthology series Flash Comics, Jay Garrick soon proved popular enough to headline his own solo series All-Flash, being the third DC hero to do so after Superman and Batman. Beginning in the summer of 1941, originally published quarterly before being increased to bi-monthly, All-Flash had a longer page count and featured either long multi-part stories or several individual stories per issue. The Flash also appeared in All-Star Comics as part of the Justice Society of America, and along with Green Lantern and Wonder Woman headlined the popular Comics Cavalcade anthology series.
While the Flash was one of the most successful DC characters in the 1940s, as the Golden Age came to an end Jay Garrick left with it. All-Flash was canceled with issue #32, Comic Cavalcade was retooled as a non-superhero comic after #29, and Flash Comics was canceled with #104 in February 1949. The character continued to appear in print for two more years as a member of the JSA, but his final Golden Age appearance came with All-Star Comics #57 in February 1951.
Barry was a police scientist, one of the precursors to CSI-style forensics. On a dark and stormy night, he was working late in the lab. Just as he was standing against a rack of multicolored chemicals, a lightning bolt flew through the window, striking the chemicals and causing them to spill all over Barry, leaving him soaked but unharmed. As he left the lab, he found himself running at super-speed to catch up with a cab, and the Flash was born.
The Flash created many of the features of the Silver Age DCU. In 1961, the story "Flash Of Two Worlds" was published. It featured Barry accidentally crossing the "vibration barrier" between dimensions, and ending up in a world he dubbed "Earth-2", where Jay Garrick still lived, having retired from superheroing after marrying Joan. Thus, the first seeds of the Infinite Earths were planted. He was also a founding member of the Justice League of America.
Along the way, he developed an impressive Rogues Gallery of enemies who commanded incredible technology that always works through a particular theme. For example, Captain Cold had advanced freezing weapons, Heat Wave's fired extreme heat, Mirror Master's mirror based technology could do a myriad of things and Weather Wizard could control weather itself. Yet, for all this powerful tech, it's a running joke that the vast majority of the gallery were really unambitious with it, considering they were content to merely commit simple robberies with them. Gorilla Grodd with his bigger fish, er... bananas, to fry, was an exception, as were Professor Zoom, Cobalt Blue, and Abra Kadabra.
A few years into his tenure, Barry picked up Kid Sidekick Wally West. Wally, the nephew of Barry's fiancée and eventual wife Iris, was visiting Barry at the lab when, suddenly, the Freak Lab Accident repeated itself, showering Wally in electrified chemicals and giving him the same powers. Barry dubbed him "Kid Flash" and let him in on the secret, taking him along on his adventures.
Barry's career lasted into The Bronze Age of Comic Books, and took on the flavor of the era. Professor Zoom, Barry's Evil Counterpart, killed Iris. Barry grieved, but fell in love again with Fiona Webb; however, on their wedding day, Zoom attacked again, and after a pitched battle, Barry snapped his neck just before he was about to kill Fiona. This led into the The Trial of the Flash arc; at the end, Barry was acquitted, it was revealed that Iris was from the future and had been saved by Applied Phlebotinum, and they moved there together, giving the series a Happily Ever After ending. (Well, unless you're Fiona.)
Unfortunately, happy endings don't last long in comics, and soon, Barry returned, warning the heroes of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He was kidnapped by the Anti-Monitor, the Crisis Big Bad, but sacrificed himself in order to save the universe from the Anti-Monitor's anti-matter cannon, running so fast that he disappeared from reality itself.
Now, not long before, Wally West had developed a disease that would kill him if he used his powers. During Crisis, he was cured by an energy blast, and after angsting about it for a while, decided to carry on Barry's legacy by becoming the new Flash, which led into the rebooted Flash series.
As the series went on, Wally matured. His speed, which had been limited to about the speed of sound after Crisis, started increasing. He became good friends with the woman who would later be his steady love interest, reporter Linda Park. Subverting There Are No Therapists, he actually got therapy. His Secret Identity went public.
Then Mark Waid came on the series, and things really took off. Wally was increasingly linked to the Flash legacy, and it to him. He started fighting Barry's old villains. Jay was brought back into present-day continuity and began appearing regularly as an elder mentor figure. Iris returned from the future, with a new speedster in tow; Bart Allen, a.k.a. Impulse, Barry's grandson, who had inherited his speed, but had no sense of personal danger or responsibility after being raised in virtual reality. (He originally could not slow down and could only interact with a world that worked at computer speeds; he was later taught to shift gears.) Barry seemed to return, but it was really a complex delusion of a time-travelling Professor Zoom.
Finally, the thing that would forever after define the Flash legacy showed up: the Speed Force. After a trip through time, Wally began to transform into energy. Max Mercury, a Golden Age speedster, showed up, explaining that Wally had touched a quasi-mystical dimension, "beyond the speed of light", that was the source of all speedsters' powers. Max became the mentor to Wally and later, to Bart. Wally was eventually sucked in, but managed to come out the other side due to the power of his love for Linda.
About this time, other speedsters became regular guest stars, often en masse, forming Wally's "Cyclone Rangers" or "The Academy of Speed", including Wally, Jay, Bart, Max Mercury, and Jesse Quick. Bart spun off into his own, light-hearted series Impulse.
Meanwhile, Wally and Linda got ready to tie the knot. As had become de rigeur for a Flash wedding, something horrible happened, with Linda kidnapped by Abra Kadabra and apparently erased from existence. Without The Power of Love to anchor him, Wally apparently disappeared into the Speed Force. He was replaced by a Darker and Edgier Flash; a mysterious figure who was trusted by the few people who knew his identity (initially he never took his mask off on panel). "Dark Flash" was eventually revealed as an Alternate Universe Wally from a world in which Linda had been killed. Eventually, the "real" Wally and Linda returned, Linda having been trapped in Dark Flash's universe and The Power of Love having brought Wally there.
After Waid left the book, Geoff Johns took it in a new direction; Linda's unborn twins were killed by Wally's Evil Counterpart, the new Zoom, and Wally subsequently got the Spectre to wipe everyone's memory of the Flash's secret identity, including his own. Gradually, first Wally then other heroes, then Linda learned the truth. Eventually Wally was able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and use Zoom's own Time Travel powers to restore the twins. Bart, meanwhile, moved from Impulse to becoming the new Kid Flash in the pages of Teen Titans
In the Crisis Crossover Infinite Crisis, Wally attempted to trap Superboy-Prime in the Speed Force, and took Linda and the twins to a peaceful planet the Flashes had been visiting since Jay's time.
This era also saw Mark Waid return to the series as writer, although he left after just one story arc. The series subsequently changed writers on each new story until it ended with issue #247 in February 2009. The final story arc saw Iris and Jai's ageing processes restored to normal as their connections to the Speed Force were finally stabilised.
Bart came back from the dead and got plot-relevant de-aged in Legion of 3 Worlds. He once again donned the identity of Kid Flash, and made it back to modern times.
As of the end of Blackest Night, the DC Universe was left with the unprecedented scenario of all four Flashes alive and well. Whilst the fandom hoped the writers would take full advantage, the opportunity was never capitalized on, with the Flash series focusing on Barry and barely featuring Wally (it was supposed to, but Schedule Slips prevented that), Bart or Jay during the 12 issues of the series. And then Flashpoint happened.
In the New 52, the franchise has basically undergone a hard reboot. Whilst Barry is still the Flash, he's no longer married to Iris and is now in a relationship with Patty Spivot; and whilst Kid Flash is still around and Bart is still in the suit, he's no longer related to Barry nor are his powers Speed Force-related. As for Jay Garrick, the event also re-established Earth 2, making Jay once again Barry's Alternate Universe counterpart, albeit one who's Younger and Hipper; in fact, he's younger than Barry. Wally West is still Iris West's nephew, but had been de-aged to 12 years old and is now biracial (as a result of The Flash (2014) making the West family Black).
The New 52 also introduced a new Reverse-Flash, seemingly the first — Daniel West, Iris' younger brother. In this universe, Barry never caught Eobard, and it was unclear whether Eobard even existed. He eventually resurfaced, going purely by Professor Zoom, and having an entirely different backstory. Though he is still the person who murdered Nora Allen.
The 12 year old Wally seen in the New 52 is revealed to be a distant cousin of the original, with both of them named after their great grandfather. "NuWally" eventually takes up the Kid Flash identity and stars in Teen Titans (Rebirth)
Barry's book also saw "a Speed Force storm" in Central City empower a number of citizens. At the end of the story, all but one of them is depowered (unbeknownst to Barry) — Avery Ho, a Chinese-American woman who now serves as the Flash of China. See New Super-Man for more.
