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This article is about the original Kryptonian person named Jor-El. For the artificial intelligence, see Jor-El. For the younger clone in the Season Nine episode Kandor, see Jor-El (clone).

" the truest hero I have ever known. He has dedicated his life's work, not to death...or war...but to creation."Zod, to the Ruling Council, Kandor

Jor-El (1935-1986)[citation needed] was a Kryptonian and the biological father of Kal-El (as both Clark Kent and Clark Luthor), as well as the most renowned scientist on Krypton and an influential member of the Science Council.

He and his brother Zor-El were the sons of Seyg-El.[1] When he was in his 20's, Jor-El travelled to earth by the name of Joe (regularly called Joe the Drifter). Before his death, he cloned a powerless version of himself and placed it in the Orb, and also copied his brainwaves into his son's spaceship, creating an artificial intelligence that often serves as Clark Kent's guide on Earth.

Physical Appearance

Jor-El on Krypton in his later years as shown in Season Nine.

In his younger years, Jor-El looked primarily the same as Clark.[2] When Jor-El traveled to Earth in his mid-20's, he often wore a brown leather farmer's jacket, blue jeans or brown trousers, and normally had his hair gelled. (Relic) He also had a clean accent.

In his later years, Jor-El's hair turned a whitish blonde as he aged, his accent shifted to a Kryptonian accent, and he wore white Kryptonian robes with a black Mark of El on the chest, as well as red Kryptonian garments and gray/silver clothing. (Kandor, Memoria, Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton)


"But if we send the Orb to Earth and it is opened, the clones inside will develop extraordinary abilities under the yellow sun. The humans will be powerless against them. We cannot doom another planet's future to preserve our past!" – Jor-El, to the Ruling Council, Kandor

The memory pendant that Clark discovered showed that Jor-El, during his visit to Earth in his youth, fell in love with Louise McCallum; he expressed warm affection towards Louise, as well as sadness and grief when she died. Apparently, Jor-El had issues with his own father, as he commented to Louise that he wasn't a "model son." He was appreciative towards Hiram Kent for helping him get to the Kawatche Caves and congratulated Hiram for his unborn child, telling him that the baby was lucky to have a father like him. Jor-El was so grateful for Hiram's aid that, years later, he later sent his own son Kal-El to be raised by Hiram's son Jonathan Kent. Jor-El's clone later stated to Chloe Sullivan that he fondly remembered his brief time on the Kent Farm. (Relic, Kandor)

Other characters have offered differing opinions of Jor-El:

  • Jor-El was once disparaged by his former compatriot Zod as an "idealistic fool."[3]
  • Jor-El's lab assistant Raya told Clark that Jor-El was "brave," had "the biggest heart of anyone I'd known," and was hard on himself because he was unable to save Krypton from destruction. (Fallout)
  • Jor-El was described by his brother Zor-El as cold-blooded and dispassionate,[4] and a "feeble-minded pacifist," implying that Jor-El refused to sacrifice the weak for the greater good.[5] The latter statement was corroborated when, during the war against Black Zero, Jor-El told Zod that he would not stand for his work being used to commit what he deemed "an atrocity," and told the Ruling Council that they cannot preserve the Kryptonian race at the expense of another species. (Kandor)
  • Jor-El's niece Kara once stated to Clark that he was "uptight" and noted that said trait was something her cousin had gotten from his father. (Fierce)
  • In a holographic recording made moments before Krypton exploded, Jor-El's wife Lara remarked that their son Kal-El carried Jor-El's "independent spirit"; Jor-El demonstrated this during the war with Black Zero when he stopped the blood intake on the border outside Kandor and told Zod that "The Council can do what it will." (Abandoned, Kandor)

Powers and Abilities

Jor-El, under a yellow sun, was imbued with extraordinary abilities, possessing all natural Kryptonian abilities, and developed them rather quickly, but didn't display them all. He interfaced with a memory pendant, implanting inside it his own memories that he was supposed to give to his father after his trip to Earth. Jor-El did not know of the abilities that he would gain under a yellow sun, and was shocked when he was able to appear superhuman towards humans.

