Shows like The Flash, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Legion are all enjoying success on network television today, but the path of the modern superhero television series was largely paved by Smallville. For 10 seasons, fans watched Tom Welling’s Clark Kent grow from insecure-high school student into the high-flying Man of Steel we all know and love.
Not to mention, this origin story introduced television audiences to villains like Metallo, Doomsday, and Brainiac, in addition to heroes such as Green Arrow, Booster Gold, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg, Black Canary, Supergirl, and more. It even went as far as to feature deep cuts like Impulse, Amanda Waller, Toyman, Mister Mxyzptlk, and even Krypto the dog. The true brilliance of this series was its appeal to comic book junkies and casual audiences alike.
Smallville‘s impressive 218 episode run featured some incredible Superman moments, fun storylines, as well as a few standout performances. On the other hand, the superhero saga also produced more than a few duds. Whether it be misguided character arcs, weird The Matrix spoofs, 17th-century witches, or repetitive monsters, Smallville truly had it all. This beloved series really swung for the fences, and, while it hit more than it missed, some of its misses are far too glaring to ignore.
Here are the 15 Worst Episodes of Smallville.
15. Season 6 – “Noir”
“Noir” is an example of a good idea with poor execution. Fans would have loved to see more episodes like this, if only they were good. Storylines in alternate universes and dream-like spaces can be a fun change of pace for a television series like Smallville, but unfortunately “Noir” never found its footing.
The problem with this episode is the fact that the two running storylines had nothing to do with each other. The 1940s noir setting was more or less shoehorned in simply to mix things up. The writers did not even attempt to tie the two together. While Lana is bleeding to death after being shot, the entire cast is playing dress-up in some black and white fantasy land. It makes absolutely zero sense and the alternate storyline seemed ultimately forgettable next to Lana’s life threatening wound.
14. Season 1 – “Craving”
An episode in which an overweight teen struggles to loose a few extra pounds might feel at home in other high school dramas, but Smallville took it to the next level with “Craving.” Essentially, the show’s monster of the week was a young girl (played by Amy Adams) who sucked the fat out of others in order to fulfill her cravings.
The girl acquires these powers after accidentally consuming kryptonite. Traces of the rock are ironically found on vegetables she uses to make her weight loss shakes. At this point in the series, an overarching plot had yet to truly take place, but this episode had the feeling of a boring filler episode from the start.
13. Season 5 – “Thirst”
Lana’s time in Metropolis University’s vampire sorority might fall into the “it’s so bad, it’s good” category, but it’s still bad. Vampires were the hot ticket item at the time, and the writing team probably wanted to have some fun with that idea, but unfortunately, the result was one truly strange hour of television.
Lana has always been an honest, just, and all-around virtuous character, despite her numerous flirtations with the dark side. For the majority of her time in the series, Lana had just as strong a moral compass as Clark, making her “bad girl” moments feel out of place whenever they occurred. Despite this undeniable awkwardness, the writers kept on coming back to it.
Honestly, the vampire storyline was not nearly as weird as Lana letting her hair down and throwing all inhibitions aside. At the end of the episode, all is forgiven as the series never references these events again. The producers presumably learned from their mistake.
12. Season 8 – “Doomsday”
“Doomsday” featured an anti-climactic 10-second fight that had been building for over 20 episodes. Season eight was really good as a whole, but its finale left a bad taste in the mouths of fans. Those who were familiar with the comics at the time understood the importance of a villain like Doomsday and were excited about the character’s big reveal. Even casual fans understood the gravity of the situation, since teasers of the villain had been airing since the season’s premiere.
As disappointing as the final showdown between these two titans was, the reveal that the deceased Jimmy Olsen was not actually the “real” Jimmy Olsen from the comic books felt even worse. A character we had gotten to know over the course of three seasons was, in all honestly, just some random guy (at least for those familiar with the character) named Henry James Olsen.
