On Inspiring Conversations and Idiot Characters (The Flash)

September 15, 2019

Happy Sunday!

I welcome you to the hardest post I have ever written. This is at least the fourth draft of my The Flash post that I've written today. It's very irritating.

So today I'm just going to ramble and rant a little bit about the mistakes The Flash made - in particular, two very big errors that the writers keep making.

And of course, this will be topped with a healthy dose of Cisco GIFs. Because why not.

Now, I'm not going to tell you to avoid this TV show. The Flash is actually a very enjoyable show with some interesting plot twists and fascinating characters.

But I will give you the brief rundown of what happens in seasons one, two, and three, because the plot twists and spoilers are essential to this post. So, if you wish to avoid spoilers, stop reading this post and watch this show.

okay this is funny in context

Ready? Okay, let's go.

The Summary

In season 1, we meet Barry Allen, a kind-hearted forensic scientist who is bent on solving his mother's mysterious murder. After a freak explosion ripples through the city, he receives superhuman speed and becomes The Flash, protector of Central City. He meets Cisco and Caitlin, two scientists who help him fight crime from their laboratory. They share a common mentor: Harrison Wells, a brilliant scientist who caused the accident, but says he regrets it.

However, before long, Barry learns that Wells was the one who killed his mother. Wells also has super-speed, comes from the future, and calls himself the Reverse-Flash. In a climactic turn of events, Barry tries to send Wells back to his time, but fails. Barry also goes back in time and attempts to save his mother, but at the last minute, he stops.

Season 2 deals with Barry's guilt over not being able to save everyone - namely, his mother and, more recently, Caitlin's husband Ronnie. Cisco learns that he has cool mind-reading powers from the explosion, but that Wells also wanted him to have those powers. (This leads to one of the best self-doubt episodes ever.) A multiverse is also discovered, and from that multiverse comes another speedster villain, named Zoom. 

Barry is able to defeat Zoom (barely), but he also goes back in time and finally decides to save his mother - much to the annoyance of literally EVERYONE. Why?

Because Barry knew that if he saved his mother, he would completely throw off time and create another timeline - and he did it anyways. Season 3 explores this concept in more detail. Suffice it to say that Barry fixed his mistake, but changed things in his original timeline, like having Cisco's brother die in a car accident. (Oof.)

There's also another speedster villain (Savitar) and a new coworker with a suspicious past (Julian <3) but I don't think we'll need to dwell on that too much.

Now. Into the issues.

Pep Talks

Barry, for the most part, has very low self-confidence. In fact, he was the very first character that I have ever seen have self-doubt issues. I very much appreciated that.


Whenever Barry gets down about the slightest thing, someone always goes and has a pep talk with him. And this pep talk always works amazingly well, and he's able to defeat the bad guy.

Every. Single. Episode. Without fail.

Pep talks don't work like that. I'm sorry, but if the only way you can get your characters motivated is for another character to tell them, "You can do it," . . . well, you need to be more creative, because that's just lazy. I'm sorry.

(also the pep talks usually begin with "Hey" and now my family makes fun of it all the time)

probably the writers looking back on these seasons

What can we learn from this?

It takes more than a pep talk to change a character. Instead of having side characters encourage your main character all the time, maybe throw a short scene in where action prompts the main character to change his mind.

Your character's motivation needs to be strong. Whatever your character's goal is, he needs to want it enough to face his fears. If he doesn't care enough to do that, you have bigger issues.

Characters Don't Learn

The other major issue of The Flash is that characters do not learn ANYTHING. They repeat the same mistakes over and over and over and over.

For example, throughout all three seasons, the characters hide secrets from each other. Some of them are somewhat warranted, like Barry hiding his identity from Iris, his girlfriend. However, why on Earth would Wally, Iris's brother, hide the fact that he's been seeing the main villain EVERYWHERE?????? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??????

Ahem. Sorry.

Even though in season 3, the characters make a pact to not hide anything from each other, they STILL DO. These secrets nearly get everyone killed at one point or another, yet still they do not learn.

If you don't let your characters learn from mistakes in your writing, not only will your audience roll their eyes in frustration, but it will also stunt character development.

Let me explain.

Season One Barry:

a guy still grieving over his mother's murder --> a guy who, although still sad, has begun to accept that she is gone for good, and even going back in time will never truly make it right.

I thought that this character development was spot-on.

Season Two Barry:

a guy trying to accept his choice to keep the past intact --> a guy not able to accept his choice and changes it

I mean, it was decent development, I guess, although it did cause all the fans to yell at him.

