- "Your secret's safe with me, Kal-El." -Lionel Luthor, Cyborg
Lionel was part of the Veritas Society in the late 1980s whose stated mission was to protect a being from the stars known as the Traveler. Originally, it appeared that Lionel had no idea that Clark and the Traveler were one and the same, as Virgil Swann (the group's founder) promised not to reveal Clark's secret. However, Clark serendipitously developed a friendship with Lex Luthor (Lionel's son), and Lionel gained first-hand knowledge of the strange circumstances that often surrounded the teen. When Clark was high on red kryptonite, he shot bullets into his hand, thinking Lionel was blind and did not witness it, but Lionel was clearly intrigued and examined one of the flatten bullets. Lionel created a serum using Clark's blood in order to cure his terminal liver disease, but despite Clark's involvement with Morgan Edge, did not indicate that he had connected the circumstances. When Lionel and Clark accidentally switched bodies, Lionel realized that Clark had phenomenal powers but seemed to have forgotten the details when the switch was reversed. However, his liver disease had been cured. Years later, Lionel obtained photographic evidence of Clark's powers and showed them to Jonathan Kent, threatening his family. When Clark was caught on videotape saving Lana Lang from a burning building, Lionel used the video to get closer to Martha Kent. Lionel finally witnessed Clark's powers when he had to use them to save Martha (and subsequently Lionel) from a vindictive ex-LuthorCorp employee. Lionel became the emissary for Jor-El (Clark's biological father) and carried out Veritas' original intention to protect the Traveler. After Lionel's death, It was revealed that he had kept a journal in which he knew two boys arrived during the meteor shower, Clark and another boy. With Lionel's direct knowledge of the Kent's sudden, faked adoption of a mysterious little boy, it can be concluded that Lionel at least suspected Clark's identity throughout Clark's entire life.
Lionel played an integral part in Clark's adoption to Martha and Jonathan, although Clark only became aware of this much later in his life. The Kents met Lionel and Lex by the side of the road after the first meteor shower in 1989, needing a lift to Smallville Medical Center, after the blast from a meteor had injured Lex. Jonathan and Martha gave them a lift, but concealed the fact that they had just found baby Kal-El along with his spaceship. As a reward for his kindness, Lionel promised to give Jonathan help whenever he should need it, which was sooner than he expected when the Kents needed to forge adoption papers to keep the baby. Lionel agreed and secured the papers but wanted Jonathan to help convince Pete Ross's family to sell their business to him in return. Jonathan was not happy with this but had little choice if he was to keep the fake adoption secret. After this Jonathan maintained a long running feud with the Luthors, which became obvious to his son as he was growing up.
Clark became best friends with Lex after he saved him from an accident. As Lex had a poor opinion of his father, Clark could understand Jonathan's feud with him. However, Clark's naivete and optimistic point of view was never swayed by these opinions until he witnessed Lionel's cruelty first hand.
When Clark and Lex were locked in a LuthorCorp facility during a gas leak, Lionel did little to help, claiming it was out of his hands as it was a safety feature that could not be over-ridden. During the lockdown, Clark discovered a secret part of the factory that Earl Jenkins claimed the Luthors used for experimenting with meteor rock. This made Clark suspect that maybe Lionel was less trustworthy than he expected. Although both Lionel and Clark were at the LuthorCorp facility after the incident, they did not formally meet.
Lionel is blinded during a tornado that hit Smallville. This new disability meant that he needed full time help so moved into the Luthor Mansion with Lex. Living in such close proximity, Lionel soon picked up on Lex's obsession with both Clark and his friends and family. Lionel discovered Clark's ship when Dr. Steven Hamilton showed him. When Clark found out about this he enlisted Pete's help to move it. This only increased Lionel's curiosity, although at this point did not realize the ship's connection to Clark.
