Before we had the Arrowverse, Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the Netflix Defenders world and more X-Men-related programming than you can shake an adamantium claw at, Smallville was trend-settingly representing superheroes, comic book lore and angsty, alien teen melodrama mostly by itself. The show grew out of an abandoned idea for a Batman series that would follow a young Bruce Wayne in a similar “road to the cape” origin story. Because of a Year One movie in development at the time, Bruce Wayne was ditched for Clark Kent instead and Smallville hit TV screens in 2001.
Though the show borrowed heavily from every corner of the Superman mythology (even Krypto the Superdog made an appearance), some decried the BFF-turned-mortal-enemies dynamic between a teenage Clark Kent and a young Lex Luthor, and even questioned whether a Superman show without any Superman in it was interesting enough to exist. That kind of criticism is especially funny to look back at now when we’re up to our eyeballs in origin-heavy superhero shows. Clearly the show worked for enough people too, as Smallville lasted an impressive 10 seasons, and not just on the strength of Tom Welling’s adorkable grin. Its character-driven stories introduced legions of non-comic book literate viewers to the more obscure areas of Superman lore and gave us that unforgettable Justice League roll call shot. Years after its series finale, fans are still memeing the hell out of their favorite show.
15. HOW I MET LEX LUTHOR
Okay, some context for the kids in the class who haven’t sat through at least one episode of How I Met Your Mother. In Season Four’s “Bound” of Smallville, genius, billionaire, playboy,
philanthropist future criminal master mind, Lex Luthor hooked up with a mysterious woman at a swanky party, only to wake up to the sound of his maid screaming bloody murder in the morning.
This was because, well, bloody murder had happened in his bed. The storyline for Lex in this episode was a murder mystery/scandal dreamed up by a former spurned lover, Shannon Bell, who hoped to frame Lex for the girl’s murder. Shannon was played by Cobie Smoulders who later played Robin in How I Met Your Mother. The meme references this crossover, framed — hilariously — with the voice over narration that introduces each episode of HIMYM.
14. TURN UP FOR WHAT
Be honest — you started singing the theme song in your head as soon as you saw this. Theme songs have fallen out of fashion over the last few years, including in superhero shows. These days, we usually get either a brooding instrumental track over stirring images and symbols, or just a title card, a little musical riff and sometimes Barry Allen trying to convince us that being a forensic scientist is an “ordinary” job.
Like most teen dramas of its time (and before), Smallville‘s opening credits featured a sing-a-along pop song and a montage of grinning actors who starred in the show. The song, “Save Me” by Remy Zero, wasn’t written for the series but has become irrevocably tied to it forever, as well as Superman in general. It was even referenced in the New 52’s Action Comics #1 the year Smallville ended.
13. YOU USED TO CALL ME IN THE WATCHTOWER
“Hotline Bling” might be totally 2016 but “Hotline Bling” memes are forever. Years before Stephen Amell was salmon climbing his way into our hearts, Justin Hartley was The One True emerald archer for Smallville fans. Justin’s Green Arrow was a little more lighthearted and chilled out than Stephen’s take on the character (not to mention a few shades blonder.)
Stephen’s version also took a lot longer to accept the green uniform that Justin’s sported right from the jump. One thing they do strangely have in common though are romances with fast-talking, blonde, tech-savvy women who provided logistical and cyber support for them and their teams. Smallville‘s Chloe Sullivan and Arrow‘s Felicity Smoak prove that clearly TV adaptations of Oliver Queen have a very specific type. Are you Team Olicity or Team Chlollie?
12. THERE’S ALWAYS MONEY IN THE HAY STAND, CLARK
One of the things that’s easiest to poke fun at in any show in the fantasy heroism genre is how easily and quickly the fallout from the heroes’ destructive encounters is cleared up. The girls’ house in Charmed was regularly blown up and miraculously put back together again every week. Monsters Of The Week often ripped apart Sunnydale in Buffy only for the evidence to be gone by the following day.