Season Three Barry:

a guy still trying to accept his choice to change the past --> a guy not able to accept his choice and changes it

Are you seeing a pattern?

Barry goes through the exact same character arc in seasons two and three. He doesn't feel like he has changed at all in those seasons. And I understand that his personality involves a lot of self-doubt. However, he does not learn from his mistakes, and he does not listen to his friends. This leads to a LOT of facepalm moments.

(Obviously, this is very dumbed-down. A lot of other stuff happened to cause this. But at his root, Barry doesn't really change, and it's a result of the writers not letting him learn from his mistakes.)

this GIF worked better in my head to be honest

What can we learn from this?

Even if you don't have your characters learn from all their mistakes, at least have them learn from some. Don't have your characters keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again. It's very eyeroll-inducing.

Obviously, we're human - we don't always learn immediately, and your characters should be the same. But PLEASE, LET THEM LEARN SOMETHING.

Let your characters change. It's true - some characters will stay stubbornly stuck in their misbeliefs and fears. If that is the point of your story, then that's fine.


Wait, what's that I hear?


totally haven't been watching many TwoSet Charades videos, nope, why would you think that

I'm going to stop bashing on The Flash and instead focus on one character that they actually did CORRECTLY: the one and only Cisco.

(#CiscoRamon4Life fan club, here is our moment. I'm looking at you, Isabel and Sarah.)

Cisco doesn't really have a character arc in season one - which is actually okay. There's way too much other stuff going on during season one for him to become a main focus. We do learn a little bit about his motivations and fears. For instance:

I relate way too much to this statement

At the very end of season one, though, we begin to see the start of his character arc: namely, when he begins to show signs of a superpower. When he tells his evil mentor about it, Cisco is told that he will do great things.

Seeing as that came from Mr. Bad Guy, though, he begins to have serious doubts.

Over the course of season two, we see Cisco get slightly more serious. (Note: slightly. Does he completely sober up? Of course not.) He battles doubts about turning evil, as he meets his doppelgänger from another Earth, who is evil. EPIC scene, by the way.

simultaneously the greatest reference and saddest line ever <333

By the end of the season, Cisco has gone from being uncomfortable in his own skin to owning his ability.

(of course, then season three comes around and kicks his life upside-down again, but you get the point)


Anyways, if you get nothing else out of this post: please, please, please do not have pep talks solve all your problems. It's annoying and I might just chuck your book across the room. XD Just saying.

Also, this is a random question, but how do I make the section that has the search bar up above unsticky? I've been messing around, trying to figure out how to make my navigation bar unsticky. I got my menu underneath the Header, which I wanted, and I made the sticky area transparent somehow, but I don't know how to get it to stay about the header image, and Google isn't helping. XD

I will see you guys in about two weeks! I'm not sure which TV show I'm going to do yet, so it'll be a surprise to both of us! ;)


Who has seen The Flash? #CiscoRamon4Life members, where are you so we can fangirl? What do you think about pep talks? Any ideas as to that annoying line? Let's talk!

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  1. I started the first episodes of the show and then...never watched it again for some reason. xD It was really good from what I watched, though! YESSS, pep talks don't just magically change characters (if that happened irl it would be awesome lol)

    I'm really loving these posts, Nicole! <3 <3 <3
    (I wish I know how to help with the navigation bar problem, but unfortunately I have no idea. Blog design is always a struggle *grumbles*)

    1. If you get another chance, at least try the next couple episodes! (Ugh, I know, right - I would be unstoppable at this point XD)

      Thank you, Ash - I'm so glad you're enjoying them! <3 <3 <3
      (*grumbles with you* Haha, you're good! Coding is definitely a struggle.....)

  2. Great tips!!! I watched a good chunk of season 1 years ago but stopped because a iffy episode content-wise came up and my mom decided we were done with that. But I enjoyed what I saw of it. Cisco is great. XD

    I can definitely see how there are some storytelling failures in it, though. :P Characters changing and learning is such an important part of fiction! Thank you for that reminder!

    1. Thanks, Lila!!! (Oh, yeah, I definitely know what content issue you're talking about. And sadly, it gets dwelled on more in season 2, which is really annoying, but I don't think they mentioned it in season 3.... *shrugs*) Cisco is the BEST!! ;)

      I agree wholeheartedly! And The Flash has some very eyeroll-inducing moments because of those failures, but oh well . . . nothing's perfect. Thank you! <3

  3. I watched season one and loved it, and wanted to love season two. But yeah, it felt like a repeat in a lot of ways. I still watch them occasionally, if I haven't anything better to do ;0 But I love the characters, especially Barry Allen and Cisco ;D

    MB: keturahskorner.blogspot.com
    PB: thegirlwhodoesntexist.com

    1. I definitely agree, Keturah! (I think the main reason I love season two was because the Cisco subplot took center stage. XD) Yes, those characters are amazing! :D Thanks for reading!

