- For the first meta-human whose body he took over, see Dominic Lanse.
- For the second meta-human whose body he took over, see Becky Sharpe.
- For the third meta-human whose body he took over, see Izzy Bowin.
- "You're not as smart as you think you--"
- "Yes I am."
- —Harrison Wells and Clifford DeVoe[src]
Professor Clifford DeVoe (born May 8, 1975), nicknamed The Thinker by Cisco Ramon, is a former history professor at Central City University, and secretly an extremely knowledgeable enemy of Barry Allen/The Flash. Before he lived in Central City he lived in South Africa. He works alongside Marlize DeVoe, his wife and partner-in-crime, whom he met at the University of Oxford. Clifford eventually transferred his conciousness into Dominic Lanse and assumed his identity, leaving his original body for dead to frame Barry Allen. He later transferred his mind into Becky Sharpe, then Izzy Bowin shortly afterward and he is still looking for three more metahumans with powers and bodies to steal.
Studies and teaching
Clifford DeVoe was born on May 8, 1975. He was raised in South Africa. When he grew up, he studied history and econometrics at the University of Johannesburg, Clifford first took a teaching position at the University of Oxford, specializing in the history of warfare and military strategy, focusing largely on the early Middle Ages. On June 13, 1997, he met Marlize, where the two fell in love and eventually married. Circa 2006, while at Oxford, DeVoe was a member of the debating society, debating the morality of Sun Tzu and the principles of Machiavelli. At that time, he also held a number of lectures in Central City University: on Japanese political fragmentation in the 15th century on June 13th; on the Menji Restoration of 1868 in September; on the Battle of Hakusukinoe in October. He would later accept an invitation to become a professor at CCU, moving to live in Central City, United States.
Birth of the Thinker
Clifford and Marlize, now living in Central City, worked on adapting to their new lives and saw progress for human development through the acceleration of mind, with Clifford thinking that his own genius was not enough to achieve their plan of "distributing knowledge" throughout society. Coincidentally, the couple followed the progresses of S.T.A.R. Labs under Dr. Harrison Wells, specifically his S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator project. Thawne, well aware of Clifford DeVoe and his future from his own timeline and it's results, wished him luck. Upon realizing that the particle accelerator would explode, the DeVoe family developed a machine to amplify DeVoe's intelligence by using the dark matter from the particle accelerator explosion to power his "Thinking Cap" device. While the experiment was a success, DeVoe began to suffer from degeneration in his body, slowly paralyzing him and causing him seizures and pain. With his body trying to maintain the vast intellect, the rest of his body was not receiving the energy it needs. Clifford's wife has thus built a machine that plugs into DeVoe's brain to slow down his deteriorating body.
DeVoe kept watch over Team Flash's exploits, eventually learning all about The Flash's identity as Barry Allen, as well as their foes and the multiverse. He then formulated a plan and started to watch over 12 individuals that he marked as potential meta-humans. He manipulated the events in all of their lives to ensure that they would all be on the same bus, at the point of time that he would need them to be. In October 2017, DeVoe and Marlize built a samurai droid to force the Flash to make his return to Central City, causing dark matter to spill out and transform a busload of 12 people into meta-humans. After the samurai robot was defeated, DeVoe used it to anonymously welcome the Flash back. After rebuilding another Samuroid in his hideout, he mused on how everything was going according to plan with the Flash's return and began to plan his next move.
Later, DeVoe got up early in the morning, researched all of Schubert's 600+ works and used this knowledge to finish his unfinished eighth symphony, playing it on a holographic piano. Marlize approached him, musing how she enjoyed the song as a child. DeVoe proceeded to ask her for an update on the meta-humans, to which she showed him she managed to locate Ramsey Deacon locked up at Iron Heights Prison. DeVoe then decided it was time to locate the others.
Shortly after, as DeVoe and his wife watched over an incarcerated Becky Sharpe, Marlize remarked on how Team Flash had found her significantly quicker than they'd anticipated, suggesting they were smarter than they had originally thought. DeVoe, however, was sure that he was smarter, revealing a live feed to S.T.A.R. Labs from the seemingly inert Samuroid head.
