In the syndicated television show Superboy, Luthor first appeared as a rich, scheming college student played by Scott James Wells. In early episodes, Luthor is preoccupied with showing up Superboy, rigging basketball games, and stealing priceless artefacts, among other small-time schemes. At the close of the first season, Superboy accidentally causes Luthor to go bald while saving him from a lab fire in an incident similar to Lex Luthor's classic origin. Convinced that Superboy intentionally caused the accident, Luthor kills wealthy businessman Warren Eckworth and tries, unsuccessfully, to take his place via plastic surgery. In the guise of Warren Eckworth, he takes over Eckworth's "Superboy Gun" project and tries to kill Superboy with the weapon. Luthor is portrayed for the remainder of the series by actor Sherman Howard.
In the Season Four two-parter, 'Know Thine Enemy' Luthor's childhood is explored when Superboy relives his life via the "psychodisk". Similar to his post-Crisis origin, Lex is raised by an abusive father and neglectful mother; Lex becomes rich when he takes out an insurance policy on his parents and then kills them both. His sister, Lena Luthor, holds the distinction of being the sole person Lex cares about.