'Smallville' - the Television Series

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The Christopher Reeve Superman films |
Superman | Superman II | Superman III
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The New Adventures of Superman |
Smallville |
Superman's Wartime Animation

Smallville was a television series about Superman's early years, concentrating on the time before he realised that he was Superman. Starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent, 218 × 42-minute episodes were made in ten series from 2001 – 2011. When it finished it had become the longest running science-fiction television show in the United States, breaking the Guinness World Record held by Stargate SG-11.


Smallville is a town with 25,001 inhabitants, the vast majority of whom appear to be in the same school year as Clark Kent. When the planet Krypton exploded and the young Kal-El, later known as Clark Kent, came to Earth, his spacecraft was accompanied by numerous meteors which means that the whole area around Smallville is contaminated with Kryptonite. These Kryptonite fragments continuously affect the local population, which makes it seem that half the people in the town become monsters who can only be stopped by Clark Kent, while the other half are their victims.

The main employer in the town is LuthorCorp, which is run by Lionel Luthor while under the local supervision of his son Lex Luthor. The town's centrepiece is the historic Talon building, a former cinema used as a coffee shop and social space for all occasions. Another local feature is the Kawatche Cave, a historic Native American site decorated with ancient writing that prophesises the coming of a powerful saviour from the heavens. The local hospital is also frequently seen. Everyone in Smallville, including the Luthor family, avidly reads The Torch, which is Smallville High's student newspaper.

Though Smallville is surrounded by fields and farmland, the bustling city of Metropolis is within easy reach. Among the highlights of a trip to Metropolis are the headquarters of LuthorCorp, the Belle Reve Sanitarium which is the mental institute where those affected by Kryptonite are incarcerated, as well as Somerholt Institute, a research laboratory which enjoys illegally experimenting on people. Later on, no trip to the city is complete without popping into the offices of newspaper The Daily Planet. Metropolis' hospital looks remarkably identical to Smallville's hospital, only with different coloured walls.


Clark Kent (Tom Welling)

A teenage boy who was born on a distant planet, he tries balancing school life, family commitments and discovering he has superpowers. Having strong moral fibre, he sees the best in others but is determined to keep his powers secret, afraid what others would think if they learnt the truth about him, but also worried that he would put anyone else who knows the truth in danger.

Tom Welling directed some episodes and has continued to act in small roles since Smallville.

Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack)

Clark's best friend at school and the inquisitive editor of the school newspaper, The Torch. She has created what she calls 'The Wall of Weird' dedicated to the effects of the meteor rocks and has an unrequited crush on Clark. Lois Lane is her cousin. She later dates Jimmy Olsen and discovers that she has become infected with Kryptonite.

Allison Mack is the only other actor to be given main cast billing in all ten series. She directed two episodes of Smallville and has continued to appear in television episodes and do voicework since.

Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk)

Clark's high school crush, neighbour and best friend. Lana lost her parents in the meteor storm as a child and was raised by her aunt, Nell. Her hobbies include riding horses around her parents' graveyard at night as well as running the Talon, a former cinema that she runs as a coffee shop and theatre. When the series begins she is in a long-term relationship with Whitney, since when she has had many relationships, few of which last longer than a year. She is descended from a witch.

Kristen Kreuk has since starred as 'Beauty' Catherine Chandler in television series Beauty and the Beast (2012-16).

Alexander 'Lex' Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum)

Clark's best friend, despite Lex being years older, ever since Clark saved his life in a car accident. At first glance he seems to be a decent chap but has a dark side, largely as a result of his complicated and competitive relationship with his father. He also has an unhealthy obsession with the death of his younger brother, Julian, for which he was blamed. As he gets older he becomes increasingly manipulative and secretive.

Michael Rosenbaum is often in demand for voice work on animated films and television series, particularly for comic characters.

Lois Lane (Erica Durance)

Chloe Sullivan's cousin from Metropolis who travels to Smallville to find her when she goes missing. Her father, General Sam Lane (Michael Ironsides) later insisted that she attends Smallville High in the same year as her younger cousin Chloe after she failed her final year. Chloe helps develop her passion for journalism, which results in her getting a job as a reporter at The Daily Planet. Though she and Clark normally find each other annoying they soon develop a warm regard for each other that they keep hidden.

