Kill or be killed. Clark Kent
: Lois, you're talking about war. This is journalism. Lois
: See, your problem is you think there's a difference.
A live-action incarnation of the Superman
mythos that aired from 1993 to 1997, and one of the first superhero series aimed at women as much as men. Lois & Clark
continued the trend of Post-Crisis
Superman stories in identifying Clark as the "real" personality — with Superman as the role he puts on — and having the support of his still-living foster parents.
L&C slots into a long line of Moonlighting
imitators, mixing a "Will They or Won't They?
" romance with a few postmodern
aspirations: Clark spends as much time chasing clues and mixing with his weird co-workers
as he does battling evil, and his caped persona is a frequent topic of Seinfeldian Conversations
. This breezy approach was further reflected in the Hotter and Sexier
leads: former 90210
heartthrob Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman, broody leading man John Shea as Lex Luthor
, and Teri Hatcher in her career-defining role as Lois Lane
The show suffered, to an extent, from a known problem with live-action superhero shows: restraints on budget and their effect on the story (see also Smallville
): Superman rarely fought someone who was a physical match for him, with most villains either being secretive like Luthor or — much like the earlier George Reeves series
— resorting to kidnapping innocents. Occasionally, Superman's power levels were lessened to add drama, but the consistency of those vulnerabilities was spotty at best.
Making up for this were the engaging Daily Planet
cast, a fair amount of wit, and most notably, the phenomenal chemistry between Cain and Hatcher.
Was simply known as The New Adventures of Superman
in some countries outside the USA, due to executives believing non-American viewers wouldn't understand the pun on 19th century American explorers Lewis and Clark
. Go figure.
This show provides examples of:
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- Absent-Minded Professor: Dr. Samuel Platt from the Pilot, followed by Emil Hamilton in "That Old Gang of Mine." Superman's recurring sidekick, Dr. Klein has his moments, too. (Generally, the only trustworthy doctors on this show are the forgetful ones.)
- The only way to ever explain why Dr. Klein does not clue into the fact that Superman and Clark Kent are the same person is that he is a total absent minded professor.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Lex's preferred terrain, at least once he goes broke.
- Accidental Misnaming: Mr. Mxyzptlk, after Lois mispronounces it as "Mazel Tov". He doesn't care for that one bit.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- Lana Lang is blonde in this incarnation. Her personality has changed accordingly.
- Jimmy Olson, traditionally redheaded, has brown hair.
- Lex Luthor, when he has hair, is also usually a redhead, but has dark brown hair here. At least it's still curly.
- Dean Cain has brown eyes, as opposed to Superman's trademark blue. Lois even actively describes Superman's eyes' shade of brown to a sketch artist as being full of warmth and mystery, and nothing like Clark's "mud-brown" eyes.
- Adventure Duo: Despite Clark's super powers, he's actually The Scully, with Lois being the one leaping to wild conclusions and charging headfirst into danger.
- Affectionate Parody: A fairly cringe-worthy parody of I Love Lucy, with Dean Cain doing a passable Dezi. Ay yi yi. ("Don't Tug on Superman's Cape") The episode also featured a Bond spoof with Lois as "Ms. Goodbottom". (Can you tell the series was getting Denser and Wackier by that point?)
- Cain and Hatcher provided their own voices for a Robot Chicken parody combining Lois and Clark with Lewis and Clark. They then admitted the sketch would be funnier had the show not been 20 years old at that point.
- Aliens Speaking English: The survivors of New Krypton. Yet one of Kal-El's crimes is not having learned Kryptonian sufficiently to have understood all the arcane instructions on his ship.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Daily Planet is frequently under siege. Lex managed to put them out of business, and then blew it up for good measure.
- In Season Three, Lex traces Superman/Clark back to his apartment and takes his parents hostage.
- Alphabet News Network: LNN (Luthor News Network). Its logo uses the same typeface as CNN.
- Alternate Universe: A world where Superman is a Henpecked Husband and never took up the cape.
- Bizarro Universe: Charlton Heston is President, and Jimmy is the owner of the Daily Planet (with Perry as his Smithers). It also seems that Elvis Presley served for a time as President of the US and evidently has lived into the 1990s.
- Ambiguously Brown: Clark passes for this. Showrunner Deborah Joy Levine points out that Dean Cain, who is 1/4 Japanese, has an unplaceable 'look' to him that made him seem somehwat otherworldly. This does not apply to the vanilla-looking New Kryptonians.
- There is a running gag in the S2 show "Chi of Steel" where Chen Chow (Chinese-American, played by a Japanese-American actor) looks and dresses almost exactly like Clark (even to the wild ties) and when Lois points this out he says "we have the same optometrist".
- Amoral Attorney: Several, although one of the worst apparently is a fake attorney. A few times, attorneys who appear corrupt turn out to not be.
- Analogy Backfire: Following Lex's buyout of the paper, Perry balks at his new "Senior" Editor-in-chief, a Yale pipsqueak named Chip. Lex reassuringly tells him to just think of it as a "honeymoon period".
- And Now You Must Marry Me: The first season was one long, protracted plot by Lex Luthor to achieve this. When his dream wedding to Lois (intended to culminate with Superman's painful death) collapsed like a bad souffle, he resorted to kidnapping and brainwashing Lois instead. Later, his sons, Jaxon Xavier and Lex Luthor Jr., also get into the act.
- And Starring: John Shea as Lex Luthor. *lights up stogie*
- Arbitrary Skepticism: So you've got a super strong, super fast, flying guy who's probably an alien, but an invisible man? Naaaaaah!
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Unlike General Zod, who tried to rule Krypton by force, Lord Nor is a depraved nobleman angling to inherit control of his people through marriage and other underhanded means. Basically the Sheriff of Nottingham, if he were Kryptonian.
- The Ark: Lex unveils a giant Fallout-esque vault to survive a coming asteroid. One of the rooms is an exact replica of Lois' apartment, in an effort to woo her to join him.
- Larry Smiley insists that couples in his retreat adopt animal names, symbolic of the primal urge to mate and further the species." Larry wants two of every kind.
- Artistic License – Physics: Nearly Once per Episode, sometimes more. Of course, you've got to expect that in a Superman show.
- Lois: Gravity is a sort of magnetism, right?
- Ascended Meme: Perry's Catch Phrase "Great shades of Elvis!" and his general Elvis obsession were adapted into the comics in The Nineties as a result of their being signature Perry traits on L&C.
- As You Know: Perry's speeches.
- Badass Armfold: Dean Cain's Superman does this often, Clark Kent so rarely it might be part of his disguise. Flanderized in later seasons to the point of Superman constantly strutting around with his arms folded.
- Bald of Evil: Lex starts out with a full mop of curly hair, then is bald in Season 2. Explained by the reanimation process necessitated by his demise, so he can still blame Superman, albeit indirectly, for his hair loss. Actor John Shea (Lex) wryly justified it by saying that somebody as rich and brilliant as Lex would be able find a solution for hair loss. He regains his shock of hair in Season 3, either because it grows back, or because Lex is wearing a wig in these sequences.
- Bank Robbery
- Bastard Bastard: Lex Luthor's illegitimate sons.
- Bastardly Speech: Tempus is prone to these.
- Battle Butler: Nigel. "The Phoenix" reveals that he's a former British intelligence agent gone bad.
- Beard of Evil: Tempus (well, sometimes), Nigel, Lord Nor... the list goes on.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It turns out that H. G. Wells really did have a time machine; he shows up in a few episodes, usually hot on the trail of Conqueror From The Future Tempus.
