Long before the current golden age of TV superheroes, the 2000s were dominated by one long running comic book drama -- Smallville. The show focused on a teenage Clark Kent as he developed his familiar powers and figured out how to use them to help others. Since it aired on The WB, and later, The CW, it had all the hallmarks of a teen soap, including love triangles, growing pains and real world issues with a fantasy spin. Clark was a nerd who had to fight so called “meteor freaks” while dealing with his own guilt for causing all these problems. Many of these characters were ripped from the pages of DC Comics. Of course, the series often adapted them to suit their own needs.
As the show progressed past the high school years, the appearance of familiar comic book characters became more common. They were seen as guest stars in one episode and as featured players across the season. These guest stars occasionally appeared in the form of famous Superman actors like Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain. Sometimes it worked and the characters were integrated into the show on a recurring or permanent basis, and other times it was not good and we wished they had left well enough alone. Despite the show’s occasional missteps, we can safely say that without the success of Smallville we wouldn’t have the MCU or Arrowverse. The number of superhero TV series currently airing solidifies the show’s legacy, so it’s time to look at the DC characters we wish Smallville had never adapted and some we wanted to see more of.
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20 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: BLACK CANARY
For some reason Black Canary is a character who writers just can’t seem to get right in live action form. She first appeared on Smallville as a thief working for Lex. She had confrontations with Oliver and Chloe before she realized Lex was a bad guy. She then joined the Justice League, helping them with many of their missions.
Since she came to the team late, she was never the regular player that some of the other heroes were. Her appearances were sporadic at best, so she never really felt like part of the team. Actress Alaina Huffman did what she could when she was on, but for the most part her absence wasn’t something that was noticed.
19 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: JOR-EL
As Superman’s birth father and the one who sends him on his journey, Jor-El is an important part of his story. On Smallville, Jonathan Kent was actually the father who inspired Clark to become Superman. As such, Jor-El was never a full fledged character and was only heard as a voice played by Terence Stamp.
For most of the series, Clark had an antagonistic relationship with Jor-El. He never trusted that his father understood how important his regular life was to him. It would have been fascinating if we could have seen this story from Jor-El’s point of view a few times.
18 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: PETE ROSS
Every superhero needs a human best friend who they can be themselves with. For Clark, Pete Ross is that friend. For most of their lives he thinks his awkward pal Clark is just really clumsy, not struggling to deal with his developing superpowers. Once Clark finally breaks the news to Pete, he is supportive and understanding. Sadly for Pete, once Clark really starting using his powers, there wasn’t much for him to do and he left the show.
The character returned in what is thought among fans to be the worst episode, known as the "Stride Gum episode". We understand wanting Clark to have someone to confide in, but he had that with Chloe, so Pete always felt unnecessary and unimportant.
17 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: BLUE BEETLE
In the later seasons of Smallville, the show began introducing more and more comic book characters. Some of these were part of producers’ attempt to find a possible spinoff. This happened with the episode revolving around Booster Gold and Jaime Reyes. The hour features Jaime as a young kid who accidentally bonds with secret Kord tech, that turns him into Blue Beetle.
After he saves everyone, Clark convinces Booster to help Jaime learn how to control the Blue Beetle and use it for good. Ted Kord is also involved as someone who will help Jaime out. If ever there was a spinoff we wanted to see, it was the adventures of these characters.
16 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: MAXIMA
A show like Smallville can’t hit a home run with every character adaptation, For every Green Arrow, there’s an Impulse we could see less off. One of the people we were happy to see less of was Maxima. She showed up as an alien warrior from Almerac, who believed Clark was her true mate and she just needed to convince him.
The strong female character from the comics was boiled down into an obsessed woman who has no other purpose than to chase Clark. For a show that had a history of strong female characters, it was a huge miss. It wasn’t their best adaptation and they only used her for name recognition.
15 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: JONATHAN KENT
Pretty much all superheroes have some sort of parental issues. Superman is no different, except that he has double the daddy issues. Clark spends his entire life struggling with trying to fit in despite being so different. He’s able to gain strength from his father Jonathan Kent, who does everything he can to protect his secret, while also always letting Clark know there is nothing wrong with him.
