Eobard Thawne
Arrowverse character
Tom Cavanagh as Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash in The CW's Superhero Fight Club promotional video
First appearance
Last appearance
Based on
Adapted byGreg Berlanti
Andrew Kreisberg
Geoff Johns
Portrayed by
In-universe information
  • Reverse-Flash
  • Harrison Wells
  • Man in Yellow
  • Dark Flash
  • The Flash (alternate timeline)
  • Negative Flash
FamilyEddie Thawne (ancestor)
SpouseIris West (fiancée; alternate timeline)

Eobard Thawne, also known as the Reverse-Flash, is a character in The CW's Arrowverse media franchise. Based on the DC Comics supervillain of the same name, he is primarily portrayed by Tom Cavanagh and Matt Letscher. Letscher played the character's original likeness, while Cavanagh portrayed him in the form of Harrison Wells. Thawne is introduced and featured most prominently in the television series The Flash, though he has also appeared in spin-off shows and crossover events set in the shared fictional universe.

As in the comics, Professor Eobard Thawne is depicted as a scientist-turned-metahuman criminal speedster from the future and the archenemy of Barry Allen / The Flash. He originally idolized the Flash and replicated the accident that gave him his powers, but became obsessed with ruining his life upon learning that he was destined to become his greatest enemy–the Reverse-Flash. After traveling back in time and murdering Barry's mother, Thawne inadvertently strands himself in the 21st century and is forced to orchestrate the Flash's creation to return to his own time period. He has since returned to torment the Flash numerous times, which has brought him into conflict with other heroes, including Green Arrow, Supergirl and the Legends.

Cavanagh received praise from critics for his performance as Eobard Thawne.

Character biography


Born in the year 2151, Professor Eobard Thawne idolized a superhero speedster known as the Flash.[1] He managed to replicate the accident that gave the Flash his powers and inadvertently tapped into a "negative" version of the Speed Force.[2][3][4][5] Thawne grew bitter and jealous when the Flash, having traveled through time, saved a crowd that he had intended to rescue.[6][7] He learned that he was destined to become the Flash's greatest enemy and became obsessed with ruining his life as the Reverse-Flash.[2][8] At some point, Thawne traveled to the year 2016 and learned what time period the Flash hailed from.[2] The two would battle each other across centuries, with both speedsters equally matched and neither ever prevailing.[1]

Creating the Flash

Further information: The Flash (season 1), The Flash (season 2), The Flash (season 4), The Flash (season 5), and The Flash (season 9)

Thawne learns of the Flash's secret identity–Barry Allen–and travels back in time to the year 2000 to kill him as a child. He encounters a version of Barry from the year 2023, who warns Thawne of the potential consequences of his actions and tries to convince him to give up his hatred to end their rivalry for good, but Thawne refuses and continues his attempt to kill Barry’s younger self.[7] When his plan fails due to the 2023 Barry's interference, Thawne kills Barry’s mother Nora and frames his father Henry instead, hoping that losing his parents will cause the Flash to cease to exist. In doing so, Thawne inadvertently severs his own connection to the Negative Speed Force and strands himself in the 21st century.[9] Thawne murders and assumes the identity of Dr. Harrison Wells to found S.T.A.R. Labs in Central City, and spends the next fourteen years building a particle accelerator to create the Flash ahead of schedule.[10][1] As Wells, he, along with Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon, mentors Barry in defeating metahuman criminals created by the particle accelerator explosion. Thawne pushes Barry into getting faster with the goal of using Barry's pure connection to the Speed Force to return to his own time period.[11][12] To that end, Thawne also taunts and bests Barry as a tachyon-enhanced speedster–initially referred to as the "Man in Yellow" before he is dubbed by Cisco as the Reverse-Flash.[13][14]

After Thawne's secret is discovered, Barry captures him with the help of Oliver Queen, Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein.[15] Thawne offers Barry a chance to travel back in time to save Nora in exchange for a time machine to return to the future once the Speed Force wormhole is open, but Barry ultimately refuses and destroys Thawne's machine. Before Thawne can kill Barry, one of his ancestors, police detective Eddie Thawne, shoots himself which seemingly erases Thawne from existence.[1] A flash drive containing Thawne's will as Wells both bequeaths S.T.A.R. Labs to Barry and includes a video-recorded confession to Nora's murder, which allows for Henry's exoneration.[16] Barry would travel back in time and return to this period in which Thawne masquerades as Wells to seek his help on numerous occasions.[17][18][19]