Since Smallville Erica Durance has been the main character in Canadian supernatural medical drama Saving Hope (2012-17).

Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole)

Clark's adopted mother. She briefly becomes Lionel Luthor's personal assistant, later runs the Talon and then pursues a successful career in politics. She has an unshakeable faith in her family, no matter what.

Anette O'Toole has had a successful career, among the many highlights of which was starring in Stephen King's It (1990).

Jonathan Kent (John Schneider)

Clark's adopted father. He hates Lionel Luthor and by extension his son Lex with a passion. Proud and stubborn, he is nevertheless prepared to sacrifice anything for his family.

Another highly successful actor with numerous credits to his name, Schneider is best known for playing Bo Duke in long-running series Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985).

Lionel Luthor (John Glover)

A ruthless businessman and one of the world's wealthiest men. At first glance he seems to be a loathe/hate relationship with his son Lex, but in fact this is more complicated. At first he is secretly using Kryptonite for a variety of clandestine purposes but later on becomes almost a father figure to Clark.

John Glover has appeared in numerous films including Scrooged (1988), directed by Superman director Richard Donner, as well as Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). In both of these he plays characters remarkably similar to Lionel Luthor, only without the beard. He had also appeared as a mad scientist in comic-book film Batman & Robin (1997).

Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow (Justin Hartley)

By day a playboy billionaire from Star City, at night Oliver Queen becomes vigilante archer Green Arrow, seeking revenge for the murder of his parents by the hands of the Luthors as well as seeking to defend the weak and innocent. He insists that Clark should do more than merely look after his family and friends and look at the wider world, and puts together the Justice League team, which includes:

  • Bart Allen aka The Flash (Kyle Gallner)

  • Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Alan Ritchson)

  • Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Lee Thompson Young)

  • Dinah Lance aka Black Canary (Alaina Huffman)

  • Carter Hall aka Hawkman (Michael Shanks)

  • Courtney Whitmore aka Stargirl (Britt Irvin)

A television series called Arrow (2012+) would later concentrate on Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow, played by Stephen Amell.

Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore)

A young photographer who works at The Daily Planet, he has a passionate on-off relationship with Chloe Sullivan and even proposes to her. As well as cameras, his hobbies include ham radios.

Canadian actor Aaron Ashmore would later star in television series Warehouse 13 (2011-13) and Killjoys (2013+).

Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman)

Tess 'Mercy' Mercer is a highly capable young woman who gains control of Luther Corp and has a complicated past history with Oliver Queen. Ambiguously manipulative, she seems to want to save the world rather than gain power for herself for power's sake, yet she is prepared to do anything – including and beyond murder - for what she believes is right, even if no-one else sees things that way. Tess Mercer is a character inspired by Miss Teschmacher, Lex Luthor's accomplice in Superman and Superman II. Since 2012, Cassidy has starred in crime drama Longmire.

Pete Ross (Sam Jones III)

Clark's best friend at school, and the first of his friends to learn his secret. As quite a few characters were created to be Clark's best friend, in many ways Pete was superfluous before being given an opportunity to develop as a character. He became the second main character to leave the show.

Sam Jones III should not be confused with Flash Gordon (1980) star Sam J Jones.

Kara (Laura Vandervoort)

Clark's Kryptonian cousin, also known as Supergirl, who appears in series 7. Her father was Zor-El, brother of Jor-El, and her mother was Alura. She left Krypton when Clark was a toddler, but having been trapped in suspended animation they are now physically the same age. More tempestuous and impulsive than Clark, she also is able to fly when he cannot and is less interested in blending into the background. Her father, Zor-El had tried to kill Clark's father, Jor-El, which is why Clark is frequently advised not to trust her.

Laura Vandervoort has had a successful acting career on Canadian television, starring in Instant Star (2004-8) and the remake of V (2009-11), as well as having a recurring role in the first series of Supergirl (2015+).

