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Every Season of The Flash Ranked

After nine seasons, The Flash has finally ended its long run. With the series (as well as the Arrowverse) now complete and the highly controversial 2023 film having recently come out, I’ve decided to rank every season of the show.

9. Season 7: Every time I watch a horrible season of the Arrowverse, I naively assume that it can’t get any worse, but then another season comes out and tops it for how unbearable it is. The seventh season of The Flash is the peak of that. This is not just the worst season of the show. It’s not just the worst season of the Arrowverse. It is one of the worst seasons of a tv show that I have ever seen. It is mind boggling to see how so many things went wrong with this season. After the pandemic forced the sixth season to end early, season 7 needed to end that story arc before getting to the main stories of its own season. The show already starts off on a bad note by redeeming the main villain by simply talking to her. One of the most frustrating things about the show in its later years is how Barry and Iris convince the villain to turn over a new leaf by giving a heartfelt speech. This season has the characters do that more than ten times. On top of that, we lost three main cast members this season. Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes and Hartley Sawyer all left the show at the beginning of the season. Hartley Sawyer’s exit was especially noteworthy as the actor was fired for offensive tweets years prior. I find it kind of amusing how a show that is infamous for having the villains redeem themselves ends up firing an actor and doesn’t give them a second chance. Ralph’s exit was also abysmal. Naturally they couldn’t use the actor but in one of the weirdest moments in the entire series, they instead use a body double wearing a daft punk helmet. I wish I was making that up. It genuinely felt like they were making this exit awkward on purpose. With the main storylines this season, Eric Wallace once again split the season into two halves. The first story involves a group of random people getting “force powers” with the new speed force trying to protect the universe by hunting down and killing the people who now have the strength, sage and still force. If that already sounds confusing, it doesn’t get any better as the season does absolutely nothing to make it remotely easy to follow. The dialogue is worse than ever as aside from the cheesy heartfelt speeches, we see a bunch of grown adults refer to Iris and Barry as “mom and dad” and they do it nearly every time they have a line despite the fact that they had fully established lives before this. The effects are also at their most embarrassing during this arc. I fully realized that the show was beyond saving when I saw a poorly rendered hulk lady fight a guy using his mind to create pink tentacles to attack her. After the speed force is defeated by yet another heartfelt speech that convinces her to become an ally, the season just comes to a screeching halt to give us three episodes that are literally just blatant filler with nothing to add to either of the story arcs of this season. The “interludes” are some of the most frustrating episodes within the entire show as every time they happen, it is blatantly apparent that the writers are just padding for time. The second arc of the season brings in Godspeed who is leading an army against a faction of his own clones who look exactly like him. Once again the story arc is a confusing mess and the effects are just as bad. Not only does the cgi look laughable but the fight scenes are honestly pathetic. I wish I was kidding when I say that the final battle has Barry and Thawne team up to fight Godspeed by using lightning bolts as swords. Who thought this was a good idea? Who thought anything from this season could be a good idea? I could go on for hours explaining how terrible this season is but I think I’ve made my point. This season didn’t just make me lose any remaining shred of respect I had for this show. It made me question if it was ever actually good to begin with.