Similarly, the Kent farm in Smallville saw more than its fair share of meteor attacks, laser vision holes, wall-blasting super sneezes, and — as this meme references — the trusty ol’ Kent family truck being crashed into, rolled over and flung around corn fields like a leaf in a storm. Luckily, Jonathan always seemed to have a few extra dollars stashed under a milk pail for repairs.
11. WORTH THE WAIT..?
Is that Tom Welling up with emotion? (Sorry…) Even though this meme is objectively pretty funny, Smallville was never meant to be a superhero story, whereas Supergirl is. Hence why Supergirl is called Supergirl and Smallville isn’t called “Superman.” Creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar pitched and successfully sold the show on a “no tights or flights” premise. Instead, we got super jumping and red and blue t-shirts.
The goal at least for the first six or seven seasons was to tell the story of Clark Kent wrestling with his Kryptonian identity and trying to keep his powers under-wraps, while also being unable to resist using them for good. After Season Seven, Gough and Miller left the show with no given explanation, and the Superman end goal suddenly came into much clearer focus.
Before Jensen Ackles started driving round America hunting demons, trying to prevent the apocalypse and having bromantic conversations with Jared Padalecki on the hood of the “Metallicar” as Dean Winchester in Supernatural, he was Smallville‘s Jason Teague. Jason appeared in Season Four as Lana Lang’s new boyfriend after romancing her during her Paris vacay.
As well as being the son of the sultry and villainous, Genevieve Teague, who had ties to the Luthors, Jason’s other role in the show was as Smallville High’s assistant football coach, which Clark had recently convinced a skeptical Jonathan Kent to allow him to join. This created some pretty awkward tension between the two, given Clark’s unrequited love for Lana. Luckily, Clark only had to wait until the end of the season to be rid of his new rival.
9. WORLD OF PLEATHER
Okay, so the costumes in Smallville weren’t terrible but we can all admit that the CW wardrobe department has come a long way since the show ended. To be fair, Green Arrow and Black Canary looked perfectly respectable, though the smear of charcoal instead of a mask across Dinah’s eyes was never going to fool anyone. The redesign for Aquaman was smart but did also kind of make him look like an Olympic swimmer doing poolside warm-ups.
When it came to the more ostentatious costumes of Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, things certainly started looking a little too obviously televisual. A lot of fans felt that they appeared to be too fake and cheap looking, and it’s certainly easy to unfavorably compare them with what we see in the Arrowverse these days. But hey, sometimes it’s good to see how far things have come.
8. GETTING UP TO SPEEDING BULLET SPEED
There were so many different types of Kryptonite in Smallville that an extended version of this chart would actually make for a pretty useful collectors item with the DVD boxsets. Green K makes him look like he’s going to puke while Red K seems to turn him into one of the “T-Birds” from Grease along with magically giving him motorcycle-riding abilities. There’s also Blue K that suppresses his powers (like Green K actually does in the comics and other media.)
Gold K is possibly the most dangerous — able to inflict injuries on Kryptonians and even sap their powers away forever. Then there are also the artificially forged versions: Black, Gemstone, Clear and Silver that can do anything from split people into “good” and “bad” personas or make them easy to seduce. Whoever made this meme clearly wished there was a form that could make Chloe disappear, too…
7. HOSTILE TAKEOVER
Eagle-eyed fans of both Smallville and Arrow may have noticed that Lex Luthor and Oliver Queen seem to have very similar tastes in real estate — and they’d be right to think that. The two billionaire families actually have the exact same taste because The CW reused the same mansion for both shows. Well, the outside of it at least.
The exterior shots in both series’ are of Hatley Castle in Colwood, British Columbia. Locations like this that are evocative of a certain period or have a particular feel to them are often reused in TV show and films. In fact, as well as Smallville and Arrow, Hatley Castle served as the Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men films, and as Fair Haven in The Witches of East End series.
6. TELL ME AGAIN ABOUT HOW THESE ARE THE WORST COSTUMES?
Usually with the gift of hindsight, things can look much better or worse than they actually were. Obviously, whoever made this meme must have been getting a little sick and tired of people ribbing their favorite superhero show for falling short in the costume department. Certainly, Smallville could have done a lot better with some of the Justice League’s looks.