He tracked down a meta-human called "The Weeper" a week later, and told him that he went through a lot of trouble in creating him, and that he couldn't die until he completed the task he was created for.
When Marlize came to him, saying they needed to talk, he responded that it would end the only way it could, which was his victory. She seemed confused and he said that they would have to take the conversation the long way. She then alerted DeVoe to the fact that Team Flash were closer to discovering his identity earlier than they had anticipated. He assured her that everything was fine as he had calculated every possible variable, as well as all possible outcomes of their conversation and how it would end. When she asked how it would end, he repeated his earlier statement that it would all end with his victory. Not long after, they were visited by Joe West and Barry Allen, who asked to speak to Clifford, who appeared in simple clothes and in an electric wheelchair, away from his mechanized hovering chair.
After letting Joe and Barry in their home for being questioned, he denied that he didn't know any of the meta-humans that were in the bus the day when Barry exited from the speed force, except for Mina Chaytan but he explained his earlier life and about how he met his wife Marlize at the last university he taught at. After a few questions, Joe and Barry decided to leave, in which Barry doesn't trust DeVoe and continued his investigation into him.
DeVoe was teaching at a classroom at the University when he saw Barry again. When the students were dismissed, Barry posed several questions to him on his whereabouts on January 7, 2014 (the date of the particle accelerator explosion at STAR Labs). Clifford claimed that he had no clue where he was that night. Barry asked him if he took any public transportation and DeVoe said he only got rides from people he knew were "wheel-chair friendly.” DeVoe also asked Barry why he was inquiring such information. Barry told him he wasn’t at liberty to disclose why and handed him his contact card, while secretly super-quickly swiping Clifford’s mug to conduct a DNA test to determine if DeVoe was a meta-human.
Hours later, DeVoe filed a complaint against Barry to David Singh. He lied, claiming that Barry was harassing him and his wife, prompting Singh to force Barry into apologizing to Clifford and Marlize for prying them.
The day after Barry broke into DeVoe’s house and found that he was spying on Team Flash, Marlize went to Singh again to deal with Barry’s behavior. Barry was suspended from his work for two weeks, and the DeVoe’s acquired a restraining order against Allen from coming into further contact with them.
Later, Barry defied the order and sought out DeVoe one more time, asking him who he really was. DeVoe revealed to Barry that he knows his superhero identity, how the Flash was “born”, and that he, Clifford DeVoe is smarter than Allen and his friends combined. DeVoe specifically told Barry that while he may be the fastest man alive, he is the fastest mind alive. DeVoe promised to think about Barry as he left to begin a class.
DeVoe told Marlize about his encounter with Barry and talked about his friends until his seizures started again, due to not connecting to his hover-chair for a long period of time. Marlize takes off his wig, revealing his brain and connects him to his hover-chair. While watching live footage of Barry and Iris sitting on their sofa together, Marlize asked her husband if he's going to let them get married. DeVoe replies, "What is knowledge without love?".
Evolution of the Thinker
Some time after Barry and Iris's wedding, DeVoe attacks Barry using his hoverchair, he is able to capture Barry and takes him to his lair, where he put Barry in a speedster trap. He confronted Barry and told him that he is here to teach him and that the lesson was there are no such things as Happy Endings. When Joe West and Harrison Wells arrived to DeVoe's house, DeVoe met them, but showed no real hostility to them and allowed them to look through his house. He returned back to Barry, but found him gone, shocked that Barry could have escaped, he put down the trap, only to discover that Barry had not moved at all, but had stood still so very fast that the eye couldn't see. DeVoe tried to launch the trap back up, but was too slow and Barry escaped. Barry confronted DeVoe and DeVoe teleported the pair of them over the city. In the air, DeVoe attempted to use his mechanical arms to capture Barry but accidentally damaged his chair which sent him into the water. DeVoe though survived and when Dominic Lanse was brought to him by Marlize, he transferred his mind into Dominic's fully taking over his body. In Domnic's body, DeVoe attended Joe West's Christmas Party, in which he planted his previous body in Barry and Iris's apartment and stabbed him with a knife that Barry had held prior. He had the alarm go off in the apartment so that Barry would go there and contacted him and told him that he has taken over Dominic's body. He said his goodbye to the rest of Team Flash before being reunited with Marlize, they kissed and she put his ring on his finger. DeVoe then told her that the age of enlightenment is to begin and the pair leave in their car while Barry is arrested for DeVoe's murder.
