DC Database

Lionel Luthor was the founder, President and CEO of LuthorCorp. He was a ruthless and unscrupulous businessman and a harsh father to his son, Lex.

Early Life

Lionel Luthor was born in the Metropolis area known as Suicide Slums to Lachlan and Eliza Luthor. Lionel's childhood was an unhappy one. His mother was an alcoholic and his father would frequently abuse the young boy.[1][2]

By his teens, Lionel had begun hanging with a tough crowd, that included Morgan Edge, a future crime boss in Metropolis. Desperate to escape from the slums and his parents, Lionel took out a large insurance policy on them and conspired with Edge to kill them. The two then split the insurance money, with Lionel using his half to start his own corporation: LuthorCorp.[2]

By 1980, Lionel had married Lillian Luthor and had a son, Alexander "Lex" Luthor. However, Lionel was frequently unfaithful to his wife. These affairs resulted in Lionel having a daughter with Lex's nanny, Pamela Jenkins.[3] And a son with his wife's nurse, Rachel Dunleavy.[4] Both children were put up for adoption.[3][4]

Lionel would frequently be abusive towards Lex.[5][6] Things only got worse, in 1992, when Lionel was lead to believe that Lex had killed his infant brother, Julian. Lionel would later cite that as having made it impossible for him to love Lex.[7]

However, there was a secret side to Lionel. At some point, he had joined a secret society named "Veritas", that was convinced that a savior from another planet (called the "Traveler") was coming.[8] But, Lionel wanted to possess the Traveler himself. So, he had fellow Veritas members Robert and Laura Queen murdered in October 1989.[9]

Under the cover of completing a business deal, to buy the Ross Creamed Corn factory, Lionel traveled to the town of Smallville, a few days later.[5][10] Urged by his wife, Lionel took Lex with him.[11] During his visit, the town was struck by the biggest meteor shower in history. Afterwards, Lionel rushed out into a field and found Lex, who had gone missing, in a state of shock and having lost all his hair.[5]

Lionel managed to stop a passing truck driven by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who took him and Lex to the Smallville Medical Center. To show his gratitude, Lionel offered to use his resources, if the Kents ever needed them.[4]

When he came across the Kents, they were traveling with a young boy, who was wrapped in a blanket[4]. At the time Lionel didn't think much of it, as his men had already captured another boy, who he thought was the Traveler. However, five days later, Lionel had the other boy sent away, as all the tests they ran on him came back normal. Convincing Lionel that he had the wrong boy. Then Lionel got a call from Martha Kent, who wanted to call in their favor. They needed his help to acquire false adoption papers for the boy they had with them.[4][10]

Lionel became sure that this other boy had to be the Traveler. However, for unknown reasons, he left the boy in the care of the Kents.[10] But, he didn't leave the Kent Farm emptyhanded. The Ross family had grown unsure about selling their factory to Lionel. So, threatening to tell people about their illegal adoption, Lionel blackmailed Jonathan into convincing the Ross family to sell the factory to him.[4]

Season One

In the fall of 2001, Lionel sent Lex to Smallville, to head the local LuthorCorp plant.[5] Not long after, Earl Jenkins, a former LuthorCorp employee took hostages at the plant and tried to expose secret experiments that Lionel had performed with meteor rocks at level 3. However, Jenkins was apprehended and taken into custody, with Lionel insisting that level 3 was nothing but a redundant storage area.[12]

Some months later, Lionel offered to let Lex return to Metropolis, but Lex rejected the offer.[13] In retaliation, Lionel announced that LuthorCorp were shutting down the plant in Smallville. However, Lex joined forces with the employees and organized an employee buyout, where he set up his own corporation: LexCorp.[14]

Season Two

Lionel was left blind, following injuries suffered during a tornado.[15] Not wanting to be gawked at by people in Metropolis, Lionel moved into the Luthor Mansion in Smallville.[16] Soon after, he was approached by Steven Hamilton, who insisted that he had found a spaceship. However, being blind, Lionel couldn't see it and was only able to touch it. When he finally brought Lex to Hamilton's barn, the alleged ship was gone.[16] Due to his disabled state, Lionel hired Martha Kent as his personal assistant.[17]

Around this time, Rachel Dunleavy came back into Lionel's life. Convinced that the boy known as "Clark Kent", was their son, Lucas. Lionel soon discovered that Rachel had kidnapped Lex and threatened to kill him, if Lionel didn't publicly declare that Clark was their son. But, Lionel refused to play along, even if it could threaten his son's life. Ultimately, Lex was rescued, and Rachel was committed to an asylum.[4]

