Holding onto ‘Smallville’ a decade after its finale

Ten years ago, today, “Smallville’s” finale soared onto our television screens and brought the decade-long Superman story to a close. This original take on the Man of Steel’s origins inspired a generation. That’s why we always hold onto Smallville.

8 mins read

There’s no doubt about it. The decade-long series that depicted an original take on Superman’s origins left quite a legacy in its wake.

“Smallville” ran for 10 years on what is now known as The CW. It inspired millions and lives on in the hearts of fans across the planet.

Even though I failed at my attempt to review the entire final season (I apologize –– there’s only so much an unpaid editor-in-chief can do), I still recognize this show as my all-time favorite. 

Starting Oct. 16, 2001, Smallville premiered to an audience of over 8.4 million. The “Superman and Lois’” premiere episode was watched by a total of 3.25 million. The “Smallville” series premiere played to 3 million viewers. 

As the show progressed, so did the reputation of comicdom. Once perceived as a geeky medium reserved for “nerdy” people, “Smallville” excelled the popularity of the superhero genre into the twenty-first century. 

Lois (Erica Durance) and Clark (Tom Welling) at the Daily Planet in “Smallville’s” series finale. Photo courtesy of The CW

The show covered a wide array of DC Comics’ characters and played host to meta-humans, alien invasions, sorcery-enhanced individuals and everything else one could think of in its decade-long run. 

All of these tales circled around the origins of young Clark Kent. We literally witnessed the coming-of-age story for the world’s first and greatest superhero and it felt so real and organic. 

From learning of his true origins, to (almost) marrying the intrepid reporter Lois Lane. “Smallville” covered everything. It was dramatic, cinematic and heartfelt. Even those who were unfamiliar with the Superman mythos fell in love.

Amassing an ever-growing fanbase, this completely original take on Superman altered superhero history forever. The world changed when Tom Welling took the mantle. “Smallville’s” legacy is still reflected in TV culture to this day.

Ten years of overcoming villains. Ten years of caring and compassionate heroes. Ten years of possibly the most inspiring Superman saga to date. Let’s revisit the wonderful world of Smallville. 

The season starts in October 1989. The Smallville High Crows are parading down the street in athletic prowess as Johnathan (John Schneider) and Martha Kent (Annete O’Toole) visit Nel Lang’s (Sarah-Jane Redmond) main street floral shop. 

As the loving couple drives to their family farm a destructive meteor shower, debris from the destroyed planet Krypton, falls on the picturesque little town. The falling Kryptonite kills Lana’s parents and rains fire on the rest of Smallville, nearly destroying the hamlet. Meanwhile, a craft carrying a small boy lands in front of Johnathan and Martha.

11 years later a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) starts his first year of high school. As Clark discovers his true origins, he learns how to articulate his extraordinary gifts to save his family and friends from harm. The Kansas farm boy faces off against a new foe week after week, all while he navigates his relationships with Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), Pete Ross (Sam Jones III), Whitney Fordman (Eric Johnson) and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack).

Extra strain is placed on Clark’s friendships as he hides his true nature, the fact that he’s an alien from outer space with god-like powers, from those he loves. 

Supported by his parents Johnathan and Martha, Clark learns how to control his powers and keep his friends safe. 

The second season of “Smallville” picks up immediately after the first. Clark continues to deal with his complicated relationships and powers, Smallville is recovering from a tornado and Lional Luthor (John Glover) comes to town, set to wreak more havoc than the twister and meteor shower combined.

Clark’s sophomore year has an incendiary launch and his power development staggers when he discovers a new vulnerability to Red Kryptonite.

Meanwhile, Clark’s relationship with Lana grows more romantic as his friendship with Chloe cultivates arduousness. Things grow more convoluted after Pete, Clark’s closest and oldest best friend, uncovers the truth about him. 

After unwittingly causing a jarring accident on the family farm, Clark, under the influence of Red Kryptonite, runs away to nearby Metropolis in an effort to escape his troubles.

