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aka: Lex Luthor

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Lex Luthor
If there was ever a job for Superman... this is it.

Species: Human

First appearance: Action Comics #23 (April 1940)

"I'm the only sane inmate of Asylum Earth. I'm not eager to hand tomorrow over to an interplanetary extremist with laser eyes. There's only room on this world for one leader, Superman. When I'm finished with you, every last gibbon out there will know you for the menace you are... and they'll realize that Lex Luthor is their savior."

Diabolical Mastermind. Mad Scientist. LexCorp CEO. Evil Genius.

The Supervillain.

Alexander Joseph "Lex" Luthor is the archenemy of Superman, and one of the oldest villains in comic book history, making his debut in Action Comics #23 in April of 1940. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the same team who created Superman himself, Luthor was an instant success, and ensured himself a permanent place in the Last Son of Krypton's Rogues Gallery. Since then he's gone onto be a major player in the DC Universe, serving as one of its most iconic villains, alongside the likes of the Joker.


Luthor has had various hats over the years. He was originally portrayed as a red-headed war profiteer who aimed to Take Over the World by playing various political factions against each other. He was then reimagined as a bald, egomaniacal Mad Scientist after an illustrator confused him with the Ultra-Humanite. This conception of the character stuck, and for the remainder of the Silver Age and the Bronze Age of comics, Luthor was written as a Card-Carrying Villain who used his technological prowess to match Superman's physical might, regularly allying with other villains, like Brainiac, Bizarro, and The Joker in order to vex the Man of Steel and his allies. One thing that did change about Luthor was that as time went by, he became progressively younger and more physically active. The paunchy man in his fifties was replaced by an exceptionally fit man in his forties, and was then retconned again into being only a few years older than Superman and possessed of a warsuit that allowed him to fight the Kryptonian hand-to-hand. He also gained his own supporting cast, including his sister and Morality Pet, Lena, and the planet of Lexor, which hailed him as a hero after he saved it from destruction, and a number of alternate universe doppelgangers, including Alexei Luthor of Earth-2 (based on his original, Golden Age appearance) and the heroic Alexander Luthor Sr. of Earth-3. This version of Luthor, along with the rest of the existing DC Universe, was erased from continuity following the Crisis on Infinite Earths.


By The '80s, Lex Luthor was due for another revamp. After the Crisis, John Byrne was given the job of re-imagining Luthor for the new DC Universe. Byrne, aware that Luthor's Mad Scientist portrayal was becoming dated, chose to reinvent Luthor as a Corrupt Corporate Executive, who was able to control the city of Metropolis' criminal underworld from behind the scenes, avoiding any responsibility for his actions by maintaining a good public image and employing legions of lawyers. As one of the richest and most politically influential men in the DCU, Luthor was able to become a perpetual thorn in Superman's side, as the one criminal whom the Man of Steel could never bring to justice. As a planner and criminal financier second-to-none Luthor also became the main backer and organizer of the various Injustice Gangs and Secret Societies of Supervillains that have plagued the larger DC Universe, making him a problem for not only Superman, but the entire Justice League as well. Possessed of a "tenth level intellect", Luthor is easily the smartest human being alive, and is a formidable adversary for any hero who thinks of crossing him. It has been said that while other supervillains might fear the Joker, they want to be Lex Luthor.

He has since gone back and forth in terms of characterization, at times the CEO of LexCorp, at times a Mad Scientist, at times a classic Diabolical Mastermind, and sometimes a combination of all three. He has faked his own death, and impersonated his supposed son, revealed himself as one of Superboy's genetic donors, and met Death. He's been the mastermind of numerous plots against the heroes of Earth, a participant in General Lane's genocide of New Krypton, and briefly, President of the United States of America, helping codify the President Evil trope in the process. He's even starred in his own spinoffs, serving as the Villain Protagonist in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, the "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, and Forever Evil (2013). In any incarnation, Luthor is driven by his burning hatred of Superman (not unlike Doctor Doom and Reed Richards), which is frequently put down to envy over the fact that, no matter how rich Luthor becomes, no matter how much political power he attains, and no matter how hard he schemes, he will never, ever be Superman. His current characterization is a balanced medium between all his incarnations: he is the ruthless and savvy corporate executive, the formidably brilliant mad scientist and the egomaniac conqueror in equal measure. This makes him one of the more complex and multifaceted villains in all of comics, which helps cement his enduring popularity.

Luthor has appeared frequently in other media, featuring in video games, the original Superman films, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Superman Returns, the television series Smallville and the DC Extended Universe. He has also appeared in the animated films Superman: Doomsday, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He is easily the most recognisable, and best known, member of Superman's Rogues Gallery, and was rated IGN's "4th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time." Comic book critic Peter Sanderson has described Luthor as one of the few genuine megavillains, whose adventures cross genres, putting him in a league alongside The Joker, Professor Moriarty, Count Dracula, Hannibal Lecter, Doctor Doom, and Darth Vader.

If you want to hear Lex's take on all of this, click here.

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    Notable Pre-Crisis comics 

    Notable Comic Book/Post Crisis comics 

    Notable Imaginary Stories and Elseworlds 

    Notable New 52 comics 

    Notable DC Rebirth comics 

    Notable Prose Literature 

    Film (Live Action) 

