At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, executive producer Todd Hellbing teased that there will be a lot of deaths in The Flash’s fifth season. This will likely be at the hands of Cicada, the season’s Big Bad. In the comics, Cicada targets those the Flash has saved. From our one teaser of him, it is likely he will do the same on the show.
So who is going to die? No doubt some one-off faces from the past will make a reappearance to add to the body count. Who dies may come down in large part to which actors are available to do so. However, should we brace ourselves for some regulars to die, as well, before the end?
We rarely know how many years actors’ contracts run or when they are renewed. It isn’t unusual for fans to hear nothing concrete about contracts until either an actor wants out or conflicts over salary make renegotiation uncertain. And while I know there have been a lot of rumors within fandom that “inside sources” swear they have six year or even ten year contracts, “inside sources” are more often than not “people who lie on the Internet because they know people will believe them.” I could write a whole article about Flash rumors from supposed “inside sources” that never came true. As evidence, so-called “inside sources” are hardly credible. Most aren’t even believable.
With this being The Flash’s fifth season, there is at least a chance that some contracts are running out. We may not know how many seasons the original cast is contracted for, but five years is at least a fairly common duration. At any rate, we may not know that any of our series regulars are leaving, but we also don’t know for certain that they’re safe, either. After all, even if a contract runs a set number of years, they can always be ended early. Another thing not unheard of on television.
Killing a main member of the cast would certainly be dramatic and set the show off in a new direction, which seems to be a goal this year. But who is the most likely to be killed?
Chance of dying: 0%
Barry is our titular hero. Even if there was an argument that could be made that he could be replaced by Wally’s Kid Flash (and even that was tenuous at best), Keiynan Lonsdale is no longer a series regular. He certainly won’t be killed now.
And, frankly, with all the emotion and heart that Grant Gustin brings to the role, why would anyone want him to be? He’s so clearly vital to the story they’re telling that we probably couldn’t imagine the number of money trucks they’d be willing to back into his driveway to get him to stick around for a few more years. To anyone out there willing to put money on Gustin leaving the show this season…I have some ocean front property to sell you at a good price, I swear!
Chance of dying: 0%
Yes, she’s the female lead, but shows have written off their female leads before and kept going. Still, the odds of her leaving the show are so remote as to be almost incalculable. The Flash is about heart, about family, and about heroics. Iris West has always been Barry Allen’s heart. She’s the matriarch of the Flash family, and as long as they want to use Bart in future, she’s sticking around. And as Barry himself says, there is no Flash without her.
She’s also only become more prominent as the series has continued and the Powers that Be have embraced her importance to the mythos and the story they’re telling. The fact her character tends to get a lot of buzz and her acting gets praise from critics doesn’t hurt.
Iris West ain’t going anywhere any time soon.
Chance of dying: 50%
I adore Cisco, but the show hasn’t done a great job of giving him an individual storyline over the last few years. Short of getting over his heartbreak from last season and potentially finding him a new love interest this year, I’m not sure they have much in the way of an individual arc for him this season, either. As a fan of the actor and the character, this is incredibly frustrating. His talent is almost criminally underused.
That said, his character may be undervalued but I suspect his function on the show is not. Frankly, he brings a dose of genuine humor – largely ad-libbed, apparently – that the show often desperately needs. (Compare the humor Cisco brings to the fart jokes they gave Ralph last year, and you can see how much the writers need his ad-libs.) Although the show seems to be eager to get out of the lab more this year, they aren’t abandoning it entirely. I’m sure they will still have moments where a piece of tech would be helpful, and Cisco is the logical provider of said McGuffins. And while they don’t necessarily give Vibe a lot of development, I do think they have an easier time of finding uses for his powers. Such as the ability to travel to alternate Earths.
If contracts are coming to an end this year, I suspect whether Valdez stays on the show or is written off may be entirely up to the actor. He hasn’t been getting a strong individual arc, but he does get a decent amount of screen time and sometimes gets fun things to do. If he wants to stick around, I think they’ll be happy to keep him. If he wants to move on and chooses not to renew, they may not be able to convince him to do so. In that event, I think it would be a loss for the show, but I couldn’t claim not to understand the decision.
Chance of dying: 60%
I’ll admit. I’ve gone back and forth on this one. She’s been in the cast since the beginning, and so it wouldn’t be surprising for her to remain on the series for the long haul. However, Hellbing has suggested the stakes against Cicada will have surprise and drama this year. After all, many people will die. Killing off a character like Joe West would have drama, but I don’t know that people would be too surprising, however. His death has been predicted for years. He has also had a smaller role on the show than Cisco, Caitlin, or even Wells. His death has some dramatic value, but I’m not sure it has much shock value.