8. Season 8: A large number of people say that this season is better than season 7 and I agree. However, that is like saying Batman and Robin is a better movie than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. It’s still awful and the bar is already so low that it’s honestly kind of meaningless. The season opens with a five part crossover titled Armageddon. I use the word crossover very loosely as it is really just Barry teaming up with a hero for each of the 5 episodes. We see a villain named Despero (played by Tony Curran who is criminally wasted here) travel back in time to kill Barry as he believes that the Flash is responsible for a horrible future. We already know that Thawne is responsible but the story treats it like it’s a big surprise that no one could have seen coming. After many obvious reveals and poor fight scenes we see that Thawne has stolen Barry’s life through his scheming. After undoing it by the end of the fourth episode of the event, the next episode has Barry debating on whether or not he should save Thawne from Despero. He predictably decides to save him thanks to a passionate speech from Joe (despite the fact Joe would never have convinced him to do that and only did it because of the forced writing) and is able to defeat Despero while also taking Thawne’s speed. After Armageddon we once again are forced to sit through two filler episodes before getting to our next story in which a fire demon named Deathstorm wants to wipe out all of humanity. He also wants to make Caitlin his bride so he will never be alone (even though killing everyone would literally make him alone). Once again, poor writing and fight scenes ensue before Killer Frost is killed after she sacrifices herself to defeat Deathstorm. Afterwards, we get four more filler episodes before we get to the last arc in which the negative speed force creates negative counterparts of the other forces in order to make Thawne its avatar once again. This final story arc is basically Barry’s final battle with Thawne. It is an underwhelming mess and a horrible conclusion to such a huge story. Barry just defeats him by literally doing nothing and Thawne just dies due to having too much power. As someone who originally loved the Reverse Flash as a villain, I couldn’t even fathom how pathetic this character had become. If this was the conclusion of season 1, I would have absolutely hated it. This season is just a giant bore. While not every episode is a train wreck like the previous season, it’s still awful. Not a single episode was good or even that memorable. It is probably the most forgettable season. I’ll at least give season 7 a little credit. I remembered it for how bad it was. Season 8 was just a season where I felt absolutely nothing.

7. Season 9: When I first saw the final seasons of Arrow and Supergirl, I was extremely underwhelmed. I thought that they could have been so much better and were lackluster ends to both shows. However, after seeing the final season of The Flash, they look like the best seasons of television ever made. I am fascinated by how horrible this season was. I already knew it was going to be bad but I was stunned by how much worse it turned out to be. The season was shortened to 13 episodes which on paper allows for a much more cohesive and less padded out story. Unfortunately, Eric Wallace still used his “graphic novel” approach and split the season into two completely separate halves. The first half introduces the Red Death, who is an evil doppelgänger of Ryan Wilder/Batwoman in this version. I understand that they can’t use Batman (though they probably would still have gone with Batwoman for some reason even if they were allowed to use him), but Ryan is a character who has no connection to Barry whatsoever. As a result, their rivalry and conflict feels so hollow and meaningless. As a main villain, her goal of eradicating crime is poorly written and her plan to bring in new versions of past villains from this show was not exciting in the slightest. It’s just an excuse for Barry to bring in his own team of anti-heroes, led by Chillblaine who for some insane reason is a main character now. Red Death might be one of, if not the worst villains in the entire show. Aside from the bad writing and design for Red Death, Javecia Leslie gives a horrible performance as the character. I already had my doubts that she could play a good villain and I was still underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it’s the fault of the writing, the director or the actress herself, but this was just embarrassing. If that wasn’t bad enough, the show introduces a new alternate personality of Caitlin called Khione, who is possibly the most bizarre and pointless addition to the cast. She is a goddess with vague and undefined weather based powers and is essentially killing Caitlin by possessing her body (a fact that literally no one on the team seems to have a problem with). After Red Death is defeated with an unsurprisingly lousy payoff, the season wastes its time by showcasing four episodes of complete filler. These “interludes” that Eric Wallace liked to use were always awful, but the use of them this season was especially frustrating, as it’s the final season and there’s only thirteen episodes. If you can’t write a story around thirteen episodes, then you shouldn’t be the showrunner. The heavy amount of filler makes the final story arc suffer immensely as we see Eddie Thawne come back to life as the choice for the new Negative Speed Force avatar, with him becoming the villain Cobalt Blue. Eddie becoming Cobalt Blue has been something that fans have desired for quite some time. Unfortunately, he only becomes a threat in the very last episode and his ultimate plan is to just get together some of Barry’s biggest threats to go and kill him. That’s it. There’s literally nothing else to it. In addition to that, the villains who come back are absolutely wasted. Godspeed, Thawne, Savitar (who doesn’t even come out of the suit) and especially Zoom are easily defeated in one of the most ridiculous fight scenes in the entire Arrowverse. As a huge fan of Teddy Sears as Zoom in particular, I was let down in ways I couldn’t even believe. Eddie is of course defeated by, you guessed it, a heartfelt speech from Barry who convinces him to turn over a new leaf. I could go on and on for hours on why this is a pathetic final season but that would make this list way too long. The only reason it isn’t at the bottom is because it had two genuinely good episodes, one that brought back Bloodwork and Oliver Queen and the other that brought the night Barry lost his mother to a nice full circle moment. Those two episodes were great, whereas the previous two seasons before it couldn’t even give one good episode despite each having over twenty. However, this season is still an absolute travesty. As a season on its own it’s still horrible by itself and as an end to a nearly decade long show it’s honestly kind of insulting.