  • Solar battery: Jor-El became powerful by the yellow sun.[citation needed]
  • Super strength: Jor-El possessed extraordinary strength, allowing him to easily overpower other beings, like humans; he was able to pick up Lachlan Luthor and throw him across the sidewalk and into a lamppost. (Relic)
  • Super speed: Jor-El could move and react faster than the human eye can see and follow. In this ability, Jor-El would have perceived the entire world in slow motion; he was able to run across the street to save Louise McCallum. (Relic) Being the powerful Kryptonian he was, he was evidently faster than his son Kal-El. (Fallout)
  • Invulnerability: Jor-El possessed a very high durability capacity, and couldn't be physically harmed or hurt by humans, as he could only be penetrated by Kryptonian objects and when weakened by powerful forces; he discovered this after being shot at by Lachlan, with the bullets deflecting off him and hitting Louise, killing her. (Relic)
  • Flight: Jor-El could defy gravity, enabling him to hover in the air when he carried Louise. (Relic)

Jor-El was clearly a highly skilled scientist, as he had invented cloning technology, created an interdimensional prison, and later built a spacecraft capable of carrying and sustaining a child on a three-year trip to Earth.

  • Skilled scientist: Jor-El was one of Krypton's greatest and renownd scientists. Perhaps his most impressive feat or high among them is him technologically stripping his spirit from his body, preserving it in Clark's spacecraft, where it resided until the ship was destroyed, later transferring into the Fortress console.
  • Skilled Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Though not a soldier, Jor-El had remarkable combat skills. His clone easily heard Tess Mercer's men when they invaded the Kent Farm and knocked Chloe out with a Kryptonian nerve pinch (in a manner similar to Spock of Star Trek). He was also able to sneak up on one of Tess' men and managed to get him in a chokehold before he was tasered unconscious.


See: Kryptonian vulnerabilities

When Jor-El returned to Krypton, his powers were stripped by the red sun. As a result, Jor-El visibly aged between his youth on Earth and his adulthood on Krypton. (Relic, Kandor)

Early Life & Career

(All birth dates for those born on Krypton are in Earth years)

"When I said I wasn't from here, I wasn't talking about Smallville. Where I'm from, we have colors that you've never seen. Our moons are so close they fill up half the sky. We have sunsets that last for hours." – Joe, to Louise McCallum, Relic

Jor-El was born in 1935 on Krypton, where he was raised alongside his younger brother Zor-El. It was strongly implied that Jor-El had a strained relationship with his father. (Relic)

Jor-El and Louise.

In 1961, as a young man around the age of 26, Jor-El was sent to Smallville by his father as a Kryptonian rite of passage. While on Earth, Jor-El gained superhuman powers like any Kryptonian due to exposure to the planet's yellow sun. During his visit, Jor-El went under two aliases: "The Drifter" and "Joe." As Joe, he met Louise McCallum on June 15 after stopping Lachlan Luthor, who mugged Louise. Joe and Louise fell in love, despite the fact that Louise was married to Dex McCallum, and had an affair.

Jor-El and Hiram Kent in the Kawatche Caves.

On June 17, when Lachlan shot at Joe, the bullets bounced off his invulnerable body, but one hit Louise in the heart, killing her. Joe was greatly devastated by Louise's death and left Earth as his sole reason for staying was gone. While on his way to the Kawatche Caves, Jor-El met Hiram Kent, who helped him escape from the police. Thanks to Hiram's selfless bravery and help, Jor-El made it to the caves and thanked Hiram for his kindness.

Jor-El buries the Kryptonian medallion which would be discovered by Clark 40 years later

After Hiram left the cave, Jor-El used the Key to open a small compartment in the cave wall, hiding a memory pendant so that his father would never learn of his human experiences. He then sealed it, collapsing the entrance to the caves as well, and returned to Krypton.

Sometime after returning to Krypton, Jor-El became a scientist. He and his brother Zor-El had a falling-out over Lara, with whom they both fell in love. Despite this, Jor-El married Lara, driving a wedge between him and his brother.

