These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Acceptable Targets: The Amish in the episode "Harvest" were depicted as sacrificing psychopaths.
Jonathan Kent's ghostly appearances in Series 10. Did he really return from the grave to impart advice? Or was he merely an avatar of Jor-El, who recognised that his own tense relationship with his son might prevent him from adhering to his advice, thus choosing A Form You Are Comfortable With as "Jonathan" is the only person he knows Clark will listen to?
The Luthors: are they cultured badasses and misunderstood woobies, or are they utter bastards whose cultured exteriors are just a thin veneer hiding the complete seediness underneath? Lex: Misunderstood woobie or selfish prick who's way too eager to blame others for his problems?
Is Oliver the best or second-best character on the show, or is he just a jerk? You decide!
Is Chloe's transformation into a Big Brother-like figure to "protect" Metropolis in Season 9 the result of Post-Traumatic Stress in reaction to Jimmy's death?
Anti-Climax Boss: The whole of the final season is spent trying to stop Darkseid, and as soon as he possesses Lionel, Clark takes him down in one hit. This is the guy who, in the comics, is a Physical God who is stronger than Superman.
Green Arrow. Some think he's the best character in the show, and particularly in Season 6 many fans loudly praised Ollie for being a more proactive hero than Clark, actually seeking out bad guys rather than waiting for trouble to become visible. In Seasons 8 & 9, many fans also felt that Ollie's plans to deal with Doomsday and Zod were more realistic than Clark's more idealistic plans. Then there is a Vocal Minority who see Oliver as a whiny, self-centered douchebag who indulges in self-destructive benders whenever he's got a problem; some of these fans also tend to loudly castigate him for daring to disagree with Clark's plans.
Chloe became this in the later seasons. For the vast majority of the show's run, she was an immensely popular character (and for years there were campaigns to get her into the comics, which finally succeeded), but starting in Season 8, an unfortunate combination of factors led to a sharp decrease in her popularity: 1. The Chloe/Davis relationship was a major controversial one, and many saw it as a betrayal not only of Jimmy, but also of Clark. 2. Chloe's drastic security and surveillance measures in Season 9 were seen as Orwellian, and as another betrayal (it was revealed that she kept cameras all over Clark's house), 3. Many fans felt like Chloe had become a Purity Sue and Fixer Sue during the middle seasons and that the writers had slowed down Clark's development as an investigator in favor of having Chloe provide all the answers, and 4. The increasing division over Chloe was also probably in part due to a pent-up Hype Backlash against the more overzealous Chloe fans, a reaction that had been slowly brewing for several years and finally came to a head in the wake of S8 and 9.
Erica Durance as Lois Lane: She's either best Lois ever, and perfectly captures the eccentric, never-say-die career woman and Action Girl of the comics, who was not only a better love interest but also a better written romantic pair for Clark, or she's an idiot Hard-Drinking Party Girl who isn't "worthy" of the Lois Lane name. Though the second view seems to be a Vocal Minority, built up of Chloe fans and the show's Hate Dumb; most fans of the show and professional critics seem to adore Erica Durance's portrayal.
The show itself to Superman fans. Some think the show made a great representation of the modern Superman and wanted Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum to be in Superman Returns and/or Man of Steel, and others who think this version is too much of a Teen Drama (even though the show grew out of this after about Season 4).
The Fourth Season shake-up. Ironically, as the "freak-of-the-week" formula fell away and Myth Arcs were introduced, the show sometimes struggled to find a clear storyline without becoming a full-on, tights-wearing, cape-fluttering Superman show. (The result is similar to how the Buffy fandom is split on whether the post-graduation years were hit or miss). The latter half of the series is, for better or for worse, a different creature.
Clana, which went nowhere and strained the limits of believability to keep Lana Lang around; marrying Lex Luthor, gaining and losing super-powers several times over, and dabbling in the dark side as the story dictated, all while Lana emotionally tormented Clark for the pettiest reasons imaginable. Interestingly, there were very few haters in Season One (when the Clana ship was seen as "cute"), but as the series progressed and Lana became an increasingly immovable obstruction in the way of Clark's development and the inevitable Clark/Lois relationship, public opinion turned against her. By Season 2, the Lana division could be stated to be a base breaker, but by Season 3, the hatred for Lana had pretty much become the majority opinion. Not helped by the fact that even after she left the show, she still made several guest appearances where she continued to get in the way of the Clark/Lois relationship. Most fans argue over when she should have been written out completely, but almost everyone agrees that time had long since passed by the time she actually left.
The "No Flights, No Tights" rule. Conveniently, it does not apply to his cousin Kara, his Evil Twin, and other Kryptonians who can jet around at will, the excuse being that Clark is afraid of heights. Ouch. In fairness, the fact that Clark's flight was delayed until the very end made it that much more rewarding.