Lionel and Clark met while Clark was under the influence of red kryptonite. Knowing of the problems between Lex and Lionel, Clark stood up for his friend. He told Lionel that nobody wanted him in Smallville while making fun of his blindness. Lionel was shocked by Clark's aggressive attitude, as he thought the Kents were good people and was surprised that they would have brought up such an unruly son. Clark's behavior escalated when Marshall Ted Palmer entered to question Clark about the whereabouts of Jessie Brooks. Palmer disbelieved Clark when he claimed not to know her and pulled a gun on Clark, who in turn used super speed to take the gun from him, fired the gun into his own hand and pinned Palmer to the wall with the pool table. Lionel's blindness meant he was oblivious to what had happened in front of him, although he was noticeably shaken.
After this, Lionel's curiosity about Clark increased. When Clark and Lex became interlocked in their studies of ancient Native American caves, known as the Kawatche Caves, Lionel began an obsessive journey to uncover its secrets before Clark and Lex. These caves were a point of contention between Clark and Lionel, as Clark was keen to preserve them after he discovered them and suspected a connection with his heritage. Lionel, on the other hand, wanted to develop on the site and had to endure Clark's protests. The site was eventually protected by a preservation order, but Lionel took ownership of the caves to try to understand Clark's unusual connection to the caves.
Clark learned about Lionel's involvement with his adoption and the deal he made with Jonathan, which helped him understand the feud between the Luthors and the Kents. Despite this, Clark saved Lionel whenever he was in danger, protecting him from super strong Byron Moore, Kyla Willowbrook in the form of a wolf, and armed burglars. However, as Martha Kent had become Lionel's personal assistant, some of the incidents threatened her safety as well, so Clark was just as interested, if not more so, in his mother's safety, than Lionel's.
Clark stood up to Lionel again, when Lex was thrown out of the Mansion by Lionel and was replaced with Lucas Luthor (Lionel's illegitimate son). Lionel was dismissive of Clark's point of view but, while he was there, Clark overheard Lionel arrange a meeting with Lucas. Predicting a conflict, Clark attended this meeting in secret via an air vent. During the Luthors confrontation, Lionel's recovery from his blindness was revealed and Lucas threatened to kill Lionel if he didn't kill Lex. Clark intervened, using his heat vision to disable Lucas, creating a hole in ceiling in the process, which Lionel later discovered and pondered over. Clark became nervous about when Lionel had recovered from his blindness, not knowing if he had seen him use his abilities.
Lionel gradually got closer to unearthing Clark's secret, as he began to refine meteor rock into bars and acquired the key. Martha helped to hide Clark's secret by stealing the key, but Lionel simply made a duplicate from meteor rock. Clark began to get nervous about Lionel's investigation into his life, especially after discovering some Lionel's outlandish schemes including cloning Emily Dinsmore. Due to his lack of trust in Lionel, Clark asked Pete to help him to steal the duplicate key, much to Lionel's anger.
- "I believe we're put on this Earth for a reason, Clark. Our task in life is to find out what that reason is. Sometimes we can't do that alone." - Lionel Luthor to Clark Kent, Legacy
Lionel's obsession with both the mystery of the Kawatche Caves and Clark grew to the extent that Lionel even recruited Chloe Sullivan (Clark's best friend) to uncover his secret. When Clark eventually discovered this alliance, he was furious. Clark got caught in the middle of Lionel's relationship with Morgan Edge when Clark was influenced by red kryptonite again. Clark stole a package from Lionel's vault for Edge, realizing afterwards that it was his own sample of blood that he had given Dr. Helen Bryce. Clark was extremely nervous about how it had come into Lionel's possession and why Edge was interested in it.
When Lionel tried to make Lex believe he was crazy, in order to discredit his accusations that Lionel killed his parents, Clark realized how evil Lionel was. He sympathized with Lex and tried to help. However, when this resulted in Lana Lang getting injured and Lex disappearing, Lionel contemptuously blamed Clark. Nevertheless, Clark continued to interfere in Lex and Lionel's relationship when Lionel planned a dangerous procedure to wipe Lex's memory. Clark was unable to stop Lionel, which made Clark feel tremendously guilty. After the procedure, Lionel was shocked and dismayed to learn that Lex had known Clark's secret.