After spending many tortured months in the City of Tomorrow, Clark returns home thanks to the guidance of Johnathan Kent. Clark’s past actions cause Lana to reflect on their relationship and the two settle as friends.

After years of denial, Clark begins to embrace his “destiny,” which has become an overarching storyline for the entire series. After all, everyone is concerned with where they’ll end up. Clark more than most.

Trouble grows as Clark’s heroics become more frequent. His friendship with Pete dissolves under the extensive constraint pushed into the high school junior’s life. The knowledge of Clark’s burden proves quite cumbersome as Pete feels compelled to leave Smallville forever, which he does.

Season three comes to a twisted end when a brainwashed girl calling herself Kara shows up at the Kent’s front stoop. She’s there on behalf of the artificial intelligence of Jor-El, Kal’s deceased birth father from Krypton, but not everything is as it seemed. 

Season four launches off with many major historic moments in the “Smallville” Superman mythos. Clark, under the guise of brainwashed Kal-El, takes first flight and Lois Lane makes a stark entrance into the series.

As Clark’s senior year commences, an entirely new set of problems arise for the would-be-super. Clark learns his invulnerability has further limitations besides color-coded Kryptonite at the hands of a possessed Lana Lang while concurrently undertaking the daunting task of belonging, something Clark has always struggled with.

The seeds of mistrust grow further enrooted within the former friendship of Lex and Clark as the Kansas farm boy’s mistrust in the Metropolis billionaire grows with each passing day.  

Clark’s relationships sway either negative or positive as his “secret” causes those he loves to doubt his motives more and more. Some learn of his true nature while others grow weary of his constant secrecy. I guess that’s the convoluted complicated life that comes with a secret identity.

As Clark pushes forward through his final year in high school, an overshadowing cloud of doom and destruction builds on the horizon of Smallville. When graduation arrives, so does the destructive force of Krypton in the form of another, much larger, meteor shower. 

The fifth year of “Smallville” deals with the aftermath of the hamlet’s second calamitous meteor downpour. As Clark, Chloe, Lois and Lana deal with life after high school, Lex and Johnathan face off for the Kansas state senate seat.

Worlds continue to collide as Krypton’s past proceeds to haunt Earth. Brainiac and rogue Kryptonians bring unwanted attention to the Kents and their friends while synchronously bringing further interstellar threats to the heartland.

Further heartbreak grips the heartland after a treasured loved one tragically dies, shattering Clark. He soon found solace in friendship as a super team-up brought justice to an unjust corporation.

Clark and Lex cultivate levels of deeper acrimony for each other as Lana grows emotionally closer to the latter. Krypton’s destructive force trickles from Smallville into nearby Metropolis when General Zod, possessing Lex Luthor, infiltrates the city and the world.

After the events of “Dark Thursday,” which witnessed the destructive might that threatens us from the stars, Clark seeks out escaped prisoners from a pocket dimension called the Phantom Zone.

His sought after retribution is based in grief leaving Clark more vulnerable than ever before. 

Unlikely paths cross as Clark inches closer and closer to his destiny while attempting to recapture the universe’s worst escaped convicts. 

Meanwhile, Lex becomes increasingly unhinged after Lional, his father, develops a closer, yet complex, bond with the Kent family.

The seventh consecutive season of “Smallville” is one that expresses the tethering point in the series. This season is somewhat stagnant in my personal opinion, but it did depict a significant amount of character building.

One of DC Comics’ most iconic superheroes soared into Smallville seeking her young baby cousin Kal-El. Kara’s notable presence confirmed many theories for the unstable Lex Luthor.

Chloe explores her newfound talent for healing and subsequently sympathises with meteor enhanced individuals. In Metropolis, intrepid Lois Lane is hired to the Daily Planet. A momentous moment in all history. 

