A series, airing on The WB and later The CW, that chronicles Clark Kent's adolescence as he comes into his powers and eventually takes on the mantle of Superman.The show started out as more of a Teen Drama, focusing largely on Clark's interactions with his friends, family and Love Interests, and how this leads to his development as a Super Hero. It initially took a Monster of the Week approach to most episodes, introducing "meteor freaks" who gain various powers thanks to exposure to Kryptonite deposited in Smallville during the meteor shower which heralded Clark's arrival.Whereas Lois and Clark shifted gears toward a Post-Crisis vision of Superman, Jeph Loeb led the way in bringing many Silver Age ideas back into prominence on Smallville. Most notable among these is the origin tale of Clark and Lex knowing each other in high school, and Lois Lane being introduced to Clark long before their partnership at the Daily Planet.note Interestingly enough, one 1940's comic featured a young Clark/Superboy winning a high school journalism contest, with the prize being a day as a cub reporter on the Daily Planet. Guess who the other winner was?The first half of the show (Seasons 1-5) dealt strictly with Clark figuring out who he was, while the second half was more about Clark finding his place in the larger DC Universe, frequently butting heads with recurring guests such as Green Arrow, the rest of the Junior Lifeguard Associ— er…Justice League of America, the Justice Society, the Legion of Super Heroes, and even the New Gods.The show managed to survive for a decade, beating Stargate SG-1's record as the longest running American Sci-Fi show (Power Rangers doesn't count, because it uses Japanese-made footage). The show concluded its tenth and final season in May 2011, and given that Smallville (the town) had barely appeared since Season 8, the show could have quite reasonably been renamed Metropolis for the final stretch.A "Season 11" has been made in comic book form, featuring the adventures of Clark in the Smallville universe, now as Tom Welling's likeness in a new Superman costume. It's still called "Smallville" though, to signify that it's a continuation of the series.
Amnesiac Liar: When Chloe tells Clark he's a meteor freak in "Blank", though she didn't know that she was lying since she really did think he was meteor-infected.
Apocalypse Anarchy: Riots break out all over the world when Brainiac unleashes a computer virus which starts shutting down all technology on Earth (happens during the episodes "Vessel" and "Zod").
Artifact Title: By Season 8, Clark had left Smallville to join the Daily Planet in Metropolis (as he obviously had to, sooner or later), though an argument could be made that "Smallville" is now more a reference to Clark himself, via Lois' nickname for him. Also, Clark doesn't think of himself as Superman at this point; Seasons 8-10 are about him letting go of his Smallville life to become the man he needs to be. "Smallville" was how he hid in the shadows; "Superman" is when he steps into the light.
"Ryan": The specialist Clark used his powers to get fails to save Ryan, and he still dies. The final scene shows Clark leaving Ryan's hospital room, looking back on the now empty bed, and he stands in the corridor, the hospital staff walking around Clark, oblivious to his grief.
"Exodus": Clark destroys his ship and the shockwave from the explosion kills Martha's unborn baby. Jonathan rails at Clark for this and Clark leaves his parents in their grief. Chloe, jealous of Clark and Lana's growing romance, agrees to spy on Clark for Lionel. Lex wakes up midair in his private jet to find his bride gone, the pilot gone, the control consoles smashed and his jet crashing into the ocean. Overcome with grief and guilt, Clark deliberately puts on the Red Kryptonite ring, reverting to his Jerkass Kal persona to avoid feeling any more pain. As Kal, he leaves Smallville, Lana and his adoptive parents, seemingly for good.
"Shattered": Lex is committed to a mental asylum despite Clark's best efforts to help him, Lana's in the hospital.
"Truth": Chloe, after being inflicted with a truth gas made from meteor rocks, goes to retrieve her voicemail which has Lionel's confession over how he killed his parents. However, it is not Lionel's confession, but a recording of Lionel saying that he has erased the voicemail, leaving Chloe heartbroken.
"Memoria": Lex recalling the truth of what happened to Julian and confronting Lionel with it after an episode of flashbacks showing how their relationship began to break down from bad to terrible and increasingly destructive.
"Covenant": Kara, the Kryptonian girl Clark had been falling in love with, is really Lindsay Harrison, a pawn of Jor-El. Jor-El takes Clark away, Jonathan goes into a coma, Lex is poisoned, Chloe's house blows up.
"Pariah": Alicia Baker, who had done a Heel-Face Turn and had married Clark, is murdered.
"Onyx": Lex's good and evil selves are merged, but not before Evil!Lex goads his father Lionel into giving up his conversion to good. The smirk on Lex's face at the end as Lionel announces the end of the charity he founded suggests that Lex's halves merged with his evil side dominant which suggests Lex's Face-Heel Turn began here.
"Ageless": The rapidly aging boy Clark and Lana grew to love ages to the point of being an old man and dies. Lex's final line, just a few episodes after "Onyx", indicates he's now well and truly become evil.
"Persona": Lana is forced to admit she's been far happier in the past month with Bizarro than she's ever been with Clark... just before she kills Bizarro. Even as he knows he's dying, Bizarro tells Lana he loves her. Brainiac drains the mind of (and most likely murders) his kindly creator, Dax-Ur, giving Brainiac the information he needs to become more powerful. Lex has Grant Gabriel, the clone of his dead brother Julian, murdered before Lionel's eyes just as Lionel and Grant were starting to bond.
"Arctic": Lex finally discovers Clark's secret and uses the Kryptonian Orb to bring down the Fortress of Solitude.
"Bride": Doomsday literally crashes Jimmy and Chloe's wedding, killing at least one person, brutally beating Jimmy into a coma and abducts Chloe. Chloe's cousin Lois is left grief-stricken and confused, wondering why these horrible things keep happening to all of them. Chloe is possessed by Brainac. And the whole thing's being monitored by Lex Luthor.
"Requiem": Lana leaves Smallville forever due to being irradiated with kryptonite and being near Clark could kill him... wait, Lana leaving forever? YES!
"Doomsday": Jimmy dies, Davis dies, Clark declares himself dead and Zod returns as a younger previously cloned version of the original. Not to mention Lois is accidentally transported one year into the future after a violent tussle with Tess and nobody knows what happened to her.
"Salvation": Clark is able to send Zod and all the Kandorians away, saving Earth. However, Clark has a dagger made of blue kryptonite stabbed into him and is falling to his death off the building. He gets better, though.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four member Justice League team up in the episode "Justice": Oliver aka Green Arrow (choleric), Victor aka Cyborg (melancholic), Clark (phlegmatic), and Bart aka Impulse (sanguine).
Grand Theft Me: "Transference", "Spell", "Sacred", "Spirit", "Commencement", "Isis".
"Groundhog Day" Loop: "Reckoning". Subverted in that the loop only repeats once and the only thing Clark's able to change is which person he loves dies that day. Originally it was Lana. In the loop, it's Jonathan.
Telepathy: "Stray", "Ryan"; Season 9's "Echo" centers around Clark gaining this as a temporary ability.
They Killed Kenny Again: In a dramatic use of the trope, Clark's fathers, or anyone who treats Clark as a father would, all end up dead, usually protecting him. Before the series starts, Jor-El died on Krypton to save him. Come season five, Jonathan dies after succumbing to his heart problems, which came about from him getting the power to save Clark in season 3. Following this, off-screen at some point before Season 6, Virgil Swann is dead. Lionel, who is subsequently an avatar of Jor-El, is killed in Season 7 by Lex while covering up Clark's secret. Then in Season 9, the Kandorian Clone of Jor-El is killed by another Kandorian. Plus, if the voice in the Fortress counts, the many times its shut off, destroyed, taken over, or apparently destroyed pushes this number up quite a bit more.
Time Travel: "Reckoning", "Apocalypse", "Legion", "Infamous", "Pandora".
Season 10's "Fortune" was—based on the fact that Allison Mack was only going to be in five episodes in the Finale Season—Chloe's probably-final appearance, so her leaving in this episode was not a surprise. The fact that Oliver goes with her for an undetermined length of time is the surprise. Oh, and Tess and Emil might just behooking up now...
"Lexmas", actually subverted when Lex is forced to pursue money and power in order to save the life of his potential future wife, who would have died if he had become a Nice Guy, setting up his future status as the antithesis of Superman. Really more of an It's a Wonderful Plot.
Despite not happening at Christmas, "Homecoming" fits the mold better, with Brainiac 5 showing Clark his past, present and future to get him back on track.
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Chloe seems to believe that Smallville High has one. When Clark decides to run for Student Council President, she grills him on his positions on issues ranging from the menu prices in the cafeteria to the administration's habit of searching student lockers for drugs, in a manner that suggests she thinks he'll have some influence over those policies.
In one episode, Jonathan (played by John Schneider) is driving his pickup truck while The Dukes of Hazzard theme song plays on the radio. In another Dukes of Hazzard allusion, when a State Senator played by Tom Wopat shows up, we learn that he and Jonathan are best friends. John Schneider said, according to the DVD commentary on Season 1, that he was in an airport around the time the show premiered, and it was the first time in 20 years he was recognized for a role other than being a Duke boy.
When Margot Kidder, the Lois Lane actress from Chris Reeve's Superman movies, shows up as the assistant to Reeve's character Dr. Swann, she implies that she and Dr. Swann were/are attracted to each other. When questioned as to whether they had ever been in a relationship together, Kidder's character wistfully replies "In another lifetime."
