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Series / Superman & Lois

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"The world will always need Superman. Right now, this family needs you more."note 
"Why'd you move the family here? Still looking for the simple life? 'Cause those days are gone, Clark. Long gone."
General Sam Lane

Superman & Lois is a superhero series on The CW, based on the DC Comics characters of the same names. It is the ninth live-action installment of the Arrowverse, and initially appeared to be a Spin-Off of Supergirl but it was later retroactively revealed that it took place in a different universe, with the title characters being Alternate Selves to the Superman and Lois who had been introduced on Supergirl, played by the same actors.

Clark Kent / Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), recently laid off from the Daily Planet after it was bought by corrupt businessman Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner), returns to his hometown of Smallville to attend his adopted mother, Martha's funeral, alongside his wife, Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), and their twin sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass season 1-2, Michael Bishop season 3-onwards) and Jordan (Alex Garfin). At Smallville, Clark reunites with his childhood friend Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui), now married to the town's fire chief, Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez), and helps Lois's father, General Sam (Dylan Walsh), investigate the sabotage of nuclear power plants by the mysterious Stranger (Wolé Parks), who wants to study Superman's abilities.

Meanwhile, the Kent boys befriend Lana's eldest daughter, Sarah (Inde Navarrette), learn about their father's true identity, and experience an incident revealing that Jordan has inherited his father's powers. Eventually, Clark and Lois decide to settle in Smallville to give Jordan privacy while figuring out how to keep the family farm from closing, what Edge is planning for the town, and stop The Stranger.

The show has aired for three seasons, with the third airing in March 2023. Although it has not yet been renewed past the third season, DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn has indicated that the series could continue for one or two more seasons, though not necessarily on the CW. This would allow the show to wrap up ahead of the release of his 2025 movie Superman: Legacy, which will reboot the character on the big screen. And with The Flash concluding the original Earth-Prime setting in 2023 and no new projects in the pipeline, Superman and Lois also has the distinction of being the last show to spin off of the Arrowverse franchise.

Not to be confused with the 90s series Lois & Clark, following the same characters but in a different continuity and at a different stage in their relationship.

Superman & Lois contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The opening montage is reminiscent to what All-Star Superman does with the character's origin; it condenses Clark's backstory to only the relevant parts like his arrival to Earth, Jonathan Kent's death, his first appearance as Superman, his meeting and marrying Lois, and gaining two sons.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the comics, Bruno Mannheim and Onomatopoeia have practically nothing to do with each other, occupying completely different supervillain niches against different heroes. In this series, Onomatopoeia has undergone an adaptational Gender Flip and is the wife of Mannheim, with the two of them even having a son together.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the comics, Morgan Edge is a B-list Lex Luthor clone without the scientific genius. In the show he's a Kryptonian.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: The usually redheaded Lana Lang is a brunette, and Jon Kent has sandy hair rather than black like his comic counterpart.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Natasha Irons's counterpart on the show is named Natalie.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Sam Lane is (at least, since around 2008) usually more of a General Ripper type on par with the likes of General Thunderbolt Ross and is constantly at odds with Superman. Here he knows that Superman is his son-in-law, gets on quite well with him, attends Martha's funeral and is a doting grandparent to Jon and Jordan. He also seems more well meaning and nicer in general to those around him. Any of his more dubious traits are now more chalked up to genuine concerns about his family's safety than unnecessary paranoia about possibilities of a Beware the Superman scenario happening.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Jon Kent doesn't appear to be bisexual like his comic counterpart, although to be fair, comic book Jon didn't come out until after the show had started.
    • Similarly, Natalie is only confirmed to be attracted to boys, when in the comics Natasha Irons' most common love interest is Traci 13.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: Morgan Edge was given this treatment in the series. Though the original character underwent Adaptational Villainy following Crisis, and became a genuine Corrupt Corporate Executive in both the comics and his depiction in Supergirl (2015), this series saw him become this. He is Superman's half-brother Tal-Rho, son of Zeta-Rho and Lara Lor-Van, who was raised by an abusive father into believing that strength was the only way to live, and survived Krypton's destruction, only to be held hostage and experimented upon by the British government.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • John Henry Irons is an unambigous good guy in the comics, but an Anti-Villain in the show. He does fall back more in line with his comics counterpart after realizing that Superman is not like the one of his world.