Season 9. A solid season that makes up for the problems of "Doomsday", has the characters actually being forced to deal with the consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder and find their way back from it, and introduces much more of the DC Comics canon (like the JSA and Checkmate), or a season that got too dark, depending on who you ask.
Cargo Ship: Clark/pie. Clark/Lois/DailyPlanet. Many members of Krypton Site jokingly shipped "Clock" (Clark and a rock) as a joke option or protest vote in the various shipper debates.
Brainiac. He has no redeeming qualities, ruthlessly manipulates those around him with sneering contempt, tries to unleash Zod to enslave the world, and later begins draining people of their trace minerals in order to re-build himself, murders his creator and finally body-jacks Chloe while attempting to end all life on Earth via Doomsday. During the commission of the aforementioned crimes, he experiments on victims using various deadly diseases, and twice unleashes a lethal computer virus. The first one shuts down most the planet as a distraction while he works to unleash Zod; the second one is part of his end-the-world-plot. He infects Mrs. Kent with a Kryptonian disease to make Clark help him in Season 5, and puts Lana in a painful coma in Season 7 in order to achieve the same end, puts Chloe into the same type of coma seemingly out of pure spite, before trapping Kara in the Phantom Zone, taking her place, and revealing Clark's secret to Lex. And oh yeah, in a Bad Future, he and Lex were going to nuke half the world so they could remake it in their image. He's treated with fear and revulsion by Clark, the Legion of Super-Heroes and even Bizarro, and actually gets the Legion to consider performing a Shoot the Dog on Chloe when he was inhabiting her. While he eventually Heel Face Turns it's after being forcibly reprogrammed by the Legion, and thus doesn't count.
Desaad is Darkseid's Number Two, and unnerves even his Co-Dragons, Granny Goodness and Gordon Godfrey. Operating a chain of BDSM-themed nightclubs, Desaad uses them as a front to corrupt the minds of his clientele, making them susceptible to a mass Mind Rape by Darkseid. Anyone who cannot be corrupted is gruesomely murdered, as Desaad uses his telekenetic powers to induce hemorraging and implode their internal organs, leading to an agonising death from internal bleeding. Having disposed of several FBI agents who were investigating him, Desaad kidnaps Chloe and subjects her to an extended Mind Rape, attempting to turn her into one of Darkseid's minions. When she proves resistant, Desaad tries to kill her, tries to kill Clark when the latter intervenes to save her, and then turns Oliver Queen/Green Arrow into a minion of Darkseid after provoking the archer into brutally beating him. Incarcerated under Belle Reve, Desaad breaks out, gives the now mind controlled Oliver a Gold K ring, and tries to force him to depower Clark, so that the future Superman can be slain and the end of the world ushered in. Devoted to freeing Darkseid and bringing about The End of the World as We Know It, Desaad is equal parts Torture Technician, cultist, and Serial Killer.
Creator's Pet: Lana was kept on waaaaay past her usefulness as obligatory love interest from the early seasons. It's worth mentioning, though, that most of the main cast members were heavily retooled as the show's focus shifted to Metropolis: Chloe became the Oracle, for instance. However, no amount of retooling could save this ex-cheerleader/professional artist/astronomer/wicca/business magnate/polymath/commando in the public eye and some people marked her as the biggest reason the ratings were dropping. Nonetheless the writers seemed invested in keeping the talented Kristen Kreuk around, inserting her into every storyline they could, if only so she could keep pulling in the teenage girl demographic (even if much of that demographic wanted to punch her in the throat). The writers' persistence could be chalked up to the fact that Lana is traditionally the girl in Clark's past… if Smallville hadn't made far bigger breaks with tradition, particularly by introducing Lois Lane. What arguably made it even more annoying for fans was that the show constantly had other characters rave about how awesome Lana supposedly was. There were plenty of times when Lana did wrong to Chloe, only for us to see Chloe blindly praise Lana later in the same episode, and times she toyed with Clark's emotions only for him to willingly continue to be her doormat. Even Tess Mercer, a tough-as-nails corporate executive and occasional Dark Action Girl who is usually the Snark Knight, practically declared her undying love and hero-worship of Lana in Season 8. She even came back for three episodes in Season 8 with faux-Navy SEAL training and superpowers. It really says something that in the DVD commentary, co-creators Gough and Millar actually declared at one point that "she is the true magic of the show." Apparently it came out that Gough and Millar actually did the casting for Lana before they did the casting for Clark. That is all.
Crowning Moment Of Awesome: The finale. The biggest is the ending, with Clark coming onto the roof, and revealing his giant S to save the day, while all the while John Williams' recognizable score plays.
