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Why Jay Garrick From The CW's The Flash Looks So Familiar

"The Flash," which has aired on The CW for eight seasons, has been one of the most successful superhero television shows to date. It was the first spin-off series of "Arrow" but has recently been renewed for a ninth season, making it the longest-running show in what has become known as the Arrowverse (via Deadline). 

"The Flash" — which focuses on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), the titular superhero who can run at superhuman speeds — often deals with elements related to Barry's speed and time travel, but it also occasionally deals with the multiverse, showing the interactions of Barry and his team with heroes and villains from other Earths. In Season 3, Barry meets Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp), who serves as the Flash of Earth 3 and also looks exactly like Barry's father. The character — and actor — would return in several episodes of "The Flash" while also appearing in other shows within the Arrowverse. 

Outside of his dual roles on the current incarnation of "The Flash," though, Shipp has enjoyed a long and varied career. Many viewers of the Arrowverse may be wondering exactly where they've seen him before, and here's why he looks so familiar.

John Wesley Shipp got his start in soap operas

Long before he landed a recurring role on "The Flash," John Wesley Shipp got his start in some of the biggest soap operas on television. In fact, he played Kelly Nelson on "Guiding Light" from 1980 to 1984 and David Cummings on "As the World Turns" from 1985 to approximately 1986 (via IMDb). Interestingly enough, this latter role earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series in 1986. He won yet another Daytime Emmy Award the following year, this time for his guest spot on "Santa Barbara," another soap opera.

While he has mainly moved on to films and other television shows since his long stint on soap operas, Shipp has returned to them on occasion over the years, typically guest or recurring stints on shows like "One Life to Live" in the 2010s. This is hardly surprising, as many big-name actors got their start in soap operas before eventually landing bigger roles in television and film.

John Wesley Shipp starred in his own version of The Flash

In 1990, not long after his run of recurring roles on various soap operas, John Wesley Shipp landed what was presumably the role of a lifetime: a superhero. 

Shipp played the Flash all the way back when Tim Burton's "Batman" was still a new-ish release, in the TV series of the same name. This version of the character aired nearly 24 years before the debut of The CW's "The Flash," but it only lasted a single season before being canceled due to falling ratings and an ever-changing time slot (per Comic Book Resources). Still, the influence of the series and Shipp's portrayal of the character on The CW's "The Flash" is clear: Even though Shipp may have originally only gotten to portray the eponymous character for a single season on his own show, his version of the character actually made a return in the "Elseworlds" Arrowverse crossover event. In addition, his other roles on the series — both as Jay Garrick and as Barry Allen's father — are clearly a tribute to his previous time in the red suit. 

Shipp had a big presence on Dawson's Creek

While "The Flash" of the 1990s may not have worked out for John Wesley Shipp, the actor landed a big role on what would eventually become a hit series in 1998's "Dawson's Creek." The teen drama focused on Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) and his group of friends and family as they fell in love and made their way through high school and college. Shipp played the role of Dawson's father, Mitch Leery, who is struggling to open his own restaurant when the show opens.

Shipp would continue in the role as part of the main cast for several seasons before exiting the show in Season 5. "Dawson's Creek" was by far Shipp's most successful television show up until that point of his career, and it's arguably one of his biggest parts even to this day. While he may not have played the leading role, Mitch was a central presence in the show during those first four seasons, and Shipp brought the show up a level with his considerable talent.

John Wesley Shipp played the dad again on the Ruby Herring Mysteries

In 2019, John Wesley Shipp would again step into the role of father figure for Hallmark's two of "Ruby Herring Mysteries" movies: "Her Last Breath" and "Prediction Murder." This time, however, he would play John Herring, father to Ruby Herring (Tayor Cole), a crime reporter who often finds herself embroiled in crimes and mysteries herself. John himself was once a crime reporter, and Ruby often goes to him for advice or information about cases, especially in "Prediction Murder," which focuses on a cold case.

During an interview with Media Village, Shipp said that he loved stepping into the father figure role again, because this time he got to play out a father and daughter dynamic instead of his usual father-son one. While the role wasn't outside of Shipp's wheelhouse by any means, it's definitely further proof that he's become a staple on television as a guiding figure for main characters. That may be a far cry from his earlier days as a leading man, but it seems to be a role that's embraced well, and pulls off in spades.