    Live Action TV 

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 

Tropes associated with Luthor:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: Sometimes written as someone who hates all alien life and wants it destroyed or enslaved.
  • Abusive Dad:
    • Luthor's father (eventually named Lionel) has at best been characterised as a fellow criminal, and at worst as an abusive, alcoholic monster. Smallville's portrayal of him is probably the best known, showing him as a domineering, tyrannical narcissist and Corrupt Corporate Executive who wants Lex to turn out as badly as he has.
    • And Lex himself with his own children, such as selling his own daughter, or treating Conner Kent as an extension of himself.
  • Adaptation Name Change: While most Post-Crisis versions of Lex have it be short for "Alexander", "Lex" was originally short for "Alexis" in Earth-One and "Alexei" in Earth-Two.
  • Adaptational Badass: The versions from the DCAU and Smallville were both significantly more dangerous in hand-to-hand combat than almost any comic incarnation of the character. This was particularly true of the Smallville version, who was shown to be a physical match for Green Arrow, and one of the most consistently dangerous fighters on the show, despite his total lack of superpowers, or most of his comic counterpart's gadgetry.
  • Adaptational Wimp: For some reason, none of his live-action film adaptations give him credit as a Mad Scientist whose inventions are deadly. Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey's Luthor has him as a "criminal mastermind" who hijacks nuclear weapons, partners with Kryptonian villains or use Superman's fortress against his foe. Jesse Eisenberg's is a very convoluted mastermind even more petty than the usual interpretation lacking Lex's magnificent bastard traits and his central plan is using Kryptonian machinery against Superman and the finale implies that he's a Darkseid cultist and a herald. None of them have Luthor actually inventing anything spectacular, deadly and fiendish or portray him as a human being whose inventions and scientific acumen puts him, alone among humans, on Brainiac-level playing field.
  • Alliterative Name: LL, just like Lois Lane, Lana Lang, his sister Lena and his father, Lionel.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: As prominent non-powered humans with megalomaniacal intentions and a suit of Powered Armour, he and Marvel's Doctor Doom have become this for one another, occupying a very similar place in their respective universe's supervillain fraternities.
    • He can also be considered an Evil Counterpart to Iron Man: a very rich genius and a Badass Normal who has a Powered Armor. Lex's good counterparts of other universes can be even closer, as they share Iron Man's morality. On the other hand, evil versions of Iron Man are also close to mainstream Lex. It also helps that both Lex and Iron Man were involved, at some point, with Italian villainesses (Contessa Erica del Portenza and Madame Masque, respectively).
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Luthor saved the world of Lexor Pre-Crisis, and is the greatest superhero on the Crime Syndicate's homeworld, Pre-and-Post-Crisis. Superman: Red Son also has a heroic, alternate universe Luthor, who manages to stop a Stalinist Superman from taking over the world, although Superman had altruistic reasons to take over, and Luthor's good deeds are shown to be for his own ego. Injustice: Gods Among Us also features a heroic Luthor. It's actually kind of a running theme that, when Superman's bad, Lex Luthor is the one who steps up as humanity's greatest hero.
  • Always Second Best: From the Post-Crisis era onwards, Lex may be one of the richest men on Earth, but if it comes to money, Bruce Wayne tends to have him beat.
  • And Then What?: Lex has achieved everything he ever wanted except killing Superman, and really has no idea what he’d do if “the alien” went away one day. For all the grand plans he supposedly has on hold until Superman is defeated, he really doesn't care about saving the world or lifting humanity up, only helping himself. He's already rich and powerful, and only getting wealthier by the day, Superman's existence is the only bruise on his ego. When Superman disappeared for a full year, Lex did nothing. It’s one thing he has in common with The Joker, except Joker admits he’d be nothing without Batman.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: After Superman met his demise protecting the world from Doomsday, a quite distraught Luthor donated a mausoleum to house the superhero's remains, commenting that if he could not kill Superman, then he at least wanted to bury him.
  • Anti-Hero: A Nominal Hero in those stories where he serves as the protagonist, mostly due to the nature of the people he is up against.
  • Arch-Enemy: Luthor is the longest running contender for the title of Superman's archnemesis, and is the character who most readily springs to mind when you hear "Superman villain". Brainiac and Zod are also in the running, but Luthor is the one everyone thinks of. In fact, this status carries over to alternate universes: on the Crime Syndicate's homeworld, Luthor's Good Twin, Alexander Luthor Sr., is the archenemy of Ultraman, while on the Pre-Crisis Earth-2, Alexei Luthor was the rival of the Golden Age Superman, Kal-L.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Towards Superboy who was created at his instigation from his and Superman's DNA. Luthor displays a fairly unhealthy sense of ownership towards Connor, going so far as to hijack his mind at one point. He eventually casts Connor off as a failed experiment due to Superman's prevalent influence on him.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: During Forever Evil, he manages to deduce Batman's secret identity from a few clues.
  • Ax-Crazy: Luthor's usually fairly stable, but when he cracks it is always in a violently psychotic manner.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Just what exactly is wrong with Lex mentally is up for debate, and depends on which version is being discussed. That said, nearly every version of Lex has a textbook case of Malignant Narcissism, particularly the ones that insist on putting their own name on everything they own, of course.
  • Bad Boss/Benevolent Boss: Depending on the Writer Luthor may be a tyrannical boss, or a master manager who takes careful care of his underlings' needs. He has respect for blue-collar people who go beyond their means to get ahead (since he used to be one as well). He's played slightly more on the "benevolent" side whenever he's leading the Legion of Doom, as most of the villains tend to respect him on a professional level and Lex will usually keep his end of the bargain with them to the best of his abilities. Even when he gets into conflict with some of them, Lex will generally be portrayed as being justified. During Salvation Run, he got into a fistfight with the Joker because Joker was causing nothing but chaos while Lex was legitimately trying to keep the villains together and escape their prison world. During the Drowned Earth storyline, he also abandons Black Manta to die but beforehand, Manta had deliberately disobeyed his orders and took control of the Death Kraken which went wild and wanted to destroy all life on Earth.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He certainly does in New Krypton, where he renders the Kryptonians functionally extinct and is rewarded for it by the American government.
    • Also, in President Lex when he spins all his good press from No Man's Land and takes advantage of the chaotic 2000 elections to snag the White House. And Superman can do nothing about it.
  • Badass Boast: The page quote. Also...
    "I am Lex Luthor. I am the greatest scientist on this planet, and would be on yours as well."
    "I raise my voice, and Satan himself is on bended knee. I am The Leader of the free world, you impotent little psychotic. I've had the most powerful beings on this or any planet gunning for me for years, and you think you're going to scare me?"
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When he's not in prison togs or an exoskeleton, Luthor is usually in his business suit. It's exemplified in the finale of Justice League Unlimited when he shows up to the final confrontation with Darkseid having ditched his battle fatigues for his "power suit" so it's what he's wearing when he saves the world.