Designated Hero: Lana Lang was never able to ditch this title, being constantly praised by the cast even as she repeatedly betrayed her so called friends, always treated as the virtue of morality while chewing Clark out for being brainwashed, as well as being Easily Forgiven when she crossed the line, which she did, several times. And, arguably, depending on who you ask, as with Chloe and Oliver in the later seasons.
Die for Our Ship: Oh God, LOTS of this throughout the series. There were some Chlollie and Chlark fans who applauded Jimmy's death, while on the opposite end there were some Chimmy fans who acted as if Chloe and Ollie spent all their dates tap-dancing on Jimmy's grave. Meanwhile, Clois, Chlark, and Calicia shippers would all stand united against Lana and the Clana ship...until the topic changed to "Chlark vs. Clois", at which point the Anti-Lana Coalition would collapse into a civil war over whether Chloe or Lois "deserves" Clark more, and even over which character was the "real" Lois Lane.
Green Arrow quickly became a fan favorite and rose to become one of the main characters from Season Eight onwards, though he became a slight Base Breaker afterward.
Tess Mercer was one of the few new characters in the show's latter years that enjoyed widespread popularity.
Alicia Baker, a meteor freak with teleportation powers, was only supposed to appear in one episode, but despite being a Yandere proved popular enough that they brought her back for a run in Season 4, complete with a Heel-Face Turn.
There were quite a few fans who frankly preferred Isobel over Lana. While Lana was viewed as an annoying Mary Sue by the majority of fans, her ancestor Isobel was seen as a character who, while evil, was rather fun to watch, in a way similar to Lionel. Her Large Ham tendencies also made her entertaining. And—-perhaps the deciding factor for many fans who preferred her over Lana—-every second that Isobel was onscreen was by definition one less scene with Lana Lang, since they couldn't both be in control of the body at the same time. As a result, there was a very vocal faction of fans who ardently wanted Lana to be replaced by Isobel for more episodes than she was.
Sheriff Nancy Adams was this trope for a lot of people. Although her first couple appearances portrayed her as an Obstructive Bureaucrat who didn't trust Clark, her toughness and her ability to be completely unintimidated by criminals or the Luthors won her some respect pretty quickly. Then, as she spends more time in Smallville she starts to wise up to the fact there are indeed some weird and paranormal events happening in town, and gradually starts to trust Clark more, even if she still urges him to let the police handle things (this makes perfect sense, since Clark is a minor and Sheriff Adams didn't know about his powers; she honestly thought she was protecting him and his friends). By Season 5, Sheriff Adams had developed a friendly relationship with Clark, and even urged him to consider the possibility of joining law enforcement full-time, a complete turnaround from her initial antagonism towards his vigilantism. Through it all, her toughness and her firm commitment to protecting the peace won her a lot of respect from fans...and her Deadpan Snarker tendencies certainly helped as well.
Evil Is Cool: Lionel Luthor. His fans are fully aware of his utter bastardry, yet love him all the more for it. Brainiac's another example, being more or less universally loved not for his good traits, but for being an endearingly creepy and irredeemable psycho on a show that was otherwise filled with Antivillains and Tragic Monsters.
The opinion of many, many fangirls regarding Lex and Davis. The opinion of many fanboys regarding Tess Mercer. During the second half of "Obsession", many fanboys also viewed Alicia this way, though she redeemed herself when she returned the following season.
Whenever Lana, Chloe or Lois is under some sort of influence, they almost always wear revealing black outfits. The "evil" part is debatable.
Fan-Preferred Couple: The base has pretty much been in a fandom civil war over who Clark should ship with, and it can't really be argued which Clark pairing was the most dominant overall, as the base was highly fractured over the issue of who to pair Clark with (Lana vs. Chloe vs. Lois vs. Alicia, and even some Clark/Tess supporters). At best, it can be argued which ships may have dominant at different times in the show's history: In the very earliest handful of episodes, Clana may have started out with a majority of support back when it was seen as "cute," but as Lana became increasingly unpopular, Chlark (Clark and Chloe) overtook it, and may have been the main fan-preferred ship before Lois's arrival, as she was seen as a foil against the widely-reviled Lana (many fans freely admitted that they were only shipping Chlark as an alternative to the now-unpopular Clana, until Clark met his destined future with Lois, knowing full well that both Clana and Chlark were equally Doomed by Canon). Then once Lois arrived, many fans rallied around her, welcoming her as a harbinger of Clark's destined future as Superman and enjoying her witty lines and Erica Durance's acting (though many ardent Chloe-supporters still stayed with the Chlark ship) It can be argued that Clois had become the majority pairing by the end, partially helped by Lois's continued development and increasing importance in the story, as well as the fact that Chloe got involved in another popular pairing: Chlollie.