    • Played straight with Mitch Anderson, who starts out as a Knight Templar but only gets worse from there.
  • Age Lift: Both Jon and Jordan, who are Jonathan Samuel Kent split into twins, are teenagers instead of ten years old. It's downplayed due to Jon having been aged up in Superman (Brian Michael Bendis).
  • Alternate Continuity: Originally advertised as a spin-off to Supergirl, it was eventually revealed to be a separate universe with a loose continuity to the Arrowverse.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: In the first episode, Clark walks in on Jon while he's videochatting with his girlfriend.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Sarah kissed another girl at summer camp, but insists it meant nothing (though because she's in love with Jordan rather than the other girl, not necessarily because she's a girl) and otherwise has only dated boys.
  • Amicable Exes: Like in most Superman works, Clark and Lana previously dated back in high school. More than a decade later they are on good terms and are close friends and, unlike the comics, Lana is not aware that Clark has superpowers.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Lois absolutely rips into Jonathan after he gets trapped and almost killed inspecting The Stranger's RV. Though part of it is due to finding out about her life on The Stranger's Earth, seeing her oldest son about to be killed right in front of her, helpless to save him, was the breaking point. Even Clark thinks Lois went way too far. After a bit of therapy, Lois does apologize and the two make up.
  • Badass Normal: Lois, General Lane, The Stranger, Natalie and Jonathan.
  • Bash Brothers: Once he accepts Superman never will be a threat, John Henry forms this relationship with Clark. They chat like old buddies, have each others' backs in a fight, and Clark is more than happy to welcome him and his daughter Natalie to live at the farm.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Superman and Tal-Rho can survive in space unprotected, which is pretty typical for Kryptonians in most DC stories. However, when Clark loses his powers, he's somehow still able to breathe and even speak in space without a suit.
  • Beta Outfit: Superman's first outfit as seen in flashbacks is a direct sendup to the Fleischer cartoons.
  • Beware the Superman: The Stranger believes this, because on his world, Superman joined forces with the invading Kryptonians and turned evil. It takes a while to convince him that this world's Superman is a different, better person and won't follow the same path, which he only really accepts after learning Superman is married to Lois.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Although as they are twins Jon is only Jordan's elder by a few minutes, he immediately comes to his defense whenever needed, such as when he's punched by Sean.
    • In season 2, Tal-Rho starts showing signs of this to Clark, to the point he won't hesitate to take multiple kryptonite bullets to the chest in order to protect his little brother.
  • Birds of a Feather: Jordan and Sarah strike up a connection due to their mutual experiences with depression and medication.
  • Bizarro World: The focus of Season Two.
  • Broad Strokes: Prior to the Season 2 final revealing that it takes place in a separate continuity to the Arrowverse, the show’s exact relationship with the other shows was unclear due to consistently following Superman Stays Out of Gotham and not mentioning any other heroes. The reveal that it’s separate from the Arrowverse establishes that Superman is the sole superhero of his Earth, or at least the only major one, as the presence of Diggle and his mention of Oliver being dead suggests some version of Arrow took place in this reality, and Diggle still acquired a power ring just like at the end of that show. However, besides that none of the other Arrowverse shows and characters seem to exist in this reality, most notably Superman's cousin Supergirl who could otherwise be expected to be able to fill in for him when he's indisposed or out of commission. An interview with the showrunners confirmed that Green Arrow and some other vigilantes arose in this universe, but no superpowered heroes like the Flash did except for Superman.invoked
  • The Cape: Superman, naturally.
  • Canon Character All Along: The character referred to as "The Stranger" is initially touted as being the Lex Luthor from another world. He turns out to be John Henry Irons, alias Steel.
  • Casting Gag: Adrian Glynn McMorran, who plays Candice's dad Emmitt Pergande, also played the very first Meteor Freak in Smallville, Jeremy Creek. Appropriately, both characters are Smallville natives who get defeated by Clark Kent.
