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  • Abandon Shipping: Clana's popularity kept waning as the series went, since it brought a lot of drama for a relationship that obviously was Doomed by Canon and Lana herself became very hated within the fandom.
  • Acceptable Targets: The Amish in the episode "Harvest" are depicted as human-sacrificing psychopaths.
  • Acceptable Professional Targets:
    • When Lex smashes in a meter maid's car with a golf club in Season 2's "Dichotic," everyone who hears about it laughs. Even the Holier Than Thou Clark laughs about it.
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    • "Rick's type, your type, political type, twisted type..."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The whole of the final season is spent trying to stop Darkseid, and as soon as he possesses Lionel, Clark takes him down in one hit. This is the guy who, in the comics, is a Physical God who is stronger than Superman.
  • Anvilicious:
    • Season 4's "Bound" stresses that any "MAN" who has multiple sex partners is a horrible villain who should be met with open condemnation and that such a life arbitrarily creates a construct where such a lifestyle leads to murder or being accused of murder; it's almost propaganda in its blatant manipulation. Not only is Clark willing to trust Lionel (a man who tried to kill the Kents not two weeks ago) over Lex because of this, but the willing partners one of whom cheated on her fiancé, and the other killed herself, both of whom where complete and utter willing partners, were presented as more sympathetic to the man.
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  • Arc Fatigue: For some people, of the Myth Stall variety. Executive Meddling meant that the writers couldn't just have Clark actually become Superman until the final episode. On the other hand, without this, there wouldn't be a show to enjoy. This leaves the debate being on whether it ended at the right place or if it should have ended at an earlier season.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Green Arrow. Some think he's the best character in the show and, particularly in Season 6, many fans loudly praised Ollie for being a more proactive hero than Clark, actually seeking out bad guys rather than waiting for trouble to become visible. In Seasons 8 & 9, many fans also felt that Ollie's plans to deal with Doomsday and Zod were more realistic than Clark's more idealistic plans. Then there is a Vocal Minority who see Oliver as a destructive anti-hero who indulges in self-destructive benders whenever he's got a problem. This split is reflective of Clark's own ambivalence toward Ollie's tactics: Super-Fans don't appreciate being told that their hero is ineffectual, but objective viewers may align more closely with Ollie's pragmatism over Clark's platitudes (and indeed, Clark later concedes the point). There's also the added wrinkle of the fans embracing Ollie because he can bend canon in ways Clark can't, at least not with DC watching.
    • Chloe became this in the later seasons. For the vast majority of the show's run, she was an immensely popular character (and for years there were campaigns to get her into the comics, which finally succeeded), but starting in Season 8, an unfortunate combination of factors led to a sharp decrease in her popularity: 1. The Chloe/Davis relationship was a major controversial one, and many saw it as a betrayal not only of Jimmy, but also of Clark. 2. Chloe's drastic security and surveillance measures in Season 9 were seen as Orwellian, and as another betrayal (it was revealed that she kept cameras all over Clark's house), 3. Many fans felt like Chloe had become just a plot device during the middle seasons and that the writers had slowed down Clark's development as an investigator in favor of having Chloe provide all the answers, and 4. The increasing division over Chloe was also probably in part due to a pent-up Hype Backlash against the more overzealous Chloe fans, a reaction that had been slowly brewing for several years and finally came to a head in the wake of S8 and 9.
    • Erica Durance as Lois Lane: She's either best Lois ever and perfectly captures the eccentric, never-say-die career woman and Action Girl of the comics who was not only a better love interest but also a better written romantic pair for Clark, or she's Lois In Name Only: a ditzy, Hard-Drinking Party Girl.
  • Broken Base:
    • The show itself to Superman fans. Some think the show made a great representation of the modern Superman and wanted Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum to be in Superman Returns, Man of Steel and/or Supergirl (2015), and others who think this version is too much of a Teen Drama (even though the show grew out of this after about Season 4).
    • The further retooling of the show in the later seasons. The latter half of the series is, for better or for worse, a different creature (similar to how the Buffy fandom is split on whether the post-graduation years were hit or miss). Lex exited the show, thus depriving longtime viewers of an anchor, but on the positive end, Lois took the reigns and the show gradually became much more about Clark finding his place in the larger DC Universe, complete with frequent comic book guest stars and grittier storylines. The tragedy half and the romance half had disparate moods, anyway.
    • The "No Flights, No Tights" rule. Conveniently, it does not apply to Clark's cousin Kara, his Evil Twin, and other Kryptonians who can jet around at will, the excuse being that Clark is afraid of heights. On the one hand, as the "freak-of-the-week" formula fell away and Myth Arcs were introduced, the show sometimes struggled to find a clear storyline without becoming a full-on, tights-wearing, cape-fluttering Superman show. On the other hand, the fact that Clark's flight was delayed until the very end made it that much more rewarding.
    • Season 9. A solid season that makes up for the problems of "Doomsday," has the characters actually being forced to deal with the consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder and find their way back from it, and introduces much more of the DC Comics canon (like the JSA and Checkmate), or a season that got too dark, depending on who you ask.
  • Cargo Ship: Clark/pie. Clark/Lois/DailyPlanet. Many members of KryptonSite jokingly shipped "Clock" (Clark and a rock) as a joke option or protest vote in the various shipper debates.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Robert "Bob" Rickman, from season 1's "Hug", is the CEO of Rickman Industries, and possesses the ability to persuade people to do whatever he wants through touch. He uses this ability to build chemical plants which have caused 96 local citizens to be poisoned. He is introduced meeting with an agent who wants to prevent him from building one in Smallville, and makes said agent jump from his office window. Arriving in Smallville, he runs into his old business partner Kyle Tippet, who threatens to expose the truth, due to a year-old agreement that he would leave Smallville alone. Bob uses his ability to force numerous people to make attempts on Kyle's life, including sending Whitney to bludgeon him to death; sending a sheriff to shoot him after he's arrested over the previous attack; and having Lex Luthor trap him and Clark in a car before trying to blow up said car. Completely uncaring about innocent lives, Bob stands above the usual meteor freak.
