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A Definitive Ranking Of All The Main Characters On "Smallville"

Somebody save me. Warning: spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.

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17. Jason Teague

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Jensen Ackles

First Appearance: “Crusade” (4x01)

Last Appearance: “Commencement” (4x22)

Why He Worked: He furthered season four’s (rather nonsensical) plot as well as he could. He was also a nice distraction from the Clark and Lana romance that many people were getting sick of. Some people might say he worked because he’s Jensen Ackles. That’s about it.

Why He Didn’t: Crippling mommy issues. Nay, crippling mommy issues that were never really discussed. The fact that he turned out to be a bad guy and then nothing came of it. Was a little bit of a jerk. Every question remained unanswered. I know this is because Ackles signed on for two seasons of Smallville and then left early for Supernatural, but that doesn’t change what we actually saw of the character.

16. Whitney Fordman

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Eric Johnson

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Visage” (2x11)

Why He Worked: He was the quintessential bully-turned-sympathetic-character that every high school show needs. Admit it, when Whitney’s dad died and he went off in search of a purpose, you were rooting for him. And if you didn’t like Clark’s creepy Lana stalking, Whitney’s existence was pretty great.

Why He Didn’t: His hair. The fact that he was an archetype sprinkled with clichés. He tied Clark up in a cornfield in the first episode. Mostly his hair.


15. Zod (the clone)

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Callum Blue

First Appearance: “Doomsday” (8x22)

Last Appearance: “Dominion” (10x19)

Why He Worked: Classic Superman villain, obviously. Also, this Zod didn’t need to barrel through everything he saw in the name of special effects. The introduction of Zod was a solid way for Clark to embrace his Kryptonian side and to learn more about the fall of his home planet. Zod made for an interesting, more in-your-face Lex Luthor substitute, and that could be interesting to watch.

Why He Didn’t: Did anyone notice that the actor put on an extra weird accent to play the character? He talked out of his cheeks or something. Like, dude. I’ve seen The Princess Diaries II: Royal Engagement. I know you don’t sound like a total buffoon, Duke Andrew Jacoby. For the sub-par acting, this is where Zod falls on the list.

14. Kara Kent/Kara Zor-El

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Laura Vandervoort

First Appearance: “Bizarro” (7x01)

Last Appearance: “Prophecy” (10x20)

Why She Worked: She’s Supergirl, and that’s awesome. She had a lot to offer Clark about his heritage, too, but in a way where she wasn’t trying to kill him (i.e. Zod). Kara is a good example of girl power and battle strength, which is admirable.

Why She Didn’t: There was an extreme lack of character development. I know this is mostly due to the writers’ strike in 2008, but it’s still a fact. The arc where she lost her memory was confusing and didn’t focus enough on her character, but rather how the experience was affecting Clark. Plus, Kara always seemed a little untrustworthy. Everything she said had the hint of a lie.

13. Pete Ross

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Sam Jones III

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Hero” (7x13)

Why He Worked: Because Gough and Millar insisted on a black actor for a previously canonically white character, and that was awesome. Pete was also a great friend to Clark and helped him out whenever he could, which is pretty much the equivalent of helping out Buffy Summers. Pete was a brave and funny guy, and he was perfect for the high school days of Smallville.

Why He Didn’t: He was perfect for the high school days of Smallville. It was clear the writers and producers didn’t have huge plans for Pete. So, although he and Clark worked well together as young boys, there just wasn’t a foundation solid enough for adulthood. For that, Clark needed badass women…but we’re getting there.

12. Jimmy Olsen

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Aaron Ashmore

First Appearance: “Zod” (6x01)

Last Appearance: “Doomsday” (8x22) or depending, “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: If you weren’t waiting on pins and needles for five full seasons of Jimmy Olsen, you are lying. He’s classic. There was a time where I thought Chloe was Jimmy Olsen, but putting them together made sense. It was pretty cute before it got weird. Jimmy was amusing, a good friend, and not quite as big a screw-up as I expected him to be, and that was nice to see.

Why He Didn’t: HE WASN’T EVEN ACTUALLY JIMMY OLSEN. I can’t stress that enough. He was “Henry James Olsen”, which I can accept, but WHY CALL HIM JIMMY FOR THREE YEARS if you were just going to make the little boy at the funeral the real Jimmy Olsen? But even before any of that, Jimmy got weird about Chloe a lot. Weird to the point where it was freakish and annoying. Plus, remember in season eight where they totally tried to make him an addict and that went nowhere? Yeah, me too.