At the same time, the JSA is explicitly referenced at the beginning of the relaunch, and the original Jay Garrick's helmet makes a cameo. Jay eventually returned in The Flash #22, the last part of a crossover between Batman and The Flash called The Button. He, like Wally, was trapped in the Speed Force and is aware of the editing of the DCU's timeline, and manages to help Bruce and Barry out. However, unlike Wally, he isn't able to return... yet.
Eventually, Wally would return to the pages of The Flash, and a new Flash Family would form, consisting of Barry Allen, Wally West, Wallace West (the original's cousin), Avery Ho, August Heart and Meena Dhawan. At the same time, it is revealed that a villain is orchestrating a plan to destroy the Flash Family — Hunter Zolomon. For tropes relating to this story, see "Flash War". In the aftermath of the Heroes in Crisis event, Wally received a miniseries, Flash Forward.
- Tangent Comics Flash was a young girl called Lia Nelson who was composed of light.
- A re-imagining of the Flash exists in the Just Imagine series. This version of the Flash is a college girl called Mary Maxwell who gains super speed after her father attempts to save her from a life-threatening disease that slowly drained her energy, by injecting her with hummingbird DNA.
- DC even has two Funny Animal versions of the Flash:
- The first was the Terrific Whatzit, a Golden Age comics character who's a turtle. TW had a power set similar to Johnny Quick's (super-speed, some flying ability) plus super-strength; he wore a costume similar to Jay Garrick's. Later stories showed he lived on the parallel world of Earth-C, and was the uncle of the Zoo Crew's speedster Fastback.
- The second was the Crash, a member of the JLA (Just'a Lotta Animals) of Earth-C-Minus. The Crash was his world's version of the Flash (the Silver Age version), and thus had the same costume and powers as the Flash. In a variation on Barry Allen's backstory as well as the story "The Flash of Two Worlds," it's revealed that the Crash as a child had read his world's "fictional" comics about (Earth-C's) Terrific Whatzit.
- Jay Garrick
- Justice League an Expy of Jay makes an appearance in a world created from in-universe comic books.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold was his first true appearance in animation, voiced by Andy Milner.
- Justice League: The New Frontier, seen briefly in the opening credits where he was forced into retirement by the government.
- Smallville, his first live action appearance in a cameo in season nine, played by Billy Mitchell.
- Young Justice as a retired friend and mentor, voiced by Geoff Pierson.
- The Flash (2014): Jay is a recurring character in the show beginning in Season 2, played by none other than John Wesley Shipp.
- Barry Allen
- The Flash (1990) starring John Wesley Shipp.
- Arrowverse: First appearing in a two episode arc on Arrow, portrayed by Glee alum Grant Gustin, leading to his Spin-Off solo series.
- The Flash (2014): Barry received his powers after being struck by lightning during a particle accelerator explosion in Central City, creating other metahumans for him to fight. Shipp and other actors from the first version have appeared in supporting roles, and the 1990 show was fully integrated into the Arrowverse when Shipp's Flash appeared in the Elseworlds (2018) event.
- DC Extended Universe: Played by Ezra Miller.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Two short cameos to lead into Justice League, one emerging from a dream sequence implying he was time-traveling to warn Bruce of something, and another in security footage listed in secret files on metahumans where he stops a robbery while causing electrical spikes.
- Suicide Squad: A brief cameo where he catches Captain Boomerang mid-robbery.
- Justice League: One of the core members of the Justice League.
- Zack Snyder's Justice League: Revisits the aftermath of Batman v Superman in a manner different from the above theatrical version.
- The Flash (TBA): Barry's first solo adventure in a theatrical film. To be directed by Andrés Muschietti.
- DC Super Hero Girls: Supporting character. Voiced by Josh Keaton.
- Superfriends voiced by Cliff Owen.
- Justice League: The New Frontier voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.
- Justice League: Doom where he is, confusingly, played by Wally's second DCAU voice actor Michael Rosenbaum.
- The Batman, played by Wally's first DCAU voice actor, Charlie Schlatter. Not confirmed in the script but by Word of God.
- Young Justice: Wally's mentor and a core Justice League member. Voiced by George Eads, although James Arnold Taylor played him in the season two finale.
- Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox played by Justin Chambers and its two follow-ups, Justice League: War and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, played by Christopher Gorham.
- Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Justice League Of America, a television pilot where he was portrayed by Kenny Johnston.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Alan Tudyk.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us voiced by Neal McDonough.
- "The Ballad of Barry Allen", by band Jim's Big Ego (headed by the nephew of Carmine Infantino), examines what life must be like for Barry ("because when things change in an instant it's almost fast enough for me").
- Wally West
- DCAU, as the Flash: First appeared in Superman: The Animated Series voiced by Charlie Schlatter, only later confirmed to be Wally in Justice League.
- Filmation's Teen Titans shorts as Kid Flash
- Teen Titans as Kid Flash, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold as Kid Flash, voiced by Hunter Parrish
- Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as the Flash, voiced by Josh Keaton
- Young Justice as Kid Flash, voiced by Jason Spisak
- Superfriends as Kid Flash, voiced by Tommy Cook
- DC Super Friends short
- Young Justice: Legacy video game, as Kid Flash
- Justice League Heroes video game, as the Flash
- Justice League Heroes: The Flash - a side-story to the above game
- The Flash (2014), played by Keiynan Lonsdale. Appearing in the second season, he was reimagined as Joe West's long lost son and Iris' brother (Joe's wife was pregnant when she left him). Following the Race Lift of the West family, Wally is also portrayed as African American. He takes up the role of Kid Flash in the third season.
- Legends of Tomorrow: Wally briefly switches shows to join the Legends during their third season.
- Teen Titans: The Judas Contract: In a flashback to Dick Grayson's Robin days, Wally is Kid Flash and a member of the team. He's reprised by Jason Spisak.
- Bart Allen
The only times all four Flashes have been on-screen together are two episodes of Young Justice. Episode six of season two, "Bloodlines," features Bart coming to the show's present from forty years in the future, and one by one, he, Wally, and Jay step in to help Barry fight off a villain targeting The Flash. The other episode is the series finale, "Endgame," where Barry, Bart, Wally, and Jay are among the 40 heroes teaming up to thwart the Reach's attempt to destroy the Earth out of spite. While Jay only appears in a crowd shot, Barry, Bart, and Wally are forced to use their speed to create enough kinetic energy to counteract a "secret" bomb the heroes discovered too late to disarm.
For one of the major Flash fan-sites on the Internet, see Flash: Those Who Ride The Lightning.
The Flash has named the following tropes...
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The Flash provides examples of the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc:
- Back in Messner-Loebs' run, Wally's surrogate father figure Mason Tollbridge had a teased relationship with Joan Garrick when Jay was believed dead, and the two received significant panel time together. This went out the window when Mason married a New Old Flame and he subsequently disappeared completely, with his entire role as Wally's mentor/surrogate father being replaced by the recently-revived Jay Garrick when Mark Waid took over.
- Early during Geoff Johns' run, Detective Jared Morillo was stabbed by Cicada's blade, granting him his similar speed-derived Healing Factor. This continues to be a major secret of his that he only shares with Fred Chyre, and they indicate that he's now connected to Cicada mentally. This plot never goes anywhere, however, as Morillo is Demoted to Extra when Wally's identity becomes a secret again.
- Iris West and Fred Chyre were shown to have a budding relationship developing, after Iris adopts Fred's godson before he could and the two bond while taking care of them. Besides Wally's confused response, this also goes out the window when Wally's identity is erased.
- After the identity erasing, Wally becomes suspect of a criminal investigation when he forgets to finish repairing Ashley Zolomon's brakes, nearly killing her in a car crash (at the same time, Linda had walked out on Wally over the identity erasing, and with no one to vouch for her whereabouts, the police suspect Wally snapped and killed her). This plot got significant build-up, but after Wally and Ashley have a heart-to-heart and Linda returns, it never comes up and Morillo and Chyre all but completely disappear.
- It definitely looked like something major was going to go down with Wally's kids, but then the New 52 happened and the entire family went MIA. Artist Ethan van Sciver later clarified in his Flash: Rebirth commentary in his Youtube channel that Geoff Johns was planning to keep Irey as Impulse while making Jai the new version of the Turtle, a minor Silver Age villain who can drain speed.
- Rebirth teased a possible alliance between the Silver and Modern Age Reverse-Flashes. Again, Flashpoint happened, and it was all Thawne's doing; there's been no sign of Hunter Zolomon ever since.
- And now, it seems like DC's Generations relaunch is all-but cancelled, making Wally's transformation into a New God armed with Dr Manhattan's power in order to retell/rewrite the DCU timeline seemingly this. Wally instead turns up in Dark Nights: Death Metal, his emotions and personality in-tact, and it seems whatever was planned for him has been absorbed into this book.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Barry is blonde in the comics, but so far, all his Live Action Adaptations are brunettes.
