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The CW superhero series will be writing off Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, at the beginning of Season 7, following the firing of actor Hartley Sawyer earlier this summer after old racist and misogynistic tweets emerged from his now-deleted Twitter account. However, executive producer Eric Wallace told Entertainment Weekly recently that Ralph will return briefly next season before being written off, so as to both give the character a fitting send-off that pays attention to his comic book roots and allow the writers to tie up loose threads from the show's sixth season, which was prematurely cut short when the show was forced to stop filming midway through the season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Ralph is a guy who can change faces and his appearance in many ways," says Wallace of how the show plans to incorporate the character going forward. "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."
It remains unclear who will step into Ralph's extra stretchy outfit next season, and whether the show plans on finding a new actor to inhibit the role, or to use an actor already on the cast, as Ralph has changed his appearance to pretend to be to someone else before — most notably as villain Clifford DeVoe, so he could testify on Barry's behalf for his freedom — but his ability to do that still comes with a time limit.
"It's funny, I guess technically it would be a recasting, but the character won't be a big part of Season 7. He'll only be a part of just wrapping up the Sue storyline," says Wallace. "We're going to do it in a way that I think honors the spirit of the character and provides not only a satisfying conclusion to Sue's murder mystery, but also it's done with some humor."
Ralph's exit also impacts fellow character Sue Dearborn (Natalie Dreyfuss) as the two eventually wed in the comics, and the show had already started laying the groundwork that would have led to that. However, Wallace states that while neither character will be a big part of the upcoming season, Sue will return, with the show having found a way to keep her around after all.
"Now we can expand her character and give her more backstory and more growth in ways that we hadn't initially planned," says Wallace of their plans for the character. "[It's] really exciting to see how she's going to interact more with Team Flash once her name has been cleared — because we are going to clear her name obviously. But then what's the reason for her to come back to Central City? And that's going to be a bit of her story this season."
But just because the Elongated Man is making an earlier-than-expected exit, that doesn't mean that he can't return down the line eventually.
"The beauty of comic book stories and superhero stories are the conventions that heroes come and go, but they never fade away and they never disappear entirely," says the executive producer. "So we're going to treat it like we would if we were writing a comic book graphic novel. We're giving the Elongated Man a bit of a rest for a while. But we will leave the door open."
The Flash is set to return for Season 7 in early 2021 on The CW.