- Best Served Cold: The Prankster and Prof. Jefferson Cole both harbor ill will toward Lois for her role in imprisoning them. Baron Sunday holds a grudge against Clark Kent, though his excuse is definitely more valid.
- Betty and Veronica:
- Mayson Drake and Lois Lane.
- Linda King definitely qualifies as a Betty, despite only appearing in "The Rival".
- Averted with Veronica Kipling.
- Cat Grant was a Veronica to Lois's Betty as a rival for Clark's affections in the first season.
- Big Damn Heroes: Needs no description.
- Jimmy got a chance to do this in "Virtually Destroyed", when he and Superman become Bash Brothers inside of a VR simulation.
- Big Eater:
- Bobby Bigmouth, the informant who accepts food as legal tender.
- Clark. Lois notes after spying in his fridge that he eats like an eight year old and looks like Mr Hardbody. This recurrs at other points with Clark constantly snitching donuts, sometimes with superpowers. It seems he does not even have to eat. In a S4 episode, Martha Kent is shown carrying a huge bag full of junk food and candy to stock up the larder with, because she's missing her boy and wants to welcome him home just right, with all of his favourite foods. Another episode opens with Clark fixing breakfast in the morning with eggs (cooked with heat vision, of course), coffee, and a big jug of milk, and another episode confirms that even after all that he goes into work and starts snacking on doughnuts.
- This is apparently native to Kryptonians. At one point we meet a New Kryptonian princess who has even less culinary skill than Lois, but has overcome this by sharing Clark's taste in food.
- Bland-Name Product: Bill Church's front organization, Cost Mart, is a portmanteau of Wal-Mart and Costco. And they're about as benevolent as you imagine.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: The Nazis, obviously. See also Lord Nor, Lenny Stoke and Randy Goode.
- Blondes Are Evil:
: "So, Mrs. Church, with your husband in prison, you devoted your life to helping the destitute?" Mindy:
"And poor people, too
- Vixen. (Technically, though, she's a misunderstood android who's just following orders).
- Lex's doctor, who tries to revive him, is fanatically devoted to him and becomes one of these.
- Blown Across the Room: Clark's super-breath.
- Bound and Gagged:
- Lois, frequently.
- Clark gets in on this too. Mostly because he was hanging around with Lois when she got them captured. This also means that he has to figure out a way of escaping that does not involve her figuring out what his true identity is, at least until she figures out his true identity.
- Bowties Are Cool: Dr. Klein, Dr. Hamilton, and (occasionally) Perry.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: In "Chi of Steel", when the villain acquires a mystic power object that makes him an invincible Kung Fu master, Superman takes a crash course in Kung Fu to fight him on equal terms.
- Brainwashing: More commonly seen with Lois, but Superman is not immune. Jimmy also suffers from it once.
- Brought Down to Normal: Kryptonite in this universe had a lingering effect on Superman, taking him some time to regain his strength even after being removed from the source. Red Krytonite can, if the plot calls for it, transfer all of Superman's power to another individual.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Clark allows that his partner is brilliant, but adds that "there is a fine line between genius and lunacy."
- Call Back: Most of them involve the Villain of the Week picking up where a previous criminal left off, be it re-assembling their weapon or avenging their defeat.
- Canon Foreigner: A fair amount of villains, most notably Tempus.
- Lex has two valets, including a gun-toting Pam Grier lookalike (whom Lex was supposedly banging on the side) who fits the same bill as Mercy from the then-upcoming Superman: The Animated Series.
- General Zod was ruled off limits, apparently, which is why we instead get the more-lighthearted Lord Nor. Every onboard the ship from New Krypton falls under this category, too.
- Cardboard Prison: H.G. Wells repeatedly dumps Tempus in asylums so he wouldn't cause more trouble. It doesn't take. At times he is able to mess up Clark's life just by revealing his secret through writing in a journal, which of course will end up in the hands of some evil person at the most inconvenient time.
- The Cast Show Off:
- Cain was a college football star until a shoulder injury. During the show's run he wanted to remind people that he was still a strong athlete by appearing on an American Gladiators celebrity edition. Plus there was that one-on-one game with Bo Jackson.
- In "I've Got A Crush On You", Teri Hatcher sings the eponymous musical number. In the third season, she followed up with "Nobody Wants You When You're Done and Out" by Janis Joplin.
- Michael Des Barres (Murdoc from MacGyver), who is also a musician, sings an awesome Hair Metal ballad in "Wall of Sound."
- Kenneth Kimmins does a spot-on impersonation of Sean Connery. And no, it doesn't pertain to the plot.
- Casting Gag Sherman Hemsley guest-stars as the villain of the Christmas Episode "Season's Greedings". His Good All Along assistant is Isabel Sanford, who played his wife on The Jeffersons.
- "DUH!" — Tempus
- "Great shades of Elvis!" — Perry (notably, in lieu of his comics incarnation's "Great Caesar's Ghost!")
- "Judas Priest!" — Perry
- Season 1's Jimmy Olsen tends to exclaim "Real smooth!" when impressed. The phrase was dropped along with the actor.
- Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Parodied in an early episode, wherein Clark sprints into a bathroom stall to change into his costume only to smash his foot through the door as he struggles to put his boots on.
- The Chanteuse: Lois goes undercover as one in the first season. Her amnesia-induced personality, Wanda Detroit, is this full-time.
- Character Exaggeration: Cat's overriding personality trait seems to be her sex addiction. This was a prominent trait of the character in the comics, but here her promiscuity is amplified. In sharp contrast to the bland and modestly dressed Lois Lane, Cat Grant in the TV series looks like an escapee from Cirque du Soleil.
Lois: "Couldn't you afford a whole dress?"
- Chick Magnet: Clark attracts an obscene amount of women throughout the show's run. (Superman more so, but even when he is just plain Clark.) Even the city's crooks are avowed fans of Superman: In the episode where Superman is arrested, the police take extra mugshots to give some streetwalkers a chance to pose with him!
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Mindy.
- Christmas Carolers: One Christmas Episode had the two of them sharing a quiet moment together when a troupe starts singing "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" outside Lois' window.
- Cigar Chomper:
- Lex Luthor is rich and badass, and therefore smokes cigars.
- After sending Bill Church and his son to the slammer, the new chairman of Intergang — Mindy — is seen smoking a stogie.
- Clark Kenting:
- Lois, a decorated investigative journalist, is unable to realize that her partner, Clark Kent, is just Superman with glasses. This was not helped by Dean Cain not changing his voice, posture, or facial expression between the two personae as much as Christopher Reeve famously did. Teri Hatcher's monologue on Saturday Night Live parodied this, demonstrating her general inability to recognize people with glasses.
- In the pilot we have this exchange:
Lois: "I think I've got you figured out."
Clark : "Really. Didn't take you long."
Lois : "It's my business looking beyond the external."
- Spectacular Lampshade Hanging in any episodes with Tempus, who is just outraged that no one else sees through the disguise.
Tempus: Look (puts glasses on), I'm Clark Kent. (Takes glasses off) No, I'm Superman! (Puts glasses on) Mild-mannered reporter. (Takes glasses off) Superhero! Well, that was worth the whole trip, to actually meet the most galactically stupid woman who ever lived.
- Clark's powers of deception extend even to himself. In "All Shook Up," when he gets amnesia and everyone is running around trying to find Superman — who has, for obvious reasons, gone missing — he somehow manages to avoid making the connection until his parents spell it out for him.
- Clear My Name: Dear GOD, nearly EVERYONE had to do this at some point or another. Just about the only regulars who didn't end up caught in this trope were Jonathan and Martha.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Lana Lang in the alt-universe.