Lionel hired Adam Knight to infiltrate Clark's circle of friends via Lana in an attempt to discover his secret. When this failed and Lionel faced the prospect of dying from his liver disease, he contemplated suicide. However, he changed his mind when he got a lead that he thought could shed some light on the mystery. Lionel conferred with Virgil Swann (Clark's mentor) about the true meaning of the Kawatche caves. Clark was horrified that Dr. Swann might be in cahoots with Lionel, but Dr. Swann reassured him that this was not the case.
Despite how close Lionel was to uncovering Clark's secret, that did not deter Clark from confronting him when he felt Lionel's actions were wrong and were risking the lives of his family or friends, which he did when Lionel's Levitas Project put Chloe in the hospital. Despite these confrontations in the past, Clark went to Lionel for help when Lex attempted a series of dangerous memory procedures to recover the memory that he lost. Clark had no choice but to trust Lionel, as he was the only one powerful enough to put an end to these procedures. Clark pleaded with Lionel to shut Summerholt Institute down and suggested that it was in Lionel's best interest, as he knew that he didn't want Lex to regain his memory. Lionel retorted that Clark didn't want Lex to remember either. Torn between protecting himself and helping Lex in order to discover Clark's secret, Lionel made a deal with Dr. Lawrence Garner to hand Clark over for studying in return for ending Lex's procedures. Having double crossed Clark, at this point Lionel clearly had no concern for Clark's well being and simply wanted to discover his secret for his own benefit.
Lionel's intensive interference with the caves led to Jeremiah Holdsclaw being adorned with Kryptonian powers via the starblade. Lionel planned to use the starblade to make another duplicate key and, suspecting Clark's involvement with the previous thefts, he warned Clark that he could turn from loyal ally to formidable adversary. This reminded Clark of the prophecy of Sageeth from the caves, indicating Clark's future rival would be a friend turned enemy. The prophecy also stated that Sageeth's touch on the starblade would make it dissolve, which also came true when Lionel and Lex touched it simultaneously, giving Clark further cause for concern. Clark confided in his parents about this, suspecting Lionel would be his ultimate nemesis.
Lionel found himself at the mercy of the legal system when Lex, Chloe, and Clark put together a case against him to prove his guilt of his parents' murder. As a final attempt to stop Clark from giving evidence against him, Lionel tried to gain Clark's trust by providing him with a key to a secret room in the mansion. When Clark used it, he found Lex's continuous investigation into Clark's past. While Clark had been so concerned with Lionel's investigation into him, he had been blind to Lex's inquiries. Exposing this, Lionel became responsible for the downward spiral of Clark and Lex's friendship. Nevertheless, Clark still appeared in court to ensure that Lionel was denied bail.
Lionel was angry with Clark, Chloe and Lex for their involvement in sending him to prison. While he attempted to poison Lex and sent Trent MacGowen to kill Chloe, he was unable to exact his revenge on Clark, as Clark disappeared for three months to be reprogrammed by Jor-El.
Lionel didn't confront Clark for several months, until Clark showed up at Kansas State Penitentiary unannounced and interrupted a meeting between Lex and Lionel, after hearing a high pitched ringing with his super hearing. Lionel was about to use the Crystal of Water to switch bodies with Lex to escape prison. But as Clark intervened, Lionel switched bodies with Clark instead.
Lionel (in Clark's body) discovered Clark's powers and abilities, while Clark (in Lionel's body) discovered the extent of Lionel's research on the Stones of Power. Lionel caused major damage to Clark's social life, as he enraged Chloe and Lana. After discovering that the transference was only temporary unless one of them was dead, Lionel confronted Clark. During a prison riot, Clark outsmarted Lionel and used the stone to switch bodies back. After this, Lionel had no memory of what occurred, although he felt changed by the experience and soon discovered that his liver disease had been cured. Lionel saw this as a blessing from God and planned to live a noble life from that point on.