In later seasons Chloe/Oliver—which became canon thanks to popular fan demand—became a hugely popular ship in the later seasons (even when Ollie himself became a base-breaking character later on, this ship's popularity continued to endure), to the point where the widespread acclaim for this ship actually overwhelmed the canonical Ollie/Dinah ship that had been ship-teased in Season 7 and even the showrunners got on board, making the Chlollie ship happen onscreen thanks to fan demand, and even to the point where in the Grand Finale they leave it vague as to whether Chloe and Ollie are still together, but make it clear that they at least have a child, thus skirting around DC Comics' restrictions while still being supportive of this new ship. At the very least, it's probably the one ship (other than Jonathan/Martha) that doesn't really seem to get much hate from many fans, which in and of itself is a pretty big accomplishment for any ship in the SV fandom, considering how broken the base is!
Lex/Lana too, because it is Ship Mates with Clark/Lois, Chloe/Jimmy, Lois/Oliver, and Clark/Chloe, and Lana is pretty much universally despised, so keeping her away from Clark was generally agreed upon as a desirable goal by most fans. Besides this, many fans felt that Lana's dabbling with the dark side and becoming a Luthor at least added some depth to her character.
Fandom Heresy: Try being a Smallville fan who doesn't mind the deviations from Superman comic book canon, or expressing the view that you liked the witches/lost artifacts storyline from Season 4, or saying that you don't think that every new plot development is a "retcon". Or, perhaps worst of all, try expressing the opinion, to a certain Vocal Minority of the fanbase, that Chloe Sullivan is NOT the living embodiment of perfection. The Internet Backdraft, despite being from a Vocal Minority, will probably burn you to a smoldering crisp. Also woe be unto you if you like Lana more than Lois or Chloe.
Clark and Lex - so heavy in places that fans often refer to the series as "Slashville."
Lois and Tess. Tess herself lampshades this in several episodes. In one episode where Lois and Tess met, after getting into a fight and wrestling each other on a desk the previous time they'd met, Tess smirks and notes that "things got a little physical" (and even wiggles her shoulders suggestively while saying this)...and then asks Lois whether she'd like to "pick up where we left off." Lois declines.
Tess (sensing a pattern here?) and Clark. While Clark never reciprocated, Tess had a definite Villainous Crush on him. It's probably safe to say that Tess is Smallville's reigning Queen of Foe Yay.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: After Season 3, Smallville's domestic ratings began to decline, and it by Season 5 it had gone from being a hugely popular mainstream sensation (during which time the show's stars frequently appeared on the cover of TV Guide and other magazines) to cult show status, at least at home in the United States. However, the show remained massively popular in Latin America all the way until the final season.
In "Kinetic," Clark tries to console Whitney by telling him that he'll "probably go farther than anyone else in this town." Next season, Whitney gets blown up by a landmine. The episode has another moment when Whitney tells Clark that "no matter what you do, your father is always going to be there". Flash forward to Season 5...
In Season 1's "Crush," Lex meets his childhood nanny, who says that he was like her own child. The heartwarming moment is diminished much later in Season 10, when it's revealed that she did have a child of her own- Tess, who ended up in an Orphanage of Fear on Lionel's say-so.
In Season 2's "Visage", mighty-morphing shapeshifter Tina Greer exposits her reasons for wanting to take over Clark's identity: "You have the perfect life, Clark. Great parents, good friends, and the girl of our dreams just waiting for you to make a move." Fast forward just a couple years later and it becomes clear that this exact same line could describe in a nutshell why Lex becomes insanely jealous of Clark and, in part, why he turned against him.
A major out of universe example is Season 6's "Justice", where Cyborg briefly mentions that Oliver gave him a reason to keep on living. This is painful to watch after Lee Thompson Young's suicide.
In a Season 1 episode, Amy Adams had a one-off role as a Meteor Freak with a weight problem…about ten years before she was cast as Lois Lane in Man of Steel.
In "Lazarus", LX-6, the defective Lex clone, is seen to be bald and wear a metallic breathing mask... coincidentally, making them appear identical to how Bane was later depicted in The Dark Knight Rises.
Jensen Ackles playing the psychotic snarker with huge psychological and parental issues named Jason, since he would go on to play Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood, the second Robin who has the same problems, except his parental issues are focused on his dad, Batman.
During the early and middle seasons of the show, it was a fairly common phenomenon for fanfics to feature an original female character who would show up in Smallville, flirt with Clark or other male characters, and subsequently turn out to be Lionel's secret daughter. In Season 10, we learn that Tess Mercer—an original character who arrived in Smallville in S8 and was frequently flirtatious towards Clark and Oliver—was in fact Lionel's secret daughter.
Ho Yay: Lex and Clark during the first couple seasons. More can be found here.
