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In Flash season 3 episode 1, Barry has gone back in time- again- and stopped Eobard Thawne from killing his mother. We hear during the show that he was there for three months, so presumably from there, he jumps 20 something years into the future of the new timeline where his mother is alive, and lives his life for the aforementioned length of time,

Just one problem with that: there was a child Barry Allen in the timezone where the Flash saves his mum, so what happens to him? When the Flash jumps 20 something years into the future with Eobard Thawne does he just take over that Barry Allen's body or something? However, they already managed to coexist in the same timezone when the Flash saves his mum, so why couldn't there have been two Barry Allens (one who is the Flash, and the other who has lived a normal life with his parents) in the 20 something years time jump (presumably sometime around 2016)?

Of course, the whole notion of time travel is paradoxical (especially the way it's been handled in Flash), but I'm just wondering if there is a clear answer?

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The really short answer is "The Speed Force" makes everything OK. Because it transcends time itself, a lot of "plot holes" in the story can be explained away as Barry being special because he can access the Speed Force. (The same is true of the comics, for what it's worth.) The two Barry Allens your talking about are the same physical person, he just crossed his own timeline. The Speed Force made it possible for him to change his own past around himself, without causing himself to disappear.

Young Barry Allen was a child when his mother was murdered. He would go on to become The Flash. In 2016 (lets assume The Flash is happening in present day), that Barry Allen travels to the past, saves his mother, and then returns to the future. He is still the same Barry Allen, but he's changed his own childhood so his mother never died.

Here is an artist rendition of Barry's life as he experienced it, as one continuous timeline:

enter image description here

So, as you can see, young Barry Allen's mother died in 2000; in 2016, that Barry becomes The Flash and goes back and changes the past. Now, young Barry Allen's mother didn't die in 2000, so he grows up to be Barry Allen that is a speedster, but not The Flash, instead. It's all one continuous personal history.

The trick is that, at that exact moment in 2016, when Barry "returns" to his own present, he returns to a present where his own past has completely changed. He is still the same Barry, but everything else about the past 16 years has changed out from under him. He still remembers the old timeline, again because "Speed Force", but as far as child Barry Allen is concerned, his mother never died and he grew up completely happy.

  • The Barry Allen who's now able to grow up with his parents never becomes the Flash. More to the point, there would never be a reason for him to time travel so save his mum. So when our Barry Allen jumps forward in time, there should be another version of him who isn't the Flash (i.e. one 'fixed' Barry Allen who doesn't jump about in time. Basically it's the complete opposite of if I went back in time then came back to just 1 second after I left where I wouldn't expect there to be two versions of me because I already time travelled). – Logan545 Oct 5 '16 at 16:45
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    There is only one barry allen. He changed his own past. When he "jumps" to the past, there are now 0 Barry Allens in 2016, until he "jumps" back to 2016 after saving his mom. Also note that Barry Allen always became the Flash, even before Thawne killed his mother. – KutuluMike Oct 5 '16 at 18:07
  • A picture is worth a thousand upvotes. – Jack B Nimble Oct 5 '16 at 18:19
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    @KutuluMike Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the timeline where Thawne does not kill Barry's mother, doesn't Barry become The Flash at a much later date? Eobard gets stuck after killing Nora Allen, and takes over the real Harrison Wells' body in order to builds (and then purposefully explode) the particle accelerator. The real Wells doesn't build or test the PA until much later than 2016. Therefore, shouldn't the Flashpoint timeline Barry have no powers yet? – Chahk Oct 5 '16 at 19:30
  • We don't know what/how Barry got his powers in Flashpoint timeline but by 2016, STAR Labs was shut down, so perhaps the explosion happened early for some other reason... Wally got his powers already as well, likely from the same event. We will probably never know. – KutuluMike Oct 5 '16 at 20:06
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When the Flash (A) from Season 2 finale returned to save Nora, the other Flash (B) he saw was the version of him from the Season 1 finale who refrained from saving her at the advice of his Flash counterpart (A'). Logically, then, when we saw the Season 1 Barry (B') go back in time the first time to save Nora, the other Flash (A') he saw scuffling with the Reverse Flash was the future Barry that we would eventually encounter in the Season 2 finale, i.e. the Flash A. To summarize, in Season 2 finale, A goes back and encounters B; in Season 1 finale, B' goes back to encounter A'. Remember, however, that A=A' and B=B', and I'm just distinguishing them for clarity. Following from there, then, if A goes back to save Nora, then why does B disappear? The child grows up to become the Flash regardless of the situation. Moreover, why does A not disappear? Answering the latter question is relatively easy, because otherwise the show would be over, lol. However, to answer the first question, we can hypothesize that the almighty speed force somehow apparently institutes some unspoken law in this case where counter part Flash B can become non-extant, but the active time traveler, such as A, cannot. Still, however, the question still remains unanswered as to why B must logically disappear.

