In Smallville one of the key tenets of the story is that the story is of Clark Kent before he was Superman, so during the entire show, he never flies and never wears his iconic costume. This is summed up in the famous rule the creators put in place, "no tights, no flights". The "no flights" rule is broken several times under various circumstances (mostly by people other than Clark), but the Superman suit itself only shows up deep in the final act of the series finale.

I have heard rumors that Tom Welling only agreed to play Clark Kent after hearing about the no-tights rule, and possibly that it was part of his contract. Having rewatched the finale scene, the camera cuts and angles appear to be very carefully chosen so that Welling never appears on screen wearing the suit; instead there is a series of wide shots where the actor is unregonizable (possibly even CGI?) intermixed with very close-up shots of Welling from the neck up. The closest we come is that he's wearing a Superman shirt under his work shirt in the very final scene.

Was Tom Welling ever the person wearing the suit -- the full body suit -- in any of the scenes that we see on-screen? If not, was that his choice or the show runners?

  • ew.com/tv/2017/08/08/… - Suggests not
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 19:57
  • possibly, but it seems like he's talking about the character not suiting up for the bulk of the finale
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 5:55

1 Answer 1


Tom Welling never wore the Superman suit in the show, save for the finale, and even then only in a CGI long shot. His (and the producer's opinion) was that once Supes has the suit and a secret identity, his life becomes entirely too easy. He can simply fly away from any situation that causes him distress.

Hence, fans waited desperately for the moment Welling would actually suit up, assuming it would happen in the series finale. And it sort of happened. In the closing moments of the final episode, viewers saw Welling’s Clark Kent rip open his button down shirt to see the House of El insignia underneath in an iconic recreation of the comics, but once Superman took flight, it was only shown from a distance via CGI — and for good reason.

“It was something that we discussed before we ever shot the pilot with [creators] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar],” Welling tells EW. “We literally had a sit down where we talked about the show and I asked about the suit and the tights and the flying, and they said, ‘No, absolutely not,’ part of the reason being is that show is about a teenager trying to figure out who he is. They felt that once Clark put on the cape and the suit, life became too easy, in a sense. They wanted to focus on who this character was before that. And, at the time, because of where visual effects and special effects and stunts were, it would be too expensive. That’s mainly why they save that for movies, more or less.”

Smallville's Tom Welling breaks silence on series finale suit-up

Notably, Welling hasn't worn the suit since then, even for press photos or when reprising his role in the CW crossover "crisis" event.

There was one thing Welling absolutely wouldn't do: wear the Superman suit. Speaking at Fan Expo Vancouver, Welling explained it in clear terms.

"If they had started the conversation with 'So, Clark is in the suit,' I'd have been like [click],"

In the scene that was ultimately shot, Welling's Clark Kent is reintroduced after a sizable time jump from the finale of Smallville. An older Clark, who has given up his superpowers in order to live a normal life with Lois Lane, is confronted by the Lex Luthor of the 'Arrowverse' in a short and humorous cameo.

Newsweek - Tom Welling Would Not Have Returned as Clark Kent If He Had to Wear The Superman Costume

  • Got to respect the commitment. Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 7:25
  • @PaulD.Waite - His schtick is that he's Clark Kent, not Superman.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 7:26

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