11. Davis Bloome

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Sam Witwer

First Appearance: “Plastique” (8x02)

Last Appearance: “Doomsday” (8x22)

Why He Worked: His name. It’s the perfect human camouflage name for Doomsday, and we didn’t even notice, probably. Okay, so I didn’t notice until season eight had been over for some time, but whatever. Davis was a great way to show Doomsday as a sympathetic villain rather than just some huge beast, like Doomsday would normally be portrayed. He has a pretty captivating backstory, too, being experimented on by the Luthors and having no idea what he does in the night. Davis represented the struggle between good and evil, human good, and supernatural good, so on and so forth. This, to me, was incredibly well done.

Why He Didn’t: By God, obsessed with Chloe much? She’s not in love with you, dude. She kept telling you that over and over, and you're STILL insisted on her. And you killed her husband! That wasn’t cool, Davis. I know you’re Doomsday, but have a little decency.


10. Jonathan Kent

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: John Schneider

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: Um, maybe because this is Smallville and he’s Pa Kent? This is a really decent adaptation of Jonathan. He’s incredibly moral, and that makes it super easy to see how the boy became Superman. He’s a great father, surprisingly equipped to raise an all-powerful Kryptonian, and he’s brave. All around, Jonathan Kent is just a good man — really all there is to it.

Why He Didn’t: Sometimes (alright, most times) Jonathan is so strictly moral that it gets annoying. He’s a bit too bossy and high-strung, which makes him a hard person to love. Jonathan’s holier-than-thou attitude about most things was always a turn-off concerning the character, but that’s who the character is.

9. Lana Lang

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Kristin Kreuk

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Requiem” (8x14)

Why She Worked: Lana Lang is Clark Kent’s first love interest. We know this, and we expected this going into the show. This incarnation of Lana offers us just that, that perfect amount of innocence and mystery, and it clicks. Personally, I’m not a huge Lana fan, but objectively, I can’t ignore that her character was pretty solid. Yes, she was helpless for a little too long, but once she was dancing with the Luthors? Man, did she turn, and it was cool. By the end of her character arc, Lana is fiercely independent and so far removed from the dainty cheerleader of Smallville High. It’s mightily impressive and in season eight, beautiful to watch. Yes, she gets in the way of Lois and Clark, but Lana really is a finely layered character.

Why She Didn’t: She was too often defined by her relationship with Clark. Even when she was out being an awesome vigilante warrior, all we were really supposed to care about was when and if she and Clark would get back together. Also, Clark and Lana’s romance was dragged out too long, and it got redundant. It would have been nicer to see Lana as totally independent for much longer than she ever was.

8. Tess Mercer

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Cassidy Freeman

First Appearance: “Odyssey” (8x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why She Worked: Tess Mercer was Smallville’s answer to Faith Lehane, the dark Slayer on Buffy. She showed up with the intent to do bad, to look out for her best interest alone, and to satisfy her curiosity about why Lex Luthor would have disappeared. But then, when she leapt into the future, Tess realized she didn’t want to be cruel anymore, and she proceeded to launch a pretty cool redemption arc. By the end of the series, you hardly remember that Tess was a villain. But still, when Tess was a villain, she had strong, loyal game and can be applauded for her astute, evil skills.

Why She Didn’t: Tess could be extremely wishy-washy. She’d go in guns a-blazing, and then as soon as she was faced with the heat, she’d break down and beg forgiveness. While this does foreshadow her ultimate redemption, it makes her villain game weaker than it probably should have been. Also, the quickness and privacy of her death was unfair and perhaps unnecessary to the story.

7. Lionel Luthor

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: John Glover (and Tom Welling in one episode)

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: This is how you do redemption. Lionel goes from an oppressive tyrant to Clark’s ally so seamlessly, you hardly even notice it’s happening. The character is painfully well written, with all his literary allusions and how sneaky he could be (and the number of reasons why). He’s the master of all evil as well as an apprentice of good, and everything he says and does reveals that conflict. Plus, his love for Martha, be it romantic or not, is so genuine and perfectly characterized and makes him seem like a real human.

Why He Didn’t: Lionel’s abusive. Lionel had lots of affairs with lots of women. Lionel pretty much killed Jonathan. (OK, Jor-El killed Jonathan, but we won’t get into that.) Lionel did a lot, a lot, a lot of bad things.

6. Martha Kent

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Annette O’Toole

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why She Worked: Maybe because she’s Ma Kent? So, I used that one before, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Martha Kent is a fantastic mother, a ridiculously smart woman, and her courage is beyond admirable. The woman became a state senator (and did a better job than her husband probably would have). She protected her son with her life every single day. And remember the plot twist where she was season nine’s Red Queen and worked all by herself to tear down Checkmate? Damn, Martha. You rock. Also, you’re gorgeous.