When Dean Cain, Lois and Clark's Clark Kent actor, shows up, we briefly see a handkerchief with his character's initials: "C.K."
James Marsters, famous for playing the vampire Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, plays a professor who denies the existence of vampires. The main villain of the episode is a girl named Buffy who has been turned into a vampire-like being. Though the Buffy name is an in-universe reference, as Chloe says she's changed the names.
And Then What?: One could deconstruct Zod's motivation as failing to take this into account, since he doesn't appear to have any long-term goal other than to take over the Earth to turn it into a New Krypton. In fact, the Bad Future seen in "Pandora", shows that the Kandorians don't seem to be doing more than spinning their wheels, rounding up humans in slave-camps, all while letting the planet fall into a state of disrepair. Behold the glorious New Krypton, folks?!
A good example is "Legion", where despite having spent the last 8 years dealing with meteor-infected Meta-Humans, naturally occurring superheroes and aliens visitors from other worlds... apparently time travel is considered to be too ridiculous?!
The foster parents of a human-looking alien with physics-defying superpowers balk at the idea that magic exists.
Baby-Doll Baby: In the episode "Memoria", Lex is sitting on a high balcony, in the rain, apparently hallucinating that he is rocking his baby brother Julian to sleep. He's singing to the blanket and tells his father to be quiet or he'll wake the baby. He thinks he found the baby inside of his dorm, crying and told Julian that he'd never let anyone hurt him again.
Lionel (John Glover) also came back (sort of) for the final season, and Zod returned for the episode "Dominion".
Aaron Ashmore reappeared as Jimmy Olsen... the real Jimmy Olsen. Also, Jonathan Kent reappears multiple times in the finale, most notably appearing as a ghost to hand Clark his iconic suit in the Fortress of Solitude.
Beneficial Disease: In one episode, there's a little boy with a brain tumor that gives him telepathy. It's revealed to be fatal in a later episode, however, and they are unable to reach an expert who could possible save him before it's too late.
Betrayal Insurance: Chloe has (or had) caches of Kryptonite stashed around the world. It is not clearly stated if it is for the Kandorians or Clark, but Clark is understandably upset when he found out.
Body Surf: The Phantoms, Zod, numerous meteor freaks, the witches in "Spell", Darkseid.
Book Ends: An almost perfect example — in the pilot episode, Lex rescues Clark from a prank of being strung up on a scarecrow post in the middle of a field. In the first episode of the last season, the Old Lex clone ties Lois up on the same post as bait for his and Clark's Last Dance. The clone actually comments on this to both of them.
Also both the season one premiere and finale feature a school dance and a natural disaster (though how natural the meteor shower was depends on how you look at it).
The Grand Finale. It starts with Chloe reading a Smallville comic book to her son, and not counting the obligatory final scene of Superman going off the save the world, it ended with her finishing the story and tucking him into bed.
Bound and Gagged: Lana, most of the time. Though Clark had a few notable examples. Chloe in "Checkmate".
"I'm from out of town. Unexpected visit. But I guess I'm back in the nick of time. Wouldn't want to miss how it all turns out."
Broken Aesop: At the end of episode "Unsafe," Martha Kent lectures Clark on using better judgment about something he did while he was on red Kryptonite, which impairs his judgment. Characters in the show are pretty consistently forgiven for things they did "while they weren't themselves," including at the beginning of season 3 when Clark comes home after a much longer bout with red Kryptonite in Metropolis during which he was committing serious crimes. And for all of that he was on red Kryptonite voluntarily, whereas in "Unsafe" Alicia gives it to him without his knowledge.
To be fair, at least once with Clark, it stuck for two episodes (longer than it's ever stuck in a Superman series outside of the comics). And with Martian Manhunter, it stuck till Doctor Fate restored his abilities.
The Bus Came Back: Pete Ross returned for one episode in Season 7, and Lana returned part way through Season 8 for a small story arc. Kara in Season 8's "Bloodline" and Season 10's "Supergirl". Season 10 had practically every major character who had departed the show return in some capacity during the season. Notably, Pete Ross & Lana Lang were the only lving characters not to return during the season, whilst any other characters who didn't come back had been Killed Off for Real. Not that being dead managed to stop Jonathan, Lionel & Lex returning in some capacity.
Episodes that introduce a Super Hero from The DCU end with this—"Run", "Aqua", and "Cyborg".
And in Season 10, Chloe in "Fortune."
Cain and Abel: In season 7, Lex Luthor ends up creating his own Cain and Abel, when it's revealed he made Grant Gabriel as a clone of his dead baby brother. When Grant discovers this, he becomes very angry and hateful of Lex. Grant tries to form a familial relationship with their father Lionel against Lex's wishes. So Lex hires a hitman to gun him down. Then Lex goes outside to scream in the rain.
Smallville also has a version of Zor-El, Supergirl's father, who is antagonistic towards his brother Jor-El because of his love for Jor-El's wife, Lara.
Lex and Clark Kent have been billed as being in a Cain and Abel relationship since the very first episode it seems. On Earth-2, Clark was adopted by Lionel Luthor. Didn't end well for Lex. And father is OK with that because he believes in social darwinism. However, Lionel was furious that his adoptive son hasn't killed him yet, as should be expected. After coming to "our" universe, he's soon began to miss his son and planned to revive "our" Lex. Which he did.
Jor-El and Zod were also similar to Clark and Lex.
Lex ultimately ends up the Cain to yet another sibling- younger half-sister TessMercer, who he murders in the Grand Finale. His reasoning is that it's a version of a Mercy Kill so that she doesn't end up likehim, but few people buy that- he almost definitely killed her so that she was out of his way, since at the time she had control of LuthorCorp.
Call Forward: As mentioned elsewhere, this happens constantly and in spades. Though it comes up rather naturally. Properly the most notable one is Clark becoming Superman, Lois and Clark hooking up, and Lex Luthor becoming the villain. However, there were twists that did come out of nowhere, such as Connor Kent in Season 10 and Jonathan Kent dying in Season 5 but do occur if you have seen the right clue.
Played straight with Lionel Luthor, who is now canonically Lex's father. Lionel, and John Glover's portrayal of him, resonated so well that he was written into the comics as Lex Luthor's canonical (and deceased) father. While Lex had obviously always had a (deceased by the time of the "present day") father, this character had never had a consistent name or physical appearance and usually had no importance. But ever since Smallville, Lex's father is explicitly named "Lionel Luthor" and flashback scenes have depicted him as looking very similar to actor John Glover. A zombiefied, Black Lantern version of Lionel even showed up for revenge against Lex in Blackest Night.
Besides characters, various elements from Smallville that have made their way into the comics include black kryptonite (which has the power to split a Kryptonian into two personalities with separate bodies and first showed up in the S4 premiere), the Smallville version of Green Arrow's costume which—as of the New 52—is now Ollie's official costume. Also, Oliver's clean-shaven appearance from Smallville has made it's way into the comics as of the New 52 (these last two changes can be attributed to the fact that Smallville's version of Ollie is probably the best-known version to the general public). Also the idea of Lex Luthor spending time in Smallville during Clark's teenaged years—though originally an idea from the Silver Age Superboy comic books that was retconned away at the start of the Post-Crisis era—was brought back into continuity largely thanks to Smallville.
As of Geoff Johns's Superman Secret Origins miniseries, Smallville's idea of a young Clark learning how to use his powers while secretly defending the citizens of Smallville from meteor freaks is now officially part of Superman's backstory in the comics.
Chloe is an outstanding example of Character Development. In the early seasons, she was rash, impulsive, and always eager to expose the truth about everything. When she got extremely jealous of Clark and Lana's relationship, she made an ill-advised deal with Lionel to spy on him as revenge, though she quickly regretted it. A year-long Break the CutieStory Arc and a ton of character growth in Season 3 made Chloe become more mature as time went on. Season 4 opened with Chloe and her father living in hiding as part of the fallout of her actions a year earlier. Eventually, they were able to come out of hiding. By the time Chloe learned Clark's secret in mid-Season 4, she had matured to the point where she told no one, not even telling Clark himself that she knew, choosing to allow him to tell her when he was ready. In Season 5, once Clark knew she had discovered his secret, she became a valuable sidekick and helped him save the day on many occasions.
Lionel too. At the beginning of the series, he was the Trope Codifier for Magnificent Bastard and Season 3 featured him as the show's true villain, while Lex during these seasons was a somewhat dark but generally good man. By the time both Luthors exited the show in Season 7, Lex had transitioned all the way to The Dark Side, while Lionel had been redeemed by Clark.
Cat Grant (the one introduced in Season 10, not Season 9) went through this as well, as she comes to appreciate The Blur in "Booster".
Character Shilling: LANA! It began all the way back in Season One, when everybody in the town kept gushing about how amazing and strong and wonderful Lana was...despite the fact that there was very little on screen to actually confirm this, and most fans found her to be kind of underwhelming. So the writers decided to emphasize Lana's talents to an unrealistic extent, having her start up a coffee shop at the age of 15, while apparently engaging in equestrian competitions and maintaining a high grade point average; fans found this unrealistic and quickly noticed the character shilling, and began to be annoyed. Then the writers apparently decided that the best way to address this was to...shill her even more. All the fan favorite characters—including Chloe and Lex—began gushing about how amazing Lana supposedly was. It still didn't work. So the writers began shoving her into every storyline they could think of, but all it did was make fans despise her even more. The pattern kept on going and became a vicious cycle: fans would dislike Lana, and the writers would attempt to change this by ramming her down the audience's throats even more, which in turn just made people dislike Lana to an even greater extent. It got to the point where Lana's send-off involved her essentially becoming a God-Mode Sue. Naturally, many fans threw up their hands in disgust at this development, but at least she left the show (finally).