6. Season 5: Before the last three seasons of this show, I didn’t think it could get any worse than the fifth season. Almost every episode was just painful, especially when it came to the writing and characters. After being teased with the character during the fourth season, we are fully introduced to Nora West-Allen/XS, the future daughter of Barry and Iris, who traveled back in time to save her father from his fate in the Crisis. Due to her time traveling, a serial killer named Orlin Dwyer/Cicada has emerged to hunt down and kill every meta-human in Central City and as such the entire season revolves around Team Flash figuring out a way to stop Cicada before he kills more people. As I said before the characters in this season are insufferable, especially Nora. Throughout the entire season, she constantly acts like a bratty child and chews out Iris for being a bad mom in the future. Every time I see Nora argue with Barry and Iris it becomes unbelievably cringeworthy. What makes this especially awkward is that Nora’s actress Jessica Parker Kennedy is even older than Grant Gustin and Candice Patton. I wouldn’t have even that much of a problem with Nora if the show didn’t always treat her like she was in the right during these situations. I never once cared about Nora’s story because the show does almost nothing to justify her presence. There’s no urgency. She can go back to the future any time she wants. She’s literally just here to spend time with Barry and nobody seems to have a problem with this even though the consequences could be catastrophic. Cicada is also one of the worst villains I have ever seen in a tv show. On paper, a villain whose goal is to kill all the meta-humans sounds like a great concept. Unfortunately the character is never threatening and never even really kills that many metas. Nearly every episode has the team go up against him only for him to escape. It happens so much during the season that it’s a joke. Chris Klein is normally a fantastic actor but he is absolutely horrible as Cicada. I don’t know if Klein or the director is to blame for the performance but nothing about the character works in terms of acting or writing. Even after his niece from the future comes in to take over the main villain spot, it is still awful. The story doesn’t fare much better. Aside from Nora and Cicada’s storylines being terrible, we are also introduced to the meta-human cure which should serve as an easy solution but the characters make this insane decision of only giving criminals the cure with their consent. If that wasn’t bad enough, they refuse to use the cure on Cicada’s comatose niece because she can’t give them her consent until she wakes up despite the fact that her future self is going around killing several innocent people. It’s baffling to see the characters risk hundreds of innocent lives for something so stupid. If I could say anything positive about this season it would be Thawne’s role, who is in prison in the future and manipulating Nora to his advantage. Tom Cavanagh still does a great performance as the villain and makes me wish that he took over as the big bad much earlier. Other than that, this season is garbage. I honestly kind of wish that it was still the worst season and that the show didn’t get worse than this, but here we are.