Instead of battling against Clark, Lionel started to help him. Clark was not convinced at Lionel's changed personality at first and suspected Lionel of framing Lex when he was arrested for the murder of a young woman. Lionel denied this and suggested that Clark start the search for the woman's car. Clark agreed, but he told Lionel that he still didn't trust him. Clark was torn between Lex and Lionel, as Lex reminded that Clark couldn't trust them both as they were enemies. Nevertheless, Clark followed Lionel's lead and when he found an earring, he took the clue back to Lionel who revealed that, like Lex, he too used to send his exes diamond earrings. He told Clark that the killer was probably one of Lex's ex-girlfriends and suggested that if he traced the diamond from the serial code he would find the killer. Sure enough, this led Clark to Shannon Bell (the true murderer). Clark was pleased that Lionel's information proved to be correct, and gradually started to trust him more.
This trust was reinforced when Lionel helped Clark and Lana to discover the truth about Lex and Jason Teague's obsession with the three relic stones. Lionel seemed to have much more loyalty towards Clark, as he shot Jason Teague just as he was about to reveal something about Clark to Lex.
- "Clark, the real test of a hero is knowing when the greater good will be served by an evil act. To save the Earth, the cost of one life is the price that must be paid." - Lionel Luthor to Clark Kent, Vessel
Following the second meteor shower, Lionel was put into a catatonic state by the Crystal of Water. But when Clark died after being made mortal, Lionel was awakened from his catatonic state and became Jor-El's Kryptonian vessel to resurrect Clark. Clark was shocked to see Lionel in the Fortress of Solitude. Jor-El informed Clark that he had chosen Lionel to serve as his vessel should he ever need him and, while Jor-El was acting fatherly in Lionel's body, Clark clearly found this strange.
Clark was nervous about what Lionel remembered after this, which was accentuated when Clark became infected with silver kryptonite, which caused paranoid delusions. Clark saw emails to Lionel on Chloe's computer and assumed that she had revealed his secret. He then saw a vision of Lionel giving money to Jonathan in exchange for handing Clark over for scientific experiments. This clearly unearthed Clark's deep mistrust of Lionel, which proved to be justified as Lionel partly caused Jonathan's death. When Lionel confronted Jonathan about Clark's powers, Jonathan lost his temper and the two men fought. This resulted in Jonathan dying from a heart attack, although Clark remained clueless to what had caused it for several months. Clark did, however, discover that Lionel was involved with the murder of Andrea Rojas's mother. Nevertheless, Clark could not let Andrea kill Lionel as an act of vengeance. Lionel was most appreciative to Clark for this.
During a near death experience, the ghostly image of his father warned Clark that Lionel knew his secret. This shocked and scared Clark and as Martha and Lionel developed a strong business bond, Clark grew increasingly suspicious of Lionel. Clark confided in his mother about this and they decided to keep quiet until Lionel revealed his true motives, but they were forced to confront it when Lionel and Martha were at the mercy of Lincoln Cole and Clark had to save them, with Lionel witnessing Clark's super strength. During their ordeal, Lionel had been protective of Martha, as she was integral to Clark's destiny. Lionel reasoned that Clark was a very "special boy" and clearly wanted to protect him. Clark and Lex witnessed this through a video feed. Afterwards, with everything out in the open between Lionel and Clark, Lionel admitted that he had known about Clark's secret since his coma. Lionel seemed to think that he had proven that he could be trusted with Clark's secret, but Clark was more concerned about Lionel's relationship with his mother. Despite everything, Clark still had a lack of trust in Lionel and warned him to stay away.
Brainiac manipulated Clark's distrust of Lionel when he disguised himself as Jonathan's ghostly figure to convince Clark to kill Lionel. Brainiac claimed that Lionel planned to use Clark's powers as a deadly weapon and Clark didn't need much convincing. As he investigated Lionel, Clark discovered that Lionel had spoken to Jonathan shortly before his death and surmised that Lionel was to blame. This made Clark furious with Lionel and decided to fulfill his father's wishes. However, when Lionel reasoned that Jonathan would never want to turn him into a murderer, Clark realized that it was in fact Brainiac. Lionel then channeled Jor-El's power once more to defeat Brainiac. This gained Clark's trust and they discussed a series of Kryptonian symbols that Lionel had been channeling, which revealed that "Zod is coming". With Lionel so deeply connected to Jor-El, Clark had little choice but to rely on his help. Although he remained wary of Lionel, his trust in him increased, as Lionel became more open. Lionel even seemed to choose Clark over his own son when he heard that Lex had become the vessel for General Zod.