Devoe then used his chair to take the lives and powers of the Bus Metas in Iron Heights, killing them. When Gregory Wolfe tried to stop him, Devoe killed him as well after taking the body of Becky Sharpe. He . . . Or rather now She . . . taunted the Flash about his failure to save Sharpe and teleported away.
Devoe then took the body of Izzy Bowin, or The Fiddler, with the help of his Sharpe Luck powers. During this incident, Fiddler placed the new STAR Labs Neural Inhibitor on Sharpe's forehead, but Devoe simply stated, "Call me Killg%re." He burnt out the neural inhibitor and took Bowin's body, escaping after taunting Team Flash once more, especially Harry Wells, for his device's failure.
According to Abra Kadabra's future, DeVoe is regarded as one of the Flash's greatest enemies alongside the Reverse-Flash and Zoom; however, none were as bad as Savitar. At some point in the future, both Kadabra and Thawne, while studying Barry's past, became aware of DeVoe's role as one of the Flash's enemies, the latter claiming to be a fan of his "work".
Savitar remembered working on the Neural Inhibitor when he came back to 2017 and toured STAR Labs.
Prior to his transformation, Clifford was a fairly ordinary but socially awkward man who genuinely craved knowledge and wanted to reach people so he could pass on his love of knowledge to others, becoming frustrated with how so few of his students seemed to actually respect or listen to what he was trying to teach them. Feeling that their minds had become too small whilst his own ability to convey information effectively was lacking, Clifford began his efforts to construct the "Thinking Cap" with his lover in the name of bringing forth an "age of enlightenment".
Since becoming "the Thinker", Clifford's personality has changed; though still craving knowledge, he is now more ruthless and brutal in his willingness to hurt innocents to get what he wants. Clifford is a calculating and patient man, very much focused on his current objective all the time, not having much emotional reaction while doing so. He is very confident in his abilities and does not hesitate to emphasize just how thoroughly he has accounted for every possibility, and every outcome, even to his own wife.
Clifford's also possessed an ambitious nature even before his transformation, wishing to advance the human consciousness to instill change in humanity. Whether as a façade or not, he can be a nice person towards people, especially to his students, but he also takes advantage of this trait when he lied to David Singh about Barry harassing him and his wife in which the latter was actually investigating him.
However, even at his worst, Clifford is not without a romantic side; he feels the need to be the great man his wife needs despite his condition and noted that he would be nothing without her. He also allows Barry Allen and Iris West their wedding out of understanding of their love.
Clifford's superhuman intelligence has made him quite arrogant to the point of having a massive ego, this is evidenced by the fact that after Barry confronted him, as he wanted to know who he really is, he not only revealed to the latter that he knows he is the Flash, but Clifford also boasted that he has nothing to fear from Barry, this new-found intellect of his, also causes him to sometimes underestimate his opponents, like Barry. He is also not above killing and can even take pleasure in it, as he did to Gregory Wolfe, without any real reason. It appears DeVoe's constant body change may be affecting his mind as theorized by Marlize. This is evident by the fact DeVoe seems to be cruel towards his wife especially when she points out potential flaws in him, something DeVoe in the past never did.
Powers and abilities
- "There is not a decimal, a fraction, an infinitesimal variable beyond my thoughts... beyond my mind!"