    • Brainiac, debuting in season 5 as "Professor Milton Fine", was the ruthless AI responsible for triggering Krypton's destruction, and he didn't prove himself any better after arriving on Earth. Viewing humans as little more than animals, Brainiac made repeated efforts to exterminate the human race, first on behalf of General Zod, and then of his own volition, engineering a deadly plague from the planet's most devastating diseases, releasing a computer virus intended to send the human race back to the technological Stone Age, convincing President Luthor to start a nuclear war in a Bad Future that he himself created, and finally kidnapping Doomsday so that he could turn him into a weapon to destroy all life in the universe. Along the way he infects Martha Kent with a Kryptonian virus; self-repairs by cannibalizing the trace minerals in a succession of victims; murders his "father", Dax-Ur, by draining his mind of all data; leaves Lana in a coma, unable to move, but experiencing constant agony; traps Kara in the Phantom Zone; and bodyjacks Chloe, intending to kill her afterwards. Incapable of empathy, and dedicated to the annihilation of all organic life, Brainiac was easily the most vile foe that Clark ever faced.
    • The Toyman, real name Winslow Schott, is a brilliant, deranged assassin who elaborately sets up bombs placed in unsuspecting locations. Putting one on top of the Daily Planet, the Toyman threatens to destroy half of Metropolis with it. To get revenge against Oliver Queen for framing him for Lex Luthor's murder, the Toyman captures over a dozen civilians, strapping one to a bomb and placing them in a factory, intending to destroy it and kill them all. Later planting bombs at a shareholders' meeting Oliver is making a speech at to make him confess to killing Lex, the Toyman reveals he plans to blow up the gala whether or not Oliver caves to his demands. Later creating a fake company to take control of Metropolis's water supply, the Toyman intends to leave thousands without water unless they give into his demands.
    • LX-3, from the season 10 premiere "Lazarus", is a failed clone of Lex Luthor who was so depraved that even the LuthorCorp staff at Cadmus Labs felt the need to incarcerate him. Accidentally freed by Tess Mercer, LX-3 beats her and handcuffs her in place, tries to kill the five-year-old LX-15, then grabs a blowtorch and proceeds to set fire to the lab, slaughtering all the other clones while claiming that "There can only be one Lex Luthor!" Making his way to Metropolis, LX-3 wires the Daily Planet building to explode, planning to crush hundreds of people in the streets below, then journeys to Smallville where he kidnaps Lois Lane, ties her to a stake, and sets the field around her on fire. Confronting Clark, LX-3 gloats that Clark can save the woman he loves, or the citizens of Metropolis, but not both, sneering that Clark's pride will be the death of him yet. Almost out of time thanks to Clone Degeneration, LX-3 spends his last moments trying to force Clark into violating his moral code by killing him.
    • Desaad, from season 10, is one of Darkseid's Co-Dragons, and unnerves even his fellow dragons, Granny Goodness and Gordon Godfrey. Operating a chain of BDSM-themed nightclubs, Desaad uses them as a front to corrupt the minds of his clientele, making them susceptible to a mass Mind Rape by Darkseid. Anyone who cannot be corrupted is gruesomely murdered, as Desaad uses his telekinetic powers to induce hemorrhaging and implode their internal organs, leading to an agonizing death from internal bleeding. Having disposed of several FBI agents who were investigating him, Desaad kidnaps Chloe and subjects her to an extended mind rape, attempting to turn her into one of Darkseid's minions. When she proves resistant, Desaad tries to kill her, tries to kill Clark when the latter intervenes to save her, and then turns Oliver Queen/Green Arrow into a minion of Darkseid after provoking the archer into brutally beating him. Incarcerated under Belle Reve, Desaad breaks out, gives the now mind-controlled Oliver a Gold K ring, and tries to force him to depower Clark, so that the future Superman can be slain and the end of the world ushered in. Devoted to freeing Darkseid and bringing about The End of the World as We Know It, Desaad is equal parts Torture Technician, cultist, and Serial Killer.
  • Creator's Pet: Lana was kept on long past her usefulness as obligatory love interest from the early seasons.
  • Critical Backlash: Lana was very derided, but some people do like the character and cannot comprehend why she was so hated.
  • Damsel Scrappy: Lana Lang, although attempts were made to rectify this in later seasons. Some fans didn't consider it an improvement.
  • Designated Evil: In "Bound" sexuality, specifically male sexuality is treated with open contempt and scorn.
  • Designated Hero: Lana Lang, once again. And, arguably, depending on who you ask, Chloe and Oliver in the later seasons.
    • Interestingly enough this aspect of Lana also extends to whoever she’s in love with at the time. With the exception of Clark no matter how obvious it is she only notices something is wrong with them after she no longer cares about them yet they can do no wrong when she does. For example twice Clark has gone crazy forcing Lex to pull a gun on him to protect himself. Only once did Lana call him out on this.
    • Oliver Queen is introduced right after he had Lex Luthor kidnapped to be experimented on after his possession by Zod; his decision to stop it was undercut by the fact that he hired a Sociopathic Soldier to do it. He’s later seen rescuing the meteor freaks that Lex was experimenting on however since there was no mention of his earlier activities he comes across as just as big a hypocrite as Lex. Finally upon finding out that Lionel Luthor killed his parents he tracked down and attempted to kill Lex Luthor who had absolutely nothing to do with it. When you add the revelation that he used to bully Lex in school, Oliver comes across less as a Well-Intentioned Extremist and more of a Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up. He becomes more redeeming with time.
