- "Sometimes the best way to win a fight is not to start one, but if you do come up against somebody you know you can't beat, be smart, it's ok to run the other way."
- —Joe West to Barry Allen[src]
Joe was an old friend of the Allen family. On the night of Nora Allen's murder, Joe arrived with the Central City Police Department. He comforted her son, Barry, as his father Henry was taken away. He later took Barry in and raised him, as Barry was effectively orphaned after Nora's death and Henry's imprisonment.
After an attempt to run and see his father, Joe assured Barry that he had the power to stop him from going, sending him to his room. 
After Barry was bullied by Tony Woodward several times, Joe briefly trained Barry where he taught him it's best to stay away from fights that can't be won.
Supporting Barry's heroics
Thirteen years later, Joe was at a crime scene with his partner, Detective Chyre, were assigned to a robbery at a bank in Central City. They discovered it was the work of the Mardon brothers, and after discovering that they'd escaped to one of several farms, they visited each farm. At the last farm, they discovered Clyde Mardon. He began shooting at them as he ran away, shooting Chyre in the neck. Also, before he could escape, Mardon's plane was blown to pieces in a shockwave from the explosion of S.T.A.R. Labs' particle accelerator. On the same night, Barry Allen, Joe's foster son, was struck by lightning, putting him in to a coma. Over the ensuing 9 months, Joe and his daughter, Iris, began visiting Barry. When his condition became critical, they allowed Harrison Wells to S.T.A.R. Labs where they stabilised his condition.
After Barry woke up from his coma, he ran in to Joe back at the police department. He was called to a robbery at Gold City Bank, and later returned with various suspects. They viewed various cell phone recordings, noting the freak storm that picked up inside the bank itself. They also noticed a getaway car, taking note of its partial number plate. Joe later arrived at another crime scene at which Barry and Iris happened to be at. Joe scolded both Barry and Iris for being there, and became annoyed at the former when he suggested that Mardon was both alive and had gained the power to control the weather. He went on to reiterate that Barry's father was a murder, as had been proven, and it was an obvious fact. This caused Barry to walk off in annoyance. Not long after, more police arrived, including Detective Thawne, Joe's new partner. Eddie showed Joe the sketch artist's illustration from a suspect, which appeared to be the apparently deceased criminal, Clyde Mardon. Suspicious that he could've survived, the two went to Mardon's old farmhouse, where they found him. However, before they could arrest him, he knocked them away with wind and began to create a tornado around himself, proceeding to move it outside. Joe carried an unconscious Eddie outside by their car while they were powerless against Clyde Mardon. As a piece of debris flew through the air, it almost hit them, however it was intercepted by Barry with his super speed. Barry soon unravelled the tornado, and before Mardon could shoot Barry, Joe shot Clyde first. The following morning, Joe discussed Barry's powers with him and further apologized for not believing him, admitting that Barry's stories of a man in a blur of lightning killing his mother were likely true. He had Barry promise not tell Iris about any of his powers.
Later, he and Detective Thawne received a call that there was a situation at the Central City National Bank. By the time that they arrived there, both the strongman and The Flash involved in the altercation had left. When Barry arrived back at the crime scene, Joe suggested he take finger prints of one of the men. After they'd done, Joe and Barry drove off together. Barry expressed his disappointment at having to keep his secret identity hidden, but Joe reassured him that it was for his own safety. Before they could get any further, Iris and Eddie crashed in front of them. They got out of the car to check if they were okay, which they were. However, they were all promptly shocked by a group of animals coming from the middle of the crash, with a tiger leaping towards Iris. Eddie attempted to nudge pool toys from a car at them, though it was seemingly unsuccessful. Barry intervened, zapping the cats with static electricity, making it seem as if Eddie had done it. Barry returned, smelling of poo, prompting them to believe that he'd soiled himself. Joe suggested they all get cleaned up and head back to the station. As soon as they reached the station, Captain Singh sent the three of them out to a homicide. Barry noted fang marks on the victim, prompting Joe to mockingly suggest Dracula, though Barry specified that they were that of a russell viper, a fact he'd learnt from reptile camp (which Joe had also payed for). Joe concluded that someone had brought a bunch of snakes to the room, as it was in fact 28 stories up.
