Lois: 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 was apt to spend as much time chasing clues and mixing with his weird co-workers as he did battling evil, and his caped persona was 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 and Heroes): 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. 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.
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.
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".
In "Dead Lois Walking", Clark compares Lois' Frameup to that of Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. All they have to do is find the real killer!
Lois: "How long did that take?" Clark: [beat] "I think the show ran four years."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
While traveling through time, Clark wears one as part of his Robin Hood/Lone Ranger ensembles. Tempus is unamused.
"I can't believe I was fooled by a little mask over the eyes."
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?"
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.
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'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.
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).
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.
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.
Lois: 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: Absolutely. Lois: ...And just faded into the background during your big moment. Clark You were beautiful yet invisible. Lois: (cooing) 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.
Toymaker Winslow Schott, embittered by children rejecting his toys and being fired from his job, plots chemical warfare against Metropolis on Christmas Day.
"We're ruining Christmas, Ms. Duffy. It's a big job."
Mr. Mxyzptlk traps the city in a "Groundhog Day" Loop in which Christmas gets progressively more miserable. However, he's doing it to blackmail Superman into leaving town, not out of malice toward a holiday he knows nothing about.
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.
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.
Hacker: 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)
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.
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 notevenclose 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.
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.
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"):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Perry White and Jimmy Olsen in the season 2 finale.
Jimmy: .....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]
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.
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.
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.
Master of Delusion: Lampshaded by Lois in the episode where she was under the effects of a Love Potion. She takes off Clark's glasses and remarks how similar he looks to Superman. Fortunately (or unfortunately), she brushes it off as just seeing Clark as Superman after the drug wears off.
Still the fact that none of his other co-workers are any closer to knowing the truth, so Lois Lane is not alone in being fooled. After Superman leaves Earth for New Krypton, it suddenly hits Jimmy that Clark's gone missing at the same time as Superman. But he can't....quite....connect....the dots.
As far as we know Lois is the only person in Metropolis who has seen Clark half naked, so unlike everyone else she cannot be said to be fooled by how Clark's suits conceal his true build.
Subverted and lampshaded in "Tempus, Anyone?" in which Lois has to convince an alternate universe Clark to take up a life of superheroics. Clark-A is very skeptical on whether just taking off the glasses will be an effective disguise, and she assures him it'll be fine. Everyone recognizes him immediately.
Ultimately subverted when at the beginning of the third season: Lois countered Clark's marriage proposal by revealing she had deduced his identity (Clark and Superman gave her an identical cheek stroke in the previous episode).
Clark's first reaction to her figuring out is "the new glasses do not work as good as the old ones" or something to that effect.
Meet the New Boss: Lex Luthor's old slot is filled by Bill Church, who is himself an expy of Morgan Edge from DC Comics. Like Luthor, Church hides behind a sunny image and legitimate business to distract from his underworld dealings. He's even undone by his passion for a woman!
Mega Corp.: Lexcorp. Everything from the air conditioners to the payphones bear his name. (In one episode, Nigel consoles Lex by mentioning that their man-made heat wave caused a 2000% spike in A/C profits, thereby rewarding him for an otherwise failed "Get Rid of Superman" scheme.)
In the pilot, Lex sabotages the nation's space program to force the government to accept his private bid for "Space Station Luthor". This way, he can stake a claim on new patented medicines developed in the zero-grav environment. In a later episode, he's in cahoots with the local mob to cause civil unrest in Metropolis Harbor, thereby paving the way for his new development project: Lex Harbor, natch. With the help of the clueless mayor, he also engineered a fake heat wave to force Metropolitains to support his new nuclear power plant.
Megane: Dean Cain's Clark leans on this trope hard.
Meta Guy: Tempus seems to exist somewhere outside the boundaries of the show itself, reacting to each scene like an easily-bored (and particularly bloodthirsty) viewer: From criticizing the writing ("God, Herb, who writes your dialogue?), to complaining about obvious twists ("I hate it when the hero saves the heroine. It's so cliche."), and sometimes munching popcorn between breaks.
Modesty Cape: Real Life example: the show made quite a splash with a promotional photo of Teri Hatcher wearing Superman's cape — and nothing else. This has become something of a Superman staple; Margot Kidder originated the pose, followed by Hatcher and Erica Durance. In the case of Hatcher, the image almost broke the internet.
Momma's Boy: Superman is an unrepentant momma's boy and proudly proclaims to anyone who asks (and some who don't) that his mother made his costume for him.
When an enemy blows up his secret closet where he keeps his Superman suits and they're all ruined, the first thing he says is "Mom's gonna kill me."
Muggle Foster Parents: Ma and Pa Kent, the best parents a Kryptonian orphan turned superhero could have and always around on the phone when Clark needs some parental advice
Mundane Utility: Lois and Clark is in love with this trope. Super-speed was commonly used to remove trash or remodel the apartment, heat vision is for heating coffee (or shaving) and ice breath chills champagne. At one point he even plays Pingpong with himself where he smashes the ball through a window.