  • Die for Our Ship: Oh God, LOTS of this throughout the series. There were some Chlollie and Chlark fans who applauded Jimmy's death, while on the opposite end there were some Chimmy fans who acted as if Chloe and Ollie spent all their dates tap-dancing on Jimmy's grave. Meanwhile, Clois, Chlark, and Calicia shippers would all stand united against Lana and the Clana ship... until the topic changed to "Chlark vs. Clois", at which point the Anti-Lana Coalition would collapse into a civil war over whether Chloe or Lois "deserves" Clark more, and even over which character was the "real" Lois Lane.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Lex, Lex, Lex. Even after he began transitioning to evil and started cold-bloodedly torturing and murdering other characters, there were fangirls (and a few online critics) still willing to excuse anything he did.
    • Davis Bloome, Bizarro, and Earth-2 Clark/Ultraman as well. Although the last one seems to have reformed by the end of "Kent".
    • A milder version would be Kal (Clark on Red Kryptonite), who is usually not particularly evil but still a real Jerkass who could easily get violent. Once could even argue that Kal is an invocation of this trope, along with All Girls Want Bad Boys and Evil Is Sexy.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Green Arrow quickly became a fan favorite and rose to become one of the main characters from Season Eight onwards, though he became a slight Base-Breaking Character afterward.
    • Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) was one new character from the show's latter years that enjoyed widespread popularity.
    • Alicia Baker, a meteor freak with teleportation powers, was only supposed to appear in one episode, but despite being a Yandere proved popular enough that they brought her back for a run in Season 4, complete with a Heel–Face Turn.
    • There were quite a few fans who frankly preferred Isobel over Lana as Isobel was seen as a character who, while evil, was rather fun to watch, in a way similar to Lionel. Her Large Ham tendencies also made her entertaining.
    • Sheriff Nancy Adams was this trope for a lot of people. Although her first couple appearances portrayed her as an Obstructive Bureaucrat who didn't trust Clark, her toughness and her ability to be completely unintimidated by criminals or the Luthors won her some respect pretty quickly. Then, as she spends more time in Smallville she starts to wise up to the fact there are indeed some weird and paranormal events happening in town, and gradually starts to trust Clark more, even if she still urges him to let the police handle things (this makes perfect sense, since Clark is a minor and Sheriff Adams didn't know about his powers; she honestly thought she was protecting him and his friends). By Season 5, Sheriff Adams had developed a friendly relationship with Clark, and even urged him to consider the possibility of joining law enforcement full-time, a complete turnaround from her initial antagonism towards his vigilantism. Through it all, her toughness and her firm commitment to protecting the peace won her a lot of respect from fans... and her Deadpan Snarker tendencies certainly helped as well.
  • Evil Is Cool: Lionel Luthor. His fans are fully aware of his utter bastardry, yet love him all the more for it. Brainiac's another example, being more or less universally loved not for his good traits, but for being an endearingly creepy and irredeemable psycho on a show that was otherwise filled with Anti Villains and Tragic Monsters.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • The opinion of many, many fangirls regarding Lex and Davis.
    • The opinion of many fanboys regarding Tess Mercer. During the second half of "Obsession", many fanboys also viewed Alicia this way, though she redeemed herself when she returned the following season.
    • Some fans have thought of Lionel Luthor as attractive due to his luscious hair and bear, sophistication, Broadway voice, and his rather toned body.
    • Whenever Lana, Chloe or Lois is under some sort of influence, they almost always wear revealing black outfits. The "evil" part is debatable.
    • Evil twins of Clark have the same attractiveness that Clark has. Even when he's under the influence of red kryptonite, Kal's danger-loving aggressiveness has earned him his own set of fans.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: The base has pretty much been in a fandom civil war over who Clark should ship with, and it can't really be argued which Clark pairing was the most dominant overall, as the base was highly fractured over the issue of who to pair Clark with (Lana vs. Chloe vs. Lois vs. Alicia, and even some Clark/Tess supporters). At best, it can be argued which ships may have been dominant at different times in the show's history: In the very earliest handful of episodes, Clana may have started out with a majority of support back when it was seen as "cute," but as Lana became increasingly unpopular, Chlark (Clark and Chloe) overtook it, and may have been the main fan-preferred ship before Lois's arrival, as she was seen as a foil against the widely-reviled Lana (many fans freely admitted that they were only shipping Chlark as an alternative to the now-unpopular Clana, until Clark met his destined future with Lois, knowing full well that both Clana and Chlark were equally Doomed by Canon). Then once Lois arrived, many fans rallied around her, welcoming her as a harbinger of Clark's destined future as Superman and enjoying her witty lines and Erica Durance's acting (though many ardent Chloe-supporters still stayed with the Chlark ship). It can be argued that Clois had become the majority pairing by the end, partially helped by Lois's continued development and increasing importance in the story, as well as the fact that Chloe got involved in another popular pairing: Chlollie.
    • In later seasons Chloe/Oliver—which became canon thanks to popular fan demand—became a hugely popular ship in the later seasons (even when Ollie himself became a base-breaking character later on, this ship's popularity continued to endure), to the point where the widespread acclaim for this ship actually overwhelmed the canonical Ollie/Dinah ship that had been ship-teased in Season 7 and even the showrunners got on board, making the Chlollie ship happen onscreen thanks to fan demand, and even to the point where in the Grand Finale they leave it vague as to whether Chloe and Ollie are still together, but make it clear that they at least have a child, thus skirting around DC Comics' restrictions while still being supportive of this new ship. At the very least, it's probably the one ship (other than Jonathan/Martha) that doesn't really seem to get much hate from many fans, which in and of itself is a pretty big accomplishment for any ship in the SV fandom, considering how broken the base is!
    • Lex/Lana too, because it is Ship Mates with Clark/Lois, Chloe/Jimmy, Lois/Oliver, and Clark/Chloe.
