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Saying goodbye to Harry and Cisco, The Flash's most dynamic duo

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Jun 1, 2021, 3:04 PM EDT

The Flash, at its core, has always been a show about family — whether that be biological, adoptive, or otherwise. The series started out (and found success) by showcasing the tight bonds between the core members of the original "team flash" and now, after seven long seasons, the series is bidding farewell to two of its original members: Carlos Valdes' Cisco Ramon and Tom Cavanagh's Harrison Wells. Though the series as a whole has certainly had its high and low points, with every season, there was one thing for certain that audiences could always look forward to: the relationship between Cisco and whichever version of Harrison Wells was enjoying a tenure on the show. Though they may not have saved the day as frequently as Barry, Cisco and the many Harrison Wellses brought humor, charm, and compassion to The Flash — and without Valdes and Cavanagh, the show undoubtedly wouldn't have been anywhere close to as successful as it is.

Cisco and Harrison Wells both made their debut in the series' pilot, but weren't always a double act — the characters blossomed as beloved entities separately before they became a dynamic duo in the later seasons. While both grow immensely over the course of the show, Harrison Wells is certainly a special case — because, as of Season 7, Cavanagh has played more than 15 versions of the character, including a parody of Gandalf the Grey and a Hugh Hefner-esque playboy, as well as some more longstanding, beloved versions of the character like Earth-2 Harrison "Harry" Wells, and H.R. Wells.

If there's one word to describe Cavanagh's performance on The Flash, it's "range" because whether he's playing for drama or comedy, he's the kind of charismatic scene-stealer who never puts a foot wrong, even when the writers cook up the most bombastic of characters. Though Cavanagh's many, many versions of Harrison Wells have gone critically unsung for seven years, there's no other actor who could bring such depth and versatility to the role(s). He's cemented himself as not just a comedic performer, but one who can also do some emotional heavy lifting; the two most iconic Wellses — Eobard Thawne and Earth-2 Harrison Wells — both play integral parts in some of the show's most devastating emotional arcs, and Cavanagh is almost single-handedly responsible for making the Reverse-Flash reveal in Season 1 as effective as it is.

While Cavanagh is The Flash's jack-of-all-trades, opposite him is Valdes as Cisco Ramon, the beloved wisecracking engineer who grew from quippy sidekick to full-blown hero over the course of his run on the show. Where Cavanagh's versatility is more outwardly on display in the often bombastic characters the writers hurled at him, the depth of Valdes' performance is subtler, more slowly drawn out. It comes through as Cisco himself grows from season to season. He may have carved his initial niche as the comic relief, but Cisco (and Valdes) proved to be one of the show's most reliable players when it came to heavier emotional arcs. After Barry changed the timeline and inadvertently caused the death of Cisco's brother, audiences were treated to a new side of Cisco, and Valdes was able to flex his impressive acting chops to serve up some of the show's most emotionally potent moments.

As wonderful as they are as individual characters, though, Cisco and Harrison Wells have always shined brightest when playing off each other — likely due to the immediate and obvious chemistry (both on and offscreen) between Cavanagh and Valdes. Though in the later seasons the show (for better or for worse) had a revolving door of Wellses — which meant we got a new Cisco/Wells dynamic every season — the show's two most memorable relationships developed in the first two seasons: those between Cisco and Eobard Thawne and Cisco and Earth-2 Harrison Wells.

The first glimmer of the power of Valdes and Cavanagh's chemistry came in Season 1, when Eobard Thawne was still masquerading as the wheelchair-bound Harrison Wells. When we first meet Wells and Cisco, there's very much a sort of mentor-mentee, hero-worship dynamic going on, with Wells as the dry-humored (but ultimately wise) boss and Cisco as the eager-to-please underling. However, as the episodes pass, there proves to be genuine affection between the two of them, and the eventual reveal of Thawne's true identity (and the subsequent murder of Cisco in the alternate timeline) gave audiences the first glimpse of just how well Valdes and Cavanagh can play off of each other.

Watching Cisco beg for his life from the man he thought was his lifelong hero is gut-wrenching, made all the more powerful by the twisted fondness Thawne claims to feel for him. Before reaching inside his chest and literally crushing his heart, Thawne tells Cisco "You've shown me what it's like to have a son." It's a brutal scene, and perhaps one of the most shocking and gut-wrenching of the first season. It also acts as an early display of the emotional power both actors wield with their respective characters, and how it strengthens when they're playing off of each other.

It's in Season 2, though, when the most memorable Cisco/Wells relationship finally made it to our screens, with the introduction of Earth-2 Harrison Wells. Beginning as a cold-hearted outsider only there to save his daughter, Harry wasn't the easiest character to love — nor did he immediately get on with Cisco. Instead, we watched Cisco and Harry's relationship blossom organically, from arguing to begrudging respect until their bickering eventually became the kind of affectionate arguing one might expect from an old married couple.

They don't just work as a comedic duo, either. Although their arguments and snippy comments certainly make for some of the later season's funniest moments, the true power in their connection is when it's wielded for heavier, more emotional beats. Whereas Thawne and Cisco's relationship came from hero-worship, Harry and Cisco's was born from a mutual respect and care that came from nothing and had to be built over time. So much so, that when they finally did become close, they were virtually inseparable.

Though they never did stop the bickering (who would've wanted them to, anyway?) Cisco was now giving Harry advice on how to deal with his teenage daughter Jesse, and Harry was giving Cisco pointers on dating. The closeness of their bond was taken even further with the introduction of DeVoe (Neil Sandilands) and the thinking cap, when Harry began slowly chipping away at his own sanity in an attempt to make himself smart enough to defeat DeVoe. Watching Cisco bear witness to one of his closest companions destroying himself from the inside out is crushing, and when Cisco tearfully helps Harry use the thinking cap for the last time, it's one of the show's toughest scenes to watch.

Harry and Cisco have the kind of organic, genuine affection that can't be forced or faked — made all the better by the fact that it grew from practically nothing. Instead of over-telegraphing their blossoming relationship, audiences were able to watch them grow closer and closer together each week. Now, with Valdes and Cavanagh exiting the show together in Season 7, audiences can look back and savor the gift that was — because throughout the highs and lows of The Flash's long run, the persevering bond between Cisco Ramon and Harrison Wells will always remain one of the show's crowning achievements.