Meanwhile, while the show has struggled with giving Cisco and Caitlin their own arcs, the arc they’ve given Caitlin for the last few years has been a poorly conceived and self-contradictory mess. They are clearly trying to fix that this year, and I hope they do. But once they have cleaned up her backstory, where do they go from there? I don’t know, but, worse, my impression from San Diego Comic Con is that they may not know either.
As a villain fighting against the rest of the team, there’s a lot of dramatic value. Sadly, they’ve already done that and didn’t get anywhere near the storyline or dramatic tension they should have from it. We got more glimpses than a full arc. This is probably because they didn’t want to lose Caitlin as a member of the team, and I do understand that motivation. However, it really shafted what could have been a compelling story.
A villain looking for redemption also has great dramatic and storyline potential. But they also did that last year – and once again gave it the short shrift. Again, there was a lot more story potential left on the table. Without hitting a giant reset button and making her a villain again, it may be too late to explore the numerous potential storylines they previously ignored. And I just don’t see them resetting her storyline by a good two seasons.
Worse to me than all that is that it is suggested from Comic Con interviews that they approached both Panabaker and Sawyer about a potential romance between Caitlin and Ralph this season. To their credit, they both expressed disinterest in such a storyline. But historically, Caitlin has too often been given a love interest in lieu of another story for her character. Is this a sign that they don’t have a storyline for her outside of “fix Killer Frost” this year? And if that’s the case, is it likely they foresee having more storylines for her in future? If not and this is the end of the initial contract period, they may be looking for a dramatic exit for her instead.
And, really. If they don’t have any good ideas for her character, she may decide she wants to find a show that will.
Harrison Wells 12.0
Chance of dying: 99%
Chance of dying for good: 35%
Let’s be honest. The odds of whatever version of Wells we get dying is almost 100%. Killing Wells is almost a yearly tradition. The bigger question is whether or not they’d write Cavanagh out of the show entirely.
The idea that they might want him to stick around should surprise nobody. They haven’t really known what to do with him ever since his most compelling role in the first season, but they keep him around anyway. Along with Martin, he’s one of the more seasoned actors in the cast. He was almost certainly one of the better known when the show began. But how many times can they reinvent this character? And how many times can they ask the audience to care when they do?
I’m curious to know what they do with his character this year. Will he be crafted to have more longevity, so we could see him sticking around long-term? I suspect they’ll keep a version of the character for as long as the actor wants to play him, but I don’t know how many versions of the character Cavanagh wants to portray. Without more information on this version of Wells, it’s hard to know if this will be just another in a long series or a swan’s song for an actor who they’ve dearly loved having on the show.
If he decided he wanted to leave, I would expect they’d probably put up a fight to try to convince him to stay. I’m not ready to call his departure likely just yet.
Chance of dying: 70%
I love Jesse L. Martin’s Joe West, so I’d hate to see him go. But let’s be honest. Fans have predicted his death for several seasons now for a reason.
Family is one of the central focuses of the show. Yet as Barry grows as a hero, he’s needed a father figure less and less. They haven’t always utilized the relationship between Iris and Joe as well as they should. The series hasn’t really known what to do with Joe West for a couple of years now. They gave him a newborn daughter last season, but there’s no indication a long-term story for his character is in the works.
All of that aside, Martin may well want to move on. He’s had a prolific career on both screen and stage, and he may be ready to move on to other things. However, I wouldn’t count him out completely. He brings a gravitas to the series that is sorely needed, and his lighter role would make it somewhat easier to work his shooting schedule around other projects. He’s another one who might be written off if he’s ready to go, but I doubt they’re eager to see him leave.
Chance of dying: 15%
Shows in the Arrowverse have something of a bad track record when it comes to killing off female supporting characters. Still, I don’t really see Cecile going anywhere this year. If Joe dies, her odds drop even further. I’m not sure what they have planned for Jenna in the future, but they wouldn’t likely make her an orphan. Also, family is a huge part of The Flash. With Wally gone, if you kill off Joe and Cecile, that removes a big part of the family in question. I just don’t see them doing it. And, frankly, between Joe and Cecile, I think Joe is probably the more likely to go.
Chance of dying: 5%
Ralph entered the series to mixed reviews last season. However, there are several reasons to doubt his death this season. He died last year, only to be resurrected in the finale. They clearly have more stories in mind for him. Also, I don’t see them essentially doing the same thing and killing him off – only this time for good – this season. They already have one character they kill off repetitively every year. That quota is filled. Like him or not, I think there’s a good chance Ralph is around for at least another year.
Chance of dying: 0%
This one is probably self-explanatory. They aren’t going to bring Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future onto the show only to kill her off. They just aren’t. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t brace ourselves for a different kind of emotional goodbye at the end of the season. I’m already not ready for it.
The Flash returns Fall 2018 on The CW.