As television’s longest-running superhero-based show thus far, "Smallville" saw the introduction of many of DC’s famed heroes to the small screen. But of course, you can’t have heroes without villains, so with each hero came a villain to rival them. Some of these villains are taken right out of the pages of their comic books, whereas others were introduced with no comic backstory at all.
Towards the beginning of the show, the villains were weekly metahumans who the then teenaged Clark Kent had to stop from killing or decimating the town, all the while cultivating a friendship with Lex Luthor. As the show (and the characters) grew, viewers were introduced to the more sinister Lex we know from "Superman" lore, as well as other characters we are very familiar with.
15 LEX LUTHOR
The first time we meet the adult Lex Luthor, his father has sent him to Smallville, a small town in the middle of nowhere, to run the LuthorCorp plant on the edge of town. While being a typical rich city boy with a shaded past, Lex is essentially good, a far cry from the arch-nemesis of Superman that we know he will become. So when he forges a friendship with the teenaged Clark Kent, we know that their friendship is doomed from the start.
Clark’s friendship is one of the things that keeps Lex’s darkness at bay, shown many times throughout the series. Lex will research Clark, Clark finds out, Clark tells him their friendship is over, Lex promises he’ll stop, and the vicious cycle repeats. At first, Clark believes him, but as he grows older and less gullible, their friendship falls apart and Lex gives into that darker part of him. Oliver Queen eventually kills the original Lex Luthor in season 8.
14 DARK ARCHER
Those of you familiar with comic lore (or perhaps the show "Arrow") will be familiar with the character of Merlyn, sometimes referred to as the Dark Archer. But for "Smallville’s" sake, the character of the Dark Archer is mostly original. The title is not, but the character Vordigan, a former teacher of Oliver Queen’s, is. The background is wholly different, but he is no less deadly than the Merlyn of the comic books.
While traditionally a villain for the Green Arrow, who is the focus of that particular episode (as is the phrase “no lovers, no allies, no disciples”), Clark does get tangled up in Oliver’s mess after Lois gets shot. After preventing the deaths of Speedy, Oliver, and Vordigan, the Dark Archer gets locked up. The last time we see him, he is part of the Toyman’s league of villains called the Marionette Ventures, assigned to take out the Green Arrow.
13 SILVER BANSHEE
Not entirely different from her comic book counterpart, Siobhan McDougal was the daughter of the patriarch of a Gaelic clan. Ruling the clan would have been her birthright, but instead, her brother Bevan usurped her birthright, and then killed her (in the comics, he interrupts a sacred ritual that kills her, while in the show, it is unclear). She was allowed to return to the mortal world, but at a price. Since she was killed by a man, she was cursed to kill men. As the McDougal Inn owner states, “Any that crossed her path.”
We only see Silver Banshee once, in season 9. Clark takes Lois on a romantic weekend getaway to a little Scottish place called the McDougal Inn. While checking in, Lois accidentally sets Siobhan free by scratching a portrait on the wall, and once they realise that Chloe and Oliver have chosen the same Inn for their weekend getaway, things just go from bad to worse. The episode itself may have been silly, but Silver Banshee did almost end up killing Clark, and would have succeeded if not for Chloe’s interference.
12 MARGARET ISOBEL THOREAUX
One of the more fascinating players in the earlier seasons, Countess Margaret Isobel Thoreaux (or Isobel, more commonly) was an ancestor of Clark Kent’s friend and primary love interest, Lana Lang. Burned at the stake as a witch in 1604, Isobel was dead long before the birth of her descendant Lana, but once Lana purchases her spell book and touches it, Isobel’s life force possesses her and wreaks havoc on the small town, and anyone that could help her find the “stones of power.”
With her followers possessing Chloe and Lois, the witches three throw a party at Clark’s barn, and the viewers learn for the first time that their magic does affect Clark. It’s the alcohol equivalent for a guy like him, with super-tolerance, and it’s a very bad thing when the guy from Princeton comes to interview him and he’s drugged out of his mind. Isobel may not be necessarily as deadly as some others, but she can certainly do some damage, and has the ability to hurt Clark, as well as bend him to her will.
11 THE UNHOLY TRINITY
The “Unholy Trinity” refers to the disciples or minions of Darkseid: in the show, orphanage owner Granny Goodness, radio host and proclaimed hero-hater Gordon Godfrey, and club owner and serial killer Desaad. Granny Goodness is seen to have powerful telepathy and mental manipulation, as well as telekinesis, whereas Godfrey has the power of persuasion. His actual ability is never referenced in the show as a “power,” although it is in the comics. Desaad also has a telekinetic ability, as well as an uncanny ability to bring out the worst in people, the seven deadly sins in particular.
Throughout season 10, the heroes have their own run-ins with each of Darkseid’s minions, and although each of them come out of it relatively unscathed, Desaad does succeed in marking Oliver with the omega, which we know is a symbol of the darkness infecting him. Through him, the Unholy Trinity nearly succeeds in disabling Clark permanently – luckily, Clark is able to talk Oliver through it and he manages to survive the gold kryptonite ring.
