When Smallville premiered in 2001, superheroes were beginning to show their box office dominance but had not taken over our pop culture the way they have today. As such, a show like Smallville, which took superhero concepts and characters seriously still felt pretty ground-breaking in the world of television. That said, there is no use in trying to pretend like the series couldn’t have been improved if some creative decisions were reconsidered.
For many people sitting down to watch TV, the thing that matters most is whether or not the episode that is currently on is entertaining. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are so many things that can happen behind the scenes to make an episode fall short of expectations. For instance, things like network interference, legal issues, budget constraints, and simple miscommunication can result in some subpar television. Whatever the reason, no matter how much you love a series it makes no sense to put on blinders in an attempt to convince yourself that you wouldn’t change a thing.
In order for an issue to appear on this list, it needs to be something that fans often overlook or must get past in order to enjoy the show. It should also be noted that things that happened away from the set are fair game - as long as they relate to someone involved in the production of the show in one way or another.
Here are 20 Things Wrong With Smallville We All Choose To Ignore.
20 The Overuse of Slow Motion
Premiering a couple of years after the release of The Matrix, Smallville’s over reliance on slow motion was at least somewhat understandable early on. It may be hard to remember now but in the years after "bullet time" first took the world by storm, slow motion scenes felt pretty cutting edge. However, as the show matured and the years went on, this trend continuing made a lot less sense.
It often seemed like producers were incapable of showing off Clark’s abilities without resorting to slow-motion.
After all, by the time the later seasons began airing virtually nobody was impressed by an extended shot of a bullet flying through the air, especially since the effect was often underwhelming.
19 The Lex Luthor/Clark Kent Clone
Adding a clone storyline out of nowhere can often feel like a lazy way to get out of a narrative corner. On the other hand, there certainly are instances in which clones not only work for a series, but the newly introduced character makes the show better. Sadly, when Smallville added the character of Connor Kent, or Alexander Luthor, it never worked out as intended.
Introduced after the Lex Luthor fans loved to hate and hated to love left Smallville, his clone seemed like a transparent attempt to keep him around in some form.\
However, once it was revealed that he’d been created from a mix of Lex and Clark’s DNA things really felt silly. Eventually made into the show’s equivalent of Superboy, his presence was often cringe worthy.
18 The Show Ripped Off the Saw Franchise
A movie that became a surprise horror sensation in 2004, Saw was so popular that it inspired a long list of film imitators that have aged poorly. However, its weirdest rip off was the Smallville episode “Mercy”.
Largely focused on a kidnapped Lionel Luthor being forced to play a series of games for his life, there are several reasons this episode was a bad idea.
Totally hamstringed by the limitations of network television, a show like Smallville could never live up to the expectations of Saw fans. On top of that, considering Smallville was never a horror show ,it is obvious that many of its fans likely didn’t care for that kind of storytelling. Finally, this episode aired in 2006; more than a year and a half after Saw first became a huge hit.
17 The Stride Gum Product Placement
This is a reality of modern entertainment that viewers have sadly become accustomed to. As budgets have ballooned many productions have turned to outside companies for cash. As a result, product placement is incredibly common.
When a brand is featured in the background of many scenes it can be irritating, but easy to overlook. On the other end of the spectrum is Smallville with Stride Gum.
If you were excited to see Pete again, this sponsorship deal ruined it.
Pete came back to take down Lex after chewing a piece of Kryptonite infused Stride Gum that gave him powers.
It was ham-fisted product placement at its worst. They even went so far as to have many close ups of the gum pack. It was hardly worth whatever budgetary advantage it gave the show.
16 Red Kryptonite Clark Was Far From Convincing
In some ways the perfect person to play Clark Kent and Superman, Tom Welling comes across like an extremely lovable dude. As such, when you think of the All-American Boy Scout aspect of the character, he plays into it extremely well. On the other hand, when you want to tell more nuanced stories his acting abilities aren’t exactly going to impress a lot of the time.
The most blatant instances of Welling falling short were whenever Clark’s personality was changed due to the introduction of red Kryptonite.
While it was interesting to see Clark being awful, the problem was that Welling did not have the skills to play a bad dude.
15 Green Arrow’s 3 Month Bow and Arrow Training
Smallville was initially solely focused on Clark Kent and his supporting cast, but many DC fans were really excited to see many other beloved characters brought into the show.
