|“||He was just about the most dangerous thing Central City had ever seen||„|
|~ Joe West on the Trickster|
|“||You have to admit, that was one hell of a trick!||„|
|~ Jesse after having been freed.|
James Jesse, better known as The Trickster, is a recurring antagonist in the CW superhero TV series The Flash. He is a criminal bent on causing chaos and destruction. He is the series' adaptation of the DC Comics supervillain, Trickster.
In 1990, James had a son named Axel, though had no initial contact with him.
Around five years later, James Jesse took on the guise of The Trickster, wearing a unitard as a costume. He performed a series of terrorist attacks, killing at least ten civilians and two police officers. Eventually, he was caught by police and incarcerated in Iron Heights Prison.
Sometime before 2005, Jesse began talking to his son, Axel, through letters, grooming him to be an ideal sidekick to him as The Trickster. For the next ten years, they continued to talk and became close. In 2010, a criminal psychologist began talking to Jesse. Before long, Jesse was able to talk her in to committing suicide. As a result, Warden Wolfe had a cell specially-built for Jesse. At some point in his incarceration, Jesse was given cable so he'd stop killing the guards, allowing him to reference the show Breaking Bad and the movie Speed in the future.
To fulfill his father's plan, Axel appears in Central City as the new Trickster. He appears on the roof of a skyscraper and releases bombs hidden inside parcels. The parcels parachute to the ground near a playground, exploding upon impact. The shocked parents quickly flee from the playground with their children but one child remains behind. The Flash arrives and saves the boy before he is blown up. The Trickster then sends a video to the media in which he claims that he has returned to destroy the city with his disorder.
Barry is told by Joe West that twenty years ago, James Jesse who called himself "The Trickster" caused havoc in Central City and is now serving multiple life sentences in Iron Heights. Barry and Joe go to Iron Heights to visit Jesse.
Visited in Prison
Arriving at the prison, Joe and Barry are brought to the special cell Jesse is imprisoned in. When told about the parachute bomb attack, Jesse says it is a funny idea and asks how many died. When told that there have been no casualties Jesse tells them that when he was at his height a day without casualties was a day wasted but luckily for him that never happened. When told that the new Trickster used the same formula that Jesse used twenty years ago, Jesse is surprised as he never taught anyone that formula. He is also acts furious that someone dared to claim his identity and tells Joe that he would tell them if he knew who the new Trickster was, if only to see him dead. He also calls the work of the new Trickster amateur work. Trying to trick Jesse into helping them Joe tells Jesse to prove them that there can only be one Trickster but Jesse sees through it. He tells Joe that the new Trickster must have found his old lair and, before Joe and Barry leave, tells them to make sure that their safety is off when they face the new Trickster.
Seeing the new Trickster
Barry and Joe head to Jesse's old lair but find it empty. After evading a booby-trap, the two return to Iron Heights where they tell Jesse. Jesse is once again furious that someone dares to steal his legacy and tells Barry and Joe that he had hidden a bomb powerful enough to destroy Central City in that lair. Barry is then called and told that the new Trickster is addressing Central City. Barry opens the video on his cellphone and shows it to Jesse, who, at first furious, breaks down crying upon seeing that the new Trickster is wearing his mask.
While the police and the Flash are looking for the bomb, Walker breaks into Iron Heights. When Barry and his team find out, they realize that there never was a bomb and that Jesse is in league with the "New Trickster" and only acted like he wanted to get him caught. Walker frees Jesse from his cell and they escape from Iron Heights with Barry's father Henry as a hostage.
They then return to a hideout, where Jesse starts building new devices to terrorize the city. When Walker claims that he is glad that they are finally in the same room as he is Jesse's biggest fan, Henry claims that Jesse is only using Walker. Walker asks Jesse why they have to bring Henry along and Jesse tells him that having a cop's father as a hostage makes for an excellent bargaining chip. When asked by Walker what his new plans are, Jesse says that he had twenty years to come up with the perfect trick and that it will be his masterpiece.
Walker then claims that he always wanted to know why Jesse chose him to help him. Jesse reveals that he is Axel's father and that he wants Axel to continue his legacy.
The Trickster's masterpiece
Jesse and Walker then invade a fundraiser of Central City's mayor, disguised as waiters. After everyone inside has received a glass of poisoned champagne from them, Jesse walks onto the stage and addresses the crowd. He tells them that he has poisoned their drinks and that they will start to feel the effects in about one hour. At that moment, a guest falls to the ground and dies. Jesse claims that he remembers the man, he arrived an hour earlier and was the first one to receive a glass of champagne. Jesse then tells the crowd to call their bankers and transfer all their money to the bank account number which is written on the bottom of their glasses. He claims that if all the money is transferred, he will give them the antidote. One of the guests, Iris West, secretly calls her father Joe and so, Barry finds out where Jesse is. Arriving there, he grabs Jesse and smashes him against a wall but Axel approaches him from behind and places a bomb on his arm. Jesse then claims that, like in the movie Speed, the bomb will go off if Barry runs slower than 600 mph. He then activates the bomb, forcing Barry to run off.
