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Smallville's Lasting Legacy Is Not Heroics but Head Trauma

How many concussions went undiagnosed?

Kaitlin Thomas

Today The CW is home to four superhero dramas, but in 2001, the network's predecessor The WB had just one: Smallville. The show, which told the story of Clark Kent before he was Superman, turns 15 on Sunday. But instead of wondering what happened to your youth, let's spend some quality time on memory lane.

When you think back on the superhero series' lasting legacy, you may remember star Tom Welling's handsome face. You may remember Michael Rosenbaum's striking ability to somehow, against all odds, make a bald man not just attractive but downright sexy. You may even remember a pre-Supernatural Jensen Ackles causing all kinds of trouble for Clark and the Kents with the help of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. But do you know what Lana Lang and Lois Lane remember?


You see, Smallville blinded viewers with multiple handsome men and a complicated relationship that could have been an epic bromance if it weren't for the fact the men were destined to become mortal enemies. And it did this in an effort to cover up something truly tragic, something it didn't want to address: the seasons-long suffering of the women who caught Clark's eye. Or better yet, anyone who dared to spend any time with him on a regular basis.

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The amount of head trauma Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and Lois Lane (Erica Durance) sustained over the course of the show's 10 seasons via the hands of Clark's enemies, dastardly meteor freaks or as a result of strategically placed walls/fences/other inanimate objects is truly staggering. One website clocked Lois having been knocked unconscious a whopping 52 times after joining the series in Season 4.

Meanwhile, Lana -- who was once suffocated by a shower curtain and trampled by a horse (not at the same time) -- had approximately 47 near-death experiences over the course of seven seasons as a regular character and one as recurring. The number of times both women learned of Clark's secret and then were attacked or knocked out and lost their memories as a result would have been cause for alarm for any normal human being. At the very least, Lana and Lois should have been checked for concussions. Honestly, they were attacked often enough that it wouldn't have been ridiculous for them to have regular standing appointments at the local hospital on the off-chance a mirror fell on them or they were stuck in a tornado on Tuesday.

What this tells us is that being the female romantic lead on a superhero series in the 2000s was a dangerous role, and keeping Clark's secret from said ladies was apparently more important than the actual safety of Clark's friends and loved ones. You have to put your damsel in distress in order for the the chiseled hero to save the day, right? Well, no, that's not true at all. But that's also not really where I was going with this. Because Lana and Lois weren't the only victims of significant head trauma during Smallville's 10 seasons on air.

That same website, which I have chosen to trust because the numbers sound believable and also no one else should have to watch and tabulate the number of probable concussions that occurred over 10 seasons, lists Rosenbaum's friend-turned-enemy Lex Luthor having lost consciousness 51 times while attempting to uncover Clark's secret. Hell, even Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) was knocked out 41 times, and she came to know -- at least partially -- of Clark's powers beginning in Season 4.

So while you and I may remember certain things about Smallville -- like that Lifehouse played at the school's senior prom -- it's probably safe to say that no one who survived Smallville probably remembers much of their time there.

Maybe we should have listened when they begged somebody to save them.