Before the Arrowverse took over the CW, there was Smallville. Through it and Clark Kent, fans met plenty of characters from the comics over its 10 seasons. Some of those characters have since appeared on Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. That, of course, leads to the question of which show, or universe, portrayed the characters better? For some, it's an easy choice. After all, Smallville was Clark Kent's story.
However, in some instances, it's a case of "less is more," or quality over quantity. Having a character around too much can ruin him or her. In those cases, even being around only off-screen (due to death) is better than a season spent on a story.
In other instances, it does go back to Smallville being Clark's show. Some characters just didn't (and couldn't) get the development they should have. While that's understandable, the Arrowverse has given them their dues. That can be by having a character be the lead of a show or be connected to the main character.
A less-than-worthy ending can also ruin an entire character's story on a show, as is true for at least one case on this list.
Here are 9 Arrowverse Characters Who Were Better On Smallville (And 12 Who Were Worse).
21 Worse: James Olsen
The main problem with James Olsen on Smallville is that fans were led to believe that there was only one Jimmy Olsen, only for that to not be the truth. When the series introduced Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet, he was a photographer. However, at his funeral, his younger brother was given his camera. The first Jimmy Olsen was Henry James Olsen and this was James Bartholomew Olsen. He'd go on to become a photographer at the Planet as well.
Supergirl brought in James Olsen as Clark's best friend who moved to National City to keep an eye on his cousin, Kara.
He went from being the art director at CatCo Worldwide Media to acting CEO once Cat took her leave of absence. James has since suited up as Guardian. That, like his romance with Kara, has had its ups and downs as a storyline. At least it has given him something to do, separate from Kara.
What Supergirl has going for it when it comes to James Olsen is that it's very unlikely that it's going to pull the rug out from under the audience and act like he's not the James Olsen everyone thinks he is.
20 Better: Hawkman
In the Arrowverse, Carter Hall was introduced as half of a couple of soulmates. Fans were supposed to root for him and Kendra to be together. Even after he kidnapped her to convince her of the truth, because ... they were destined to be together? That wasn't exactly a start to a great love story, even if it should have been, given their pasts together.
Not only did he get off to a wrong start, but he wasn't that compelling of a character in any of his lives. It was hard to care when he passed (and then came back as a future incarnation).
However, on Smallville, even though he only appeared in a handful of episodes (rather than an entire season), Carter was a character whose story and death meant something. He was abrasive and didn't want to work with the others. He even injured Oliver, though the two would begrudgingly become friends. Unlike on Legends of Tomorrow, Carter's passing on Smallville was sad. In his final moments, he saved Lois' life. He was someone you wanted to see reunited with his love and he was, in death, as he was buried next to Shayera. That was because he had conveyed more love and affection for her in their story to Lois than everything shown about the cursed couple in the Arrowverse.
19 Worse: J'onn J'onzz/Martian Manhunter
In both cases, on Smallville and Supergirl, Martian Manhunter (or J'onn J'onzz or John Jones) is someone who supports the lead character, Clark Kent or Kara Danvers. In both cases, they do so with a position in law enforcement. In Smallville, he went by the name John Jones and worked as a homicide detective with the Metropolis Police Department. In Supergirl, J'onn J'onzz is a member of the D.E.O (Department of Extranormal Operations) and took the form of Hank Henshaw as the agency's director.
On Smallville, he was never truly given much focus as his own character. He helped Clark and mentored him after promising his father that he'd watch over him to make sure he fulfilled his destiny. He saved his life, protected his identity (erasing Amanda Waller's memory of him) and even gave up his powers for him when he lost his. Even after he got his powers back, he remained a detective.
However, on Supergirl, that's not the case. While the show is Kara's, it has also taken the time to explore J'onn's backstory. Supergirl has shown him struggle with revealing who he truly is and introduced his father. He's much more on display as his own character, rather than just somewhere there to help Kara and in turn, Kara and Alex have helped him with his own problems.
18 Worse: Speedy
This was an easy one. In both cases, Speedy worked, at least briefly, with Oliver Queen and Smallville barely spent any time on her. Oliver saw Mia Dearden in an underground fight club and after a rough start, helped her leave her life on the streets behind and took her on as a protege.
However, she pretty much just disappeared. The season 11 comics revealed that he was too busy with his own life to keep in touch with her.