Appearing for the first time in season six, Justin Hartley’s version of The Green Arrow was popular, but he had a couple of flaws, including how the show explained his amazing bow and arrow abilities.
He became an expert archer, able to fight crime and take down villains with his bow, after only 3 months.
A stupid detail, it would take far longer than that to be as exacting with an arrow as he is.
14 Chloe’s Horrible Hacker Talk
Even when Chloe Sullivan’s defining characteristic was her love for Clark Ken,t she was also shown to be smart, knowledgeable, and resourceful. Once her dynamic with Clark shifted, viewers learned she was skilled at a wide array of things.
Always obsessed with getting to the truth of any matter, Chloe became adept at a number of ways of uncovering any deceitful action.As the series progressed she was revealed to be a world-class computer hacker, which was a problem since the show seemed to be written by people that knew little about that world.
After all, how else could you explain a line like “all I am is a halfway decent hacker who took a wrong turn down the information superhighway”?
13 Jor-El’s Abilities
Jor-El became a part of the series as an AI reproduction of Clark Kent’s biological father. Unfortunately, it seems as though the show used Jor-El as the solution to any storytelling issues.
The Jor-El in the show was created through Kryptonian tech so it made sense that it could do a lot of amazing things that Kryptonians could do.
There was never a good reason given for why he was far more powerful than any other Kryptonian.
Shown to have all the typical Kryptonian powers, he also had whatever other ability a story required, including things like stripping people of their powers as well as time, matter, and reality manipulation.
12 Clark gets over Alicia's demise in one episode
One of the weirdest characters ever introduced to the world of Smallville, Alicia Baker was different from the start since she found out about Clark’s abilities during her first episode. She revealed her superpowers to Clark as well and then developed an obsession for him. Eventually starting a relationship while Clark was under the influence of red Kryptonite, the two of them were wed in an illegal and non-binding ceremony.
Despite their extremely rocky relationship, Clark was overcome with grief after discovering that someone had caused her demise. Flying into a rage, Clark was far more violent than fans were used to.
However, by the time the next episode began he was back to his normal cheery self, all smiles while visiting a university campus.
11 Why Clark Didn’t Lie and Claim to Be a Meteor Freak
It was fun to think about which characters would learn about Clark’s true nature and how. Always worried about how people would react to him, Clark did his very best to avoid people discovering his abilities, even though it must have felt stifling. However, when you really think about it, all that hiding wasn’t necessary - at least with those close to him.
Living in an area that was overrun with people who’d gained superpowers from exposure to certain rocks, Clark knew full well that his pals were aware that went on.
It always seemed odd that he didn’t pretend to be in the same situation. Sure, he would still have a secret, but at least he could cut loose a little and now worry so much around his friends.
10 Two "Jimmy" Olsens
One of the most confusing aspects of Smallville is the way that Jimmy Olsen was dealt with.
Introduced at the Daily Planet, he was identified at the time as Jimmy Olsen, a character with a huge history in the comics. That is why it was so shocking when, after his role began to expand - even marrying Chloe at one point - he met his untimely end
It was such an unpopular decision that the show pulled the ultimate get out of jail free card by claiming that the version we knew actually wasn’t the true Jimmy Olsen. Instead, he was Jimmy Olsen's older brother, "Henry James Olsemn," which allowed them to introduce the true Jimmy, whom they even had portrayed by the same actor.
9 Oliver wasn't arrested when he Outed Himself as the Green Arrow
Now that many superheroes have starred in movies and TV shows, we’ve seen the cops try to hunt superheroes for years. In Smallville the Green Arrow had to grapple with this problem, but nobody knew his secret identity at the time.
Obviously very passionate about stopping crime, he decides that people need to side with the vigilantes. As a billionaire and head of industry, he thinks the best way to effect that change is out himself as the Green Arrow and does so.
Despite it already being set up that the cops were after him, he suffers zero legal ramifications for this.
Already awful storytelling, the fact that it is a clear rip off of the end of the first Iron Man movie makes it even worse.
8 Lana Being Such a One-Note Character
You’d think that the hours of television focused on Lana Lang would make her a complicated character. However, for the most part, that never felt like the case. Instead, to our great disappointment, she was decidedly one-note throughout her entire run on the series.