Jor-El (voice: Terrance Stamp)

Clark Kent's birth father. Despite having died when the planet Krypton exploded, his spirit still exists. He is an unseen presence who feels he knows best and seeks to control Clark's life. In later series he is found at Clark's fortress of solitude.

A highly-respected award-winning actor, Terrance Stamp has appeared in countless films and television series.

Whitney Fordman (Eric Johnson)

This bully was Lana's boyfriend. Good at sport, he longed to escape from Smallville but felt tied to home, juggling his school studies, looking after the family business and his father's long-term illness. Whitney only appeared in the first series.

Eric Johnson starred as Steven 'Flash' Gordon in the 2007 Canadian television adaptation and has continued to act, starring in television series Rookie Blue (2010-13) and The Knick (2014-15) and also appearing in the Fifty Shades of Grey films.

Jason Teague (Jensen Ackles)

Another of Lana's boyfriends, Jason met her in Paris and it was love at first sight. He travelled to Smallville to be with her, where he was appointed Smallville High's American Football coach. However he and Lana begin to suspect that their meeting was somehow arranged by Jason's manipulative mother, Genevieve Teague (Jane Seymour), whose ancestor betrayed Lana's ancestor.

Jensen Ackles is perhaps best known for playing Dean Winchester in Supernatural (2005+) and also was in soap Days of our Lives (1998-2002).

Major Zod (Callum Blue)

General Zod is a background threat through much of Smallville, however a surprisingly young Major Zod appears in series nine. His chief hobby is asking people to kneel before him. Despite being Kryptonian, he and his followers do not have any powers.

Callum Blue had previously had recurring roles in television dramas such as The Tudors and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Davis Bloome (Samuel Witwer)

Bloome at first appears to be a brave and selfless paramedic who always seems to be first on the scene of terrible disasters and murders. An orphan with both a strong light and dark side, he finds that the only person he can relate to is Chloe, confessing his love for her despite her being engaged to Jimmy. What happens during his increasingly frequent blackouts, who are his real parents and why is he associated with the word Doom?

Witwer would later play Crashdown in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. He has also done voicework, particularly for Star Wars animated series.

John Jones aka J'onn J'onzz and Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris)

A former ally of Jor-El before his son was born, he had made a promise to look after Kal-El, saving his life on more than one occasion. A Martian, he too has incredible strength and the ability to fly, which he sacrifices to save Clark's life. After this he becomes a Metropolis police detective.

Brainiac (James Marsters)

A shape-changing artificial intelligence officially called the BRAIN Inter-Active Construct, Brainiac impersonates a university professor and tries to manipulate Clark Kent and also Lex Luthor. Kryptonian in origin, he aims to bring Zod to Earth and kill Clark, while not hesitating to impersonate or harm those Clark cares for.

The Kryptonite Factor

One thing unique to Smallville is the amount of Kryptonite found in Clark Kent's hometown. These fragments are always referred to as 'meteor rocks' even though technically they should be correctly referred to as meteorites2.

Scattered throughout the nearby area, the commonest form is the green Kryptonite which weakens Clark physically, while the rarer red Kryptonite affects him mentally; both types glow when in close proximity to him, although lead can block their effects. Black Kryptonite also exists and can change Clark's personality or divide someone into good and bad versions of themselves. Silver Kryptonite makes Clark paranoid, blue Kryptonite completely removes his powers temporarily and gold Kryptonite also completely removes his powers once and for all. However see-through Kryptonite is harmless.

Exposure to Kryptonite rocks seem to have a wide variety of different effects on normal humans too:

  • Being near a Kryptonite meteor as it lands either turns you bald or will put you in a ageless coma for several years and give you electrical powers when you awaken. Unless you are a woman having sex at the time, in which case it will make you irresistible to men who will obey your every whim.

  • Being bitten by Kryptonite-infected insects will turn you into a cannibalistic web-spinning insect yourself, although if you are stung by bees in a meteor-crater they will consider you to be their queen.