- Coat, Hat, Mask:
- Anonymous, a Master of Disguise who is very protective of his real identity.
- Edward Hanson, the villain of "Shadow of a Doubt".
- Lex sports a fedora & sunglasses while on the run from the law.
- Similarly, Lois dons dark glasses and a long, red wig when on the run, after escaping from prison.
- Coconut Superpowers : To save on money they would often have Cain jump past the camera with a whoosh and cape effect, then cut to people gaping in awe at the sky.
- Coincidental Broadcast
- Cool Old Guy: "Jimmy, I did not become Editor of a major newspaper because I can yodel."
- Cool Old Lady: According to K Callan, she snagged the role of Martha Kent by appearing at the audition in a pink tracksuit (in stark contrast to the other actresses, all of whom wore Victorian dresses and bonnets). In keeping with the feminist theme, Ma Kent is a sculptor whose postmodernist pieces are taking over the whole house, to Jonathan's bemusement. She also poses nude for art classes.
- Conqueror From The Future: Tempus. His name means "Time", after all.
"You see, Miss Lane, in a world with no Superman, there'll be no Utopia in the future. Just a lot of sex and violence and me."
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lex Luthor and Bill Church, among plenty others.
- Cover-Blowing Superpower: Clark, all the time. It was basically a Running Gag of how he will find some way to justify mild uses of his power, from finding a weak link in his hand-cuffs to "the force of the explosion must have pushed us away."
- Crawl: A news ticker is added to the Daily Planet set in Season 2.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Veda Dooson in "Brutal Youth" has to resort to abducting pizza delivery men in order to test her Fountain of Youth machine, allegedly because she can't get a grant. There are countless other examples, including the doctor who invented a real-life, palm-sized Exposition Beam, but this one's the most glaring.
- Damsel in Distress: Once per Episode (at least) with Lois. She does put up some good fights, and at times breaks out of bonds without the help of Clark.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Tempus, definitely.
Lois: "You're not gonna get away with this."
Tempus: "Get away with what? You mean becoming mayor of Metropolis by murdering Perry White? Because somebody might stop me? Big, brawny, looks good in blue? Gee, if only I lived in a dimension with no Superman— Oh, wait! Duh! I do."
- Dartboard of Hate:
- In ""Sex, Lies, and Videotape", Clark is unknowingly photographed while making out with Lois in the Superman costume, causing the public to think he's an adulterer. Later, Clark remarks that his disenchanted female co-workers are using Superman's image as a dartboard. Of course Clark has a desk full of goodies from people expressing solidarity with him in his time of crisis.
- "Requiem for a Superhero" has Lex calmly talking on a phone as he throws darts. After he hangs up it's revealed that he was throwing the darts at a grinning, life-size cardboard cutout of Superman, and Lex is positively fuming.
- A Day in Her Apron: Clark's parents do this in one episode, concluding in An Aesop about sexism.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Death by Secret Identity:
- Lex in Season 3.
- Mayson Drake. The last thing she saw was the "S" on Clark's chest. (Though she was dying anyway.)
- Defector from Decadence: "Hank West" — the pseudonym for one of Those Wacky Nazis — grows fond of American pop culture and is reluctant to give up his music stardom. His compatriot accuses West of getting soft, and you can guess what happened next.
- Death Trap: Enough to make Wile E. Coyote green with envy.
- Denser and Wackier: Season Three, and especially Four.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Bill Church fills this role once Lex's empire is toppled.
- Disappeared Dad:
- Jack Olsen.
- In Season 4, we learn that Perry was an absentee father to his sons, which likely led one of them (Jerry) to a life of crime.
- Distressed Dude: Perry and Jimmy, to add variety.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Clark is generally very careful, but a few times you see him underestimating the durability of items. Once when antsy, he crushed a pencil to dust. In another episode exposure to a Red Kryptonite beam causes him to lose control of his powers, thus when using Super Speed to catch a criminal half a block away he ended up "in the next county". In that condition he accidentally injured Lois just giving her a hug. And then the time he gave Perry's hand a shake, and accidentally crushed his interviewer's fingers. Whoops.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set:
- The "Smart Kids" take over the airwaves to gloat about their mayhem.
- The Nazis in "Super Mann" take over the nation's airwaves to announce that Resistance Is Futile.
- Mr. Gadget in "Lethal Weapon" gives his ultimatum to Metropolis via this method.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Clark can definitely take what Lois dishes out but she does boss him around and take advantage of his nice guy behavior to the point where this trope is noticeable.
- Domino Mask:
- Dramatic Thunder: Used shamelessly. In his first scene, Lex's entrance into the party he is hosting is accompanied by ominous thunder and flashes of lighting, as though his schemes tempt the wrath of God via a lightning bolt.
- Empathic Environment: A variation occurs in Lex's subway haunt, when Clois spills Superman's identity. Cue the flickering electricity and rumbling trains. An identical scene happens between Mr. Smith and Leslie Luckabee in Season Four.
- Dramatic Irony: Since the series was centered around Clark's regular life as much as if not more his superhero one, the show had a lot of fun with the whole "everyone around knows Clark and Superman, but the only one besides the audience who knows they're the same can't say anything about it" concept. It was used for tension, of course, but was just as often used for humor - such as in Running Gags where someone would make a Superman-related comment to Clark without realizing who they were talking to. This was especially common in the first few seasons, where Lois didn't know and Superman came up so often whenever she was talking.
Clark (trying to convince Lois an accused murderer was dangerous): "The man was tried and convicted by a jury of his peers!"
Lois (dismissively): "Oh, leave the truth and justice stuff to Superman, would you?"
Clark: <aggravated sigh>
- Drop-In Character: Lois' downstairs neighbor, Star.
- The Kents should qualify, since the cost of all that airline travel is conspicuously swept under the rug. On at least one occasion Clark does offer to personally fly them into town the next time they need to come.
- Dysfunctional Family / Parental Abandonment: The Lane family.
- Earthquake Machine: The villains of "Wall of Sound" and "Lethal Weapon" hatch plots that are essentially the same: Use a sonic device to level entire buildings as part of blackmail.
- Easy Amnesia: Poor Lois.
- Elvis Lives: Spinning headlines detailing Luthor's death, with the last being a "photograph" of him alongside Elvis in Hawaii.
- The ending of "Tempus, Anyone" has Perry inviting former US President Elvis Presley (not facing the camera, but still sporting his trademark cape) to a podium.
- EMP: "Operation Blackout" and "The Dad Who Came in From the Cold".
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Several later villains were couples or relatives whose main redeeming quality was that they truly cared about each other. The first version of Toyman may have been a bitter Jerk Ass bent on poisoning Metropolis with mind altering drugs, but he legitimately cared about his compassionate assistant so much that when she eventually had enough all he wanted to do was see her before he went to jail (in stark contrast to the second version of Toyman, who immediately killed his compassionate assistant when she started questioning his plans too much). The show's version of Deathstroke - though in a case of Unholy Matrimony - did seem to care about his wife and vice versa. There was the couple that wanted to acquire Superman for their collection, etc.
- This even becomes Lex's primary motivation- he ends up a Crazy Jealous Guy when it comes to Lois Lane, whom he genuinely cares about (whether that's genuine love or something much more creepy is another matter). This is either an extension of his envy of Superman or an exacerbating factor, as he is fully aware that the two of them are in a Love Triangle for who gets her hand; he doesn't hide the fact that he especially hates Superman for trying to keep him and Lois apart. Gets to the point that in his final appearance, he ends up dying after a failed plot to fake his and Lois's deaths so they can disappear together.