Jonathan was a great husband and father, and his family never rebounded from his loss. Anytime Clark had a serious problem he needed help with, his father’s absence was felt. Yes, he occasionally appeared as a ghost or hallucination, but it was never the same.
14 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: WONDER TWINS
As the show made the decision to go all in on the comic book stuff, it seemed like there was still a struggle with which characters they could use. This meant that sometimes we didn’t get top tier heroes. Thus the episode "Idol", featuring Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins.
They are two teenagers obsessed with the Blur, who decide to help him out by catching criminals in his name. There was nothing remotely interesting about these two characters. This felt like a throwaway hour in a 24-episode season. As you would expect, the Wonder Twins never appeared again until the show’s season 11 comic adaptation.
13 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: DOCTOR FATE
The season nine introduction of the Justice Society of America brought a plethora of great characters to the series. Among them was Kent Nelson, aka Doctor Fate. Years of using his helmet has turned him into homeless man struggling with mental illness. His issues make him reluctant to put the helmet back on, but when Icicle starts attacking his team members he doesn’t have a choice.
We only got him for one two-part episode, but we were instantly hooked. We wanted to know more about his long life and the toll it’s taken on him. However, as great as he was, he was also one of those characters who became even bigger in passing than he ever could in life.
12 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: MXYZPTIK
Some villains will appear in every iteration of the hero’s story. For Superman, that villain is obviously Lex Luthor, but apparently it’s also Mxyzptik. He has been on Lois & Clark, Supergirl and Smallville. He showed up in an early season as one of the young versions of the characters.
He turned out to be a kid with the power to cause awkward clusiness and seemingly just cared about using them to make money. He was basically a teenage jerk with a slight recognition to Mxyzptik. There was no reason to use the character this way, other than to remind everyone that the show was based on a comic book.
11 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: TESS MERCER
Losing Lex left a huge hole in the show, so it was no surprise when they replaced him with a new shady businessperson. This time, however, they went with a woman who was Lex’s protege, Tess Mercer. We had an instant distrust of her, because she took over LuthorCorp and seemed to continue all his sketchy dealings.
Over time we discovered that she was actually a good person, with a checkered past. She was a former secret agent who was revealed to be Lutessa Lena Luthor. She protected the heroes on more than one occasion, even becoming the artificial intelligence Watchtower after Lex offed her. Tess got a raw deal being written off just when she had found a family with the Justice League.
10 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: DOOMSDAY
It’s pretty hard to have a Superman story without Doomsday, so we knew he would show up on Smallville sooner or later. In season eight we started to get hints about there being more to paramedic Davis Bloome. Turns out the more hiding underneath was actually Doomsday. The idea of a man struggling with the monster inside him could be fascinating, except we were beat over the head with it for an entire season.
We watched as Davis constantly argued with his inner demon, occasionally giving in and taking out a bad guy. For so long the story was about Davis Bloome not Doomsday. In the end, we wondered why even have Doomsday be a thing when it was all about Davis’ anger issues.
9 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Martian Manhunter is one of the most interesting characters in comics. Smallville brought him on as an old friend of Jor-El, who was keeping an eye on Clark. He saved him several times, even giving up his powers for him at one point. John’s secret identity was as a Metropolis police detective, so he was able to help Clark with a lot of his crime fighting.
As the characters got older, he became a mentor and father figure to all of them. We understand it’s a Superman show, but Martian Manhunter is someone we always want to spend more time with. Especially if he’s played by Phil Morris.
8 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: RICK FLAG
Rick Flag was introduced as a soldier interrogating Oliver about his superhero team. He thought they were the ones behind the alien invasion. As the leader of the Suicide Squad he and his team were at odds with the Justice League. This version of the character was very one note and just there as sometime foil for the good guys.
At this point the show had already introduced Lois’ no nonsense father General Lane, so we had an uncompromising anti-vigilante soldier to deal with. It didn’t help matters when the character took a turn and started working for Chloe. He just got lost in the chaos of an uneven season. Leaving us to wonder why they brought him on in the first place.