Later Years

"Put him inside, Lara. Our time has passed. The hourglass is empty. ... Lara, his destiny is set as is ours." – Jor-El, to Lara-El, Memoria

Jor-El eventually became Krypton's most renowned scientist, and was best friends with Zod, a major in Krypton's army. He created cloning technology for the purpose of healing the seriously injured and ill, but was ordered by the Ruling Council to use this technology as a safeguard in case Rao's prophecy ever became true. Against Jor-El's own wishes, the Council pressed forward with their plans and began taking blood samples from soldiers on the battlefield just outside Kandor during the war with Black Zero. Jor-El stopped the blood intake as it made it to Zod, feeling that the Council's project had to be stopped. He, Zod and the soldiers then witnessed the destruction of Kandor.

Because of his disruption of the blood intake, Jor-El was put on trial by the Council for treason. He made his case before the Council, saying that taking genetic material from the Kandorians and putting it into the Orb so they could be resurrected on Earth would doom humanity. Despite this, Jor-El was sentenced to death for his actions until Zod appeared and made an impassioned plea that the Council spare Jor-El; the Council agreed to do so on the condition that Jor-El complete the Orb and both he and Zod donate their blood to the Orb as well so that the clones would be led by two of Krypton's greatest heroes.

Jor-El irradiates the Orb with blue kryptonite.

Jor-El finished the Orb, using blue kryptonite to nullify the Kandorians' powers, and prepared to send the Stones of Power to Earth so the Kandorians could collect them if they were ever resurrected. Zod then came to Jor-El and begged him to use his cloning technology to resurrect his son, who was among those killed when Kandor was destroyed by Black Zero. However, Jor-El refused, fearing that there would be complications and mutations. Though they both drew their own blood, Zod angrily retorted to Jor-El that he (Jor-El) was as dead to him as his son.

Jor-El and J'onn trapped Aldar in the Phantom Zone.

Some years later, Jor-El became a member of the Science Council and was given a victory ring. He created the Phantom Zone, a plane of existence that served as a prison for malevolent criminals from the 28 known galaxies, and became good friends with the Martian Manhunter, who helped Jor-El hunt down alien criminals and send them to the Phantom Zone.

After years of trying to conceive a child, Jor-El and Lara finally had a son named Kal-El. Around this time,[6] Jor-El opposed Zod and his attempt to conquer Krypton, and created the Brain InterActive Construct using Dax-Ur's designs to aid in the war against Zod and his army. He and the Council eventually managed to capture Zod and destroy his physical body, imprisoning his mind and spirit in the Phantom Zone.

Jor-El then contacted Zor-El to inform him of Zod's imprisonment and that, because of his (Zor-El's) association with Zod, Zor-El was under arrest. Knowing of Zor-El's trips to Earth, the Council destroyed all the portals off of Krypton and locked Zor-El in Kandor's mine control room. Zor-El, however, instructed Brainiac to override the lockdown and re-activated the ignition of Krypton's core. After Kara contacted Lara and told her about Zor-El's plans, Lara told Jor-El, who went and tried to stop the ignition.

Jor-El and Lara place their son Kal-El in a spaceship before Krypton's destruction.

Unfortunately, Jor-El was unable to prevent the end of his world. Before Krypton perished, he decided to send Kal-El to Earth to find the Stones of Power and keep them from falling into the hands of Brainiac, knowing that he would be able to free Zod from the Phantom Zone. To ensure Kal-El's safety, guidance and destiny in the Kryptonian way, Jor-El copied his brainwave patterns into his son's spaceship. Along with his care and love, Jor-El sent with Kal-El a cryptic message: "On this third planet from the star Sol, you will be a god among men. They are a flawed race. Rule them with strength, my son. That is where your greatness lies."

Jor-El made other preparations for Kal-El. He decided that he wanted his son to grow up with the Kents; it was therefore no coincidence that Jonathan and Martha Kent found Clark when his spaceship crash-landed on Earth during the meteor shower of 1989. Jor-El also asked the Martian Manhunter to watch Kal-El from a distance, intervening only when it was absolutely necessary, and programmed the Orb with another function: To show the user the way to the Fortress of Solitude so they could control Kal-El by taking away his powers if he ever turned against the human race and did not embrace his destiny.

Jor-El and Lara's final tender moment.

