In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to salute -- by which I mean, judge -- some father figures I've spent a lot of time with lately: Barry's three dads on "The Flash." (Disclosure: "The Flash" is on The CW, which is part of the CBSi family, like CNET.)
Raised by a single-parent cop after his bio father was put in prison, then mentored by a brilliant scientist -- and again by an alternate-universe version -- Barry Allen's had a life short on mothers but unusually full of fathers. They're not all perfect, but they've all been very attentive. In some ways, he's a lucky guy.
Barry's main dad, Detective Joe West, is clearly the best dad. Possibly anywhere. Maybe yours is better, I don't know, I'll take your word on that one, but Joe is pretty great. He saw Barry as his own kid from very early on; he's warm, he's fun, he enthusiastically accepts Barry as his own person despite their differences, and (according to Iris, anyway) he did give them healthy limits growing up.
Nowadays Joe, like everyone else, seems to have given up on keeping Barry from screwing up the fabric of the universe whenever he gets the impulse, but nobody's perfect. Top dad: Joe. Give that man a slogan mug.
I want to rate Henry Allen the worst, but let's face it: Of the remaining two, he's the one who hasn't been a murdering sociopath, even a little. Sure, Henry's thanks to his son for finally getting him out of prison was to run off and leave him with a vague smile and some BS about letting him be all he could be. Ugh, Henry. The actor who plays you possibly having other commitments is no excuse.
But, to be fair, before that he gave Barry a model of dignity in adversity; he was always affectionate and supportive; he appreciated Joe's place in Barry's life; and he insisted that saving his beloved wife wouldn't be worth Barry losing his powers (...which is another reason I don't care for him that much, actually). He was getting so creepy with all that talk about destiny that I even thought a villain had taken him over somehow, but then he flipped his script and tried being the "You've convinced my son he needs powers to be great!" dad. Whatever.
Henry, you're an abandoner and a flip-flopper, but you were a positive presence in your son's life for a long time, and you've probably not murdered anybody. Rating: Medium dad. Good-Enough Dadsville, population variable.
(I'm throwing in Wells from Earth 2 because his daughter said something about Barry being special to him. Didn't see it myself. But Wells 2 wasn't that great a dad to Jessie either: he neglected her, he freaked her out, and he made her sleep in the same room with him. No wonder she wanted some space!) The important Wells for Barry was the Earth 1, possessed-by-a-villain-from-the-future version.
Wells gave him a role model related to his own interest in science, and someone he could earn approval and quiet affection from. Of course, finding out that was all grooming by a sociopath was a blow for Barry, but possibly a useful lesson for the future, and he's got a solid support system while he works through it.
All things considered, I have to squeeze my eyes shut against his charm and vote, Wells: Worst dad. Really not good at it. Would keep inviting him to reunions anyway.
Tune in for next season, where we see if Barry's changed the timeline enough to become his own father. Just kidding...I think?