- Everything Is Online
- Everything's Better with Spinning: As the series progresses, Clark no longer needs to duck into a room to change clothes, instead spinning furiously and coming to a stop in his Superman outfit.
- Evil Brit: Lenny Stoke, Lord Nor and Nigel St. John.
- Evil Lawyer Joke: "You are dirt! You are filth! You are pocket lint! You are pocket lint in the pockets of lawyers!"
- When Lex dangles his lawyer over a pit of rodents ("The Phoenix"), Dr. Kelly muses over whether the rats will "eat their own."
- Evil Is Petty: Randy Goode, a world-famous philanthropist, does not take it well when the Nobel Peace Prize committee snubs him in favor of Superman.
- Garret Grady settles on West Virginia as a warm-up target for his Kill Sat, his reasoning being that the state should have picked "a more creative name".
- Expy: Lord Nor is an obvious one, although he doesn't share much in common with Zod beyond the external similarities: a beard, an aristo accent, and a pair of ever-present henchmen.
- Rachel Harris, the Smallville sheriff who was good "friends" (or so she wanted Lois to think) with Clark growing up, is one for Lana Lang, as they couldn't get the rights to use her name at the time. An alternate universe Lana showed up later on.
- Peter Boyle as Bill Church, filling in for our old friend Morgan Edge. His son and heir, Bill Church Jr. (Bruce Campbell), may well be a substitute for Bruno Manheim.
- On the subject of Intergang, Mindy shares more than a little in common with Lorelai (Pamela Stephenson), a Machiavellian sex bunny in Superman III.
- Jack Klugman showed up in an early episode, playing a huckster who's very similar to a Marvel Comics character, Funky Flashman.
- John Spencer's character in "Lethal Weapon"—in addition to spoofing kid's show hosts like Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye— shares similarities with The Prankster, a super-criminal who once enjoyed celebrity in The Uncle Oswald Show. Like Toyman, the Prankster was apparently split into two people for this series: Bronson Pinchot previously played an ex-con who sought revenge on Lois for putting him away, using weaponized "pranks" to ruin her life in various ways.
- Kara Zor-El doesn't exist in this continuity, but Kal-El did have a pre-arranged marriage to Zara, one of the survivors of Krypton.
- Fake Defector: Clark pretends to resign from the floundering Daily Planet and join a rival paper, The Metropolis Star, in "The Rival".
- In "Church of Metropolis", Mayson Drake goes along with an Intergang's lawyer who offers her a bribe, unaware that she's taping the whole thing.
- Fake Guest Star: Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein. He becomes ubiquitous in Seasons Three & Four, but he never got a credit promotion.
- Faking the Dead: In "That Old Gang of Mine", Clark is left with no recourse but to play dead after being shot in public.
- In the episodes "The Ides of Metropolis" and "Operation Blackout", the villain fake his death as part of a master plan.
- Fan of the Past: Specifically, the wild west. Tempus is obsessed with dragging society back to an era of vigilante justice and lawlessness, and is more likely to squee in the presence of the James brothers than a paragon of virtue like Superman. As poetic justice, he ends up trapped in 19th century Kansas (at least for a season or so), and one of his ancestors goes by the name of Tempus Tex.
- Fanservice: And plenty to go around for both sides.
- Faux Affably Evil: Just guess.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Lois is a Type 2.
- There are multiple remarks about how bad her cooking is.
- In season 3 while Clark is cooking and Lois is fawning over him, he suggests that her not cooking is due to lack of time. She tells him flat out it is due to lack of talent. Subverted at the end of "Ghosts", in which she inherits cookery talent from the spirit of a housewife who possessed her.
- Fictional Counterpart: The NIA (a combination of every scare story about the CIA and NSA) and EPRAD (a stand-in for NASA).
- Fictional Country: The "Boroslov Republic".
- "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" is centered around the feuding Presidents of Ladislam and Podansk, who are probably stand-ins for Anwar Sadat and Ariel Sharon.
- Foil: Cat Grant to Lois.
- For Inconvenience, Press "1": A Running Gag throughout the show's run.
Lois: You getting anywhere?
Clark: No, but now I know all five verses to "Windy."
- Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Patrick Sullivan, with regard to Lois.
- Perry's realization that his longtime friend, Sen. Black, is a Neo-Nazi. Lane Smith plays it deadly serious, though.
- For Want of a Nail: The alt-universe Clark has it rough. In his world, the Kents were killed in a car crash when he was still a child, and Lois Lane is presumed dead after disappearing while on assignment in the Congo. (At the end of "Lois and Clarks", though, H.G. Wells hints that he can bring her back).
- It is implied that H.G. Wells was going to go back to where Lois-A disappeared and then "rescue" her from going missing. Neat trick, except when you realize that is what causes her to go missing in the first place!! (temporal cause and effect)
- Frameup / Miscarriage of Justice: Lex blows up the Daily Planet, then pins the crime on Jack, the orphan whom Clark befriended and recently made a copy boy.
- A lowly software developer gets blamed for his boss' murder in "The Ides of Metropolis".
- In a Season 4 two-parter episode, Lois is made to seem to shoot her own informant. The Villain Of The Week uses a Hologram of Perry White, while using another hologram to make sure Superman is half-a-world away and not able to see through the disguise, to testify in court against Lois, and she is given the death penalty.
- Hendrix, aka Baron Sunday.
- This is Mindy Church's M.O., to nefarious acts, manipulate events, and then pin it all on some patsy. Nearly every episode she's in ends with some poor sap going to jail while she reaps all the benefits.
- Freudian Slip: Lois in the pilot episode, when she arrives at Clark's apartment to give him a ride to work. He answers the door wearing nothing but a towel.
"It's nine! I thought you'd be naked. Uh, ready."
- Veronica tellingly asks, "Got any meat?" when Clark offers her lunch. Eek.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Many of the villains, notably The Prankster.
- Gayparee: Superman makes a few pit-stops here.
- Girl of the Week: Jimmy can't keep a girlfriend for more than a week or so, despite professing eternal love to any woman who crosses his path. It gets to the point where Lois actually lampshades it.
- Girls with Moustaches: Lois' first scene.
- Occurs again in "Chi of Steel", when Lois is barred from Perry's social club. This means war.
- A God Am I: Jaxon Xavier in his VR world. Also invoked by Lord Nor and Mr. Mxyplyzyk.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: As Tez absorbs Superman's powers, his heat vision and super-breath manifests as green.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Lois.
- Good Is Boring: Why Tempus can't stomach his utopian timeline.
- Good Ol' Boy: Perry White.
- Jonathan Kent, though he's mellower than his other incarnations.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Lois hits the ceiling after Clark beats her out for a journalism award... despite already winning the same award three times consecutively. Clark is gracious enough to escort her to the party, though not above rubbing it in.
: So how did I rate as a date? Clark
: Oh, A+. Lois
: I hung on your arm decoratively... Clark
: You did. Lois
: Fawned appropriately... Clark
: ...And just faded into the background during your big moment. Clark
You were beautiful yet invisible. Lois
Mmm, make me go through another night like that, and I'll rip out your spleen.
- Anytime a woman shows interest in Clark\Superman, really.
- Lex admits to Superman that one of the reasons he hates him is simple envy after finally learning that he is Clark Kent.
- Green Rocks: In this show it was Red Kryptonite, which had a different effect on Clark with each appearance. It ranged from eliminating his inhibitions, permanently transferring his powers, causing him to lose control of his powers, and others.