Jerkass Woobie: Lex, Lionel, and Tess have all qualified on both counts. Must be a Luthor family trait along with being Magnificent Bastards. Lex is a perfect example. This version of his character goes out of its way to make his backstory and motives sympathetic while also showing how depraved, cruel, petty and narcissistic Lex can be..
Jumping the Shark: The season eight mid-season episode "Requiem" and its finale "Doomsday" were this to some, but season 10 received enough of the fan-demanded cameos and continuity to make up for it in most people's opinions.
Clark Kent has been shipped with almost every character on the show (see: any Broken Base-related entries for more on that). Or even characters from other shows.
Lex Luthor has large portions of the fanbase that ship him with everyone from Lana, to Clark, to Chloe, with various one-episode characters, and others.
Chloe Sullivan. Think of any guy in the show, and she has been shipped with him.
Tess Mercer. The fact that the show portrays her as having had sexual chemistry with literally everyone who was in the opening credits with her during the last three seasons, it's not surprising that there are a wide variety of popular Tess-related ships.
Les Yay: Lois and Tess, and the subtext was heavily hinted at, at least on Tess's part. Overlaps with Foe Yay during Seasons 8 and 9, when the two were often on opposing sides.
Lex slowly grows into one to rival his father as his manipulative ability improves.
Lucas, who manages to see through Lionel's blind act in less than three days, and basically constantly have the upper hand.
Major Zod is a rare non-Luthor example. Throughout Season 9 he manipulates Clark, Tess, Lois, and the Kandorians into—intentionally or unintentionally—aiding him with his Take Over the World plot. He out gambits Checkmate, successfully regains his powers, and nearly kills Clark, with a minimum of planning, while successfully hiding his own frailties and weaknesses.
Also, depending on who you ask, Chloe during the middle seasons; some accused the writers of turning her into a Purity Sue, and Fixer Sue and slowing down Clark's development as an investigator in favor of having Chloe provide all the answers instead. The writers themselves apparently became dissatisfied with the status quo of the middle seasons, and in the later seasons made Chloe much Darker and Edgier and gave her Anti-Hero qualities in order to fix the Purity Sue and Fixer Sue problems.
Original showruners Al Gough and Miles Millar's directive: "No flights, no tights." Series writer Jeph Loeb—who was also writing for the Superman and Superman/Batman comics at the time—did a shout-out to this when he had Superman and Batman visit an alternate universe where superheroes had been banned by Ra's al Ghul (who ruled that world), and when they show up, Ra's's troops fired at them, saying "You know the rules: 'No flights, no tights.'"
Moe: Probably Chloe's main reason for being beloved by a lot of fans. Allison Mack is a VERY good actress, and through a combination of this, Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Break the Cutie lead to her being endearing to a lot of viewers.
Lex Luthor has several moments of varying severity. It depends on when and how you deem someone "irredeemably evil".
In "Subterranean", casually walking by a series of prison cells holding meteor freaks in his secret lab, codenamed 33.1.
In "Freak", has his people abducting Chloe to said secret lab then experiment on and painfully humiliate her. He then swears to Lana upon his unborn child's soul that he has nothing to do with it, before watching a video of Chloe stripped half-naked and strapped to the experiment table. As she struggles, he delivers this line with a hint of Psychotic Smirk:
Lex: Regarding our most recent subject...keep a close eye on her.
This is especially notable for being directed by Michael Rosenbaum, Lex's actor, who has always wanted Lex to be evil.
The Reveal later in Season Six that he drugged Lana with synthetic hormones to fake the pregnancy and deceive her into marrying him, because he wanted to take her away from Clark forever. In "Promise", on the day of that very wedding, he even murders the doctor who helped with the deception, due to the man getting sick of it and threatening to tell Lana.
Forcing Clark and Lana into a heartbreakingSadistic Choice that leaves them separated by a bomb's worth of Kryptonite in the Season Eight episode "Requiem".
Davis crosses this when he kills Jimmy in "Doomsday".
Major Zod. Either choking Faora, along with his unborn child, to death when she refuses to join him in conquering Earth or burning Tess with heat vision. In the case of the former, even he sees this as the point where he can't go back and condemns himself to the slippery slope.
In Season 2's "Heat," the Freak of the Week, Desire Atkins, is trying to make her escape after setting Lex on fire. She runs for the door, but Clark heats up the doorknob from a distance with his heat vision. Desire grabs the doorknob and lets out what must be the most unconvincing and fake-sounding shriek ever heard on national TV. Oh and the best part? The whole time she's screaming she's still holding on tightly to the doorknob instead of letting go of it the way one would in real life. Blame the actress for that one.