  • Fandom Heresy: Try being a Smallville fan who doesn't mind the deviations from Superman comic book canon, or expressing the view that you liked the witches/lost artifacts storyline from Season 4, or saying that you don't think that every new plot development is a "retcon". Or, perhaps worst of all, try expressing the opinion, to a certain Vocal Minority of the fanbase, that Chloe Sullivan is NOT the living embodiment of perfection. Also woe be unto you if you like Lana more than Lois or Chloe.
  • Faux Symbolism: Many of the numerous allegories of future Lex vs Superman. For example Lionel’s confronting tale in "Memoria" about St. George the Dragon Slayer and the box for his fears within his heart symbolizing how the only way Lex can beat Superman is to stab at his heart (Lois), then you have some powerful re-imagining of the myth indeed.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Clark and Lex - so heavy in places that fans often refer to the series as "Slashville." Especially after finding out Connor's genetic parentage.
    • Tess and Lois. Tess herself lampshades this in several episodes. In one episode where Lois and Tess met, after getting into a fight and wrestling each other on a desk the previous time they'd met, Tess smirks and notes that "things got a little physical" (and even wiggles her shoulders suggestively while saying this)... and then asks Lois whether she'd like to "pick up where we left off." Lois declines.
    • Tess and Zod. The only pair that actually evolves into Dating Catwoman.
    • Tess and Oliver, particularly in Season 8.
    • Tess and Chloe, arguably.
    • Tess (sensing a pattern here?) and Clark. While Clark never reciprocated, Tess had a definite Villainous Crush on him. It's probably safe to say that Tess is Smallville's reigning Queen of Foe Yay.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The show often zips through the process of locating lost people by handwaving it with a mention of government databases. In Real Life this may actually be worse by now.
    Chloe: Thanks to homeland security, being on a college campus is akin to wearing an electronic bracelet.
    • Lois cosplaying as Wonder Woman in Warrior. The New 52 era once made Superman and Wonder Woman an Official Couple.
    • Inevitably, Allison Mack's sex trafficking scandal would render some elements creepy.
      • Clark once makes a remark that he was joining a legitimate club rather than a cult. NXIVM turned out to be a sex cult.
      • Chloe's status as Launcher of a Thousand Ships (she's currently the trope pics for live action) became harder to accept after this incident as well.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: After Season 3, Smallville's domestic ratings began to decline, and by Season 5 it had gone from being a hugely popular mainstream sensation (during which time the show's stars frequently appeared on the cover of TV Guide and other magazines) to cult show status, at least at home in the United States. However, the show remained massively popular in Latin America all the way until the final season.
  • Growing the Beard: For the some, the show really started to come into its own once the bulk of Clark's adventures center in Metropolis and the Superman mythos has became the focal point of his arc.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "Kinetic," Clark tries to console Whitney by telling him that he'll "probably go farther than anyone else in this town." Next season, Whitney gets blown up by a landmine. The episode has another moment when Whitney tells Clark that "no matter what you do, your father is always going to be there". Flash forward to Season 5...
    • In Season 1's "Crush," Lex meets his childhood nanny, who says that he was like her own child. The heartwarming moment is diminished much later in Season 10, when it's revealed that she did have a child of her own- Tess, who ended up in an Orphanage of Fear on Lionel's say-so.
    • In Season 2's "Visage", mighty-morphing shapeshifter Tina Greer exposits her reasons for wanting to take over Clark's identity: "You have the perfect life, Clark. Great parents, good friends, and the girl of your dreams just waiting for you to make a move." Fast forward just a couple years later and it becomes clear that this exact same line could describe in a nutshell why Lex becomes insanely jealous of Clark and, in part, why he turned against him.
    • In "Bound" Lex tells Clark that he has to choose between trusting him and trusting Lionel, because they're enemies. Clark later ends up trusting Lionel, because Lionel actually starts to become a better person...while Lex goes in the opposite direction until he becomes worse than his father ever was.
    • A lot of stuff regarding Chloe Sullivan became much harder to watch after Allison Mack was suspected of being involved in a sex cult and then arrested.
      • At the end of Season 7, Chloe Sullivan is arrested by a group posing as the FBI; Mack was arrested by the FBI for real.
      • The moral of "Unsafe" with Chloe spouting about teenage sexual activity loses credibility with this scandal, especially since Keith Raniere (Allison's mentor and CEO of NXIVM) apparently had sex with teenagers.
      • Chloe lost most of her sanity in Season 9, while the actress definitely would.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In a Season 1 episode, Amy Adams had a one-off role as a Meteor Freak with a weight problem…about ten years before she was cast as Lois Lane in Man of Steel.
    • In "Lazarus", LX-6, the defective Lex clone, is seen to be bald and wear a metallic breathing mask... coincidentally, making them appear identical to how Bane was later depicted in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • In Season 8's "Toxic," Chloe makes a crack about Tess being a Luthor wannabe. Come Season 10's "Abandoned"...
    • Cyborg is depicted as a member of the Justice League in this series, as opposed to being a member of the Teen Titans. Come the New 52, and he's been made into one of its founding members.
    • Jensen Ackles playing the psychotic snarker with huge psychological and parental issues named Jason, since he would go on to play Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood, the second Robin who has the same problems, except his parental issues are focused on his dad, Batman.
    • During the early and middle seasons of the show, it was a fairly common phenomenon for fanfics to feature an original female character who would show up in Smallville, flirt with Clark or other male characters, and subsequently turn out to be Lionel's secret daughter. In Season 10, we learn that Tess Mercer—an original character who arrived in Smallville in S8 and was frequently flirtatious towards Clark and Oliver—was in fact Lionel's secret daughter.
    • One of Lois' first scenes with Oliver Queen involved her walking in on him shirtless, sweaty and exercising - which is practically Once per Episode on Arrow. Even more amusingly, his actor Justin Hartley's newest character famously takes the producers of the Show Within a Show to task for this sort of thing in This Is Us.