- —Clifford DeVoe[src]
- Meta-human physiology: After being struck by the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator while wearing his "Thinking Cap", Clifford's already high mental capacities were enhanced to superhuman levels. The Thinking Cap also shielded from being directly exposed to the gene-altering energy, which allowed Clifford to retain his normal human DNA despite his superhuman physiology.
- Superhuman intelligence: With his enhanced intelligence, Clifford feels that he can calculate and deduce the answer to almost any question and anticipate any potential outcome. DeVoe's powers greatly accelerate his brain activity, allowing him to absorb and process information far faster and more efficiently than normal human levels, even faster than Barry Allen. He is even able to condition his thought patterns and general brain activity to mimic others, enabling him to perform feats like completing Schubert's unfinished eighth symphony by extrapolating the remaining movements after he familiarized himself with the body of his other 600 works in a single morning. With his vastly augmented mental processing and cognitive capabilities, Clifford's intelligence is easily ranked as the greatest in the multiverse, his intellect is so great, in comparison to his intellects of those likes Barry, Harry Wells, Cisco Ramon and even Eobard Thawne seems pathetic. To his point he solved many mysteries with his intelligence including Riemann's hypothesis, one of Hilbert's problems, and Jack the Ripper's true identity.
- Absorbed powers: Between transferring his consciousness and current powers into other bodies or syphoning other people's powers into his current body, DeVoe has gradually expanding his number of meta-abilities.
- Effigy animation: Clifford was able to absorb Mina Chaytan's ability to temporarily animate effigies.
- Jinxing: Clifford was able to gain the ability to spread bad luck on people whilst giving himself good luck after he took over Becky Sharpe's body.
- Psycho-active tears: Clifford is implied to have the powers of the Weeper, as he is shown in Becky's body holding a bottle full of psychoactive tears, some of which he uses on Marlize as a love drug.
- Size alteration: Clifford was able to absorb Sylbert Rundine's ability to alter the size of both animate and inanimate objects by manipulating the space between their atomic bonds.
- Sound Projection: After taking over Izzy Bowin’s body, Clifford was able to absorb the ability to project sound waves.
- Technopathy: Clifford was able to absorb Ramsey Deacon's ability to control any form of technology.
- Telepathy: Clifford gained the power to read minds after he stole Dominic Lanse's body. He was able to retain this ability after his mind was transferred into Becky's body, and with Becky's body, he was shown to have taken these powers to a whole new level by being able to psychically attack the minds of others instead of just reading them without any difficulties as he was able to do this to Barry Allen while running towards him. Unfortunately, Dominic never used these aspects of powers.
- Vibe Awareness: DeVoe is shown to know when Cisco is vibing the location he is at, and can inflict incredible damage.
- Expert historian: Even before gaining his augmented intellect, Clifford was an accomplished and well-known professor of history in all its forms, the feudal era of Japan being a particular favorite of his.
- Master tactician: Clifford's intelligence makes him a near-flawless planner, able to assess and account for the numerous variables, both natural events and people's instinctual reaction, and from this effectively manipulate the situation to unfold as he sees fit. Clifford's frightening calculations allowed him to predict various scenarios of potential future problems borders on clairvoyance, as shown from anticipating when Team Flash would discover his identity, an argument with his wife, and more. Clifford is also a masterful chess player, as he regularly plays on his hover chair.
- Master of deception: Clifford can be very deceptive, effectively convincing David Singh that Barry was harassing him; resulting in the latter being (unfairly/wrongfully) suspended from the CCPD. His ability to fabricate evidence led to Barry being convicted for his murder.
- Multilingual: Clifford is capable of fluently speaking English, Japanese, French, Italian, Mandarin and several other languages.
- Musical ability: By conditioning his brain activity to replicate Schubert's, Clifford is a skilled pianist and after transferring his mind to Izzy Bowin, a skilled violist as well.
- Polymath: In addition to history, Clifford has demonstrated to be expert in various other subjects such as mathematics and engineering; this has become even notable since attaining his superhuman intellect. As an engineer, Clifford was able to create the schematics of the designs of the samurai robots and the "Thinking Cap".