- "You're not a murderer. You're Kal-El." - Lionel Luthor
- "Don't call me by that name!" - Clark Kent
After Zod's defeat, Lionel claimed his connection to Jor-El had disappeared, to Clark's relief. Although Clark clearly appreciated Lionel's help, he seemed uneasy that he had to rely on Lionel for help. It soon became clear that Lionel was lying, as he continued to write and translate Kryptonian symbols. Clark soon realized that Lionel hadn't changed that much when Clark investigated the theft of a diamond necklace that Lionel had given Martha. Oliver Queen explained that Lionel had not called the police, as Lionel bought the diamonds from a Bosnian warlord to launder money. Clark was shocked by this but, nevertheless, continued to go to Lionel for help, such as when he was investigating a series of murders of Lex's old classmates.
Clark seemed to gradually come to terms with Lionel's relationship with his mother and even welcomed him to thanksgiving dinner. However, Clark was horrified when, in his imaginary world, Martha was married to Lionel. He revealed his true feelings about Martha and Lionel's relationship after he was infected by red kryptonite, criticizing his mother for being "more of a Luthor than a Kent these days". This indicated that even though Clark's relationship with Lionel had improved, there was still some tension between the two.
Despite this, Lionel remained loyal to protecting Clark, although his methods were complicated and devious. When Lana had second thoughts about her marriage to Lex, he forced her to honor her promise, in order for her to keep an eye on Lex's dangerous projects. Clark suspected Lionel's involvement with Lana's change of heart and angrily confronted him but Lionel denied everything. When Clark discovered the truth, he was furious with Lionel and almost killed him while Lionel tried to explain that he had been protecting Clark. Martian Manhunter convinced Clark that Lionel was on their side. Lionel proves his allegiance to Clark when the last phantom escapes Lex's laboratory and Lionel arrives with kryptonite to defeat him. This plan backfires, as it only makes the phantom stronger and he knocks Lionel unconscious.
- "In my lifetime, I have known many famous and powerful men: presidents, sultans, kings, and I believed that I was superior to them all. But I've come to know the truth, Kal-El. My greatest accomplishment is that I have dedicated myself to protecting your life and serving you." - Lionel Luthor's final message to Clark Kent, Descent
After Bizarro and Clark's fight caused Reeves Dam to burst, Lionel was washed down-stream and was held hostage for several weeks. Believing Lionel was dead, Clark was saddened. But when Lionel finally reappeared alive, Clark was pleased. Lionel eventually told Clark that he suspected Lana's involvement in his kidnapping, but Clark chose to believe his new girlfriend rather than Lionel.
Nevertheless, trusting Martian Manhunter's judgment, Clark grew closer to Lionel and went to him for help to find Kara Kent when she went looking for her crystal. Clark did not trust Lionel completely, as when Lionel questioned what side of the family Kara was from, Clark lied and said she was Jonathan's niece. Despite Clark's lie, Lionel came to Clark's aid when Agent Carter nearly killed Clark. Lionel shot Carter just in time, reaffirming Clark's trust in Lionel.
Lionel was concerned about Clark when he took part in a dangerous procedure to recover information from Lex's unconscious mind. Lionel was clearly more concerned about Clark than his own son during this procedure. While in Lex's mind, Clark saw memories of Lionel's abusive parenting. Witnessing Lionel like this reminded Clark who Lionel used to be. When Pete returned to Smallville, he was surprised to see how close Lionel and Clark had become and tried to remind Clark of all the horrible things Lionel had done in the past. This was emphasized when Pete discovered Lionel had been keeping Kara's bracelet in his vault without telling Clark. Clark was surprised that Lionel was still keeping secrets from him.
