Flash fans are rejoicing, as the latest Justice League trailer features more of the brand-new big-screen Flash (Ezra Miller), while the small screen version of this speedy hero (Grant Gustin) continues to impress audiences on The CW. He’s one of the only heroes who gets multiple adaptations at the same time, and it says something about how phenomenally entertaining he is to watch - although he’s far from a perfect hero.
The Flash may be the fastest man alive, but he’s not fast enough to outrun absolutely everything (and if he were, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun to follow his adventures!). Whether it's Barry Allen, Wally West, Jay Garrick, or one of the many other comic characters who has taken up the Flash mantle over the years, the hero has some incredibly powerful enemies, and he's been taken down in a variety of particularly painful ways. Torture, seizures, snapped spines, horrific burns, and some serious beatdowns have all been part of the Flash story - and we’re bringing you the best of the worst with this list of the most brutal injuries he's ever suffered.
15 Knocked Into A Coma
In 'Gorilla Warfare', Barry Allen is back in Central City… but he’s not the only one. The city is overrun, with the Rogues’ attempting to take control and the sentient Gorillas led by Grodd now mounting an invasion. With the city under attack, the Flash must take down Grodd, but the leader of Gorilla City has evened the playing field and connected himself to the Speed Force. Now, he’s not just violent and massive, but as fast as Barry himself!
The two race through the city in an epic battle that reveals just how powerful Grodd can become. After taking several major blows, Flash is down, and it looks like the end for the Scarlet Speedster, as Grodd looms over him with a stop sign, ready to stab him in the chest. His life is saved by Solovar, who leaps in front of him to take the killing blow, but the battle combined with the weight of Solovar and Grodd’s killing thrust knock Barry into a coma. He does snap out of it fairly quickly (and with a plan to save the day), but Grodd did take him down for a while there.
14 Leg Broken, Then Shot At
In the team up series ‘The Brave and the Bold’, Flash goes on one of his many adventures through time and meets up with Blackhawk - but it doesn’t go well for the speedy hero. He’s helping with an experiment in Belgium when he is accidentally transported to the second world war and the Battle of the Bulge. His landing from the unexpected time travel breaks his leg in two places - and his powers don’t extend to instantaneous healing.
As if being launched back in time a few decades and having his leg broken wasn’t bad enough, however, Barry then finds himself facing off the German troops, who immediately open fire. Unsurprisingly, his signature red suit isn’t the most practical garb for a war zone in winter.
The Flash is saved by a chance meeting with Blackhawk, and obviously finds his way back to his own time (after a few weeks), but this adventure certainly didn’t get off to a pleasant start.
13 Speed Seizures in Rebirth
It’s not just one Flash that suffered in Rebirth, but the entire Flash family. Jay Garrick, Liberty Belle, Wally, Wally’s twin children Iris and Jai, and Bart all suffer the same injury at the same time - and it turns out to be Barry Allen’s fault!
Rebirth sees the return of Barry Allen to the main DC universe, after returning from the dead to defeat Darkseid, and destroying the Black Racer in the process. However, when he disintegrates Savitar in the middle of a Speed Force ritual, he ends up releasing a massive wave of Speed Force energy that causes all kinds of problems. The blast of energy itself doesn’t harm Barry, but it causes the rest of the Flash family to suffer painful ‘speed seizures’. When Barry does the same disintegration trick to Lady Flash, the resulting Speed Force energy blast ends up channeling power from the body of the Black Racer into Barry, and he begins to turn into Black Flash himself; which is arguably more painful, physically and emotionally, than the seizures were.
12 Shot In The Head
Just because he’s faster than a speeding bullet doesn’t mean that the Flash can never be shot - as Mob Rule proved. Also known as Manuel Lago, Mob Rule is a minor league villain of the New 52 Flash, and is formed of multiple clones of a single criminal. As a result, Mob Rule isn’t easy to take down, as he is effectively a small army of men who work in near perfect harmony.
When the Flash first faced off against them, he was hampered further because he was there as Barry Allen, not as the Scarlet Speedster. In a flak jacket, his head was exposed, and one of the members of Mob Rule was able to shoot the Scarlet Speedster in the head and leave him for dead. Of course, he isn’t really done for good (not this time, at least!) as his Flash reflexes kicked in just long enough to dodge the bullet - or at least, to take it to the temple for a harmless graze, rather than a kill shot. It still knocked him out and made him bleed, though, leading to Mob Rule thinking that they’d managed a deadly shot to the dome, not just a painful one.