  • Badass Normal: Luthor's only consistent power is his vast intellect, but he's managed to pose a threat to Superman of all people regardless. Has become an Empowered Badass Normal on occasion, either by donning his warsuit, gaining an Orange Lantern Ring, or other means.
  • Bald of Evil: Perhaps the iconic example. Pre-Crisis he was evil because he was bald, blaming Superboy for the accident that cost him his hair.
  • Bastard Understudy: Paul Cornell's backstory in Action Comics Annual established that a young Luthor had apprenticed himself to, and subsequently betrayed both Ra's al-Ghul and Darkseid.
  • Battle Butler: His (possibly literally) Amazonian bodyguards Mercy and Hope.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: One of his most notable traits is that he hates Superman for being an alien. However, Lex would eventually go on to take on god-like alien powers just to fight Superman. While him becoming an Orange Lantern can be handwaved away since an Orange Lantern ring is simply a weapon of great power that didn't take away his humanity, his transforming into the alien Zone Child and Apex Lex is more glaring because attaining those powers fundamentally transformed Lex's DNA and biology into something totally alien and non-human.
  • Beware The Supermen: More modern interpretations often have Luthor preaching a pro-human/anti-metahuman line, claiming that they (Superman especially) will eventually go rogue.
  • Big Bad: If somebody is screwing with Superman's life, the odds of it being traced back to Luthor stand at somewhere around ninety percent. He's also a prominent figure among the DC villain community as a whole; most DC villains may fear The Joker, but they want to be Luthor. If someone is combining the DC villains into a Legion of Doom, it'll be Lex Luthor. Even the Joker knows he's the leader, even he doesn't follow him.
  • Big Bad Friend: In many continuities, he starts out as a friend of either Superboy or Clark Kent in Smallville. Even when this wasn't the case, he was Perry White's childhood friend gone wrong.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Pre-New 52 Luthor had Mercy Graves (who is a Canon Immigrant from Superman: The Animated Series) and Hope Taya, two towering super-strong women who were implied to be Amazons.
  • Black Sheep: In the Silver Age. His parents, horrified by his villainy disowned the teenage Lex, moved away and changed their name to "Thorul". Modern incarnations of his parents aren't as morally upstanding, to say the least, however.
  • Body Horror: When he was forcibly fused with Brainiac during Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. His clone degeneration during the nineties may qualify as a more mundane example.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Superman is far from stupid, but he usually solves his problems with his fists, an option that Luthor doesn't have open to him. Moreover, as a "tenth level intellect", Luthor is still orders of magnitude smarter than Superman.
  • Breakout Villain: He was originally a minor, yet powerful adversary, but when he became so popular the creators decided to make him the primary nemesis to Superman.
  • Broken Ace: A powerful, highly successful man with almost everything he wants at the reach of his fingertips, but the darkness inside him prevents him from truly being one of our best.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Luthor's warsuit often features a large "L" on the chest. During DC's "Rebirth" event he borrowed Superman's "S" as part of a new suit of armour.
  • Cardboard Prison: Whether it's through legal or illegal means, Luthor will always be out of prison in a matter of days, if not hours. Lampshaded in the novel Superman: Miracle Monday when it's stated that Luthor once broke out of prison, then broke back in to fetch something he had inadvertently left behind.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Pre-Crisis, and in some adaptations.
  • Care-Bear Stare: Forced to this when fused with the Zone Child, who would not allow him to do anything negative. He eventually lost his godlike powers when he tried to kill Superman anyway.
  • Cassandra Truth: Flatly refuses to believe that Clark Kent is Superman regardless of how reliable the source or irrefutable the evidence is, including Superman himself.
  • Characterization Marches On: He's gone from being a stereotypical war profiteer to a pro-human extremist, with plenty of stops in-between.
  • The Chessmaster: Lex's schemes always involve vast amounts of forethought and planning, and there's inevitably a back up plan or three.
  • Chest Insignia: Often puts an "L" or "LL" on the chests of his warsuits. In the "Rebirth" event, he wore the Superman shield instead.
  • Chronic Villainy: Luthor simply cannot give up on supervillainy so long as Superman is alive and loved.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • His daughter Lena hasn't been heard from since he was impeached as President and she was put in foster care.
    • His niece Nasthalthia's last appearance was in Adventure Comics #424 published in 1972. A Post-Crisis version showed up in All-Star Superman and faded in comic limbo right afterwards.
  • Chubby Chaser: He may be this for Amanda Waller.
  • Clark Kenting: The only reason a brilliant mind like Lex's hasn't figured out Clark Kent is Superman is that he can't conceive of a powerful being like Superman even having an alter ego, let alone a mere human like humble Clark.
  • Classic Villain: The total opposite of the hero he fights, with pride, envy, and a dose of wrath as his major sins.
  • Cloning Gambit: In the early '90s, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he faked his own death and came back as a younger clone, posing as his identical son. This led to...
    • Clone Degeneration: He eventually contracted a degenerative illness due to a flaw in the cloning process.
  • Colour Coded Eyes: His green eyes represent his envy of Superman.
  • Compensating for Something: It’s not hard to look at Lex’s towering skyscraper; broad-chested mech suits and massive, overpowered guns and suspect he feels deeply inadequate. Not necessarily sexually, just in general.
  • Condescending Compassion: Even more humanist takes on Luthor tend to frame his
  • Contemplative Boss: Fond of the pose.
  • Control Freak: In his mind he needs to be seen as the one in control of the situation at all times. If anyone or anything threatens his position at the top, Lex will brutally eliminate them, which is one of the reasons why he hates Superman so much.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: His default since the eighties. In addition to engaging in a wide variety of unethical business practises, LexCorp is deeply involved with the illegal arms trade in Metropolis and beyond, with tendrils reaching deep into the DCU underworld, and that's without getting into the number of times that Luthor has used its resources to fund organizations like the Injustice Gang.
  • Crossover Villain-in-Chief: In DC's Crisis Crossover events that involve a lot of villains, like Salvation Run and Forever Evil (2013), Luthor usually fills this role along with The Joker.
  • Cultured Badass/Wicked Cultured: Loves classic literature, philosophy, classical music, and art, seeing them as proof of his superiority.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Inflicted one on one of General Zod's soldiers in Last Son, leaving the guy a smoking corpse after a few seconds of combat. Luthor with Kryptonite gas grenades and a red solar rifle, vs a Kryptonian who doesn't know about any of his race's weaknesses? Not even close to fair.
    • His brutal beatdown of Supergirl during one of her first Post-Crisis outings is also a standout. Within about a minute of engaging Luthor, the normally overconfident Kara realizes that she's in way over her head. She ends up comparing it to Superman's first fight with Doomsday.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Lex is the Trope Namer. He's the smartest man in the world, but he wastes his resources on fighting a flying alien in blue spandex because he's angry that there's someone out there that's better than he. Lampshaded by Superman after Big Blue returns from a prolonged absence. Superman comments that if it really mattered to him Lex could have cured cancer and generally made himself an even bigger hero than Superman ever was, but instead he spent all his time obsessing over Superman's inevitable return. Also happened in All-Star Superman where Superman points out he could've saved the world years ago if he'd wanted to. Lex actually admits he's right.