5. Season 6: After the fifth season, Eric Wallace took over as the sole showrunner for the series. Most people including myself weren’t sure how this would play out. He would either bring the show back to its former glory, make it worse than ever before or keep it at the same mediocre quality. As it turns out, all three of these predictions happened. The buildup episodes to Crisis on Infinite Earths were surprisingly a breath of fresh air. The characters were less obnoxious, the emotional scenes were genuine and the villain was honestly incredible. The first half of the season sees our characters prepare for Barry’s disappearance in the Crisis while also trying to stop Ramsey Rosso/Bloodwork from turning everyone in Central City into blood zombies. For the first time since season 2, I actually believed what the characters were going through. Everyone brought such a level of realism to the part, especially Candice Patton as Iris. The main villain of the first half was also great. Bloodwork was a genuinely scary villain who actually seemed like a believable threat. Sendhil Ramamurthy gives a very chilling performance and always stole the show whenever he was on screen. An interesting detail about Bloodwork is that this is the first time where we actually get to see the big bad transform into a villain. It seemed like the show would finally become good again, something that I had been wanting since season 2. Unfortunately, once we get to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the series once again becomes awful. The first red flag appears when we see The Flash vanish in the Crisis. Instead of it being the Barry Allen of this series, it ends up being John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen from the 1990s Flash series. This has got to be the single biggest cop out in the entire Arrowverse. As someone who had no connection to the 90s show, I felt absolutely nothing during this scene. The back half of the season is even worse. Not only is it beyond stupid, but it is so boring. We see the team try to stop Eva McCulloch/Mirror Monarch (a gender swapped version of Mirror Master) from kidnapping everyone in Central City and replacing them with clones from the “Mirrorverse.” Unlike Bloodwork, Mirror Monarch is a horrible villain. She spends most of the season pretending to be an ally (a gimmick that has been done several times on the show), is in the mirror dimension until the end and never once feels like a remotely threatening villain. Efrat Dor feels very miscast as she gives a very bland and awkward performance. The actress seems so lost during most of her scenes. On top of that, the show goes out of its way to try and make you sympathize with her. Because of Dor’s performance and the writing being so forced, it’s hard to care about Eva as a character or her motivation for being a villain. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic forced this season to stop before the twentieth episode, meaning that there isn’t even an ending to it. Season 6 started off with so much promise, but it once again failed to deliver in the end (and sadly only became worse after that).


4. Season 4: For whatever reason, the Arrowverse has always had a problem with having the fourth seasons of each of their shows be underwhelming. Supergirl’s fourth season was decent but nothing special, Legends of Tomorrow’s fourth season was a massive step down from the two seasons before it and Arrow’s fourth season is infamous for being one of the worst seasons from the entire franchise. Meanwhile, The Flash had a fourth season that at the time seemed like it couldn’t get any worse than what we got with Arrow. To be honest, it really wasn’t that awful. Don’t get me wrong. This season was still bad and nowhere close the being good. However, compared to what we got from this show afterwards I realize that this season could have been so much worse. The fourth season has the team rescue Barry from the Speed Force after he was forced to be their prisoner last season. Unfortunately, they accidentally end up turning a bus full of people into meta-humans as a result. The team must now find these metas before a supervillain named Clifford DeVoe/The Thinker can capture and kill them to use their powers as part of his plan to make everyone in the world a moron. The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds. To give this season credit, there are still several great moments throughout it. Several plot lines such as Barry being framed for murder and Harry Wells becoming obsessed with taking down DeVoe are genuinely engaging. Neil Sandilands is absolutely fantastic as DeVoe. He brings a great amount of elegance and menace to the part and absolutely steals the season as a result. Hartley Sawyer also turns out to be a welcome addition to the show as Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man. He is admittedly insufferable at first but he eventually grew on me. However, this season is still filled to the brim with problems. The most glaring issue being the humor. After the third season, many fans complained that the show had gotten too dark and brooding. In response to this, the writers made this season extra goofy and put in so many comedic moments to the point where the season becomes so excessive with its use of comedy. The humor in this season is unbearable. Not a single moment is funny and the amount of times we have to sit through quirky therapy scenes, Ralph acting like a moron or literally anything featuring Cecile is insane. There’s even an episode that features a random appearance of Jay and Silent Bob in one of the most out of place cameos to ever come from a tv show. I dreaded the comedy every time I watched an episode during this season. Another problem with with DeVoe. Not only is his plan to turn everyone stupid far too goofy even for this show, but throughout the season he transfers his mind into several different people and takes over their bodies. As a result Neil Sandilands is absent for the majority of the season, which was a massive shame as he was the best thing about it. I’m very conflicted with DeVoe as the main villain. On one hand I genuinely love Neil Sandilands as the character and the fact that we finally got a villain who isn’t an evil speedster was very refreshing. On the other hand however, the body swapping plot line diminished Sandilands’ commanding presence and his diastase for technology is beyond stupid given how everything he uses to complete his plan involves technology. Overall, I still can’t call this season good, but I can’t call it the worst season of this show.