Joe called Barry to a crime scene which he was supposed to be at. At the scene, Barry surveyed the footprints, comparing them to Captain Singh's, embarrassing himself. Back at the precinct, Joe scolded Barry for embarrassing not only himself, but also Joe and the captain. Barry attempted to apologise, putting it down to a lot of stress from recent events, and Joe mentioned how he related to all of it. He went on to assure that Barry hadn't told Iris anything, which he hadn't, so Joe sent him up to his lab to process evidence from the crime scene. After gunmen attacked an event at which Iris and Barry had been at, Joe was on the scene. Realising that Barry had tried to use his super speed, Joe walked off to talk to Barry, scolding him for trying to be a hero, telling him that he wasn't bulletproof (a fact that he had to confirm at first). He also suggested that Barry make better excuses than fainting, or Iris would become suspicious. Later that night, Joe discovered Barry's investigation of his mother's murder behind a map. He headed to S.T.A.R. Labs where he found Barry. He tried to talk Barry out of what he was doing by scolding him, though Barry was adamant that Joe had absolutely no power over him, not to mention that they weren't even technically related. Joe was upset, expressing his hope that they found out the unknown before someone was killed by it, and then left. At work, Joe brought him some DNA samples of the shooters from Simon Stagg's benefit to Barry to process. Barry hoped to see Simon Stagg with Joe, though he told Barry to stay and do his job. Joe left with Eddie Thawne to visit Stagg. They questioned him about various lawsuits against him, including one from Danton Black, though Stagg assured them that Danton was nothing more than a clinical researcher, definitely not a killer. When he finished with them, he began to walk off, until they were shot at by the same group from his benefit. As Simon was whisked to safety by Eddie, Joe stuck around long enough to see Danton Black pull off a mask, along with numerous other clones. Barry arrived, taking Joe to safety so he couldn't interfere. Back at the precinct, Joe tried to get Simon to reconsider protective custody, though he assured Joe that he'd upped his security, so if anything he would be happy to see Black coming for him. Harrison Wells arrived and following a short, snarky exchange between he and Stagg, Stagg left and Joe took Harrison to his office to talk. Joe questioned whether Harrison knew about Barry's abilities during his coma, though he claimed to only have suspicions. Wells went on to describe how Barry had quit their team. However, he was sure that Barry would join before long, though not with the same motivation he once had, doubting himself. After their talk, Joe went to S.T.A.R. Labs to motivate Barry. He quickly saved them from a Danton Black clone that they'd made, and went on to assure Barry that only he could stop metahumans; the police only had limited resources. He suited up and went to fight Black and despite finding the task impossible, Joe mentioned that Barry himself had shown him that even the impossible was possible. After he beat Black, Joe brought pizza to Barry in order to apologise. He revealed how he knew about Barry's attempts to prove his father innocent, and wished to join in the crusade, even if it took them the rest of their lives. He apologised for acting like his father, despite not being his actual father, though Barry confirmed that he really was, after all he'd taught him practically everything growing up.
Some days following, Joe and Barry walked through the precinct as Barry took the credit for the capture of a man the night before. Joe assured him that keeping his abilities a secret was precedence. They walked on up to Barry's lab where Joe brought out the evidence from Barry's mother's murder case. Joe promised to take his time going through the evidence, refusing to quit until they found evidence proving Barry's father innocent. Before they could begin searching, Eddie interrupted, alerting them to a murder the night before of the entire Darbinyan crime family. At the crime scene, Barry was able to identify gas inhalation as the cause of death. They figured that it had to have come from inside, but found no cannisters. Barry jokingly suggested that the gas had a mind of its own, causing Joe to send Eddie off for them to talk. Barry went in to depth on how he believed it to be a metahuman, while Joe suggested that they get "backup". They left to S.T.A.R. Labs where the team frantically became excited over the prospect of the metahuman. Joe brought up the problem of putting metahumans in to a regular prison, which led to Cisco suggesting they use the particle accelerator below them. They went to check the accelerator out and Detective West headed home. He went over the Allen case, watching footage from Henry Allen's questioning. Iris overheard and Joe simply passed it off as misfiled work. Eddie then arrived, under the guise of wanting to re-canvas the earlier crime scene, much to Joe's pride, and they soon left for the scene. That night Barry visited Joe for help with the metahuman. Joe attempted to help, but conversation quickly led to Barry thinking of breaking his father out with his super speed. Despite the ease of it, Joe reasoned that often there would be some people Barry could not save, Barry's dad included. Finally, Joe went to visit Henry. He apologised for having disbelieved Henry, mentioning that he planned to re-open the murder case. Suddenly, The Mist entered the room and began suffocating the guard. He soon moved on to Joe, causing him to choke, before Barry came, in disguise, and saved him with a counteracting injection. Joe soon came back to life and Barry ran off to stop The Mist. While in the hospital, Joe thanked Barry for saving his life. Iris and Eddie approached, causing Barry to leave. The couple hesitantly admitted that they were in fact in a relationship, but Joe simply explained that he had known all along, being the detective he was. He also promised not to shoot Eddie, because Iris liked him so much.
