The population of The Flash's Central City has been revealed to be a staggeringly huge 14 million - could this be because of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Flashpoint? In "The Death of Vibe", Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) made an offhand comment that "14 million people live in this city," as she noted that 500,000 people posted an embarrassing photo of Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer) on social media. While none of the characters were surprised by this number (which was confirmed on Twitter by The Flash's writers), many fans' jaws dropped. How can Central City be so big?
Either in DC Comics or on television, Central City was never depicted as a huge metropolis before. The Flash's hometown is located in Missouri and Central was perceived to be an average-sized city, comparable to Arrow's Star City, which is 600 miles away and has been said to have a population of 576,000 (which must fluctuate considering how many times Star City has been attacked). Central is certainly a brighter and more cheerful city than Green Arrow's; despite Particle Accelerator explosions and weekly metahuman attacks, the people of Central love their local superhero, the Flash, and it seems like a regular All-American city despite the regular calamities they face. But as the Scarlet Speedster and his friends zip around town, fans have never gotten the impression that Central City is so congested with citizens that the city's population numbers at eight digits.
Central City's Population Is Absurd
14 million people living in Central City is just ridiculous - it's way too big a number. In the real world, that census count would rank Central as 6th or 7th among the world's biggest cities, above New York City and London, which have populations of 8 million. Since 327 million people live in the United States, this would mean 4.8 percent of the US population lives in Central City!
In the DC Universe, Gotham City tends to rank above NYC and even Metropolis. 10 million souls are said to live in Gotham, which is often depicted as one of America's largest (and most crime-ridden) cities. In The Dark Knight Trilogy, Christopher Nolan's exterior shots of Batman's hometown amalgamated NYC, Chicago, and Pittsburgh to explain Gotham's sheer size. Yet, despite what fans have actually seen on The Flash, Central City is now said to be even bigger than Gotham.
If Caitlin's population number is accurate, however, it could say quite a lot about Team Flash's effectiveness that despite all the super-crime they face, the city is apparently prosperous and growing. Regardless of which metahuman rogue plagues the city, hordes of regular people have apparently flocked to Central to live, work, and buy their coffee at CC Jitters. The Flash and his super friends, as well as the CCPD, are clearly doing a fantastic job keeping the city and its 14-million inhabitants safe and secure. But there's another (more likely) explanation for how Central City could have become America's largest city...
Did Flashpoint Change Central City?
If Central City actually got bigger during the course of the series, the cause and culprit could be Barry Allen himself. The simplest in-universe, catch-all explanation for Central's immense size is that Flashpoint literally changed the city - and, if that did happen, it's likely no one has even realized it. After all, Flashpoint turned John Diggle's (David Ramsey) baby daughter Sara into a son named John Jr., turned Caitlin into the metahuman Killer Frost, and impacted the relationship between Iris (Candice Patton) and her father Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). It's possible Central City becoming what might be the densest urban center in America is a previously unheralded side effect of Barry's timeline tampering.
Until fans learn more about Earth-1 geography, it appears The Flash's Central City is the biggest metropolis in the United States - unless the upcoming Arrowverse crossover, Elseworlds, reveals that Batwoman's Gotham is actually even bigger.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW