Lex seemed to enjoy having Metropolis wrapped around his finger by the way he did illegal things without their knowledge while posing as a legitimate businessman.
However when Superman appeared on the scene, Lex despised the Man of Steel for foiling his plans and showed ultimate jealousy when he saw the love of his life Lois Lane in love with him.
Since his parents died when he was young, Lex had never had a taste of proper family love which explains his coldness towards his own two illegitimate sons.
Lex enjoyed reciting quotes from Shakespeare's plays, especially his favorite Richard III, who was also his hero.
He had an insane lust for power and went to sadistic dangeous lengths to bring down his rival and have Lois for himself, letting nobody stand in his way, even at the expense of people's lives. He also had an explosive temper when things didn't go his way or when someone was trying to stop him from getting what he wanted and responded in various violent ways.
Lex also had obsessed love for Lois Lane, had no interest for anyone else and would let no one else have her. He was willing to destroy Lois' life at the Daily Planet, kidnap her, keep her in permenant amnesia or even destroy Metropolis just to have her to himself, constantly saying that the love for a woman drives a ordinary man to dangerous lengths.
He also told a shocked Lois that after he was branded a criminal, the true Lex was now blossoming and he would make an empire of pure evil made for the utimate happiness of them.
As Superman rightly said about his arch-enemy, Lex was indeed a sick and deranged person.
Little is known about Lex's past except that his parents died when he was seven years old and he had to work extremely hard to gain his fortune. Years later he eventually established Lex Corp, a vast empire consisting of transportation, broadcasting, industrial and other sources. He oversaw all this from his enormous Lex Corp tower, the tallest building in Metropolis.
In the years that followed, he married Arianna Carlin on October 8, 1984, but they spilt up a few years later with his ex-wife still loving Lex who would later go to great lengths to avenge him.
He also had several lovers, two of which gave him two illegitimate sons Lex Luthor, Jr. and Jaxon Xavier.
Lex saw Jr. as a bitter disappointment because of his disfigured appearance and after his mother in Hong Kong died in childbirth, Lex left Jr. to be raised alone in the shadows in Australia behind closed doors with no sunlight or human contact and only visited him once. But he later left him a recorded message that Jr. would soon be able to use to his advantage.
Jaxon eventually grew up and became a scientist at Lex Corp, one of Lex's scientific corporations. Jaxon's mother had died in a car accident, but Jaxon survived. Lex however, never told anyone he was his son, never showed him any love or affection and told people that he was dead as he saw Jaxon as a mistake.
Lex became one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Metropolis, but all that was about to change with the arrival of Superman.
Lex was now the third richest man in the world and in his opinion had the whole world wrapped around his finger. But when Superman arrived and foiled his first scheme involving illegal doings during a space programme, the Man of Steel confronted him and told him that he disliked his disregard for the law and getting what he wanted at the expense of others. He vowed justice would be served and that Lex would eventually have his mighty kingdom crumble and serve time behind bars like any ordinary criminal. Lex scoffed at this threat, but told Superman: "Let the Games Begin." (Pilot)
Lex along with his personal assistant Nigel St. John began to test Superman's powers and weaknesses at the expense of innocent lives, which eventually drove the Man of Steel to confront him and angrily tell him to stop these tests, but Lex told him that as long as he was in Metropolis innocent people would die and asked him if he was willing to hold that responsibility. Superman eventually proved to Lex that he was willing and after this experience Lex knew that he would eventually win against his adversary because he saw Superman's morals and feelings towards humanity to be his ultimate undoing. (Neverending Battle)
His many schemes after this were mostly for his own personal gain, outwitting Superman and turning the public against him.
Once, he nearly succeeded when a heat wave caused by his own nuclear power plant made the people of Metropolis blame Superman and forced him to leave the city. Lex saw this as his ultimate victory, but Superman eventually discovered what he was up to and stopped his plant resulting in him having to pay for the damages he had caused to the city. (The Man of Steel Bars)
After dating Lois Lane, Lex fell in love with her and saw Superman as a rival for Lois' affections as she was smitten with the Man of Steel and even kissed him in front of him after thinking he was under the influence of pheromones from a scheme that one of his ex-lovers Miranda had thought up. (Pheromone, My Lovely)
After hiring a young boy named Jack to ransack Clark Kent's apartment, Lex got hold of a globe resembling Superman's home planet Krypton that played holograms and messages of the Man of Steel's past. Although Superman got it back before Lex had finished learning from it, he had learned that Superman had come to Earth as an infant and raised as an Earthling, making him even more confident of defeating the Man of Steel if he ever learned who he really was. (Foundling)
Later he stole a lock of hair Superman had donated to charity to make a clone of the Man of Steel that he himself could control, but it all failed when the clone realized he was just a puppet to follow Lex's bidding and turned against him. The clone took back the lock of hair and gave it to Superman to destroy as well as himself so no one else would create a clone of him again. (Vatman)
Lex finally proposed to Lois while they were on a jet. Lois gently told him that they have only been together for a few weeks and there was the Daily Planet and her friends to think about. Lex then decided to drive Lois away from her old routine. First he bought the Daily Planet and then set up an explosion to blow it up whilst framing young assistant Jack who had taken a dislike to him. He also found a large chunk of green Kryptonite that he could use to finally destroy Superman. Though he was now unpopular with the staff at the now destroyed Daily Planet, Lois still thought of him as a genuine person. She accepted her new job as a news announcer for LNN (Luthor News Network) and eventually accepted Lex's proposal. They then began making plans for their wedding. (Barbarians at the Planet)
Lex then started plotting with his new personal assistant Mrs. Cox (why Nigel left his employ has never been mentioned) on how they would finally prize Lois away from her old routine and he would have the wife he had always wanted. He then asked her to send a message to Clark Kent to contact Superman (Lex was unaware of Clark and Superman being one of the same) and tell him to meet him to discuss about Lois.
Superman arrived in the wine cellar and Lex asked him to persuade Clark to attend Lois and his wedding with the Man of Steel being a guest as well. But Superman knowing about the terrible things Lex had done refused, so Lex trapped Superman in a cage laid with Kryptonite bars and left him there to die. While he prepared for the wedding, he went down to the wine cellar to mock his enemy one last time. He tortured him by placing a white curtain cord on his neck and left him while carelessly leaving the cage key on the one of the casks of wine while singing how much he is going to enjoy being Lois' husband.
Eventually Lex was standing at the altar smiling and admiring how beautiful Lois looked. When she finally reached the aisle, they started to exchange vows, but Lois had a change of heart and told an astonished Lex that she couldn't marry him after all. Suddenly the doors flew open and Daily Planet editor in chief Perry White along with employees Jimmy Olsen and Jack who had now been cleared came in followed by the police. They had gathered enough evidence to put Lex away for a long time. Inspector Henderson held out a warrant for arson and other crimes that were too numerous to mention. After seeing Mrs. Cox arrested too, Lex refused to go quietly and fought his way through the police and prepared to make his escape. He went back down to the wine cellar to quickly kill the Man of Steel before leaving, but to his horror and rage, Superman had escaped, having used the curtain cord to get the key and free himself so Lex took off once again, unaware that his enemy was amongst the casks of wine recovering.
Lex finally reached his office on the top floor of his tower, Henderson and the police were closing in on him, but Lex still refused to give up. He went to his balcony and climbed on top vowing that he would never live in a cage. He then threw himself off it to the street below, committing suicide.
Superman who was now dressed as Clark Kent watched Lex falling, but couldn't save him as he was too weak from the Kryptonite exposure so Lex landed hard on the street below.
Afterwards his corpse was stolen from the police morgue, but the Daily Planet was repossessed and rebuilt. (The House of Luthor)
Lex's corpse was stolen by Arianna (his ex-wife) and his former physician Gretchen Kelly and hoped to bring him back from the dead. Arianna vowed to avenge her ex-husband's death and blamed Lois and Superman for it; Superman for not saving him and Lois for "driving him to his death" after refusing him at the altar. She created a double of Lois to discredit her and tried to kill Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. However she failed and was sent to prison along with the double. Gretchen was left behind to look after Lex's body and said that even though Arianna failed, he would always have her. (Madame Ex)
In an attempt to get Superman's powers for herself, Gretchen was in a fierce battle with the Man of Steel and a new hero called Resplendent Man resulting in serious damage done to the equipment keeping Lex's frozen corpse alive. Afterwards Gretchen in disguise, transferred the corpse somewhere else under the sewers of Metropolis. (A Bolt from the Blue)
After several days, Gretchen contacted Nigel to witness her trying to bring Lex back from the dead. When it seemed as if Lex would never make it after the damage done to the equipment, she finally succeeded when Lex suddenly came back to life, smashing his way out of his frozen chamber much to the amazement of Gretchen and Nigel.
After being treated by Gretchen and given clothes, Lex checked his bank accounts to see if he still had his fortune, but to his dismay found that his former attorney Sheldon Bender had stolen his entire fortune and as a temporary side effect of his resurrection, he was losing his hair, so he arranged for Gretchen to shave it off, making him bald. He decided to gain what he had lost before his death, rekindle his relationship with Lois Lane and destroy Superman.
He arranged for Nigel and Gretchen to kidnap Bender and bring him to him, which they succeeded in doing. Lex then tortured Bender out of vengeance, threatening to feed him to the rats if he didn't give the information he wanted. Sheldon tried to bargain with Lex by saying he knew someone who owned Kryptonite. Lex accepted his proposition, but threatened to kill him if he double-crossed him.
In the disguise of an old man, Lex met Lois once again and fell in love with her again, making him even more determined to get her back, by force if necessary.
Later Lex, Nigel and Bender visited Metropolis Prison to see Rollie Vale (whose brother Emmet had stolen the Kryptonite from Lex Labs to power his cyborg in Metallo), Vale agreed to give Lex the Kryptonite in exchange for a half a million dollars and his freedom. Lex then decided to create a diversion to get the equipment they needed to break Vale out and in the disguise of a janitor, wired a bomb to Perry White's chair at the Daily Planet. While the Man of Steel was saving Perry, Lex successfully gained the equipment.
Lex met Lois once again in his old man disguise and revealed himself to the astounded reporter. He told Lois that he had never stopped loving her and now that he was alive again that they should give their relationship another chance, but Lois refused, however she showed him some mercy by not turning him in to the police.
Lex then had Bender arrange for Vale to be moved to the courthouse for another hearing and returned him to his home, but then arranged for Nigel to kill him after he found out that Lois and Clark were investigating and that he may of turned him in.
In a van, Lex and Nigel set off to break Vale out of the prison van and arranged for Gretchen to capture Lois and bring her to him. They succeeded in breaking Vale out and took him back to their sewer hideout, while Gretchen captured Lois who had been hanging around there. When they arrived, Vale gave Lex the Kryptonite that had been concealed in his robotic right arm (Johnny Corben, the man they had chosen to be their cyborg had crushed his real arm after he had tried to dislodge his power supply). Lex decided to lure Superman to him so he could be killed and gave the Kryptonite to Nigel for safe keeping.
He attempted to double-cross Vale, but to his astonishment, Nigel double-crossed him revealing himself to be a spy for the new criminal organization Intergang. In anger, Lex threw Vale at Nigel who shot a crossbow bolt at him and killed Vale before escaping with the Kryptonite and his partner Ramine.
Gretchen attended to the wounded Lex who painfully pulled out the bolt, but when Lois tried to intervene, she pushed her into the rat pit. Lex tried to save the reporter, but Gretchen pulled him away, saying that she was the one who really loved him because she had sacrificed everything to bring him back to life. Lex got frustrated and pushed Gretchen away, knocking her into a high voltage generator, killing her.