  • Using a Kryptonite rock in a sauna will give you the ability to make anything or anyone spontaneously combust at will.

  • Drowning in a frozen Kryptonite-laced lake will result in you needing to drain body heat from others. However, drowning in a Kryptonite-laced lake that's at a normal temperature can restore youth to the elderly.

  • Eating vegetables grown in Kryptonite-infused soil will result in the need to absorb people's body fat. Yet Kryptonite-affected plants contain oil that can make people or things invisible.

  • Been hit by a snow globe containing Kryptonite? Obviously you will soon gain magnetic powers. Not only over metallic objects but also irresistible sexual magnetism.

  • Kryptonite-flavoured chewing gum makes the person eating it able to stretch their body like rubber.

  • If Clark is struck by lightning or electricity when touching someone else who is holding Kryptonite, then Clark becomes mortal and the other person gains his powers. Unless he is only slightly struck by lightning, in which case he keeps his powers while the other person also gains his abilities.

  • Prolonged exposure to Kryptonite can result in the victim experiencing violent jittery fits followed by death.

And so on. Fortunately for Lana Lang, wearing a Kryptonite necklace all day every day for almost a decade has absolutely no affect whatsoever. People who have been exposed to Kryptonite are sadly known as 'meteor freaks'. Chloe's research into the effects of Kryptonite later results in her becoming Kryptonite infected for a period, giving her the power to heal others at great risk to her own life.

Fan Fare

  • Christopher Reeve appears in two episodes as reclusive billionaire Doctor Swan who has dedicated his life to translating transmissions from where the planet of Krypton once existed.

  • Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve Superman films, appears as Doctor Swan's assistant Bridgette Crosby. It had been hoped she would be a recurring character, however she chose not to return after Christopher Reeve's death and the storyline was rewritten with Jane Seymour as Genevieve Teague.

  • Annette O'Toole who plays Martha Kent had played Lana Lang in Superman III.

  • Terrance Stamp, who is the voice of Jor-El, had played General Zod in Superman and Superman II.

  • An early series one episode features Amy Adams, who would later go on to play Lois Lane in films Man of Steel (2013) and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

  • Chloe Sullivan's mother is played by Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter, who later appeared in Supergirl as President Olivia Marsdin.

  • Dean Cain who played Superman in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman appeared as a villain in an episode.

  • Terri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman appears as Lois Lane's mother in an episode.

  • Laura Vandervoort who plays Supergirl would later play recurring character Indigo in the first series of Supergirl (2015+).

  • Helen Slater who played Supergirl in the 1984 film Supergirl played Clark Kent's mother Lara.

  • The exterior shots of the Luthor mansion are of the same building, Hatley Castle3 as Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men films. These are stock footage, though, with the cast never actually performing there, with the interiors a set. The mansion would later appear in DC television series Arrow as home of the Queen family.

  • Jeannot Szwarc, director of Supergirl and Santa Claus: The Movie4 (1985) directed numerous episodes.

  • Carrie Fisher plays the editor of The Daily Planet in an episode.


The first series is dominated by each episode featuring a Kryptonite-powered monster, which quickly becomes repetitive, while the Lex/Clark relationship grows. Pete is very much in the background in this series. The second series changes, with the mysterious discovery of the cave, Lex's relationship with his father given more prominence, Lana discovers previously unknown relatives and moves in with Chloe, yet still most episodes involve Clark and Lana not really discussing their feelings for each other.

By the third series Lex is battling personal demons, Lana's new boyfriend has a deadly secret and it is revealed that Lionel Luthor is deeply involved in clandestine research projects. Clark develops super hearing but by the end of the year his friends all go their separate ways.

In series four, Chloe's disappearance brings her cousin, Lois Lane, to Smallville, where she hopes Clark will help her. Lana has also found a new love interest but seems to have been mysteriously branded on her back. This may be related to her discovery that one of her ancestors was burned at the stake for witchcraft. Clark, meanwhile, begins a quest to find three Kryptonian 'power stones' that have unusual properties, which are also sought by Lex and Lana's boyfriend's mother.

