TV URBAN LEGEND: Doctor Harrison Wells was based on an obscure DC Comics character.
When the CW series of superhero shows started out, it was not always easy to get permission to use certain characters on TV series, not with all of the various licenses out there. Ray Palmer, for instance, was introduced in Arrow only after Warner Bros. nixed the first DC Comics character that they wanted to introduce to play Felicity’s new boss.
One interesting way that the producers on the various CW superhero TV series have gotten around any possible issues is to just take obscure DC characters and essentially just make them brand-new characters. The most famous example of this asw Arrow star Felicity Smoak, who was named after an obscure Firestorm character from the 1980s.
However, things are complicated by the fact that the shows also occasionally invent completely new characters that have no comic book counterparts, with the most famous example being John Diggle, one of the main characters on Arrow. Diggle has since been adapted into comics, but he was invented for the TV series.
Doctor Harrison Wells on Flash seemed to be another example of an original character, but reader Victor C. wrote in to ask if it was true that Wells was actually named after an obscure character from a 1991 Flash one-shot.
Let’s find out!
The character in question debuted in 1991’s All-New Flash TV Special…
in a story written by John Byrne and drawn by Javier Saltares. A STAR Labs scientist was killed by a seemingly invisible man. When Tina McGee was attacked, as well, the Flash helped to save her and she explained that the killer was another STAR Labs scientist named Dr. Wells, who blamed STAR Labs for an accident that he was involved in.
When Flash stops him at the end, he discovered that Wells was crippled in the accident.
Harrison Wells on the “Flash” TV series was in a wheelchair (although this was a fraud he perpetrated because SPOILERS! Wells was actually Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, in disguise) and he had a past relationship with Dr. Tina McGee on the Flash series. So it really wouldn’t be that shocking if this was the inspiration for the Wells character name.
However, the creators of the “Flash” TV series have been pretty explicit that Wells was an original character.
Geoff Johns said to the Hollywood Reporter:
“Harrison Wells is a new character that was created. The name obviously is brand-new. I don’t think we can say anything else about it” (Johns, of course, was referring to the mystery of Wells that began at the end of the first episode where it was revealed that he could walk and that he had access to information from the future and did not seem to actually be a fan of the Flash).
Johns is a master of DC Comics history, so if he had taken the name from an obscure character from DC Comics, there’s no reason for him not to say so. So since he says otherwise, I think it is fair enough to believe him, in which case this legend is…
Thanks to Victor for the suggestion!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org