Mythology Gag: Lots of them. (e.g., Kal-El's rocket landing in Shuster's Field, named for Supeman creator Joe Shuster; also various references to the phrase "Faster than a speeding bullet", actors from the 1950s Superman television series appearing in various episodes, and at least one nod to the cliche of Superman changing in a phone booth).
Clark doesn't have a second home in Antarctica in this continuity, but he did have a treehouse in his backyard as a kid that he called "The Fortress Of Solitude." As an adult, he occasionally keeps important things in there, as the last place anyone would think to look.
Lois' first guess as to the Prankster's identity is a diminutive nerd with the surname "Loomis", like his comic counterpart. In the show, however, Loomis is revealed to be just a Red Herring.
There's an early Shout-Out to the "Can You Read My Mind?" flight sequence from Superman: The Movie: When Superman flies with Lois early on, he responds to something she'd been quietly wondering, and she gasps "So you really CAN read minds!" to which Superman cheerfully replies "Nope. I've got really good hearing though!"
In "Double Jeopardy", Lois (under control of her split-personality, Wanda Detroit) works at a lounge singer at Bibbo's Ace of Clubs. Bibbo himself is played by Troy Evans.
While serving as ruler of New Krypton, Clark trades in his costume for a black spandex suit. It's visually identical to Superman's attire at the end of The Death of Superman series, except that his "S" emblem is now a deep blue.
Another possible shout out to Death and Return is "I've Got a Crush on You." The Toaster gang uses a type of super-flamethrower which Lex nicks for his own later use, though he died before he could carry out that plan. In the comics, one of the replacement Superman (John Henry Irons) resigned from his company in protest after it began selling his "Toastmaster" flamethrowers to criminals.
In "Tempus Anyone," Tempus refers to Clark as a "mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper," the exact wording used in the intro to the Fleischer animated shorts.
Leslie Luckabee (aka "Lex Luthor Jr.", well actually just a front man for such) claims he's been living in Australia since he was child, thus explaining his sudden reemergence. During the 90s, the comic book Lex Luthor had his brain transplanted into a younger-looking clone of himself. He then masqueraded as his own hitherto-unknown son, Lex Luthor II, complete with a false backstory about having been bred in Australia.
"Pilot" has several, especially from Superman: The Movie. A spectator shouting "What the hell is that?", Superman answers "A friend", and Superman claiming to be a hoax.
Also, Superman saves the space shuttle, much like in Marv Wolfman's The Man of Steel series, where he saves a "space-plane".
Cat Grant: I don't believe it. Co-worker: What? That a man can fly?
In "We Have a Lot to Talk About", Clark mentions Gotham City.
In "Church of Metropolis", an evil lawyer contacted Superman in the same way as Lex in the 1987 Superman movie. Only he mentions bats instead of dogs would hear the frequency.
In "Home Is Where the Hurt Is", Superman is infected with a rare virus from Krypton, similar to Virus X from Superman #156 "The Last Days of Superman" published in July/August 1950. Only in the comic, he was actually affected by a piece of kryptonite in Jimmy Olsen's camera.
In Lois's Imagine Spot in "Faster Than a Speeding Vixen", one of Lois and Clark's babies is named Clark; Clark has a son named Clark Jr., who's mother is either Loisnote in Superman #192 (January 1967) or Lananote in Superman #404 (February 1985). Another baby is named Jonathan; Clark and Lois have a son named Jonathan Elliot in Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?. Another baby is named Perry; in Superman & Batman: Generations one of his son's is named Joel Perry Kent.
Napoleon Delusion: An informant (played by Frank Burns) contacts Lois with "information" about Superman, claiming he's the first wave of an alien invasion. The man's credibility suffers a bit when he claims to be Grover Cleveland.
A woman claming to be Mary Todd Lincoln witnesses Clark using his powers, but the situation is defused when she decides he must be General Grant reincarnated.
Tempus' cellmate in the asylum believes himself to be Superman, which is why Tempus makes no effort to disguise his manner of escape.
Clark's landlady drops by his apartment just as he's grappling with Tez. When the door flings open, Tez has morphed into a blonde bombshell, and Clark is standing with his shirt torn open.
Perry embracing Lois — who is disguised as a man — in the middle of a bustling street. Oops.
Obligatory Joke: A captured Lois summons Superman by ringing church bells. Superman flies in with an obligatory, "You rang?"
Lord Nor sets the ground rules in Smallville:
Jonathan Kent: We don't do much bowing here in Kansas. Lord Nor: You know, I have a feeling we're Not in Kansas Anymore.
Obviously Evil: Lex Luthor, which works against the character somewhat as he shows that he can be genuinely decent, or pretend to be, but the show went all out to paint him as a crook, gangster, psychopath, murderer and all of the above.