- Affirmative Action Legacy
- Iris West, the half-Asian daughter of Wally and Linda Park-West, took over as the new Impulse before Flashpoint. In the alternate-reality series Kingdom Come, she'd also become the new Kid Flash.
- In the Batman Beyond spin-off Justice League Beyond, the new Flash is a young black woman named Danica Williams.
- The third and current Kid Flash is half black and half white.
- Avery Ho, as mentioned above, is Chinese-American and works as a super-speedster for the Justice League of China.
- Played With, Christina Alexandranova was once given Barry Allen's suit and tried to become the "Lady Flash", but this was on behalf of Vandal Savage, whom had her under his thrall thanks to extensively abusing her with drugs. When Wally West kicked Vandal's ass and freed of his servitude, she briefly became his partner but ultimately fell into villainy. She briefly became something of this to Savitar, starting off as his disciple only to later take over his cult after he betrayed her, effectively taking his place as "Lady Savitar".
- It's often forgotten that Jesse Quick is effectively this for her father, Johnny Quick, as Jesse is much more well-known. Also, she was very briefly given the Flash mantle, but this was because Wally wanted Bart to take over and figured if he gave it to Jesse, Bart would take his training more seriously out of competitiveness. Neither were exactly happy when they realised this.
- And I Must Scream: In a move that seems very unlike the easy-going Wally West we've come to know, he subjects Inertia (clone of Bart, a reverse-Impulse, if you will) to an eternal punishment. Rather than simply outright killing him, he uses the Speed Force to slow Inertia down physically to such a degree, that the simple act of blinking would take him hundreds of years. To make the punishment worse, Inertia could still think and see in real time, frozen in the middle of a sprint, and forced to stare endlessly at images of Bart Allen, whom he had previously killed. Wally describes it as being "forced to stare, with eyes that take a hundred years to blink... at the ghost of the man he could never be."
- Animal-Themed Superbeing
- Common reoccuring villains, Kobra and Gorilla Grodd.
- There was a Silver-Age villain called The Turtle, and there was also a Golden Age villain with the same name, who used his slow and deliberate nature to counter Jay's speed.
- Anime Hair: The character marker for Bart. Such voluminous hair simply cannot go unmentioned or unnoticed, and yet very few of his non-superhero friends drew the connection! (If they did, they didn't say anything.) It's so large that you can actually pull or pick up the poor kid by his hair alone, if you're strong enough. He's quite protective of it, too.
- Arc Words: "Every second is a gift."
- Artistic License Geography: If the Mississippi River divides Central and Keystone City, Keystone should be in Illinois, not Kansas. It's supposed to be the Missouri River, but a lot of writers get it wrong.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In one of Jay's first adventures where he fights something other than gangsters, he runs across giant gila monsters in Canada created by mad science and co-opted by gangsters to... rob banks. Never mind that they could have sold the formula that created the giant lizards or sold the lizards themselves.
- Battle Tops: The weapon of choice for The Top, a villain.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT harm innocents around the Rogues. Especially not if you're part of the team, as Captain Cold will not hesitate to kill you regardless of how loyal you've been to the Rogues.
- Big Eater: Bart will eat anything and everything that won't hurt him, and maybe some things that would. Unless it's raw seafood. Before the introduction of the Speed Force, speedsters had to consume huge amounts of food to keep their metabolisms in check. Nowadays, they don't, but many writers tend to forget this. Lampshaded when Wally orders a gigantic burger and Linda points out that he doesn't have to eat like that anymore: "I don't have to; I want to".
- Blessed With Suck: Many of the more modern Rogues have this, in all varieties.
- Blue Means Cold:
- Captain Cold has a blue and white outfit.
- One iteration of Killer Frost and Icemaiden have blue clothes.
- Tora "Ice" Olafsdotter wears blue.
- Bread and Circuses: In "Planet of Sport" from All-Flash #31, Jay and Joan are kidnapped along with two Olympians and forced to fight in an alien arena. The leader of the planet invokes this very trope, hoping that his choice of combatants will keep the people satisfied for just a bit longer so they won't turn on him.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jay would occasionally shill his own book to readers, both in his own comics and in All-Star. He also had the occasional speed records page in which he related then-current speed records and other facts to the reader. In a way, these were the original "Flash facts".
- Brought Down to Normal: In his final solo Golden Age adventure, Jay Garrick was Brought Down to Normal by Dr. Clariss, a former college professor at Jay and Joan's old school who had discovered how the Flash got his speed. Clariss had not only worked out how to recreate a form of the hard water formula and gain speed himself (albeit temporary speed compared with Jay's permanent version), but also to reverse the process for Jay who became very slow as a result. Thankfully Jay was able to restore his speed by story's end and defeat the villain.
- Wally West did this to himself in the early issues of his post-Crisis series. His eventual lack of any super-speed at all for several issues was due to his feeling guilty about how he used his speed and not living up to his idealized image of Barry Allen.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Winky, Blinky, and Noddy ("The Three Dimwits"), for Jay Garrick.
- The Bus Came Back: After Flashpoint, Wally West was erased from the timeline, Barry Allen was the only Flash on the main DC Earth, and Jay Garrick was recreated as a much younger man on Earth 2. Thanks to Convergence, The Bus Came Back for Wally and his children, as well as pre-Crisis Barry Allen and Jay Garrick. This was only temporary, but it looks like DCRebirth will permanently restore both to the main DC universe.
- After All-Star Comics ended in 1951, Jay Garrick's 11 year run as Flash ended. Thanks to "The Flash of Two Worlds", The Bus Came Back for Jay after ten years. The success of that story led to many return appearances, as well as the return of many other Golden Age DC characters.
- Busman's Holiday: Jay and Joan's honeymoon in Las Vegas involves half the JSA showing up to throw him a wedding celebration, and then Jay having to foil the plans of the Thinker, the Fiddler and the Shade. All the while Joan is waiting back in the hotel in her sexy lingerie, but poor Jay is so worn out that he falls asleep on the couch when he finally does make it back to the room for good.
- Canon Discontinuity: Great Gazoo Mopee, a "tenth-class Heavenly helpmate" who was introduced in the 1960s as being responsible for the lightning bolt that gave Barry his powers. Mopee was swiftly sent to Canon Discontinuity.
- Captain Superhero: Some of the Rogues Gallery.
- Catch Phrase
- Barry, and sometimes Wally, have "Flash fact", said before or after explaining some Techno Babble (or genuine scientific) reason why they can use superspeed to defeat an enemy.
- "My name is Barry Allen/Wally West/Bart Allen. I'm the fastest man alive. I'm the Flash."
- Changing Clothes Is a Free Action
- Simply because he's so damn fast. At one point after he's brought back to life, Green Arrow goes around collecting valuable possessions of his from their hiding spots and notes that the Flash gave all the Justice Leaguers special rings that could hold their costumes for swift changing, but also notes that he was the only one who could use it.
- Wally would later make his outfit out of the speed force itself. All he had to do was access his powers and it would come on.
- Character Shilling: The authors admitted as much for Barry Allen upon his return. Since the current fans didn't know him anymore, they had the other characters all talk about how great he was during his reintroduction.
- Chemistry Can Do Anything
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In the August 1966 issue, Barry Allen starts to fade away from existence once a villain unleashes a ray that causes everyone to not believe he exists. Everyone except a little orphan girl he had helped before forgets that he really exists until he and the orphan girl start a massive letter writing campaign to force people to remember The Flash.
- This issue is somewhat prescient considering that the DCU contains an actual comic book limbo where characters (often those who haven't appeared in books for quite some time in the real world) go to when people start to forget their stories.
- Color Blind Confusion: The Rainbow Raider, a member of Flash's Rogues Gallery is a gifted painter who's also completely color blind, which hampered his success and eventually caused him to turn to crime.
- Comic Books Are Real: Barry Allen's first appearance in Showcase has him reading Flash Comics with Jay Garrick on the cover, right before the lightning strike gives him his super speed. Later on of course he actually meets Jay, so what was real in Jay's world appeared in comic book form in Barry's world.
- Comic-Book Time: Averted with Jay Garrick, who has generally aged in real time. His final Golden Age solo story has his girlfriend Joan musing about 8 years having passed since she found out that Jay was the Flash, which is about the amount of real world time that had passed since the publication of Jay's first issue. When Jay reappeared in "The Flash of Two Worlds", he has grey hair and muses about getting older. He's shown to be older as time passes, though he usually appears middle-aged rather than old, with the exception of Zero Hour where he is aged by Extant to his true age. He goes back to looking middle-aged after that though. In Flash: Rebirth, the Reverse-Flash mentions that he must be close to hitting the century mark. Close but no cigar. Assuming Jay graduated from college at the age of 21 in 1940, that would put his birth around 1919, and thus he'd be around 90 years old when the events of Flash: Rebirth occurred.