Why She Didn’t: She left the show too soon. Martha forever.


5. Oliver Queen

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Justin Hartley

First Appearance: “Sneeze” (6x02)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: Moral ambiguity, moral ambiguity everywhere. There was a lot of fun to be had watching Oliver struggle between being a deadbeat vigilante and a true hero. Smallville handled his struggle well, and Hartley did a solid job in the role. Oliver is complex, an orphan-turned-castaway-turned confused hero, and he has to deal with that every single day. Nonetheless, he is stronger than the darkness inside him. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting watching him figure it out. The scene in “Finale, Pt. 1” where Clark talks Darkseid out of him still gets me.

Why He Didn’t: For such a complex character who was fleshed out quite decently, Oliver didn’t get as much screen time as he should have. I guess that’s why we have Arrow (although I will defend Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow until the end of time…).

4. Clark Kent

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Tom Welling (and John Glover in one episode)

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: HE IS SUPERMAN. But seriously, you name it, Clark’s got it. Superman is the coolest of superheroes because he teaches that it’s cool to be kind. He’s not in it for the glory. He’s in it because he sees trouble, and he wants to fix it. Do you have any idea how awesome that is? Clark is such a sweet boy, and Welling plays him so earnestly, with just the right amount of geek and suave. What a hero. What a man. And that face.

Why He Didn’t: You can’t have a show about the future Superman without the future Superman, so he kind of works no matter what his flaws are. Nevertheless, the darker sides of three other characters trump our beautiful boy scout on this list.

3. Chloe Sullivan

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Allison Mack (and Erica Durance in one episode)

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale” (10x22)

Why She Worked: Allison Mack. That’s why. The life and dynamic Mack brought to that character week in and week out made Chloe incredible to watch. She’s so real for a super-hacker. Chloe starts as the smartest kid in school with a crush on her best friend — a mega-cliché. And then, she’s the powerhouse, the Watchtower, and in a lot of ways, the shaman of the forming League. Chloe is so many things all at once, and none of them seem unbelievable or impossible to balance. She is so plucky, so intuitive, and such a fierce friend that she makes an excellent role model. I can only hope young girls discover Smallville in the coming years and appreciate Chloe for who she is.

Why She Didn’t: Am I the only one who’s disappointed Chloe didn’t have a big foray into the darkness? She’s so brilliant that it seemed inevitable, and that would have been the BEST redemption arc. I am not bitter that she was not “Lois”, and that’s because Chloe is Chloe. Even still…

2. Lois Lane

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Erica Durance

First Appearance: “Crusade” (4x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why She Worked: Every reason. She worked for every reason. This is arguably the best representation of Lois Lane the Superman canon has ever seen. Lois was always a feminist, even before major feminist movements, and that’s not missing here. She’s crazy tough, knows that just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she’s not worthy of success, and she exudes confidence. At the same time, Lois can be vulnerable, sensitive, and brash, but that’s what makes her Lois Lane. She’s both a disaster and full of grace. Lois Lane is, more often than not, the true hero of this story.

Why She Didn’t: Some people say Lois came into the story too late and people didn’t like her because she interrupted Lana and Chloe. Maybe that’s true. But Lois’ abundant flaws are part of what makes her character so attractive. There’s only one character on the show that might have been handled a bit better…

1. Lex Luthor

Warner Bros. Television

Portrayed By: Michael Rosenbaum

First Appearance: “Pilot” (1x01)

Last Appearance: “Finale, Pt. 2” (10x22)

Why He Worked: Michael Rosenbaum is absolutely terrifying in every respect when he plays this character. And that man is talented. We fans know what Rosenbaum is like when he’s not playing an iconic villain. Lex Luthor is perhaps the finest villain of science fiction/fantasy, and here’s why. He’s everywhere. He’s your chemistry professor, your dad, your best friend…anyone. He makes you trust and love him, and then he just rips you apart. And it’s awful. But actually, it’s awesome. His descent into evil is so perfectly written and even more flawlessly performed (watch the end of season three’s “Shattered” and try not to shiver.). The psychology of the character is just fascinating and brilliantly executed. Lex Luthor was a boy who wanted a brother so badly and never got one, and that’s why he gave up hope and on the good. He had everything he wanted except the most important thing, and that’s why he’s a villain. It’s the story of a lonely heir and the handsome farmboy who deceived him, isn’t it? Lex is brilliant. Rosenbaum was actually Emmy-worthy. Yes, yes, and yes.

Why He Didn’t: Seven seasons of Lex was not enough. But as soon as he said, “Hello, Clark” off screen in the very last episode, it was like he never left.

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