Superman suddenly arrived and saved Lois much to Lex's dismay. He laughed at his own misfortune and told Superman that even though he had failed to kill him again, the Man of Steel would not capture him alive. He ran to the generator to commit suicide again, but Superman short-circuited the wires so Lex wouldn't "cheat justice twice". After finally finding out that Lois had never really loved him, Lex with a heavy heart, was captured by his arch-enemy, arrested and sent to prison to serve a double life sentence for his crimes. (The Phoenix)
While spending time in prison, Lex eventually found out that Nigel had later been murdered by someone else he was working with named Jason Mayzik after he had attempted to betray him in the same way. He also found out about Clark's proposal to Lois and was filled with anger and hatred as he saw Clark as someone who was taking Lois away from him. He started sending threatening gifts to Lois stating that if she married Clark, she would regret it.
He arranged for a scientist named Dr. Mamba, a crazed scientist who was creating experiments of frog eating clones, to create a clone of the President to grant him a pardon and also a clone of Lois so she would switch places with the real Lois before Lois and Clark's wedding. Even though the clone President was revealed to be an impostor and Dr. Mamba was arrested, Lex was now free and the prison officials found out too late that they had been deceived. A massive search was made, but no one knew Lex's whereabouts. (I Now Pronounce You...)
Lex, now a fugitive had to act quickly. He succeeded in switching Lois with the clone and in the disguise of an usher, kidnapped the real Lois while the clone and Clark gave their vows. He took her to a hideout underneath an old shrine and revealed himself to the astonished reporter.
Lex told Lois that even though she had told him that she never really loved him, he thought that somewhere in her heart she still had feelings for him and soon they would be far away in a windowless fortress in the alps where Superman would never be able to find them. He also threatened to inject her with a serum that would paralyze her vocal cords if she tried calling Superman for help. Lois was disgusted with Lex for doing such a cruel thing and spat back in his face after he tried to kiss her.
The clone of Lois suddenly appeared and was worried that she may make other mistakes that may make Clark suspicious, due to not knowing where the teacups were in Clark's apartment. Lex was furious with her for deserting her post and told her that she would continue her job so Clark wouldn't suspect anything until he and Lois were out of the country and he still needed her to find information about Superman so he could destroy his arch-enemy once and for all. After threatening to kill her right there and then, the clone left.
Lex watched as Lois cried and assured her that he would make her more happier than Clark. He later made her wear a suit that he had picked out for her and revealed that he would start a new empire based on pure evil for the sole happiness of them which disgusted Lois even more.
Later they were in a limousine and after hearing more of Lex's cruel intentions, Lois started screaming for Superman's help. Lex made good on his threat and paralyzed her throat with a syringe. Lois then made her way out of the limousine, trying to find Clark, but got hit by a car and lost consciousness. Lex meanwhile continued to search for his lost love and confronted the clone of her whereabouts. But the clone betrayed Lex by deciding that she wanted Clark for herself and would kill the real Lois to eliminate the competition. She then shot Lex in the chest before making her escape.
Lex then went to Clark's apartment, knowing that he was the only person who had the same love for her as himself. When Lex entered, Clark shoved him roughly against the refrigerator, vowing to literally kill him for all the trouble he caused. Lex told Clark about the clone threatening to kill the real Lois and showed him the gunshot wound. Clark immediately picked up the phone, calling the police to take Lex back to prison, but Lex assured him that he would never get Lois back without his help. Clark hesitated, but eventually hung up the phone, although he vowed that if anything had happened to her, Lex would pay.
Later after a discussion of how much they both loved Lois Lane, Lex held out his hand and asks Clark to once again find Lois. Clark was about to reluctantly accept when there was a knock at the door and Jimmy came in. Lex hid in the bedroom and overheard him talking to Clark about a novel that Lois had written about a girl named Wanda Detroit who had problems with two men named Clark and Kent. She was also a singer at a night club which was the ideal place where Lois would be. Lex decided to double-cross Clark and slipped out while Jimmy is giving Clark the information. He found her at the club before Clark and tricked Lois who believed she was the title character from her novel that Clark was the character of Clark and he was the character of Kent.