- The Grinch: Lois hates hates, hates, hates, hates Christmas. With her family, you can't blame her.
- Groin Attack: Lois delivers one to the Prankster, causing him to double over in agony.
- And again to Col. Ambrose Cash, as payback for spraying Superman with kryptonite gas.
- Grumpy Old Man: Perry, again.
- Guttural Growler: Tez and Mr. Smith.
- He Knows Too Much: The plastic surgeon responsible for the Lois Lane lookalike. Ariana Carlin compliments his brilliance by declaring that "The world will truly miss you.", then shoots him. Hard to believe it didn't work out with her and Luthor, they seem perfect for each other.
- "Anonymous" does this in "Chip Off the Old Clark", as soon as the hapless goon relieves himself of babysitting their hostage.
Good luck with the kid. He was starting to give me a headache. Anonymous
: Really? Then by all means, take two of these
. (BLAM BLAM)
- Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Lois is known to hit the fudge whenever bad news arises.
- Hero Insurance: Subverted a couple times: First, in "Man of Steel Bars", when Metropolis' citizens blame Superman's heroics for an abnormal heat wave. In the Season 2 premiere, we see the after-effects of Lex Luthor's suicide; apparently, killing the man who employed half the city's population is damaging to local interests.
- D.A. Mayson Drake adores Clark, but views Superman as a vigilante menace.
- Also subverted and then played straight in Season 3's Ulra Woman, when Lois gets Clark's powers and takes on a costumed identity. When she saves a woman who was choking to death and trapped in her car, the woman's husband chews her out for the damage to his car, but the crowd sides with her response:
Husband: You tore up my car!
Lois: Because your wife was choking. And by the way, she's fine. I'm sure she appreciates your concern. (Crowd starts applauding, and the husband looks chagrined.)
- In Season 4's Lethal Weapon, Superman loses restraint over his powers and starts damaging city property. In the ensuing panic, the Mayor orders a sniper team put in place to plug Superman with a kryptonite bullet.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: "Chi of Steel".
- History Repeats: In the pilot episode, Superman makes his debut by swallowing a time bomb ("*burp* Scuse me!") before it blows up a space shuttle. In Season 3 ("Tempus, Anyone?"), Lois convinces an Alternate Universe Clark to stop living in the shadows and embrace the Superman mantle. His first heroic act? Swallowing a time bomb before it blows up an auditorium.
- Baron Tempos and Tempus Tex (Tempus' medieval and Wild West ancestors, respectively) deliver the exact same ultimatum in two separate time periods, causing Tex to get weirded out.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Lois Lane for the win. Played for laughs in the scene following Lex's public disgrace and suicide, when Lois opines that she's "always been such a good judge of character!" As we'll see in later seasons, this is not even close to being true.
- At one point Clark breaks up with Lois on the grounds that if they move forward this will just put her in more danger. She proptly gets drawn into a relationship with a man plotting to sacrifice her, causing Clark to realize that she attracts homicidal maniacs, and the only way to protect her is to have her close.
- Hot Scoop: Lois.
- Hotter and Sexier: Not only are Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher exceptionally beautiful people but after they become an Official Couple, the show can definitely be called the steamiest incarnation of Superman mythology. Exhibit A.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Back-from-the-dead Lex Luthor is stuck wearing army fatigues and pottering around in the sewers and subways for a while, afraid of getting caught by Superman. Later, he dons a comical hat and sunglasses while trying (and failing) to recapture a loose clone of Lois Lane in broad daylight. Clois has the mentality of a pre-teen girl, exploits Superman to get rich, and eventually tries to bump off the real Lois so she can't interfere. Oh yeah, she shoots Lex, too. You really start to feel for Lex after a while.
- Human Popsicle: Lex Luthor is a postmortem example; his remains are frozen throughout Season 2 as his physician works on a "cure" for death.
- In the season 2 finale, Superman is blackmailed into killing Lois Lane. To achieve the effect (but not the result), he uses his super-breath to temporarily freeze Lois, causing her to appear dead.
- A Call Back to this episode occurs in Season 4, when Lex Luthor Jr. threatens to kill Lois if Superman refuses to do his bidding. Superman opts to Take a Third Option and freeze Lois, thereby tricking Junior into believing his leverage is gone.
- Interestingly, Superman addresses the unrealistic nature of Harmless Freezing by warning of possible arterial ruptures, brain damage or even death. Fortunately (as if the audience would expect any differently), Lois survives unscathed.
- Larry Smiley plans to flood the Earth using his Weather Control Machine, with those he chose (largely against their will) safety tucked away in cryo-pods.
- The Aryan 'supermen' in "Super Mann".
- Hurl It into the Sun: Once he realizes he will soon die from Clone Degeneration, Bizarro Superman asks the real Superman to destroy both him and the lock of hair from which he was cloned from. We see them flying toward the sun.
- In a variant of this trope, Superman's skin is contaminated with a mass of microscopic radioactive particles that forces him to be in radiation proof containment on Earth. Here, the solution is to fly towards the sun, not to enter it, but just to enter its gravitational field to allow it to pull all the particles at once.
- And then there was the time Superman tossed a deadly microwave oven into space.
- Hypocritical Humor: Literally any conversation with Lois.
Lois Lane: Tell me the biggest secret you have.
Clark Kent: Wha?
Lois Lane: Tell me the biggest secret you have. Something you'd never reveal to anyone.
Clark Kent: Why?
Lois Lane: Because I'm about to tell you mine and I need blackmail material.
- Lois spends the bulk of "I'm Looking Through You" complaining that Superman has sold out and gone commercial, although even at this point it's clear Lois' main worry is that Superman will forget about her, having his attentions taken up by lots of other people making demands on him. When Clark later surprises Lois in her apartment, she's wearing a Superman t-shirt under her jammies. Groan.
- Clark receives a dressing-down by Perry White during their interview. Apparently he lacks battle-tested, solid reporter credentials.
Joey Bermuda: No, Cheryl Marie, you can not stay up past 9:00. Yes honey, you can watch TV, just none of that gratuitous violence, okay? [shoots hole through a cut-out of Superman] I'll see you tonight.
- Garret Grady's plan for world peace ("AKA Superman"):
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Preston Carpenter ("The Rival") is trying to bury the city's leading paper with his own reactionary tabloids. Nope, doesn't ring a bell.
- John Spencer (The West Wing's Leo) shows up to play a low-rent, psychopathic Mr. Wizard clone dubbed "Mr. Gadget." So it's basically this YouTube poop made reality.
- Bill Church could be regarded as a fictionalized version of Bill Walton, CEO of Wal-Mart (especially in his first appearance).
- I Am Very British: H.G. Wells.
- I Do Not Drink Wine: Superman once tells Lois that he doesn't need to eat, but he likes to. Which is fairly evident since his pantry is stocked with almost nothing but junk food. He also never misses the morning donuts at the office. This ties in to the OTHER DC comics TV adaptation on the air at the time, the much overlooked and quite excellent Flash which also portrayed Barry Allen this way.
- I Have Your Wife: This happens a LOT, actually. One time it even didn't happen to Clark.
- Garret Grady's henchman lampshades this practice, calling it "a time honored tradition".
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Lex hints that this is the case between him and Lois, though he later decides she's "a little too independent", then gloats to Superman that he'll soon fix that.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Invoked in almost every episode, with Clark giving increasingly-lame excuses for leaving so he can change into the Superman outfit. They do not improve much when Lois is in on the secret and is giving them, although it is more believable that they work because no one is less willing to accept statements at face value than Lois.
- Iconic Item: Clark dresses like an exotic tie salesman. This is never commented on.