As the second half of the seventh year rolled out, unexpected turns brought unexpected development. Lex murdered his father, attempted to kill Clark and fell so far into the pits of villainy that only Darkseid would be able to bring him back. 

Season eight provided a fresh, yet necessary, new feel to the series as Clark begins working alongside Lois at the famed Daily Planet. Destiny grows increasingly clear as Clark super-speeds throughout the Metropolis streets saving lives.

Recently coined as the “Red-Blue Blur” by Lois, Clark becomes a new symbol of hope and heroism for the world. 

While Lex is presumed dead, and Lana has left Smallville for good, Clark also meets new characters Davis Bloome, Smallville’s interpretation of Doomsday, as well as the new CEO of LuthorCorp, Tess Mercer.

Season eight also bore witness to a significant tonal shift in Lois and Clark’s relationship as the duo grew increasingly romantic. 

A newly resurrected General Zod, and his correlating army of Kandor, find themselves trapped on an alien planet without any powers. Vulnerable, Zod and his legion look to Clark for safety and guidance. 

Season nine was an epic tale of refugees on an inter-planetary scale. Zod’s further dissidance caused division among his ranks and Clark, leaving multiple Kryptonians and humans dead. A true “Smallville” tale. 

In the end, the truth prevailed and Zod’s calamity led to his cataclysmic undoing. Season nine also bore witness to the first live action interpretation of the famed Justice Society of America, a precursor to today’s Justice League. 

This season was well blended with “Smallville’s” unique feel mixed with the weekly endeavours featured in “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

The end. Or the beginning? I guess it all depends on the outlook. As the decade-long television series came to a climactic conclusion, many loose ends needed neat tying.

Kara returns to embrace her own destiny, Lex is resurrected through cloning, Superboy makes an appearance and Lois and Clark’s relationship grows stronger as he shares his secret with the love of his life. A significant factor given the hesitance he’s had in the past. Clark finally had a confidant who could keep him grounded while reminding him how special he truly is. 

Season 10 felt more like a Superman comic than any previous one. Metropolis was buzzing with news of increased vigilantism, heroes were emerging thanks to Clark’s inspiration and a dastardly fiend emerged from the shadows attempting to overturn everything. 

As Darkseid made his disappointing appearance, Clark and Lois planned their happily ever after while attempting to balance Kent’s alter ego and Lane’s increasing notoriety in the world of journalism.

As literal hell gravitated towards Metropolis, the blur facade dissolved and a new hero was born. Clark finally accepted his gifts and embraced his destiny, becoming the world’s ultimate protector – Superman. 

Although the series finale was somewhat disappointing (we didn’t even get to see Welling in the suit), it was entertaining. “Smallville’s” legacy shimmered through and a decade of patiently waiting for Superman kind of paid off.

Season 11 Comic

Though season 11 was strictly comic book based, it saw the expansion of the DC Universe in that realm. Batman, Wonder Woman and many other heroes emerged within the pages of “Smallville: Season 11” and left me wishing that this happened on the recently concluded CW show.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

In an existential nostalgic filled reunion, fans return to the Kent Farm to see Clark (Welling) without powers face off against The CW’s latest Lex Luthor (John Cryer). We learn that Clark and Lois  (Durrance) are married and are living a quiet and happy life on the Smallville farm with two young daughters. After Clark faces Lex, who later leaves for another dimension, he and Lois walk hand in hand to the classic sunflower colored ranch home. 

Smallville inspired me. It helped sway my career decision and galvanized a path to the Planet. Witnessing Lois and Clark’s early journalistic strides made me wish the Daily Planet was real. I held onto this inspiration until 2014 when I started @DailyPlanetDC emboldened by “Smallville,” Superman’s legacy and “Man of Steel” combined. Without this show, the Daily Planet would remain a thing of fiction. That’s why I’ll “always hold on to Smallville.”

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.


  1. Truly enjoyed your posting, since Smallville is my favourite show of all time, like you!

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