- Cerebral inhibitor: Harry built the Cerebral inhibitor. According to Savitar, Barry will use a version of the device against DeVoe at some point in the future. However, Savitar never said the device would be successful in taking him down. When Izzy Bowin attached it to DeVoe’s forehead, it appeared to have affected DeVoe, but he used Kilg%re’s abilities to neutralize the cerebral inhibitor. However, it's possible that Team Flash may still find a way to effectively use this device again The Thinker in the future.
- Body degeneration: While DeVoe's intellect was boosted to levels surpassing a group of geniuses, his body began to deteriorate due to all the energy in it being directed to his brain, leaving his body without enough to properly function. This illness is an advanced form of ALS, causing his nerves and muscles to start deteriorating, which resulted in Clifford's paralysis and can eventually be fatal. His hovering chair is designed to stall this fatal deterioration, though it too will eventually fail to keep Clifford from dying. This weakness has since grown more deadly as the dark matter in his cells has grown more intense since absorbing the powers of other meta-humans. This forces him to regularly take over new bodies. It can be accelerated with sonic blasts. As noted by Marlize, DeVoe's sanity is shown to deteriorate as well towards the end of the host body's life span.
- Limited Mental Transference: DeVoe seems only able to transfer his conciseness and absorb the powers of “Bus-Metas”. An exampile of this when he/she was at Iron Heights, because he could have stolen everyone’s powers in the meta wing, but he did not.
- Power-dampening tech: Like all meta-humans, if DeVoe is wearing power-dampening cuffs, he'll be unable to use his powers.
- B.O.O.T.: Designed by Cisco Ramon, this meta-human capture device might be capable of incapacitating DeVoe.
- Weaknesses of absorbed powers: After absorbing the powers of an individual, DeVoe presumably also acquired their weaknesses.
- Dominic Lanse's Weaknesses:
- Field of vision: With Dominic's telepathy, DeVoe can only read the minds of people he can see.
- Ramsey Deacon's Weaknesses:
- Power-outage: Like Deacon, DeVoe cannot manipulate technology that has no energy source or is too damaged.
- Limited Range: Like Deacon, DeVoe's powers can only work on technology that is within a close enough proximity of him.
- Virus: Like Deacon, because DeVoe's powers work similar to a computer program, if injected with a biological computer virus, he will be immediately incapacitated.
- Mina Chayton's Weaknesses:
- Particular shape: With Mina's powers, DeVoe is limited to only targets that are shaped with features that would allow self-mobility, such having limbs and similar appendages.
- Becky Sharpe's Weaknesses:
- Hydrogen-electron charge: After a hydrogen and electron collision, a charge is given off that is enough to temporarily negate Becky's luck-manipulating powers.
- Dominic Lanse's Weaknesses:
- Exposed brain: For his cybernetics to work, DeVoe's brain has to be exposed, with the upper half of his skull removed. This is no longer a weakness after transferring his consciousness into a new body.
- Hovering chair: Clifford uses a mechanical chair, connected with wires to his hideout's computer system. The chair is also able to hover in mid-air and has offensive capabilities in form of blasters. The chair also has teleportation capabilities, which explains how Clifford captured the Weeper without attracting a lot of attention. It also has extendable robotic tentacles capable of grabbing and stunning any victim without any difficulties as implied when Barry Allen tried to attack Clifford before getting grabbed and stunned by them. In addition, the chair has the ability to transfer the essence of Clifford into that of another body. This is how he transferred his essence into Dominic Lanse, and later Becky Sharpe; and then later on into Izzy Bowen and it is still unknown what happened to their own essences. It has been revealed to also have the ability to steal powers from other meta-humans.
- Thinking Cap: In 2013, just before the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion DeVoe designed the thinking cap to boost his own intelligence. He had his wife build it and he put it on his head during the explosion and it was struck by lightning, it is unknown what happened to the cap after that.
