The Flash S1E16, "Rogue Time", starts out right where the previous episode left off, with Barry having just traveled back in time 24 hours. Wells almost immediately picks up on it and warns him not to change things, but of course, he does. This has the expected terrible unintended consequences.

However, the things that happen as a result of Barry's meddling don't make any sense. The only major change Barry made was his premature handling of the previous episodes meta-human villain. The changes to the timeline that result don't seem to have anything to do with the villain Barry nabbed:

Snart and family come back to Central City and wreaking havoc, including kidnapping and torturing Cisco. (On the plus side, Cisco wasn't around to expose Wells and get hand-stabbed). But, Snart must have already been planning to take over the Central City mob, and should have been doing that while Barry was dealing Mardon. His attempt to kidnap Cisco after his brother's party should have happened regardless of what Barry or Cisco did earlier that day.


Iris rejects Barry's advances at the coffee shop instead of confessing her love for him. But, just a day earlier, before Barry's time event, Iris was actively sabotaging Barry/Linda's date. Her conversation with Linda about Barry doesn't appear to have happened, but that shouldn't have changed how she already felt about him before any of these events happened?

Even when Wells is warning Barry of how badly he messed up, he remains very vague; basically saying that "time" was going to try to get even for Barry messing with it.

Are they trying to imply that that time/karma/destiny is somehow actively screwing with Barry's life to get back at him for "cheating"? Or is there some subtle connection between all of these events that I missed?

4 Answers 4


The nature of the connection is unclear, but there seems to be one.

I forget the exact wording, but Wells makes a comment about the universe "correcting itself," or something like that. He's very clear that messing with time not only leads to unforeseen consequences, but specifically to bad consequences, and specifically as a result of tampering with time. He makes no room for the possibility of a net positive result, and the consequences seem to be a reaction to the time travel, not just a random "who knows what will happen" sort of butterfly effect.

The implication, as I took it, was that the timeline trends toward reactive or equivalent events. Stop one murder, another will happen. Stop a plane crash, and a train might derail. It's not easily explained using physics, but it's a common enough trope in scifi/fantasy (for example the progressively-worse outcomes in The Butterfly Effect, or the deliberate, targeted responses of Death in Final Destination.)


It's also worth noting that Harrison Wells has a personal interest in discouraging Barry from time travel. That same episode confirmed once and for all that...

Harrison Wells is a time traveler, and is responsible for killing Barry's mother during an attempt on child-Barry's life. This attempt was partially foiled by a time-travelling adult-Barry himself.

As such, Wells might not be an entirely trustworthy source for information about the nature and consequences of time travel, since he would personally benefit from Barry never doing it again.


The answer to your specific question is no, there doesn't seem to be any direct connection between stopping one villain and the appearance of another. However, in a more metaphysical, fuzzy-science way, Wells is indicating that the altered events weren't random, but were caused by Barry's alteration of the timeline. We are therefore left with three possibilities:

  • The results could be the result of the timeline "correcting itself", (as Wells implies).
  • They could simply be the predictable results of an inexperienced time traveler messing things up, (as Barry's botched lunch with Iris implies).
  • They could be complete coincidences, falsely connected by an untrustworthy advisor.

Only subsequent episodes will definitively say which is true.

  • 1
    Nicely done, sir. Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 0:50
  • @Thaddeus Thank you, sir!
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 16:13

The changes actually do have logical consequences:

1) Cisco and Cold:

In the original timeline, Cisco didn't go to his brother's birthday party, using the excuse of the Weather Wizard to get out of it. In the new timeline, he had no excuse because Barry caught the Wizard immediately, so he wound up going to the party. Later, he was in dire need of a drink because of how he was treated by his brother, so he wound up running into Snart's sister, and the kidnapping proceeded from there.