Crisis on Earth-X

Further information: Crisis on Earth-X

Thawne survives his erasure following Eddie's sacrifice due to his connection to the Negative Speed Force, which renders him immune to timeline changes.[20][21] As the Dark Flash, he allies with Dark Arrow and Overgirl of the Nazi-dominated Earth-X to invade Earth-1.[22] During the final battle, Barry defeats Thawne but spares his life, allowing him to speed off while his allies are killed.[23][24]

Imprisonment in 2049

Further information: The Flash (season 5)

Thawne is captured and imprisoned in Iron Heights Penitentiary in 2034.[25] He is sentenced to death and routinely tortured by a corrupt prison guard[25] while a dagger that had belonged to the metahuman serial killer Cicada[21] dampens his super-speed. In 2049, Barry and Iris West-Allen's future daughter, Nora West-Allen, seeks Thawne's help in solving a police case and controlling her own newly discovered super-speed.[25] Thawne becomes Nora's mentor and claims that he seeks to create a more noble legacy for himself before his execution,[19][8][25] but he actually plans to destroy Cicada's dagger and escape Iron Heights, so he sends Nora to travel back in time and help Barry defeat Cicada. Thawne's plan succeeds as the dagger is transported to the Mirrorverse, freeing him moments before his execution in 2049. He briefly fights Barry, Nora, and Team Flash before Nora begins fading from existence because of the changes in the timeline. After Barry witnesses Nora's temporal erasure, Thawne makes his escape.[21]

New multiverse

Further information: The Flash (season 6) and The Flash (season 7)

Following the multiversal Crisis, Thawne becomes a being of negative tachyons and is fused with Harrison Nash Wells. Nash becomes the 'repository' for the consciousness of every version of Wells, which includes Thawne because of his time spent in Wells' form. Thawne takes control of Nash's body, but Barry captures and imprisons him in S.T.A.R. Labs.[26] Before Thawne can regain his connection to the Negative Speed Force, Team Flash expels him from Nash's body, leaving him without a physical form.[27]

Barry later has the Speed Force reconstitute Thawne's corporeal form in exchange for his aid in subduing Godspeed. Thawne incapacitates Godspeed and double-crosses Barry, but Barry easily defeats him. Seeing that Barry is now faster than he is, Thawne vows vengeance and speeds off.[28]


Further information: The Flash (season 8)

To seize control of Barry's life, Thawne uses the Negative Still Force to alter the timeline and create a "Reverse-Flashpoint" reality in which he is the Flash and Barry is the Reverse-Flash. After Barry reconnects to the Speed Force to avert the impending "Armageddon" and restores the timeline, Thawne begins fading from existence.[29] To save Thawne's life, Barry severs his connection to the Negative Speed Force and has him remanded into A.R.G.U.S. custody.[6]

Incarcerated in a supermax prison on Lian Yu, Thawne is approached by the Negative Still Force, which seeks to restore him as the Negative Speed Force's avatar. To that end, Thawne is aged to death and Iris is sacrificed so that he can be "resurrected" in his redeemed time remnant's body, allowing him to become the Reverse-Flash once again.[30]

Thawne goes into the Negative Speed Force and absorbs the powers of the other Negative Forces, which transforms him into their avatar the Negative Flash. Barry absorbs the powers of the Positive Forces to become Thawne's equal, and the two speedsters engage in a battle that threatens to bring about Armageddon. Realizing that neither of them can win, Barry surrenders and tricks Thawne into unleashing the full power of the Negative Forces, only to redirect the negative energy back into him, destroying Thawne for good.[5]

Final resurrection

Further information: The Flash (season 9)

A year later, the Negative Speed Force revives Eddie to become its new avatar following Thawne’s demise. Eddie uses the Negative Speed Force's power to resurrect Thawne, along with Zoom, Savitar and Godspeed, for a final battle against Team Flash. Thawne attacks Chester P. Runk at S.T.A.R. Labs but is prevented from killing him by Allegra Garcia, and his resurrection is undone when Eddie seizes his power.[31]

Other versions

Time remnant

Further information: The Flash (season 3), Legends of Tomorrow (season 2), Legends of Tomorrow (season 7), and The Flash (season 8)