- Coming-Out Story: There's something W.A.F.F. about how Pied Piper came out◊ to Wally. Especially when Wally tried to play it cool◊ and act like he knew the whole time.
- Continuity Rebooter: Barry Allen is this for the entire DC Universe. His attempt to repair his own personal history caused the Flashpoint reality, and then his attempts to correct that and restore the original timeline led to the New 52 reality.
- Contortionist: Rag Doll, who is named after a contortion art no less!
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: As this is a Legacy Character franchise, each time the Flash has passed the torch, there's been a serious change of pace.
- Starting with Jay, he's a playful prankster-type in his original adventures. When Barry Allen follows, he contrasts Jay firstly with his This Is Reality introduction establishing Jay Garrick's stories as fiction, then by being a straight-laced, conservative police officer-type who relied more on science to solve his crimes.
- Following Barry, Wally West was initially a Jerk with a Heart of Gold before maturing into a heroic idealist. He was a Deadpan Snarker who wore his emotions on his sleeve, didn't keep a secret identity, and was a Magnetic Hero who gathered close, loyal friends. He also had a more open-mind towards Rogues, giving them a chance to go about their business if they're not hurting others and even help them out if they've got a problem.
- Bart Allen, upon becoming the Flash, was something of a return-to-form to Barry's tenure, being a would-be police officer, and becoming a far more serious character; it wasn't just contrasting Wally, but also contrasting himself.
- Wally's return had him now as a father, and though he retained his prior Deadpan Snarker characterisations, his story was now more about fatherhood than strictly just superheroics, and his book was co-lead by his kids, who were very different Kid Hero types than Bart was when he was Impulse.
- Barry's return came with a completely revamped characterisation and backstory, turning Barry into an angstier figure, tortured by his mother's death. He put on a nerdy, adorkable front, but was still considerably more introverted and self-serious than Wally. He also became, as time went on, more of a damaged Byronic Hero who kept pushing others away and being called on his jerkassery by others.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: A hero-on-villain example. Jay would often resort to methods other than punching out the criminal. Once when a group of thugs from a protection racket were harassing a restaurant owner, Jay forced them to eat so much food at super-speed that they all sat around feeling stuffed and terrible and were no further trouble. In another instance he spun a criminal around and around and super-speed, threatening to let him go until the gangster agreed to surrender. Jay was fond of this method of dealing with opponents.
- Cruel Mercy
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Mark Waid's run was highly popular for defying much of the trends of the Dark Age, being relatively lighthearted yet very emotional. The spinoff Impulse bucked the trends even more.
- Dead Guy Junior
- Barry and Bart share the same full name (Bartholomew Henry Allen), but it's hardly ever mentioned except in profiles or when Bart's in really big trouble.
- Wally named his son and daughter after the Golden Age Flash and his aunt, respectively.
- Deadpan Snarker: All the Flashes have been shown dipping into this at one point or another.
- Death by Origin Story: This was one of the reasons that Barry Allen stayed dead once his former Kid Sidekick Wally West came into his own as his successor. That's been undone now, though.
- "The Return of Barry Allen" storyline played with this by having Barry seemingly return to life, leaving Wally happy about Barry's return but conflicted about being back in his shadow (particularly since his speed had been reduced at the same point when Barry died leaving him the slower and less competent Flash). He had to deal with these issues in order to defeat Barry when he turned out to be a delusional Professor Zoom.
- Death Is Cheap: Barry was the most well-known aversion in comic book history (23+ years)... and then DC Editorial resurrected him in 2008. Permanently, apparently.
- Demoted to Extra: Wally West after Barry Allen's return. He went from THE Flash for almost 23 years to getting a few background cameos, if that.
- Dodge the Bullet: Nowadays, if a criminal even attempts to fire his gun to the Flash, he deserves to be disposed of really fast (pun intended).
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: The Speed Force is a Story-Breaker Power, so to enable there to even be a challenge, these exist.
- Firstly, anything that can drain energy or slow things down, such as Captain Cold's gun, the Turtle's 'slow field', or the Negative Speed Force and Still Force, will drain the speedster of their speed.
- Secondly, while they have Super Reflexes, these only kick in when the speedster is actively using their powers (or in Wally's case, he's bored). If they're not moving, they can be caught by surprise, knocked out, tied up, distracted, or shot. Similarly, the Flash Family as a whole are rarely using their top speed in everyday usage, so while they could outrun an attack, that doesn't guarantee they'll succeed if they don't realise how fast its moving.
- Good speedsters like The Flash are morally upright individuals. As such, they're reluctant to use their powers in ways that could seriously harm their enemies, and generally pull their punches. This means they don't always use the appropriate level of force against an enemy if they don't know what's needed; its quite often shown that when they fight someone new, or an enemy who's since Took a Level in Badass since their last fight, they get their asses handed to them because they weren't pushing themselves.
- On the Inverse, Eobard Thawne and the Reverse-Flashes are sociopaths who want to cause more harm than is needed, so they often avoid actually killing people when they could instead break them. This means they often beat the Flash senseless, but then try to pull a Forced to Watch by attacking their loved ones or stop to gloat and rub their victory in their face, and these often give the Flash time to get their Heroic Second Wind and escape. Even when attacking their non-speedster loved ones, they like to draw out the kill and underestimate how resourceful how Badass Normal Iris, Linda, or Piper can be.
- Individually, the Flash Family have a couple personal hang-ups that also keep their powers in check.
- With Wally West, unlike the previous Flashes, he's not a genius scientist, so he doesn't know the complex scientific ways to implement super speed that Jay and Barry could pull off, meaning he's often thinking on his feet and improvising rather than being able to come up with a quick science trick. Its also shown that Wally suffers from some form of depression disorder, and when he's in a funk, he's more likely to make mistakes or be distracted, and his powers appear less effective. Its clear that there's a psychosomatic aspect of the Speed Force, so when Wally was suffering from an inferiority complex after Barry's sacrifice, his speed dropped to below the speed of sound. Even after coming to terms with it and becoming the Fastest Man Who Ever Lived, he's still vulnerable to his speed dropping thanks to his mental state.
- On the inverse, Barry is far more methodical in his thinking. While he's still got Super Reflexes, he's sometimes slow to act because he's busy working out the most practical and scientific use for his speed. As well as that, because he's a rationalist who can't bring himself to see the Speed Force as anything outside a scientific anomaly, he's far more limited in what he can do with it, only able to use it for pure Super Speed and any tricks more complex than that are just creative scientific applications of it. This also means he's the slowest of the Flashes (Depending on the Writer, as it goes back and fourth if him or Jay were faster), and has the least range of creative uses for it.
- Jay Garrick is the most well-balanced, being creative, open-minded, and a genius scientist, but he's also pushing 90 and his body has began to weaken. He's got the same level of Super Speed as Barry, but he's not got his or Wally's stamina and when he gets hurt, he takes far longer to recover; Wally is shown recovering from breaking both legs in about a week, while Jay takes months to recover from his leg being twisted by Thawne and occasionally demonstrates a weak leg after the fact.
- Bart, simply, has Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!. He's far more easily distracted and often forgets what he's doing. Getting him to focus is one of the biggest difficulties the other Flashes have.
- Johnny Quick and his daughter Jesse had to activate their Speed Force connection by reciting a 'speed formula', 3X2(9YZ)4A. While the others could run fast by just willing themselves to, they had to get it into their head, and its shown occasionally they had to keep doing it or the speed would fade. While they had some additional usages for it (they could fly, and Jesse also had similar temporary Super Strength thanks to her mom's similarly activated Super Strength), this unique method of power usage meant they could be cut off from their speed if they're interrupted before finishing it.
- As well as that, Jesse had an even bigger chip on her shoulder than Wally when it came to living up to legacies, as she had a "Well Done, Son!" Guy dynamic with both her parents, so like Wally her powers were often effected by her mental state. And as she was more a student than a sidekick/partner to her dad, she had comparative less experience when she 'took over' the Quick legacy, all while jumping into fighting villains who were already prepared for how to fight speedsters. She often got her ass kicked by the Rogues who knew all the tricks a Flash could pull off, but had none of the experience of fighting a Rogue herself.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In his origin story, Jay seems willing and able to kill, particularly when it comes to Sieur Satan, the leader of the Faultless Four. In fact, he seems to purposefully scare the villain and drive him to his death via a car wreck. This side of Jay is never seen again as he becomes much more of a playful, prankster type figure. In fact, years later when he tries to kill Malcolm Thawne, its treated as OOC Is Serious Business, eventually revealing that he's been corrupted/possessed by Cobalt Blue's power.