10 TESS MERCER
One of those characters created purely for the show’s purposes, Tess Mercer is first seen as the new head of LuthorCorp after the disappearance and apparent death of Lex Luthor at the end of season 7 (she appears in the first episode of season 8). According to Oliver, whom we later learn has quite the history with her, she is more cutthroat and more ruthless than Lex ever was, and viewers quickly learn that he’s not wrong.
However, her sides change rather frequently. Tess has what one might call a god complex, so she’s a complicated, multi-faceted character. Once she learns that Lex had been following her, stalking her, she changes a bit, and although she hits a few rough patches (along with learning that she is Lionel Luthor’s biological daughter), she ultimately ends up as a member of the early Justice League, taking over Chloe’s mantle of “Watchtower.” Deadly with all of LuthorCorp under her control, certainly, Tess decides to take her fate into her own hands, and ultimately, she dies fighting against the Earth-2 version of her biological father.
9 CHECKMATE & AMANDA WALLER
In a "Smallville" sense, there’s not much known about Checkmate, except that they want all metahumans contained and controlled. Waller attempts to communicate with others, including Lois Lane, and it is due to Checkmate’s Icicle that members of the Justice Society of America end up dead (although, it makes for an awesome two-parter episode where the remaining Justice Society members like Dr. Fate and Hawkman team up with the Justice League – even if they’re not quite called that yet).
They make it very clear that Checkmate controls the board, and in many ways it’s very true. They end up very curious about Watchtower, and it is through Checkmate that we learn more about Tess Mercer, and quite a bit of character development on her part. They’re not necessarily deadly towards Clark, because they don’t know much about him, but they manage to capture Oliver and do nearly kill Chloe. Organisations as a whole (like the VRA in season 10, which isn’t mentioned here) tend to be pretty detrimental to the whole hero/vigilante thing.
Given the nature of his introduction, there are definitely parts of Bizarro’s storyline that any self-respecting "Smallville" fan has blocked from their memory, but here are the basics. Lex, possessed by Zod, sends Clark to the Phantom Zone to live out the rest of his days in misery. He manages to escape, but here’s the deal: in doing so, he lets out all these phantoms – called “Zoners.” These Zoners, they’re pretty creepy and dangerous, so Clark spends basically all his time rounding them up, and enlists Chloe into helping him – he ends up becoming a pretty crappy friend.
Bizarro is one of those phantoms. He takes a piece of Clark’s DNA and traps him, all the while playing the role of Clark himself in his new domestic life with Lana, who, funnily enough, doesn’t mind this rougher, new Clark. (If her marriage to Lex wasn’t enough of a clue, you’d think that this would make them all notice how screwed up Lana actually is.) Even better? Bizarro has all of Clark’s powers, but none of his weaknesses. In fact he can absorb Kryptonite, for one thing. Clark manages to find a way to defeat him eventually, but it’s Lana who strikes the killing blow, not Clark.
7 LIONEL LUTHOR
Lionel Luthor is one of the more fascinating characters on this list. He’s certainly not a hero: he’s killed enough people and he’s ruined enough lives to be called a bad guy. But unlike most villains, he does, sometimes, seem to have a heart. Although, you never really know if he’s actually just trying to further his goals by cozying up to Martha Kent or if he genuinely cares about her. Either way, he does become a vessel for Jor-El, Clark’s biological father, and he does end up helping Clark and his team before his death – even if some of his motives are still questionable.
Remember that time he built that Kryptonite cage to control Clark? Please. That can’t have been a perfectly normal thing to do. But then on the flipside, he died protecting Clark’s secret from Lex, who’d become obsessed with finding "the Traveler," who turned out to be Clark – because of course, who else could be the alien that came to Earth? But despite his sometimes good intentions, Lionel was a pretty vicious person; he’d done terrible things. Clark certainly always seemed to expect the worst of him – although, Clark does have that tendency to place blame on those who, in whichever case, are perfectly innocent.
Now here’s a guy. Winslow Schott is a name you might be familiar with from the current CW show "Supergirl," although this isn’t the guy you’re thinking of. In "Smallville," Schott was an inventor, a brilliant guy who worked for Queen Industries. That is, until he sort of just went off his rocker, so Oliver fired him. Schott didn’t like that very much. The first time we see him, the presumed dead Lex Luthor had hired him to get revenge on Oliver, which seemed to work pretty well.
Toyman himself isn’t necessarily dangerous – no powers or anything to be particularly afraid of, but his laugh is kind of creepy and the fact that he is so unstable is exactly what makes him terrifying. You never know what he’s going to do – everything he does is part of a game, and you never know where it ends. He manages to almost get Oliver killed a number of times, if not for Clark’s super-saves, and it’s because of Schott (inadvertently, of course) that Oliver manages to kill Lex Luthor for good.