After sending Kal-El on his way to Earth, Jor-El placed his assistant Raya in the Phantom Zone while he and Lara tried once more to save Krypton from destruction, but they were unsuccessful. As Krypton entered its final moments, Jor-El and Lara recorded a holographic message for their son, telling Kal-El of their failures but assuring him they will love him all the days of his life. Jor-El also stated in the recording that, no matter what trials he'll give his son, he would never lose faith in him and was absolutely confident that Kal-El would fulfill his destiny as the savior of mankind. Once they finished recording the message, Jor-El and Lara died with the rest of their people.

In the Comics

Jor-El as he appears in the comics.

Due to continuity changes and revamps at least every ten years in the history of DC Comics, there have been many versions of Superman's origin, Krypton and Jor-El himself.

Jor-El was first referred to indirectly in Action Comics #1 in 1938, which only mentioned a scientist who sends his son to Earth. He made his first full-fledged appearance in the Superman newspaper comic strip in 1939. Jor-El's first appearance in an actual comic book was in More Fun Comics #101.

As it was summarized in the World of Krypton miniseries Jor-El was Krypton's leading scientist, having invented, among other devices, the "Jor-El," a hovercar, and having discovered a parallel plane of existence which he called the Phantom Zone, and having invented a device by which it could be entered, which he called the Phantom Zone Projector. This device got him a seat on the Science Council, Krypton's ruling body. He lived in Krypton's major city of Kryptonopolis. Even before Jor-El's birth, the El family was renowned across Krypton for its various contributions to Kryptonian society. Ancestors of Jor-El included Val-El, a famous explorer; Sul-El, the inventor of Krypton's first telescope; Tala-El, the author of Krypton's first planetary constitution; Hatu-El, the inventor of Krypton's first electromagnet and first electric motor; and Gam-El, the father of modern Kryptonian architecture. Jor-El had two brothers: Zor-El, who lived in Argo City and eventually became the father of Kara Zor-El, alias Supergirl, and an identical twin brother named Nim-El, who lived in Kandor. In several stories, Jor-El's father was established as Jor-El I, and his mother as Nimda (née An-Dor). Jor-El eventually met and married Lara, the daughter of Lor-Van and a young astronaut in Krypton's fledgling space program the two had an infant son, Kal-El.

When Krypton began experiencing a series of earthquakes, Jor-El investigated. He soon discovered, to his horror, that Krypton's core was extremely unstable and indeed radioactive, and worse, that it would eventually reach critical mass and explode, taking the entire planet and its populace with it. Jor-El tried to convince the members of the Science Council of this impending disaster and urged re-establishing Krypton's space program so giant spacecraft could be built to carry the populace to another habitable world. However, the Council was dismissive of Jor-El's findings and refused to comply with his plan. Some even accused him of treachery, trying to cause chaos so he could take over. There were supporters of Jor-El's theory, but when a ship was constructed to evacuate them, the city of Kandor was shrunken and stolen by Brainiac, removing the people who believed in Jor-El's work. Frustrated, Jor-El continued his work on space travel on his own, hoping to build a spacecraft to save his own family. This work included launching several smaller test rockets; one of these rockets included the family dog, who responded to the name of "Krypto". However, as time ran short, Jor-El soon found that he would only have enough time to build a spacecraft to save his son Kal-El. He decided to send Kal-El to Earth, realizing he would gain superhuman powers under Earth's more intense yellow sun and lower gravity. As Krypton finally went through its final destructive stages, Jor-El and Lara placed their son in the rocket and launched him toward Earth, before they themselves were killed along with almost all the rest of the planet's population. Lara could have fit inside the rocket as well, but she chose to stay behind to increase Kal-El's chances of reaching Earth.

After the 1985-1986 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths and the 1986 miniseries The Man of Steel rewrote Superman's origins, details about Jor-El's background and character were changed. Jor-El inhabited a cold and emotionally sterile Krypton where even bodily contact was forbidden. Indeed, Jor-El himself was considered a "throwback" for actually expressing emotions toward his mate Lara, and for his favoring the less-sterilized days of past Kryptonian eras. Another change in this version was Jor-El genetically altering his son's fetus to allow him to leave Krypton and merely attaching a warp engine to the matrix instead of constructing a ship wholesale. The result was that, when the birthing matrix opened on Earth, Kal-El was "born" on that planet.