Chekhov's Gun: Plenty throughout the series run; for example in "Icarus", Lois escapes from Slade's soldiers in the Daily Planet building by using the escape tube in Tess' office, which was established as existing a season earlier.
Cheshire Cat Grin: Tess is REALLY good at doing this. Whenever she's plotting something, or something she plotted has came through, she'll pull one of these. Subversion, as what she's planning usually isn't exactly evil, its just morally ambiguous.
Chess Motifs: Checkmate, an agency introduced in Season 9 that attempts to weaponize superpowered beings, uses chess terms and puns. Their leaders are codenamed White Queen and Black King, Mooks are called pawns, etc. Their base even has black and white squares all over the place.
Childhood Friend Romance: Chloe seems to be the unlucky childhood friend, especially since we all know that Clark marries her cousin.
Clark Kenting: Not so much Clark himself, but Oliver Queen. He dresses up like Robin Hood for a party in "Wither", then in the next episode, the Green Arrow (Oliver in disguise) steals a necklace at a party. Lois, of course, doesn't see a connection.
Cliffhanger: Every season finale up until the series finale ends with one. Usually with major characters in mortal peril.
Grant Gabriel and Adrian Cross, aka Julian Luthor. Season 7 in general could have reasonably been given the tagline "Attack of the Clones", given that this season features all the clones mentioned above (except for the Zod clone from Season 9 and his army, of course), plus Bizarro for three episodes.
Season 10's "Lazarus" features more clones intended for organ transplants for Lex. One was in a tank, another was a child, and a third, more aged clone, oddly similar to Voldemort. The child clone survived and turned very, very evil.… except after going through the Cloning Blues, the clone was revealed to be Conner Kent/Superboy (who had gone through his own share of Cloning Blues).
Colony Drop: Apokolips comes within a few miles of impacting Earth before Clark pushes it away.
Lana wore baby pink and baby blue for the first three seasons of the show. Then she switched to black the season she gets possessed by an evil witch. Then she started wearing either all black or all white as her character got more morally ambiguous in the later seasons.
Color Motif: Early episodes also liked to use primary colours for anything related to Clark Kent, hinting at his future as Superman. It was also done for environments. The town of Smallville—and the Kent Farm in particular—were given very warm tones, while Metropolis was portrayed for many seasons through a bluish filter to give the sense that pre-Superman Metropolis was a much more cold and uncaring place.
Comic Book Adaptation: DC Comics, not surprisingly, published about a dozen issues of its own Smallville comic book. After the series ended, it began publishing Smallville Season 11, following on from the events of the TV series.
Consulting a Convicted Killer: After someone frames Lex for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Clark visits Lex's father in prison, wondering if he somehow managed to orchestrate this from behind bars. Lionel Luthor denies involvement, but he does help Clark figure out the killer's identity, another one of Lex's exes.
Contagious Powers: Everyone — EVERYONE — on the show has at one point or another gotten (and lost!) powers from: Kryptonite, genetic engineering, holding onto Clark and Kryptonite simultaneously during a lightning strike, Jor-El, Kryptonian technology, possession by someone with powers or mystically. In fact, it happens to Chloe FOUR times and three times to Lana.
Continuity Nod: The show generally has made nods to virtually every major era/incarnation of Superman. Ideas from the Byrne reboot, the Silver Age, the Donnerverse, Superman: The Animated Series, the current comics era, and several new ideas have been blended together and all manage to co-exist on Smallville.
Convection Schmonvection: In "Metamorphosis," Clark saves Whitney from a fireball by covering his back with his body. We actually see the fireball engulfing Whitney's uncovered front, and we are shown that the blast super-heats Clark's body to the point that his father is burned just by touching him, but Whitney is fine...somehow.
Cool Car: Lex Luthor, naturally. He is always driving a car that is fast, pricey and most of all cool.
Cool Loser: Clark, Chloe and Pete are shown this way at first. They grow out of it. Chloe even becomes Prom Queen in Season 4, and Clark becomes the star quarterback. In Season 1, when Clark is running for Class President, Pete even points out that Clark is actually well-liked and has looks and charm. Pete himself is shown to have friends and respect outside of the group, likely due to being on the football team.
Crucified Hero Shot: Clark gets this trope on occasion. It starts in the pilot when he's strung up as the Scarecrow in a very literal crucifixion, he gets another in "Hidden" after being shot by Gabriel, and in "Salvation" after being stabbed by Zod with blue kryptonite. As Superman can be seen as a Jesus allegory, this makes sense.
Damsel in Distress: Lana, Chloe, and Lois. Clark himself gets into easily as much distress as any other character. He has a more dedicated nemesis than anybody else on the show, a crippling weakness, and any number of people who want to capture him to exploit his powers/study the alien.
Compared to the light-hearted Season Two, Season Three definitely counts. Only in certain spots though. There are still a lot of episodes in Season Three that focus on one episode story lines that drove the first two seasons with the same mix of humour and actual peril. However, it is also the first season to focus more on big-picture elements, and it deals with the main characters going though a lot more turmoil. Clark starts off the season dealing with his dark side and living a very rough and rebellious lifestyle in Metropolis, Lex has a psychotic break (well, partly) and ends up institutionalized at Belle Reve, Chloe life's is turned into a living nightmare at times, and Pete starts to occasionally feel the bad effects of keeping Clark's secret under wraps.
The second half of Season eight, compared to the first half. Season nine features it as well, largely as a result of the S8 finale's fallout. In general, from Season 5 onwards, the show was darker than the earlier seasons.
Deadly Disc: "Savior", during the fight between the Kandorian woman and Clark.
Deadpan Snarker: Lois, Chloe, Oliver, Lex, Lionel, Tess, and on a good day, Clark.
Death by Origin Story: There was a comic book about Lex's childhood hero, the Avenging Angel, whose love interest became a victim of this trope. When the producers of a movie based on the comic decided to use the Spared by the Adaptation trope on her, it motivated the villain of the week to kill her actress while recording the scene where the character should die. When said villain learned of Clark's powers and how he uses them for good, the villain decided to kill Clark's love interest out of the belief a hero needs this element and a living girlfriend would be a weakness.
Death Is Cheap: Practically everyone. Special mentions to Chloe Sullivan, who managed to die for no less than eleven times.
Differently Powered Individual: Called "meteor freaks", because most of them get their powers from the meteor rocks that came with Clark from Krypton. Chloe coined this phrase; ironically, she later discovers that she herself is a "meteor freak" and rails against use of the term, much to Jimmy's bewilderment (he wasn't in on this secret yet).
Early-Installment Weirdness: Several early episodes make it sound like the Luthors have been the royal family of Metropolis for generations. Later seasons would establish that Lionel Luthor was the son of Scottish immigrants and that he was born into poverty and went from Rags to Riches.
Easy Amnesia: Occurs more often on this show than most people have hot dinners.
The real test is when Clark does become Superman and how that will square with a substantial number of people knowing he is Clark Kent. Nearly no one knows what "The Blur" looks like, but everyone will know Superman's face.
Used to a ridiculous grade in "Finale", when Tess simply smudges a neurotoxin in Lex's face making him forget everything, not just Clark-related stuff; every single thing that ever happened in his life is completely and instantly erased. So much for a Freudian Excuse now.
Chloe. She lost the ability later, due to a bizarre encounter with Brainiac.
And Freak of the Week Cyrus Krupp in Season Two.
Engineered Heroics: "Obscura" featured a policeman who kidnapped Chloe in an attempt to get credit for finding her. When that failed due to him and Lana having a telepathic connection, he decided he'd rather get the credit for solving the latter's murder...
Everybody Lives: A semi-regular trope of the show, actually, thanks in part to Clark's Thou Shalt Not Kill policy. While a majority of episodes feature deaths, there's a substantial minority of episodes (on average, about 7 per season) where no one dies and Everybody Lives.
Evil Is Hammy: Yes. Dear god, yes. Lionel, Lex, and Zor-El all run with this trope. It's Callum Blue's performance however, as the scenery chewing Major Zod that really proves it.
Evil Twin: Bizarro and Ultraman to Clark, Earth-2 Lionel to the real one.
Chloe Sullivan originally started as an Expy for Lois Lane (the actual Lois was introduced later), as well as the Silver Age version of Lana Lang. As she began to grow apart from Lois, her journalism career was downplayed and her computer skills evolved to their current levels — making her an expy for Oracle.
Tess Mercer, in her first two appearances, was referred to as both "an obscure regional VP" (unfit for her job of taking over for Lex Luthor) and a "pitbull in Prada." The first was said to her while they were up in the Arctic. The second, after she had firmly assumed control of her bald boss's former position. That's right, it's Sarah Palin. Of course, she's intended as a fusion of Mercy Graves and Miss Teschmacher (tending much more toward Mercy.)
The episode "Warrior", turned the in-universe fictional Warrior Angel into a Captain Marvel Expy.