  • Depending on the Writer: Wether he's a businessman or mad scientist first tends to vary wildly, with some versions being pretty much white collar criminals, while others are notorious super criminals, designing elaborate death machines to kill Superman.
    • What his general reason for hating Superman is also depends heavily, the most common ones are that he blames Superman for his baldness, grew to hate him because he couldn't control him, or because he genuinely sees Superman as some sort of alien threat he has to "protect" the world from.
  • Depending on the Artist: What Lex looks like aside from his baldness has varied considerably, even within the same continuity. Sometimes he's a heavy-set, middle-aged man, other times he's tall and thin, and sometimes, he's even shown to be in peak physical condition, courtesy of his raging narcissism.
    • Wether he dresses in nice suits, or in green and purple armor/tights also depends on who's drawing him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His abusive childhood is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: In the early '90s, he contracted terminal cancer from the kryptonite ring he wore. Later, after his Cloning Gambit backfired into Cloning Blues, he was left a shriveled husk suffering from locked-in syndrome—though by wiring himself into Superman's Kryptonian battlesuit he was still able to be a serious threat.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Has used Superman's picture as one before.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a very dry, caustic sense of humor.
  • Deal with the Devil: In Underworld Unleashed, he sold his soul to the demon lord Neron in exchange for a cure for the degenerative illness afflicting his cloned body.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Has this as his life's goal. While he's yet to succeed, he has come very close, and has bested several other nigh-godlike beings, including the Crime Syndicate's Ultraman.
    • Ironically, Superman sometimes sees Luthor as "the undefeatable" thanks to Luthor's mastery of legal Loophole Abuse; Lex is often portrayed as the one criminal Superman can't bring to justice.
  • Demoted to Dragon: This occasionally happens to Luthor, though it usually doesn't turn out well for his would-be employers.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: For Lex gaining control is what matters, and everything else is just secondary.
  • Determinator: Nothing keeps Lex down permanently.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: He began as one, and retains aspects of the trope to this day, though he usually tries to operate with at least a pretense of legality in the modern era.
  • Dirty Old Man: In the Post-Crisis era, especially seen commonly surrounded by attractive young ladies in his company building to do his bidding. When a fifteen-year-old Lois Lane breaks into Lexcorp to get some dirt on him, Luthor has her strip searched, personally spanked, and makes a point of keeping the security footage of the strip search for himself.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: So Silver Age Lex, you tried to kill Superman for making you bald? To be fair, that story had Luthor's revenge being initially restricted to Luthor trying to show up Superboy with grandiose public works projects. When they went disastrously wrong and forced Superboy to intervene, Luthor was publicly scorned and sought to kill him in revenge. Elliot S. Maggin also later added a retcon where the experiment where Luthor lost his hair was aiming to create artificial life, so in Luthor's twisted views Superboy had killed his 'child'.
    • He's also had people murdered (or killed them himself) merely for embarrassing him in front of others.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Both Alexandra Luthor of Superman: Earth One and Wonder Woman villain Veronica Cale can be said to be female versions of our Lex.
  • Domestic Abuse: In Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, Lex is shown to be highly abusive to his mates, even becoming more cruel and spiteful when they try to opt out of the relationship strictly to flaunt his sense of power. Made even more apparent when he had his wife the Contessa murdered.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: During New Krypton he was this to General Sam Lane, whose plan could not have functioned without Luthor's technical expertise and supervillain credentials.
  • The Dreaded: By superhero and supervillain alike. Anyone who can go up against Superman and come out even time and again tends to earn the fear and respect of every cape, cowl, and criminal out there.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Golden Age Alexei Luthor is killed partway through Crisis on Infinite Earths simply because Brainiac felt he was redundant.
  • Driven by Envy: Lex was the most beloved figure in Metropolis before Superman arrived, and he will never forgive "the alien" for taking that from him.
  • Easily Forgiven: Even after the public revelation of years' worth of his various murders and manipulations, and a nearly successful attempt to destroy Metropolis just to spite Superman, Luthor manages to make himself a Villain with Good Publicity again by taking credit for saving the world during Final Night.
  • Egopolis: Lexor, in the Pre-Crisis universe, and LexCorp Post-Crisis.
  • Enemy Mine: Has regularly allied with Superman against various alien threats. In the "New 52" this extended to joining the Justice League for a time after defeating the Crime Syndicate.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His sister, Pre-Crisis.
    • Subverted Post-Crisis. He kept his wife in a medically-induced coma after she gave birth to their daughter and later had her assassinated so she couldn't make trouble for his presidential campaign. And the aforementioned daughter? He sold her to Brainiac 13 for control of the 64th century technology he brought to Metropolis.
    • In the New 52, played straight again with the first Bizarro, and with his sister.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Depending on the Writer.
    • A notable example was when during the "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA (1997) featuring Luthor's first Injustice Gang taking on the Justice League, Luthor bashes The Joker with the Worlogog to express his disgust at Joker tampering with the bodies of child victims. Later in the same storyline, Lex tricks Joker - who is currently holding the Worlogog and having a "My God, What Have I Done?" moment induced by the Martian Manhunter's telepathy - into undoing all the murders the Injustice Gang had caused. Though this resulted in there being nothing the Justice League could charge Luthor and the rest of the criminals with, Superman still said he believed it was because some part of Lex drew the line at killing innocent children and that it wasn't just to save his own skin.
    • In Green Arrow, it is revealed that Lex Luthor was offered membership in The Ninth Circle - a financial group built on laissez-faire capitalism - and turned it down. While one might think this is because Lex refuses to be part of any group he isn't in charge of, even Lex drew the line at a Satanic bank that abducted children and sold them into slavery or to be used for medical experiments.
    • Final Crisis sees Luthor disgusted with Libra to begin with, but with his disgust coming to a head when Libra offers Luthor the chance to be the first to, what's implied, rape Supergirl.
    • In a pre-Crisis story, his respect for Albert Einstein was so great, he couldn't allow someone to be seriously hurt on his birthday. Similarly, in another comic he's shown to have a great respect for Abraham Lincoln as well, and when he accidentally prevents a time-traveling Superboy from stopping his assassination he's horrified when he realizes what's happened.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This is why Lex will never truly understand that Superman doesn't have an ulterior motive. In one of the early John Byrne stories, Luthor commissions a study on Superman and Clark Kent that soon deduces they're the same man. Luthor, however, purges the study and fires those involved as he refuses to accept that anyone with the power of Superman would pretend to be a normal human being.
