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Note: This post contains spoilers from The Flash Season 3.
When Barry Allen was first introduced in Arrow Season 2, he was a lovable geek that attracted Felicity Smoak's attention and Oliver Queen's suspicion. After being struck by lightning from the particle accelerator, Barry became a speedster, but he still had the geeky side along with a sense of humor.
Over the past three seasons of The Flash, that has changed. Barry has morphed into a superhero who has little, if any, outward signs of happiness. We get an occasional glimpse of a smile, even a joke here and there — but, for the most part, Barry is grim-faced and always worried.
He's tasked with saving Central City, and duty rides high on his shoulders, so it's understandable why he's not always in a super cheerful mood. However, the Season 3 side of Barry has taken an even darker turn, which is making fans wonder if we're ever going to see the Barry Allen we fell in love with in season one.
On The Flash Season 3, Episode 21, titled "Cause and Effect," Barry had his memory temporarily erased, and for the first time in a very long time, we saw that side of him again. He didn't carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he could laugh and joke again. It brought home what we've been missing.
The Flash started out as a lighter show, but it has evolved into a series that can rival Arrow for darkness. And there is such a thing as too dark, especially when there is no relief from it. That's where Barry is right now.
Yes, Barry is facing the potential death of Iris West and trying to prevent that, so we certainly don't expect him to be dancing and clapping — it's only natural that he would be living each day on the edge. But there seems to be no break for Barry, and the show's writers aren't giving him a reason to smile.
Back in 2014, David Nutter, who directed the pilot episode of The Flash, envisioned the show as brighter and imbued the pilot with humor for that reason, telling CBR:
"We were very happy with how Arrow turned out. What we wanted to do [with The Flash] was make the show have some other notes in it. There’s humor in this pilot, which fits very well. It’s a little bit brighter of a show. It really encapsulates who Barry Allen is as a character, and who the Flash is in the comics."
The Barry Allen from Season 1 had already gone through the loss of his mother and the imprisonment of his father. He knew about heartache, yet he still found the bright side of things. But that guy seems to have disappeared altogether, and the fans want him back — for more than a single episode.