Lex then told Lois that Clark was no good for her and tricked her into saying that she didn't love or want to see him again, much to Clark's astonishment. Lex watched with a sadistic smile as Clark was forced to throw in the towel, but he was grabbed roughly by the collar by Clark who vowed to get Lois back, even if he had to go right through him if necessary. Lex shook off this threat, got into his car and drove away with Lois, leaving Clark behind with the clone. (Double Jeopardy)
Afterwards Lex hid out underneath a subway station and came up with a plan to get rid of Clark and Superman once and for all.
He contacted Superman on an ultra frequency that only the Man of Steel could hear and told him to meet at the corner of Kirby and Stireco. As soon as Superman appeared, he headed straight for Lex, determined to arrest him there and then. Lex held out a detonator saying that he had fifteen explosives wired to office buildings, museums, coffee hangouts and other areas in Metropolis, saying he would detonate them if Superman tried to take Lois away from him. His arch-enemy was disgusted by Lex's sick behavior, but Lex told him that he could never understand an ordinary man's heart and the lengths it would drive them to for the love of a woman.
To make his point, he detonated a bomb at a nearby abandoned building and while Superman was trying to stop it, thinking there were people inside, Lex tried to capture the clone while she was being transferred back to Metropolis from the LIA laboratory in Washington, but failed.
Lex meanwhile continued his charade of making Lois think she was someone else and that Clark was evil. Later that night, they broke into S.T.A.R. Labs and stole two clone samples which they took back to Lex's hideout. He modified the samples to make cloned bodies with blonde hair for himself and Lois, so they would start their brand new lives together and be truly hidden away from Superman as he could see through walls but not read minds. Lex then called on his old friend Asabi to transfer their souls to their new bodies, but at the same time to read Lois' mind. Lois is at first refuses, but Lex told her that they would never have a proper future together and it would be in his words; running, hiding, being caught, being caged and dying alone, so she reluctantly agreed.
Lex consulted Asabi who said that he sensed a great love in her mind and heart for Clark Kent and longed for him in her dreams. Lex desperately asked Asabi how he could destroy this love forever and he told him that she must kill this man with her own hands and her own freewill and then she would only have feelings for Lex.
Later his contact Phillip at the Metropolis bank informed him that Clark and the Lois Clone were making a withdrawal as only Lois or Lex could withdraw his money by the sensory identity machine. Lex then decided to put Phase 2 into action. He drove to the bank and set off a flash bomb that blinded everyone in the room except Clark (but he still pretended to be blinded so as not to give away his true identity).
Clark grabbed Lex by the collar, but Lex shouted out a message to his alter-ego Superman that another building would explode in fifteen seconds and the real Lois was in trapped in there. Sure enough Clark's super-hearing could hear Lois calling for help and the sound of a bomb ticking, so he left especially when Lex said that more buildings will explode if he wasn't back at his detonator in three minutes.
However Lex used this as a ruse to get them both out of the way so he could take the Lois clone away and steal the money she had just withdrawn. He sent a mocking ultra frequency message to pass onto Clark to the Man of Steel who found out that he had been set up, saying that he loved Lois too much and he would never give her up.
Under the subway, Lex, still angry at the clone for betraying him, told her that she was a B Class clone with a lifespan of only two weeks and didn't have long to live. In a panic, the clone told him that Clark Kent was Superman in exchange for her lifespan being reversed. Lex was surprised, shocked and grateful by this information, but he told her that there was no reversing her lifespan and she only had two days left to live. Picking up the briefcase with the money, he went off, leaving the poor clone upset and alone.
Later in a murky alley covered in rubbish, Lex made a deal with a corrupt secret government agent and bought a very powerful weapon called the A-Tech Quantum Disrupter, a weapon so powerful that it could even kill Superman.
Back at his hideout, the final modifications to the cloned bodies were almost complete and after Asabi told him that her hidden love for Clark was getting stronger, Lex replied that he was going to use the disrupter to lure Clark here and Lois herself would kill him, destroying that love forever.