  • Evil Counterpart: He's one to Bruce Wayne. Both are multi-billionaires and one of the most influential people in the world, complete with large amounts of technology, resources, and associates being granted to them for numerous uses, and they have a quite the personal connection with Superman. They even spend a good deal of their fortune to charities. However, Bruce uses his wealth to help others publicly and to create gadgets and tools that he uses as Batman in the night and when operating as a Justice League member, whereas Lex uses his money to cover up his criminal tracks, create weapons and establish criminal connections and invest his technology with the specific goal of taking on Superman. His donations to charity are one of many calculated schemes meant to maintain Lex's promimence and positive reception to the general public.
  • Evil Cripple: For a time in the nineties when his clone degeneration left him in a coma, unable to so much as close his own eyes.
  • Evil Former Friend: To Clark Kent, in the Silver Age.
  • Evil Genius: Lex is one of the smartest characters in all of DC, an Omnidisciplinary Scientist in everything from closing to rocket science and he's definitely evil as they come.
  • Evil Is Petty: Lex's supervillain career is based around a need to be better than others. Especially Superman.
  • Evil Plan: Kill and/or ruin Superman.
  • Evil Redhead: Luthor was originally a redhead and still has red eyebrows. His Earth-2 counterpart, Alexei Luthor, kept the Golden Age Luthor's full head of red hair.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Luthor has regularly clashed with the DCU's other major villains, most notably in The Black Ring when he took on Mr. Mind, Gorilla Grodd, Larfleeze, and Brainiac in rapid succession, and in Forever Evil (2013) when he took on the Crime Syndicate. His war with Alexander Luthor Jr. in Infinite Crisis is also notable, as are his various conflicts with Darkseid.
  • Evil Uncle:
    • To his niece, Lori, Post-Crisis.
    • And to his equally evil niece Nasthalthia 'Nasty' Luthor in Pre-Crisis and All-Star Superman continuities. 'Nasty' tried to help him kill Supergirl and when their plot failed, she tried to prove that Linda Danvers was Supergirl every so often.
  • Eviler Than Thou: If there is another contender for the title of Big Bad in the storyline, Luthor will at some point try to take the position from them.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: He has acted to protect Earth and Metropolis from various threats, including Doomsday, the Sun-Eater, and Brainiac, if only because they would leave him nothing to control.
  • Expert Consultant: While it's not usually his main line of business, Luthor has occasionally taken consultancy gigs when the price was adequate. For example, in Swamp Thing #53, when the eponymous character was holding Gotham City hostage until his lover Abby was freed, enemies from the Sunderland Corporation brought Luthor in to map out how to destroy the plant elemental. Luthor finished his presentation 10 seconds early, just so the Sunderland people had enough time to write out his check for a million dollars.
    "Mr. Wicker, believe me, you don't know from invulnerable. I know from invulnerable... ...and this refugee from a canned sweet-corn label isn't it."
  • Faking the Dead: During his "Lex Luthor II" phase, when he impersonated his previously unheard of son.
  • Falsely Reformed Villain: He's faked reformation on a few occasions. One of those occasions let him become President.
  • Fantastic Racism: Towards aliens and meta's in general, Kryptonians in particular.
    • The Resenter: During the Forever Evil (2013) event he admitted this was driven out of envious resentment not only towards Superman but to a great many SPB's (Super Powered Beings) who could fly farther, move faster and hit harder than he ever could, he kinda got over it eventually.
  • Fat Bastard: In the Silver Age. He lost the weight throughout the Bronze Age. Beginning in the 80's Post-Crisis Reboot, he was portrayed this way again, but slimmed down in the 90's first thanks to cloning and then after making a deal with Neron.
  • Faux Affably Evil: More often than not, Luthor's revealed to be this. He appears to charming and pleasant but he is a cruel, ruthless, manipulative narcissist and sociopath. It's worth noting that of all the supervillains out there, the one he gets along with the best is the Joker.
  • Fiction 500: One of the richest, if not the richest men in the world, alongside the likes of Bruce Wayne.
    • In one strip, Lois Lane mentions that she once calculated Luthor's annual income. Taking into account his investments, interest on his savings and his actual salary, it came to 150 dollars a second! Meaning, if he was walking along the street and saw a $100 bill on the ground, it wouldn't be worth his time to pick it up.
  • Fictional Political Party: Represented the Tomorrow Party as President.
  • Final Solution: Was complicit in genocide when he, Sam Lane, and Reactron destroyed New Krypton. In "Birthright" he acknowledges that since Superman is the last of his kind, murdering him has always had genocidal undertones.
  • First-Name Basis: When written by Byrne.
  • Five Stages of Grief: More like three stages. When he met Death, he experienced the first three stages and then, having realized what he was doing, faked depression to manipulate her (it didn't work). As he said, he doesn't do "acceptance".
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: On moral rather than scientific grounds. It's been pointed out that it's not because Luthor can't believe in something bigger than humanity. It's because he can't believe in something bigger than him.
  • Foil:
    • Superman and Luthor stand, respectively, atop the pinnacles of physical and intellectual perfection, have a vast array of powers at their disposal (Superman's innate, Luthor's technological), and understand what it's like to be isolated from society. Yet where Superman tries to use his powers (which are uniquely his) to help the rest of the people around him, Luthor uses his (which are at least partly owed to his workers and the various alien races he's lifted concepts from) to exploit people for his own gain. Throw in the fact that Superman is an alien who nevertheless represents the best of humanity, and Luthor is a human who represents the worst of humanity, and you've got a solid contrast.
    • World's Finest, Superman/Batman and other crossovers love to draw attention to the similarities between Luthor and Bruce Wayne. They're two of the richest, smartest men on the planet, who have aimed their obsessive personalities and immense resources at different targets. Luthor lampshades it in the New 52, telling Batman: "We're in the same club, you and I. Just two incredibly rich, mere mortal boys playing dress-up in the end."
    • On the criminal side of things, Luthor and The Joker are as diametrically opposed as their respective archenemies, with Lex constantly working within the system, while Joker tries to burn it down. The contrast between their motivations is even greater, with Luthor having to convince himself that he has noble intentions, while Joker cheerfully admits to being as evil as they come. Their regular team-ups only serve to emphasize these contrasts all the more.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Rebelled against his father in the most extreme ways.
  • For the Evulz: Some of his Kick the Dog moments fall under this.
  • Freudian Excuse: In modern continuity, Luthor is usually portrayed as having had a truly miserable childhood at the hands of parents and foster families who abused and exploited him.
    • His Silver Age blames Superman/Superboy for his baldness, which, while an accident genuinely was Superboy's fault to a degree. Blaming Superman for his subsequent descent into criminality, and his parents' abandonment of him is less fair, however.
  • Funetik Aksent: Golden Age Alexei Luthor often had a very pronounced Oirish accent.
  • Funny Animal: His Earth-C-Minus counterpart, Lex Lemur, archfoe of Supersquirrel.