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@user78284 At the end of Season 2 episode 23, there were 3 Flash Barry Allen at one point in time, but there was only 1 Non-Flash Barry Allen. The Main Flash I will call Flash A, is the Flash from the original timeline we have never seen created in 2020. (He's the Flash in the bright red costume.) Our Flash I'll call Flash B, is the one that at the end went back to save Nora Allen by stopping Thawne. Flash C, is the Barry from the last episode of Season 1 that peaks through the door. He saw Flash B instead of originally seeing Flash A. The writers some how forgot which Flash they used because Flash C witnessed the fight as it was going on and Flash A at that time waved him off telling him "not to do it". Whereas at the end of 2x23 Flash C peaks through the door at our Barry instead. We can chalk this up to "uh oh plot hole".

@everyone Now Thawne at the end of 3x01, seems to take Barry with him to the night he killed Nora Allen, he kills her then takes Barry back to 2016, the night he left to go back to stop Thawne. Some how, for the timeline to exist as it does, Thawne would of had to go back to the night he killed Nora Allen "after" dropping Barry off. This "writer's paradox" is a bit off because Thawne still took the place of Harrison Wells from the timeline we have seen. That is the question people should be asking...

The actual answer though to the OP's question is, Flash Barry took over the life of that timeline Barry once he traveled back to our present. Yes that non-Flash Barry just fizzled out into non-existence because our Barry returned to an exact moment in time and wanted to merge. Blame the writers!

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Changing timelines disrupts the original continuity of events, as it is supposed to be. Traveling back in time enables one to play God over humanity because the time traveler is altering events at the expense of undermining the choices of other humans. That is to say, a time traveler re-makes or undos original events that affects the choices made by others without their permission. While all humans are ultimately responsible for their own choices regardless of the number of times a time traveler alters events, time traveling nonetheless narrows down (or maybe increases) the pre-determined sphere of freedom of others to choose from. Time traveling is essentially a manipulation power to unbendingly conform the will of others by limiting their sphere of free will.

Here is an example:

Jonny and James find an enclosed box occupying an object unknown to them. Jonny challenges James to guess what's in it before opening it. James guesses wrong. Now James travels back in time knowing what the box holds in an attempt to play the game with Jonny again so that he can win. Assuming events fold out in the same manner, Jonny challenges James again, and James wins. This is a very non-controversial example, but James has gained an unfair advantage by stealing knowledge through time manipulation. Jonny is unable to engage with James in level playing field. James has unnaturally gained an upper hand over Jonny.

In conclusion,

Freewill in part makes up for our humanity. Affecting the free will of others by altering original events so as to affect their available range of options of choice creates an unfair playing field and degrades the humanity of others.

  • You already answered this question above; did you mean to add this text as an edit instead of a separate answer? – Rand al'Thor Feb 11 '17 at 12:37
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S2 Flash saved his mother. S2 Flash merged with his present self from Flashpoint. Everything is up to the Speed Force. It can allow two of you at the same time or not. It can merge your past self with you or just flash him out from existence. But that's because Speed Force and Time Loop.

  • How do you know the speed force can do those things, does it say that somewhere? – Edlothiad Jul 6 '17 at 17:22
  • You must use your head. It's general knowledge in fiction of time travel. It's Speed Force. God. Can to whatever it wants. – Reverse Fuhrer Jul 10 '17 at 21:13
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    Umm, that's not how fiction works, there isn't general knowledge? Each writer can create their own fiction... – Edlothiad Jul 10 '17 at 21:31
  • Geez. This is not the first time it happened. The same thing happened when Barry ran back in time before the tidal wave struck or when Vandal Savage blasted the city. – Reverse Fuhrer Jul 28 '17 at 8:21
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When Barry went to year 2000, he saved his mom and took the Reverse Flash (the one who was going to kill Nora) to 2016 where Barry left to save his mom. And then his mom and dad are alive. Its like Young Barry and Our Barry were fused together into one person, so he remembers the present and Flashpoint.

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