The Elongated Man is taking an extended hiatus from Central City.
The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace is opening up about how the CW drama will handle the exit of Ralph Dibny following his portrayer Hartley Sawyer’s firing for a slew of racist and misogynistic tweets from his pre-Flash days.
Taking a cue from the nature of show’s source material, in which heroes come and go, “we’re going to treat it like we would if we were writing a comic book graphic novel,” Wallace told EW.com. “We’re giving the Elongated Man a bit of a rest for while. But we will leave the door open.
“I’m not saying by any means that it’s the end of the character,” Wallace continued. “In fact, quite the opposite. We just don’t know when he will return, or in what form he will return.”
Wallace did reveal that Ralph will make an appearance in an early Season 7 episode — but he will look quite different. In order to “honor the character” and tie up the loose threads from the Season 6 finale, in which Eva McCulloch/Mirror Mistress framed Sue Dearbon for murder, “Ralph has to be part of that,” Wallace explained. “Now thank goodness, Ralph is a guy who can change faces and his appearance in many ways. Without giving any spoilers away, there are a couple of ways that we can have Elongated Man still appear in at least one episode this season to wrap that storyline up, that gets us what we need and still allows fans to say goodbye to the character, at least for the indefinite future.”
And although the series is bidding adieu to Ralph, his comic-book better half, Sue (played by Natalie Dreyfuss), will still appear “more than once this year, even without the Elongated Man,” Wallace shared.
Sawyer deactivated his Twitter account in late May, but his offensive missives from before he joined the CW hit included (and were not limited to): “All women should be in sex farms” (from May 2011), “If I had a wife I would beat the hell out of her tonight lol” (February 2012), “The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me” (June 2012), “Out at dinner and just exposed myself as a racist, AGAIN” (November 2014), and assorted homophobic slurs.
Showrunner Eric Wallace responded on Twitter that Sawyer’s comments “broke my heart and made me mad as hell,” indicative as they are of “the larger problem in our country. Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment — unconscious or otherwise — terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal.”
Sawyer, who joined The Flash as Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man early in Season 4, offered up an apology via Instagram, saying, “I’m not here to make excuses — regardless of the intention, my words matter and they carry profound consequences. And mine can and have caused pain and embarrassment, along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my cast mates, the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable.”