Jor-El and Lara sent infant Kal-El to Earth.

In the miniseries Superman: Birthright, Jor-El, along with Krypton and Lara, was, more or less, reinstated to his Silver Age versions, though with such updated touches as Lara contributing equally to the effort of sending Kal-El, once again an infant while on Krypton, to Earth. In this version, Jor-El discovers Earth moments before launching his son's spacecraft. Also, the conclusion of the miniseries has the adult Superman, on Earth, seeing his parents through Lex Luthor's time-space communicator, and on Krypton, seconds before its destruction, Jor-El and Lara see their son alive and well on Earth and know that their efforts were successful. Following Infinite Crisis, they are no longer valid in comics canon.

In Infinite Crisis, a new version of Krypton along with another version of Jor-El are presented into mainstream continuity. Here, Jor-El is depicted for the first time with a beard and the design of Kryptonian society is distinct yet again from the last two reboots, incorporating elements of Donner's work on the first two Christopher Reeve films, in particular the notion of Krypton's Council threatening Jor-El with the harsh penalty of exile to the very Phantom Zone he himself had discovered if he were to make public his predictions of their planet's imminent doom or otherwise attempt to "create a climate of panic."

Jor-El and his wife Lara.

Jor-El and Lara with their son, Superman.

Jor-El is shown here to have been mentored by friend and noted scientist Non, who corroborated Jor-El's findings regarding Krypton's impending destruction when the two were arrested and brought to trial before the Council by Zod and Ursa. When Non defies the Council's dire prohibitions and elects to spread the word of the coming apocalypse, he is abducted by Council agents and apparently lobotomized, thus explaining the character's mute simple-mindedness. Appalled, Zod and Ursa propose to Jor-El that they band together and overthrow the Council, but Jor-El will have none of it. When their murderous insurrection fails, the Council forces Jor-El to exile them to the Phantom Zone and never speak of his findings again, lest he face the same fate. For this perceived betrayal, Zod declares that he will escape and conquer Krypton (confident that Jor-El will actually discover some way to save the planet) and force the scientist and his son to kneel before him one day.

Having been re-built via a Kryptonian crystal during the One Year Later story arc, the current version of the Fortress of Solitude, now contains an advanced interactive "recording" of Jor-El.

Jor-El in the New 52.

Batman discovered that, years ago, Jor-El sent a probe to Earth that made contact with Thomas Wayne while he was on a drive with a pregnant Martha Wayne, the probe holographically transmitting Thomas' consciousness to Krypton so that Jor-El could better learn what kind of world Earth was to help him decide which of many possible candidates he should send his son to. Thomas tells Jor-El that the people of Earth aren't perfect, but are essentially a good and kind race who would raise the child right, convincing Jor-El to send Kal-El there. Upon returning to his body, Thomas uses the technology in the Kryptonian probe to revitalize a failing Wayne Enterprises; years later, the alien technology would be the basis of much of Batman's technology. Thomas recorded his encounter in a diary, which was discovered by his son Bruce Wayne in the present day.

In the New 52 most of Jor-El's history is still intact. He is still the biological father of superman the creator of the Phantom zone projector and is still part of the Kryptonian Science council and still was one of few kryptonians who knew of Krypton's imminent destruction and wishes to voice his research to the Science Council. But, The core research center is Destroyed by the Eradicator's henchmen. It is later revealed that the Eradicator knows of Jor-El's findings and wishes to enlist him in his doomsday cult, but Jor-El manages to defeat the Eradicators henchmen.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 #
Season 3 - - - - - X - - - - - - - - - - - - X - - - N/A 2
Season 9 - - - - - - X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - N/A 1
Season 10 - - - - - - - X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - N/A 1
Total 4