On Arrow, Speedy was Oliver's younger sister and it took until season 3 for Thea to find out the truth. Soon after, she suited up, but that didn't last as long as it should have. When she felt consumed by the bloodlust, following her dip in a Lazarus Pit, she took a step back from the vigilante life.
However, she did come a long way from the troubled teenager she was when Oliver returned from the island. She became a club owner, a masked hero and her brother's Chief of Staff.
Before her exit in season 6, she suited up one last time when a faction of the League of Assassins returned seeking a map. That led to the discovery of Lazarus Pits around the world. She decided to go on her own mission to destroy all of them. It's likely she'll use the skills she picked up before and after becoming Speedy.
17 Better: Bizarro
Both Smallville and Supergirl had Bizarro versions of their lead characters. However, the latter, was simply used by Maxwell Lord to try to take out Supergirl. She was a Jane Doe that he altered. That was as much as was revealed about who she was before her he experimented on her. While she originally looked just like Kara, when she was exposed to green kryptonite, she reverted back to her original form. Rather than kill her, Kara managed to subdue her. She was brought back to the DEO and kept comatose.
However, on Smallville, Bizarro had a story over two seasons instead of just the one episode. He followed Clark back from the Phantom Zone and ultimately cloned him. He even took over Clark's life for a bit and wanted to do so permanently. While he wasn't successful, Lana wasn't able to tell the difference.
On Supergirl, the only people who thought that Bizarro could have been her were some citizens in National City. Kara quickly disproved that theory. However, Bizarro never tried to be Kara, because that wasn't what Maxwell wanted. Once Clark returned, Bizarro was ultimately destroyed. But, he had at least been his own character whose motivations were laid out. Supergirl seems to have forgotten all about her.
16 Worse: Leonard Snart
Leonard Snart started out as a criminal and villain on The Flash, became a legend on Legends of Tomorrow and returned as a hero from Earth-X in the Arrowverse "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover. He would then go on to appear as Citizen Cold (Captain Cold) on both Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash.
Even before Captain Cold joined up with the Legends, he wasn't all bad. He kept Barry's secret and occasionally helped him. He would later go on to sacrifice himself to save the Legends, but that wasn't the last of him. Thanks to time travel, both the Legion of Doom and Barry were able to recruit him. He then appeared as Citizen Cold, one of the Freedom Fighters on Earth-X. He traveled with the Legends briefly before returning to his own Earth, helping them after they lost Martin Stein and even getting some help himself as he grieved the Mick Rory he lost. Other than helping Barry with a mission to keep a meta from DeVoe, he's now back on his own Earth.
If you forgot that Captain Cold was even on Smallville, it's not your fault. He didn't have any lines, and he was only seen sitting around a table with the other members of Marionette Ventures, the group put together by Toyman in season 10. There was a nod to the comics, in that his target from the list of Clark's friends was the speedster Bart Allen (a.k.a. Impulse).
15 Worse: Deadshot
On both Arrow and Smallville, Deadshot was an assassin and a member of the Suicide Squad. On the former, he was given a backstory, a personal connection to one of the main characters, a daughter and a somewhat heroic ending.
When Floyd Lawton was first introduced, he was an assassin and one of the Hood's targets. John Diggle also had him on his list because he was the one who ended his brother's life or so he thought. Diggle would come to learn that what happened to Andy was much more complicated and his brother was alive.
After becoming part of the Suicide Squad, Deadshot went on a mission with Diggle and Lyla and sacrificed himself. He made sure they'd make it home to their daughter.
On Smallville, Deadshot made some pretty impressive shots, because , in the comics, he never misses. Still, he didn't succeed in his mission on the show, thanks to Clark's involvement. He saved Chloe's life when she recruited him and the Suicide Squad to save her friends. However, the series never bothered to even try to develop him as anything but a gun for hire.
14 Better: Vandal Savage/Curtis Knox
Vandal Savage was Legends of Tomorrow's Big Badddie in season 1. He was a complete failure of a villain and a character. He was obsessed with Kendra and that was a story of unrequited love. It was a story that lasted way too long and dominated the season.
However, in "Night of the Hawk," he went by Dr. Curtis Knox, a character that appeared in one Smallville episode. The villain-of-the-week was a much more compelling character than the guy who was around for an entire season and the Arrow/The Flash crossover that kicked off the spin-off. Knox was introduced as a doctor who could cure meteor freaks, but he was really taking their body parts for the kryptonite in them for his wife.