  • Central Theme: The Power of Family. Superman draws strength from his loved ones, and Jordan gains mastery over his powers with Jonathan to support him. In contrast, characters who have lost their family, ignore family, or are too concerned with putting labels on what counts as family, are made weaker for it.
  • Clark Kenting:
    • Jonathan and Jordan must have seen Superman on television hundreds of times and must have had plenty of opportunities to see their father without his glasses. It is still a complete surprise to them that their father is Superman. They're still in disbelief when he outright admits it to them and only buy it once he lifts and flies with his truck.
    • This is invoked by Clark when he makes sure that there are plenty of witnesses to him struggling to carry a mid-size cooler and then requiring help from his teenage son to lift it onto a bus.
  • Cliffhanger: The first season goes on three mini-hiatuses, each preceded by an episode with a shocking cliffhanger ending.
    • Tag Harris appearing out of nowhere and attacking Jordan.
    • Superman joining Edge and Lois calling John Henry Irons for help.
    • Edge floating in space next to the sun absorbing a solar flare.
  • Composite Character: General Anderson is essentially the comics version of Sam Lane, but using the name of Mitchell Anderson/Outburst, a B-list superhero from the 90's and early 2000's.
  • Continuity Nod: "The Stranger" claims his world was destroyed some time ago; given who he's revealed to be (see above), it can be easy to infer his world was one of the many destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In "Heritage" it is revealed that Irons's world had a Superman that killed dozens of enemy soldiers with his heat-vision. That world's version of Sam Lane was one of them.
  • Dark Messiah: There's some twisted Christ parallels to Tal-Rho's story. He was sent to Earth by his father to suffer for the salvation of their people, he technically dies and rises again and he's shown orbiting the sun in a crucifixion pose at the end of one episode.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Jon and Jordan are named after Jonathan Kent and Jor-El, respectively.
  • Deadly Sparring: In "Girl... You'll Be A Woman, Soon", Jordan and Jonathan have a sparring match as part of Jordan's training by Sam. Jonathan — who unbeknownst to both Sam and Jordan is using X-Kryptonite drugs — gives Jordan a nasty beating requiring Sam to step in before it gets further out of hand.
  • Decomposite Character: Jonathan Samuel Kent from the comics has been split into twins for this series: Jonathan, the athletic one, and Jordan, the sensitive one. Jordan is the one who inherits Clark's powers, not Jonathan. At least so far.
  • Die or Fly: An ongoing trend across seasons one and two is Jordan's superpowers manifesting one at a time and getting progressively stronger as he keeps finding himself in life-threatening situations where he needs his powers to survive and/or save somebody else.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Played horribly straight as Jordan starts to get stronger.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Downplayed. After finding out that Clark is Superman, Jordan comes to the conclusion that his mental illness was brought about by his half-alien biology and accuses his parents of ruining him by keeping it a secret for as long as they have. Lois fires back that Jordan's social anxiety is more likely completely unrelated to his alien heritage, though she has no real way of knowing this.
  • Doppelmerger: Ally Alston, the Big Bad of Season 2, plans to fuse herself and everyone else with their counterparts from Bizarro Superman's Earth to create a Merged Reality. She succeeds in merging with her Bizarro Earth counterpart in episode 10, making her a Physical God powerful enough to drain Superman's powers.
  • The Dragon: Leslie Larr to Morgan Edge.
  • Drugs Are Bad: In season two, remaining X-Kryptonite is stolen and made into a drug that temporarily gives people watered down Kryptonian powers. Jon starts taking some, and becomes Drunk with Power and uncharacteristically aggressive.
  • Dying Town: Smallville, possibly by design.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Clark basically knows almost everybody in Smallville and went to school with some of them. Justified since Smallville is a small town.
  • Evil Brit: Morgan Edge, although he wasn't actually born in Britain. Or on Earth.
  • Evil Counterpart: Tal-Roh/Edge to Superman, and by extension Zeta-Roh to Jor-El.
  • Evil Uncle: Edge to Jonathan and Jordan.