After losing his father to Zoom, Barry travels back in time to save his mother from Thawne, creating an alternate "Flashpoint" timeline in which Thawne is imprisoned. Barry realizes his mistake and releases Thawne, allowing him to kill Nora to restore the timeline.[32]

Once he escapes the Flashpoint timeline,[32] Thawne enters a nullified state of existence as a time remnant,[33] causing him to be hunted by the Black Flash, the Speed Force's demonic enforcer.[34] Seeking to cement his existence, Thawne forms a legion of villains to locate the fabled Spear of Destiny.[33][35] While Thawne and his allies succeed in using the Spear of Destiny to rewrite reality to their whims,[36] the Legends travel back in time to de-power the Spear, causing Thawne to be vaporized by the Black Flash.[37]

The Speed Force later brings Thawne's time remnant back to life, removes his powers and assigns him to defend the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – a "fixed point" in history – from time travelers. When the Legends visit the fixed point, Thawne decides to aid them but is killed by Sara Lance's android doppelgänger, after which Nate Heywood's android doppelgänger is tricked into taking his place as the fixed point's defender.[38][39]

As a reward for his sacrifice in protecting the timeline, Thawne's time remnant is offered an opportunity for redemption when the Speed Force resurrects him without his memories. Feeling inexplicably compelled to become a speedster, he works with Dr. Meena Dhawan, CEO of Fast Track Labs, to create an artificial Speed Force device. Thawne falls in love with Meena and gives up his dream when he uses the device to save Meena's life and give her super-speed after she suffers a heart attack, inadvertently connecting her to the Negative Speed Force. Thawne works with Barry to free Meena from its corruption, but is ultimately sacrificed by the Negative Forces so that the timeline's original version of Thawne can be revived in his body.[4][30]

Concept and development

On February 10, 2014, Tom Cavanagh was set to join The Flash as Harrison Wells.[40] The producers of the show said the following about the character: 'There's obviously more that meets the eye when you see Harrison Wells. ... His motivations are a big mystery, and tracking that through has been a very interesting ride with Mr. Cavanagh.'[41] In episode fifteen of the series, Cavanagh was revealed to be playing Eobard Thawne. Regarding this, co-creator Andrew Kreisberg said: "There are the people who read the comics and know everything, and then there are the people who know nothing and you have to make the show for both of those people and that's one of the things we did very early on: oh, if we name Eddie 'Eddie Thawne' then immediately a whole bunch of comic book fans are going to go 'obviously he's the Reverse Flash,' so I get it and hopefully they were surprised when that turned out not to be the case".[42] Episode seventeen featured the debut of Matt Letscher in the role, which shocked viewers. The executive producers had not planned this twist from the start, with Kreisberg saying, 'We were talking about, 'well what if Wells wasn't Wells? What if he stole Wells' body?'[43] Letscher was offered the role in December 2014,[44] and was cast due to his previous collaboration with Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti in the ABC television series Eli Stone.[45] Cavanagh and Letscher had discussions about playing the character, with Letscher learning how Cavanagh pronounced their character's last name and taking notes by looking at past episodes on how the latter plays Thawne in public and then when he is alone with Gideon,[44] taking inspiration from Cavanagh's intensity and stillness.[46] While Cavanagh would continue to primarily portray Thawne on The Flash, Letscher subsequently played a time-displaced version of the character in Legends of Tomorrow.[47][48]

For the "Crisis on Earth X" crossover event, only Cavanagh returned to play Thawne; Letscher confirmed on his Twitter account that he was not asked to return for the crossover.[49] Letscher was similarly not contacted to reprise the role for the fifth season of The Flash, a decision showrunner Todd Helbing credited for Cavanagh's Thawne making sense in a "weird, time travel way" and being applicable to the season's "legacy" theme.[50] Cavanagh would later be reported to appear as Thawne in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event,[51] which aligned with the allusion in the first season of The Flash that Thawne would have a role in a potential adaptation of Marv Wolfman's and George Pérez's 1985 comic book storyline of the same name. However, Thawne ultimately did not feature in the crossover. In an interview with TVLine, executive producer Marc Guggenheim attributed the decision of not having Thawne included to the newspaper headlines hinting at his involvement in the show's first season having been written by showrunners, like Kreisberg, no longer involved in the shows or the crossover, plus Thawne's already prominent presences in previous crossovers like "Elseworlds", citing Thawne's exclusion as a "hard story choice" to make given his fondness for the character.[52]