- Enhanced Punch: In Justice League of America, The Flash fights a speedster called Zum. Once Flash starts thinking of it as a fight rather than a race, he uses his speed to accelerate his body until his uppercut has sufficient force to propel Zum upwards at 25,000 mph. The Flash has the Speed Force to render himself immune to relativistic effects of approaching lightspeed as he runs. Zum lacks that same protection, and thus from his perspective Wally was punching him with infinite mass.The Flash: Maybe he is as tough as the Man of Steel. But packing the mass I mentioned—I'm sure he felt that. Wonder how fast he's traveling now. At least seven miles per second. That's escape velocity, by the way. Flash fact.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While the Rogues are unambiguously villains, they get along well with each other (except for Captain Boomerang) and make a point not to harm innocents, especially women and children (which ends up sealing Owen Mercer's fate in Blackest Night).
- Everybody Smokes: In his Golden Age series, Jay Garrick is sometimes shown to smoke cigarettes. Given the era that the books were produced in, the 1940s, this would not be unusual. In his re-told origin story in All-Flash #1, Jay even takes a smoke break during the experiment that ultimately gives him his super-speed!
- His girlfriend Joan also smokes. Jay once tracks down a car she's in because she threw a cigarette out the window. He found it and knew it was her by the rare European brand she favored.
- Evil Counterpart: The many Reverse-Flashes:
- Jay has The Rival (Dr. Clariss, a human) and the Golden Age Reverse-Flash (a rarely-seen robot).
- Barry has Professor Zoom (Eobard Thawne).
- Wally has Zoom (Hunter Zolomon).
- Bart has Inertia.
- Jesse Quick has Lady Savitar.
- Max Mercury has Savitar (the Savitars are only sometimes included in the "Reverse-Flashes").
- Evil Orphanage Lady: Miss Pritchard's orphanage in a Max Mercury story set in 1910s New York. Mrs. P hates children, but gets money from the city to raise them. She also gets a cut from child-hating toymaker Archimedes Schott, for supplying him with cheap labour. And then she takes the kids' wages as well. When Schott tells her he's going to burn down his factory, because Max has pressured him into giving the kids more rights, she decides to send them to work that day anyway. (And yes, Archimedes looks a lot like his presumed descendent, Winslow.)
- Extradimensional Power Source: The Speed Force is an extradimensional energy field that exists outside space and time and grants all speedsters their abilities.
- Fastest Thing Alive:
- All of the various Flashes have this reputation—especially Wally West, who is in later stories credited as having far surpassed all of his predecessors and any other speedster in the known DC Universe.
- Technically speaking, Wally's nemesis Hunter Zolomon, (aka "Zoom") is faster than him, since Hunter manipulates time itself and thus can move himself or others through time on a scale even Wally can't keep up with.
- The limits of the Black Flash's speed isn't really known, but the Black Flash is one aspect of Death, and it's stated that he'll eventually catch every speedster.
- Feuding Families: Flash family and the Cobalt Blue line. Bart's a scion of both — and quite possibly the reason for said feud going wildly out of control — which brings this quote:Professor Zoom: You have no idea what kind of storm you created for my family. Your very existence disgusts me.
- Freak Lab Accident: Accounts for Jay, Barry and Wally's super powers. With Jay, it was inhaling and absorbing hard water fumes all night after an experiment went wrong. With Barry and Wally, lightning struck a combination of chemicals that splashed all over them.
- Freeze Ray: Captain Cold
- Friction Burn: An enemy of Jay Garrick who was capable of bringing fictional creations to life once tried to create someone faster than the Flash in order to defeat him. The poor fictional creation caught fire on the way to attack the Flash and ended up nothing but ashes. Jay explained that if any other man was able to move as fast as he could, the friction would burn them up, but the hard water fumes that had given Jay his speed had also changed his body chemistry and made him immune to that friction.
- Friendly Enemy / Go-Karting with Bowser: Bart & Wally with Captain Cold and most of the Rogues.
- Fun Personified: Bart especially as Impulse, and also later in his career.
- The Gimmick: Just about all of the Rogues Gallery.
- Grin of Audacity: Worn often, at least by the DCAU version, who really enjoys his work and is an all-around merry fellow. Golden Age Jay Garrick is much the same, being something of a prankster who enjoys giving grief to the bad guys.
- Harmful Healing: Impulse's accelerated healing caused him problems when he was shot in the kneecap by Deathstroke— the flesh quickly regrew over the bullet, requiring intensive and painful surgery.
- HeelFace Turn: The Flash was one of the first comics to attempt this seriously, and at some point, almost every Silver Age Rogue had attempted to go legit, to varying degrees of success. This was Retconned to be the work of the Top, however, who gleefully undid it all during the Rogue War. It's implied that two of the Rogues, Pied Piper and the Trickster, legitimately went straight, though Top's meddling blinded Trickster to the fact that being on the right side of the law didn't mean he was in the right.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Common in the Flash mythos.
- Barry Allen's classic sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It even stuck for a while.
- Wally West almost kills himself attempting to pull Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force, but certainly managed to finish off his tenure as the mainline Flash save for a brief interlude between Bart and Barry.
- Jenni Ognats, Bart's cousin and Barry's other grandchild, was heavily insinuated by the Time Trapper in the Legends of the Dead Earth annuals to be destined to eventually follow Barry's example and sacrifice her own life to save the universe during a future crisis. Of course that was two or three reboots ago, now.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: They all have one...
- Three out of the four are paired with a Green Lantern. Jay and Alan Scott, Barry and Hal Jordan, and Wally and Kyle Rayner are all Flash/Green Lantern Life Partners.
- Bart has Tim Drake.
- Wally is also closely linked to Dick Grayson, who was the best man at his wedding.
- They also play these relationships for all the comedic value they can get, Barry and Green Arrow have a sort of rivalry over Hal, as do Bart and Superboy over Tim.
- When she meets Kyle Rayner for the first time, Jenni Ognats mentions the enduring Flash-Lantern partnership and uses it as an excuse to flirt him up.
- As a nod to this, The Multiversity features Red Racer, the Flash of Earth-36, who is gay and in a relationship with his reality's Green Lantern.
- An Ice Suit: Captain Cold.
- Impossibly Compact Folding: The Flash's ring holds his entire outfit inside.
- In the Blood: Subversions below.
- Bart happily embraces his Allen side and completely rejects the Thawne legacy (he's a descendant of the first Zoom), and shows zero angst over it. Zoom does not take kindly to this at all.Professor Zoom: Your mother may be a Thawne, but your father was an Allen. Your blood is polluted.
Bart: Look on the bright side, Professor Plum. We're only half related!
- Meloni (Bart's mother) is the "black sheep" of her family; as someone on Comicbloc said, He [Zoom] didn't factor on Meloni not being a bitch though.
- Bart happily embraces his Allen side and completely rejects the Thawne legacy (he's a descendant of the first Zoom), and shows zero angst over it. Zoom does not take kindly to this at all.
- Invisibility: One of Jay's tricks in his early adventures is to use his speed to remain unseen so he can spy on the villains of the story. He's not technically invisible, he's just moving so fast that he's not even a blur any more. He's not in one spot long enough for the human eye to register his presence.
- Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: The Flash is sometimes an extremely rare subversion his eyes were originally drawn normally under that mask, and this has been mostly consistent between the various Legacy Characters who have taken up the Flash mantle, though Wally once commissioned a version of the suit that had them, after Vandal Savage destroyed all the originals he had left from Barry. He kept it for several years, until he figured out how to create a speed force-based version of the suit which lacked them. His design in the DC Animated Universe plays this trope straight the whole time.
- Irony: Being the Fastest Man Alive somehow doesn't stop Barry Allen from repeatedly being late.
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: Jay Garrick, the original Flash gets his superpowers when he falls asleep in a lab, accidentally drops a bottle to the floor, and inhales the vapors thus released. Barry Allen, the next Flash, originally got his powers from a similar lab accident, though this was later retconned so that the origin of his powers is his time-traveling future self.
- Japanese Ranguage: The Trope Namer, believe it or not.
- Kid-Appeal Character: The Flash is pretty popular among children, both In-Universe and out.
- Kid Sidekick: Kid Flash; Impulse was a subversion of this until Didio struck and he was turned into a pod person.
- Legacy Character: And legacy characters for legacy characters of legacy characters... One of Mark Waid's last big story arcs called "Chain Lightning" revealed that there is a long line of Flashes after the ones we know about pass on. And just as many villains named Cobalt Blue.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Averted with Barry and Jay's first meeting in "The Flash of Two Worlds". Barry looks up Jay's address in the phone book, goes to meet him, introduces himself, tells his life story, and the two get along famously. They then team up to capture the bad guys with no clash of egos at all.
