This article contains some spoilers for The Flash seasons one and two.
The Flash, particularly its first season, is a shining example of a network superhero TV series surpassing expectations. After Barry Allen’s plainclothes introduction during Arrow season two, the plan was for a later episode of Arrow to serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential Flash TV series. But the CW’s confidence in The Flash was so high that they bypassed the “backdoor” and went straight for a traditional pilot, and now here we are on the cusp of a third season.
So while it might seem like there was a crystal clear vision for The Flash from the start, especially considering how masterfully season one’s main story unfolded in between villain-of-the-week battles, a lot of the smaller details might have been very different. The news came out of Heroes and Villains fest (via The Arrowverse blog). Some of these are almost inconsequential: The Mist would have been the first villain, Caitlin would have been a bit older, and Hartley “Pied Piper” Rathaway would have been a member of Team Flash (something that might come to pass eventually anyway if his appearance in season two is anything to go one).
But there would have been one really, really big difference, one that would have altered the entire direction of the show. Rick Cosnett, who played Detective Eddie Thawne on the show was set to play a different character, and not one easily ignored: he would have played Jay Garrick. Now, it’s not quite clear if he was intended to be the helmeted speedster, or if that name would have been something of a red herring (similar to how Eddie’s “Thawne” last name was a fun piece of misdirection for comic book fans, or where they took things with Jay for much of season two). Cosnett told the crowd at Heroes and Villains fest that “They thought I was going to be Jay Garrick for the pilot, but I guess they changed their minds.”
Of course, fans finally got the “real” Jay Garrick in the form of John Wesley Shipp in the season two finale. But see if you can picture Rick Cosnett in Jay Garrick’s helmet, and what the show would be like with that character around from the get go.