There are some sharp similarities between Green Arrow's characterization and relationship with Clark, and that of Batman. Throw in the fact that The Dark Knight Saga likely meant the writers couldn't use Bruce, and that makes a lot of sense all of a sudden. Appropriate, given that initially Green Arrow was very much the poor man's Batman in the comics, with his earliest stories featuring Speedy as a blatant Expy of Robin, as well as an Arrow-Mobile and even an "Arrow Cave."
Exposition of Immortality: "Dr. Curtis Knox" is never implicitly referred to as Vandal Savage, but that's pretty much who he is. A Civil-War era photo of a bearded Knox which Lex shows Clark confirms he's immortal, or at least older than he looks. He also tells Chloe that he was once Jack the Ripper himself. According to Smallville: The Official Season 7 Companion, Dr. Knox was indeed created as the creative team couldn't get the rights to Vandal Savage.
Failure Is the Only Option: For Lex; for Clark/Lana's relationship; for Clark's desire for a normal life; for Chloe's unrequited love for Clark; for a great many things.
Davis in "Plastique", after his transformation back into a human.
First Girl Wins: Averted, despite Lana deing hyped as the designated love interest, she and Clark ultimately separate.
First Gray Hair: Spoofed in "Spell". The Wicked Witch, Isobel, has taken over Lana's body and needs the hair of a virgin for a potion she's brewing. When Lois has her back turned, Isobel plucks one of Lois' hairs out, but frowns upon realizing that Lois isn't a virgin. Lois, who is unaware that Lana is being possessed by Isobel, angrily asks Isobel why she would pluck one of her hairs out. Isobel lies and says "It was gray", to which Lois insists "I don't have any gray hair". Isobel shrugs and looks innocent. Lois gets a nervous expression on her face and says "I'll... be in the bathroom using your mirror," and hurries off.
Flanderization: Chloe went from someone who was okay with computers to being able to trace a bug's point of origin, discover anything about anyone, and she even had a shot at decoding a Kryptonian virus on her PC... when all the power on Earth had been shut off. Basically she filled in any plot holes where the writers couldn't think of a way to get Clark to the place he needed to be. Brainiac downloads its intellect into her, pretty much super-Flanderizing her computer skills; it turns out he was responsible for her intelligence going out of control and she was losing more and more of herself as time went on.
In later years, this would extend to recurring characters and several cases of series regulars Whitney Fordman, Jason Teague, Davis Bloome, and Jimmy Olsen, who'd be Killed Off for Real, might be mourned in the episode they died, and then either never mentioned again or mentioned in only the briefest most casual way for plot purposes. Some particularly egregious examples:
Alicia Baker. In a two parter she and Clark fall deeply in love, she is 'the one' but thanks partly to Clark not believing she was innocent of attacking his friends she is killed by the actual baddie. The very next episode opens with Clark excited about getting a football scholarship.
Gina. Granted the only one who'd care would be Lex, and it's Lex were talking about here. Still, you'd think he'd spend at least a moment wondering who in the hell murdered his most loyal and devoted assistant?
Season two, Clark had a passionately romantic attachment to this Native Americanshapeshifter with a meaningful bracelet and prophecy saying she was his soul mate, and in the end, she tragically dies. Next episode, it was like it never happened, except she had been the device for the 'caves' setting to be introduced, and those stuck around. What was her name, anyway? Kyla Willowbrook.
Partially averted with Lionel Luthor, who's mentioned quite a bit after his death. However most of his mentions are of the evil bastard he was at the start of the series and not as the ally he became in the show's second half.
Averted in the best way when it comes to Jonathan Kent.
Freudian Excuse: Lex's hyper-manipulative, borderline-sociopathic, power-obsessed dad really did a number on him. Then again, in the finale absolutely all his memory is erased, up to and including all his childhood memories, rendering this pretty much pointless. Well, presumably, his personality is still intact, so he is still the bitter, angry, cynical bastard we've all come to know, even if he doesn't remember why.
Foreshadowing: Ironic references to the Superman mythos. So God damned many.
On a separate note, in the prologue of the pilot episode, we see a newspaper headline mentioning that the head of Queen Industries is missing presumed dead. This foreshadows Oliver's eventually appearance on the show.
When Lex proposes to his girlfriend, the song playing in the background becomes recognizable as an acoustic cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper"....needless to say, things don't end well.
One of the biggest long term foreshadowing, apart from Clark's destiny, comes from the season 1 episode "Hourglass" when Cassandra sees Lex's future: He is in the White House, with white clothes and a black glove on his right hand. This foreshadows stuff that we only find out in the finale, almost ten years later: the glove is to cover his imperfect cloned hand, in 2018 he is elected U.S. president and he wears the same white clothes in the presidential inauguration.
Gambit Roulette: Quite early in the series, in Season 1, there was a Roulette involving Lex Luthor, his father, and an old lover named Victoria. Victoria came to the Luthor mansion and led Lex to believe that she was playing on Lex's dislike for his father so that her own father could buy out LuthorCorp. Lex convinced her that they should play their fathers against each other and bring them both down. Lex cultivated a romantic relationship with Victoria and when they went into business talks with Victoria's father, he said that he was poised to buy out LuthorCorp thanks to Victoria's intelligence she gathered from Lex's computer. However, Lex had already made sure that Victoria's father's endeavors would be useless and unfruitful. Lex and his father bought out Victoria's father's corporation, but in a surprising twist, It was revealed that Victoria was a lover of Lex's father and working for him the whole time.
Gaslighting: Happens to Lex after he was lost on an island and during "Shattered".
Government Conspiracy: Checkmate is one; the Suicide Squad is the remnants of one. The government went above board with the Vigilante Registration Act and General Slade Wilson spearheading it, although the public is still in the dark about the government constructing concentration camps for the superheroes.
Green Rocks: Trope Namer. The kryptonite fragments left all over Smallville have had literally dozens of different effects, not including individual powers bestowed, depending on what else is present in the immediate area when an individual is exposed. Which is how the human "freak of the week" in the first two seasons got their powers, usually them having to be at the point of death when exposed.
Happily Adopted: Clark has boatloads of angst over his Kryptonian heritage, but he loves his parents and considers them his real family. He even explicitly says in "Rosetta" that no matter what he finds out about his people, the Kents will still be his mom and dad. He has also told Jor-El that Jonathan is his real father and never calls Jor-El "father". Except in "Abyss".
Word of God: According to the show's producers, in the flash-forward sequence set in 2017, Clark and Lois are happily married, although they chose not to display any rings at the Planet office due to their desire to keep their professional lives separate from their personal lives.
Hard Head: Smallville is the king of this trope. Lex and Lana have each been knocked out almost 50 times.
He Who Must Not Be Seen: Despite numerous allusions to his famous alter ego, we never see Clark in full Superman regalia. Except right at the end of "Finale". Quite appropriately really. Although given that it is entirely CGI other than his face...
Healing Factor: The Kryptonians, Curtis Knox and Lex possess it. Certain drugs can temporarily give anyone this power, with side effects. For a while, Chloe had not only the power to heal herself but to heal others, even resurrect them. She saved Lois' life once. She later lost that power because of Brainiac.
Lionel, who eventually becomes a father figure for Clark. It was mostly a case of Clark redeeming him. While Lionel still had ulterior motives, for the most part by Season 7, he was genuinely concerned with making sure the world didn't end as a result of Lex's various insane quests, and Clark was naturally the best means to accomplish this.
In "Homecoming", both Brainiac (5) and Greg Arkin (the villain of the second episode of the series who returned to his high school reunion to thank Clark for helping him overcome his madness).
"Alexander Luthor"/LX-15, one of the Lex clones, in "Beacon".
Tess does one in the finale of season 9, eventually joining the team in season 10.
The worst example, however, has to be Lex, who constantly bitches about Clark keeping his secret from him, while simultaneously keeping an army of skeletons (all of them far, far darker than Clark's) in his own closet.
Lana complains constantly about Clark and Lex hiding things from her, but the minute she has a secret (the black spaceship, the fact that Lex is still alive, etc.), she goes out of her way to hide it from Clark. Which also makes her Too Dumb to Live, since in those situations Clark is probably the first person she should be talking to, as he actually has a proven track record of saving her from these situations.
Clark is perhaps the biggest example: he expects everyone else to be completely honest with him about everything, but builds his relationships around lies and deceit, insisting on keeping his "secret" even among his closest friends.
That's probably why he's so touchy about lies; he knows people keep secrets and that somebody can be deceiving you even when it doesn't seem like it—he does so himself.
Lampshaded in "Zero," where he chews out Chloe for snooping around in his past, then immediately invites her to join him in snooping into Lex's. Chloe does a double-take.
He admits that his reactions to things are what keep people from telling him things in "Luthor." He starts the episode off by telling (secret) Luthor Tess that all Luthors are dangerous and evil. He then is furious and offended when he finds out that she hid Lex's clone from him. He then disappears into the plot before Tess can admit to her heritage, so we don't know how he would've taken that. At the end of the episode, however, he's realized that blaming the entire Luthor bloodline for Lionel's influence is the exact reason why Tess didn't tell him the truth, so he stops being a jerk about it.