With the show’s writers seemingly far too focused on her romances and how pretty the actress that played the character was, most things to do with Lana were pretty surface deep. It really is a shame were never got more from her.
As a result, episodes, where she lost control of herself for supernatural reasons felt interesting even though they were silly.
7 Smallville’s Constant Supervillain Problem
You have to give the show’s writers and producers credit: it was pretty smart of them to introduce the concept of exposure to meteors found in Smallville giving people powers. If it weren’t for that element of the show it would be incredibly hard to swallow that so many superpowered beings would all exist within the confines of the tiny town of Smallville.
Just because their abilities were explained, doesn’t mean their motivations made sense.
Sure, there are some pretty dastardly people out there and even some relatively fine people might use superpowers in bad ways when they first got them. That aside, it seems like the people of Smallville are unusually awful since so many of them turn to evil once they get the tiniest whiff of power.
6 How Oblivious Everyone is to Clark's powers
Despite wanting to keep his secret identity mostly intact throughout the run of the show, Clark never seemed to be very good at keeping his abilities hidden from those in his life. Instead, the only reason he wasn’t exposed over and over is that his friends and enemies seemed to be pretty dumb in a lot of circumstances.
This was especially galling when it came to Lex Luthor, who is meant to be a genius. There were far too many moments in the show where someone as smart as him should have clued in to the truth about Clark in season one alone.
5 Repetitive Clark and Lana Relationship Issues
Clark and Lana were the central Smallville romance for several seasons. The actors that played the characters had enough chemistry to light up the screen whenever they shared it. On top of that, many viewers felt their hearts swoon with delight when things worked out for the two of them. Despite those things, their relationship was also quite the chore.
It was another example of TV’s obsession with the "will they or won’t they" relationship.
This dynamic can be entertaining, but only for so long.When nothing changed and they kept getting back together and breaking up for the same reasons, it became hard to watch.
4 Why Brainiac Doesn’t Use Kryptonite Constantly
A fearsome Superman villain, when Brainiac made his Smallville debut we knew that Clark was in for a world of hurt. Given a humanoid form despite being a Kryptonian supercomputer, it could mix with humanity with the greatest of ease, despite being far above them.
Incredibly powerful physically, its most dangerous aspect is that it had access to an almost-infinite amount of knowledge which it could use to outsmart virtually any enemy. However, it almost never did the incredibly obvious.
Being totally immune to the negative effects of Kryptonite, Brainiac should have used Superman’s weakness against him at every turn.
Yet for some reason, there was only one instance in which he did just that, in the episode “Solitude”. Quite frankly, this never made any sense.
3 Lex Luthor and Lana Lang leaving the show
Eliminating main characters that have stagnated can really open up the storytelling possibilities. On the other hand, pulling out a popular character that adds intrigue can remove a key element to a series’ success. When Lex Luthor and Lana Lang left Smallville, new characters came to the forefront but we really missed them.
Easily the best character the show ever had, Michael Rosenbaum’s Luthor was fascinating as you could root for him at one moment and then be infuriated by him the next. For her part, even though Lana was quite one-note, she also was a major part of what gave the show heart. For those reasons, their absence was always hard to look past.
2 The Freak of the Week
When Smallville first debuted the villain or crime of the week format was still very popular. As it ran 10 seasons, when the show came to an end, a higher form of storytelling was expected by audiences. For those reasons, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the first few seasons have largely aged poorly.
There are far too many instances in which it feels like the things that happen from one episode to the next don’t matter.
For instance, how is their high school not on constant alarm since so many of their students seem to disappear? On top of that, we find it hard to believe that all of the upheaval wouldn’t get to the main characters a lot more.
1 The Chloe controversy
The kind of character that we all should look up to, Chloe Sullivan is fiercely loyal, smart, funny, and dedicated to exposing the truth to the world. Additionally, for a lot of fans, she is the character you root for most. She was portrayed by Allison Mack, and it always seemed like she must be marvelous too.
Largely gone from the acting scene for many years at this point, it seems as though Mack has spent that time in the involved in a cult that has been in the headlines of late.
Believed to be at least complicit in some disturbing and abusive behaviors, the stories make it very hard to view her most famous role in the same light.
What else do fans overlook about Smallville? Let us know in the comments!