    • In "Phantom", Chloe thinks Lois is dead but manages to bring her back with a teardrop of saturated sisterly love - it even looks like a shard of ice!
  • Jerkass Woobie: Lex, Lionel, and Tess have all qualified on both counts. Must be a Luthor family trait along with being Magnificent Bastards. Lex is a perfect example. This version of his character goes out of its way to make his backstory and motives sympathetic while also showing how depraved, cruel, petty and narcissistic Lex can be.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Clark Kent has been shipped with almost every character on the show (see: any Broken Base-related entries for more on that). Or even characters from other shows.
    • Lex Luthor has large portions of the fanbase that ship him with everyone from Lana, to Clark, to Chloe, with various one-episode characters, and others.
    • Chloe Sullivan. Think of any guy in the show, and she has been shipped with him.
    • Tess Mercer. The fact that the show portrays her as having had sexual chemistry with literally everyone who was in the opening credits with her during the last three seasons, it's not surprising that there are a wide variety of popular Tess-related ships.
  • Love to Hate: Lionel Luthor, Brainiac and Major Zod.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Lionel Luthor was the Smallville villain of note, and dominated the show for all seven seasons in which he appeared. Originally created to explain how Lex grew up to be such a bastard, the Magnificent You-Know-What became a power unto himself in the show, and for the first three seasons was a virtually untouchable threat who easily undercut any efforts by Lex or Clark to act against him. Jailed in Season 4, Lionel proved he was still capable of reaching out to touch anyone, anywhere, whenever he wanted, and after his release from prison and subsequent Heel–Face Turn, remained the show’s most potent manipulator, undermining Lex’s attempts at becoming a threat in his own right, and getting the last laugh on his son when it was he, and not Lex, who was resurrected to serve as the show’s final villain in Season 10. In a show filled with mutants, aliens, and meteor freaks, Lionel Luthor was still the most dangerous man around, and no matter who he was sharing space with, always managed to feel like the most powerful person in the room.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Original showruners Al Gough and Miles Millar's directive: "No flights, no tights." Series writer Jeph Loeb—who was also writing for the Superman and Superman/Batman comics at the time—did a shout-out to this when he had Superman and Batman visit an alternate universe where superheroes had been banned by Ra's al Ghul (who ruled that world), and when they show up, Ra's's troops fired at them, saying "You know the rules: 'No flights, no tights.'"
    • Clark's infatuation with pie.
    • "The Crown's mine, Bitch."
    • A minor one is the description of the show as "a Superman show without Superman". The joke rose from the dead and mutated after Gotham premiered, with a similar theme and style to Smallville.
    • Chloe was affected by red kryptonite Explanation 
  • Moe: Probably Chloe's main reason for being beloved by a lot of fans. Allison Mack is a VERY good actress, and a combination of this, Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Break the Cutie lead to her being endearing to a lot of viewers.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Lex Luthor has several moments of varying severity. It depends on when and how you deem someone irredeemably evil.
      • In "Subterranean", casually walking by a series of prison cells holding meteor freaks in his secret lab, codenamed 33.1.
      • In "Freak", has his people abducting Chloe to said secret lab then experiment on and painfully humiliate her. He then swears to Lana upon his unborn child's soul that he has nothing to do with it, before watching a video of Chloe stripped half-naked and strapped to the experiment table. As she struggles, he delivers this line with a hint of Psychotic Smirk:
      Lex: Regarding our most recent subject...keep a close eye on her.
      • This is especially notable for being directed by Michael Rosenbaum, Lex's actor, who has always wanted Lex to be evil.
      • The Reveal later in Season Six that he drugged Lana with synthetic hormones to fake the pregnancy and deceive her into marrying him, because he wanted to take her away from Clark forever. In "Promise", on the day of that very wedding, he even murders the doctor who helped with the deception, due to the man getting sick of it and threatening to tell Lana.
      • Killing his "brother", Julian in "Persona".
      • Killing his father in the Season Seven episode appropriately named "Descent".
      • Forcing Clark and Lana into a heartbreaking Sadistic Choice that leaves them separated by a bomb's worth of Kryptonite in the Season Eight episode "Requiem".
    • Davis crosses this when he kills Jimmy in "Doomsday".
    • Major Zod. Either choking Faora, along with his unborn child, to death when she refuses to join him in conquering Earth or burning Tess with heat vision. In the case of the former, even he sees this as the point where he can't go back and condemns himself to the slippery slope.
  • Narm:
    • In Season 2's "Heat," the Freak of the Week, Desiree Atkins, is trying to make her escape after setting Lex on fire. She runs for the door, but Clark heats up the doorknob from a distance with his heat vision. Desiree grabs the doorknob and lets out what must be the most unconvincing and fake-sounding shriek ever heard on national TV. Oh and the best part? The whole time she's screaming she's still holding on tightly to the doorknob instead of letting go of it the way one would in real life.
    • Sometimes in the show there would be fight scenes where all of the sounds would be played slowed down to emphasize the fact that Clark is using his superspeed. The effect of having people's groanings from getting punched getting all deep and drawn out is usually something reserved for comedy, not for a scene that's meant to be actually serious and dramatic. So thus such scenes became epically hilarious.
    • In Season 4's "Sacred," Clark confronts Isobel when she's attempting to carry off one of the Kryptonian artifacts she needs to gain cosmic knowledge. An indignant Isobel snaps "Nobody has sacrificed as much as I have" for the artifacts. It's the amusingly whiny tone of voice she uses that makes it funny.