In "Nocturne," he peevishly comments that Lana's Secret Admirer sounds like a stalker. This, from Mr. Peeping Telescope.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Yeah, good luck with that. Clark has gotten a lot better about this. In fact, by Season Eight it's fully gone, though in "Hex", when Zatanna granted his deepest wish he lost his powers and his memory of them, (Chloe was able to snap him out of it.) In Season Nine, it's even less likely he wants to be normal, as he has accepted his destiny to help humanity with his powers. This could be considered as part of the character growth as a virtual human raised by humans who is on the cusp of fully accepting who and what he is and thus becoming Superman.
Surprisingly averted with "Absolute Justice", the two-hour special. But then again, it was a double length episode. It also forced them coming up with more and more elaborate synonyms for "Red". Like "Crimson".
Played straight when you consider that the two individual episodes "Absolute Justice" is comprised of are named "Society" and "Legends", and thus stick to using one-word titles.
Informed Attribute: Throughout Season 9, Zod frequently claims that Kryptonians have superior intelligence to humans, despite the fact that they juggle the Idiot Ball and Villain Ball nearly all series long and make a symphony of blunders and bad decisions.
While Smallville is full of different takes on the featured comic book characters, Cat Grant is absolutely nothing like her comic book counterpart. In the comics, she started out as a promiscuous gossip columnist and later became a cougar with breast implants and low cut blouses where the TV version actually spells the word "sex" at one point because she's too uptight to say it and is actually kind of pudgy and conservatively dressed. All this to turn her into a Straw Conservative where the comic book version couldn't care less about politics.
Insane Troll Logic: Albeit not as strong of an example as others have been, one episode has Jimmy figuring out Clark's secret as a vigilante. The general train of logic goes something like this. Jimmy takes picture of blurred red figure (Clark saving both him and Lois from a mugger using superspeed in his typical red jacket), Smallville has people being saved from various "accidents" (past episode kinds of things), then after seeing a picture of Clark in his red jacket, thinks Clark is the vigilante. While the end conclusion is correct, the train of logic/actions taken to figure this out is wildly weird. First off what the heck would lead you to a backwater town of all places, especially when there is virtually nothing to point you to said town even with the 'saving people from accidents' bit. Second off, you think that Clark is the guy because of his red jacket? Yeah because he's clearly the ONLY person in the ENTIRE planet who wears a freaking RED JACKET!!!! All in all, Clark should have been able to shoot this train o' logic down no probs.
Instant Expert: Lana's martial arts skills. She was trained by Lex in the early seasons and worked out much like Tess did later, including wearing boxing gloves and hitting the heavy bag. The episode we see Lana being trained by Lex has her facing a guy who'd been threatening her, and kicking him so hard he's knocked into a table and ends up unconscious. She couldn't have had more than a few days practice with Lex until that point.
Instant Sedation: Has happened multiple times to almost every female regular, but the hands-down winners are Chloe, Lana, and Lois. Basically, if you're a female character who's attracted to Clark, chances are it'll happen to you. Combines naturally with Damsel in Distress for maximum effect.
Interspecies Romance: Clark and any of his girlfriends, as well as Bizarro/Lana. Other Kryptonian-human relationships also apply.
Intrepid Reporter: The show is saturated with these. Chloe and later Lois and Clark are the most prominent examples.
It rained heavily during the funeral of Whitney's father. It snowed at Jonathan Kent's funeral. It was a bright sunny day at Henry James "Jimmy" Olsen's funeral. It was also sunny at Carter Hall's funeral in Egypt in "Luthor", albeit was held indoors.
Karma Houdini: Lex and Oliver after it was revealed in season 6 episode "Reunion" that he indirectly causes the death of one of the classmates that he bullied though no one calls him out on it, not even Clark..
Keeping Secrets Sucks: Lana's motto, which she repeated to Clark over and over from Seasons 2 though 6… not that it stopped her from keeping her own big secrets during that time period. Chloe in particular gets a lot of pressure from Lana when the latter (finally) figures out Chloe is protecting Clark.
Main/recurring characters who are now dead include Whitney Fordman, Dr. Virgil Swann, Jason and Genevieve Teague, Sheriff Nancy Adams, Jonathan Kent, Lionel Luthor, Henry James "Jimmy" Olsen, and Davis Bloome.
Lampshade Hanging: The Legion of Super-Heroes episode did this a lot. For example, surprised at Clark not being Superman, Lightning Lad expresses dislike at the "No tights, no flights!", and they mention that they've never heard of Chloe. Possibly also a Mythology Gag in reference to the Legion visiting Post-Crisis Superman for the first time and being surprised at how he was not the Superman they were expecting. That story was a pivotal attempt at explaining how the Legion could remain non-retconned after the retconning of Superman removed his Superboy adventures. It didn't work.
Large Ham: Lionel (and the Earth-2 version even moreso), both Zods, Rick Flag, Zor-El.
Limited Wardrobe: A side-effect of Colour-Coded for Your Convenience — Clark's blue shirt and red jacket combo. Every time he wears something else, he's probably at work, it's a special occasion, or he is evil/'dead'. It got to the point where, in one episode, Jimmy, seeing a red/blue blur caught on camera, came to the conclusion that it was Clark going around saving people, just based on the colors.
That episode also included a scene where Clark gets all his clothes out to sort the red and blue ones from the rest and dispose of them, only to discover that they are all red and blue.
By Season 9, Clark doesn't wear any red and blue on his uniform, though sometimes in his everyday clothes.
Perhaps made fun of in the Season Nine episode "Warrior", where Clark goes to the Smallville universe's version of Comic Con (Metro-Con or something). We see somebody wearing what looks like Clark's red and blue. This would mark the first time Clark has worn red and blue since "Doomsday" (the Season Eight finale, which was over eleven episodes ago)... if it weren't for the fact we see Clark bump into the guy wearing what looks like his old outfit, and is wearing his Daily Planet suit.
Clark was in a major funk after the episode "Doomsday", feeling responsible for the death of Henry Olsen and regretting his humanity, so he took on an all black motif until early in season 10 where he is wearing at least maroon and blue.
Darkseid takes Lionel's heart out and plants it in the Lex clone's body.
Loners Are Freaks: Subverted in "Hug," with Lana and Whitney automatically assuming that the local hermit is responsible for Lana falling off her horse simply because he happened to be around at the time (Lana so strongly believes in his guilt that she turns on Clark when he isn't prepared to judge as quickly). As it turns out, it really was just an accident and the episode's true villain is a Faux Affably EvilCorrupt Corporate Executive who prides himself on (pretending to be)ing everyone's buddy.
Long Runner: After running for ten years, Smallville beat Stargate SG-1 as the longest running American Sci-Fi shownote It surpassed it on May 6, 2011, and the series finale aired a week later on the 13th . The difference in length is only three episodes, however, and the SG-1 movies Continuum and The Ark of Truth put it over the top if counted.
The show has Meteor Freak of the Week, mutants created by kryptonite. Season 6 also gave us the Phantom Zone escapees-of-the-week. As the series has progressed, it has much more of a Story Arc, but of keeps the Monster of the Week format.
It also had an interesting variation starting in Season 4: Hero of the Week. Every season would have about two or three episodes where a superhero or two from the comics would guest star, run amuck, get on Clark's bad side, then ultimately they'd make their peace and help each other out before leaving in a manner that some could interpret as a Poorly Disguised Pilot.
Mordor: The Phantom Zone is a desolate wasteland populated by Krypton's worst criminals, many of whom are Phantoms, seeking new bodies. Nothing grows, the wind always blows at gale force, and the terrain is treacherous. It actually gets worse in Season 10, when General Zod seizes control of it in the name of Darkseid and carves out a hollow empire from it ruins, forces many of the residents into his army, and institutes a brutal series of gladiatorial games that prune out those who nature and their fellow criminals have missed.
Jason Teague. He goes from refusing to help his mother after learning she may be manipulating him and Lana, to being a fully clued-in accomplice to her plan and treated as though he always was. It smacks of rushing him out of the show.
Similarly, Davis Bloome's transition from good-hearted paramedic to completely-unstable killer that murders Jimmy when he realises Chloe doesn't love him reeks of contrivance, simply to make Clark leave at the end of Season 8 because Humans Are the Real Monsters. Many people were upset, including Bloome's actor.
Mundane Utility: Clark has been known to use his heat vision to make toast, heat up coffee, and light candles. He also uses his super strength to drive nails with his bare hands, plant fence posts, and lift cars and tractors instead of using a jack.
In "Lexmas", Chloe recruits Clark for an emergency... using his super speed to deliver Christmas presents to thousands of children in Metropolis.
Carter Bickson from the Deletion Force mentioned that there was a Level Three facility in Gotham City. (Chronicle)
Oliver Queen's friend Geoffrey says he has to return to Gotham right before he gets in his limo. It then explodes. (Reunion)
Linda Lake taunts Chloe by saying she can see Gotham from her new office. (Hydro)
Bart Allen, the Smallville-verse Flash, has fake IDs in the names of all the other DC Universe Flashes (Wally West, Barry Allen and Jay Garrick) in his first appearance. Now flash forward to The JSA in Season 9 and Jay Garrick...
A Brainiac-infected Chloe is a lot like the Brainiac-13-infected Lena Luthor and Brainiac's Daughter.
Nanomachines: Brainiac's physical form is composed of millions, possibly billions, of these.