  4. #CiscoRamon4Life fan club always and forever!!! He is so much fun and I just love his character.

    I loved this post! I agree with the points you made, especially the pep talk one. I'm pretty sure I put a lot of those in my books and then I go back and realize that it's just stupid. Like, how many times do I get a pep talk in real life? Almost never. So how many times should my characters get a pep talk? Almost never.

    And now I have a craving to go back and watch some Flash.

    1. The #CiscoRamon4Life club will never die!! He is definitely the most interesting character in the show. XD

      Thanks, Sarah! And I agree - pep talks are pretty few and far between, not an every-chapter kind of deal.

      Hehe, you’re welcome. ;)

  5. I have so many issues with the Flash and a lot of other shows, and poor writing is a big part of it. Yes, the pep talks are such a cop out. I love Cisco!!!

    1. Yeah, poor writing seems to be an epidemic with a lot of the more recent shows. :( YES, Cisco is the best!!!!!

  6. Never got past the end of the second season, and I don't know if I'll finish it, but ahhh CISCO and the gifs wow what a happy post #CiscoRamon4Life HEH barry can be such an idiot sometimes. Oh my word I loved your analyzation of the characters 🙌
    ain't nobody got time for bees" <--how iconic

    1. (If you get to the third season, prepare for lots of facepalms XD). Thank you!
      #CiscoRamon4Life always
      Oh goodness gracious, don’t even get me started. (If you think he’s bad in season 2, he takes it five steps further in season 3. *seethes*)
      Thanks! <3

  7. This is a really great post. I've never watched The Flash. It looks good, though. I do watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the character arcs are all really good. Skye, Coulson, May, Fitz and Simmons all have amazing character arcs. Bobbi, Hunter and Mack all have awesome character arcs, too. They've just been in less of it and are slightly more like side characters.

    1. Thanks, McKayla! It’s good, if you can handle some eyeroll moments. Ugh, and I NEED to give that show another try! I loved Fitzsimmons SO MUCH. Hopefully, if I can find time . . . <3

    2. Yeah, I've seen a few shows with eyeroll moments that are overall very good.
      Yes! FitzSimmons forever. It gets better every season so far.

    3. True!

  8. Great analysis of The Flash. I actually stopped watching it (and all other DC shows) because of these problems (and a few others too, namely, everything was just getting too melodramatic for me to handle).
    I still love Cisco though. And Julian was fun as well, if super arrogant and a bit of a jerk).
    Also, pep talks in real life tend to make me angrier than I was before. If it was that easy, people, I would have done it by now :P

    1. Thanks, Chelsea! Haha, true, by season three everything was getting annoying. I feel your pain!
      (Yeah, Julian . . . has issues, but I love his character "arc"! XD)
      I know, right?? I would have written fifty books by now if pep talks worked!

  9. J+M+J
    OOOOooooh.... *Laughs at myself* So THAT'S how you get to the comments....
    Pep talks can be very encouraging, and do help a lot... but it is simply inaccurate and silly to say they'll give you a saving grace every time!
    I mean, I'm sure a good general will give his troops a pep talk before battle... but does that mean he always wins? Not necessarily... Does that mean nobody will die? Definitely not! So I agree, the whole mentality of "being inspired and then going out and saving the world against impossible odds" can get quite old sometimes.
    And really, I don't watch TV at all (only movies on occasion), so count me as completely knowledgeless when it comes to TV shows and sports and such... sorry.
    And yes, it is a bit old when the same thing happens in a series over... and over... and over.... You just want something fresh! It's worse though when characters don't learn, because at least if they do learn, it is a bit rewarding to see how they correct their ways even if it is incredibly repetitive, but if they don't... then you're stuck seeing the same story over again with no improvement whatsoever!

    The Doorman.

    1. XD I feel your pain - I barely know how to operate my own comment section. :)
      Yes, exactly! Pep talks don’t give you extra energy or strength to defeat the bad guy. I completely agree!
      Haha, you’re totally fine. I haven’t been watching much TV lately myself. XD
      I agree 100% - it gets really tiring after a while. I’ve read several book series that do the same thing, and it gets very old.
      Thanks for reading! :)


Welcome to the comment section! I love hearing what you guys think and seeing you guys talk. Just remember to keep it clean, and as always, check back for my replies! <3