3. Season 3: I remember being so hyped for this season. After season 2, I couldn’t wait to see how the show would tackle Flashpoint, which is one of the greatest comic book stories to ever focus on Barry Allen. This might have been my most hyped tv season of all time at that point. Unfortunately, this season greatly missed the mark. By the end of the very first episode, Barry undoes Flashpoint and goes back to his normal time. I was dumbfounded with how quickly the show wasted this concept. The possibilities of Flashpoint were literally endless. As someone who loved the Flashpoint comic I was so disappointed. They could have at least spent half the season in this timeline but they  just threw it all away for some reason that I can’t fathom. The season is instead focused on dealing with the aftermath of Barry’s decision to undo Flashpoint. The characters are shown to be much more jaded and bitter, especially towards Barry. Cisco in particular develops a deep resentment of Barry when he finds out that Flashpoint caused his brother to die. Having loved these characters for how warm and friendly they were during the first two seasons, it was a bit jarring to see so many of these characters act like jerks. I wouldn’t mind so much if they changed back to their likable selves by the end of the season but they pretty much stay this way moving forward. The main conflict comes into the season by the ninth episode when Barry accidentally travels to the future and witnesses an evil speedster named Savitar murder Iris. Now desperate to prevent this fate for his love interest, Barry and the team scramble throughout the season to stop Savitar from escaping the Speed Force and killing Iris. The premise is a lot more small scaled and self-contained which on some level I don’t mind as it is different, but after how big in scope the first two seasons were, I much rather would have preferred the writers to go bigger with the story. Savitar is a villain on which I’m torn. Despite not being even remotely like the character from the comics, the giant suit that the show made is impressive and an evil version of Barry becoming the big bad is a fitting full circle moment with how both Thawne and Zoom tried to convince Barry that this side of him existed. However, we’ve already had an evil speedster as the big bad of the previous two seasons so using yet another one just wore out the gimmick and the character himself is very sloppily written. We never see how he ended up in the speed force (or how he got a massive facial scarring) and his motivation of killing Iris simply because the others didn’t treat him like a member of their group is ridiculous, but again I did enjoy several of his moments so I do see now why so many fans like him. Looking back, I think I was too hard on this season. Maybe it’s because the following seasons of this show are much worse, but I don’t think this season is as bad as I remember. Does that make it good? I don’t know if I would go that far. It is still extremely sloppy with its writing, the tone is far too brooding, most of the characters are much more unpleasant and unlikeable and the wasting of the Flashpoint concept is unforgivable. However, I will give credit that the heart from the first two seasons is still there, I enjoyed Wally’s story of becoming Kid Flash, Grant Gustin probably gives his best performance out of all of the seasons of the show and the villain is much better than I remembered. I think that there is some merit to this season overall, but I still think that the show should have ended after season 2 after having seen everything that followed it.

2. Season 1: The season that started it all. In terms of quality, there is honestly a massive gap on this list between the first two seasons and everything else that followed. The first season came out during the same time as Arrow’s third season, making it the first official spin-off from the Arrowverse. The main question to ask is whether or not The Flash season 1 still holds up. In my opinion not only does this season hold up, but it’s also one of the best first seasons to ever come from a comic book show. Unlike Arrow season 3, the first season of The Flash was incredible. It’s easy to see the amount of passion and respect that the writers had for the titular hero. We are introduced to Barry Allen, a CSI forensics scientist who suffered a tragedy during his childhood when a mysterious speedster from the future killed his mother and framed his father for it, forcing him to live with his childhood friend turned love interest Iris West. One night in his lab, Barry is struck by lightning during an explosion from S.T.A.R. Labs that causes many people in Central City to become meta-humans. After waking up from a long coma and gaining the power of speed, Barry is trained by a scientist named Harrison Wells who helps him use his powers to stop the new metas from wreaking havoc and find the man who murdered his mother. Unbeknownst to Barry, Wells is secretly the man who killed her and is manipulating him for his own nefarious purpose. The first season is just a breath of fresh air. We never really had a superhero show like this aside from Smallville at this time. Most of the other shows were much more grounded in reality. The Flash on the other hand was not afraid to be more outlandish. Grant Gustin was also fantastic as the character. No matter how bad this show has gotten, it always felt like Grant was committed to the material no matter what. For a show on The CW, the action was also surprisingly very good. I was never taken out of the experience when watching it and was always sucked in. The villains were especially memorable during this season. The villains of the week were all fun, particularly characters like Anthony Carrigan as The Mist, Liam McIntyre as Weather Wizard and especially Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold, who serves as the secondary antagonist of the season and becomes one of the most entertaining characters in the entire Arrowverse. However, the best thing about this season is the conflict between Barry and the man who killed his mother, the Reverse-Flash. Tom Cavanagh does an excellent job as the big bad of this season as while it is obvious that Wells is really the Reverse-Flash, you actually see him become fond of Barry and his friends. You never really know if he genuinely regrets what he did and cares for Barry or if he is just using him for his own means and still plans to kill him once he achieves his goal. It’s a fascinating story for the season and both Gustin and Cavanagh are nearly flawless as the hero and villain. My only two gripes with this season are that the love triangle between Barry, Iris and her boyfriend Eddie was an annoying plot to sit through and that it took Barry way too long to figure out that Wells was the Reverse-Flash, even though the audience was told much earlier and even before then it was obvious. Other than that though I think this is an outstanding first season and I understand why people hold it in such high regard.