- Wheelchair: Due to his severe ALS, DeVoe used a wheelchair when he was required to appear as a civilian in public. After taking control of other meta-humans' bodies and faking his own murder, he no longer has a need for the wheelchair, as neither Dominic nor Becky and Izzy suffer from the same condition.
The Chronicles of Cisco
- Post 72 (mentioned)
- The Thinker is the first main antagonist of The Flash who is not a speedster.
- At the same time, he's the first main antagonist who didn't join Team Flash first.
- Like Damien Darhk, Clifford was mentioned twice, on the third season of his show, and became the main antagonist in the following season.
- Clifford admits to his wife that in his many predicted future scenarios, one of Cisco's supervillain names for him would have been the Teacher.
- Unlike the previous main antagonists of The Flash, Clifford's identity as a villain was revealed to the audience very early in the season since his first appearance in the first episode of the fourth season and to Team Flash (in the seventh episode of the fourth season, "Therefore I Am"). The identities of the other villains were revealed only at the near end of the seasons;
- Reverse-Flash's identity was revealed to the audience in the episode "Fallout" but on the twentieth episode of the first season, "The Trap" his identity was revealed truthfully to Team Flash (however, Team Flash suspected that he was Harrison Wells a few episodes before; he also revealed his identity to Cisco Ramon in an aborted timeline in the fifteenth episode "Out of Time").
- Zoom's identity was revealed to the audience on the fifteenth episode of the second season, "King Shark" but it was officially revealed to Team Flash in the following episode, "Trajectory" and confirmed to the audience in the episode "Versus Zoom".
- Savitar's identity was revealed to Barry and the audience on the twentieth episode of the third season, "I Know Who You Are" (However, he told the rest of the team only in the following episode, "Cause and Effect").
- The Thinker seems to be what Barry was up to in all of the previous seasons, which means that he knows everything about him; the enemies which he dealt with, his true identity and about his life as both as the Flash or a civilian, including he has the great knowledge of everything which occurred in the previous seasons using his intelligence.
- It is shown on the restraining order that DeVoe has against Barry in "The Trial of The Flash", that DeVoe's birthday is May 8, 1975.
- DeVoe is very similar to Eobard Thawne, in which they are both scientific geniuses and they both take over certain individual's bodies for various reasons, such as Eobard taking over Harrison Wells's body and DeVoe taking over the bodies of Dominic Lanse, Becky Sharpe and Izzy Bowin.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC comics Clifford DeVoe was the first villain known as the Thinker, a genius inventor corrupted by Hunk Norvok and enemy of Jay Garrick, whose brain-boosting "Thinking Cap" invention went on to gain artificial intelligence and become an enemy of the Wally West Flash, using DeVoe's name after his demise, which was caused by the Cap's detrimental effects on his body over the years. Similarly, DeVoe on the show struggles to keep his body healthy with his overclocked mind slowly killing him.
- While in the comics that he was a failed lawyer, in the series he is a history professor.
- In the series, Clifford DeVoe takes over the body of Dominic Lanse, a.k.a. Brainstorm. The DC Comics versions of the Thinker and Brainstorm, specifically the Axel Storm and Fred Storm versions had costume designs very similar to one of DeVoe's costumes, with a purple suit with pauldrons and massive silver headgear used for amplifying their powers.
- The functions of DeVoe's hover chair are reminiscent of the one used by Lex Luthor of the Justice League: Gods and Monsters continuity. Both have an assortment of gadgets and a teleportation like device. However the key feature was to aid both geniuses in movement due to both of them having a form of ALS.
- The chair is also very similar to the Mobius Chair created by Metron, which can teleport, create force fields or tractor beams, and act as life support to it's user. Additionally, the Thinker has incredibly high intelligence, mirroring the omniscience granted by the Mobius chair.
- ↑ "The Trial of The Flash"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "When Harry Met Harry..."
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 "Therefore I Am"
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "The Flash Reborn"
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Mixed Signals"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 "Elongated Journey Into Night"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 "Girls Night Out"
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 "Abra Kadabra"
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 "True Colors"
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 "Subject 9"