However, Barry manages to get rid off the bomb and returns to the fundraiser, injecting every civilian there with the antidote. He then demands to know the location of Henry Allen, and Jesse tells him. Barry arrives in time to save Henry from the trap.
Imprisoned and escaping again
Jesse is imprisoned in Iron Heights again. However, during the Christmas season, Mark Mardon attacks the prison. He frees Leonard Snart, and so the two then enter Jesse's cell. Jesse, who is revealed to have developed an obsession with the Flash, is freed as well.
Mardon brings Snart and Jesse to an abandoned toy factory. He tells them that he broke them out to kill the Flash, confident in their numbers, different skills, and knowledge of Barry's vicious defeat at Zoom's hands, leading him to believe the Scarlet Speedster is weak and vulnerable. Snart demands to know the plan first but Mardon refuses to tell, wanting to know whether Snart is in first. Both almost attack each other but Jesse defuses the situation. Snart leaves the two and warns Barry that they are coming for him.
Jesse later hacks into a media center and addresses the entire city, claiming that we will create death and chaos in Central City until the Flash is dead. Detecting his location the Flash and Patty Spivot head to the warehouse. There Jesse releases explosive spins into their direction which the two nearly evade. They realize that Jesse wasn't in the building and that it was only a trap for the Flash.
He then visits a shopping center disguised as a mall Santa. He gives each child a present, telling them not to open it until the next day.
Eventually, Barry fights Mardon and defeats him at Central City Square. However, the Trickster throws an explosive present to Barry's feet. He reveals that he handed a hundred of these boxes to random children and that Barry has no chance to save everyone. Mardon and Jesse then offer Barry a deal, Barry allows them to kill him gruesomely and in turn they do not blow up the boxes. To save the children Barry accepts and Mardon swiftly attacks him with hail.
While Mardon tortures Barry, the rest of his team try to find the bombs. While Mardon tortures Barry, the rest of his team try to find the bombs. After finding one, they strap it to a drone and fly it into a breach. As they are attracted to the bomb, all other bombs fly off as well. After being told that the bombs are gone Barry knocks out Mardon and Jesse right as Jesse is about to gut him. Mardon and Jesse are then arrested.
The Trickster also exists on Earth-3, with similar intentions as the one from Earth-1. He seems to be a long-time enemy of Jay Garrick.
After murdering a group of people during a heist, the Trickster is confronted by Jay Garrick. The Trickster attempts to shoot Jay but Jay catches each bullet shot at him while approaching the Trickster. He then handcuffs the Trickster to himself, only for the Trickster to reveal that he strapped a bomb to himself. Intending to blow both himself and Jay up, the Trickster activates the bomb but before it can go off, Barry Allen appears, deactivates the bomb and ties the trickster to a nearby column. When the police arrive, they take the Trickster away who loudly vows revenge, promising that he will one day use Garrick's helmet as an ash tray.
James Jesse could easily come off as rather foolish with his flamboyant style of clothing adopted in garish colors (which became considerably darker in shade as he got older, though) accompanied with an exuberant, frolicsome, and somewhat hysterical giggle which was randomly carried inverse between sentences. His nature can be seen as childishly psychotic.
Whilst usually cheerful and attractive, this only serves to underwhelm his malice or dissuade others how much of a threat he truly is. Likewise, Jesse's comical elements are mainly used to express his lunacy, mainly through a deranged and sadistic humor towards people's suffering, clinical lack of remorse to death and destruction and remorselessly committing random acts of terrorism for entertainment, attention and publicity. This is atypical of usual psychopathic qualities but manifested differently within Jesse's own insanity. Jesse is rather bloodthirsty, so he considers the idea of no casualties a disgrace for the Trickster name. Behind a childlike attitude, he is dangerously cunning and manipulative, complete without conscious and diabolical.
He is also demonstrated to be cultured of popular media. He once referenced Season 5 of Breaking Bad while describing his next big trick and Speed after placing Barry Allen in a similar situation.
- According to Hunter Zolomon, Trickster has no Earth-2 counterpart. However, it is entirely possible that this version could've lived a life without crime, given the differences between the parallel realities in The Flash.
- Mark Hamill has also starred as the Trickster in the 1990's The Flash TV series, in which John Wesley Shipp played the part of the Flash. Shipp appears on the current series as both Barry Allen's late father Henry Allen and as Jay Garrick, likely a reference to their former rivalry.
- The Trickster is last seen in the 1990's series in a cell similar to the one that the current Trickster first appears in.
- James' line to Axel, "I am your father", is a reference to the infamous scene in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, in which Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill's character in the franchise, that he is his father.
- His name, James Jesse, is a reverse of the name of infamous American outlaw Jesse James, as pointed out by Joe West.
- In the original DC Comics, Trickster's real name is Giovanni Giuseppe, and James Jesse is an alias.