Smallville’s Chloe Sullivan: an unusual success story

How a supporting character became one of The CW show’s most popular.

SMALLVILLEChloe Sullivan, played by Allison Mack, is one of Smallville’s most popular characters, if not the most popular. I’m willing to bet that most fans of the show  prefer her even to Tom Welling’s handsome Clark Kent – but her journey within the show, as well as her evolution from plot device to key component of the show’s ongoing narrative, is a fascinating one.

Created as a Lois Lane archetype, the character has unusually taken on a life of her own, always remaining a key part of the show despite being the first name on everyone’s list whenever the producers announce they’re going to kill someone off. It’s odd, as well, because so many regulars – who form an important part of the Superman mythos, like Lana and Lex – have left the show in the meantime. Not Chloe, though. Here’s why.

The viewers feel like they own Chloe Sullivan. Since she’s not an established part of Superman lore and as DC Comics elected not to retcon her into the Superman line, she will forever remain one of the few aspects that belong exclusively to Smallville. In that sense, I believe viewers resonate with her more as a result. She’s not on the show now to fulfill her original purpose as a Lois Lane stand-in. The show has had Lois Lane for a long time – Chloe’s there because fans want her there.

It’s so rare that a character created out of necessity has become so important, but it’s also humble and must feel validating to fans of the show. Chloe has been developed into the centrepiece of the show’s relationships, and, by not becoming the object of Clark’s affections, she’s avoided the on-again off-again nonsense that turned me against Lana after about three years.

Let’s hope the writers don’t kill Chloe off at the end of season nine. There could be an uprising.