Network Redheaded Step Child: Smallville became this after The WB was replaced by The CW; network president Dawn Ostroff seemed to utterly despise sci-fi shows, and only kept Smallville and Supernatural around because they were the two highest-rated shows on her network, not out of any affection. During her tenure, half the show's budget was cut and given to her favorite shows instead, writers were often fired between seasons, and Smallville and Supernatural often received zero promotion from the network, which was way more interested in pushing shows like Gossip Girl and the Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place remakes. On one occasion, the network president was questioned about this, to which she retorted "Gossip Girl is the phenomenon"...despite Smallville still being the network's ratings leader.
Never Gets Drunk: In "Turbulence", we learn that Clark is either physically incapable, or needs astronomically huge quantities to get there.
Or when the alcohol is magically charmed, as in "Fortune". Also an allusion to Superman's weakness to magic.
Alec/Devilicus: (threatening to push Chloe off a building) Lethal enforcers are way more interesting. They were big in the nineties.
No More for Me: Perry White does this when the Kent family tractor plummets out of the clear blue sky to smash to pieces in front of him in "Perry".
Not Himself: Clark gets reprogrammed into Kal-El, complete with full access to all his powers including flight; Lex, when he gets possessed by Zod; Lois when she is possessed by Faora in "Bloodline"; Lana when the Definitely Not Good Witch takes her over; countless other examples. In fact, Clark whenever he's infected by Red Kryptonite.
Obfuscating Disability: Lionel Luthor. In the beginning of Season 2, a life-saving surgery left him temporarily blind. He eventually regained his sight, but neglected to mention it and faked being blind for a few more weeks because people let their guard down around someone they thought couldn't see. Street-wise Lucas Luthor, however, sees through the ruse immediately upon first meeting him; Lionel pours himself some water and doesn't put his finger inside the glass to know when it's full. Lucas tests his theory later by signing "BITE ME" on an important contract instead of his name, and when Lionel can't hide his reaction, Lucas forcibly throws a billiards ball at his head. Lionel reflexively dodges and is fully exposed.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "Luthor," Tess and Lois somehow manage to stay alive against Earth-2 Clark until Oliver shows up with Kryptonite weapons, and even then, judging by the state of the three of them and the Watchtower, it must have been one hell of a fight. Arguably done on purpose to create a Crowning Moment of Funny at the end, when Earth-1 Clark is transported back to Watchtower and is taken by surprise to see the place wrecked and Lois, Tess, and Ollie all aiming kryptonite arrows at him. Clark's facial expression says it all.
Oh Crap: Let's just say that whenever a hostile Kryptonian arrives, this is the default expression of everyone.
Earth2-Lionel's face says it all at the end of Scion when standing next to Lex's grave, he is surrounded by black smoke that transforms into Darkseid and towers over him. Oh crap, indeed.
Lionel Luthor gets one in "Transference" as he sees Clark coming after him in the midst of a prison riot. Even more so knowing that Lionel and Clark have switched bodies.
An epic one from Zod at the end of "Salvation" when he realizes that he's just accidentally confessed to killing Faora in front of his troops and later when he realises that Clark fatally stabbed himself with the blue kryptonite dagger, so nothing could prevent Zod from being transported to New Krypton to face justice from his former comrades.
Phlebotinum Battery: Clark is fighting against his Bizarro clone, who has all of his powers inverted. Kryptonite strengthens him and the sunlight weakens him; this is when Clark learns that the yellow sun fuels his powers. In an earlier episode, solar flares/sun spots cause his powers to go haywire and he doesn't have the same precision control.
Poorly Disguised Pilot: The "Aquaman" episode, although apparently not originally intended as such since it was going to be in a different continuity from the show.
Power Creep, Power Seep: Clark is suddenly powerful enough to shove a planet back into space in the finale, this was a planet capable of traveling under its own power too. This is more than a little out of synch with the power level he's shown to have during the rest of the series.
Power Loss Makes You Strong: As often as Clark loses his powers, this happens quite a bit, most notable being taking a bullet for Lois while weakened by kryptonite.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Sort of. It takes elements from all versions of Superman from the Silver Age to Post-Crisis to The Superman Films and kind of puts it together while adapting it for a modern day audience.
In an interview, Phil Morris (the actor who portrays Martian Manhunter) said that he once asked the producers if it was intentional that J'onn would take on the appearance of a racial minority as a reaction to the sensation of being an outcast he feels since he's the only surviving member of his race. The producer's response was basically "Not originally, but it is now."
Reality Ensues: Done cleverly with a Hope Spot. After finding a photo that showed that Lionel's death was not suicide, Lois and Jimmy are trapped by a shooter under Lex's orders. The shooter shoots Lois in the shoulder after she locked them inside and went to attack.
Really Gets Around: Oliver Queen is portrayed to being quite fond of female company. He has slept with all three of the main female characters as of season nine. The Luthors are also all over this trope.
Redemption in the Rain: Of a kind, in the episode "Rabid" when the people who have been turned into zombies, Lois included, are cured.
Reset Button: Used multiple times, but referenced by name in Season Eight's "Infamous".
Retool: The series' creators left before Season Eight began, and the show has shifted focus with far greater ties to pre-existing DC characters. Only two original cast members are left (Clark and Chloe), and Oliver has been added to the main cast.
Chloe, that is Allison Mack, only came back for a few episodes in Season 10; Lionel Luthor, that is John Glover, is back apparently for a few episodes if not the rest of the series, albeit he is not the "original" Lionel Luthor but from a parallel universe.
The Veritas icon being retconned onto the Luthor mansion window.
A very blatant and awkward one at the end of season eight. This Jimmy Olsen turns out to be the older brother of the Jimmy Olsen. Named Henry James Olsen, while his younger brother is the James Bartholomew Olsen from the comics. That being said, the showrunners did make it up to Aaron Ashmore by having him return as Jimmy—this time the real one—in the Distant Finale.
Although, the writers knew from the start of Jimmy's run that he would not be the real Jimmy Olsen. Although this was more down to Executive Meddling than anything. They decided that either when Smallville ends, or they had "taken Jimmy as far as he could go" they would reveal the truth.
In Season 10, Tess is revealed as Lionel's illegitimate daughter and Lex's half sister. This is despite several Season 8 episodes implying that Lex and Tess had a romantic involvment, such as in "Bulletproof" where she admits to having loved him, while Regan implies in "Power" that he saw some of the footage of her "highlights", his tone heavily implying that she was indeed sleeping with Lex. However, Tess definitely doesn't know she is his half sister and no one really knows what is going on in Lex's head.
The "highlights" was in response to Tess saying that she had Regan's murder of one of her subordinates on security tape. He was implying that he had footage of her various illegal activities.
Revival Loophole: Tess is being pursued by Checkmate, who implanted her with a tracking device powered by her body. Chloe stops her heart with a defibrillator to deactivate the device and (eventually) injects her with something to start it again.
Reusable Lighter Toss: In season 3 episode "Slumber" (averted), and same season "Hereafter" (played straight)
Revenge Fic: Lana Lang had this. A lot. Let's just say that there were many Smallville fans who hated Lana's Mary Sue status on the show and were eager to take the character down a peg.
Rousseau Was Right: Both Martha Kent and Lex Luthor's clone espouse the idea that people are taught to hate and that Clark is so noble because nobody ever taught him that.
Running Gag: Lois' very Eighties-Hair-Band taste in music. Also her poor spelling, which started way back in the movie (admittedly, it was incorporated as canon in the comic, even before the series started). Whitney's inability to drive a truck without totaling it. Clark and Chloe's ship-tease moments. People inadvertently exposing Clark to kryptonite (Andrea's locket, Lex, Bart and Chloe have all opened the lead box with the meteor rock in it, Lana's necklace, etc.)
Clark manages to escape on his own, without help from the outside, and subsequently reimprisons Zod in the season six premiere. He then spends the rest of season six hunting down the other Phantom Zone prisoners who escaped at the same time he did one by one and either killing or preferably reimprisoning them.
Second Super-Identity: Clark Kent/Superman takes on a secondary superhero persona as "The Blur", when Jimmy Olsen captures him on camera as a red-blue blur.
Secret Keeper: There's no main character on the show who's not one. Lois was the last one who didn't know Clark's secret (a fact not lost on her in Lazarus). It's implied that Sam Lane figured out Clark's secret at the end of "Ambush", which has been suggested in #3 of the Smallville Season 11 comic book.
Lex's knowledge of the secret and his other memories was removed by a neurotoxin used by Tess in the Finale.
Most of the people who have learned Clark's secret are dead, their memories wiped, or incommunicado (in the Phantom Zone, inside some super science device, in a coma etc). Some good "Meteor Freaks" have learned and kept the secret.
Lex sorta but not quite figured it out early on, but Clark refused to fully entrust him with it. Up until season 7, he's constantly finding some strong evidence but gets rejected or disproved by either Clark temporarily being Brought Down to Normal, or as in Justice, Lionel covering for him. Every time Lex 'finds out' he'll always state proudly 'I knew you were different, Clark', only to have his memory of the event removed.
Tess figures it out by reading Lionel's journal, and spends a season not-so-subtly telling Clark she knows and wants him to trust her, but Clark refuses. He finally caves, while confronting her and holding her up by her throat.
Brainiac, being as he was a Terminator 2-like living liquid metal produced by a spaceship, could do this on top of so many other things. Mostly used so he could be in several places at once to throw people off his scent while plotting.
