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"Stray" is the sixteenth episode in the first season of Smallville, and sixteenth episode overall. It aired on April 16, 2002.


Ryan James can read minds. In Smallville, he tries to escape his abusive step-parents who use his abilities to help them steal by feigning amnesia. He stays with the Kents, and Clark gets to have a little brother for a few days. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor turns down an offer from his father to return to Metropolis.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 1x16

Ryan James is trying to pawn a small angel figurine. He haggles with the pawnbroker telling him it's gold. The pawnbroker tells him it's fake but Ryan wins him over by saying his mother is dead. Touched, the pawnbroker increases his offer and dials into the shop's safe. Across the street, Ryan climbs into a car with James Gibson and Debra Burch, his stepparents. He is reluctant, but he tells them the combination to the safe and asks them not to forget his angel; the two exit the car with a shotgun and pistol. Ryan follows them out and is horrified to see his father shoot and kill the broker. He then runs away blindly into the woods with his step-parents after him. While trying to cross the street, he is struck by a car being driven by Martha Kent. Alarmed, Martha collects the boy and drives him to the hospital just as James and Debra arrive.


The doctor discusses Ryan's injuries with the Kents.

At the Smallville Medical Center, Dr. Harden informs the Kents that he only has minor injuries. Ryan claims to only know his name and they can't find his parents. She also tells them that he has injuries not related to the car accident, speculating that he may not want to remember. She announces that Child Services will not be able to pick him up until tomorrow, so the only place for him to stay is a juvenile cell at the sheriff's office. Clark suggests that Ryan stay with them.

The next morning, the Kents awake to a homemade breakfast courtesy of Ryan, who proceeds to correctly guess exactly how they like their pancakes, but he can't guess for Clark. Jonathan asks him why he was out on the highway that night and he gets defensive, says he doesn't remember, and leaves the table abruptly. Clark finds him on the tractor reading his favorite comic book, Warrior Angel. Ryan is afraid that the Kents won't like him if they discover that he did "bad things" before they found him. Clark gets him to loosen up by playing basketball. Jonathan and Martha look on while they play.

At the hospital, James Gibson poses as a private detective looking for a lost boy. He asks about Ryan and learns only that Ryan isn't there anymore.

Lex Luthor receives a surprise visit from his father, Lionel, who compliments his work on the profits of the LuthorCorp plant in Smallville. He offers Lex a new position in Metropolis as Special Adviser to the Chairman (himself). Lex doesn't jump at the offer, but he promises to think about it.

Clark takes Ryan to the Torch office to meet Chloe. She compares his story to that of Kaspar Hauser, an obscure German folk tale about a boy who appeared out of the woods and was eventually claimed by every parent who had lost a child. She abruptly ends the story before revealing the sad ending, but Ryan finishes it for her. She looks at him strangely, surprised that he knew the ending seemingly right out of her head.

When she is out of earshot, Ryan tells Clark that Chloe likes him and wants him to ask her to the upcoming school dance. Clark is skeptical when Ryan says she has even picked out a pink dress.

Clark takes Ryan to the Talon to meet Lana and Lex. Lex informs Ryan that he has the entire Warrior Angel collection, but Ryan is unimpressed. Clark asks him why he was so rude to Lex and Ryan says that Lex is leaving anyway, because his father offered him a job. Clark tells him to stop making up stories about people and leaves him alone for a minute. Ryan then sees James in the coffee shop and runs away out the back with James in pursuit. Ryan crawls into a Dumpster to hide. Clark arrives in the alley and is horrified to see it being picked up by a dumptruck. He pries the side of the Dumpster off and Ryan is able to crawl out safely.

That night, Lex visits Clark in his loft and Clark asks him if he ever wanted a sibling. Lex tells Clark he had one, named Julian, but he died as an infant. He says it broke up his family and his mother was never the same. He also confirms Ryan's "story" when he reveals that Lionel has indeed offered him a job, but he doesn't know if he wants it anymore. Clark is surprised when Lex claims he didn't tell Ryan.

Jonathan takes Ryan to the Talon as a reward for helping out. Before they leave, he informs Lana that one of her employees is a bad person. Indeed, Lana later catches the employee stealing cash from the register. They are followed back to the farm by Ryan's stepparents, who are sitting outside, reading a newspaper article about Lex.

Clark and Chloe go back to where Martha hit Ryan to look for clues to his identity. Clark brings up Ryan's claim about Chloe's pink dress and she reluctantly confirms it, but maintains that she didn't actually buy the dress. They find Ryan's backpack, which contains a photograph of Ryan and his mother.

Inside Ryan asks Martha cryptic and probing questions, unnerving her. She sends him outside to play.


Ryan discovers Clark's ship.

At the farm, Clark catches Ryan looking at his spaceship in the storm cellar. He is angry, but Ryan promises not to tell. He confesses his ability to read people's thoughts. He begins to cry as he explains that his mother died and his step-parents abused him and made him steal. He says he wanted to start over with the Kents.


Clark saves Ryan from his step-father.

Debra arrives at the Kent house posing as a child services advocate. She threatens to kill the Kents unless Ryan plays along and he has to leave before saying goodbye to Clark. Lex arrives shortly afterward to give Clark a gift: a fencing sword, called a foil. Clark thinks that it is a going-away present, but Lex explains that he hasn't quite made up his mind about leaving Smallville and climbs into a limousine, on the way to dinner with his father. As they drive away, it is revealed that James is driving.