Series five has Clark, Lana and Chloe at University, with Chloe also working for the Daily Planet newspaper. Clark's parents and Lex become interested in politics while there is more than meets the eye to Clark's history professor, Milton Fines (James Marsters). Lex, who is gradually becoming more interested in power, expands Luthor Corp into vaccine and viral research while Lionel gives Clark a warning; Zod is coming.

In series six, Clark discovers his super-breath. After finding a gateway out of the Phantom Zone, a prison where Krypton's most feared criminals were banished, Clark unwittingly unleashes these villains on Earth. Meanwhile Lex's rival, Oliver Queen, arrives in Metropolis from Star City and he too has a secret – he is the vigilante known as Green Arrow. Lana and Lex become extremely close, however Lex secretly has a hidden facility called 33.1 where 'meteor freaks', people with Kryptonite-granted enhancements, are imprisoned and studied. Yet Clark has unexpected allies helping him.

In series seven, Clark is reunited with his cousin Kara, who had been trapped in suspended animation after her spaceship crash-landed underwater. Clark has to persuade her to try and fit in and not draw attention to herself, however he is warned not to trust her because her father, Zor-El, tried to kill his brother and Clark's father Jor-El. Meanwhile one of the prisoners from the Phantom Zone named Bizarro has stolen his appearance and memories, looking identical to him, fooling even Clark's nearest and dearest and it is revealed that Clark's nemesis now known as Brainiac has returned. Meanwhile, why has Lana set-up a sinister organisation named the ISIS5 Foundation? Also, The Daily Planet gains a new editor with a secret past before it is purchased by Lex Luthor.

Series eight saw a change of production team and cast, with long-standing characters leaving and new regular characters introduced. Clark decides to leave his attempts at a normal life behind and do more with his powers as the Justice League forms, joining Lois and Jimmy working for The Daily Planet. He becomes the hero nicknamed 'the Blur', helping people but using his super-speed to ensure he is never seen. Lex Luthor has vanished, leaving Luthor Corp to be run by Tess Mercer. Chloe meanwhile has developed incredible intelligence since her attack by Brainiac and she has attracted the romantic attentions of a paramedic named Davis despite planning to marry Jimmy.

The ninth series focuses on the mystery of a time-travelling Lois and the sudden appearance of a young Major Zod, leading a squad of powerless Kryptonian soldiers. Do they plan to take over and/or destroy the world? What is the significance of the Book of Rao, said to be Krypton's bible? Also, what are the aims of the organisation known as 'Checkmate'; is it merely a club dedicated to chess? Who is the Red Queen? Clark, meanwhile, stops wearing blue and red and is now a black-clad blur.

In the tenth and final series, the world is openly prejudiced against superheroes, with the media labelling them as terrorist vigilantes. An evil darkness that feeds on doubt and uncertainty is spreading, and Clark too will become victim to it unless he learns how to let go of the guilt he has carried with him and learn how to love. Can he finally open up to Lois? What family secret does Tess discover, and who returns from the past to haunt Clark? What will Cat Grant (Keri Lynn Pratt), a new reporter at The Daily Planet, uncover and what are the Suicide Squad's aims? Will elements and characters from all previous series briefly return to help tie the whole series together? Do Clark and Lois marry? And will Clark finally learn how to fly and become 'Superman'?

1Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007) had 214 episodes, beating the previous record holder, The X-Files, which broadcast 202 episodes in its initial run (1993-2002). Presumably the 1,537 episodes of Captain Video and his Video Rangers (1949-1955) don't count, being extremely crudely made and lasting as little as 15-minutes. In comparison at time of writing there have been over 830 episodes of Doctor Who; excluding feature-length specials, episodes made 1963-1989 were predominantly 25-minutes long while those made since 2005 are 45-minutes.2When interstellar rock fragments are moving through space they are meteoroids, when burning up in Earth's atmosphere they become meteors and on their landing on Earth they are meteorites.3This is in the Hatley Park National Historic Site, Colwood, British Columbia.4Santa Claus: The Movie used many techniques developed for the earlier Superman: The Movie.5Not that one.

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