- Identical Grandson: Clark's great-great-grandparents, Miss Martha and Marshall Kent(!). The latter is distinguished by his Rooseveltian mustache.
- If I Can't Have You: Lex professes this to Lois, getting worse each time she rejects him.
- Important Haircut: Lois changes her hair after discovering Clark's secret identity.
- And again after being struck by a car, hitting her head on a fire hydrant. She loses her memory of who she really is, and believes she is "Wanda Detroit," the lounge singer character from the crappy novel she began pounding out a few years ago.
- This is followed by yet another 'do in Season 4, after Lois clears her name. The Wanted Posters of her face spread all over town convinced her that it was time for a change.
- In the Blood: The Prankster's dad is an even bigger Jerk Ass than he is.
- Gene Newtrich discovers red kryptonite in the Season 2 episode "Individual Responsibility". In Season 3's "Ultrawoman", his nefarious sisters pick up where he left off by building a red kryptonite laser, which has totally different effects.
- If Baron Tempos and Tempus Tex are any indication, being evil runs deep in Tempus' gene pool.
- Both of Lex Luthor's sons abduct Lois at some point.
- Lex Jr. in particular is a chip off the old block, right down to his one-liners and affinity for opera.
- In-Series Nickname: Jimmy abbreviates Clark's name as "C.K."
- Insult Backfire: Tempus is remarkably thick-skinned, as the show proves.
H.G. Wells: You are a fiend beyond comprehension!
Tempus: And a good dancer, but enough small talk.
- From "Voice From the Past":
Superman: Well, wouldn't your father be proud? His son turned out to be as sick and deranged as he was.
Lex Jr.: Heh heh. Thank you.
- Intrepid Reporter: Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Lois seems to have taken this to a new level. At one point Clark pulls out a multi-sheet, multi-column single-spaced printout of the people who Lois' has been responsible for putting into jail through her reporting, and from what he says this is limited to only the scientists whose nefarious actions she has exposed. There is mention that 200 people have threatened to kill Lois because she has exposed their actions leading them to jail.
- Ironic Nickname: Little Tony.
- Also, Georgie Hairdo. We never actually saw him (he was murdered and thrown in the river offscreen), but he turned out to be bald.
- Is That What They're Calling It Now?: Diana Stride and her henchman in "Top Copy".
Diana: I made [Superman] swallow a radioactive substance.
Rolf: I'll just bet you did.
- Perry chastises Lois & Clark for coming into work late:
Clark: We were on assignment!
Perry: Oh, is that what they're call it now?
- It Must Be Mine: Lex and kryptonite (his pet name for it is "my Excalibur").
- It Runs in the Family: In "The Ides of Metroplis", Lex is shown creepily trimming a bonsai tree. In Season Four, Lex Jr. does the exact same thing, even though he never even met his father.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: H. G. Wells' time machine is fueled by gold. He doesn't even have to smelt the stuff; he just tosses assorted coins/bling down a chute.
- In "Soul Mates", Wells has a hand-held "Soul Tracker" he picked up in the far future. The less said about that one, the better.
- Joker Immunity: Tempus.
- Karma Houdini: Mindy Church as the only real foe of Superman not caught or even suspected of wrongdoing, not even by Lois and Clark!
- This wasn't the case in an early draft of "Seconds", where she is punished for her crimes. Given that she never shows up again in the series proper, it can be assumed she was caught offscreen.
- Kent Brockman News
- Knight in Sour Armor: This is literally half of Lois' personality. Most of the jokes in the first two seasons surrounding her involve her being cynical or critical about something while partaking in it or something similar to it herself.
- Kill Sat: A new one every season. Quit building these!
- Lady Macbeth: Mindy, the trophy wife of Bill Church, juggles this with Ugly Guy, Hot Wife and The Starscream. She's later revealed to be more conniving than she looks, as she arranges for the downfall of both Church and Church Jr. before taking control of Intergang for herself. Feminism in action, even in the underworld.
- Lampshade Hanging: In "I'm Looking Through You" we have the following lovely exchange after Superman finds he's inadvertently become a franchise:
Lois: The person who could really help, Superman, is probably off signing a deal to start his own television series by now.
Clark: Superman on TV? I don't... think so.
- Latex Perfection: Lex's Body Double.
- He pulls this trick again while kidnapping Lois in Season Three.
- Laughably Evil: Tempus, The Prankster and (to a lesser extent) Lord Nor.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Lois and Clark begin dating, their informant Bobby Bigmouth non-subtly remarks: "I want you to know how happy I am for you, and that there are a lot of people out there that are really pulling for this to work out."
- Perry White and Jimmy Olsen in the season 2 finale.
: .....Chief? Perry
: Yeah? Jimmy
: Instead of always standing around, watching Lois and Clark, wondering what they're doing... What if we, uh... Got lives of our own that were a little more interesting. Perry
: Now son, you've just hit the bulls-eye. It's like we're supporting characters in some TV show that's only about them. Jimmy
: Yeah, it's like all we do is advance their plots! Perry
: To tell you the truth I'm sick of it. Jimmy
: Yeah, me too. And the scene promptly switches to Lois and Clark in the park.
- In "Tempus, Anyone":
Tempus: Only thing that would ruin this would be a commercial.
[cut to commercial break]
- Let Me Tell You a Story: Perry on the life of Elvis. Often apropos of nothing in particular.
- Letter Motif: Lois Lane and Lex Luthor once discussed name ideas for the children they might have had. All Lex's ideas included the letter "X" somewhere.
- Lie Detector: In "Strange Visitor", fake government agents hook up Clark to a lie detector as part of their investigations into Superman. Clark's 'baseline' questions are 'Is your name Clark Kent?' and 'Are you Superman?'; he's supposed to say yes to both and get a 'lie' response on the second. However, when he gets a no-lie flatline on both questions, Clark is forced to use his super-breath to push the needle.
- Amusingly, the agents think that Clark might just be that mild mannered that even the lie detector can't pick up his obvious "lies".
- Jack Olsen wears a wrist-mounted lie detector which is disguised to look like a watch. It glows blue whenever Clark and Lois tell the truth (i.e. not often), and red when they are lying. Later in the episode, Jack glances at the watch after Jimmy says he loves him (it turns blue).
- Like a Son to Me: Not in so many words (at least not to Jimmy himself, though he does say so to Lois and Clark and tell them not to hell him), but Perry White has a out-of-focus but still close and subtly fatherly relationship with Jimmy Olsen, which becomes clearer when you note that Perry is estranged from his sons and Jimmy from his father. Perry is noticeably very incensed and disdainful when Jimmy's absentee father comes by.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Superman/Clark and Lois. Frequently commented on by supporting characters.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Locked in a Freezer: Happens often with Lois. In the "Ides of Metropolis", Lois and Inspector Reed are thrown into a trash compactor. That same season, Lois and her college rival Linda King are roped together inside a literal freezer. Lastly, "Operation Blackout" finds Lois and her ex-friend Molly trapped on a military base with a Kill Sat aimed directly at them.
- Lois Can Breathe In Space: There's a couple of scenes where Lois is either in space, or darn near enough where she would need oxygen.
- Even if you factor Superman's "protective aura", Lois could not have been enveloped in Superman's forcefield when falling so far from him. She should also have gotten severe frostbite, unless he was using his heat vision from far away to radiate warmth, and — nevermind.
- Lonely at the Top: In "The Night Before Mxymas", William B. Caldwell serves as The Scrooge archetype.