5 CLARK LUTHOR
So, everyone always says that Clark became such a good and loving person because he was raised by the Kents, right? Well, what if he wasn’t? That’s exactly who Clark Luthor is. On Earth-2, it was Lionel Luthor who found the baby Kal-El that day during the meteor shower. Just like Lex, Clark was raised to be a monster. And he performed that duty admirably – he became Earth-2’s greatest and most terrifying supervillain. They even called him Ultraman. So, you’re imagining that, right? Imagine if that supervillain managed to find a way to live on Earth Prime, while locking Clark away on Earth-2.
He’s the mirror version of Clark, basically, with all the same powers and the same birth parents, except he was raised by a man who wanted to use him, to whatever nefarious end. Earth-2 Lionel is pretty creepy too, more so than the Lionel that our Clark had grown to know and even sort of trust.
4 DOOMSDAY (DAVIS BLOOME)
So we’ve all heard of Doomsday. There was even that cartoon based on the “Death of Superman” comic storyline, which is just awesome. Supremely sad and altogether amazing, I can safely say that although this storyline is infinitely different, the end result is just as devastating, ending in the death of a beloved character. Davis Bloome, as it turns out, was sent to Earth in a spaceship the same way Clark was, except that he wasn’t a boy. He was…a creature that turned into a boy.
But the thing is, Davis has been raised as a human, right? Because no one knows any better. He becomes a paramedic, and he’s honestly a good person. He and Chloe sort of gain this mutual attraction, except Chloe’s engaged to Jimmy Olsen. And while the wedding comes closer and closer, Davis becomes more and more of a monster, and ends up kidnapping her in his monster form, which ends up with Chloe getting possessed by Brainiac, and by the end of the season, Davis ends up killing Jimmy out of pure jealousy and rage. So sure, Doomsday was the monster, but in the end had Davis been any less deadly than his counterpart’s bloodlust?
Darkseid is essentially the devil of myth. Any sort of demon figure in any sort of mythology, be it Lucifer or Hades, that’s him. He’s totally domineering, manipulative, and more than a little masochistic. He has the ability to possess others, except those who are pure of heart. The kicker? Guess what, Clark isn’t pure of heart. Not yet, anyway. He’s still too weighed down by his past, which is a great thing to talk about since Darkseid was the villain for the tenth and final season of the show. Eventually, Clark emerges as Superman, pure of heart, with the ability to defeat this thing – to actually, physically, push the planet Apokolips back from actually destroying the entire earth.
But a powerful demon who can possess basically anyone and bring out the worst in humanity? That’s just awful, and through Oliver and a wedding ring made out of gold Kryptonite (previously mentioned under “Unholy Trinity”), he nearly succeeds in removing Clark as an obstacle. Not to mention that when Darkseid finally confronts him face-to-face (well, sort of), Clark is able to accept his destiny, and he takes to the skies. There’s not much more Darkseid can do, so in the end, he’s defeated.
If you’ve seen either the Christopher Reeve films or the more recent "Man of Steel," you’ll be intimately familiar with General Zod. And as far as "Smallville," the most interesting thing about Zod is that we see two different incarnations of him. We see the version that uses Lex Luthor as a vessel and wreaks havoc on Metropolis, the one that sends Clark to the Phantom Zone at the end of season five…but we also have Major Zod, who does not come to Earth alone. This version of Zod comes with a whole squadron of Kandorian(the inhabitants of a Kryptonian city) warriors – who, thankfully, do not have the powers they should have under the yellow sun.
Zod is manipulative and rather unstable, and at least half the time, he has Tess Mercer under his thumb. However, he’s greedy and he wants those powers that he believes are his birthright. He and Clark end up going head-to-head, and not only was he the one who murdered a fellow Kandorian, but also he stabbed Clark with a blade made out of blue Kryptonite – the kind that turns him basically mortal when he’s around it, just like how green weakens him. If Lois hadn’t been watching, and hadn’t removed the blade, Zod would have succeeded in killing him.
Brainiac is first introduced in season 5, as Clark’s college history professor, Milton Fine. Clark gravitates to him rather quickly, because he’s learned that Fine is working on a book to expose LuthorCorp, and at this point, Clark wants Lex and Lionel to be exposed for what they are. He even ends up convincing Clark that he is a Kryptonian like Clark is – which is sort of true, except for the fact that Brainiac is not a person, he’s a machine. Also, he causes constant trouble for the show’s heroes, whether it be Clark, Kara, Lana, or Chloe – or even Oliver, indirectly.
Each time Brainiac goes after them, Clark defeats him. And then somehow, he later returns, to be defeated each time. As for the last time, he takes possession of Chloe’s body and this time, you really think she’s going to die. The Legion comes back from the future and basically tells Clark that there’s no other way to expel Brainiac, except to kill the host. Well, Clark proves them wrong, and Chloe’s saved. They take Brainiac to the future where they then reprogram him for their purposes.
Think we goofed in our assessment? Tell us in the comments which Smallville villain you feel is the most dangerous!