Shortly afterwards, Lionel arranged to have Clark kidnapped and held him in a kryptonite cage, although he came to Clark's rescue when his captor disobeyed orders and tried to kill Clark. When Clark discovered that Lionel was behind it, he was horrified. Lionel apologized and attempted to convince Clark that his actions were to protect him from the Veritas Society, which Lionel was once part of. Clark was upset and questioned why he built the cell in the first place. Lionel explained that he built it to hold other dangerous Kryptonians, but having discovered that Lionel was involved with murders of the rest of the Veritas society, Clark disbelieved that Lionel was a changed man. This showed a notable change in their relationship, as Clark had believed in the good in Lionel. However, Lionel's latest actions made him realize that the Luthors were a "lost cause".
Following this, Clark completely turned his back on Lionel, much to Lionel's dismay. Lionel maintained that he was trying to help and claimed that he had kept Clark's secret longer than he could imagine. He attempted to warn Clark through Lana and Chloe about an impending threat, but they supported Clark in his decision to cut Lionel from their lives.Desperate to protect Clark and fearing that Lex was close to discovering Clark's secret, Lionel recorded a message for Clark. When Lex remembered the reason for being in Smallville on the day of the meteor shower, he confronted Lionel about the Traveler. Lionel continued to protect Clark, despite the breakdown in their relationship, which led to Lex murdering Lionel. Discovering Lionel's death, Clark was shaken and soon came across Lionel's final message, warning him about Lex's discovery. This made Clark finally realize where Lionel's loyalty truly stood. To avenge Lionel's death, Clark tried to prove Lex's guilt. Clark felt guilty that yet another man in his life had sacrificed himself for his secret and safety, just like Jonathan and Jor-El. Clark's friendship and trust turned Lionel from a villainous and ruthless man into someone caring, noble and capable of love. Despite Lex closing Lionel's funeral to all guests, Clark attended the funeral and sprinkled dirt on his grave, symbolizing his respect for his fallen friend.
After Lionel's death, reminders of his past crimes kept creeping their way into Clark's present as Tess Mercer gave Oliver evidence that Lionel had killed his parents. Discovering that Clark had known about this and surprised that Clark would keep it secret from him, Oliver's relationship with Clark was strained. Despite Clark's disapproval of Lionel's actions, having seen the good man he ultimately became, he tried his best to convince Oliver to leave it in the past, showing how Clark had lost seemingly all of his resentment towards Lionel.
After Tess discovered Lionel's journal, it was revealed that Lionel at least suspected that Clark was the Traveler since the Kents asked for help with adopting Clark. This meant that Lionel had been protecting Clark's identity from the time of the first meteor shower. Although his motives may have changed, as initially he wanted to control the power of the traveler, by the time he died he was protecting Clark to preserve his good for the world.
- "You could conquer the universe. The Man of Tomorrow -- Clark Luthor!" - The alternate-reality Lionel Luthor mistaking Clark Kent as Clark Luthor, Luthor
Clark learned from Tess Mercer that Lionel had following him to his reality and also learned from Oliver that Lionel along with Alexander Luthor had bought out LuthorCorp. When Alexander decided to do away with Lionel, Clark reluctantly saved him from the burning Luthor Mansion along with Martha. Clark told him that is wasn't over and left him to watch the mansion burn. Clark confronted Lionel and told him that he wouldn't let him destroy Conner Kent like he had Lex. Clark discovered that Lionel gave Conner a red kryptonite ring and that Conner was now with Lois Lane. Although Clark was successful in destroying the ring, Lionel subdued him with kryptonite and began to drag Conner off. Lionel tried to persuade Conner to join him but he remained on Clark's side and destroyed the kryptonite with his heat vision. When Clark Luthor returned, he attempted to revenge on Lionel but was foiled by Clark Kent and Tess Mercer.
Clark confronted Lionel once more only this time Lionel had become the vessel of Darkseid. Clark at first struggled against them as Darkseid flung Clark across his barn. Then at that moment while in mid-air, Clark remembered Jonathan’s final words of guidance and Jor-El intervened and showed Clark images of his "trials" over the past 10 years saying that he had always had the power inside of him. Clark then reawoke in the present, floating in mid-air in the barn staring down Lionel/Darkseid. He embraced his powers and flew into Darkseid vanquishing him and destroying Lionel's body in the process.
|Clark Kent in Smallville|
|Lionel Luthor in Smallville|