Lionel continued developing businesses in Smallville, which caused him to end up in a conflict with the representatives of the local Kawatche tribe, as one LuthorCorp construction work was threatening to destroy the Kawatche Caves. Due to a petition drive, the state of Kansas bought the project from Lionel, under the historic artifacts amendment, with LexCorp handling the preservation.[18]

The Kawatche tribe weren't the only ones in Smallville, that Lionel rubbed the wrong way. Blackmailing local sheriff Ethan Miller, Lionel was shot by him and nearly died. This happened around the same time, that Lionel managed to acquire LexCorp, taking Lex's company from him.[19]

A few weeks later, Lionel was reunited with Lucas Luthor. However, Lucas proved to be working with Lex, to secure Lex's position within LuthorCorp. Lucas also exposed that Lionel had regained his eyesight a few weeks before.[20]

Having gained control of the Kawatche Caves, Lionel intended to uncover its secrets. Within the caves, there was a hole, that perfectly matched a mysterious disc, that had been in his possession for a while. However, having lost it, he made a new one from green meteor rocks (which contained many of the same elements). However, this key was mysteriously vanished. Lionel did accomplish something and managed to recruit Clark Kent's friend, Chloe Sullivan, to spy on Clark, in exchange for a job at the Daily Planet.[21]

Season Three

Lionel's past sins came back to haunt him, when Lex began investigating the death of his grandparents and discovered that Lionel had conspired to kill them. Had it been up to Morgan Edge, they would've killed Lex. However, Lionel, despite his sometimes-abusive behavior loved Lex more than life itself, and he couldn't bring himself to lose another child. So, Lionel had Lex drugged, to make it seem like Lex was mentally ill and had him committed.[2]

To protect himself, Lionel arranged for Lex to be given a treatment, that erased his memories of the last seven weeks. However, after Lex had gone through the treatment, Lionel discovered that he had learned Clark Kent's secret. As Lex no longer remembered it, it prevented Lionel from confirming his old suspicions about Clark.[22][10]

He tried to continue to use Chloe Sullivan as a spy, but she turned her back on him. In retaliation, he got her fired from the Daily Planet and had her father fired from LuthorCorp.[23]

Trying to cover up past sins wasn't the only problem that Lionel had to face. He had discovered that he was suffering from a fatal liver disease. Lionel had hoped to cure himself with the experimental Lazarus Serum. The serum was created using a mysterious blood sample, that Lionel had bought from his daughter-in-law, Helen. However, due to the source of the blood being unknown, he only had a limited supply. With the aid of Dr. Lia Tang, Lionel used the serum to resurrect a young boy, named Chad Nash. Hoping to kill two birds with one stone, he also sent Nash (now called "Adam Knight") to befriend Lana Lang, so he could spy on Clark.[24][25]

However, after Nash failed, Lionel wanted to terminate the experiment. But, before Nash died, he killed Dr. Tang and several of her colleagues at Metron Pharmaceuticals. Robbing Lionel of both the serum and the people behind it. Furthermore, having been caught in the middle of the Metron murders, Lex had struck a deal with the FBI, to bring down Lionel, in exchange for immunity.[24] Due to the collaboration of Chloe Sullivan and Lex, Lionel was arrested and charged with the murders of his parents. Lionel tried to have both killed but failed.[26][27]

Season Four

Lionel might've been sent to prison but was still powerful. Having acquired one out of three stones, that were said to hold great power, Lionel plotted to get out of prison. The stone in his possession allowed for people to change bodies and he planned to use it on Lex, but Clark got in the way and the two were changed instead. While he was on Clark's body, he learned about Clark's powers. However, Clark managed to outsmart him and changed their bodies back. As a side effect, Lionel lost the memories of his time in Clark's body, but the body swapping had also two more side effects: it cured Lionel's liver disease and it affected him mentally. He began to try and better himself.[28]

Lionel ultimately got out of prison, with the help of Genevieve Teague, another former member of Veritas, who was obsessed with finding the three stones.[29][8] This lead to Lionel also being dragged into the quest for the stones. However, when Clark Kent put two of the stones together, the one that Lionel was carrying activated and placed him in a trance. It turned Lionel into an oracle of Kryptonian knowledge and connected him to the Fortress of Solitude. A vessel, should Jor-El ever need a body.[30][31]