- In "Bob and Carol and Los and Clark", Grant Gendell is presented as a proxy of Howard Hughes, a hyper-paranoid billionaire who lives in a hermetically-sealed apartment. When confronted by Deathstroke — who seeks to Kill and Replace the old man — Gendell finds the notion of anyone wanting to be him unthinkable: "I live in a cube!"
- Love Floats: Lois and Superman floated several times together. Once while making love(!), and at least twice while in a vertical embrace.
- In the pilot, Clark is shown absent-mindedly floating a few inches off the floor while attending Lex's charity ball, when he spots Lois across the room in all her evening gown splendour.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Lois also starts off this way, not caring about Clark and loving Superman, but she gets over it as the series goes on. When Clark finally proposes at the end of season two, he deliberately waits to tell her his secret so that he knows she's marrying him for Clark, and not because he's Superman. Unfortunately she's already figured it out. Yet Clark had been ready to tell her the secret two days earlier, with no clear plan of proposing first.
- The reverse is true for Mayson Drake. She loves Clark and vehemently dislikes Superman. She gets killed in an explosion in "Lucky Leon", and the last thing she does is learn that Clark is Superman. We don't know whether or not it changes anything.
- Samus is a Girl:
- Seduction-Proof Marriage: One episode had a beautiful blonde Femme Fatale working with a bomber who's Happily Married. She makes several advances on him, but, despite being an unrepentant murderer, he declines them all. She doesn't take it very well, and when their plan unravels, she arranges for all the blame to fall on him.
- She's Got Legs: Lois, boy howdy. This became an ironic echo when Lois karate kicked a goon who previously complimented them.
- Shirtless Scene: Plenty peppered throughout the series but who the hell wouldn't want to see that?
- Shout-Out: Quite a few, especially to Batman.
- When thinking of a secret identity to help people, Clark was trying different outfits, with each looking similar to Kraven, The Green Hornet, The Flash and Captain America.
- Lex trained his manservant to attack him at random intervals (this time with a poisonous snake), similar to Cato.
- Perry meets with a shadowy informant twice, spoofing All The Presidents Men both times.
- In a reference to The Mask, Clark simply spins at superspeed to change into them to Cuban music and once satisfied, he notes "Smokin'!" before he darts off.
- In "Metallo", John Corben compares himself to The Six Million Dollar Man. And with Kryptonite, he'll never run out of power "like the Bunny".
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Lex can quote Shakespeare with the best of them. According to John Shea, he based his performance on Richard III and (who else?) Donald Trump.
- Lex quotes the iconic verse from Richard III ("If I cannot play the lover in these fair well-spoken days) in "The Phoenix" after he's forced to travel incognito as an elderly man. This marks his turning point from a wannabe do-gooder to card-carrying terrorist.
- "To thine own self be true", as said by Leslie during a press conference. The crowd chuckles back, totally assured that this Bard-quoting Luthor is on the level.
- Show Within a Show: Assorted talk/news programs throughout the series, which are semi-frequently shown.
- Raquel Welsh guest stars as the corrupt host of Top Copy, itself a swipe at tabloid shows like Hot Copy and (today) TMZ.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: It's pretty much impossible not to laugh at Tempus and H.G. Wells' repartee.
Tempus: Herb, did your books actually sell? Because you're kind of a bore.
- Shutting Up Now: Jimmy has an unnerving simpatico for the city's villains.
Jimmy: "I think it's kinda cool the way he tied in the baseball theme. You know, the whole designated hitter... (Lois gives him an annoyed look) Oh, I sure wish someone would yell out 'copyboy' right about now."
Jimmy: "Don't worry, I totally believe you that the picture is fake. But whoever made it did a pretty good job if I do say so myself I mean you can't see the lining and...(Lois glares) Sorry. 100% on your team here."
- Similar Squad: Chen Chou, a reporter at the Chinatown press who looks identical to Clark. They even wear similarly tacky ties.
- Deathstroke and his wife Carol manage to befriend Lois & Clark by posing as a suburban couple that looks, dresses, and acts exactly like them. In reality, they are more like Evil Counterparts, but the gag is repeated throughout the episode: Deathstroke lampshades the absurdity of nobody recognizing him when he wears glasses, and the couple have a revolving bookcase in their apartment which conceals their lair.
- Sinister Silhouettes: Lex in "The Foundling".
- Roweena Johnson (Bad Brain's mother) makes her first terrifying entrance as this.
- Sinister Subway: Lex's hideaway in Season 3 (possibly a Shout-Out to the 1978 Superman film). In Season 4, his son has an abandoned subway lair of his own, and is busy excavating Lex's collapsed hideout.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Jonathan Kent. The show allowed him to live while other previous television shows and movies allowed him to die.
- Spy Catsuit: Diana Stride (Raquel Welsh) briefly sports one.
- Sweet Tart, Jack Olsen's treacherous sidekick.
- Stage Magician: Of the evil variety. Penn Jillette plays a suspected terrorist (which would have been awesome), but he turns out to be a Red Herring.
- Straw Vulcans: The entire New Kryptonian population.
- Stock Footage: "Chip Off the Old Clark" has footage of a missile launch.
- In "Super Mann", Those Wacky Nazis awaken from their slumber just in time to see Superman catch a falling billboard. Since it's a Flashback, the footage is ripped straight from the pilot episode (when Dean Cain had longer hair).
- Stuffed into a Trashcan: Clark (disguised as a barkeep) ejected Lois from a mob-controlled club, carefully using his x-ray vision to toss her into the dumpster full of spoiled vegetables — and not the one full of harmless paper shreddings. Super Dickery, indeed.
"You will pay for this, Kent, I swear to God."
- "Long Legs Lulu", we hardly knew ye. Her nickname is apt, since all Lois finds is a pair of stiletto-clad legs sticking out of a trashbin.
- Sugar Bowl: In the future, Superman's legacy ensured that humanity renounced violence and established a utopian society based on his principles. Unfortunately, there are still Lex Luthors running around, but they can be neutralized — unless you're Tempus, and manage to snag a time machine from a clueless H.G. Wells.
Tempus: A world of peace. A world with no greed or crime. A world so boring you'd blow your brains out, but there are no guns!
- Super Dickery: Superman getting dosed with Red Kryptonite in "Individual Responsibility." He stops seeing the point in nabbing criminals, ignores kidnappers, chats up attractive ladies, and eats all the office donuts.
"So, is that Katy with a y' or an 'i'?"
- Supervillain Lair: Both Lex Luthor and Intergang have these.
- Swiss Cheese Security: STAR Labs on a regular basis.
- The Syndicate: Intergang.
- Team Dad: Perry.
- The Teaser: Sometimes they had an opening gag with Clark doing something and mildly showing his powers. One in particular had him accidentally coming across Bo Jackson and playing basketball with him. Jackson was completely dominating him until Clark decided to do a slam dunk from half-way across the court.
"Bo don't know how to do that..."
- Terminator Twosome: H.G. Wells and Tempus.
- Theme Tune Cameo: One particular episode has Clark whistling the theme tune.
- They Would Cut You Up: Jonathan Kent admits he once had this fear about Clark, but overcomes it. The Alternate Universe Clark isn't so lucky, as his fiancé Lana Lang is constantly reminding him of this as a bullying tactic.
- Those Two Guys: Perry and Jimmy. (See "Leaning on the Fourth Wall")
- Those Two Bad Guys: Often, especially as the series went on. Villains typically came in pairs, usually "mastermind/planner and sidekick/leg work." Usually, the sidekick characters would be much kinder or at least more sympathetic than their boss, and Help Face Turns were common as a result, though equally villainous partners did happen - especially if they were a couple.