In both cases, Savage and Knox were immortal and obsessed with a woman. With Savage, it was a tale of unrequited love. He would never have Kendra the way he wanted. For Knox, he just wanted to make his wife immortal so he wouldn't have to lose another woman he loved. That was more compelling, simply because of his reaction when the equipment keeping her alive was destroyed. He was devastated to lose his wife.
13 Worse: Slade Wilson
Slade Wilson was easily one of the best season-long Big Bads of Arrow, though he has since become an occasional ally of Oliver's. At first, he was Oliver's friend on the island, but after losing Shado and thanks to the Mirakuru serum, he went crazy and wanted revenge. He terrorized Oliver in season 2, was responsible for Oliver losing his mother and then was sort of redeemed. In season 5, he helped Oliver in the fight against Chase. Then, in season 6, he turned to Oliver for help tracking down his son. Slade was a fully-developed character, even if Arrow did ignore that he was cured in season 3 and still hunted Oliver and Thea on the island. He may never be truly redeemed, but at least the series spent time on him.
That wasn't true of Smallville. Slade was only in two episodes and didn't have a personal connection to any of the main characters. He enforced the Vigilante Registration Act, was corrupted by the darkness and ended Hawkman's life. After a stint in the Phantom Zone, Slade returned, but he was left in a coma.
Smallville never tried to do anything major with his character, and he never even got the name Deathstroke. He did, however, say the words "death's stroke."
12 Better: Zod
This was an easy one, considering the only instance of Zod appearing in the Arrowverse was in Superman's silver kryptonite hallucination. He thought Zod was taunting him, but he was really fighting Supergirl. Since it was Kara's show, she obviously got the upper hand and knocked her cousin unconscious. That fight firmly established Zod as Superman's enemy. It's unlikely that Supergirl will change that to make him hers, so it'll probably be the only time he's seen in the Arrowverse. That could change at any time with the multiverse and upcoming seasons. If Zod ever does return, Superman should too. That may have to be taken into consideration and could affect such a storyline.
On Smallville, he was Clark Kent's enemy . However, Zod's clone was a major villain, not just seen in one instance. He even posed as the Blur with Lois. His character was fully developed, and he, and his people, were given a complete storyline.
On Smallville, he was shown as a threat, not just said to be one.
His fight with Clark ended with the future Superman victorious, but Zod still alive. He went teleported to New Krypton with the rest of his people. He was later seen in the Phantom Zone.
11 Worse: Maggie Sawyer
Maggie Sawyer was a minor character on Smallville. The Captain of the Metropolis Police Department, she only appeared in four episodes and the series never bothered to truly develop her. Though, she would go on to play a role in the season 11 comics. But, she was a good guy and someone who upheld the law.
Maggie Sawyer is a member of law enforcement on Supergirl. She was a police detective for the National City Police Department who crossed paths with Alex. That was just the beginning, as she would go on to become Alex's girlfriend (then fiancee, then ex-fiancee) and work with the DEO. She played an important role in Alex coming out. She also knew, without Alex having to tell her, that Kara was Supergirl. Though their relationship would come to an end because Alex wanted kids and Maggie did not, that didn't change what Maggie meant to Alex. That personal connection to one of the main characters made her important to the series.
Maggie on Smallville didn't have that. She also didn't have time spent on her own background, like she did on Supergirl. The series explored her dealing with her estranged father once she was engaged and has even left the door open for a possible return in the future.
10 Better: Clark Kent
This is another easy one. Smallville was Clark Kent's show. Fans saw him go from teenager trying to fit in with a secret and only a few powers (the list of which would grow) to a superhero who could fly in the series finale. The series spent 10 seasons on his journey. Because he didn't truly suit up until the last episode, the focus was on Clark Kent, not Superman (or the Red-Blue Blur or the Blur). He worked on his family's farm. He worked at the Daily Planet, though he wouldn't don those black-rimmed glasses for some time as the mild-mannered reporter.
However, on Supergirl, it wasn't until the season 2 premiere that Clark Kent was truly seen on-screen. Before that, he tracked down her pod and left her with the Danvers.
Because Supergirl is Kara's show, he took on a supporting role, as he rightfully should have. This is unlike the earlier series, which showed Clark becoming the Clark Kent/Superman who can balance both lives. In this case, he was able to give Kara some advice as she struggled to do the same with her two sides. However, he wasn't perfect, as he would later admit that he didn't know if he could make the decision she had to regarding his significant other and the planet, a sign that she was stronger than he was.