- The Lifestream: The Speed Force is often portrayed as this.
- Living Memory
- Living Statue: Jay Garrick briefly becomes one thanks to a chemical formula invented by a fellow scientist and stolen by a criminal. And again later on thanks to a magic belt stolen by a criminal. On both occasions he manages to, of course, return to normal.
- The Load: Mary West, the mother of Wally West, became a particularly notable Load during his early years as the Flash. What are her Load bonafides? Start with the fact that she treats her twenty-something son (with years of superheroing experience) like a fourteen-year-old. This leads her to beg Wally not to help people, and basically act unwilling to let Wally out the door at all. She also behaves like a shrill banshee regarding Wally's girlfriends, calling them gold-diggers - even when Wally is dirt poor! She manages to get herself into various dangers due to her own wanderlusts, and she also blindly sets up several dangerous situations by telephoning the villains and giving up important information because "they seemed nice". Readers undoubtedly cheered when she married a European secret agent; you can have her, buddy.
- Logical Weakness: As stated in the Story-Breaker Power section, Super Speed of the type granted by the speed force to speedsters is absurdly broken, given just how fast they can move when they want to. Captain Cold maintains the ability to counter them however as his tech revolves around robbing atoms of energy (and thus, freezing them), so being hit by his blasts drains the Flash of their speed. Similarly, the Turtle develops a 'slow field' that slows down everything/everyone around him, including Speedsters, and later, Thawne's 'Negative Speed Force' is shown to have a similar effect.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Subverted with Jay Garrick. His girlfriend Joan knows he's the Flash from early on, and even helps him out from time to time.
- Completely averted with Wally. When he became the Flash, he didn't hide his identity from the public so every girl he went out with knew who he was. Linda knew who he was long before they met, and it was their working together as superhero/reporter that lead to them developing a friendship and later romance.
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: "The Flash of Two Worlds", where Silver Age Flash Barry meets Golden Age Flash Jay in an interdimensional mishap. The major success of this Silver Age story lead right into the annual JLA/JSA crossovers throughout the pre-Crisis era.
- Meta Sequel: In Barry Allen's origin story, he knew of Jay Garrick's career as the Flash and adopted the Flash identity when he coincidentally acquired similar powers — the meta twist being that in Barry's universe Jay wasn't a historical figure but a fictional comic book character.
- Mundane Utility: Well, if you had super-speed, you'd probably use it to get the shopping done too.
- Averted in the '90s TV show, where Barry's attempt to clean his apartment at super-speed results in an even bigger mess being left in his wake.
- Mutant: Jay Garrick is the only Flash capable of any Super Speed without tapping into the Speed Force since he's a metahuman as well. Modern stories have set his "natural" top speed at only the speed of sound, with faster speeds requiring energy from the speed force. However, in his original Golden Age series and as recently as a 1991 Justice Society mini-series, Jay could hit the speed of light on his own. On at least one occasion he went faster than light in order to time travel.
- This, however, is totally different to how the Speed Force originally worked (maybe due to the Infinite Crisis Cosmic Retcon); at first, everybody with a speed unnatural for his species note was tapping on the Speed Force, no matter how different their origins were (that's why Jay lost his powers like anyone else when Savitar "stole" the Speed Force). In fact, Invasion!, where the meta-gene was originally introduced, showed Wally as a metahuman too.
- Myth Arc: "The Flash is to time what Green Lantern is to space", says Geoff Johns. Probably an Aborted Arc now since Johns didn't stay with the Flash after the New 52 began.
- Natural End of Time: In order to escape the Black Flash, Wally West runs further into the future until reaching this point. As death has no meaning at this point, the Black Flash vanishes.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: Much of the Flash's Rogues Gallery is like this... most of the time.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!
- Played with. Peek-a-Boo is an anti-villain, forced out of her job, and abandoning her education and her future to take care of her father. Her powers involve her unintentionally teleporting and accidentally destroying things. Her last ditch effort to save her father is to steal an organ he needs for a transplant, but the Flash (Wally) stops her and she is arrested. After that she is labeled a rogue and ostracized forever, originally hoping to be a hero, but after all that ends up being a villain instead. In the end Wally was the one who pushed her down this path, but as Wolfe points out she broke the law, and the organ recipient would have died if it hadn't been for him.
- The Flashpoint timeline, and subsequent New 52 reboot, can largely be attributed to Barry trying to save his mother from dying when he was a kid.
- Noble Demon: The Rogues. They not only have a code of conduct, but don't allow people to take up another Rogue's identity if the current holder is still alive and don't grant membership just because you've taken up the mantle of a deceased Rogue. In fact, they've been shown to outright stop in the middle of a crime wave because of an unrelated death with ties to the superhero community, have walked away from at least one Villain Team-Up because they weren't interested in taking over the world, and will defend Central City alongside the Flash if need be.Captain Cold: Owen. The Rogues don't kill women & children.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Professor Zoom was often seen as a relic of the Silver Age until he was revamped in The Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint, which saw both his superpowers and his Ax-Craziness ramped up considerably to the point that he's now seen in the same standing as Lex Luthor and The Joker.
- Older and Wiser: Max Mercury and Jay take this role in regards to the other speedsters.
- One-Man Army: Jay Garrick was once asked by the tiny (fictional) nation of Kurtavia to help them repel an invasion from rival Nuralia. Jay fights off the entire invasion all by himself.
- One Steve Limit: A notable exception.
- Since 1976, when Jay Garrick began being featured on a regular basis again, there's usually been two Flashes active at any one time, both of them using the Flash name. During the period following Final Crisis up to Flashpoint, this increased to three active Flashes, with two of them in similar costumes. Following the New 52 reboot, it became a lot easier to identify them — Whilst DC gradually reintroduced a second & third Flash, they weren't in the the primary DC Universe & can easily identified as the "Flash of Earth 2/Justice League 3000".
- This, fittingly, extends to their Evil Counterparts too, but it's not as complicated — whilst there are three Reverse-Flashes, the first & second have the alternate names Professor Zoom & Zoom respectively.
- Intentionally avoided by the Rogues. Though roughly half of them qualify as a Legacy Character, they make it a rule to never have two members with the same title. They still have Captains Cold & Boomerang, however.
- Personality Powers
- Subverted with Jay and Barry, who are generally slow and methodical. However, as a young man Jay was fun-loving and mischevious, often "having a little fun" with friends and villains alike with his super speed.
- Played mostly straight with Wally, and taken right to the extreme with Impulse!Bart, who'd just run blindly into everything.
- Barry, since coming back to life, has been significantly more like Bart and Wally, which is noted by Hal Jordan during Blackest Night.
- Plot Tumor: The Speed Force has so many applications and created so many allies and threats to the Flash that it has quickly become central to the Flash mythos.
- Power Degeneration: Wally's powers were killing him for awhile, bringing his powers down to more reasonable levels. You know, not exceeding the mass of the universe while running, stuff like that.
- The Prankster: Golden Age Jay Garrick loves to fight the villains of any given story with super-speed pranks and a big grin on his face.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Francis Kane, though it has more to do with how her magnetic powers affect her personality than anything else. She and Wally are dating when his series begins, but she leaves in the third issue. After that she shows up sporadically and causes trouble for Wally.
- Put on a Bus: Has happened to every single Flash at one point or another, for varying reasons. Jay disappeared when super-hero comics fell out of favor at the end of the Golden Age. Barry was killed off during the Crisis. Wally vanished to make way for Bart, then came back when Bart's series failed to catch on, only to fade into the background when Barry Allen came back. The New 52 wrote Wally out entirely, made Barry the sole Flash, and recreated Jay as an alternate universe equivalent. And now Rebirth may change all of that yet again.
- Most creative changes tend to do away with new supporting characters in favour of new ones. Mason Tollbridge, Chunk, Connie, and Wally's parents completely disappeared when Mark Waid took over from Messner-Loebs, with only Linda and Piper sticking around. When Geoff Johns left, Fred Chyre and Jared Morillo left too. When the New 52 happened, Irey, Jai, and the Flash family all disappeared. From New 52 to Rebirth, almost every supporting cast member disappeared when the creative team's changed, with only Williamson's run keeping any (Wallace, Iris, and Singh). Mark Waid's initial run is the only one that didn't lose anyone when other writers took over (albeit, with Jesse and Max getting something of a Demoted to Extra treatment).
- Racing the Train: In one issue, Wally is fighting Dr. Alchemy while Linda Park, who had taken a new job in another city, was taking the train and leaving town after giving him a 2:00 deadline to commit to their relationship or not. Wally finally beats Alchemy, solves the case, then proceeds to run down the train, climb on board, and ask Linda to stay.