    • In Season 2's "Prodigal", Lucas Luthor figures out that Lionel is faking his blindness, and decides to test it by tossing a billiard ball at him. Lionel angrily snaps "What the hell are you doing? You could've killed me!" With a billiard ball? Sure, it could have left a nasty bruise for a while (then again, Lucas knew that Lionel would dodge it since he was faking blindness), and sure, Lucas was a Jerkass, but it's rather hard to imagine that that ball was any real threat to Lionel. Nevertheless, the scene is still pretty awesome because of the revelation involved and Lucas's ability to outwit the Magnificent Bastard.
    • In the premiere of "Descent" Lex’s burning his good self might have had more impact without the GOSSIP GIRL logo right under the dramatic moment. Thankfully, this is fixed on the DVD, where show/network logos and ads are mercifully nonexistent.
    • The reveal of Pete’s powers in "Hero". Pete sees a speaker about to fall on Kara. It falls, and he reaches, and pulls her back. With stretchy arms. But see, he doesn't know he has the power yet, so why does he just reach his arms instead of ...starting to run, THEN using the arms for that extra bit of stretch?
    • In "Sneeze" Lex manages to salvage the situation while strapped to the table, which would be amusing, were it plausible. He headbutts the baddie, and Lana steals the gun. Lana then, instead of telling them to step back, lets them stand five feet away while she looks away to untie Lex. They take advantage of this and steal the gun. Failure to use Lana Fu.
  • Narm Charm: "Spell", "Spirit", and "Thirst" are this for some.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Season 2's token mystery ep "Suspect" pulls this with the opening credits showing Jason Connery, who's known for either a string of one-shot supporting roles and appearing in B-productions, or being the son of Sean Connery, depending on who you ask. It was really the recurring character Sherrif Ethan.
  • One True Pairing: Once Lois appeared on the show it was only a matter of time until they got together. Initially they are Vitriolic Best Buds, but the other characters--even Lana--immediately notice the obvious chemistry between them. In Season 8, it gets to the point where neither can deny their feelings any longer—at least not to themselves—and early in Season 9 they finally become a couple.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Allison Mack's apparent involvement in the NXIVM cult, resulting in federal sex trafficking charges in 2018 (she ultimately pleaded down to the lesser charge of racketeering), brought a lot of controversy to the series. It doesn't help that Kristin Kreuk is a former member of NXIVM, and although she has made it clear that she had no involvement in the sex trafficking operation, has publically denounced the organization and that Sarah Edmonson note  reassured in her Twitter account that Kristin was not involved in the inner circles of NXIVM, it is very likely that her career will be permanently tarnished as well as Mack's. As a result, many people have either turned on the series or can no longer see Chloe Sullivan as an adorable or well-intentioned girl.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • To a few fans, Lana's timely arrival in "Bride" did this. For many, Chloe's Break the Cutie storyline in Season 3 did this for her character (many had found her obsession with Clark to be bordering on Stalker with a Crush in Season 2), although granted she had always had a strong fanbase.
    • On the other side of the fence: Some Chloe fans weren't too enamored with Erica's Lois, and feared that Chloe would be unceremoniously booted off the show in her favor. Lois eventually won over the hardliners, to their surprise, by becoming more even-keeled, driven and honest in her interactions with people. In fact, Lois probably had the most consistent arc of anyone on the show. Meanwhile, the Lois and Chloe characters were able to coexist, and each was able to carve out their own niche on the show, in a way that satisfied most fans.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Revenge Fic: Lana Lang had this. A lot.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor:
    • Clark and Lana, non-stop. Even when she was gone from the show and came back, the plot came back around just as Lois and Clark began to start falling for each other, and Clark seemingly forgot his developing feelings for Lois in favor of running back to Lana. By the end, even Kristin Kreuk had had enough, and refused to reprise the character.
    • Chloe and Oliver are sometimes accused of this, particularly from Chlark and Chimmy shippers, and it is one of the main reasons both characters have Base-Breaking Character status.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Lana Lang is annoying, but to hear it from some of the fanbase, she's a whiny whore, Ax-Crazy Psycho Ex-Girlfriend, and borderline Big Bad who just needs to die for the sake of mankind.
    • Lionel Luthor was no saint either, but once again, there's a strong tendency (especially among Lex fans) to turn him into pure evil in fanfics, complete with Sexual Abuse.
    • The Kents also get this in Lex-centric fics, despite having very good reasons for wanting their son to stay away from the Luthors in the actual show. Lex himself will get heavy Draco in Leather Pants treatment, while the Kents will be turned into vicious, abusive Control Freaks who don't care about Clark's happiness at all and loathe the Luthors for literally no reason, and occasionally scheme to steal the Luthors' wealth. This is especially jarring when one remembers that in the actual canon, Jonathan and Martha Kent are supposed to be among the nicest people in the entire DC Multiverse.
    • In Chlois Theory fics, poor Lois will often be made out to be some kind of ditzy alcoholic (despite there being no evidence to support this) and memetic slut (despite dating a grand total of three guys throughout her entire 6-year run on the show) who doesn't "deserve" the identity of Lois Lane, as if the name Lois Lane is some kind of title to be won by the "best" girl. She will then bumble her way to an embarrassing death at the hands of the Big Bad, or occasionally (in the more extreme fics) even turn out to be the Big Bad's evil Dragon sidekick, in which case she will be unceremoniously defeated and banished to the Phantom Zone. Chloe will then assume the identity of "Lois Lane" and becomes the reporter character we know from the comics. Naturally the Chlois Theory and all related fanfics are extremely far from canon. There's even a clip from one of the DVD features where the showrunners openly laugh at the idea.
