The Arrowverse. From epic superhero crossovers to heart-wrenching emotional scenes, these shows have it all and everything in between. Proving time and time again how professional they’ve become at playing with our emotions, shows like The Flash and DCs Legends of Tomorrow have had us either crying with laughter or uncontrollably sobbing into a blanket while eating an unhealthy amount of ice cream. Come on. We’ve all been there.
CW’s The Flash is about to enter its ninth season and currently holds the title for the longest-running Arrowverse project to date, entertaining fans for almost a decade. Now bordering on 170 episodes, it’s safe to say the show has had a fair few emotional ones throughout its run that have left us reaching for the tissues. From the deaths of beloved characters like HR Wells (Tom Cavanagh) to when Barry (Grant Gustin) traveled back in time and saw his mom die again, this is one superhero show that has no problem tugging very hard on our heartstrings.
“Death of the Speed Force” (Season 6, Episode 14)
How often has this show made us watch heartbreaking scenes between Barry and a version of his mom? Well, this season six episode was no exception. Post-Crisis, Barry discovered that instead of Ramsey’s infection causing the weakness of the Speed Force, in reality, it was his enhanced speed.
As a result, the Speed Force slowly dies, and having taken on the form of his mother, Barry had to watch his mom die again. Barry felt responsible, but the Speed Force reassures him that they don’t blame him. Before she dies, Nora tells Barry she loves him, and Barry, breaking down crying, can’t do anything but go through the loss of his mother once again.
“There Will Be Blood” (Season 6, Episode 4)
After revealing to the team in episode three that Barry must die in Crisis so everyone else can live, Team Flash unsurprisingly takes it pretty hard. While Cisco (Carlos Valdes) tries to figure out a way to prevent Barry from dying, it ultimately fails, and the two argue as Barry had made it clear that they weren’t to try and save him.
While Cisco vowing to save his friend undoubtedly tugged on our heartstrings, perhaps the saddest reaction came from Joe (Jesse L. Martin), who breaks down after an emotional heart-to-heart with Barry. From Barry saying how grateful he is to Joe and everything he’s done for him to Joe breaking down and saying, “Bar, I’m not ready,” this episode pulled out all the stops to make us cry.
“The Runaway Dinosaur” (Season 2, Episode 21)
Episode twenty ended on a somewhat sour note. With Barry seemingly vaporized and Jesse and Wally both unconscious from the blast, Team Flash took one hell of a hit. Barry’s fate was unknown until Cisco had a vibe and found him alive but trapped in the Speed Force.
Barry remained there for almost the entire episode. Everyone Barry faced while there was a manifestation of people he knew, but one interaction hit the hardest. The Speed Force presented as Barry’s mom and informed him that he had to make peace with her death. Unsure how to, Nora tells him she’s proud of him, and when Barry asks who is telling him that, his mom or the Speed Force, she says both. Between Barry’s tears and him still reeling from the loss of his mom, the heartache we felt alongside him remained for a while.
“A Flash of the Lightning” (Season 6, Episode 2)
After Barry attempts to travel to the day after he is said to vanish in Crisis, he is stopped violently in his tracks by a disruption barrier revealed to be antimatter. Gideon informs him he’ll need assistance, so Barry travels to Earth-3, where he enlists the help of Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) and his wife, who resembles Barry’s mom.
There, they send Barry’s mind past an antimatter wall where he experiences billions of possibilities regarding the outcome of Crisis. If the heartache on Barry’s face when he revealed what he saw wasn’t enough to tug on your heartstrings, then his chat with Iris (Candice Patton), followed by Joe’s pep talk, was surely enough to break you.
“Fast Enough” (Season 1, Episode 23)
What didn’t this episode have that wasn’t downright heartbreaking? With Eobard Thawne at full power and beating Barry to a pulp, he threatens to kill Barry’s father and friends once he’s killed him, but Eddie, being his ancestor, intervenes and shoots himself so that Reverse-Flash ceases to exist.
