10 Years Ago, The Flash Vanished in a Crisis

Happy “Flash Missing” day.

The famous newspaper headline in the first episode of 'The Flash' in 2014.

Before all the MCU Disney+ shows, and even before Daredevil and the Defenders hit Netflix, the biggest 21st-century TV superhero was probably The Flash. As a spinoff to the CW’s popular Arrow series, Grant Gustin’s take on speedster Barry Allen instantly captured the hearts of DC Comics diehards, as well as friendly casuals who simply enjoyed watching a guy in a red suit run so fast that he occasionally broke time. Even the existence of the DCEU feature film version of Barry Allen (played by Ezra Miller) didn’t really impact the popularity of Gustin’s Flash. A decade after the show debuted on October 7, 2014, the entire run of this version of The Flash remains an impressive part of comic book media, and pop culture in general.

But, perhaps the strangest feature of the very first episode of The Flash was a dire future prediction that the show didn’t get to catch up to in real-time. At the end of the pilot episode of The Flash, a future newspaper article was revealed with the headline: “FLASH MISSING VANISHES IN CRISIS.” The date on that newspaper was April 25, 2024. And now, that date has finally arrived, did the Flash vanish?

The “Flash Missing” Headline — explained

Did he vanish? Does he always vanish?


At the end of the pilot episode of The Flash in 2014, it was revealed that S.T.A.R. lab resident Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) was faking his need for a wheelchair, had a secret room, and also had knowledge of the future. Yes, this happened in the very first episode of The Flash, and teased just how bonkers and timey-wimey the show would eventually become. The headline Wells was looking at read: “FLASH MISSING VANISHES IN CRISIS,” which, in the reality of the show, was meant to be 10 years in the future, which was commensurate with the timeline of when the show aired in real life.

But, over the course of The Flash’s nine seasons, this future prediction, and the exact headline were altered a lot. These changes were thanks to a lot of time travel, and several timeline-changing plot twists including the Arrowverse version of the reality-crossing event, “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” So, because of several altered timelines, the series, did not, in fact, depict the Flash vanishing in a crisis on April 25, 2024. Instead, the Flash vanished in a different crisis, in 2019.

As many fans have pointed out, for several years, the Flash never got to vanish in a crisis in 2024, because it already happened in a different year. This also gets very confusing when we consider that an alternate version of the Flash also vanished in a crisis in 2019; the Earth-90 Barry Allen, played by John Wesley Shipp.

Could the Flash still go missing in 2024?

Grant Gustin in 2019. Could he return to the DCEU?

Joe Scarnici/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Because The Flash ended last year, in May 2023, the show seemingly missed its chance to figure out a way to retcon the finale that was teased back in 2014. Some fans were frustrated by the pseudo-retcon in 2019, and other fans still wonder what would have happened if the series had gone on for a tenth season, into 2024.

More than perhaps any other recent sci-fi TV show, CW’s The Flash reinvented its own chronology so many times that it made shows that were primarily about time travel (like Doctor Who) look straightforward in comparison. In a sense, because that first timeline did happen at some point — but was prevented by other timeline changes — the Flash did, in fact, vanish in 2024. It just wasn’t in a timeline that the show needed to play out.

In other words, the answer is yes and no simultaneously. The Flash did vanish in a crisis in 2024. And in 2019. And he’s also not around right now, so he’s vanished in the real 2024, too.

In the meantime, apparently, Grant Gustin is texting with current DCEU boss James Gunn all the time. So, if we’re lucky, in the near future, the Flash can un-vanish himself, and return to a new DC project, in triumph.

The Flash (the CW series) streams on Netflix.

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