These days there is so much DC superheroes shows on television that you have to schedule your life to keep up with it all. There’s ‘Supergirl’ on Monday, ‘The Flash’ on Tuesday, ‘Arrow’ on Wednesday and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ on Thursday. But flashback to 2001 when ‘Smallville’ first premiered and it was a bright shining beacon in a television landscape practically bereft of super powered folk. And the fact that it lasted for an entire decade is an astounding feat.
On October 16 the show turned 15 and, while I may be a bit late, I wanted to countdown the top characters. Now I will be counting down regular show characters so no guest stars will be included. So while I loved James Marsters as Braniac and Christoper Reeve as Dr Virgil Swan this list is only for series regulars so they do not make the cut. I found 17 regulars so honourable mentions go to Eric Johnson as Lana’s jock boyfriend Whitney Ford and Jensen Ackles as Jason Teague, another Lana love interest who was secretly trying to get his hands on Kryptonian stones.
That’s enough talk. Let’s get to the list faster than a speeding bullet:
#15 Sam Jones III/Pete Ross, Regular Season 1-3, Guest Star Season 7
Oh Pete. You were such a loyal friend to Clark. But you were just so, meh. You came, you went, you did not make much of a difference. Sorry dude.
#14 Samuel Witwer, Davis Bloome/Doomsday, Season 8
I am fan of Witwer and enjoyed him in ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Being Human’. But as an EMT with the Doomsday monster inside him he was a one trick pony that was dragged out for an entire season. And that ended up dragging down the entire eighth season. It did not help that the final battle with Doomsday lasted all of two seconds.
#13 Aaron Ashmore/Jimmy Olsen, Guest in Season 6, Regular Season 7
Can anyone tell the Ashmore twins apart? I can’t. But this Ashmore twin played the chirpy photographer Jimmy who is memorable as a love interest for Chloe and for getting impaled with a steel pipe by the aforementioned Davis Bloome. Raw deal man. But it was revealed that he was the older brother of the Jimmy Olsen from the comics so I guess consolation prize? I don’t know.
#12 Laura Vandervoot/Kara, Regular Season Seven, Guest in Seasons 8 & 10
Laura Vandervoot is a statuesque goddess and her Kara not-yet-Supergirl was decent but a tad bland. It was nice seeing a second super powered hero on a regular basis but like Pete she kind of came and went without making a huge impact.
#11 Callum Blue/Zod, Regular Season Nine
Let me get this out of the way – Terrence Stamp is the best version of Superman villain Zod to date. But Blue’s younger version of the character did have a smarmy charm and was interesting if not compelling.
#10 Kristin Kreuk/Lana Lang, Regular Season 1-7, Guest Star Season 8
Some readers may be surprised that Lana is so low on the list but allow me to explain. I thought the character started off fine as on again/off again love interest for Clark and also someone to frequently rescue. And there were times they had some sweet moments like that one scene with the Lifehouse “You and me” song. But as the series progressed they kept putting her in increasingly weird situations like getting married to Lex or becoming a superheroine. It seemed they really did not know what to do with Lana and eventually just got rid of her.
#9 Annette O’Toole/Martha Kent, Seasons 1-6
Martha? How do you know that name? How do you know that name?! (I could not resist).
O’Toole’s Martha was like a warm blanket, providing comfort to our young hero. Sweet, thoughtful and wise, she was the type of mother we wished we all had. And I’m sure her apple pies were very special. But then she became a senator and was a mysterious character called the Red Queen or something. It got pretty murky near the end.
#8 John Glover/Lionel Luthor, Guest Season 1, Regular 2-7, Alternate Version Season 10
Glover as Lionel Luthor was fantastic. He was just so scheming! Even his schemes had schemes, and his face offs with Lex were always fun. I was genuinely sad when he was killed and glad when he returned as the host of Darkseid, though they could have handled that aspect a bit better.
#7 Erica Durance/Lois Lane, Guest Season 4, Regular Season 5 onwards
Durance gave us one of the best versions of Lois Lane to date. She really captured the go getter, no nonsense attitude of the comic book character. And she and Welling had superb chemistry too. Clark/Lois was ten times better than Clark/Lana. What is it with Superman and ‘L’ names though?
#6 John Schneider/Jonathan Kent, Season 1-5
Solid as a rock and strong like an oak – that is how I would describe Schneider’s version of Pa Kent. Always there with support and good advice his death in the 100th episode was a heart breaker.
#5 Cassidy Freeman/Tess Mercer, Regular Season 8-10
She may have come to the party late but boy did Freeman jazz up proceedings. A bit of an anti-heroine you really never knew what Tess was going to do or why and that was pretty cool. Her murder by Lex to make his lose his memory was not all that great though.
#4 Justin Hartley/Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Guest Seasons 6 and 7, Regular Season 8
Before Stephen Amell became the Hood/Arrow/Green Arrow we had Hartley’s much lighter and fun version of the Emerald Archer. He was very cool, a lot of fun and was a nice counterbalance to the boy scout attitude of Clark. He also opened the door to the introduction of other DC heroes on the show like Aquaman, Flash and Hawkman.
#3 Tom Welling/Clark Kent, All Seasons
Full disclosure – I was not initially a huge fan of Welling’s Clark. He was always so overly serious and a tad whiny. But after a number of years he did grow on me and it was wonderful to see him grow from awkward teen to a man, and from amateur hero to full fledged superhero. I am still unhappy that they never let us see him in the Superman costume in full though. We waited 10 years people! Ten years!
#2 Allison Mack/Chloe Sullivan, All Seasons
I struggled a bit with my top two but I finally decided to give the silver to Mack’s Chloe Sullivan. How can you not love Chloe? She was so smart and chipper and positive and loyal. She was like Clark’s walking conscience. She was never a superhero but she was a super character and one of the best the show ever produced.
#1 Michael Rosenbaum/Lex Luthor, Regular Season 1-7, Guest Star Series Finale
Our big winner is Rosenbaum as Superman nemesis Lex Luthor for one simple reason – he is the best live action version of the character ever! Take that Jesse Eisenberg! Take that in your face!
But seriously Rosenbaum was absolute perfection as Lex. He was so stylish and sleek yet menacing. It was great watching he and Clark start off as friends and slowly become the most bitter of rivals. Every time Rosenbaum was on screen he lifted the show beyond its usual guilty pleasure heights and when he departed the show was never the same. So hat’s off to you Rosenbaum. You are the best Lex (until better comes along, though that is unlikely) and the best Smallville character ever.
Well you have read my list. Now it is time for you to vote for your favourite character:
For my Top 6 Modern Live Action Superman Actors you can click here.
Julien Neaves is up, up and away! l8rs