  • Exact Words: The de facto slogan Edge uses for his project in Smallville is that he is going to help employees become "their best selves". Getting powers like Superman's obviously sounds like an improvement.
    • Ally Allston promises Lucy Lane that she has never and will never force or coerce her. However, seduction, manipulation, and Slipping a Mickey are not using force.
  • Fantastic Drug: Somebody has been processing X-Kryptonite into an aerosol form that temporarily bestows watered down Kryptonian super powers in Human users. It is also shown that, on Bizarro World, green Kryptonite does the same thing to the natives. It can also be used to boost the powers of actual Kryptonians. However, both versions cause extremely aggressive behavior, and the green stuff even physically mutates Bizarro Superman after prolonged abuse.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Jordan blames his mental illness on his half-alien biology. While it's most likely untrue, it does hint that the one who thinks he's the most affected by his inhuman nature is eventually the one to actually develop superpowers.
    • Clark's sons are seen at one point playing Injustice 2, the games being about alternate universes and one where Superman became a tyrant and conquered the world. The Stranger is from such a universe and it's the reason he's there; he believes that Earth-Prime Clark is secretly evil and is trying to kill him before he can destroy the world.
    • There is quite a bit in regards to The Stranger's true identity as John Henry Irons.
      • The Stranger winds up being both Bald of Evil as you would expect of a Luthor. Both of these physical traits make up John Henry's appearance in the comics.
      • His Powered Armor appears especially bulky compared to Earth-Prime Luthor's much like his Steel armor in the comics.
      • Much of his technology appears to have a pretty thrown together appearance compared to technology that Earth-Prime's Lex Luthor has been shown to use. This proves to be a good visual cue that it isn't really a Luthor who's causing trouble.
      • It was established on Batwoman and The Flash that the presence of any doppelgangers from other Earths following Crisis would cause both the doppelganger and native versions to suffer neural degeneration that could only be avoided through the death of one or the other. This left it a mystery as to how The Stranger avoided the issue after being identified as a Luthor. As it turns out not only was he not a version of Lex Luthor to begin with but his counterpart on their world had been dead for years.
      • The episode "Man of Steel" is when Lois investigates The Stranger's true identity and discovers he's actually John Henry Irons. During the Reign of the Supermen event Steel would be given the "Man of Steel" moniker.
      • When Clark investigates The Stranger's RV he shocked when the AI identifies him as Captain Luthor. Not only is it unclear at the time why it did so but it later confirms that it wasn't using visual means to ID him. This makes far more sense when it's revealed that the AI was actually created by the Lex Luthor of John Henry's world and he repurposed it for his own ends rather than creating it himself.
    • Superman's proposal to Lois is different from how it played out in Supergirl, the flashback showing that he simply proposed with a regular ring at the Fortress of Solitude instead of crushing coal into a diamond for her. Viewers may think that this is another side-effect of Crisis, but in fact it hints that this is a different Earth entirely.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: While Clark's fortress is located in the Arctic, Morgan's is in the desert. Morgan himself acknowledges the contrasts as one of many ways he and Clark are different.
  • Freudian Excuse: Tal-Rho hates humans because, when he landed on Earth he was hunted down, imprisoned and abused on by humans for years, unlike Kal-El who ended up with a loving adoptive family.
  • Gaslighting: Jordan is under the impression that Clark and Lois had been tricking him into thinking he's insane when his mental health issues are a byproduct of his alien heritage. The truth is more likely that they really aren't.
  • General Ripper: General Anderson.
  • Generation Xerox: Partially caused by Clark and Lois deciding to relocate to the Kent farm in Smallville. Jordan repeats his father's history as a teenager trying to come to terms with alien heritage and super powers while living in a close-knit rural community. Becomes even more alike in shared inclination towards Chronic Hero Syndrome, up to and including having to save his mother Lois Lane when she gets captured, tied up and nearly executed by criminals.
  • Genre Shift: The comic book zaniness and action of other Arrowverse shows take a backseat to more grounded family drama in Superman & Lois. Tellingly, Superman only appears in costume for two whole scenes during the two hour series premiere where most of it is spent dealing with Martha Kent's death and Clark trying to connect with his sons.