9 Worse: Oliver Queen
This is an easy and hard one. Smallville focuses on Clark's journey to become Superman. Arrow focuses Oliver Queen and his crime fighting alter ego Green Arrow. However, that doesn't mean that the former didn't do the Green Arrow justice. It did as much as it could when the focus had to be on another superhero and when that other hero was an alien with powers.
Smallville featured an Oliver Queen who was more in line with the comics version of the character, including delivering quips in the field.
He was a supporting character, though he did go from recurring to regular. The focus had to be on Clark and how events affected him, for the most part. On Arrow, Oliver is the main character and the Green Arrow, even if some may compare him to Batman. While both shows have allowed Oliver to grow as a character and a masked hero, he was already the Green Arrow when he was introduced in Clark's story.
On Arrow, fans have watch Oliver go from playboy Ollie to the Oliver who spent five years on an island (and Hong Kong and Russia). They've seen him go from being the Hood to the Arrow to the Green Arrow.
8 Better: Toyman
There was a much more personal connection between Toyman and one of the main characters on Supergirl than Smallville. Winslow Schott was Winn's father and abusive to both his wife and son. When his boss stole his designs, he tried to get revenge using a teddy bear with a bomb inside of it. Instead, his assistant opened it and he was sent to prison for his role in ending the lives of six people. He escaped (using a deadly yo-yo) and claimed he did so to be reunited with Winn. That included getting revenge on his boss, since he blamed him for keeping him from his son. He was captured and later lost his life in prison. While it was a heartbreaking story for Winn, it wasn't much of a story for the villain.
On the other hand, Toyman was a pretty good villain on Smallville. He was a former employee of Queen Industries who was fired after he put bombs inside toys. Lex Luthor hired him to get revenge against Oliver and what followed were several deadly acts. When he targeted the Daily Planet, Lana had to absorb the kryptonite of his bomb, which meant she couldn't go near Clark after. Thanks to his connections, he even did some damage from beyond bars, thanks to devices that allowed him to control his victims' minds.
7 Worse: Supergirl
Again, this is a case of a character having her own show. Smallville was Clark's show and Kara was a supporting player. In turn, when Clark appeared on Supergirl, it was as a supporting player to his cousin and it was done well. In both cases, Kara expected to find a Kal-El that was younger than she was. In both cases, she was wrong. On Smallville, she stayed in her cousin's life, and he was the one to help her adapt to life on Earth. Ultimately, she had to leave, so that he could become the hero he was destined to become.
On Supergirl, Kara is allowed to shine in a way she couldn't on Smallville and couldn't if she and Clark were permanent fixtures in each other's lives. That's because it's her story. She was sent to Earth to protect Kal-El, even if that didn't end up being the case. But, the series still lets her be in the spotlight, even if he's around.
The series has turned Kara into someone fans care about in and out of the cape, because it can do that. It can focus on her without having to worry about what that means for another character on the show.
6 Better: Metallo
On Supergirl, Lex Luthor hired John Corben as an assassin to take out his sister, Lena. Kara, Clark and the DEO were able to stop him, but Cadmus picked him up and turned him into Metallo. The synthetic kryptonite in Corben's heart wasn't stable. When he and Supergirl fought, he used his kryptonite beam until he eventually exploded. That was the end of him. Other than doing Lillian Luthor's bidding, he didn't really do much else.
On Smallville, John Corben was introduced as a journalist who was Clark's replacement at the Daily Planet, not a criminal.
He became Metallo after a truck hit him in what looked like a fatal accident. He initially wanted revenge against the Blur for the role he thought he played in him losing his sister, but he did try to do some good. He even helped Clark at one point, freeing him from red kryptonite.
He did end up back on the side of evil, as part of Marionette Ventures. On Smallville, he at least got a decent backstory and motivations of his own. He also lived on in the season 11 comics, with his heart deactivated and taken into the custody of the D.E.O.
5 Worse: Black Canary
There is one thing that Smallville has going for it when it comes to Black Canary: there was only one. Dinah Lance worked at the Daily Planet and was introduced as someone working for Lex Luthor. However, once she realized she was on the wrong side, she turned on him. Though she was originally not going to use her skills, including a sonic scream, after that she joined up with Oliver's team. After that, she only appeared a few times as support.
On Arrow, the title of Black Canary is treated as a mantle to be passed along. First, Sara Lance was the Canary after returning to Starling City. When she passed, her sister, Laurel, became the Black Canary. Before she died, she told Oliver not to let her be the last one. That led to Oliver recruiting Dinah Drake, who just so happened to have the meta sonic scream that Sara had used via a device and Laurel had used via a collar.