Season Five

Remaining in the strange trance for months, Lionel was committed by Lex. However, after Jor-El used Lionel's body to resurrect Clark, who had briefly died, Lionel was restored to normal.[32][31] However, he now knew Clark's secret, but kept it to himself.[33] When Lionel finally told Jonathan, that he knew about Clark, he was met with violent rage. Tragically, the anger that Jonathan felt towards Lionel and him knowing about Clark caused Jonathan to suffer a fatal heart attack.[34] When Lionel informed Clark, that he knew, he was once more met with suspicion and was told to stay away from Martha.[33]

There was one more thing, that Lionel hadn't informed Clark about. Due to his connection to the Fortress, Lionel had begun to experience episodes, where he wrote down things in the Kryptonian Language. After he showed these drawings to Clark, Clark learned that Zod was coming. With Lex serving as his vessel.[35][36] When Zod escaped the Phantom Zone, it affected Lionel's connection to the Fortress and he became possessed by all Jor-El's knowledge.[37][38]

Season Six

Wanting to protect Clark, Lionel began working with the Martian, J'onn J'onzz, to shield Clark from a phantom wraith. Needing information from Lex about the phantom, which Lex was also tracking, he needed someone to get close to him. This forced him to blackmail Lana Lang, under the pretense that he would hurt Clark if she didn't.[38]

When Clark was confronted by the phantom, it cloned him. Desperately trying to help, Lionel tried to subdue the phantom the green Kryptonite, but it only made the phantom stronger. As a result, the phantom broke the dam they were in and Lionel was washed away.[38]

Season Seven

For several weeks, Lionel was held captive by a woman, hired by Lana Lang. However, Lionel was later rescued by Lex.[39] Lionel returned to his regular life and continued to try and help Clark, but once more his past came back to haunt him.[40][41] Patricia Swann, the daughter of Veritas' leader Virgil Swann, and accused Lionel of not only having killed the Queens, but her father and the Teague family. She demanded that he'd take her to the Traveler. Fearing for Clark's safety, he made the misguided choice to have Clark attacked and placed inside a Kryptonite cage, to protect him. Ultimately, all this did was to damage his relationship with Clark.[42]

Through Patricia Swann, Lex came to learn about the Traveler. Lionel tried to warn Clark and Chloe, but they turned him away, for his past mistakes. Lionel even tried to give Chloe a key, that he had stolen from Robert Queen, that lead to a device, that was believed to allow someone to control the Traveler. But, she refused to take it.[8] Returning to LuthorCorp Plaza, Lionel was confronted by Lex. When Lionel refused to tell him, who the Traveler was, Lex pushed him out of a window. His official cause of death was suicide.[43]


The legacy of Lionel Luthor was one of both darkness and light. His first-born son became Superman's greatest adversary.[44] However, Lionel also helped to make Clark Kent into the man he was destined to become.[43] Finally, his only daughter became a superhero and, alongside Clark, became a founding member of the Justice League.[45]



  • Business Management: Lionel Luthor was a cutthroat businessman and an expert strategist. He negotiated the boardroom the way a Roman general would lead a battlefield.
  • Multilingualism: After becoming linked to the Fortress of Solitude, Lionel eventually became fluent in the Kryptonian language.[38]
  • Fencing

Other Characteristics



  1. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Relic
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Shattered
  3. 3.0 3.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Abandoned
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Lineage
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Pilot
  6. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Fracture
  7. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Memoria
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Veritas
  9. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Toxic
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Eternal
  11. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Craving
  12. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Jitters
  13. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Stray
  14. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Tempest
  15. 15.0 15.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Vortex
  16. 16.0 16.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Duplicity
  17. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Nocturne
  18. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Skinwalker
  19. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Suspect
  20. 20.0 20.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Prodigal
  21. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Exodus
  22. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Asylum
  23. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Whisper
  24. 24.0 24.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Crisis
  25. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Obsession
  26. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Covenant
  27. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Gone
  28. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Transference
  29. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Ageless
  30. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Commencement
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Hidden
  32. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Mortal
  33. 33.0 33.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Mercy
  34. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Reckoning
  35. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Oracle
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Vessel
  37. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Zod
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Phantom
  39. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Action
  40. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Lara
  41. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Siren
  42. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Traveler
  43. 43.0 43.1 Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Descent
  44. Smallville (TV Series) Episode: Absolute Justice, Part II
  45. Smallville Season 11: Continuity #4

Superman Villain(s)
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Superman Family member
This character is or was an incarnation of or an ally of Superman, and a member of the Superman Family. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Superman Family members" category.