  • The Ghost: Lex Luthor is mentioned numerous times and, as traditional, Superman and Lois have history with him, though he has yet to appear either in the present time or in flashbacks.
  • Grand Theft Me: What Edge's mysterious procedure amounts to. Using X-Kryptonite, the consciousness of a dead Kryptonian is planted in a human host.
  • Green Rocks: Similar to how Kryptonite was portrayed in Smallville, X-Kryptonite can bestow superpowers on average humans, although they appear to be often unstable and sometimes fatal.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jonathan and Jordan.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: After quitting The Daily Planet, Lois takes a job at The Smallville Gazette. The only other employee of the Gazette is the editor Chrissy. Although Chrissy is officially Lois's boss, she is a much less confident and experienced journalist, so Lois acts more like a mentor to her than a subordinate.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: It's become rather noticeable that at least Once per Episode, Lois is downing a glass of wine after having to deal with Morgan Edge or some other related matter.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Jonathan, the more outgoing of the boys, is prone to tease his more shy brother. While it's obvious that Jon loves Jordan, his playfulness is clearly doing no favors to boost his confidence or get him to come out of his shell.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Stranger only calls Superman "Kal-El" because he believes him being a superhero is an act designed to trick humanity like on his world.
    • On the flip side, Tal-Rho calls him "Kal-El" when inviting him to join his side, but when Kal definitely chooses humanity over his fellow Kryptonians and brother, he very pointedly calls him "Superman" next time they meet.
  • It's All My Fault: Lois had a miscarriage when the twins were still babies. The baby was going to be a girl, which Lois hoped to name Natalie. When she discovers her alternate universe counterpart's marriage to John Henry Irons includes a teenage daughter named Natalie, it triggers long dormant, pent-up feelings that the miscarriage was somehow her fault and is ashamed of it. Luckily, some therapy helps break her out of it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: From Sean's point of view, a stranger from out of town just kissed his girlfriend. No other response but retaliation ultimately makes sense in this situation. It's especially highlighted by the fact that he seems to calm down once Jordan actually apologizes for kissing Sarah, rather than act as if Sean was being some unreasonable jealous asshole.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Sarah’s ex-boyfriend Sean and his friends.
    • The Metropolis players, particularly Cutter. He bullied Jordan in high school and gloats about stealing Jonathan's girlfriend.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kyle, Lana's husband. He disparages Clark and Lois's jobs as reporters (and so do their co-workers), and openly supports Morgan Edge (the man who got Clark fired). However, he is also a firefighter who doesn't hesitate to put his life on the line to save a bunch of kids, and according to his daughter Sarah, his behaviour might be connected to a form of PTSD.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: As of season two, the show's promotional materials and press mention that The Stranger is an alternative universe John Henry Irons aka Steel and not Lex Luthor, spoiling season's one big twist. Considering that John Henry becomes a regular character, along with his daughter in season two, that would be pretty hard not to spoil.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Natalie forms a sibling-like bond with Jon and Jordan, which makes sense because genetically she is their half-sister as her mom was an Alternate Self of Lois.
  • Lovable Jock: Jon is outgoing and athletic, but in spite of his initial impression as a cocky jock, he sincerely loves his brother and always takes his side when he gets emotional.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Jordan brings up the possibility that his social anxiety is a byproduct of his alien heritage. Even though Lois is certain that it's unrelated, the fact that Jordan is the one to display superpowers definitely brings it into question.
    • The opening montage shows Jonathan cutting down a tire swing by throwing a football at the rope. It's extraordinary enough to make Clark and Lois concerned about the ramifications of their children inheriting Clark's powers, but after the First-Episode Twist that Jordan is the one with powers, it's suddenly up for debate whether or not Jon's proficiency at sports is out of natural talent or because of latent Kryptonian powers that have yet to emerge. Maybe the rope holding up the tire was old and about to snap anyways.
    • In "Heritage", the hologram of Jor-El dismisses Jordan's apparent invulnerability when the pipes fell on him, saying human physiology could account for it and Jordan's limited ability to store solar radiation makes him unlikely to ever manifest powers consistently.