- Too Dumb to Fool: It's literally impossible to notice whenever something's off about Superman's disguise, but Jimmy always notices.
Jimmy: "New specs, CK?"
Jimmy: "(grabbing for Clark's glasses)Can I try 'em on?"
Clark: "No! ... The prescription's too strong. It might hurt your eyes."
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Superman is seen flying to places like Japan and Switzerland to fetch food for Lois, arriving back in Metropolis a few seconds later. In "Chip Off the Old Clark", however, he has 15 seconds to get to Eastern Europe to intercept a nuclear missile, but announces he won't get there in time. Instead, he tunnels directly through the Earth because it's quicker...?
- Trigger Phrase: Used a few times. In "Illusion of Grandeur", a stage magician hypnotizes Perry into exclaiming "That's brilliant" whenever Jimmy says anything. In the same episode, the Villain Of The Week uses the trigger phrase "The moon and the stars" to manipulate others, including Superman.
- In "Target: Jimmy Olsen", the titular character is programmed into a Manchurian Agent who tries to kill Lois.
- Trophy Wife: Subverted when the seeming trophy wife of Intergang's boss swiftly takes over and proves to be her husband's equal in brains and ruthlessness after he is imprisoned.
- True Meaning of Christmas: Dean Cain played Clark as a big kid who is completely gaga about Christmas, in contrast to Lois who sees only commercialism.
- Trust Password: In his first appearance, H.G. Wells proves his identity by whispering "I know you're Superman, and I need your help."
- Clark later proves he's the "real" Superman to Lois by naming his favorite film, which is (what else?) To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Two-Person Love Triangle: Lois, Clark, and Superman start off this way (one of the show's original taglines/descriptions was "A Love Triangle for Two"), but when Lois finally figures out Clark is Superman, it solves that problem. It later comes back to bite them when someone gets pictures of Superman and Lois together in bed, and this trope is in play again as everyone assumes Lois is cheating on her husband.
- The Unseen: Alice, Perry's oft-referenced wife. Her face is constantly hidden via camera angles, objects and/or smoke, other people's heads, etc. That is until the penultimate episode of the whole series ("Toy Story"), when she is finally seen.
- And looks nothing like her double. Oh well.
- "Long Legs" Lulu gets this treatment for attempting to warn Lois about Intergang.
- For some reason, Long Legs Lulu shows up frequently in fanfics.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Lex, obviously. Most of Intergang's sleeper agents fit this trope.
- Villain of the Week
- Villainous Crush: A.K.A. a day in the life of Lois Lane.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The Church family, who own a series of monolithic Wal-Mart type stores and give money to the needy.
- Villains Blend in Better: Alternate-Earth's Metropolis goes to hell after the arrival of Tempus, who gets himself elected Mayor and removes all gun regulations. Cue the chaos. Conversely, Lois and Clark have trouble just ordering a drink in 1866.
- Inverted, however, with the cloned crooks in "That Old Gang of Mine." Clyde Tolson chews on a credit card to test whether it's real "Gold", and a bank-robbing John Dillinger boasts that he's about to make the front page of the evening paper.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Lois had a tendency to belittle Clark's assistance when in need, though Clark gave as good as he got.
: You are the same reporter you have always been: Hard-working. Dedicated. Maybe a little over the top sometimes. You could use some more vacations. Maybe a semblance of a life... Lois: Is this going somewhere?
- Wait Here: Lois never does.
- Waving Signs Around: A crowd of protesters gather to hold up signs, chant slogans and basically show public disapproval for Superman after he fails to save Luthor from dying. They crash one of Superman's numerous prize ceremonies to chant "Superman must go!".
- Waxing Lyrical: Perry, a rabid Elvis nut, often inserts the King's song titles into his lines.
- After being jailed for violating an injunction against using his powers, Superman shares a cell with a criminal he recently apprehended. The moron can't resist an obvious joke:
"Hey, I tugged on Superman's cape!"
- Unfortunately for him, he also messed with Jim.
- In the same episode, the Mayor (Sonny Bono) holds a press conference in which he quotes from "The Beat Goes On" and "I Got You, Babe".
- Jefferson Cole says of his human-targeting Kryptonite rainstorm: "Nobody will be singing in THIS rain."
- We Can Rebuild Him: Johnny Corben, aka "Metallo".
- Weirdness Magnet: Lois, who lampshades it frequently.
- Weirdness Search and Rescue: When the series started having story arcs involving time travel and alternate universes, none other than H.G. Wells himself arrives to advise the heroes.
- An episode involving virtual reality has Jimmy Olsen advise Superman on how to catch the bad guys in the virtual world.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A literal mouse example. A villain tests a device for transferring Superman's powers to others on a mouse. The 'supermouse' dashes straight out of its metal cage at superspeed into the outside world and is never seen again. An ultrafast, invincible, nigh-immortal predator is basically free to pounce on or through anything in the world.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: When Lois bemoans the fact that Superman is probably too busy to help because by now he's probably got his own TV show
Clark: Superman on TV? I don't think so.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: When Luthor assembles his agents to test Superman's abilities, a woman in the room asks why they don't just save themselves the trouble and kill him.
Monique: I'm waiting for the Reader's Digest version.
- Jaxon Xavier's AI computer wonders aloud why they don't just kill Clark by yanking off his VR helmet, severing his mind-body connection. Xavier isn't receptive to this advice.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Clark's feeble-looking fake beard ("I've Got A Crush On You"). Suddenly the glasses don't seem like such a horrible disguise.
- Lois wears a red wig to elude the cops in "Dead Lois Walking".
- Will They or Won't They?: This is teased for so long, that when they finally do the episode is called "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding" because of the Snap Backs, Clones, and so forth.
- Woman Scorned: In "Pheromone, My Lovely", a perfume manufacturer goes berserk after Lex dumps her for Lois.
- Dr. Veda Doodson's motivation for inventing an age-regression machine is her ex-husband, who left her for a younger woman.
- World of Ham
- You, Get Me Coffee: Perry and Jimmy's relationship. Established in the first episode, when Lois demands that the paper assemble her a task force. Perry deadpans, "You can have Jimmy."
Perry: You finished with those obituaries yet?
Jimmy: No, but—!
Perry: Jimmy... never underestimate the importance of a good obituary. (leaves)
Jimmy: I can think of one right now.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Spoken aloud by Clark at least twice.
D.A. Clemmons: I suggest you keep your emotions in check, Mr Kent. You obviously have no idea who you're dealing with, here.
Clark: Yeah, neither do you.
- You Look Familiar: In the first season, Leslie Jordan plays a scientist who invents an Invisibility Cloak. He returns the next season as Resplendent Man.
- He's not the only one. A number of character actors turned up in different roles throughout the series. Lois' mafioso friend in "Foundling" ('I know guys who know guys') turned up a few episodes later as a harried gunshop owner.
- You're Insane!: In "Double Jeopardy", Lex proclaims the love he has for Lois Lane by tying her to a chair — bound and gagged — while brandishing a hyperdermic needle, presumably filled with some type of drug which he can use to make good on his odes.
Lex: Let's hear that lilting voice.
Lois: You sick, twisted, disgusting sociopath.
Lex: Oh, you finishing school girls.
- Jefferson Cole adds Dr. Klein to his revenge list for his "unhinged and insane" remark.
- New Krypton's head elder goes from insisting that "Lord Nor has been judged too harshly" to He's mad, I tell you! Mad!
"I call the shots, I ask the questions. You are low man, I am top banana, and that's the way I like it, comprende?"