Lex Luthor murders his Archnemesis Dad Lionel as his final step into true villainy. Lionel himself was revealed to be one of these earlier in series, having had his friend Morgan Edge kill his AlcoholicAbusive Parents in a gas fire. One can only wonder what Lex's children will do, should he have any...
Technically Tess kills Lionel as well, though it's his Alternate Universe counterpart. Regardless, he is still considered her father even by Tess herself, and she kills him in self defense.
Although the specific phrase is never used, Clark said something to this effect about Lois all the time from Seasons 4 through 7. However in Season 8, he starts to reevaluate his feelings on that matter...
Clark and Chloe, every now and then. Davis once mistook her as his fiancée when he sees her engagement ring from Jimmy.
Shipper on Deck: Lex for Clark/Lana early in the show. He continually tells Lana that she's with the wrong guy and sets Clark up with her on several occasions.
Ironically, Lex would later marry Lana and it would be a large factor in the break up of Lex and Clark's friendship in addition to Lex's evil deeds. In addition, a few years after Lana and Lex divorce, Lex finds a way to prevent Clark and Lana from ever being together again.
Lois is encouraging towards Chloe's affection towards Clark in the middle seasons.
In a reversal, after Lois accidentally and unknowingly kisses Clark and says he's a better kisser than her current boyfriend Oliver, the look of utter glee on Chloe's face can't be mistaken as anything but this.
Lana's storyline during her return in Season 8, though not until her last episode ("Requiem"). Clark can never go near Lana again because the suit that is grafted to her skin is irreversibly contaminated with massive amounts of Kryptonite.
The writers have gone to great lengths to explain to fans that Clark and Chloe will never be anything more than friends, pointing out that Clark doesn't reciprocate her feelings, and that Chloe herself eventually gets over it.
Shooting Superman: The most idiotic example of this happening is in "Infamous". After being accused of Lex's murder in an alternate timeline where he revealed his powers, a SWAT team attempt to shoot Clark. Despite knowing that he is bulletproof.
Shop Class: Brainy kid Ian Randall couldn't get anything better than a C in that class and killed the teacher to cover it up.
Shot to the Heart: Clark does this to Chloe in "Truth" and Lana in "Thirst". Chloe does it to Tess in Season 9.
Jonathan Kent (played by John Schneider) is heard playing the theme to The Dukes of Hazzard in his car. In one episode, Tom Wopat (who played the other Duke cousin) shows up as an old friend of Jonathan. Thanks to a stuck door Jack (Wopat) has to get in his car (a Dodge Charger!) through the window.
Chloe and Lois get a few per episode. There is also an occasional shout out to Clark's later career and eventual marriage.
In an episode where Lana joins a sorority of krypto-made vampires, Clark and Professor Fine (James Marsters) have this exchange:
Clark: This is gonna sound crazy, but she was bitten by.. a vampire.
Prof. Fine: There's no such thing as vampires.
The lead vampire in that episode is a blonde valley-girl named Buffy Saunders.
A subtle cross DC/Marvel example. In a season 9 episode, when Chloe and Clark are searching for Ollie after he'd been kidnapped, they use a computer generated map of the world that shows where all the Kandorians are and in the process, ending up looking like a suspiciously similar version of Cerebro
An averted example appears in the episode "Onyx"; Lex has inadvertently (and at first unknowingly) created an evil clone of himself (Black Kryptonite separated the Good and Evil personas of him). In order to be sure he's talking to the real Lex, Clark asks about the Lex he's talking to (the evil one) about an encounter he knows he had with the real Lex. Little does Clark know however, the evil version was listening in on the conversation, and manages to fool Clark at first.
Including, going by the Season 1 DVD commentary, the show's creators. It's kind of creepy the way they gush over then-teenage Lana/Kristin, calling her "the true magic of the show."
Lana isn't the only one who gets them. Clark had Alicia stalking him, and Maxima even traveled to Earth from Almerac just to hunt him down to be her mate.
The Starscream: Some fans accuse Oliver of wanting to "steal" the position of leader from Clark, and lambaste him for daring to question Clark's decisions...even though Oliver has technically been the leader of the superhero community from the very beginning of it's collaboration, and in fact is the one who actually put the community together in the first place (Clark is The Heart, but he arguably doesn't become the undisputed leader until Season 10).
Start My Own: Lex's response to Lionel hindering his progress at LuthorCorp was starting Lexcorp.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Clark's favorite way to enter or exit any scene. Usually the special effects crew are kind enough to at least give us his distinctive superspeed whoosh sound, but occasionally not, such as in "Splinter" where Clark has been infected with silver kryptonite (which gives him paranoia and hallucinations) and breaks into Lex's castle. Lex walks down a darkened hallway, looking everywhere for Clark, and when he turns around, Clark is standing where he'd just looked with no apparent way of entering the room.
Blink and you'll miss it, but in an episode where Clark is depowered ( actually inside a virtual world), he leaves the room without Lois or anyone else present noticing his disappearance for a few minutes, showing that he can actually do this without using super speed.
Stock Episode Titles: Lots. From least to most common on the list: "Vortex", "Red", "Salvation", "Odyssey", "Zero", "Apocalypse", "Phantom", "Blue", "Truth" ("The Truth" on the list) "Forever", "Sleeper", "Prey", "Lockdown", "Whisper", "Descent", "Abandoned", "Doomsday", "Shattered", "Quest" ("The Quest" on the list), "Crossfire", "Asylum", "Suspect", "Metamorphosis", "Exodus", "Prodigal" ("Prodigal Son"/"Prodigy" on the list; the episode is about a wayward son), "Conspiracy", "Nemisis", "Fever", "Cure" ("The Cure" on the list) "Power", "Bloodline" ("Bloodlines" in the list), "Phoenix", "Justice", "Fallout", "Reckoning", "Vengeance", "Requiem", "Sacrifice", "Checkmate", "Obsession", "Resurrection", "Crush", "Masquerade", "Arrival", "Escape", "Hero", "Witness", "Legacy", "Homecoming", "Reunion" and the obligatory "Finale", many of which are rather…literal. With over 50 such episodes, there are over 1 in 5 episodes which have stock names. There are also "Identity" and "Crisis" which makes up "Identity Crisis" from the list.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Lex and Lana tried to get Clark to revel his secrets when he lost his memory in Blank. While Lex succeeded Clark regained his memory before Lana could
Stuff Blowing Up: The show probably has the most serious usage of Stuff Blowing Up then anything. Sometimes it is difficult to find an episode without an epic explosion. Just in season one, we have a classroom combustion ("Hothead"), greenhouse explosion ("Craving"), car explosion ("Metamorphosis"), bus near-explosion ("Rogue"), gas canister explosion ("Drone") and a gas-line explosion ("Obscura").
Type 0: Lois, Chloe, The Kents, Lex, Lionel, Tess, Lana before she gains Lex's super suit
Type 1: Green Arrow, Rick Flag, Deadshot, Slade Wilson, or is he?
Type 2: Most meteor freaks/metahumans, Impulse, Aquaman, Cyborg, Black Canary, Hawkman, Stargirl
Type 3: Most aliens, Kryptonians under the yellow sun, Clark, Kara, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Lana after gaining Lex's super suit, Zod, Braniac, Doomsday, Darkseid
Type 4: Doctor Fate
Take That: The episode "Hex" in Season 8 was meant as a spoof of the infamous Chlois Theory. For those unfamiliar with it, the Chlois Theory was basically an idea created by some Chloe/Clark shippers and hardcore Chloe fans who wanted Chloe Sullivan to "become" Lois Lane, stating that at some point, she would assume this identity. Oddly enough, the theory didn't die when the actual Lois Lane was brought into the show in Season 4. Many Chlois theorists were rather aggressive in their hatred for the Lois Lane character when she was introduced, and there were massive Flame Wars between fans of Erica Durance's Lois and the Chlois theorists who still clung to the idea that Chloe would one day "replace" Erica Durance's character as the one true "iconic Lois Lane" (a phrase thrown around a lot during these debates). This occurred despite the fact that the show's creators, producers, and actors all repeatedly stated that the Chlois theory would not come true. One can only imagine that the showrunners finally got fed up and decided to write this episode to spoof it.
To make the point more obvious, after spending a day as a duplicate of Lois Lane, Chloe (after being restored to her usual self) says aloud that she will never be Lois Lane, and finally chooses a new career path: working for the Justice League full-time, declaring "Watchtower (her codename) is officially online."
The Vigilante Registration Act, headed by one General Slade Wilson, is a subtle one aimed at Marvel's Civil War and Dark Reign storylines.
The VRA is less of a take that and more of a Homage.
Tap on the Head: Clark has been known to employ this rather literally, on occasion. The first such example is in "Nicodemus" when he lightly tapped Pete on the forehead and knocks him cold. Other characters also sometimes employ this trope in the traditional manner of smashing objects over someone's head.
1: Kyla Willowbrook, a Native American who can shapeshift. When she found out the truth of his nature, her attraction to him peaked and they began an instant romantic relationship with their first kiss; died in one episode
2: Alicia Baker, a superpowered girl whom Clark dated between Lana and Lois; think Lori Lemaris from the Silver Age, only evil. Went Fatal Attraction and imprisoned and then brought back reformed 1 season later; died in two episodes.
