It took 7 years for The Flash to finally right the Pied Piper
The Flash season 9 episode "Don't Hear Evil Words" finally restores the Arrowverse Pied Piper, making him the hero reformed Rogue in the comics.
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for The Flash season 9, episode 2, "Hear No Evil."
The Arrowverse's version of Pied Piper took on the hero's identity in The Flash season 9, fixing a bug that has plagued the popular superhero franchise from the start. The Pied Piper in The Flash comics started out as a supervillain, but developed into a vital member of Team Flash. The Flash series went in another direction, teasing the heroic Pied Piper, but never following through with the idea.
The Flash season 9 episode "Don't Hear Evil Words" revolves around reformed Pied Piper Hartley Lathaway (Andy Mientus) who gives up crime to open a dance club. Hartley is targeted by a new version of Fiddler (Magda Apanowitz), who is revealed to be employed by The Flash season 9's main villain, the Red Death. Hartley initially bled to death after Fiddler attacked him, his boyfriend, and his staff, but he was eventually persuaded to forgo revenge and become the true hero in bringing Fiddler to justice.
Pied Piper Was A Rare Reformed Rogue In The Comics
Created in 1959 by writer John Bloom and artist Carmine Infantino, the Pied Piper was one of the first villains that The Flash Barry Allen encountered in the comics. born with Deaf, Hartley Ruthaway has benefited from an experimental implant funded by his wealthy family to restore his hearing. Later, Hartley became obsessed with sound in all its forms and used his family fortune to experiment with advanced sonic technology. After developing a music-based method of mind control, a bored Hartley turned to crime and repeatedly fought Barry Allen the Flash throughout the Silver Age of comics, both alone and as part of Captain Grim's Rogues' Gallery.
After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, the Pied Piper starts a new tune. Hartley Rathaway puts aside his criminal past to become a social fighter and champion of the poor and underprivileged in Central City. He also came out as gay, often joking that he "got straight" while coming out. This makes the Pied Piper one of DC Comics' first openly gay superheroes.
While many supervillains in the comics have attempted to reform themselves (including many other members of The Flash's rogues' gallery), most eventually relapse. The Pied Piper is one of the few who are still redeemed. While he didn't become an active superhero on night patrol, Hartley Rathaway repeatedly Offers his scientific expertise in assisting Wally West Flash. On the rare occasions that his skills can be used for constructive purposes, he also dons his Pied Piper costume.
The Flash Show Failed To Develop Pied Piper Properly
The Arrowverse's version of Pied Piper appeared in The Flash season 1 "The Sound and the Fury", and is very different from his comic book character. While this Hartley Rathaway is also a brilliant scientist, he's also an arrogant jerk who annoys his colleagues at STAR Labs. He's also a superhuman who developed hypersensitive hearing after the STAR Labs particle accelerator exploded, which he predicted and tried to prevent. This led to his dismissal from Dr. Harrison Wells, which fueled his villainy as he used an advanced sonic device he developed against Dr. Wells and the STAR lab.
Arrowverse Pied Piper's redemption is teased in The Flash season 2 episode "Flashback", where Barry Allen travels back in time to his first encounter with Hartley Rathaway while seeking ways to increase his speed to fight the villain Zoom . Barry's past behavior changes the timeline, leading to Pied Piper's settlement with his colleagues at STAR Labs Never commit the crime that landed him in jail in The Flash season 1. When Barry returned to his time, Hartley was an ally of the Flash, helping him defeat the time ghosts who were hunting him down.
This seems to establish the heroic Pied Piper in the comics. Unfortunately, The Flash season 2 didn't continue Pied Piper's story. Andy Mientus didn't return to the role until the second half of The Flash season 6, when it was revealed that the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the timeline and Hartley Rathaway's history again.
In Earth-Prime's new timeline, Hartley Rathaway becomes a criminal, and his climactic battle with Barry Allen from The Flash season 1 still takes place. The main difference is that the new Pied Piper is more powerful, has the ability to scream vocally like Black Canary in addition to his enhanced hearing, and he has a following to support him. The gang included Hartley's new boyfriend, Roderick Smith, who was hurt by Barry Allen's actions. This made Hartley Rathaway an even more ruthless opponent and an unrepentant thief.
Barry trying to bring back his Hartley Rathaway Known in The Flash season 6 episode "Pay The Piper", he offers to help cure Roderick Smith's condition in exchange for help fighting the Speedster villain Godspeed. Hartley agreed to the shaky alliance, but stuck to his deal and reunited with Roderick. "Pay The Piper" ends with Barry and Hartley getting to know each other better, teasing the Arrowverse Pied Piper again as a hero. Unfortunately, the plot thread was once again forgotten until season 9 of The Flash confirmed that Hartley Rathaway had given up crime to become club owner.
How The Flash Season 9 Makes Pied Piper Into A Selfless Hero
Hartley Rathaway's decision to become a hero in The Flash season 9 was ultimately prompted by the most unlikely sources imaginable. While STAR Labs frantically tries to upgrade gloves that enhance and focus his sonic powers, Pied Piper meets Danielle Panabaker's new character, Khione Snow. Naively optimistic, Khione listens to Hartley talk about how important it is for him to "kill the punk witch who threatened him" and the new life he's building for himself and Roderick Smith.
Khione insists that Hartley is not the killer, despite his strong rhetoric and hints that although Hartley believes his love for Roderick changed him, "Deciding to change for the one you love doesn't mean you have decided who you want to be." Khione's words touched Hartley, and despite his cynicism, he eventually Agree with her assessment that real change has to be made for the sake of one's self. Ironically, this decision to change for his own sake resulted in the Pied Piper finally taking the hero's selfless life seriously, teaming up with The Flash to take down Fiddler without killing her.