  • Good Twin: Alexander Luthor Sr. of Earth-3 Pre-Crisis, the Antimatter Universe Alexander Luthor Post-Crisis, and the Pocket Universe Lex Luthor from The Supergirl Saga.
  • Greed: Lex has long had greed as one of his defining vices. The Orange Lantern ring that he get in Blackest Night ends up worsening his greed, leaving him with a yawning gulf inside when he loses it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Towards Superman. No matter what Lex does he will never be as powerful, as loved, or as good as Superman.
  • Grandfather Clause: For anyone else, being a Supervillain archenemy of ostensibly less physical power than the Super Hero is an uphill battle to establish credibility. Luthor however has been precisely that since The Golden Age of Comic Books and has never had been questioned as the nemesis of Superman.
  • Guns Akimbo: He's done this a few times in the comics, and in various adaptations like Smallville and Justice League Unlimited.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: In the Post-Crisis continuity, when Lex first appears, he's balding when Superman begins his career.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Especially in animated adaptations, Lex doesn’t handle failure or inconvenience well, if things aren’t going completely his way, his smooth and confident persona slips away and he goes ballistic. A common scene is for him to smugly lecture Superman about how untouchable and smart he is, then start yelling and throwing things when the Man of Steel refuses to be baited or intimidated.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Is a member of the Justice League in the New 52 and Rebirth. Despite maintaining his somewhat snobby attitude, he seems to genuinely want to help Metropolis this time around in honor of the New 52's Superman death. It doesn't last, though.
  • Heel Realization: In All-Star Superman, and Forever Evil.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: More like Helmets Are Hardly Villainous. Even though he wears his iconic Powered Armor, the suit itself is lacking a helmet. DC made up for it by including a helmet with the suit in the New 52 comics.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: A hero on the planet Lexor, actually.
  • Hero Killer: Against anybody other than Superman he typically gets treated this way, since there's not much any lesser heroes can do to touch him.
  • Heroic Build: Starting in the eighties.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Towards the end of Batman: No Man's Land, he was revealed (read: Retconned) to be The Chessmaster behind the events of the Story Arc and then, at the last minute, was himself hijacked by The Joker.
    • Done In-Universe in Superman Villains Secret Files and Origins where he tells his infant daughter a bedtime story that (falsely) suggests that he was secretly behind nearly every major villain Superman ever faced.
  • Humongous Mecha: Once used Superman's Kryptonian warsuit to attack the hero, after he himself had been left crippled by Clone Degeneration. Silver Age Luthor was also fond of giant robots of various abilities.
  • Hypocrite: A frequent issue in more pro-humanist takes on the character. He likes to view himself as a champion of ordinary, unpowered humans against a godlike alien who renders all human accomplishment and achievement worthless... while being perfectly willing to sacrifice any number of those same ordinary, unpowered humans in order to achieve victory over said alien. And that's not even getting into how Lex, on several occasions, has taken on god-like powers of alien origin himself, including that of an Orange Lantern, the Zone Child, and Apex Lex, to fight Superman, making him anything but the mortal man underdog he likes to think he is in comparison to Superman.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The root of his loathing of superhumans.
  • I Just Want to Be You!: Why he especially loathes Superman. When he was bound by the Lasso of Truth in Blackest Night, it caused him to admit it.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Despite being a man of science, he can reject cold hard logic and facts staring him in the face if it doesn't conform to his own prejudices, like the time he rebuffed the findings of a supercomputer that concluded Clark Kent was Superman on the basis that anyone with the powers of Superman would never condescend to live life as a mere mortal.
  • Insistent Terminology: Calling Superman "the alien".
  • Insufferable Genius: Will always remind people that he's the smartest man alive.
  • Iconic Outfit: His green and purple power suits, and his expensive business suits.
  • Ironic Hell: Post-Crisis Luthor was ultimately left stranded in the Phantom Zone, with all the Kryptonian criminals he hates.
  • Ironic Name: "Alexander" and its derivatives mean "Defender of Mankind," and "Lex" is Latin for "the law". The historical Alexander the Great while a megalomaniacal conqueror with a god complex was also a man with a far-sighted multi-cultural worldview while Lex Luthor is a xenophobe who hates Superman for being an alien.
  • Irrational Hatred: His hate for Superman is based on nothing but his own personal prejudices.
  • It's All About Me: Other people simply don't matter to Lex. He's at the centre of the universe, and everybody else is irrelevant.
    • He reforms the Injustice Gang solely because Superman is now leading the Justice League, which Lex believes can only be Superman deliberately trying to escalate their conflict.
    • During 52, a new superhero called Supernova shows up. Lex comes to the conclusion that it's Superman pretending to be someone else, just to mess with him. He even has Clark Kent abducted and dosed with a truth serum just to "confirm" this, and is incensed when Clark answers, in all honesty, that it's not Superman (and he'd know). It never occurs to Lex to ask the right questions, and Clark gets out scott-free.
    • Lex Luthor's refusal to believe any claims that Clark Kent is Superman is based on the logic that if Luthor had powers like that, he would never hide himself away as an average person. Luthor's thinking seems to go, "I am a genius. Superman is a genius. Therefore, Superman must think like I do!"
  • Jerkass: Most depictions of Lex are him being an asshole of the highest order: egotistical, narcissistic, condescending, and ill-tempered when on his worst days. He's more than willing to treat his employees like shit in case he's proven wrong or has been slighted.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: He actually makes large sums of donations to charities. Seems like a pretty awesome move, but given Lex's egotistical and borderline-sociopathic nature when at his worst, these donations are a move to maintain his public image of being a renowned philanthropist and be acclaimed for the work he's done to Metropolis, effectively a move to conceal his true character.
  • Kick the Dog: Constantly. Most notably when he healed his (Post-Crisis) sister of a neurological disease, then gave it right back to her.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Whether it's handing Alexander Luthor Jr. over to the Joker, setting up Toyman to be executed by a robot assassin, or gunning down Gor from behind, Luthor has regularly inflicted horrible abuse on the DCU's other villains.
  • Lady Macbeth: His alternate universe counterpart on Earth-One has little interest in killing Superman, and considers the concept unethical. His wife, Alexandra, on the other hand, is fascinated by the concept, and pushes him towards doing it. One begins to wonder which of them is really Earth-One's version of him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A few times over the years, when he's not a Karma Houdini.
    • Luthor's Kryptonite ring allowed him to keep Superman at bay and get away with all sorts of crime, but eventually he learned it had given him fatal cancer.
    • After returning in a clone body, he kills his personal trainer just to prove he can get away with it; this eventually puts Lois Lane on his trail when the trainer's father asks her to investigate his daughter's disappearance, which costs him his Villain with Good Publicity status for a few years of real time.
    • After trying to eliminate the geneticist who cloned him, Luthor belatedly discovers that a disease that destroys clones is starting to affect him...and the geneticist he betrayed is all too happy to leave him to his fate.
  • The Leader: Of a number of supervillain collectives over the years. It should come as little surprise that he tends to be The Mastermind type.
  • Legion of Doom: If one exists, he will be running it.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Lex can and does end up here in conflicts with other villains. This is most notable when he faces Alexander Luthor Jr. in Infinite Crisis, when he allies with Superman against Zod in Last Son, in The Black Ring, where he is up against a virtual who's who of DC's worst, including Venusian parasite Mr. Mind, brain eating primate Gorilla Grodd, immortal psychopath and conqueror Vandal Savage, living embodiment of greed Larfleeze, and omnicidal computer mind Brainiac, and in Forever Evil (2013), where he takes on Earth-3's Crime Syndicate.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: The Trope Namer and probably the most famous example. Lex's animosity towards Superman is vast, but he has deep respect for Clark Kent and has told Kent such on several occasions, often because Clark represents the ordinary, average people that Luthor views himself as the protector of. Depending on the Writer, as this can sometimes take the form of Condescending Compassion and at other times, Lex will view Clark with the same contempt as he does everyone else he considers beneath him.
  • Lust: For power. No matter how much he has, Lex will always want more.