Sometimes in the show there would be fight scenes where all of the sounds would be played slowed down to emphasize the fact that Clark is using his superspeed. The effect of having people's groanings from getting punched getting all deep and drawn out is usually something reserved for comedy, not for a scene that's meant to be actually serious and dramatic. So thus such scenes became epically hilarious.
Darkseid had a bit of it too in the finale. Whether the Large Ham performance works is open for debate.
In Season 2's "Prodigal", Lucas Luthor figures out that Lionel is faking his blindness, and decides to test it by tossing a billiard ball at him. Lionel angrily snaps "What the hell are you doing? You could've killed me!" With a billiard ball? Sure, it could have left a nasty bruise for a while (then again, Lucas knew that Lionel would dodge it since he was faking blindness), and sure, Lucas was a Jerkass, but it's rather hard to imagine that that ball was any real threat to Lionel. Nevertheless, the scene is still pretty awesome because of the revelation involved and Lucas's ability to outwit the Magnificent Bastard.
Narm Charm: "Spell", "Spirit", and "Thirst" are this for some.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: To a few fans, Lana's timely arrival in "Bride" did this, but most people still reviled her, judging by the positive reaction when it was announced that she wouldn't be Back for the Finale. For many, Chloe's Break the Cutie storyline in Season 3 did this for her character (many had found her obsession with Clark to be bordering on Stalker with a Crush in Season 2), although granted she had always had a strong fanbase.
Jensen Ackles, who played Jason Teague, later became better known to DC fans as another Jason. He also made a name for himself as Dean Winchester on Supernatural just a year after his appearance here. In fact, that's the role he actually left Smallville for.
Meghan Ory, now well-known for her role as Red Riding Hood on Once Upon a Time, played a cheerleader who was almost killed in a season three episode.
Clark and Lana, non-stop. Even when she was gone from the show and came back, the plot came back around just as Lois and Clark began to get to know each other, and Clark seemingly forgot his developing feelings for Lois in favor of running back to Lana, despite the fact that the Clana relationship had been a consistently unhealthy one.
Lionel Luthor was nosainteither, but once again, there's a strong tendency (especially among Lex fans) to turn him into pure evil in fanfics, complete with Sexual Abuse.
The Kents also get this in Lex-centric fics, despite having very good reasons for wanting their son to stay away from the Luthors in the actual show. Lex himself will get heavyDraco in Leather Pants treatment, while the Kents will be turned into vicious, abusive Control Freaks who don't care about Clark's happiness at all and loathe the Luthors for literally no reason, and occasionally scheme to steal the Luthors' wealth. This is especially jarring when one remembers that in the actual canon, Jonathan and Martha Kent are supposed to be among the nicest people in the entire DC Multiverse.
In Chlois Theory fics, poor Lois will often be made out to be some kind of ditzy alcoholic and memetic slut who doesn't "deserve" the identity of Lois Lane. She will then bumble her way to an embarrassing death at the hands of the Big Bad, or occasionally (in the more extreme fics) even turn out to be the Big Bad's evil Dragon sidekick, in which case she will be unceremoniously defeated and banished to the Phantom Zone. Chloe will then assume the identity of "Lois Lane" and becomes the reporter character we know from the comics. Naturally the Chlois Theory and all related fanfics are extremely far from canon.
Even Clark gets this treatment very often in fanfic. That's right folks: the future Superman often gets made out to be a monster in fanfic, usually in fics that involve Chloe shipping with Lex, Ollie or Davis. These fanfics often bash on Clark for committing the horrible crime of seeing Chloe as *gasp* just a friend and not a love interest. Apparently, Clark deciding that he and Chloe are Better as Friends is enough to justify portraying Clark as a borderline retarded, selfish, and sniveling asshole who genuinely wants to make Chloe as miserable as possible. Chloe will then rush into the waiting arms of Lex/Davis/etc., who will usually get heavyDraco in Leather Pants treatment. Naturally, this is the farthest thing from canon. In the show's actual canon, Clark is a genuinely nice person (and The Cape in fact) who cares deeply about Chloe (as his best friend) and shares a Platonic Life Partners relationship with her from Season 5 onward... but don't tell that to the shippers.
Lana Lang. Many fans also consider her a Creator's Pet, because the writers seem to refuse to do anything interesting with her character that contributes positively to the story. The fact that she is a troublemaking Satellite Love Interest that Clark never gets over, the whole thing a Romantic Plot Tumor that drags on and on and on until you scream in frustration doesn't help. Although some of it seems to finally get into the producers heads in season eight, when they acknowledged that it is Lana who holds him back from his destiny and actually had a minor character call her out of her constant whining and self-pitying all her life ("Power"). Take a look at the forum thread for "Vessel".
Davis Bloom. In season eight he was the Big Bad, Doomsday. Fans hated his look, but they hated his relationship with Chloe even more. Plus he killed Jimmy Olsen.