  • Mook Horror Show: A minor one in the episode "Broken Trust". Superman stops a squad of soldiers shooting a teenaged metahuman, then Flash Steps over to their leader so fast he creates a shockwave and towers over her with his eyes glowing red and furiously yells "STAND DOWN!" right in her face. For an instant you can almost forget he's The Cape.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A triple whammy in the opening prologue: Superman's Beta Outfit is shown to have the classic red, black, and gold crest from The Golden Age of Comic Books and the 1940s cartoons, he pulls the signature Action Comics #1 car lift in reverse, setting the car down, and thanks a kid complimenting his costume by proudly admitting that his mother made the suit for him.
    • A monitor in the Daily Planet newsroom has Superman putting out a fire at an Ace Chemicals facility, and helping a space shuttle.
    • There's a "to do" list on a chalkboard in the Kent brownstone; some of the tasks reference a "Dr. Donner" and to call "Siegel and Shuster". A note referencing a "Dr. Reeve" is added later.
    • The mines where the Smallville teens hang out and party are named the Shuster mines.
    • The show seems to take its entire visual style from Man of Steel and Zack Snyder's DC films in general.
    • The POV shot of Jonathan and Martha Kent finding baby Kal-El is reminiscent of a panel from All-Star Superman.
    • Jordan straight up calls Jon "Superboy".
    • Clark himself took the name "Jordan" in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.
    • The Jor-El AI references the "photonucleic effect" when discussing Jordan's powers (or lack thereof). This is a bit of Technobabble that Elliot S! Maggin created back in the '70's to explain why Kryptonian things and beings gain invulnerability and/or super-powers under a yellow sun.
    • The Smallville High football team is called the "Crows", the same as in Smallville.
    • The sign on the Smallville Community Center is based on the Smallville title logo.
    • Leslie Larr's name is very similar to Lesla-Lar, a Silver Age enemy of Supergirl.
    • Sam Lane codenames Superman as "Bishop Six", which was King Faraday's name for him in DC: The New Frontier.
    • Different forms of Kryptonite being present in Smallville and people there being effected by it, was a plot staple of Smallville.
    • Clark and Lois having twins, and the drama of one of their children having powers and the other having none, have been in quite a few imaginary and what-if stories in the comics.
    • The "Subjekt-n" codenames for Edge's experiments is probably a reference to the comics character Subjekt-17.
    • Lois calls Season Two Big Bad Ally Allston a "Parasite". Her comics counterpart, Alexandra Allston, is one of several caracters to use the Parasite identity.
  • Not His Sled: As of the pilot episode, Jordan is the one who inherits Clark's powers, not Jonathan.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, as the show has both Jonathan Kent, Clark and Lois' son, who is often called "Jon", and John Henry Irons, who is called "John" or "John Henry". John Diggle also makes an appearance.
  • Parents as People: While Superman is a nearly infallible hero, Clark Kent has some all-too-familiar struggles as a parent, particularly when trying to deal with Jordan.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Jonathan and Jordan. Jon is extroverted, athletic, popular and usually happy, and Jordan is introverted, unathletic, unpopular and suffers from mood swings. At least when the series begins; things happen to complicate both of these descriptions later on. Emphasised by their wardrobe choices: Jonathan usually wears light colours and Jordan wears black.
  • Powers in the First Episode: Jordan kicks off the series by manifesting Super Strength and Super Toughness when some metal irrigation pipes come crashing down on him and his brother. This sets off the storyline of him inheriting his father's Kryptonian powers.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: For Bizarro World in the second season. Having every character in that world look like monstrous Bizarro versions of themselves would likely have been too costly, especially in terms of the makeup and CGI budget. So a totally comic-accurate portrayal of that world might not have been feasible for a TV show and instead, we have most Bizarro World characters generally acting like the opposite of their counterparts while still looking perfectly human and Bizarro Superman's more monstrous appearance is explained as him using Kryptonite inhalers which eventually mutated him.
  • The Quarterback: Jonathan is the Nice Guy version of the trope, although he's only the backup quarterback.