  • Mad Scientist: Was an archetypal one in the sixties and built his fortune on his technology in the modern era. Occasionally he'll revert to form, particularly if LexCorp is unavailable to him for whatever reason.
  • Mun Danger: Some modern incarnations, most notably John Byrne's version. Although technically, he's pretty much always depicted as an otherwise normal human, going up against the alien god that is Superman, though his more out-there versions do tend to be a little more than just mildly unrealistic.
  • Man of the City: Considers himself (and most citizens consider him to be it also) the first citizen of Metropolis.
  • Mercy Kill: Receives one from Lana Lang in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.
  • Mob-Boss Suit Fitting: Lex has been shown in this kind of scene.
  • Morality Pet: His sister Lena during the Silver Age and the Bronze Age. Luthor went out of his way to shield her from any knowledge of his criminal lifestyle. It appears she's this again in the New 52; he tried and failed to save her when she fell ill, leaving her an invalid. Then it turns out Lena despises him, and would quite gladly kill him given the chance.
  • Muggle Power: Goes on and on about leveling the playing field, and preaches a xenophobic, pro-human/anti-alien form of extremism. This is especially notable in Last Son and New Krypton, when he's given the chance to "save the world" from evil Kryptonians led by Zod.
  • My Grandson, Myself: During the time he faked his own death because of his Kryptonite ring-induced cancer, he transferred his brain into a clone body and came back pretending to be his own son until said body fell under Clone Degeneration and Luthor suffered a rather bad Sanity Slippage.
  • Narcissist: Probably the best diagnosis for Lex, given his inability to see others as anything other than extensions of himself, his pathological need to be the most important person in the room, and his identification with beings like Brainiac and the Joker. When under the influence of the Lasso of Truth and asked why he wants to join the JLA he is forced to admit "Because I'm an egomaniac."
  • Naytheist: Refuses to acknowledge any of the setting's gods.
  • Never My Fault: Always refuses to take responsibility for his actions, typically blaming Superman. This especially goes in Luthor's Silver Age origin when his first revenge of grandiose public works projects went disastrously wrong and Luthor blamed Superboy for humiliating him when the superhero was forced to intervene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Superman accidentally destroyed Lexor in the Bronze Age, intensifying Luthor's (already extreme) hatred of him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Businessman Luthor from the 80s was modelled on prominent tycoons of the time, such as Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump. More recent incarnations have also borrowed from Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Noble Demon: When written by Elliot S! Maggin in the Bronze Age.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Still heavily involved in running LexCorp, and that's in addition to being a supervillain.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: In his own mind, Lex is quite sincere in his desire to uplift humanity and serve as an example of all they can accomplish. In reality, that philanthropy only extends to how much gain he can get out of the situation, and he'd be more than willing to slit every human on the planet's throat if it will further his vendetta with Superman.
  • Obvious Trap: Clearly marked as "Luthor Trap To Capture Superboy".
  • Odd Friendship: With the Joker. While they've fought, the two work surprisingly well together and tend to display a mutual respect. One of the best examples of this comes from Underworld Unleashed. Recruited as part of a team of five villains to serve to demon Neron, Luthor and Joker immediately conspire with the others to steal Neron's power, only for it to be revealed as a successful scheme to get rid of the other three villains. Luthor and Joker understood each other so well they managed to put this together without even speaking about it. They even high-five afterwards.
  • Off on a Technicality: Again and again and again.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Lex's ego and pettiness means even in a room with his alternate counterparts, he'll still look down his nose at them. Case in point, Silver Age and Golden Age Lex during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Lex doesn't blink an eye when Brainiac reduces Alexei to a pile of ash.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: He has always gone by "Lex," but what it's short for has varied. For the record, Golden Age Luthor is Alexei, Silver/Bronze Age Luthor is Alexis, and Post-Crisis Luthor is Alexander.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Nobody else gets to take down Superman. Not Zod, not Brainiac, not even Darkseid. Only Lex.
  • The Paragon: Of course, he's not one, but his greatest desire is to be seen as one for the world, but mainly Metropolis, and some people do think of Lex as a paragon. His jealousy and hatred towards Superman is based on the fact that a majority of the world sees him as a paragon, and not him.
  • The Pardon: Given one after New Krypton.
  • Patricide: Usually kills his father, sometimes kills his mother as well.
  • Photographic Memory: It has been established on a number of occassions that Luthor has an eidetic memory. It's a gift that has been invaluable in both science and finance and which has helped made him be one of the most intelligent human figures in the DC Universe.
  • Physical God/Reality Warper: Luthor briefly attained godlike powers at the end of The Black Ring, when he fused with the Zone Child. This has also happened in adaptations like the DCAU.
  • Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills: Luthor interacts with Superman face-to-face all the time, and in a good number of continuities is also childhood friends with Clark Kent (and at the very least sees him often through Lois), and he's among the most intelligent men in the world. Somehow in spite of these three facts he never, ever figures out Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. Various explanations for this have cropped up over the decades, but the fact remains that Luthor only figured out Clark's true identity when it was spelt out for him via looking through Superman's memories. Even then it took him a minute.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In his early Post-Crisis appearances, in which he takes special pleasure in belittling women or threatening them into sleeping with him, and taunting Maggie Sawyer regarding her sexuality.
  • Powered Armour: His green and purple warsuit, which he gained in the eighties, and uses in various forms to today.
  • The Power of Hate: His hatred of Superman has kept him going on many occasions.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Lex can't rule the world if everybody is dead.
  • President Evil: The Trope Namer, in fact.
  • Pride: Supremely hubristic, to an almost Greek level. This affected even the Pocket Universe Lex Luthor in The Supergirl Saga, who, although he knew about the various Kryptonite isotopes hidden in Superboy's lab that could have stopped the Phantom Zone criminals before they started their reign of terror, refused to use them because he wanted the defeat of the criminals to be by his own hand. He regretted this decision upon his death long after his Earth suffered a Class 6 on the Apocalypse How scale.
  • Primary-Color Champion: As part of DC's "Rebirth" event, Luthor, currently acting as a superhero, gained a blue-and-red version of his usual power armour, complete with Superman "S" and red cape.
  • Psychological Projection: In some continuities, like the New 52, he presumes Superman is the one obsessed and conspiring against him. It's also part of the reason he can't work out Superman is Clark Kent, even when told. Not only can he not accept that he hasn't figured it out, he can't believe that someone with Superman's powers would want to hide anything.
  • Progressively Prettier: Silver Age Luthor was a fat, rather ugly middle-aged man, as was John Byrne's interpretation. Ever since the 90's, however, Lex has been thin and decently handsome,
  • Psycho Serum/Super Serum: Luthor has experimented with chemical enhancement on several occasions, including a Kryptonite-laced variant of Bane's Venom steroid, which heightened his strength and reflexes to near-superhuman levels.
  • Pet the Dog: In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel he helps his janitor's son get into a prestigious school by using his influence with the headmaster.
    • Averted that his assistant points out doing so takes away an earned spot from another student. Luthor also "gifts" the janitor and his son with an invitation to the opening of his new skyscraper, which he destroys as part of a plot to discredit Superman.
    • At the end of Forever Evil he turns down Ted Kord's offer to buy his business and tells Ted he will gladly be there to advise him if he ever needs it.
  • Rags to Riches: Luthor is usually portrayed as growing up poor, be it in Metropolis or Smallville. It was selling his inventions that made him a millionaire, and the construction of LexCorp that turned him into a multibillionaire.
  • Red Right Hand: From 1988-1990 in the comics, he had a cybernetic prosthetic covered by a glove for his right hand after the original was amputated due to radiation poisoning from his kryptonite ring.
  • Robosexual: A few times, typically with his own creations.
  • Robot Master: Luthor's had legions of robotic minions since the Silver Age, and regularly uses them to even the odds between himself and Superman.