- Rags to Riches: Early in his solo run, Wally West wins the lottery and is suddenly wealthy. He goes on a spending spree and takes steps to maintain his wealth, but made the mistake of letting his mom help manage the money. She manages to lose it all. At the beginning of Waid's run, Wally lampshades this by noting that he's been both filthy rich and dirt poor, but notes that currently he's 'somewhere in the middle'.
- Rainbow Motif: Rainbow Raider
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: A fun and useful application of Super Speed powers. The best example probably being in Justice League Unlimited where Wally slams all the Brainiac out of Lex Luthor.
- Red Is Heroic: All the Flashes' costumes are red.
- Related in the Adaptation: Live Action Adaptations just love making Jay and Barry relatives. In The Flash (1990), they're brothers. In The Flash (2014), Jay is the Alternate Self of Barry's father from Earth-3. It remains to be seen if the DC Extended Universe will follow suit.
- Required Secondary Powers: All the Flashes have an invisible aura around their bodies that protects them from air friction, inertia, etc, as they move at high speed. And that's just the beginning. Look at what they can do with the Speed Force, and try to figure out how their powers work.
- Rogues Gallery: The main Rogues Gallery actually call themselves that. In some continuities, they even have dental.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At "A hair's breadth short of the speed of light", Flash saves a population of 532,000 from a nuclear explosion by carrying them one or two at a time to a hill 35 miles away and does this all in 0.00001 microseconds. If you do the math, the result is much faster than the speed of light. Thirteen trillion times, to be precise.
- Secret Identity: played with from time to time. Wally's identity as the Flash goes public for a long time, something that eventually comes back to bite him. He has the Spectre erase everyone's knowledge of it. Jay Garrick doesn't wear a mask, but he's constantly vibrating his face to keep his features blurry, a fact established all the way back in the Silver Age. No wonder the crooks freak out when he appears.
- Self-Made Orphan: Evan McCulloch, the second Mirror Master. He was an orphan and end up killing his father by accident in his job as a hit-man. As a result, his mother committed suicide. Another Rogue, Captain Cold, confronted his abusive father but couldn't bring himself to kill the man... so he had Heat Wave do it.
- Serial Killer: Murmur, one of the unashamedly murderous rogues, hates the sound of speech and goes about cutting peoples' tongues out, including his own.
- Series Continuity Error: In "The Flash of Two Worlds", Jay Garrick tells Barry that he retired as the Flash in 1948. However Jay continued to appear as a member of the Justice Society until 1951 when All-Star Comics abandoned the super-hero format.
- Sharing a Body: In one issue, The Turtle's centrifugal booster caused The Flash and Kid Flash's molecules to merge, essentially sharing one body, when they ran into each other. Then Jay gets in on the act when all three Flashes willingly merge their molecules together to beat Gorrila Grodd.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: All the characters introduced in New 52 were hit by this in one way or another.
- Patty Spivot was Put on a Bus after an arc with the second creative team, in a rather forced manner at that. Noticeably, this was when The Flash (2014) started, and had Iris as Barry's love interest.
- Daniel West's Reverse Flash was unceremoniously killed in New Suicide Squad to open a place for Eobard Thawne again.
- Turbine, a character that was meant to replace Roscoe Dillon was forgotten immediately after the same creator team change, they reintroduced Roscoe Dillon himself as Top instead. Later on in Rebirth series, Haynes is flat out killed to open the way for ''classic'' Roscoe Dillon's return.
- Subverted for New 52 Wally West, who is only revealed to be "not being the real deal" but still kept as the new Kid Flash to avoid Unfortunate Implications.
- The New 52 Eobard himself had this happen to him... to bring back a version of him! Reaction to him wasn't positive (see above), and in The Flash (2016), a stray bolt of energy brings the Pre-New 52 Eobard back from the dead in New 52 Eobard's body, but replaces New 52 Eobard's personality, memories, powers and costume with his own. The last thing he remembers is Thomas Wayne killing him, meaning he doesn't even remember the New 52 stuff.
- To Greek Mythology: Each Flash outfit has wings on the helm, shoes, or both, referring to Hermes. Barry's wife Iris, a reporter, takes her name from the female messenger god of the Greek Pantheon.
- Wally overhears his wife on the phone discussing how she doesn't want a cheap department store item for Christmas. He then sees the microwave he bought as a bowling ball with Homer inscribed.
- The title of one short Impulse story is a Shout-Out to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, one of Dr. Seuss's earliest books. And the story ends with a cameo by Pinky and the Brain.
- Sidekick Graduations Stick: Wally is the most successful example. His run as the Flash lasted for over 20 years, he was a founding member of more than half-a-dozen teams, and a regular guest star in many other series. Until Barry came back, Wally was the Flash in the general mindset, something few post-Silver Age legacy characters can claim.
- Snap to the Side: His rogues' gallery pretty much has to learn this to avoid whiplash.
- Spectacular Spinning: This is the Top's theory about how to be a master criminal. Tops operate on the same principle as advanced gyroscopes, so they're an excellent way to commit crimes and rule the world, right? It helps that the Top is a metahuman with the power to spin, and completely loony.
- Spider People: Jay gets accidentally taken to Mars when a friend of his tests out a spacecraft that he's built, and he encounters the giant, hostile Spider-Men (no relation) of Mars there.
- Split Personality: Rose and Thorn, one of Jay's adversaries. The mild and sweet and blonde Rose transforms into the super-powered criminal the Thorn. Rose is aware of the Thorn, but believes her to be her sister rather than an alternate personality, though Thorn is fully aware of who she is. Alan Scott later marries Rose, believing her to be cured of her split personality, and she becomes the mother of Jade and Obsidian.
- Story-Breaker Power: As his maximum speed climbs to the upper levels of insanity, he actually starts to run into a lot of the same problems as Superman. How does anything challenge someone who can think and react thousands of times faster than even the fastest person? Writers have repeatedly commented that an intelligently written speedster on the Flash's level should be completely unbeatable.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Bart gets a great deal of his mannerisms and appearance from his mother, right down to the crazy hairstyle!
- Sudden Name Change:
- Wally West's father was originally named Bob West in all of his Pre-Crisis appearances. Post-Crisis, he was suddenly renamed to Rudolph West.
- A minor case, but at some point during rebirth Wally II starts going by 'Wallace', no doubt to avoid confusion with original Wally (something that many fans were doing already).
- Sturdy and Steady Turtles: While not an actual turtle, one of the Flash's foes is a turtle-based villain, complete with super-slowness and a launchable shell.
- Superheroes Stay Single: Averted with all the Flashes except Bart. Jay had a steady girlfriend for his entire solo series, and they got married while "off page" between the Golden and Silver Ages, though post-Crisis comics would set their wedding in 1947. They remained married for over 60 years. Barry married Iris West, and Wally eventually married Linda Park. The New 52 has erased all of those relationships, though as of Rebirth, Wally remembers his time with Linda even if she doesn't.
- Superior Successor: Quite a few.
- The Flash mantle seems to get more powerful with each user. If Barry was faster than Jay is Depending on the Writer (some go with him being considerably faster, others state they're about the same or that Jay's faster, but held back by his age and weaker stamina), but Wally is considerably more powerful than Barry. Bart was, during his brief tenure, even more powerful than Wally thanks to having the entire Speed Force in his system, but he lost this after he was killed.
- The Quicks. Johnny Quick was about on-par with Jay, but Jesse surpasses her dad not just in the fact she has more understanding of their powers, but she also has her mother's Super Strength. In terms of general career notability, Johnny is largely forgotten outside of his role as Jesse's father.
- Mirror Master are an interesting case. Sam Scudder is the genius who invented the technology, but he was never particularly imaginative with it. Evan McCulloch though never finished school, but what he lacks in scientific understanding he makes up for in imagination, and as it turns out the Mirror Tech is pretty much limited only by the user's imagination. Tl;dr, Evan was scary when he took full advantage of his powers. In New 52 and Rebirth, Evan no longer exists and Sam Scudder is the only Mirror Master...but he's now got Evan's imagination.
- Super Reflexes: They all have them, as an obvious requirement to traveling that fast. They also tend to lose them whenever the writers want a Flash to do something like, say, get stabbed by Deathstroke.
- Super Speed: Obviously. Flash-type speedsters are the fastest beings in the universe, full stop. Of course, running at superluminal speed doesn't come without risks; the faster you run, the higher the chance there is at being absorbed by/merging with the Speed Force, which is why they tend to keep to "normal" supersonic speeds (~Mach 10 or so).
- Supernatural Gold Eyes:
- A quirk of the Thawne bloodline, though not unique.
