Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Flash season 6, episode 7.
The Flash is just one episode away from the long-awaited "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event, which the show has been building up to since the first season. The foreboding future newspaper detailing the Flash's eventual disappearance in the year 2024 changed at the end of season 5, with the date moving to the more immediate December 10 2019. The date coincides with the sixth annual Arrowverse crossover event, leading fans to wonder, is this the end for Barry Allen? And if so, what will the show be like without its main character?
So far, The Flash has spent the sixth season contemplating the titular hero's mortality, following the premiere's reveal that Barry needs to sacrifice himself during the "crisis" in order to save the multiverse. The show's adamant proclamations that Barry will die, however, may still prove to be a set-up for some major plot twist, such as a last-minute self-sacrifice from another character. The show has certainly trodden this territory before: the main story arc in season 3 followed the team's attempt to prevent the death of Iris West-Allen, which succeeded only because another character took Iris's place. Regardless, the situation looks bleak for the Flash, leaving viewers to speculate how the series will fill the void left by its titular character's demise.
The most recent episode, "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen," is part 1 of 2 episodes leading into the crossover event, which comprises five episodes spread between the Arrowverse shows Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. The episode's title references The Last Temptation of Christ, Martin Scorsese's controversial 1988 film adaptation of Niko Kazantzakis' 1955 novel. In the episode, Barry is forced to face the reality of his upcoming sacrifice, and finds himself plagued with doubt, fear, and anger. The comparisons to Christ aside, the episode sets up Barry as an agent of Bloodwork, which will no doubt be dealt with prior to the cross-over event. But does the Christ comparison mean that Barry, too, will end up sacrificing himself for the good of mankind?
The Flash Dies In The Crisis On Infinite Earths Comic Arc
If the plot of the upcoming crossover follows the comic event it is based on, the Flash must die – not just to save the "multiverse," but to reboot the Arrowverse as we know it. The original 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths was an attempt by DC Comics writer Marvin Wolfman to simplify the publisher's sprawling "multiverse" of characters and plot-lines, and amalgamate the best parts into one DC Universe (DCU) that would be more accessible to new readers. In other words, the limited series eliminated all of the alternative Earths, merging them into one shared Earth. The event ended storylines that had been around for decades, and is considered the benchmark of how to end a continuity.
What Happens To The Flash TV Show If Barry Dies?
If Barry Allen does disappear during "Crisis," this does not mean the show will end, nor does it mean that actor Grant Gustin will leave the show. The actor's contract is for seven seasons. He may be revived, or he may become a part of the speed force. The actor may even assume the role of an alternate Earth doppelgänger, as John Wesley Shipp did following the death of his character Henry Allen. Shipp, who portrayed the Flash in the 1990s TV series, also plays Jay Garrick (DC's golden-age the Flash) who lives on Earth-3.
In the last few episodes of The Flash, Barry has been preparing his team for life without him. So far, Barry has placed the burden of crime-fighting on the shoulders of teammates Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. the Elongated Man, and Frost. However, it seems unlikely that the show would continue without another speedster in the main cast (it's called The Flash, after all). Following the original DC Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West, aka Kid Flash, replaces Barry Allen. Wally is currently on the Legends of Tomorrow team, but could easily return to The Flash to assume the titular role. The show could also bring back Jesse Wells, a.k.a. speedster Jesse Quick, from Earth-2.
How Barry Allen Could Survive Crisis On Infinite Earths
The Flash has already indicated that the Arrowverse has no interest in simply recreating the events of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, which would involve killing-off Supergirl and eliminating her universe, Earth-38. Both The Flash and Arrow have prepared viewers for the loss of their titular characters, even though the source material would indicate Supergirl has the most to lose. Furthermore, the concept of parallel Earths has been the bedrock of the The Flash's storytelling since it was introduced for season 2, and it seems unlikely that the show's writers would eliminate the Arrowverse's multiverse - especially since that would mean Tom Cavanagh would be out of a job.
The most recent episode of The Flash suggested Nash may save Barry Allen, and that the Monitor is less omniscient than he claims to be. With the exact nature of the crisis still shrouded in mystery, the outcome of the events are hard to predict. One thing is clear, however – the Arrowverse is in for some chaos.
The Arrowverse crossover event begins December 8, 2019 with "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One" on Supergirl.