Seasonal Rot: Pick any season after Season 3 and you'll find its fair share of haters, to the point where pretty much every season besides the universally-loved Season 3 could be considered Base Breakers. However Seasons 8-10 have been largely well-received (with Season 8 alone breathing enough life back into the show that it regained enough momentum to make it to the ten-year mark), and the final season, 10, has been even better received, though the series finale breaks the base yet again.
Ship Mates: A lot of Clois shippers seemed to support Chimmy or Chlollie as it paired Chloe up with Jimmy or Oliver, while a rather large contingent of Chlark shippers supported Lollie because it kept Lois away from Clark. And many shippers were all too happy to do battle on behalf of the ship that best served as a suitable Ship Mate to their favorite ship. There were also those Clois and Chlark shippers who—despite their usual animosity—were willing to call a detente and mutually support Lexana in Seasons 5-6 if only because it kept Lana away from Clark (well, at least until the whole love triangle plot of S6's second half anyway). Really, the fervent Ship-to-Ship Combat often led to strange alliances and proxy wars that were worthy of Cold War-era geopolitics.
Snark Bait: Lana's self-righteous rants headed down this road pretty quickly.
So Bad, It's Good: Season 5's episode "Thirst" has developed this reputation, or at least the Lana plot from that episode has. The Brainiac/Lex interaction is seen in a positive light, but the main story—featuring Lana unwittingly getting caught up with a vampire sorority (yes, it's exactly how it sounds, but narmier)—is widely seen as being unintentionally hilarious.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "Unsafe" note An episode about teenage sexual activity. Chloe reveals she lost her virginity at 15 and regrets it and tells Lana not to do it just because she is afraid of losing her boyfriend. The producers even had Allison Mack (who plays Chloe) do a public service announcement before the episode on teenage pregnancy.
Strangled by the Red String: The one example that's almost-universally agreed upon is the Clana (Clark and Lana) ship, which was arguably kept on way past the point of its usefulness to the plot, interfered with other plotlines that fans wanted to see, and seemed to slow down Clark's growth.
A number of characters have tried to force Clark/The Blur out of hiding and into the spotlight of the public eye. Since the series as a whole was building to Clark eventually coming out as Superman, the arguments for Clark staying hidden became less credible over time. The evil reporter from Season 2 who tried to forcibly expose Clark's secret argued that the public had a right to know about a powerful alien living in their backyard, which makes sense from a purely ethical standpoint of journalist ethics (as well as the aforementioned fact that the public would eventually find out about him), even if Clark does indeed have a right to a private life. There was also the corrupt DA from Season 9 who wanted The Blur to show his face and answer for a series of screwups that were blamed on him that were really the fault of the Wonder Twins trying to impersonate their favorite hero; his corruption was revealed last-minute as a means to give the Wonder Twins a heroic gesture and kill any debate on whether or not the Blur should have to reveal himself to clear his name.
In the early episodes of Smallville, any interaction Clark had with Lex fell into this. The one that stands out the most however is "Memoria". In it, Lex was trying to regain his lost memories from "Asylum". When Clark tried to stop him, he ended up getting captured, and when Lex called him out on this, Clark's only excuse was that in trying to stop his father Lex repeatedly stoops to his methods and innocent people get hurt. However, this falls on its face when you realize that the only reason Clark got hurt was that he was trying to stop Lex because, as Lionel said, for his own selfish reasons. What Lex was doing only affected himself and that was his decision. Lionel wouldn't have known about it if Clark didn't get involved.
Every instance of Jonathan and Pete telling Clark that Lex couldn't be trusted through seasons 1-3 fall on there, as given the events of "Shattered" and "Asylum", not only did Lex protect Chloe by taking on all of the responsibilities of stopping his father, but throughout his stay in Belle Reve he never even hinted to Lionel that someone else had information, or used Clark's secret to bargain his way out. All of this proved that Lex not only could have been trusted with Clark's secret but would have protected it. A lot of bad thing probably wouldn't have happened if Clark had just told him from the get-go.
While it's true that Lex and Lana both became insufferably smug, they still had legitimate points when it came to protecting Earth from a potential Kryptonian/Phantom Zone/other alien invasion. In Seasons 5 & 6, Lex and Lana start sniffing around about Kryptonian technology, trying to learn everything they can about it. Clark gets very upset about this, but Lex and Lana repeatedly note that if aliens like Zod or Brainiac ever return, learning how their technology works just might end up being the thing that saves humanity from them next time, which is a perfectly defensible viewpoint. Indeed, Clark and the JLA themselves start incorporating bits of alien tech later on in fights against Zod and other threats.