- Again, another character marker for Bart (who is part of said bloodline); that's why his goggles are the same yellow shade, to hide his eye color (although that hair should've busted his identity right then and there...). Unlike most examples, it serves to enhance his idealistic personality, and Meloni's nickname for him — "Sunshine" — sums it up best.
- Swiss-Army Superpower: The Speed Force grants Flash-type speedsters an amazing amount of powers...
- Photographic Memory: Only Bart has the true, "permanent" form; the others can only retain it temporarily.
- Healing Factor: Barry is nigh-unkillable at the peak of his powers, being able to remain conscious and deliberately reassemble himself molecule by molecule even if he's been disintegrated. In other words, he has "complete control over his molecules," as mentioned every third comic or so back in The Silver Age of Comic Books, and is thus capable of reversing pretty much any sort of attempt to induce Power Incontinence on him. Considering the things he can undo with this power, mere regeneration is simple. One has to assume that this same ability is what's kept Jay Garrick exceptionally hale and hearty for a man who's pushing 90 years old.
- Super Strength
- Infinite Mass Punch: explained by the Theory of Relativity. Though a literal infinite mass punch is only possible for them due to the Speed Force and their aura's allowing them to ignore inertia and any nitpicky "Laws of Physics" that would get in the way. His target, on the other hand, had super speed that didn't derive from the Speed Force, and thus felt every bit of the effects of a ballistic path from South Dakota to the Serengeti.
- In The Silver Age of Comic Books, Barry Allen occasionally karate-chopped his way through concrete and steel with a single blow. Being able to move his hand at near-light speed made it pretty easy; what was amazing was that the impact didn't shatter his own bones.
- Speed Lend/Steal (from The Other Wiki): Perhaps his most versatile new power; because the Speed Force governed all motion, Wally could rob objects of their kinetic energy, motion, or momentum — for example, bullets in flight or turning a supervillain into a statue — and use the energy to accelerate himself even faster. He could similarly lend speed to inanimate objects or allies, enabling them to temporarily travel nearly as fast as himself. Bart Allen's future self is shown to also have this ability in the Teen Titans "Titans Tomorrow" story arc.
- Speed control: if you think you can move that fast, you can.
- Hammerspace Constructs
- Time Travel: Barry Allen needed the "cosmic treadmill" to time travel. However, during the Golden Age, Jay Garrick was capable of doing this without the aid of technology by exceeding the speed of light."By vibrating faster than 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light, the Flash is no longer subject to the scientific principles of this planet, no longer bound to the steady flow of time — he can move forward or backward through the time dimension!"
- Flight (Johnny and Jesse Quick only)
- DCAU!Flash tried that in the Justice League Unlimited episode "I Am Legion". Good enough to not die from a high altitude fall, but maneuverability is less than stellar. Wally also used a similar method once in the regular comics to save a flight attendant who had — again — fallen from a plane. Interestingly, this story also indirectly pointed out why Flashes can't really use their abilities to fly like you'd expect - the Required Secondary Powers that prevents friction from affecting them means that they just can't get enough "purchase" on the air to do much more than slow themselves down.
- An ability Bart would do anything to get. One would wonder why when his current abilities are much more useful; probably representative of his free-spirited personality.
- Barry!Flash couldn't fly, exactly, but he could move his feet quickly enough to create a cushion of air, allowing him to fall from any height and land safely. He could also run straight up the side of a building. He doesn't seem to have ever thought of combining the two to launch himself on a ballistic trajectory (essentially flight of the "single bound" variety).
- Speed scouts: Impulse gained the ability to create Speed Force clones of himself in the Dark Tomorrow story arc (#73-75); they have his personality, and he also absorbs their memories once they're done. One of them was killed during the Our Worlds at War crossover, and the psychic backlash sent him into a coma; he was eventually forced to use them again during World Without Young Justice. This ability is apparently now forgotten since we don't see it after that, or Bart is still reluctant to use them.
- Negate Anti-Life Equation... somehow. That was probably more Power of Love than anything to do with the speed force. Considering what we learn later on (assuming it one of the things they selectively kept) about Piper's powers, it could partially be acquired immunity.
- Self-molecular control
- Oh yeah, and using itself as a inter-dimensional prison.
- Taking Over the Town: This was Blacksmith's plan for taking over Central and Keystone Cities. She had Murmur and Mirror Master attack radio stations and reprogram their antennas to broadcast a mirror shield around the twin cities to prevent anyone from coming in or getting out.
- Taking Up the Mantle: Wally West steps up and takes Barry's place as the Flash after Barry died during the Crisis.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Iris finds out about Barry's dual identity this way◊ on their wedding night, but keeps it to herself until Barry finally decides to 'fess up on their first anniversary.
- Tangled Family Tree: Because of the whole time-travel schtick and Bart's ancestry.
- Tornado Move: The Flash does this all the time. He usually uses it to shield others from harm, but he once froze a battalion of demons just with the icy winds.
- Trauma Conga Line: Poor Pied Piper goes through a lot, highlighted by the deaths of Impulse, Kid Zoom and Trickster. Borders on Bury Your Gays.
- Tron Lines: Post-Flashpoint, Barry's costume now has these. They light up when he's running◊, but when he's standing still or walking, they're black seams, barely visible.
- Tunnel of Foreshadowing: Professor Zoom's time-rips showed Bart Allen in the Kid Flash costume several months before he started wearing it.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The Flash vs. Superman races, which, most of the time, would end in a tie. Wally West, the then-current Flash, beat Superman by a slim margin in the first Post-Crisis race between the two, on the basis that Supes is unused to running much as compared to the easier flying option, while that's what Flash does all the time. As the writer pointed out, it would be kind of lame if Flash weren't the best at his only power.
As of the Flash Rebirth mini-series, all of the races between the two are only close because the Flash let them be close. When Barry Allen really wants to outrun Superman, The Man of Steel might as well be standing still compared to The Fastest Man Alive.Barry: You can't stop me.
Superman: I've raced you before, Barry. I even won some of those races.
Barry: Those were for charity, Clark.
(Barry runs off, leaving Superman standing in his wake)
- It was necessary to do this due to all the retcons that had happened since the last time Barry and Superman raced. Pre Crisis Superman really was nearly as fast as Barry and his superior stamina and strength gave him an edge (Barry was able to compensate by vibrating through obstacles Superman had to run around.) However, Post-Crisis, Superman has been considerably slower and with Barry's return they had to explain why the races were close.
- Wham Episode: The Blitz storyline, which had two years of continuity behind it, leading to Wally's personal Big Bad, a disturbingly easy Death of a Child, and arguably the most shocking FaceHeel Turn since Terra in Teen Titans. Johns laid out every piece of evidence given out as proof that this was always coming. The introduction comic ends with Wally's close friend, Hunter Zolomon, realizing that he's also capable of moving at superspeed. This, coupled with his irrational belief that Wally wasn't being heroic enough, led him to scratch away a paper with his name on it, leaving only the name "Zoom".
- What the Hell, Hero?: In the "Ignition" story arc, which takes place immediately after the "Blitz" storyline above, Batman pays Wally a visit to confront him about the Laser-Guided Amnesia he (and everybody else) has suffered through Wally making a deal with the Spectre to make everyone (including himself, inadvertently) forget his secret identity in the aftermath of Linda's miscarriage at Zoom's hands. However, once Wally gets his memories back (via Batman unmasking himself in front of him), he shows no remorse for what he did, pointing out that he'd suffered a tragedy not unlike Bruce's own issues.Wally: I just lost my children, Bruce. I would think you would know what that's like.
(Batman then flashes back to his own parents' murder)
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The Rogues have their very own tailor, Paul Gambi.
- Willfully Weak: An interesting example where Wally doesn't really realize that he's holding himself back. For years his speed would come and go, and he was limited to two or three times the speed of sound when as a kid he was just as fast as Barry or Jay. It turns out that even though he took Barry's costume and identity to honor him, he was afraid that if he was as good as Barry that he would genuinely replace him and Barry would be forgotten. Once this was pointed out to him by Max Mercury, Wally was able to work past his self-imposed limitations and regain his full speed again.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Averted when Captain Cold faces his sister's murderer, who co-opted Cold's freeze guns as Chillblaine. Chillblaine tries to start the fight off with a witty pun, but Cold's there for vengeance.
- Your Cheating Heart: In the early Mike Baron issues Wally's series, Wally has an affair with married scientist Tina McGee, and she even moves in with him for awhile. Admittedly, her husband Jerry wasn't quite himself at the time, having experimented on himself to gain super strength and speed and nearly lost his sanity in the process. He does recover, and Tina eventually leaves Wally and goes back to her husband. Wally even becomes friends with the two of them later on.