1. Season 2: After the first season ended I was beyond excited to see what the second season of this show had in store. To my absolute surprise, I found myself loving this season even more than the first. I had already been blown away with what we were given in the first season but I never could have guessed how much I’d enjoy season 2. In this season Barry and the team are introduced to a speedster from another universe named Jay Garrick, who explains that after Barry used his powers to travel back in time last season, several breaches to his universe opened up as a result. Making matters more complicated, several meta-humans are brought through the breach to wreak havoc by a demonic and terrifying speedster named Zoom, whom Jay explains wants to be the fastest being throughout the multiverse and will not stop until his enemies are dead. It is now up to Barry, Jay and the rest of the team to stop Zoom and close the breaches before more metas come through. One of the main things I love about this season is how much it feels like a comic book come to life. The concept of the multiverse has always been a fascinating one and this season was one of the first shows to make it popular for modern audiences. It’s fascinating to see how different the world and characters are on Earth-2 compared to Barry’s universe. The writers take full advantage of the multiverse concept here and it’s easy to tell it must have been extremely fun for them. In addition to that, not only is the action beyond creative but the characters are as well. We see evil doppelgängers of Cisco, Caitlin Firestorm and Black Canary, all of whom work for Zoom. We also get new villains such as King Shark, who is one of the best visually looking characters to ever be put on a network television show. The standout character of this season has to be the main villain Zoom, who is revealed to have pretended to be Jay Garrick and was manipulating Barry to his advantage just like the Reverse-Flash. Initially, I was put off by the show using another speedster as the big bad, but they made Zoom far different from the Reverse-Flash in all the best ways. For example, in addition to having a completely black costume and looking much more demonic in appearance, the character himself is extremely terrifying, with him possibly being the scariest Arrowverse villain in general. Unlike the Reverse-Flash, who actually ends up becoming somewhat fond of Barry as if he was his own son, Zoom never once comes to grow any sort of positive feelings for him. He always sees him as a means to an end and relishes in seeing the heartbreak that he goes through when he finds out that he had just been using him. Where Reverse-Flash at least had sympathetic qualities, Zoom was just pure evil. Even the mystery surrounding Zoom is done better. Where it was obvious from the start on who the Reverse-Flash was, the show only dropped subtle hints to reveal Zoom’s true identity, making you feel the same amount of betrayal that our heroes experience once the secret is revealed. Teddy Sears was absolutely phenomenal as Zoom. The actor gives a terrifying performance as Zoom but also does a great job at convincing you that he’s a hero when the character is pretending to be Jay Garrick. The second season of The Flash is honestly a masterpiece. If the show had just ended with Barry defeating Zoom, I honestly would have been satisfied. This is easily my favorite season of the show and the one that I tend to rewatch the most.


Adam Grunther

Adam is a freelance writer who is an avid fan of comic book movies and television shows, especially that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Doom Patrol. He joins the team with a deep understanding for all of the content from both Marvel and DC Comics, and will use this information in future rankings and reviews. He looks forward to sharing posts that will bring a mix of entertainment and his passion for superhero related content to Only Comic Universe.

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