Not only did we lose Eddie (Rick Cosnett), who had become a fan-favorite character over the first season, but Barry traveled back in time to save his mom. When he got there, he saw his future self, who motioned for him not to go through with it. From Barry’s pain at hearing it play out behind closed doors to taking off his mask and telling her that he’s her Barry, we were an emotional wreck by the end of this one. What a way to end the first season!
“Out of Time” (Season 1, Episode 15)
Cisco Ramon. A beloved member of Team Flash from day one. Cisco was the first to truly discover the identity of Harrison Wells when the latter revealed himself as Eobard Thawne, who proceeds to tell Cisco his reasons for traveling back to that timeline.
Thawne planned to use Barry’s speed to return to his time, as he had been stuck here for fifteen years. He threatens Cisco that no one shall stop him from achieving this and phases his hand through Cisco’s chest, killing him. From Cisco’s crying to the thought of losing this beloved member of the show, we were left in bits by the end of this one.
“Lose Yourself” (Season 4, Episode 18)
Season four’s big bad was the villain known as The Thinker, and throughout his reign, he caused pain and turmoil for the members of Team Flash. As Devoe continues searching for the bus metas, he tracks down four in STAR Labs, including Ralph (Hartley Sawyer). After taking over three, he sets his sights on the Elongated Man.
After DeVoe escapes the meta cuffs, he takes over Ralph’s body, seemingly killing him. Ralph says to Barry that he’d already saved him, and between this and him telling Barry that he was afraid of Team Flash losing their lives instead of just him as they had become like family, it was heartbreaking to see him go.
“Invincible” (Season 2, Episode 22)
Season two’s penultimate episode saw the loss of another beloved character to the show. Fans got another emotional blow when the second season’s big bad, Zoom, took Henry hostage in front of the team. After Cisco has a vibe and seemingly envisions the end of the world of Earth-2, confusion arises among the group.
Before anyone can fathom Cisco’s vision, Zoom appears, grabs Henry, and speeds off. Barry follows suit as Zoom leads him to where his mother died. Between Barry’s pleas for Zoom to kill him instead and his face and scream of desperation as Zoom kills his dad right in front of him, the pain we felt left us reeling for a long time.
“Finish Line” (Season 3, Episode 23)
“I couldn’t be a coward. I’m not a coward.” The words of a man fans only fell more and more in love with as the season went on. HR Wells. In the penultimate episode of season three, Joe hides Iris on Earth-2 to hide her from Savitar. HR unintentionally gives up her location after Savitar pretends to be Barry, allowing the villain to find and kidnap her.
Feeling responsible, HR attempts to rescue Iris from where she is being kept, but Savitar discovers them before HR can get them both out. Before Frost recaptures Iris, HR swaps himself out in her place, unbeknownst to everyone else. The ending of episode twenty-two saw “Iris” stabbed through the chest, but the finale revealed it was HR after his drumsticks fell to the floor as Barry cradles who he believes to be Iris. HR’s sacrifice hit fans hard, as he had become a loveable member of Team Flash, making it gutwrenching to say goodbye.
“The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1” (Season 6, Episode 7)
When Ramsey attempts to take control of Barry, it leaves him on the brink of death, unconscious and with a spiking fever. Throughout the episode, Ramsey emotionally tortures Barry in many ways. He manifests baby Nora in her crib, but he can’t hold her. Ramsey shows him a room riddled with graves with the names of people who’d died and depicts what life could be like with Iris and his daughter.
From Barry’s pleas to hold his baby to his childlike mannerisms, scared, and not wanting to die in Crisis, he well and truly put us through the emotional ringer, only heightened by Cisco’s fear of losing him. Ending with Ramsey taking over his body, Barry became Negative Flash, speeding out of STAR Labs, black lightning in tow, and knocking everyone off their feet in the process, leaving his fate unknown.