  • Race Lift: Subverted. The Stranger initially appears to be an African-American alternate version of Lex Luthor, but he's actually an adaptation of Steel.
    • Bruno Mannheim is Black rather than white like in the comics. Weirdly, Mannheim is white in the tie-in comic Earth-Prime, which was published before Chad L. Coleman was cast.
  • Recursive Canon: Jordan is seen playing Injustice 2. One has to wonder what the Story Mode must be like.
  • Red Herring:
    • Much of the pilot hints at Jonathan's developing Kryptonian powers, with Clark and Lois expressing concern about Jon's growing athletic talents being signs. It's even implied that he shields Jordan from the metal pipes. It's eventually revealed that it's Jordan who's developing powers.
    • The first two episodes of Season Two imply that The Heavy of the season will be Doomsday, but episode 3 reveals it is in fact Bizarro.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: On the Stranger's Earth, John Henry Irons and Natasha Irons, called Natalie instead, are father and daughter instead of uncle and niece.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Morgan Edge is the pseudonym of Tal-Rho, Superman's maternal half-brother.
    • Natalie Irons's mother was a variant of Lois Lane.
  • Rings of Activation: In "Girl... You'll Be A Woman, Soon", Clark places Bizarro in a force field surrounded by intertwining rings to keep him contained.
  • Sequel Adaptation Iconic Villain: Generally, Morgan Edge isn't considered one of Superman's more iconic villains and in most pre-Arrowverse and pre-Smallville media, his role was either really small or non-existent before being made the Big Bad of the first season in this series. In the second season, the main villain of the show is the much more recognizable and iconic Bizarro (though thanks to some Bait-and-Switch, we're led to believe it's the equally-or-more iconic Doomsday).
  • Shipper on Deck: Jon is openly supportive of Jordan getting with Sarah.
  • Shrinking Violet: Jordan is reclusive and introverted due to being diagnosed with social anxiety.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • It's especially egregious that no one mentions there's another Kryptonian superhero on Earth (Supergirl), brings up that the boys have an Aunt Kara they may or may not have met in person for all we know, or points out to Tal-Rho that there's a whole city of living Kryptonians in orbit (Argo). Not to mention that the arctic Fortress of Solitude in Supergirl is the exact same Fortress as in this show (since it belongs to Clark and he just allows Kara to use it when she needs to), but Kara and Clark are never visiting at the same time.
    • Despite nuclear power plants nearly melting down across the country, Superman is the only one ever called. He's also the only one to show up to a bridge collapsing in China, even though his cousin or J'onn could've gone there just as easily. This is partially justified, seeing as Supergirl ended up being trapped in the Phantom Zone on her own series, so she's really in no position to help at the moment.
    • The rest of Earth's heroes are also not called upon, with the Flash, the Legends, Black Lightning, and the newly minted Batwoman each dealing with their own issues in their respective parts of the world. When Bizarro becomes a threat in Season 2, the characters act like there's no one else out there who could help Clark besides John Henry Irons or the "Supermen of America".
    • Subverted once in late Season 1 when John Diggle from Arrow shows up to deliver some tech that the army needs and speak with Lois, and they mention the late Oliver Queen.
    • Justified by the reveal in the Season 2 finale which conclusively established that this series does not take place on Earth-Prime, and Superman is the only super-powered hero on his Earth.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Jonathan and Jordan are fraternal twins. But only Jordan has thus far exhibited Kryptonian powers, initially coming in fits and starts at age 14. According to the hologram of Jor-El, Jordan would never be at the same level as Clark. But he appears to have been wrong, as by the end of the second season Jordan's powers are rapidly catching up to his father, to the extent that he can even fly into space! Whether or not Jonathan will also develop powers is unclear. In the Bizarro Universe, things are flipped and Jonathan has powers and Jordan does not.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In his first attempt at solo heroics, Jordan tries to stop a collapsing crane by using his heat vision to weld the damaged struts back together, a pretty standard action in most Superman-related media. However, by heating the metal he actually weakens it further and only hastens the collapse.
