While the Arrowverse has become one of the larger franchises for The CW, it wasn’t their first round with superhero TV. Before Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and the many comic book shows we have today, there was Smallville. This was the story of a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) before he would suit up as Superman as well as the story of Lex Luthor’s (Michael Rosenbaum) path towards villainy.
Starting on The WB for its first five seasons, Smallville’s remaining years were spent on The CW. This was the show that paved the way for the many comic book shows that exist today, especially the Arrowverse. Smallville ran for a total of 10 seasons, making it the longest running comic book show to date on The CW. With 10 seasons, it’s time to rank every single one of them.
10 Season 6
The sixth year of the Superman prequel drama was the show’s first year on The CW after The WB and UPN merger. Making his way back from the Phantom Zone, Clark had to pay for the consequences of his escape throughout that season. While taking on several Zoners throughout Season 6, this was also the year when his relationship with Lex really began to head south.
However, a major distraction that made the show feel out of character for most of Season 6 was the romance between Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and Lex. Despite some incredible highlights, such as the introduction of Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) and the formation of the Justice League, Season 6 still ranks as Smallville’s weakest season.
9 Season 4
The fourth season was a bit of a mixed bag, which is why it ranks so low. This is where we get introduced to Lois Lane (Erica Durance) in what still remains one of the biggest season premieres of Smallville.
Following a brainwashed Clark/Kal-El, who was on a mission to begin his destiny that Jor-El (Terrance Stamp) had set out for him, Season 4 is where the show really begins to explore the larger Superman mythology. Despite also being the senior year for Clark and his friends, it still didn’t change the fact that the high school aspect had begun to age.
8 Season 7
If it hadn’t been for the Writer’s Strike in 2007, Season 7 would probably have played out a bit differently. With that said, Season 7 featured some new blood in the form of Clark’s cousin Kara Zor-El (Laura Vandervoort) a.k.a. Supergirl. As Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) had left the series at this point, Smallville didn’t want Clark to be completely alone without family, hence Kara’s introduction.
While we had Clark and Kara's fun adventures, there was also Lex’s final step towards becoming the iconic villain that we all know and love. Lex wasted no time in getting there from killing his father Lionel Luthor (John Glover) to discovering Clark’s secret, Season 7 stands as Lex’s greatest season before Rosenbaum exited the show.
7 Season 8
Season 7 wasn’t just the exit for Lex Luthor but also showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. As the torch was passed to Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Kelly Souders, and Brian Peterson; they breathed some new life for Season 8. This is where the show began to live outside of Smallville as Clark focused on establishing his dual identity in Metropolis. Saving the day while also working as a reporter at the Daily Planet, Season 8 marked as the beginning of the iconic Clark/Lois romance. However, that wasn’t the only taste of the bigger Superman mythology that we got in Season 8.
Despite not being in the suit yet, the big bad that year was none other than Davis Bloome (Sam Witwer) a.k.a. Doomsday. While the build-up and progression of Doomsday were impressive, the same can’t be said for the final showdown. Labeled as perhaps the most disappointing fight by many fans, the clash between Doomsday and the future Superman lasted for a total of 30 seconds. Hadn’t it been for the Season 9 renewal, things would have probably played out differently.
6 Season 2
In both good and bad ways, Season 2 was a bit of a repeat from what we got in Season 1. That’s not to say that Season 2 didn’t have some freshness to it, but the formula was still very reminiscent of what the first season did. With that said, Season 2 had some of the stronger individual episodes, such as Clark’s first time with Red Kryptonite, learning heat vision, and revealing his secret to Pete Ross (Sam Jones III.)
One of the all-time best episodes is without a doubt “Rosetta,” which introduced former Superman star Christopher Reeve as Dr. Virgil Swann. Aside from being a passing of the torch from one Superman to another, the introduction of Dr. Swann became crucial in Clark’s journey in learning where he came from and why he is here.