While the character has cheated death numerous times in the Arrowverse, Thawne's demise was intended to be permanent in the season eight finale of The Flash, which was written to serve as a series finale should the show not be renewed.[53][54] When the series was renewed for a ninth and final season, however, both Cavanagh and Letscher's versions of the character returned in the four-part series finale. Letscher was brought back for the first part, an episode that closes the time loop on the night that Thawne murdered Barry's mother,[55] while Cavanagh reprised his role in the fourth and final episode.[56] Eric Wallace (showrunner of The Flash since 2019) stated that Barry Allen's story had to end with one final confrontation with his archenemy, and that bringing Cavanagh's Reverse-Flash back for the series finale was always part of the show's plan.[57]


Tom Cavanagh (pictured in 2015) primarily portrayed Eobard Thawne on The Flash


Cavanagh has stated many times that he enjoys playing Eobard Thawne as the character is interesting, complex, and challenging.[58][59][60] When speaking with the Television Academy about playing the character, Cavanagh said: 'The Reverse-Flash has what I like to a call timeless way of speaking. He doesn't use colloquialisms from 2016, he's a little more formal, and he takes joy in destroying people. He has a larger perspective because he comes from 100-plus years in the future and has seen it all. It's easy to play a character like that. He's the arch in arch-villain.'[61] He also sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss his supervillain voice in which he said: "If you're doing it right, you can be charismatic, you can win people over, and you can have so much fun. You build a cage and then you just rattle that cage more than the leading guy can a lot."[62] Kreisberg insisted that Thawne was not evil because his fatherly affection for Cisco was genuine, and "he has a reason for doing what he's doing and he has an agenda and he thinks of himself as the hero ... bad people are capable of incredible amounts of kindness and generosity".[42]


When asked by the Television Academy about wearing the Reverse-Flash suit, Cavanagh replied with "That's a lot of what acting is. Often times, you're tapping into the things you did as a youth. You pretended. A lot of us pretended to be Batman, to be our favorite super-hero. A lot of times, you pretended to have the power of imagination at your side. And the first time you put it on, the cameras are rolling, and off you go at superspeed. I've gotten to do some great, great thrilling stunts in the suit. It is a dream come true. I understand that it's a job, and I'm getting paid, but the second that a director yells, "Action", all that disappears, and you're a guy in a supersuit. It's extremely thrilling. I've said before that I wish that anyone who is a legitimate comic book fan could have this opportunity. It really feels like a privilege."[61] Cavanagh also said "I benefited from all the trial and error that went into that. ... I think they did a marvelous job with the suit, I'm always very flattered and honored to put it on," when speaking with Access Hollywood.[63]

In other media


Critical response

Tom Cavanagh's portrayal of Eobard Thawne has received critical praise since the first season. Erik Kain from Forbes stated that Cavanagh "is uncanny, a perfect fit for the ominous yet likable villain. All his lines and statements connect with audiences precisely because of how well Cavanagh pulls off the role, and how well that role is written."[68] Collider chose Tom Cavanagh as the Best TV Actor of the Week on May 18, 2015.[69] Rotten Tomatoes ranked Cavanagh's Reverse-Flash as the Scariest Character on Comic Book Television as of November 2019.[70] Chancellor Agard from Entertainment Weekly wrote "No matter how many ups and downs The Flash has had over its run, it has never faltered when it comes to its characterization of Thawne."[71]


The Flash's Eobard Thawne was ranked number 35 on Rolling Stone's list of the 40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time.[72] He also topped Entertainment Weekly's list of 20 "best" villains on superhero TV in 2015,[73] and was included on Collider's list of Best TV Villains of 2015.[74] Cavanagh received an IGN Awards nomination for Best TV Villain for his portrayal of the character in The Flash.[75] He was also nominated for Choice TV Villain at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards.[76] Screen Rant's Jason Berman ranked Cavanagh fifth on his 2016 list 20 Best Actors in the Arrowverse.[77] The entertainment website Collider chose Tom Cavanagh as the Best TV Actor of the Week on May 18, 2015.[69]


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