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • Although the pilot appears to avert this by mentioning that Jordan has been in therapy for his social anxiety disorder, both this and his medication soon disappear from the plot after the Kents move to Smallville and he's discovered to have Kryptonian powers, and aren't brought up again.
    • By mid Season 2, Jonathan, formerly 'the well-adjusted one', has gone through enough troubling incidents (without even mentioning dangerous encounters with Kryptonians and alternate universes, there's getting drunk when his girlfriend in Metropolis dumps him and not adapting well to Smallville, or taking drugs and being kicked off the football team and expelled) that if anything he's more in need of counseling than his brother is at this point. But no one suggests that he receive some.
  • Troubled Teen: Jordan has social anxiety, and some serious inferiority issues. And then he discovers that his dad is freaking Superman and that he himself has powers. Later, Jonathan suffers increasing issues over losing his girlfriend in Metropolis, being largely benched by the football coach, and generally not treated well by the Smallville locals after being the popular kid back in Metropolis. This leads to drinking and later abuse of a Fantastic Drug.
  • Uncertified Expert: John Henry Irons and Natalie Irons apparently taught themselves advanced engineering through trial and error and reading textbooks.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Sadly an accidental one. While Clark and Lois mean well, their focus on Jon's possible development of powers causes Jordan to feel neglected in favor of his brother. When the truth about Clark being Superman comes out, Jordan is quick to assume that they're glad Jon might be the one with powers. Clark and Lois automatically assuming that Jon saved Jordan from the metal pipes falling on them doesn't help matters following The Reveal that it was actually Jordan who shielded Jon.
    • Switched up on later episodes. After Jordan develops powers, Clark completely ignores Jon, from not taking him to the Fortress of Solitude to talk about his Kryptonian heritage to not giving the boy one of the emergency beepers, leading Jon to feel left out.
    • Superman's half-brother Tal-Rho, aka Morgan Edge sees himself as this because his mother left him and his father to start a new family with Jor-El.
  • Villain Decay: The Stranger becomes less of a physical threat to Superman in each appearance. First he loses his only piece of Kryptonite, then his ship and eventually his Power Armor, meaning he goes from being able to fight Superman pretty evenly to a Villainous Underdog armed with conventional weapons who can at best temporarily inconvenience him. Then, when he reveals himself, he turns this around and actually nabs Superman in a trap, using a combination of a powerful hammer and several red-sun lamps to almost kill the Man of Steel, only being stopped when Clark's sons ram him with the family truck.
  • We Can Rule Together: Morgan Edge/Thal-Rho offers this to Superman.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Stranger. He's convinced Superman is a threat to the world and will do anything to stop him.
  • Wham Line: Sam Lane tells his grandsons in the Season Two finale that he's seen glimpses of other worlds with leagues of superheroes, but their Earth has only one, meaning that they're not on Earth-Prime after all.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Lieutenant Rosetti picking Lt. Trask up by his throat.
    • Kyle Cushing using heat vision to blast Jon Kent’s gun out of his hand.
    • Morgan Edge moving at superspeed to dodge Superman's attack and backhanding him away.
    • Tal-Rho smirking and his eyes flashing blue in his prison cell.
    • Lana Lang: You're Superman?
  • What Does She See in Him?: Jonathan explicitly asks Sarah what she sees in her Jerkass boyfriend. Her only response is, "he can be really sweet". She dumps him in the next episode.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?:
    • Clark's double life as Superman doesn't do favors for his responsibilities as a father. The pilot alone shows that his prevention of a nuclear meltdown costed him time to go to therapy with Jordan, making his attempts to bond with him much more difficult as a result. Even after he reveals the truth to them, it doesn't help as Clark is still forced to deal with threats when his sons clearly need him.
    • Lois apparently dealt with this with Sam, who always put the Army above her. When he tells Clark that he can't let his obligations to his kids interfere with his duties as Superman, she yells at him that he has no right to lecture them on parenting as he was a crappy father.

"No one ever dreams about the problems, but every life has them. Even the extraordinary ones."


Video Example(s):


Arrowverse DC and WBTV

Across the Arrowverse, each DC and WBTV logo adopts tonally fitting colors and transitions.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / LogoJoke

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