Could the circumstances of Barry Allen's disappearance on The Flash have been altered by his daughter's travels to the past, causing him to vanish earlier than anticipated? There is evidence that this might be the case. It cannot be denied that Nora West-Allen's trip to 2018 has already changed the past (and the future), and those changes can only become more significant the longer she remains in a time that is not her own, perhaps eventually altering her father's destiny.
The Flash season 5 has largely focused on Nora West-Allen, who was formally introduced into the series in the season 4 finale. The "supposed" daughter of Barry Allen and Iris West from the not-too-distant future of 2049, Nora adopted the superheroic identity of XS and followed in her father's footsteps as a CSI and a superhero. It was quickly revealed, however, that Nora's trip to the past was far from the accident she originally claimed was responsible for her travelling to 2018. She finally confessed that she had gone back in time intentionally to get to know the father she only knew from family legends and museum exhibits (including the Arrowverse's future Flash Museum), as Barry Allen disappeared in 2024.
While the early episodes of The Flash season 5 confirmed that Barry's destiny was still on track, the recent Arrowverse crossover event Elseworlds suggested that the crisis which causes The Flash to disappear has been bumped up five years. While there are several things that might have caused this occur, Nora is the prime suspect as the only rogue time-traveler seen to have been operating within the relevant time period.
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The Flash's Barry Allen Disappears In 2024
Barry's destined disappearance in 2024 has been a matter of record since The Flash season 1. It was here that Reverse-Flash, in the guise of Harrison Wells, first looked at a newspaper from April 2024, which had the headline "Flash Missing, Vanishes In Crisis." Later in the season, Barry Allen would discover this article and learn that his future self disappeared while fighting alongside Green Arrow, The Atom, and Hawkgirl. The same newspaper also made mention of the skies turning red - an meteorological event of great significance to those comic readers familiar with Crisis on Infinite Earths. This was the same event where Barry Allen vanished while trying to save the multiverse and was presumed dead.
The premiere episode of The Flash's season 5 confirmed that Barry Allen's destiny was still on track. Nora West-Allen showed her father a second newspaper from her time dated April 2049. This newspaper headline spoke about how it had been exactly 25 years since Flash disappeared during some manner of crisis. The ultimate end for Barry Allen was exactly the same, though the article now made mention of superheroes like Supergirl and Batwoman showing up to join the battle, as well as Reverse-Flash being seen leading an army of shadow demons. This last bit was another nod to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Nora West-Allen Screwed Up Flash's Timeline
As The Flash season 5 progressed, it became clear that Nora West-Allen's presence was altering the events of her past. In The Flash season 5 premiere, Nora's efforts to impress her father resulted in a metahuman criminal called Gridlock evading capture. This surprised Nora, as she said that the records of her time showed Flash easily defeating Gridlock and only fighting him once. Another major change came at the end of the episode, when Gridlock became the first victim of the serial killer named Cicada. Nora later said that, in her time, the first victim of Cicada was a man named Floyd Belkin.
The centerpiece of the Flash's other major subplot in season 5, the murderous Cicada was a metahuman who had the ability to neutralize the super powers of other metahumans. According to Nora, Cicada was destined to become the one villain that Flash was never able to stop. Even the assistance of Green Arrow, the Legends, and Supergirl wasn't enough to enable Team Flash to discover Cicada's true identity, much less put a stop to his killing spree.
At Nora's prompting, Team Flash enlisted the aid of Harrison Sherloque Wells (the greatest detective in the multiverse) in order to determine Cicada's identity. It was quickly revealed that while Sherloque was a brilliant detective he was also lazy and he had jumped to conclusions regarding Cicada's identity on Earth 1. Sherloque had once determined that the Cicada of one Earth was a man named David Hersch and, having been tasked with tracking down Cicada on 36 other Earths, always accused that Earth's version of David Hersch. It was then that Team Flash realized that Nora's interference in the destruction of STAR Labs satellite had changed the trajectory of the shrapnel that should have empowered David Hersch, resulting in someone else becoming the Cicada of Earth 1.
Thanks to Nora's suggestion that they recruit a different version of Harrison Wells to find Cicada (something the Team Flash of her timeline apparently never tried), the team was eventually able to identify Cicada as a man named Orlin Dwyer. They also discovered, thanks to Nora's suggestion in The Flash season 5 midseason finale, that they create a piece of meta-tech that could negate Cicada's powers, that his abilities to negate metahuman powers didn't work on metahumans like Killer Frost who gained their powers through medical experimentation. This gave Team Flash two valuable weapons they didn't have before and further altered Nora's future, where Cicada's identity was supposed to have remained a mystery. At this point, it's almost impossible to guess just how badly Nora's actions may have changed her past and the timeline as a whole.