The Sun Flares, also known as the Solar Flares or solar storms, were an abnormal, apocalyptic event that occurred about 15 years before the events of The Maze Runner. Massive solar flares ravaged the planet and turned the area between the two Tropics, Cancer and Capricorn, into the wastelands known as The Scorch. Billions of humans died in this catastrophic event due to fires, extreme heat, radiation, and tsunamis from rising sea levels caused by polar ice caps melting rapidly. The solar event also caused all forms of communications to be knocked out, and messed with the earth’s magnetic field. After the Sun Flares there were severe changes in the Earth's weather, such as high temperatures years past their first occurrence, and violent lightning storms such as in The Scorch Trials.
Shortly after the Sun Flares came, a group of people called the PFC released a deadly virus in South Carolina for the purpose of population control since the planet was overcrowded and the small resources left on the planet after the Sun Flares wouldn't last. It is estimated that the virus was released about two years after the Sun Flares. Because the virus was released closely following the Flares, people began to call it the Flare. The Flare was originally thought to painlessly kill the victim in the brain, but it was seen at Ground Zero to change the way that the Being thought and reacted for the worse. People afflicted with the Flare, eventually called Cranks, were extremely violent and had a murderous rage to kill others, sometimes even clawing themselves when in isolation. WICKED was founded in the hope that a cure could be created, as mentioned in The Maze Runner Files.
- In the movies, the Sun Flares happened in the year 2136, however in the book they likely happened in 217. This places the movie world in a different timeline than the books.
- Also in the movies, it is confirmed that they happened in October.