7 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: LEX LUTHOR
Any show that runs for a decade is bound to suffer cast turnover. This hit Smallville the hardest when Lex Luthor portrayer Michael Rosenbaum decided to exit the series. The show was forced to answer the question, “what happens to a Superman show without Lex Luthor?”
Turns out there’s a lack of serious foes for the Man of Steel to take on. We also never really got Lex’s full transition from misunderstood son to evil businessman trying to takeover the world. There was so much left to explore with the character, the comic adaptations haven't even gotten to it all.
6 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: VANDAL SAVAGE
One of the best things about Smallville was its respect for Superman’s history. Producers went out of their way to cast previous Superman actors like Christopher Reeve, Helen Slater and Teri Hatcher. Among them was Dean Cain, who played Curtis Knox, the show’s take on Vandal Savage.
Knox was an immortal doctor who was ending meteor-infected people so he could use their organs to save his wife’s life. Both Clark and Lex understandably had trouble fighting an immortal, with his defeat coming when his wife’s life support was compromised. They never mentioned Vandal Savage, but it was always clear who he was supposed to be. The whole thing felt like a forced story with stunt casting.
5 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: AMANDA WALLER
The great thing about Amanda Waller is we never truly know where she stands. Sometimes she’s protecting metahumans and heroes, sometimes she’s chasing them. This version of the character, played by the legendary Pam Grier, started out wanting the Justice Society back, but later took members of the team.
Once she was revealed as Tess’ boss at Checkmate, things got really interesting. We were prepared for a deep dive into the backstory of Checkmate and what its mission is, however, we got nothing. Unfortunately, that was when she was seemingly written off. Though we were left in limbo, everything we know about Amanda Waller tells us she survived Zod’s attack.
4 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: SLADE WILSON
Slade Wilson has been one of DC’s most popular villains for a long time, so we expected him to appear in Smallville before the show’s end. He showed up as an older general who led the charge for the vigilante registration act. He’s threatened by anything concerning superpowers or metahumans.
Aging the character meant that we didn’t get any of the hallmarks of Deathstroke. His obsession with stopping vigilantes led to him OFFING Justice Society team leader Carter Hall. Recognizing that he was too much of a threat, Clark sent him to the Phantom Zone. This Slade Wilson didn’t resemble anything we knew about the character and was a disappointment -- it's a good thing we eventually got his story on Arrow.
3 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: BOOSTER GOLD
Most superheroes are basically good guys who just want to help people. The exception to this rule is Booster Gold, a hero from the future who knows how to use his popularity for monetary gain. He knows how to put on the persona for the cameras, but privately he will say whatever he wants and doesn’t care what the other heroes think.
This was such a perfect version of the character that it’s a shame he didn’t appear until the final season. One episode with Booster Gold was not enough. We wanted to see him helping Jaime and joining the Justice League.
2 SHOULD'VE NEVER APPEARED: DARKSEID
As one of Superman’s most frequent enemies, Darkseid shows up in a lot of adaptations. Since it’s a live action show, Smallville took a different approach to his appearance. The all-powerful alien overlord usually looks like a giant man with rock like skin. We have to imagine it was budget constraints that led to Darkseid being a malevolent entity that infected those filled with hate and anger.
Things got really crazy when the big final showdown was basically Clark versus some black fog. The whole storyline never took and felt forced because someone wanted to use Darkseid. Something unique to Smallville would have worked better.
1 DIDN'T SEE ENOUGH OF: HAWKMAN
Due to her appearances in animation, Hawkgirl has become more popular and familiar than her fated mate. However, Smallville took the opposite approach by having us meet Carter Hall and hear him discuss his one true love Shayera. The tragedy of his constant resurrection and life without his wife has made Carter bitter and cynical.
Meeting Clark and his friends reminded him of why he became a superhero in the first place, while also providing the young heroes with veteran leadership. Everytime he was on screen we wanted to know more about his life. It helped that he was played by fan favorite Michael Shanks. Ultimately, his end propelled the team on to fight the vigilante registration act, but it left viewers wanting more.