2) Cisco does Science:

In the original timeline, Iris' coworker talks to her about his suspicions towards Wells, and this sets her on the path to talk to Barry about it, which later leads to Cisco becoming suspicious as well. Cisco's suspicions lead to him investigating the force-field generator and finding that it actually projects a hologram, which leads to his murder. In the new timeline, Barry interrupts Iris' conversation, which prevents Cisco's suspicions from being sparked again.

3) Iris:

In the original timeline, Iris sees Barry genuinely trying to move on with his life, and comes to realize that she actually wants a relationship with him. She realizes her true feelings for him, and confesses them when her situation is fraught with danger and death might come at any moment. In the new timeline, Barry jumps right in and tells her how she feels. She pulls back from this assertion, and rejects him again, moving more towards Eddie.

4) Time knows all, and hates everyone:

I think that Wells' assertion that Time will auto-correct itself is a complete fabrication on his part. He is actively trying to control changes to the timeline, and he doesn't want the additional variable of Barry mucking about as well-- so he scowls and wags his finger to discourage Barry from any further experimentation.

  • my only problem with 1) is that it seems a really really flimsy excuse for Snart: "yeah, we had this elaborate plan to kidnap him, but he skipped his brother's party so we had to abort." The problem with 2) is that Iris spent the entire bowling date actively sabotaging Barry's date with Linda, clearly exhibiting feelings for him; it was so obvious, Linda chews her out over it later. That happened before the time jump, so why is that all suddenly different?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 19:30
  • 2
    In regards to 1: they didn't abort...they never had the opportunity to begin. Cisco wound up staying at the lab where they couldn't get to him. In regard to 2: she was not actively sabotaging the date--she was just hanging out with Barry as she always did. Linda pointing out how at-ease Barry and Iris were was enough to put Iris on the fence. Barry trying to force the subject was enough to push her off the fence in the wrong direction, whereas the events of the original timeline pushed her in the opposite direction.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:05
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    1) attacking the mob boss had zero to do with cisco. snart was obviously studying/stalking cisco. there's no reason to believe cisco didn't go home the night they discovered marden was loose (caitlin and wells do). snart could have grabbed cisco then.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:53
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    @phantom42 2)It's implied that that's just how they've always behaved together, to the point that Iris didn't even realize anything unusual about it. She wasn't behaving that way because she loved him, but because she was absolutely comfortable around him. It isn't until Linda points it out that she realizes it could indicate a deeper connection, but she's still on the fence. Barry revealing his feelings doesn't provide her with new information: she already knows how he feels. It's how she feels that's in question, and Barry telling her what her feelings are is enough to push her away.
    – Liesmith
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 21:04
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    @phantom42 I have to disagree - until the bowling alley, Eddie had never seen Barry & Iris together in a casual, fun environment. It's quite possible that he didn't realize how well they meshed together until that point, which is why he got mad. I've been married 20 years, but seeing my wife get that comfortable with a guy who had feelings for her would definitely make me upset.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:47

This smacks of the standard science fiction time travel trope where time travel does not necessarily mean everything works out the same as before.

  • It could have simply been the time ripple of Barry crossing through space-time existing in two places at the same time (granted it was only for a moment) but long enough to cause a "butterfly effect" that alters time sufficiently for the events to play out slightly differently than they did earlier.

  • There are other tropes which indicate time travelers disrupt the flow of time and time itself tries to self-correct to resolve the temporal anomaly in an attempt to get time to flow properly.

In this case, Wells still kills someone with a vibrating hand-stab, its just not the person it was in the previous timeline...


Dc has an extensive history of time travel being hazardous to the time stream. Super boy prime having an emo pity party and punching the space time continuum during infinite crisis for one, and more recently, Flash trying to save his mom during Flash point paradox. Flash saving his mom caused Bruce Wayne to die, and Superman landing in the middle of metropolis with an explosion. Completely unrelated events in time and space.

Flash breaking the time barrier cause ripples or cracks in time. These changes center around him/the time, but can affect everything and anything. Evidently this type of time travel side effect has translated into the DC live action universe. Of course they may explain it away in a future episode

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