Cyborg really just looks like a guy wearing a silver hoodie while Clark just looks like… a guy. Just a normal, sort of muscly guy. And sure, some capes would been cool to see in this line-up, too. But, as this meme points out with its collection of “blasts from the past,” things have certainly been a lot worse back when nobody other than Tim Burton really took comic book properties that seriously on-screen.
5. TOM WELLING IS THE ONE TRUE TV SUPERMAN
There was much debate sparked when it was announced that the notoriously Superman-less show, Supergirl, was going to bring in Kara’s famous cousin for Season Two. The debate focussed mainly around whether it would detract from Kara’s efforts to establish herself on her own and then, inevitably, on who would be donning the spandex. Who would be the next TV Superman?
Of course, though Tyler Hoechlin ended up doing a fantastic job in what must be a pretty daunting role to play, Smallville fans couldn’t help but hold their breath waiting to see whether or not Tom Welling would be reprising it. Having never really seen Tom actually be Superman it certainly would have been a great payoff for long-time CW viewers but one that, sadly, it looks like we’ll never get to see.
4. SECRET ORIGIN STORY?
These days, Amy Adams is better known to DC fans as the Snyder-verse’s Lois Lane, first appearing in the film that rebooted the DCCU, Man of Steel in 2013. But, she’s actually been part of the Superman world for much longer than that. As this meme reminds us, Amy first appeared in Season One of Smallville in 2001 in the episode “Craving” — though you’d have a hard time recognizing her.
Amy played Jodi Melville, an overweight teenager determined to lose weight. Unfortunately, her strict diet of carrot shakes got contaminated with meteor rocks (Green Kryptonite) causing her to become a “Meteor Freak.” The pounds magically melted away but Jodi was also transformed into a ravenous predator, nearly taking out Clark. Presumably, she then changed her name, moved to Metropolis and got her journalism degree after fleeing town.
3. BOYFRIEND MATERIAL
It seemed that pretty much everyone dated Lana Lang before Clark got a chance to in Smallville. First, there was Whitney Fordman, the Homecoming King and football star of Smallville High. He joined the army after graduating and was killed in action in Indonesia. Once they broke up, Clark could have swept in if Lana hadn’t run off to Paris straight into the arms of the hunky Jason Teague.
They seemed happy together until Lana got possessed by a witch, Jason got possessed by insanity and he too ended up dead by the end of Season Four, giving Lana a disturbing track record. Clark also had to watch nearly every new male character who featured as the Villain Of The Week make puppy dog eyes at Lana before he summoned up the courage to finally ask her on a date.
2. IT GETS BETTER, KIDS
It may be easy to make fun of now that a live action version has finally been brought to the big screen but Smallville‘s Justice League still holds a warm place in many fans’ hearts. Up until this awesome “walking away from an explosion” money shot in Season Six, seeds for a team-up like this had been sewn in the show by way of introducing League members separately across different episodes.
The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Green Arrow were all known affiliates of Clark — they just needed the impetus to unite. And, what better impetus than blowing up a shady Lex Luthor project? After this, Smallville even introduced viewers to some DC history by way of a feature-length special in Season Nine, “Absolute Justice,” about the Justice Society, which was penned by Geoff Johns.
1. I’M NOT CYRING, YOU’RE CRYING!
Though Smallville is up in that special place in the sky where dead TV shows go, Supergirl is doing a similarly great job continuing the Man of Steel’s legacy on the small screen. Okay, so it would have been even better if Smallville could have been part of the new Arrowverse, especially considering it kicked off the current wave of DC shows dominating the schedule.
It’s kind of like the injustice of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy being left out of current DCCU continuity after getting the ball rolling again for its new generation of films. Still, we’ve seen some nice torch-passing gestures in Supergirl like Smallville‘s Kara, Laura Vandevoort, making a guest appearance. And it’s hard not to look at this side-by-side above and feel your eyes start to moisten a little…
Which Smallville meme is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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