  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: What money cannot buy, political influence and business connections can.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: There's not a lot of things Lex's money can't buy.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: During his time as President, Luthor violated many, many laws.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: As Superman's archnemesis, Luthor directly contrasts his primary colors with secondary colors purple and green.
  • Secret Identity Apathy: Despite being Superman's greatest archenemy, he rarely bothers to uncover Superman's secret civilian identity. In fact, he doesn't believe Superman has a secret identity because he couldn't fathom the idea that Superman would prefer living as a normal human rather than ruling as a god.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In many origin stories, Luthor got his start by taking out a life insurance policy on his parents and cutting the brake lines to their car while both were taking a trip, leading to their immediate death and Luthor collecting the insurance money for start up capital to his company.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Superman, both are extremely gifted individuals that can do great things for the world, but while Superman is humble and charitable Lux only uses his gifts for his his own benefit.
  • Shooting Superman: Lex has tried this even though he of all people should know better. In Action Comics #286, he picks an ordinary machine gun, shoots at Supergirl and then he swears because the bullets bounce off.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: While he's now bald, he had flaming red hair as a kid, and retains red eyebrows to go with his envious green eyes. As for significance, he's The Hero's archfoe.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Often depicted this way.
  • Smug Snake: In the Silver Age, when he had all the arrogance of his modern day incarnation, but none of the success rate. They started to undo this in the Bronze Age, and as of the 1980s, he usually falls into MB territory.
  • The Sociopath: Often referred to as such. Though he fits most of the requirements for the psychiatric diagnosis in the Pre-Crisis version. However, Post-Crisis incarnations and those that followed tend to hit every requirement trait.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Towards Superman, resulting in many different clones, one of which being Kon-El aka Superboy.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Whether Luthor believes his pro-human rhetoric, or whether it's a cover for his hatred of Superman is a case of Depending on the Writer, but his actions show he doesn't care for humanity as much as he says.
  • Super Intelligence: Brainiac described him as a "10th Level Intellect", making his intelligence superior to the combined IQs of everyone on Earth, both now (6th Level) and in the 31st Century (9th). He is also smarter than almost every individual on Colu, a planet renowned for the computer like minds of its inhabitants (8th on average). In the DC Universe as a whole, only Brainiac himself (a 12th Level Intellect) is known to be smarter than Lex. He utilizes his superhuman intellect to concoct plans that require near-omniscient predictive ability and to invent all manners of super-tech ranging from Superman-level power armor to teleporters to (in the Pre-Crisis era) time machines.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Whatever Lex is paying his security team, he should probably cut it.
  • Take Over the World: This was usually Luthor's end goal Pre-Crisis, and it occasionally resurfaces as a motivation even today.
  • Teen Genius: Was an inventor even in high school.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Had a violent streak even as an adolescent. In Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, he was said to be cruel in his youth, especially towards girls, and killed his parents to cash on a life insurance policy he put on them.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Post-Crisis, he stopped Metallo from doing in Superman and was extremely frustrated when Doomsday seemingly slew Superman because that meant Luthor wouldn't get to do it himself.
  • Tragic Villain: The fact that Luthor could have done great things and benefited the world in a very real way, is at the core of much of his modern portrayal, with Superman often lamenting his inability to turn Luthor around.
  • Übermensch: He certainly thinks he is.
  • Trumplica: As noted earlier, one of the inspirations to depict him as a businessman was Donald Trump. Amusingly, the arc that would depict Luthor as President of the United States came 16 years about the real Trump's own victory.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • No matter how many times Superman saves his life, Lex will never get over his grudge and plan again to destroy Superman. Justified, as he sees Superman helping him as just another form of "the alien" condescending to him.
    • In Action Comics #286, Supergirl saved Lex Luthor's life. He yelled he hated her and he tried to kill her again. It didn't help that Supergirl informed him that she saved him because she wants him to pay for his crimes. He declared "[He] loathed [her] '''more''' than '''Superman'''"
  • Unholy Matrimony: He once entered into a marriage of convenience with fellow Diabolical Mastermind Contessa Erica Alexandra Del Portenza after she seized control of LexCorp while he was indisposed. They alternated between being partners and trying to eliminate each other until Luthor decided to run for President, at which point he had her assassinated.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Justice League (2018) reveals that Luthor was once a kind, loving child, and that he was the one who freed Martian Manhunter from captivity. A combination of these memories being erased and the years of parental abuse Lex suffered after this turned him into the monster he is today. Ironically, his final words to J'onn before sending him back to Mars were "Remember we weren't all bad."
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Sometimes goes on about how much better the world would be under his rule, or just how if Superman was gone he'd make a utopia. Superman justifiably calls him out on doing next to nothing of worth while Superman was gone for awhile despite all his boasting and in All Star Superman points out the only one stopping Luthor from making the world a better place is Luthor himself.
  • Villain Has a Point: He certainly wasn't wrong about what would happen if a whole army of Kryptonians landed on Earth during New Krypton. Even without Lane and Luthor's interference, the Kandorians (or at least their leadership) quickly showed themselves to be arrogant supremacists who flouted human laws and felt themselves to be immune to any form of corrective behaviour. Luthor finds the affair extremely gratifying.
  • Villain Protagonist: Of Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, The Black Ring, and Forever Evil (2013), as well as his during his time as a JLA member.
  • Villain Team-Up: An expert at getting other villains to get together, typically in counterpoint to the JLA.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: For most of the post-Crisis era.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Always spectacular when it happens.
  • Villainous Crush: In The '80s and The '90s, he had one of these on Lois Lane. The Lois & Clark incarnation in particular was obsessed with her.
  • Villainous Friendship: He and The Joker are probably the closest thing the other one has to a friend Post-Crisis. Pre-Crisis he considered Brainiac a friend, but the robot eventually betrayed and bodyjacked him.
  • Villainous Rescue: Lex and the Superman Revenge Squad freed Metropolis from General Zod's control, saving the JLA and the world during Last Son. In Forever Evil (2013) he does it again, defeating the Crime Syndicate and then freeing the JLA.
  • Villainous Underdog: Grant Morrison once noted that a part of you almost has to cheer for Luthor, as he goes up against a demigod armed with nothing but his intellect and his arrogance.
  • Villainous Valor: He's a man with no real superpowers. Superman can benchpress planets. This is part of Luthor's character by default.
  • We Can Rule Together: He says this to Amanda Waller while explaining his plan. He concludes this with a Forced Kiss. It's unknown if he has feelings for her or he was too delusional from the kryptonite injections.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Several comic book origin stories have suggested that Lex Luthor and Clark Kent both attended Smallville High, and were friends. Smallville took this interpretation and ran with it.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Usually has one.
  • Will Not Be a Victim: One of Lex's biggest resolves is to never be helpless or a victim to the might of another and he will fight to the bitter end to make sure that he can come out on top. He once had an ex-employee of his company assassinated in front of his family for striking Lex in the face before being fired. According to Lex, for a second he was made weak and helpless, and for that offense the employee could not be allowed to live. In Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography he had a former bully of his framed for the murder of journalist Peter Sands. Not for the bullying - which was ended when Lex hired some thugs to beat him and another bully up - but because said bully had the temerity to spit in his face when Lex offered him a job.
  • World's Smartest Man: Lex Luthor is typically regarded as the pinnacle of unenhanced, human intelligence in the DC universe, with the only other being Luthor considers an intellectual equivalent to be Brainiac who possesses Super Intelligence.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Most notably when he beat the tar out of Supergirl.
    Lex Luthor: There was a time when I wouldn't sully myself with the pedestrian art of fisticuffs. Striking a woman — worse, a girl — reduces me to the level of some thug — a hooligan—on the street. Then, I see that "S" that you so brazenly decided to wear on your less than impressive chest. And I can almost forgive myself.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Doesn't like to hurt kids, but will do it without regrets.
  • Wrath: Towards anyone who aids "the alien" or damages his sense of power.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: Superman has pointed out on multiple occasions that Luthor has the intelligence to revolutionize the world and benefit everyone, but he's too focused on himself and 'revenge' on Superman to ever do it.
    • Reaches it's zenith during the Brightest Day storyline. Lex Luthor gains near omnipotence and is given the opportunity to become the greatest hero in the universe, even greater that Superman. Passively, his power sooths the anger and hatred of everyone, causing even the red lanterns to be at peace. He could turn the universe into a literal paradise. The only caveat to this is that the being that gave him these powers requires that he not harm Superman in any way. And that is simply a bridge too far for Lex, who was already furious from the revelation that Superman and Clark Kent were in fact the same person all along. He attempts to attack Superman and loses everything.
  • You're Insane!: Been on the receiving end of this a few times.

Alternative Title(s): Lex Luthor