  • Jor-El first appeared in the Superman newspaper strip.
  • Jor-El has only physically appeared on-screen four times:
  • When Jor-El and Lara are shown placing Kal-El into his spaceship, the color of their clothing plus Kal-El's blanket form the classic Superman colors: red, blue, and yellow.
  • In Golden and Silver Age comics, Jor-El's father is named Jor-El the First while his mother is named Nimda An-Dor.[7] In post-Crisis comics continuity, Jor-El's father is named Seyg-El.[8] In Kevin J. Anderson's novel The Last Days of Krypton, Jor-El's parents are named Yar-El and Charys-El.[9]


  • Jor-El and Zod were once friends before they became enemies.
  • While on Earth in 1961, Jor-El defeated Lachlan Luthor when he attempted to rob Louise McCallum, which is a lot like how Clark defeated Lionel Luthor and later Lex Luthor at times. Like father, like son.
  • Three of Clark's most powerful enemies and his central enemies from Krypton (Brainiac, Zod and Zor-El) were all corrupted to evil in some indirect way by Jor-El, leading to the destruction of Krypton and problems for Clark:
    • Brainiac was created by Jor-El to help win the war against Zod and his disciples, but was corrupted by Zod, played a key role in Krypton's destruction and, years later, became Clark's Kryptonian enemy.
    • Zod was Jor-El's best friend, only to be turned away by Jor-El when Jor-El wouldn't resurrect his son. He became corrupted by his ideals and lust for power and control, and was the central destroyer of Krypton and became one of Clark's most formidable foes.
    • Zor-El was Jor-El's brother, and it was because of the two that their friendship and love for each other was destroyed. He then aided Zod in the destruction of Krypton and became an enemy of his nephew Clark.
  • Sometime between 1961 and 1986, Jor-El gained a British accent. However, Jor-El may likely had put on an American accent to blend in better with his surroundings.

Other faces of Jor-El

See also

Other Versions
  • Jor-El - The artificial intelligence version of Jor-El
  • Jor-El (clone) - The clone of Jor-El who has Jor-El's memories
Kryptonians in Smallville
Main Clark KentKaraZodBrainiacDavis Bloome
House of El Jor-El (AI, clone) • Lara-ElZor-ElConner Kent
Kandorian army Kandorian army: BasqatValaFaoraAliaCoats
Houses House of El (crest) • House of Zod (crest)
Other Disciples of Zod (Nam-Ek, Aethyr) • Dax-UrRayaFaoraKrypton
Clark Kent in Smallville
Family Kents: Martha , JonathanHouse of El: Jor-El (ai, clone), Lara, Kara, Zor-El, Conner Kent
Relationships ChloePeteOliverEmilJohn JonesLex (destiny) • LionelBrainiacJimmyTessDavisZod
Romantic interests Chloe SullivanLana LangKyla WillowbrookAlicia BakerLois Lane (destiny)
Work Smallville TorchJustice LeagueDaily Planet
Details Powers (loss, vulnerabilities, training) • secretattireglassesbloodfighting style
Homes Krypton (knowledge) • Kent Farm (house, cellar, barn, loft, truck) • FortressApartment (telescope)
Other KalKal-El (ship) • Superman (suit, crest) • aliasesdestinyvisionNo tights, no flightsNear-death experiencesEpisodes


  1. Smallville: The Visual Guide
  2. This is strongly corroborated in Blue, when the clone of Jor-El's wife Lara initially thought her son Kal-El was Jor-El.
  3. Zod tells Clark that he's "an idealistic fool—just like your father." in Zod.
  4. Zor-El tells Lara that "Jor-El's blood runs too cold to be a father" and that he'll never feel the same way he (Zor-El) does about her. (Lara)
  5. Zor-El tells Clark, "The weak must be sacrificed for the greater good—something your father could never understand." (Blue)
  6. Lara mentions that she had only known her son Kal-El for a few weeks. (Abandoned)

External links

Kryptonians in Smallville
Main Clark KentKaraZodBrainiacDavis Bloome
House of El Jor-El (AI, clone) • Lara-ElZor-ElConner Kent
Kandorian army Kandorian army: BasqatValaFaoraAliaCoats
Houses House of El (crest) • House of Zod (crest)
Other Disciples of Zod (Nam-Ek, Aethyr) • Dax-UrRayaFaoraKrypton