The Gibsons meet up to hack into Lex's account with a laptop. He says he already has the account number for his trust fund and asks Lex for the password. Ryan reads Lex's mind and gets the password, saying it's "Julian." They then dump Lex on the side of the road.

Chloe goes to visit Clark and shows him James Gibson's rap sheet. Clark recognizes him as Lex's limo driver and speeds away. He finds Lex on the side of the road, but Ryan and the limo are gone.


The Kents waving Ryan goodbye.

The Gibsons stop at a bowling alley to torch the limo and hack into Lex's account with a laptop. James grows infuriated when the password doesn't work and threatens Ryan. Debra wants to kill Ryan but he tells her that James is only going to kill her once they get the money. James tries to make it look like Ryan's playing games, but she realizes that Ryan has never lied before. He kills Debra, then chases Ryan into the bowling alley. Clark arrives and uses his x-ray vision to find James and Ryan. He throws a bowling ball and hits James in the chest.

Clark takes Ryan to the Talon to say goodbye to Lana, who gives him a goodbye kiss.

Lex informs Lionel that he is not ready to come back to Metropolis and turns down his job offer.

His aunt from Edge City comes to the farm to collect him. He also reveals Johnathan and Martha's secret: The real identity of Clark but he promises to keep it a secret. Ryan gives Clark his comics collection and again warns him about Lex. Clark looks subdued as the Kents wave goodbye.


Special Guest Star[]

Guest Starring[]



Featured Music[]

Song Artist/Band Scene
"Free to Change Your Mind" Regency Buck Played at the beginning, when Ryan runs away from his step family.
"Lonely Day" Phantom Planet Played when Clark and Ryan play basketball.
"Dragging Me Down" Todd Thibaud Played at the Talon, when Lex tells Ryan he is a fan of Warrior Angel.
"Hollywood" Micah Green PLayed when Jonathan and Ryan go to the Talon and Ryan tries to find out Lana’s secret.
"Is It Love?" Todd Thibaud Played when Ryan says goodbye to Lana in the Talon.
"Superman" Five For Fighting Played at the end, when the Kents say goodbye to Ryan.


  • A stray is a homeless or friendless person or animal.
  • The title refers to Ryan James, who runs away from his abusive step-parents and befriends Clark.


  • Antagonists: James Gibson and Debra Burch
  • Pete Ross and Whitney Fordman do not appear in this episode.
  • Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strength, super speed, X-ray vision, and super-stamina.
  • The climax of this episode was shot on location in a bowling alley in Richmond, BC, Canada, coincidentally named "Lois Lanes".
  • Lex describes Warrior Angel as "a strange visitor from another planet, who protects the weak". This is a clear reference to Superman, who was sent to Earth to be its saviour.
  • This is the first mention of Julian Luthor.
  • This is the third episode in which the villain is not infected by meteor rock (the others being Rogue and Zero).
  • Ryan James is the first character with an ability not due to meteor rock infection. It is revealed in Ryan that a brain tumor gives Ryan the ability to read minds.
  • In the closing scene, when Ryan hands his Warrior Angel comics to Clark, it is clearly visible for a moment that most of the "comics" are actually covers filled with newsprint.
  • This is the first mention of the "Warrior Angel" comic book.
  • The phrase "Kryptonite" is first used in this episode towards the end sung by Five For Fighting.
  • After taking Lex hostage and using Ryan's mind reading abilities to get the code to his account, Jame Gibson didn't kill him and instead disposed of him by kicking him to the curb, a likely explanation for this is he knew killing a high profile entity such as Lex would result in special investigations and it appeared he never intended on killing him but pointed the gun at him to enable Ryan to read his impulses.





Clark: Going all out for the new kid, huh?
Jonathan: Actually, Clark, Ryan took care of all this himself.
Clark: You're making me look bad.

Lionel: I'm not here to complain, Lex. On the contrary, your performance lately has been... more than adequate.
Lex: That sounds dangerously like a compliment.

Lana: I always dreamed of having a brother or sister. You know, someone to talk to, help fill the silence.
Clark: Someone you could totally trust and would always be there for you?
Lana: It's just how I see you, Clark.
Clark: Thanks.

Lex: The day Julian was born was the only time I felt like I was part of a real family.

Clark: Don't worry, Chloe's the queen of obscure and irrelevant references.

Clark: Warrior Angel, why him?
Ryan: Because he protects people who can't protect themselves. I like being around you Clark. It's... peaceful.

Lionel: We don't need to play games, son.
Lex: Dad, games are all we have.

Jonathan:You always had a soft spot for strays.
Martha: The last one turned out all right.

Ryan: (about Lex) I know you like him, Clark, but there's a lot of darkness he keeps from the world.

Ryan: I can tell you about Lana, do you want to know her secret?
Clark: Ryan I don't.
Ryan: Why not? It's about you.

Lex: It's a foil, Clark. Every hero should have one.

Ryan: I don't know. But I'm definitely in love.
Clark: Join the club.

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ComicsThe Comic · Season 11 · Miniseries