Take That, Scrappy!: In the fandom, Lana Lang is almost universally loathed. Her constant hypocrisy, passive-aggressive behavior, and manipulation of both Clark, and her own best friend Chloe, caused most viewers to despise the character, to the point where whenever Lana would bumble her way into a dangerous situation with the Monster of the Week (an almost weekly occurrence), many fans seemed to view it as this trope. But perhaps the biggest Take That, Scrappy! was the scene where Lionel Luthor, while trapped in Clark's body, notices Lana approaching, and rolls his eyes, growling "This one." Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny. Mind you, Lionel was still the Big Bad at that point, so presumably the showrunners were hoping that fans would view Lionel as being obviously wrong, and sympathize with Lana instead. It didn't work, a fact not helped by Lionel being a fan favorite.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Comic book fans seem to often have this reaction to the show. Not that the comics themselves have been all that consistent over seven decades. Fans of the earlier seasons often do this to the later ones as well. Especially Lex fans, who decry him a) actually becoming the villain, and b) being written out.
The creation of Zod's towers in Season 9. The writers decided that his weapon that he would use to destroy humanity would be disguised as a pair of towers in the center of the biggest city in the Smallville Universe. Further, the best way to deal with them would be for Clark to slice them with his heat vision, causing the upper floors to collapse and the unfinished structure to implode, destroying the weapon before it could be completed and before Zod had a chance to use it. This is actually briefly brought up in Season 10, where General Lane refers to it as a terrorist attack as part of his stance against vigilantes.
A couple of articles mentioned that Clark's Crucified Hero Shot in the pilot was uncomfortably similar to the circumstances of the Matthew Shepherd murder.
Lana's constant harping about secrets seems to be a big one for fans throughout the show's run. The showrunners try to present Lana as being absolutely right and justified in her endless demands that Clark allow her to invade his privacy, but most fans seem to disagree, and found Lana to be overly-nosy and passive-aggressive. It's probably the most prominent example, since the fandom almost unanimously loathed Lana's behavior, while the writers seemed equally convinced that Lana was somehow right.
A scene where Clark decides not to have Jor-El restore Chloe's memory of his secret, believing she'd be safer and happier this way, is presented as a positive moment in a magazine article about the TV show. The magazine later had to retract this when Chloe fans complained, pointing out that the scene set up an unequal power dynamic in the friendship, and alleged that it demonstrated a severe lack of trust and confidence.
Clark sinks into it quite frequently, and Lana lives here. Yes, you're different Clark. You're also Superman. As for Lana, not an episode goes by without a reminder that her parents were flattened in the first episode. A one-episode character manages to take a dig at this without being flattened for telling the truth to the Creator's Pet.
Oh, poor, poor, pitiful you. How long have you been feeling sorry for yourself? Let me guess. Your entire life.
As the show progresses, Lex's daddy issues and self-pity gradually take over his character and he shifts the blame for his failures from himself to Lionel, Clark, Lana and anyone else he can. Then again, that's entirely deliberate in his case, since having a major Never My Fault complex is one of Lex's defining attributes in the comics, although he doesn't whine as much as Lana per se.
Oliver falls into this a lot. Justified, in that Green Arrow has always had stories that were a little… darker… than other superheroes ever since the 1970's, so it's not as if his Wangst is unique to this show.
The Monster of the Week in "Crush" might have been justified in throwing a months-long pity party over having lost the full use of his hands, thus supposedly torpedoing his budding career as an artist...except that he can use his telekinetic powers to draw just as well as he ever could and he is perfectly well aware of that fact.
Lex? Or at least the early seasons' Lex, before he became a bonafide Jerkass instead.
The writers clearly believe that Lana is the show's true Woobie. They are wrong.
Chloe can be a pretty big Woobie as well.
Doctor Fate in Season 9's "Absolute Justice".
Jonathan Kent was DEFINITELY a Woobie - an iron one. The guy basically spent his entire adult life working to protect Clark's secret, and (along with Martha) dealing with Clark's developing powers. Then, he makes an unfortunate deal with the Jor-El AI that leads to his developing a heart condition that eventually kills him, all for the sake of saving Clark. Along the way, poor Jonathan had to deal with the stresses of running a barely-profitable farm that was constantly beset with financial difficulties. And how does Jonathan react to all of this? By NOT taking refuge in Wangst. Instead, he tells Clark and Martha not to worry about him, and focuses on getting the job done. In Season 10, when we see Clark talking to Jonathan in the afterlife, Jonathan reminisces on his own life, and still refuses to dwell in self-pity. Now THAT'S an honorable character.
Clark himself. He's grown up constantly being in fear of he possibility of being discovered, every time he discovers a new ability it comes with a case of Power Incontinence, and the abilities started when he was as young as four, with the first time he ended up lost in another town. Then, there's the tendency of everyone who knows his secret to either die protecting it or leave to protect it.