During episode 1x02 - The Fastest Man Alive Barry and Joe have the following conversation in the lobby of the CCPD:

Joe: I always had a very simple set of beliefs. Gravity makes things fall, water makes things wet, and up until a few weeks ago I believed the fastest man could run a mile in 4 minutes, not 4 seconds ...

Barry: I can do it in 3. [of Joe's annoyed look] Not relevant.

Unfortunately for our forensic "scientist", Mister B. Allen, 3 seconds to a mile is a bit faster than 1.5 Mach (even Joe's guess is only slightly slower then 1.2 Mach).

Yet in 1x06 - The Flash Is Born everybody makes a huge fuss about Barry never having run as fast as the speed of sound before and actually needing a few miles of lead-in to finally reach that velocity.

Is this just an instance of Writers Cannot Do Math [WARNING TVTropes Link !!!] or did I miss something?

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    I don't have access to the episodes right now, but I seem to recall Barry's standard speed being quoted as around 700 mph at least 2-3 times throughout the first season. If I'm right about that, it would support the "writers can't do math" hypothesis.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 8, 2015 at 22:10
  • @Nerrolken You might be onto something there, the running on water in Plastique required about 650 mph, IIRC.
    – BMWurm
    Jun 8, 2015 at 22:20
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    Also, it's worth noting that in that quote, Joe is speaking casually, and I'm pretty sure Barry's response is "I bet I can do it in 3." From his delivery he's clearly bragging, not offering an objective assessment of his abilities. That scene is likely an example of the character not doing the math.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 8, 2015 at 22:22
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    Fun fact: a foot-speed of around 700 mph puts Barry neck-and-neck with the current land-speed record of 763 mph.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 8, 2015 at 22:26
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    Barry be boastin’? Jan 26, 2016 at 11:31

3 Answers 3


We do know he moves fast enough to save a guy in the bank from a shot fired from a 9mm.

Barry was within 50 ft of the shooter.

That kind of bullet travels at 1100 to 1300 mph.

Plus he doesn't arrive at the doors of the bank till the bullet has already been fired.

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    This is getting close to an answer but some more math needs to be done to get a figure and an answer. Jan 26, 2016 at 11:20
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    those sort of bullets typically travel 1100 to 1300 Fps, not Mph. that works out to roughly 760mph, but still right at around the speed of sound.
    – phantom42
    Jan 26, 2016 at 13:25

Let's just say that The Flash in the CW TV show, Barry just runs fast for the heck of things and all that; the fact that he can run this fast, here and there with all mixed up equations and other problem solving barriers that we compare to events happening in every episode, let's just all come to a conclusion that The Flash's speed is super fast; Of course faster than the speed of sound and a bullet — that is all we need to know...

The episode where Barry saves Joe from that lightning entering the roof of the car, an average speed of lightning is around 300,000 meters/s at least — or I think so. Giving Barry running close to around Mach 2,900 or faster. I believe my Math was way off there, someone please correct me if I was just wrong there.

Again, The Flash's speed can vary and it is debatable according to his willpower and mind altering his speed-force. Flash generally runs around Mach 2 or 3 — pretty fast enough — but when he gets super angry or needs to run for something important, he can go 4 times that of his general "jog" as you can say.

Don't forget that speed of sound is around 750-60 mph, so just think about it if you were in a Bugatti moving 275 mph — top speed — you'd probably pass out...

Right now in season 2 episode 18, Spoiler Flash is faster than Zoom, and if Zoom can catch hundreds of bullets with only one hand... well Flash is just over that folks — to the point where he already be catching lightning and create speed mirages; being able to be in two to three places at once!

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    This is incredibly hard to read. You should break your answers up into paragraphs and bullet points, and consider adding some evidence/sources to support your answer.
    – Moogle
    Apr 20, 2016 at 7:26

Yes, you are correct, the author can't do math. There is a large number of examples in this thread already, so I won't fill it with more, but basically it boils down to the authors not needing or wanting the math to work. If Barry can perform feats far above the level of humans, people will get interested. Just like the theory behind any super hero, if the math works, they aren't normally interesting. Superman, Batman, green arrow, this almost always applies.

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