Why Is Jesse L. Martin Leaving 'The Flash'? Detective Joe West Is A Vital Part Of The Series

Shane Harvey/The CW

Fans of The Flash have watched Barry Allen and his team face some pretty formidable foes, but pretty soon they'll be subjected to their biggest obstacle yet — saying goodbye to a member of their team. Well, at least temporarily. A studio rep confirmed to TVLine that Jesse L. Martin is take a leave of absence from The Flash, though how long he'll be gone remains unclear. But more importantly, why is Jesse L. Martin leaving The Flash when his character, Detective Joe West, is such a vital part of the series?

Martin's departure is actually for medical reasons, since the actor suffered a back injury over the show's hiatus. (Some eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that Joe has been sitting down a lot during all of his scenes this season.) So he wants to take some time away in order to fully heal. “Jesse Martin is taking a medical leave of absence from The Flash, the studio said in a statement to Bustle. "We wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to his return as Detective Joe West."

As for when this leave of absence will occur remains just as uncertain as for how long Central City will be forced to go without its favorite detective, though sources told TVLine that the subject will be addressed on the show. That makes sense considering how odd it would be to just not have Joe around without anyone really seeming to care or make mention of it.

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Not only is he a great detective and crucial member of Team Flash, but he's also Iris' dad and Barry's father-in-law, so his absence will surely be felt regardless. Then there's the fact that he has a newborn daughter with his wife Cecile, so it'll be interesting to see how exactly his departure gets explained. Could this mean that Joe will suffer an injury that perhaps puts him in a coma and out of commission for a while? Given that Martin's exit is being labeled as a temporary leave of absence, it seems unlikely fans will have to worry about Joe getting killed off the show. An injury, however, could sufficiently explain why he's suddenly MIA down the road.

Martin has been on The Flash since the show first premiered back in 2014 and he's proven to be kind, decent man and loving father, which has only grown more prominent over time. Barry has already lost so many beloved family members in his life, so it's heartbreaking to think he'll go without the man who's always been like a second father to him — even if it's just for a limited amount of time.

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Here's hoping Martin is able to make a fast and full recovery so he can return to the cast, crew, and fans who love having him around. We can probably all agree that the series just won't be quite the same without him. If all goes well, Joe should be, dare we say, back in a flash.