At the scene of the failed robbery by Leonard Snart and his team, Joe arrived with Eddie. When Joe noted they failed to steal the Kahndaq dynatsy diamond, he was told by Eddie that Iris has been persuading him to take her though Joe did not want to discuss the subject. After Barry told Captain Singh his analysis of the robbery, Joe told Barry that he was slow on his improvising. He was then helped by Barry on identifying Leonard Snart who Joe notes is the son of a former corrupt cop. Later when Joe and Eddie discussed Iris, Joe notes that they are strictly work partners and does not care to discuss further about Eddie's dating life. Joe was later contacted by Dexter Myles, the owner of the Central City Museum after noticing Snart had gone through the tour twice which had never happened before. Joe chased after Snart but was be nearly shot by him with the cold gun, though he was saved by Barry at the last moment. Joe later revealed to Iris that he does not want the two to be together is that he feared he would lose his focus and would feel responsible if anything ever happened to Eddie because of the work they do. At the train station where they located Snart, Joe told Eddie to stay and wait for back up but was reminded that they are partners. Joe later apologized to Iris, admitting he was wrong about Eddie after he saved his life. Joe then became more supportive of the two.
After Tony Woodward stole a yellow Hummer, Joe and the Central City Police arrive though Tony managed to get away. At the precinct, Joe reviewed the footage of Barry revealing what he saw the night his mother was killed. Joe then told Barry to tell Eddie an explanation to how Tony was not killed after several shots to the head without telling he was a metahuman. Joe visited Harrison Wells at S.T.A.R. Labs asking to help solve the case of Barry's mother. Joe explained to Harrison what happened at the scene and claimed the explanation of a yellow and red blur was similar to when Barry saved a child the night before. Joe then believed that the man had similar powers and asked if someone existed with Barry's powers at the time of the murder. Later, Joe is joined by Harrison for a drink where Joe asked if there was a particle accelerator at the time. Wells reminded Joe that there were no dark matter lightning storms. Joe asked when Harrison arrived at Central City, revealing that he was learning if Harrison was involved with the murder. Joe later brought Harrison a bottle of bourbon, apologizing for acusing him after learning about Harrison's wife who died in a car crash. Back at his home, Joe crossed off Wells for possible suspects before the "lightning man" arrived and stole all data and placed a knife on a picture of Iris, threatening if he does not stop, his daughter would die.
Joe is shown to hold Barry Allen in high regard. In "", he covered Barry's tardiness by saying he had him run an errand. It is revealed he is Barry's adoptive father, after Barry's biological father was wrongfully convicted of murdering Barry's mother and has always treated Barry like a son. He tried to talk Barry out of living the life of a superhero only out of concern for his safety and was deeply hurt when Barry told him he's not his father and has no right telling him what to do. So much so he fought to hold back his tears.
He later received encouragement from Harrison, who noted that doubt was what kept Barry from realizing his true potential; and Barry cannot believe in himself if Joe, the man who acted as his surrogate father, has no faith in him. This led to Joe acknowledging that there are things and limits to what everyone can do and that Barry is no longer the boy he groomed since childhood with.
- Expert detective: As a police detective of the Central City Police Department, Joe has proven himself a highly skilled detective and has been in the line of duty for a number of years.
The Flash: Season Zero
- In the DC comics, there were two versions of Iris West's father. Originally, his name was Ira West and he was a university professor rather than a police detective, and only the adoptive father to Iris, not her biological father. In the New 52, he was reimagined as William West, an abusive alcoholic who bullied his youngest son, Daniel, and ended up crippled by him. So far, there are no indications that he is not Iris' biological father.
- The reason that Iris and her father Joe West are African American is because of the New 52, in which Wally West is African American. This will supposedly allow for the Wally West character to be introduced in future seasons.