3: Jessica "Jessie" Brooks, a new student at Smallville High School who dressed provocatively and liked to party, so consequently, she got along well with Clark Kent when he was affected by Red kryptonite. Jessie and Clark dated briefly. Clark told Lex that Jessie was his new girl. By the end of the episode she and her father were on the run.
Basically everyone at one point or another, but especially Lana Lang. (Honestly; going swimming, after dark, in the school pool, in Smallville?)
One of Robert Anson Heinlein's sayings by way of his longest-lived character fits her perfectly: "Live and Learn. Or you won't live long." (The interested can look it up in The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
Took a Level in Badass: The premise of the whole series is Clark going from mild-mannered farmboy to the world's greatest hero. Arguably Clark's greatest leveling took place between Seasons Eight and Nine, as evidenced by his ability to take on trained Kryptonian soldiers without his powers during Season Nine. He fares better in his first fight than his last, but he "won" both of them.
Tornado Move: "Homecoming", future Superman puts out a nuclear plant fire by flying around it really fast.
Trash the Set: Halfway through the final season, Luthor mansion (which had been a feature of the show since episode 1) is burned to the ground by Alexander Luthor. And earlier in the season, the Talon coffee shop/upstairs apartment is blown up by a missile launched by the Suicide Squad.
Trauma Conga Line: Chloe, Chloe, oh dear god Chloe. She may cross to an Iron Woobie but good god, the stuff that happens to her, it's amazing she didn't snap.
Trope Trigger: Several episodes required Clark Kent to become Brainwashed and Crazy. The writers handled this by retooling red kryptonite from the Superman canon, so that instead of having some bizarre random effect on Clark it always turned him into a sociopath. It got so whenever fans saw a red glowing rock they knew what trope would be in force for the episode.
Tuck and Cover: Clark's default mode of rescue, mostly when it comes to explosions. First example was in the second episode, "Metamorphosis".
Ultimate Universe: Well, Word of God said that it's a re-interpretation of the Superman mythos. Not to mention that there are some DC Comics characters making guest appearances, sometimes slightly heavily modified.
Un-Confession: Used several times throughout the series. The eighth season alone features Lois 'admitting' to being in love with Clark under lie detector and then claiming to have fooled the machine, and (in a separate episode) Clark revealing his identity to the world. In a past episode, Clark also told Lana the truth about him before resetting time after she died, and, in a strange inversion, he once erased the knowledge of his alien heritage from Chloe's mind — which also didn't stick (i.e. she remembered).
Uncle Pennybags: Clark and his friends benefited vastly from a series of sugar daddies. First, from Seasons 1-4, Lex Luthor often bailed Clark & friends out of their money troubles, as he was still essentially trying to buy Clark's friendship. After Lex gets caught using armed and superpowered thugs to hold Clark's parents hostage (and thus force him to reveal his secret if it had gone as he'd planned) in Season 5, Clark distances himself from Lex. However, for most of Season 5, Lionel steps in and starts eagerly playing the role of Uncle Pennybags in a desperate attempt to impress Martha with his generosity. Lex occasionally still chips in money, but only in odd circumstances when he and Clark are thrown into a position where their interests coincide. Then from Season 6 onwards till the end, Oliver Queen steps in as Team Clark's big financier, as he is the major backer of the Justice League, eventually being joined in this role by former Dark Action Girl Tess Mercer in the later seasons.
The Unfair Sex: Lana’s great aunt is portrayed very sympathetically even though she cheated on her husband with a man she just met and admitted she never loved him. To make matters worse Dexter blamed himself for not letting her go and him spending the rest of his life in jail after being framed for her murder was just punishment. It runs in the family Lana repeatedly falls in love while she’s dating someone else. Yet the fact that Lex likes to sleep around makes him a horrible person who treats woman like crap. This is especially jarring when you remember that in every committed relationship Lex has had before that episode the woman betrayed him. So it is very understandable why he would prefer meaningless flings. The woman who tried to kill him cheated on her fiancée. The only one to blame for her ruined relationship was her.
Unwanted Harem: Several. Lana used to get a Stalker with a Crush on an almost-weekly basis in the earliest seasons. Clark himself has had a few. Alicia started out as a welcome suitor, who quickly became unwanted when she turned into a Stalker with a Crush. Maxima from Season 8 would definitely count as one too. Chloe in the first few seasons also had a huge crush on Clark, but this apparently faded.
Vagueness Is Coming: Jor-El's warning about Darkseid's coming is so pointlessly vague that Clark actually thinks he's talking about something else and ends up doing nothing to stop him.
Happens a lot to Meteor-Freaks, who are routinely experimented on.
The Kandorians perform this on Humans in Season 9. With the added hypocrisy to then beg for mercy from a former test subject who decided to return the favour in kind.
Vehicle Vanish: In a Season 9 episode, Major Zod realizes that Tess has played him. He looks across the street, and sees Tess raising her coffee cup in a sarcastic salute to him. A truck passes and in that split second, Tess is somehow gone. Unless she managed to make a highly-improbable jump onto the side of the truck and ride away with it, one wonders exactly how Tess did this, considering the fact that she has no superpowers.
Viewers Are Morons: In Britain, Channel 4 and its sister channel E4 insisted on billing it as Smallville: Superman - The Early Years. They eventually stopped doing that, thankfully.
Weirdness Censor: The people of Smallville seem to have a pretty strong one. In one episode, Chloe is suspended from the school paper for writing about meteor freaks...by the same principal who, a few episodes before, was set on fire by a pyrokinetic (who later immolated himself in the football team's locker room without anyone finding anything amiss about the circumstances).
Weirdness Magnet: How else would one describe the town of Smallville, Kansas? And Clark himself.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Lex Luthor. Dear God Lex Luthor. Results in a Tear Jerker when Chloe—who received Temporary Powers to compel everyone around her to tell the unfiltered truth—questions Lex about why he can't just walk away from Lionel after all he's done to him, and Lex replies "Because he has the one thing that I want...I want him to love me." As if that wasn't enough, it results in an even biggerTear Jerker at the end of the episode when an annoyed Lionel hatefully sneers that Lex is really starting to annoy him and demands to know "What do you want from me?!" and a dejected Lex quietly replies "It doesn't matter, Dad. Because I'm never going to get it."
It gets to the point that, for the first couple of seasons, he was even trying to get a "Well done, son" from Clark's father. He ain't picky.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Lucas, Lex's brother, vanishes after his first episode. Initially justified as he was in hiding from Lionel. However, when both Lionel and Lex die, their is no reason for him not to step forward and claim a huge inheritance.
One could argue that Lex's will left everything to Tess, so there was nothing for Lucas to claim. Still, it's a bit odd he was never mentioned, either after Lex's death, in Earth-2 (unless he never existed there), or after it's revealed Tess is also a Luthor.
It's also possible that Lex had Lucas killed to avoid the inheritance problem after Lionel's death. Tess didn't know about the Luthor-blood thing yet, so she was no threat.
Averted with Pete, who vanishes for several seasons, but eventually does resurface and Clark and him get closure.
Conner Kent shows up partway through Season Ten. Clark invites him to live on the farm and he enrolls in Smallville High. A couple of episodes later he's 'visiting Martha in Washington' and he never shows up or is mentioned again. Not even, y'know, when the world is ending and having another person around with Clark's powers could be useful.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: It's strongly implied by both more knowledgeable aliens and characters with Psychic Powers that Clark will outlive his loved ones. This was a recurring theme especially during Season 7, where it was used to create tension in Clark and Lana's relationship.
Lionel himself never intended to live forever, as he gave his own heart to resurrect Lex in exchange for having Darkseid claim his soul.
Why Are We Whispering: In the pilot, between Pete Ross and Chloe Sullivan (Chloe Sullivan doesn't know why they're whispering and doesn't whisper herself.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: All over the place, especially in the earlier seasons. Kryptonite infection usually results in violent obsession in those who gain powers, and the early seasons are littered full of "freak of the week" encounters with previously normal (if often a bit self-centered or jerkish) people who gain powers and soon embark on insane rampages.
Wrote the Book: Lex claims the Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences.
Chloe also says she wrote the book on pining over Clark.
Xanatos Gambit: "Absolute Justice" has Amanda Waller and Checkmate. She uses her Suicide Squad (or a member of it) to go after the JSA, not really caring that he kills a couple but killing him when he tried to kill everyone. Why? She wanted to bring them out of hiding to join the budding JLA and prepare for the coming Apocalypse (or is it Apokolips?).
Both Clark and Bizarro were searching for Dax-Ur for different reasons. Brainiac separately told both of them to find Dax-Ur's shield, a device which would transport the user to Dax-Ur himself. Clark manages to find it and locates Dax-Ur. It didn't matter to Brainiac who reached Dax-Ur. What's important was that the activation of the shield emitted a beacon which allowed Brainiac to reach Dax-Ur, who had created him. Brainiac wanted to download information from Dax-Ur's brain to upgrade himself and become more powerful.
In Season 5, Brainiac had wanted to use Clark as Zod's vessel. When that didn't work, he simply used Lex as Zod's vessel.
You Look Familiar: Shawn Ashmore played a villain in Seasons 1 and 3, but his identical twin brother Aaron plays Henry "Jimmy" Olsen in later seasons. Aaron returns in the series finale to play James Bartholomew Olsen.