    • Even Clark gets this treatment very often in fanfic, believe it or not. That's right folks: the future Superman often gets made out to be a monster in fanfic, usually in fics that involve Chloe shipping with Lex, Ollie or Davis. These fanfics often bash on Clark for committing the horrible crime of seeing Chloe as *gasp* just a friend and not a love interest. Apparently, Clark deciding that he and Chloe are Better as Friends is enough to justify portraying Clark as a borderline retarded, selfish, and sniveling asshole who genuinely wants to make Chloe as miserable as possible. Chloe will then rush into the waiting arms of Lex/Davis/etc., who will usually get heavy Draco in Leather Pants treatment. Naturally, this is the farthest thing from canon. In the show's actual canon, Clark is a genuinely nice person (and The Cape in fact) who cares deeply about Chloe (as his best friend) and shares a Platonic Life-Partners relationship with her from Season 5 onward... but don't tell that to the shippers.
    • Clark also gets this treatment very often in Lex-centric fics. Typically Lex will either be deeply in love with Clark or at the very least will care deeply about him in a platonic way (it varies from fic to fic), but despite this, Clark will treat Lex like crap. If it's a fic where Lex is in love with Clark, Clark will not only reject Lex's advances, but will say something viciously cruel to him and treat him worse than ever, in a series of increasingly-terrifying Kick the Dog moments for Clark. Thus, when Lex becomes the main opposition figure against Clark/Superman, the writer will be able to portray it as being completely justified. (Also in these fics, Jonathan and Martha will usually be cackling evilly in the background while Clark treats Lex terribly)
  • Rooting for the Empire: Due to the sympathetic way Michael Rosenbaum portrayed him a lot of viewers wanted to see Lex Luthor avert Doomed by Canon and redeem himself. However, the increasingly sociopathic things he did, like acts of horrifying torture on innocent people and cold-blooded murder (which Lex did, all while blaming Lionel, Clark, Lana, and anyone else he can for his actions, as if they somehow made him do it), made Lex increasingly unsympathetic (which makes sense, since, y'know, that was the intention all along), and instead the focus shifted to how tragic it was that one of Clark's friends turned evil. The comic continuation gives a few What You Are in the Dark moments to Lex Luthor. Such as him risking his life to save Clark Kent from drowning despite not only hating him but hoping that he would get into an accident. This has caused many to once again hope that Lex averts Doomed by Canon.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Lana Lang. Many fans also considered her a Creator's Pet and she received an almost ridiculous amount of hatred over the series run. That being said, in recent years, many fans have looked back at the series and wondered why they hated Lana so much, as her character really isn't as terrible as she's made out to be.
    • Davis Bloom. In season eight he was the Big Bad, Doomsday. Fans hated his look, but they hated his relationship with Chloe even more. Plus he killed Jimmy Olsen.
  • Seasonal Rot: Pick any season after Season 3 and you'll find its fair share of haters, to the point where pretty much every season besides the universally-loved Season 3 could be considered Base Breakers. However Seasons 8-10 have been largely well-received (with Season 8 alone breathing enough life back into the show that it regained enough momentum to make it to the ten-year mark), and the final season, 10, has been even better received, though the series finale breaks the base yet again.
  • Ship Mates: A lot of Clois shippers seemed to support Chimmy or Chlollie as it paired Chloe up with Jimmy or Oliver, while a rather large contingent of Chlark shippers supported Lollie because it kept Lois away from Clark. And many shippers were all too happy to do battle on behalf of the ship that best served as a suitable Ship Mate to their favorite ship. There were also those Clois and Chlark shippers who—despite their usual animosity—were willing to call a detente and mutually support Lexana in Seasons 5-6 if only because it kept Lana away from Clark (well, at least until the whole love triangle plot of S6's second half anyway). Really, the fervent Ship-to-Ship Combat often led to strange alliances and proxy wars that were worthy of Cold War-era geopolitics.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Season 5's episode "Thirst" has developed this reputation, or at least the Lana plot from that episode has. The Brainiac/Lex interaction is seen in a positive light, but the main story—featuring Lana unwittingly getting caught up with a vampire sorority (yes, it's exactly how it sounds, but narmier)—is widely seen as being unintentionally hilarious, to the point where showrunners Al Gough and Miles Miller did a DVD commentary for the episode—a distinction usually reserved for larger "event" episodes—purely because, in their words, they felt they owed fans an explanation.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "Unsafe" note 
  • Special Effect Failure: "Dichotic" has a painfully obvious green-screen used when Ian drops Chloe off a dam and Clark jumps off to save her.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • A number of characters have tried to force Clark/The Blur out of hiding and into the spotlight of the public eye. Since the series as a whole was building to Clark eventually coming out as Superman, the arguments for Clark staying hidden became less credible over time. The evil reporter from Season 2 who tried to forcibly expose Clark's secret argued that the public had a right to know about a powerful alien living in their backyard, which makes sense from a purely ethical standpoint of journalist ethics (as well as the aforementioned fact that the public would eventually find out about him), even if Clark does indeed have a right to a private life. There was also the corrupt DA from Season 9 who wanted The Blur to show his face and answer for a series of screwups that were blamed on him that were really the fault of the Wonder Twins trying to impersonate their favorite hero; his corruption was revealed last-minute as a means to give the Wonder Twins a heroic gesture and kill any debate on whether or not the Blur should have to reveal himself to clear his name.
    • In the early episodes of Smallville, any interaction Clark had with Lex fell into this. The one that stands out the most however is "Memoria". In it, Lex was trying to regain his lost memories from "Asylum". When Clark tried to stop him, he ended up getting captured, and when Lex called him out on this, Clark's only excuse was that in trying to stop his father Lex repeatedly stoops to his methods and innocent people get hurt. However, this falls on its face when you realize that the only reason Clark got hurt was that he was trying to stop Lex because, as Lionel said, for his own selfish reasons. What Lex was doing only affected himself and that was his decision. Lionel wouldn't have known about it if Clark didn't get involved.