5 Season 3
The third year of Clark Kent’s story became one of the darker seasons in Smallville’s run, although luckily not in a Season 6 kind of way. After the drama that went down at the end of Season 2, the third year starts out with a Red K-influenced Clark in Metropolis.
This would later become one of the consequences that Clark had to deal with throughout Season 3 while discovering more about his Kryptonian heritage. However, it is the Season 3 finale that changes everything when Clark pays a big price in order to save Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) that sets up the start of Season 4. It wasn’t just intense for Clark, as Lex starts choking while Chloe Sullivan’s (Allison Mack) fate is left up in the air, all at the hands of Lionel.
4 Season 9
The penultimate season continued to take Smallville more into the DC Universe as Clark grew closer to becoming Superman. Ditching the red and blue for a year while sporting a dark costume, Season 9 was Clark having to rediscover what it meant to be Clark Kent as he attempted to fully embrace his Kryptonian destiny. While being on that journey, the romance between him and Lois went to the next level as they got together at last. Every season needs a big bad and this season was all about Zod (Callum Blue), who had emerged on Earth thanks to Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman).
To say that Clark had a lot on his plate is an understatement. Be it exploring what it means to be a hero, his romance with Lois, or figuring out ways to make Earth feel like home to Zod and a bunch of Kryptonians; Clark took on a lot that year. Season 9 was also one of the seasons that really had fun with introducing new DC characters, such as Toyman, the Justice Society of America, Amanda Waller, the Wonder Twins, and Metallo. The season finale that year was also one of Smallville’s strongest finales, with an epic showdown between Clark and Zod and Lois finally learning Clark’s secret.
3 Season 10
After 9 long years, it was time for Clark to take the ultimate step towards his destiny in the final season of Smallville. For his final trial, Darkseid became Smallville’s final big bad, even though he may not have been executed as well as fans had hoped. With that said, Season 10 did come with a lot of good that made the show’s final year live up to the word super. Clark and Lois were finally able to be together and they grew more and more into the icons that we all know and love.
The 10th season had a lot of great side-adventures while also playing around with Darkseid’s Prophets. A big surprise that came in the 11th hour was the return of Michael Rosenbaum as fans got to witness Clark and Lex as rivals one last time. While slightly controversial, the two-hour series finale ended the 10-year long journey as Clark took to the skies as Superman.
2 Season 1
Even though it has a very 2000s feel to it, Season 1 of Smallville still rates as one of the show’s strongest seasons, simply because that’s where it all started. As many shows do, Season 1 defined the DC drama in several ways and established a lot of the things that fans still love to this day.
Examining Clark’s powers one by one while exploring his true identity, Season 1 did solid world building as it began to tell the early years of Superman and the characters around him. Relying on the freak-of-the-week concept allowed Clark to master his powers while also having to live a dual identity. Even though it had some teen drama tropes, seeing Clark’s various relationships were just as important to the series as exploring his powers.
1 Season 5
Every great show always has a five-year plan and it became pretty clear that Smallville had saved some of its best stuff for Season 5. Having moved away from the high school element, it was time to enter adulthood - Kryptonian style. For the first few episodes, Clark was powerless and looked forward to living like a regular human. Alas, fate had other plans for him! Clark was shot and pretty much died until Lionel (possessed by Jor-El) had to restore his Kryptonian powers and make Clark face his destiny after all.
One of the best villains that Smallville adapted from the DC Universe was Brainiac (James Marsters) who became a force to be reckoned with. Season 5 was also a powerful one because of the events of the 100th episode where the series bid farewell to Pa Kent that, in many ways, set the tone for the rest of the season. Out of Smallville's many great finales, Season 5's conclusion is among the best of them. In an attempt to stop Brainiac, Clark accidentally lets General Zod’s trapped spirit out from the Phantom Zone and uses Lex as a vessel. It only gets worse from there, as Zod traps Clark in the Phantom Zone before causing Dark Thursday.