11 Beaten Almost To Death (Zoom)
One of Barry Allen’s greatest foes, Professor Zoom has handed the speedster a few solid beatdowns over the years, including one where he nearly killed the Flash. In the animated feature Flashpoint Paradox, Barry Allen creates the alternate Flashpoint timeline when he goes back in time to save his mother’s life, but doesn’t remember doing it. Instead, he believes that the new, terrible world that he finds himself in must be the result of some kind of plot of Eobard Thawne’s.
He finds out the truth after an epic battle with his foe, during which Zoom beats him half to death and then uses a steel rod to impale him directly through the thigh in an absolutely brutal moment. The alt-universe Batman is able to kill Zoom in the end and send Barry back in time to stop his former self and restore the timeline, but this was still very nearly the day that Barry met his end.
10 Back Broken
Barry faces off against a different incarnation of Zoom on the CW’s The Flash, in what becomes one of the most brutal fights of the series, and the character’s history as a whole. In the sixth episode of the second season, "Enter Zoom", Hunter Zolomon takes on Barry head to head for the first time, after a few episodes of sending underlings to do his dirty work. In the fight, it’s obvious that Zoom is grossly more powerful than the Flash, as he nearly destroys his crimson rival.
First, as Barry attempts to throw lightning at him, Zoom catches it and throws it back, knocking Barry down. From there, he outruns Barry before beating him to a pulp and snapping his spine, then catching a dart filled with speed-dampening serum aimed at him, and plunging it into Barry. As a final act of brutality, Zoom drags the barely-conscious Barry around to the newspaper and police station to show the world that the Flash is done, before dropping him at Star Labs to fall into a coma.
9 Zoom Beats The Flash Family
It’s not just one Flash that gets taken down in this story arc, but multiple speedsters all at once, thanks to Zoom - posing as Barry Allen!
At first, when ‘Barry’ returns from the dead, the Flash family is thrilled, but he is soon revealed to be a very different man. He is violent and vicious, and he attacks Wally for ruining his legacy, causing the speedster to hang up his costume in despair… before discovering the truth: that ‘Barry’ is, in fact, Zoom.
He took out several members of the real Flash family, breaking Jay Garrick’s leg in three places, and knocking down Johnny Quick and Max Mercury at the same time. At the end, he and Wally West have their final battle, and Zoom very nearly wins. He beats Wally badly, and he seems to be down (even his wife is begging him to give up), but when Zoom claims that once Wally is gone, he will be remembered as the ‘true’ Flash, Wally finds the strength to beat him.
8 Paralyzed In Flashpoint (Elseworlds)
The Elseworlds stories were published from the '80s through the noughties, and they told a different kind of DC story. These imagined worlds are not canon, and they don’t take place in the established universe, but collected alternate reality adventures together into a single imprint - which included a world where Barry Allen could no longer run.
In the Elseworlds Flashpoint, Barry was hit by a bullet while saving the life of JFK, and the world’s only costumed hero became a quadriplegic. The injury itself doesn’t get much time on the page, and this story is set decades after the fact, as Barry uses his brilliant mind to create amazing new technology. However, his bad luck streak's not done yet, as Barry is consumed with regret over losing his abilities as the Flash, and starts to believe that he is going insane, remembering a world full of superheroes that does not actually exist.
He does eventually regain his speed and find his way home, but the years spent in this Elseworlds reality were incredibly painful, physically and mentally.
7 Seizures From A Vibrating Bullet
In the 'Tower of Babel' story arc, it is revealed that Batman has betrayed his friends in the Justice League by keeping a record of ways to incapacitate all of his fellow heroes, in the event that they went bad. He’s even created tech that will allow him to take out his fellow JLA members, all specifically designed to deal with their individual powers. He doesn’t intend to use them unless entirely necessary, but when Ra’s Al Ghul gets his hands on the plans, things go downhill very quickly.
One by one, Ra’s uses Batman’s knowledge to take out the Justice League - including the Flash. In his case, a weapon has been created to fire a special vibrating bullet, which lodges into his spinal column and causes him to suffer constant, painful seizures at light speed. He is able to recover, but only after suffering excruciating and constant seizures for an extended period of time - and the emotional injury of knowing that it was because of his friend, Batman.
6 Disfigured by Big Sir
Big Sir may not be one of the Flash’s arch nemeses, like Zoom or Reverse Flash, but he was powerful enough to do some serious damage to the Scarlet Speedster back in the ‘80s. Also known as Dufus P Ratchet, Big Sir grew to monstrous proportions and is incredibly strong, but has the mental abilities of a child (and not a very bright child, at that). He was sicced on the Flash by the Rogues, who tricked Big Sir into believing that the Scarlet Speedster had callously beaten the Rogues and even murdered Big Sir’s pet mouse. Incensed, Big Sir went after Barry, and beat him to an absolute pulp.