    • While both characters cross some lines (in Lex's case a lot of lines) later in series, both Lex and Lana had legitimate points when it came to protecting Earth from a potential Kryptonian/Phantom Zone/other alien invasion. In Seasons 5 & 6, Lex and Lana start sniffing around about Kryptonian technology, trying to learn everything they can about it. Clark gets very upset about this, but Lex and Lana repeatedly note that if aliens like Zod or Brainiac ever return, learning how their technology works just might end up being the thing that saves humanity from them next time, which is a perfectly defensible viewpoint. Indeed, Clark and the JLA themselves start incorporating bits of alien tech later on in fights against Zod and other threats.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Comic book fans seem to often have this reaction to the show. Not that the comics themselves have been all that consistent over seven decades. Fans of the earlier seasons often do this to the later ones as well. Especially Lex fans, who decry him a) actually becoming the villain, and b) being written out.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Doctor Fate. He could've been a great mentor figure and ally to Clark but instead he's killed off in his debut episode just so Icicle can get the Helmet of Nabu.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The plot to make Lana a God-Mode Sue could have been handled so much better, especially since they already did it before in "Wrath". If they played it like a drug addict having a relapse then it would have been just right; a drive to get that back is realistic and would have made for good drama. Instead they had to go the Girl Power route and have Lana sacrifice her safety and comfort to prove she is worthy of the burden of having unlimited power.
  • Too Cool to Live: Doctor Fate and Hawkman.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Cat Grant in Season 10, while rather over-the-top, still has understandable reasons for not trusting vigilantes who hide in the shadows and exert an enormous amount of power. And yet, she gets treated as a lunatic because of her stance, and gets repeatedly humiliated.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Normally, the Kents are sympathetic and beloved by the fandom. However, in Season 4's "Unsafe," they become unsympathetic for acting too harshly on Clark because he "married" Alicia while he was affected by Red Kryptonite and outright disregard that Clark couldn't use his free will or good judgement. The plot uses them to teach a moral about marrying responsibly, but when one of the "offenders" couldn't even use free will, that moral goes downhill.
    • From the way they frame it, the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for Jennifer Small, a woman who blames Lana for her wanting to divorce her own husband Henry, with the fault being that Henry just wanted a chance to get to know his biological daughter. As she states, the moment Lana came into Henry's life, Jennifer was no longer the only priority of his life, and Lana cutting ties with the only parental figure she has left, to preserve the marriage.
  • Wangst:
    • Clark sinks into it quite occasionally but if you ask parts of the fandom, Lana lives here.
    • As the show progresses, Lex's daddy issues and self-pity gradually take over his character and he shifts the blame for his failures from himself to Lionel, Clark, Lana and anyone else he can. Then again, that's entirely deliberate in his case, since having a major Never My Fault complex is one of Lex's defining attributes in the comics, although he doesn't whine as much as Lana per se.
    • Oliver falls into this a lot. Justified, in that Green Arrow has always had stories that were a little… darker… than other superheroes ever since the 1970's, so it's not as if his wangst is unique to this show.
    • The Monster of the Week in "Crush" might have been justified in throwing a months-long pity party over having lost the full use of his hands, thus supposedly torpedoing his budding career as an artist... except that he can use his telekinetic powers to draw just as well as he ever could and he is perfectly well aware of that fact.
  • The Woobie:
    • The writers believed that Lana is the show's true Woobie, and while a lot of fandom would disagree, looking at everything that happened to her over the series, the writers might have a point. To sum up, as a child she watches her parents die in front of her, she becomes the Poster Child for a national disaster, meaning her deepest tragedy is out there for the whole world to see, her childhood best friend drowned trying to save her life, in her junior year her aunt (who is her sole guardian) starts a new relationship and moves to Metropolis leaving her behind, her first serious boyfriend enlists in the army and is killed in action, she discovers her biological father and just as she's getting to know him his jealous wife pushes her out of his life, she falls for Clark who abandons her and then plays her hot and cold for a year, she falls for Jason who turns out to be evil and tries to kill her, she and Clark resume their relationship and then he breaks up with her AGAIN, she is then manipulated and abused by Lex for two seasons and when she and Clark finally try for an open and honest relationship, he's too hung up on her flaws to actually try to make it work properly.
    • Chloe can be a pretty big Woobie as well.
    • Doctor Fate in Season 9's "Absolute Justice".
    • Jonathan Kent was DEFINITELY a Woobie - an iron one. The guy basically spent his entire adult life working to protect Clark's secret, and (along with Martha) dealing with Clark's developing powers. Then, he makes an unfortunate deal with the Jor-El AI that leads to his developing a heart condition that eventually kills him, all for the sake of saving Clark. Along the way, poor Jonathan had to deal with the stresses of running a barely-profitable farm that was constantly beset with financial difficulties. And how does Jonathan react to all of this? By NOT taking refuge in Wangst. Instead, he tells Clark and Martha not to worry about him, and focuses on getting the job done. In Season 10, when we see Clark talking to Jonathan in the afterlife, Jonathan reminisces on his own life, and still refuses to dwell in self-pity. Now THAT'S an honorable character.
      • Even before Clark came on the scene, Jonathan had more than his fair share of trouble in life. Martha says that Jonathan and his father never really got along, and Jonathan regrets never being able to patch things up between them. He met Martha while taking some classes at college (probably to manage the farm better), and she was way out of his league: daughter of a high-powered Metropolis attorney, and her father no love for the yokel Martha was falling for. In the end, Clark's grandfather was invited out of the family, and never really reconciled with his daughter, son-in-law, or grandson. Jonathan and Martha were also unable to have children of their own, despite numerous attempts. And through it all, Jonathan had to keep a rather powerful rage in check to be the good man he always wanted to be.
    • Clark himself. He's grown up constantly being in fear of the possibility of being discovered, every time he discovers a new ability it comes with a case of Power Incontinence, and the abilities started when he was as young as four, with the first time he ended up lost in another town. Then, there's the tendency of everyone who knows his secret to either die protecting it or leave to protect it.
    • Blue Beetle. The poor kid just gets shat upon on a near constant basis.
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