Old Media Are Evil: Whether it be a Rupert Murdochproxy, or a Professional Killer posing as a TV anchorwoman, they're usually evil and out to blacken the name of the Daily Planet. Also played with in "The House of Luthor", when Lex tries wooing Lois over to his eponymous TV network.
Older Than They Look: Lex, since he somehow has adult children despite looking as old as Superman. Hand Waved by Clark, who insists that Luthor is "a master of deception."
Omnicidal Maniac: Professor Jefferson Cole develops a new strain of Kryptonite which is deadly to ordinary humans. He then tunes his Weather Control Machine to rain the deadly substance on Metropolis.
Tempus' Plan B is to provoke a nuclear war and jump safety into another dimension, leaving Superman stranded on a dead planet.
Jimmy: "Does this mean I should buy a tie?' Perry gives him an perturbed look.''
The Planet is frequently facing imminent ruin in the first season. This was alleviated when Franklin Stern (a character from the Post-Crisis comics, here played by a rotund James Earl Jones), a rich industrialist, purchases the paper as a gesture of civic responsibility. Also, because he didn't much care for the old owner, Mr. Luthor.
Power Perversion Potential: Clark nearly uses his x-ray vision to cheat at poker, but Lois' admiration of Superman convinces him to do otherwise. Lois doesn't share his moral fibre; as Ultrawoman, she uses her x-ray vision to see Clark naked.
In "Resplendant Man", a regular Joe is granted Superman's powers. When he tracks the guy down, he finds him sitting on a building using his x-ray vision to look through the building across the way... and into a women's locker room. Superman is not amused.
Put on a Bus: Lucy Lane. Her mistake was agreeing to date Jimmy for an episode; that's a ticket to Nowheresville.
Cat Grant, who was first established as The Rival. Justified in that The Daily Planet was closed towards the end of the first season and then reopened under new ownership and a promised overhaul of content. This would explain the absence of Jack, the orphan whom Clark recruited as a copy boy.
Rapid-Fire Typing: Clark's magic fingers can crack any password. By the time he's finished, the keyboard is usually smoking hot.
Real Estate Scam: It wouldn't be Superman without a Luthor real estate swindle. Lex is revealed to be bankrolling a gang of arsonists to drive down the value of Metropolis' port. Like the film version, he unveils a scale model of the Egopolis ("Lex Larbor") that he intends to erect in its place. ("I've Got a Crush On You")
Lois' uncle runs afoul of Bill Church when he refuses to sell his café to Costmart.
In "Ghosts" in season four, Lois and Clark are being subject to a very aggressive buyer involved in one of these.
Retool: After the lowish ratings of the first season, the show was overhauled; this included dropping gossip columnist Cat Grant (considered too scantily-clad and flirtatious for a family show) and a recasting of Jimmy Olsen with a younger-looking actor (the reason given was that Michael Landes resembled Cain too much).
Reluctant Retiree: Invoked twice with Perry; First, when faced with the closure of the paper, and later when promoted to an executive. Both times, Perry is despondent at having nothing to do.
Remake Cameo: Nods to previous Superman continuity include casting Phyllis Coates as Lois's mother in "The House of Luthor", and Jack Larson as an old Jimmy Olsen in the episode "Brutal Youth". Coates played Lois Lane for the first season of The Adventures of Superman, while Larson played Jimmy throughout the series' run.
Leslie Luckabee is played by Patrick Cassidy. His father, Jack Cassidy, played the sleazy Max Menken in the 1966 Broadway musical, It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! (In the 2010 revival, Patrick played his father's old role).
Required Secondary Powers: Superman's Nigh-Invulnerability extending to his clothing was described in one episode using the centimeter high "invulnerability field" from the comics. His powers were actually well explained because he voluntarily had Star Labs examine him.
Ret Canon: During the time when Lois and Clark ran on television, the comic-book Perry White shared his TV counterpart's passion for Elvis Presley, even quoting his catchphrase.
Retro Universe: Metropolis is intentionally designed with this is mind.
"I've Got a Crush On You" goes particularly nutty with this trope. The Metro Club is swarming with mobsters and molls, all of whom speak in forties lingo, and showgirls singing WWI-era tunes.
Ripple Effect Indicator: When Tempus goes back in time to kill Clark's infant self with kryptonite, the adult Clark begins to fade away.
After Superman is trapped inside Tempus' time portal, the utopian future ceases to be. This causes Andrus to vanish from existence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clark:: 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?
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!".
The public does not look fondly on a super-hero father a "love child" and (making matters worse) failing to provide financial support. The crowd chants "Super-Hero. Super-Zero!" They hold up handmade signs with slogans such as:
"Super Stud is a Dud" "Be a MAN Superman" "Super Kids Need Super Dads" "Superman Can't Fly Above the LAW"
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!