In the end, the Flash takes a direct blow to the face, breaking several bones, knocking out teeth, and leaving him unrecognizable. Using the last of his strength, he makes it to Gorilla City, where his friend Solovar is able to use their advanced technology to heal him and perform reconstructive surgery - and even to help Big Sir himself when Flash manages to bring him in.
5 Energy Drained By Reverse Flash
A new Reverse Flash appears in the New 52 - Daniel West, Iris West’s brother. After pushing their father down the stairs and leaving him in a wheelchair, Daniel ended up in prison, and estranged from his sister. When he gained Speed Force powers in an accident, he decided to go back in time and change his relationship with Iris - by killing their father in the first place. He started killing anyone connected to the Speed Force, needing their energy to add to his own to go back in time, before finally luring the Flash himself to a lab to get that final boost. The two end up in a knock-down battle, violently beating each other across town until Reverse Flash is able to drain Barry’s energy to bring them back in time.
Our hero is barely able to stand when they arrive in the past, but he still tries to protect the young Daniel and Iris, as Reverse Flash nearly kills him… before finally seeing that he is doing more harm with his meddling and he breaks down into tears, allowing Flash to fix his mistakes and return him to the present - and Iron Heights.
4 Battles His Murderous Future Self
After his epic throwdown with the Reverse Flash, Barry Allen goes up against another fleet-footed foe: the Future Flash. A version of himself from twenty years in the future has come to Barry’s time, and he has been twisted by an accident that claimed the life of Wally West. Determined to make things right, this version of the Flash starts to work his way backwards in time, brutally killing off the Rogues and using their energy to travel further back, until he is able to reach the point that Wally should have died.
He saves his nephew, but in doing so, he cripples a version of himself, leading to the newly-saved Wally donning the costume and coming after him in the present. Finally, Future Flash and Present Flash go head to head, as Future Flash’s actions have torn a hole in the Speed Force, and the only way to seal it is by sacrificing a speedster. The more experienced Future Flash is easily able to beat Barry almost to death, before Wally comes after him - and sacrifices himself to close the rip. The Future Flash has now lost his nephew twice, as well as himself.
3 Tortured by Psycho Pirate
In the game-changing 'Crisis On Infinite Earth', Barry is captured by the Anti-Monitor, and given to Psycho Pirate to ‘play with’. Psycho Pirate, an incredibly powerful empath, is able to control the emotions of anyone using his Medusa Mask. With the Flash, he chooses to torture Barry, making him re-live his worst moments and darkest fears over and over again. Barry is left cowering on the floor, begging Psycho Pirate to stop, but he continues to ‘play’ with his captive for weeks.
To make things worse, the Anti-Monitor destroys Red Tornado in front of The Flash, breaking him down into his elemental essence, with nothing left of the being that was Barry Allen’s friend. Finally, after too long resisting Psycho Pirate’s torture, Barry breaks free after seeing the Anti-Monitor face to face, and our hero beats Psycho Pirate to a pulp in retribution for the pain and suffering that he'd inflicted.
2 Nearly Burned To Death
In ‘Flashpoint’, Barry wakes up one day in a different reality - one where his mother was never killed, and his father never went to prison for her murder… but where the heroes that populate the world he knows are gone or vastly changed, and the Justice League does not exist. In this world, Thomas Wayne is Batman, and (after some difficulty) Barry is able to convince him that there is a different, much better world, and that he needs help to bring it back.
Without his powers, though, Barry is almost useless, so the two team up to try and re-create the accident that gave him his connection to the Speed Force in the first place. They douse him in chemicals and make sure he is struck by lightning… and that goes about as well as you might expect. Rather than gaining superpowers, Barry is completely fried, and his skin is pretty much burned off completely from the resulting burns. Wrapped head to toe, he is nursed back to relative health, before eventually regaining his powers on a second attempt and saving the timeline.
'Crisis On Infinite Earths' was not kind to Barry Allen. After being tortured by the Psycho Pirate (as we saw earlier), he ends up sacrificing his life to save the universe - and it doesn’t look like a painless way to go. The Anti-Monitor created an anti-matter cannon, designed to destroy the remaining universes in one fell swoop, when the Flash stepped in to stop him. He broke into the core of the Anti-Matter cannon, only to discover that it was powered by pure Anti-Matter itself. Our speedy hero runs against the anti-matter, despite it sapping his energy and draining his speed, and runs faster than he ever has before.
Driven by the love he has for his friends and family, he pushes himself even as he screams out in agonizing pain. As we watch, the anti-matter drains him of all energy in an excruciatingly painful death, and he literally disintegrates as he destroys the cannon and saves the multiverse.
What other horrifying injuries has Flash suffered over the years? Let us know in the comments.