11. Season 10 – “Supergirl”
Essentially, Kara Zor-El was everything that Clark was not in Smallville. She understood her own powers, she (usually) remembered her Kryptonian heritage, and she could even fly long before Clark’s dramatic, long-teased first flight during the series finale. She was not nearly as well fleshed out a character as Benoist’s Supergirl, and often needlessly flaunted her sexuality to attract more male viewers.
Do not get us wrong, Laura Vandervoort was a solid casting choice for the series, but after seeing Melissa Benoist’s interpretation, it is hard to go back. Not to mention, she was kind of written as a Mary Sue-type character, making her arc somewhat boring. While Clark was struggling to balance being a hero and becoming a man, Kara had it all figured out, and, in all honesty, it was not all that fun to watch.
10. Season 3 – “Magnetic”
Bad girl Lana fit about as well as bad boy Clark, but “Magnetic” was much harder to watch than any red kryptonite adventure. Not to mention, season three had some killer episodes, so this stinker stood out all the more.
As we will learn later, Lana Lang has abysmal taste in men, and this episode’s monster of the week, Seth Nelson, probably was not even her worst pick. After years of watching the show, one might get the sense that the writers were unsure of what to do with the character. Her darker moments almost always came across poorly.
9. Season 2 – “Redux”
“Redux” felt like an early, throwaway, monster of the week episode for Smallville in season two. The premise of a girl sucking the youth from high school boys is a tired and surprisingly similar storyline to other episodes that came both before and after. Overall, this was not a great week for the series.
There are more than a small handful of episodes with similar episode descriptions – “Craving,” for example – and the forgettable introduction of Clark’s grandfather is really the only aspect of this entry that serves to separate it from the pack.
That being said, the worst thing we can say about this episode is that it is derivative, but, after 10 seasons, there are bound to be a few similar narratives. Unfortunately, however, that does not change the fact that “Redux” is truly a skippable episode.
8. Season 4 – “Spell”
“Spell” is the episode where Lana, Chloe, and Lois are possessed by 17th-century witches. Season four was weirder than most, but this move marked an early misstep taken by the writing team. As stated earlier, bad girl Lana rarely worked out well as a plot device, and the addition of Chloe and Lois really did not help much. If anything, all three ladies playing against character felt even more awkward and clunky.
Countess Margaret Isobel Thoreaux’s possession of Lana – an overarching narrative of season four – never sat quite right with the majority of fans or critics. It felt like a bit of a stretch for a character who had, unfortunately, run her course in the Smallville universe. From here, Lana would go on to moonlight as a vampire, marry Lex Luthor, train as a martial arts expert, and even become super-powered herself.
7. Season 8 – “Requiem”
Fans were trying to move on past the eight-season long Lana Lang saga and move forward with Lois, however, Lana kept popping back up. Unfortunately, her farewell felt contrived and tragic for absolutely no reason, especially in her goodbye episode, “Requiem.”
The character of Lana has caught some flak in previous entries, but she was, overall, a likable character on the show. Unfortunately, Lana was best known as Clark’s love interest, and, while the show desperately tried to develop her further, these endeavors were generally met with varying results.
That being said, the chemistry between the two leads was strong and believable, making Lana’s send-off emotionally powerful. Unfortunately, “Requiem” also meant saying goodbye to Lex Luthor, and while this character was no longer the major player he had been in earlier seasons, he was still a key ingredient in the Smallville formula. For that reason, his untimely death, while certainly surprising, was also misguided.
6. Season 8 – “Committed”
In “Committed” Chloe and Jimmy were abducted by a psychotic jeweler (which already screams boring episode). While Clark and Lois pose as a couple themselves, they are inevitably kidnapped and, for whatever reason, are forced to reveal how they feel about each other in the oddest “will they, won’t they” scenario of all time.
The problem with the Clark and Lois dynamic is that even the most casual fans know the two will end up together eventually, and, after four seasons of teasing, audiences were ready for the series to move on. However, nearly every episode ends with the future couple no more intimate than they began, seemingly back at square one after nearly 100 episodes. They inch closer in the coming weeks, but this is all undone by Lana’s return in “Requiem.”
