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A huge change is on the way for The Flash, but not because of the events of the impromptu Season 6 finale. Actor Hartley Sawyer, who had been playing Ralphy Dibny/Elongated Man on The Flash since early Season 4, was fired after a number of offensive social media comments came to light. The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace wasted no time in releasing a statement to address the firing, and series star Grant Gustin followed suit with a message of his own.
In his statement, showrunner Eric Wallace shared that Hartley Sawyer's offensive posts broke his heart and made him "mad as hell," as they are "indicative of the larger problem in our country," which at present involves the acceptance of "continual harassment--unconscious or otherwise--terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people." Wallace continued to say that he's "committed to bringing permanent change to the work environment" at The Flash, which will include increased diversity. Grant Gustin reposted Wallace's statement on Instagram, and elaborated:
I don’t have much to add because Eric’s thoughts are stated so eloquently and powerfully. I will say I was shocked, saddened and angry when I saw the tweets. Words matter.
The discovery of Hartley Sawyer's tweets and his subsequent firing come at a time when much of the country has been impacted by people gathering to protest racism and promote police reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Although Sawyer had become a key member of the cast during his years on The Flash, his tweets (which he posted before joining The Flash) were enough to cost him his job. Notably, this isn't the first time that a member of the Flash team was fired from the show due to inappropriate behavior.
Grant Gustin didn't go into detail about his reaction to Hartley Sawyer's tweets, but "shocked, saddened, and angry" still says a lot. While Sawyer clearly won't be back to The Flash as Elongated Man, there are big questions as to how the show will handle his absence.
Ralph Dibny isn't quite as essential to the story as characters like Grant Gustin's Barry and Candice Patton's Iris, but The Flash spent a fair amount of Season 6 building a separate plot for Ralph, including the introduction of a character who becomes Elongated Man's wife in the pages of DC Comics. It would be a shame to lose Natalie Dreyfuss as Sue Dearbon just because Hartley Sawyer was fired. Might The Flash go for a recasting?
Sure, fellow Arrowverse series Batwoman decided to handle its main cast departure by writing her out and replacing her with a new character, but I think The Flash could get away with just switching actors and not addressing it in the show. Or, if it had to be addressed, just mention that he went on an adventure with the Legends of Legends of Tomorrow and something happened. Weird stuff happens on that show all the time!
However The Flash chooses to handle Hartley Sawyer's firing with regard to the story, fans won't see it for themselves for quite a while. The Flash, like its fellow Arrowverse series, won't return to The CW with new episodes until 2021, despite ending earlier than intended in 2020. The six seasons of The Flash so far are currently available streaming on Netflix, along with plenty of other options.