The Flash: How will Hartley Sawyer’s firing impact season 7?

The Flash -- "Godspeed" -- Image Number: FLA518c_0001b.jpg -- Pictured: Hartley Sawyer as Dibney -- Photo: The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved
The Flash -- "Godspeed" -- Image Number: FLA518c_0001b.jpg -- Pictured: Hartley Sawyer as Dibney -- Photo: The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved /

Hartley Sawyer was fired from The Flash following the revelation of a series of racist, misogynistic, and homophobic tweets. How will his exit affect the show?

The Flash star Hartley Sawyer was fired from the show this week after many of the actor’s previous tweets featuring racist misogynistic and homophobic language from several years ago resurfaced. Sawyer has since deleted his account, but the internet is forever and you can still find screenshots of many of the most egregious examples on Twitter. ( But just know going in that they’re extremely vile and that we warned you.)

Sawyer joined The Flash in 2017 in a recurring role that was upped to series regular in 2018. He plays Ralph Dibny, otherwise known as the Elongated Man, a classic DC comics character whose abilities involve being able to stretch and contort his elasticized body in a variety of uncomfortable-looking but largely useful ways.

Much of Ralph’s story in season 6 involved his full transformation into a real hero, as he took on an increased leadership role within Team Flash when everyone assumed Barry would die during Crisis on Infinite Earths. It was an evolution that was a long time coming – season 4 Ralph was horrible – but an endpoint that felt really earned.

Unfortunately, that story is over now, as least as The Flash fans knew it. And how the show will handle the fallout from Sawyer’s firing come season 7 is anyone’s guess.

Could we see a new actor join The Flash as Ralph?

Though The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace has spoken out about Sawyer’s tweets and his desire to make the show’s set a more inclusive and diverse workplace, there’s been no word yet about what will happen to the character of Ralph Dibny in season 7.

(Honestly, everyone’s energy seems to be focused on the mess that’s going on over at The Flash’s sister series Batwoman at the moment.)

But, given Ralph’s particular abilities, there’s an at least halfway decent chance that the character could stick around, just wearing a new face. One of the weirder aspects of Ralph’s stretchy skin powers is that he can impersonate other people and literally manipulate his body into basically changing shape into someone else. What if he just….got stuck that way? Wouldn’t we all win?

How would Ralph’s exit from The Flash affect the plot?

It also seems equally possible that Wallace and the folks in charge at The Flash might simply decide to write the character out.

The Flash is a series with a fairly large main cast, so it’s not like there will be an irreplaceable hole in the canvas without Ralph there. In fact, the character was actually absent for large chunks of season 6, off investigating a missing person case. So, you know, it’s not like the audience isn’t halfway used to Ralph not being around already. But Ralph did have unique relationships with many other main cast members (Barry, Cecile and Killer Frost, particularly), enough that he couldn’t just disappear and never be mentioned again. Much as we might all wish that were possible.

Does Sue Dearbon have a future on The Flash?

The Flash season 6 was building toward Ralph’s biggest comics storyline – his relationship with Sue Dearbon. After much speculation and a long, involved search, the show finally cast Natalie Dreyfuss in the role, and she’s been a revelation.

Dreyfuss is a talented, charming actress and The Flash’s take on Sue is a good one – scrappy, snarky, and awesome in her own right. She’s also much more complex and interesting than her comics counterpart, with her own agenda and goals. But we have to ask ourselves if there’s really a place for her in Central City if Ralph isn’t there. It seems like the answer to this is probably no, but does it have to be?

True, Ralph and Sue are an iconic comics couple. But this is the CW. Nothing is written in stone. (Oliver and Felicity ended up together on Arrow, after all.) Sue could totally stick around without Ralph. And her story might be better for it in the end. But it would mean making a conscious decision to de-couple Sue from Ralph, and it might be easier to have them just flee Central City together offscreen.

One small bright spot?

Let’s be clear, this is a terrible situation. The things Sawyer said were both disgusting and reprehensible and they should come with harsh consequences. But, you could make the argument that The Flash already has too many main characters on its canvas as it is and if Ralph’s exit makes space for real stories for newcomers Allegra and Chester or even original Team Flash members Cisco and Caitlin, that might actually be worth it in the end.

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What do you think season 7 of The Flash will look like? Do you think they should write Ralph out or recast the character? Let’s discuss.