5. Season 7 – “Hero”
Pete’s disappointing return is overshadowed by kryptonite-laced chewing gum. After being away from his best friend, Clark Kent, for years, Pete returns to Smallville for a short visit. Unfortunately enough for Pete, things have not gone so well for him since the two last spoke. Pete is still haunted by his parent’s failing business (thanks to the Luthors) and Clark’s big secret. Also due in part to the aforementioned chewing gum, Pete is incredibly critical of Clark’s decision to stay hidden.
Lionel proves, yet again, that he is not completely trustworthy – the word “duh” comes to mind – and Jimmy’s pursuit of Chloe is apparently back on. All in all, “Hero” is an underwhelming entry that becomes an utterly disappointing Pete Ross farewell. Yes, Pete’s send-off is realistic, but it is also unsatisfying, and not in a way that is interesting or advances any of the characters.
4. Season 1 – “Kinetic”
“Kinetic” is a Whitney-centric episode, and the running joke among fans is that no one cares about Whitney.
After Whitney loses his football scholarship, he falls in with a gang of thieves who have the ability to move through walls thanks to kryptonite-infused tattoos. Meanwhile, Lana pleads with Lex to save her beloved coffee shop hangout, The Talon. Now, it should be noted that Lana’s Talon initiative is actually an interesting arc for her, but it is watered down by Whitney’s drama and her bewildering lack of concern for him.
Apparently, Lana was just as bored with Whitney’s side adventures as we were. Good thing Clark was there to save the day. Simply put, it says a lot that Lex and Lana’s business partnership was far more interesting than a pack of robbers who put Chloe in the hospital.
3. Season 4 – “Façade”
So, no one really liked Whitney, but the same could be said for Lana’s season four boyfriend Jason Teague (played by Jensen Ackles). In other words, Lana really knew how to pick them. “Façade” featured a heavy dose of Jason and Lana’s relationship, which always felt a bit odd, creepy, and contrived. Ackles is now a fan-favorite star on Supernatural, but one would have never guessed he had it in him after watching season four of Smallville.
“Façade”, like “Craving” and “Redux” before it, features a young girl who is forced to inflict bodily harm onto others in order to maintain her beauty. Unlike the other two episodes, however, “Façade” featured Jason Teague and his disturbing relationship with Lana Lang.*
Additionally, this episode sees Clark and papa Kent arguing about football team tryouts. While a young Superman playing football proves to be fun in later episodes, watching the two fight about it again is not.
2. Season 10 – “Collateral”
“Collateral” is The Matrix rip-off episode that nobody wanted. Needless to say, fans were not a big fan of this overdone homage to an action movie that came out over a decade before this episode aired.
Like any long-running series, Smallville had its ups and its downs. Fortunately for this beloved drama, the writing team really appeared to hit their stride down the final stretch… aside from “Collateral,” that is. This recreation attempt is not a bad episode simply because it pays homage to a decade-old movie; it is bad because films and television shows have been riffing on The Matrix non-stop since its release.
Not to mention, Smallville, as big as it was, did not have the budget or time to pull off some of these visual effects. The good news is Alison Mack returned to reprise her role of fan-favorite character Chloe, but the bad news is that she came back to star in this stinker.
1. Season 4 – “Ageless”
Ultimately, season four took more than a few missteps, but “Ageless” felt like a terrible filler episode that only made fans wait another week to resolve major plot points that had been building all season. Clark and Lana raise a baby together, and honestly, this episode is kind of weird – and not in a fun way.
“Ageless” decided to take a break from the main overarching plot, and instead feature a Clark and Lana side adventure – and a pretty boring and strange side adventure at that. The crystal storyline with the evil Teague clan was more than tired at this point, but audiences were still curious as to how everything would pan out in the end.
Similar to other episodes mentioned in this article, the two major running storylines did not appear to mesh together at all.
Do you agree with our list?* What are some of your least favorite episodes of Smallville? Make sure to let us hear it in the comments section.