While Arrow has established that there will probably always be a Black Canary on its show now in a regular capacity, that doesn't mean that it's done the character justice. The recent Team Arrow split, however, did allow Black Canary to shine in a way that's not as easy to do when on a team with the lead character, including using her scream to stop a train.
4 Better: Amanda Waller
On both Arrow and Smallville, Amanda Waller was the head of a secret government agency that included Task Force X, the Suicide Squad. On both shows, a villain ended her life. However, only on one was she in more than a few episodes, though she deserved a much better end than she got on that show.
On Arrow, Amanda Waller forced Oliver to work for ARGUS and was responsible for him having to return to the island in his fourth year away from (then) Starling City. When the criminal organization Shadowspire, led by Joyner, broke into ARGUS and wanted access to Rubicon, she refused to give in to his demands. That cost her her life. While Waller had a much larger role on Arrow, she deserved better than the end that they gave her.
Because of that, Waller was a better character on Smallville. She wasn't around for long, just known as the White Queen of Checkmate. She targeted members of the Justice Society of America and had her men kidnap Chloe. After she ordered her men to end the lives of the Kandorians, Zod tracked her down and burned down the castle while she was inside. It was a weak death, but the character hadn't been built up enough to deserve anything more than that.
3 Worse: Cat Grant
Smallville introduced Cat Grant at the Daily Planet as Clark's partner while Lois was away at the beginning of season 10. She was just a reporter then. Cat Grant wasn't even her real name, but this was the Cat Grant who could be compared to the one later seen on Supergirl. She originally wasn't a fan of vigilantes.
It's no question that Supergirl has done a much better job with Cat Grant. She was someone everyone could look up to, even though she wasn't the warmest person. She was the founder and CEO of CatCo Worldwide Media and would go on to become the White House Press Secretary.
She's been a mentor for both Kara and Supergirl and she was the one to name Supergirl.
The show had fun playing with whether or not she knew the truth. It turned out that she did, as she called Kara Supergirl when she had to make a quick escape to save innocent people. To be honest, CatCo just hasn't been the same without her. Neither has the series. While Smallville didn't need Cat Grant, Supergirl did, especially in the beginning. The show never shied away from that, even in her guest appearances after Calista Flockhart departed as a series regular.
2 Better: Hawkgirl
This was an easy one, simply because the Arrowverse's attempt at the Hawks' story did not go over so well. Carter and Kendra were introduced on Arrow and The Flash's crossover as the two shows set up the spin-off, Legends of Tomorrow. Season 1 focused on them (and Vandal Savage) and it was simply too much of a not-so-good thing. Many fans cheered when the three of them didn't return for season 2. Before joining up with the Legends, Kendra was a barista and brought into the fold via Cisco. She then learned about her and Carter's past and how to activate her powers. She and Ray even got involved for a stretch, but it didn't (and couldn't) last. The best thing she ever did was leave the team.
This is a case of less is more. On Smallville, Shayera was never seen alive. Instead, everything about her was framed around what she meant to Carter. Those few snippets were more touching than an entire season of a supposed love story that was just not engaging. Shayera's memory was used to get Cater to become Hawkman again when he needed to the most.
Shayera was someone you wanted to see as Hawkgirl, fighting beside her love. Kendra was … a barista and someone who was never quite what Hawkgirl should have been.
1 Worse: Lucy Lane
Lucy only appeared twice on Smallville and, both times, she caused trouble. The first time, she had a sob story about owing a loan shark money and ended up leaving with Lex's money. The second time, she kissed Clark to test his loyalty to her sister. The sisters' relationship was on track by the end of that episode. She did end up in the middle of a love triangle (briefly) on Supergirl with Kara and James and moved to National City for him. However, Lucy was able to be more than just a love interest once her relationship with James ended (for good). Kara came to trust Lucy enough to reveal her identity to her in order to get her help to save her sister and J'onn from Project Cadmus.
She sided with Kara and the others, even going against her father when it came to his treatment of J'onn. She was briefly the director of the DEO until J'onn was reinstated.
Supergirl allowed Lucy to be more than just a bratty younger sister by distancing her from Lois. The other Lane has not appeared on-screen in the Arrowverse yet. It couldn't do that on a show that was all about Clark Kent.
Are there any characters that we missed? Tell us in the comments bellow!