TV URBAN LEGEND: Tom Welling refused to do the original series finale for Smallville.
Smallville burst on to the scene in 2001 as a bold re-imagining of the origins of Superman, showing the adventures of young Clark Kent as he slowly transitions from being a young man with superpowers until he becomes, well, you know, Superman.
The amusing thing about the show, of course, was that it ran for ten seasons, so the show was sort of pushing it on the whole “transitioning into becoming Superman” deal when the star of the show, Tom Welling, was 34 years old by the time that the series ended.
In any event, the show long held to a very specific rule, which was “No Tights, No Flight.” Since the show was about Clark Kent turning into Superman, the notion was that once he became Superman, the show would be over, and thus, he couldn’t wear tights and he couldn’t fly, because they also believed that the whole “you can believe a man could fly” deal was also specifically a Superman type situation.
Don’t get me wrong, though, the show bent the rules as far as they possibly could without literally breaking them.
Clark basically had a costume, but it was an S jacket and not a literal costume. He went about as fast as he could without flying, which led to what was, in effect, a superhero name as everyone called him “The Blur.”
But he didn’t fly and he didn’t wear an actual costume. Those were the rules.
That, then, became an issue with the series finale of the show in 2011.
As Tom Welling told Entertainment Weekly’s Natalie Abrams in 2017:
Our series finale was supposed to be, in the first act, Clark puts on the suit and flies around, saves Lois on a plane, and does this other stuff. It was a call that I had with Peter Roth, who is the head of Warner Bros. Television, who’s a good friend of mine and we have a great relationship. I said, ‘That’s not our show, Peter.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s going to be great,” and I go, ‘Yeah, but just think about what we’ve been doing. If we just jump into that, we haven’t earned it.’
So Welling said he wouldn’t do the episode as then-currently written.
So they agreed to re-write the episode. Now, Clark still IS Superman during the episode, but we don’t see him as Superman until the very last shot of the episode and, thus, the series, where we see Clark in the midst of changing into Superman, so, again, we never actually see him outright as Superman or flying or anything like that, the show just ends specifically as he becomes Superman, which was the original intent.
It was a very clever solution.
Good on Tom Welling to want to stick to the original idea of the show and good on Warner Bros. Television for letting him do it his way.
The legend is…