He went to Clark's apartment and fired the weapon at Clark, much to the clone's horror who had just told him that Lex knew who he really was. The blast was so powerful that it knocked his arch-enemy against the wall and tore through his shirt to reveal the House of El shield on his chest.
Clark's parents Jonathan and Martha Kent appeared and Lex pointed the disrupter at them, threatening to do the same to them if they moved.
Lex with a snarl, told Clark that he now knew who he really was and would let every criminal in the world have this information as well as the design for the disrupter and his parents' address, so he would spend the rest of his life being hounded, begging for mercy or hiding. Sensing Superman's strength was returning, he took Martha hostage and knocked down Jonathan before making his escape.
Unknown to Lex, Clark sent the Lois clone to follow him at a safe distance and phone him when she found out where his hideout was. Lex tied Martha up in another room then preceded with the next part of his plan to kill his arch-enemy once and for all. He messed up his hair and tore his shirt, once again lying to the real Lois about what happened. He showed her the disrupter and told her that she must kill him.
The modifications to the cloned bodies were complete and Lex and Lois got ready with Asabi to transfer their souls to them. Superman suddenly appeared and lifted Lex up by the collar, demanding to know where his mother was being held. Lex told Lois to shoot him, making Superman release him. Lois fired, but the blast hit a pillar causing the ceiling to collapse. Superman tried to hold the ceiling up and Lex demanded again for Lois to shoot him, but found that she couldn't. Lex became angry and not caring that the whole building would collapse, took the disrupter and fired at Superman once again. Lois was horrified as she watched the effect the weapon had on the Man of Steel and tried to stop Lex from finishing him off.
Lex lost his temper and shoved her to one side, telling her never to stand in the way of him and what he wanted. He tried to fire again, but at the same moment, the Lois clone appeared and wrestled with him. They were both caught in the blast of the weapon which severely damaged their bodies. The clone died after telling Superman where his mother was kept and Lex was with the real Lois who was trying to see to his injuries. Asabi escaped and Superman, still weak, crawled over to Lex and demanded that he let Lois go.
Though on the verge of dying, Lex still refused and held tight on Lois' hand saying that they would all die together. Superman told him that if he really loved Lois, he would let her live. At these words Lex let go and gave Superman his final words: "And you said I couldn't love, how little you understood me. (Then he looked up at Lois) How little anyone ever did!" before finally succumbing to his injuries and dying. Superman managed to rescue both the real Lois and Martha from the lair before it collapsed while the dead bodies of Lex and the clone were left behind buried under chunks of rubble. This time Superman's greatest enemy stayed dead. (Seconds)
Even though after Season 1, Lex's appearances became more brief, he was mentioned a great deal throughout the rest of the seasons which revealed him as still a very important character. He had two admirers Ethan and Eric Press who tried to kill the Man of Steel for silencing their childhood hero. His two illegitimate sons Jaxon and Lex Jr., also tried to follow in their father's footsteps including the total annihilation of Superman.
Jaxon's scheme took place while Lex was still in prison. He entrapped Lois and Clark in a virtual reality world to steal information for Lex's mind control system before the two with the help of Jimmy Olsen tricked him into letting them out by stealing his wrist watch escape window, leaving him stranded. He crashed the system leaving his mind trapped inside his virtual world forever.
Lex Jr.'s scheme took place after Lex's death. He tried to rebuild his father's empire and hired a stand in named Leslie Luckabee to impersonate him. They got their hands on a recording left by Lex that revealed Superman's true identity, but Superman still succeeded in defeating him after Luckabee turned against him and was engulfed in an explosion that destroyed his lair.
- Lionel Luthor (Smallville tv series)
- Malcolm Merlyn (Arrow)
- The Joker (Batman Comics)
- Max Shreck (Batman Returns)
- Carmine Falcone (Nolanverse)
- Sal Maroni (Batman)
- Norman Osborn (Spider-Man comics)