The Many Tropes of Chloe Sullivan

They say there's nothing new under the sun. And there's no denying it. TV Tropes will tell you that. TV Tropes is a website that catalogs every pop culture cliche, every stock character, every overused plot device known to man. Don't ever go there! Or do. I can't stop you. But don't blame me when hours of your day have disappeared. All warnings aside, it's a fascinating place. There's a trope for everything. You might even find yourself in there (I've labeled myself a CloudCuckooLander). You'll definitely find a few tropes that describe your favorite TV character. But, rarely, you'll find one of your favorite characters wears more than a dozen tropes. That's the case for Smallville's Chloe Sullivan. She's got more than forty apt tropes on her belt. Obviously, I can't list every one. But I just couldn't resist giving you this breakdown of Chloe Sullivan, by trope. 

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Chloe Sullivan started out as a Canon Foreigner. There was no Chloe Sullivan in any Superman media until Smallville. Due to her popularity, DC did plan to insert a Chloe Sullivan character (not much like her Smallville self, however) into the comics. That didn't pan out, but she did surface in 2010 in a Jimmy Olsen comic as an online journalist and ex-girlfriend with mysterious ties to Superman of her own, making her a Canon Immigrant. Jimmy Olsen himself is a Canon Immigrant, having gone, along with Perry White, to the comics due to popularity on the Superman radio show. 

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As I said before, Chloe wears a heck of a lot of tropes. Whether that's due to shifting writers and showrunners, the freedom to play with her character as a Canon Foreigner, or the just plain silliness of "we can have Chloe do X because her future is ?" she's been many (even too many) things throughout the series. In the first season, we met a Plucky Girl and Deadpan Snarker defined by her role as a Constantly Curious School Newspaper Newshound, so aggressively pursuing her stories to (the point of often making herself a Distressed Damsel for Clark to secretly save) all for an unpaid job, that she seemed destined for Intrepid Reporter. Chloe was also a Cool Loser in season one with a side of Hollywood Homely mostly due to direct and indirect competition with Lana Lang, who started off as the epitome of a Spoiled Sweet small town princess with a legion of Stalkers With A Crush. She spent the greater part of her years on Smallville pining after Clark Kent as he chased Lana, cementing herself as Clark's Unlucky Childhood Friend, Unrequited Tragic Maiden, and Romantic Runner Up, destined to watch him fall for every girl but her. On that note...

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Ah, Chlark. So many tropes apply to Chloe's relationship with The Hero. Not just the above three. Officially, they were Just Friends, but there was such Unresolved Sexual Tension, times when that status could have crossed the line. The writers played jumprope with that line for the first five seasons, with a yearly kiss and a few Almost Kisses, many Moment Killers and Held Gazes, two Will They Or Won't They season-end cliffhangers, and a Now or Never Kiss complete with Climactic Music. It was all followed by lots of That Didn't Happen, mostly from Chloe who, during these years ranged from acting out Clingy Jealous Girl in the early seasons to I Want My Beloved To Be Happy, cheerleading Clark's relationship with Lana even when she seemed downcast about doing it. Then the show stopped Ship Teasing and commenced Ship Sinking. It started with ending the kissing and the teasing lines, progressed by asserting Chlark were Like Brother and Sister, Chloe declaring her undying love for Jimmy, and culminated in No Hugging, No Kissing. The kissing ended after season five, but the ban on hugging started in season nine and lasted through more than half of the tenth and final season. And thus ended the Chlark ship, outside of Fix Fic, at least.

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That's not to say she was all about Clark. Our girl had other suitors. She was quite the Hot Scoop to other guys. Bart Allen AKA Impulse had a long-standing crush, as did Pete Ross, Clark's other childhood friend (Clark, Chloe, and Pete were Three Amigos during the first three seasons). She had a three-year relationship and brief marriage with Jimmy Olsen and she ended the series in a relationship with Oliver Queen AKA Green Arrow. But early on, she was mostly pursued by Monster Of The Week types, sweet as pie until they tried to kill her. Most notably, there was Davis Bloome AKA Doomsday. It was a whole season of Beast and Beauty until the show had him make a Face Heel Turn, attempt to kill Chloe, and definitively end the life of Jimmy Olsen (but not the Jimmy Olsen we know. Creative Retconning or possible Ass-Pulling took care of that) in a shocking Anyone Can Die twist.

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I might have referred to Chloe as a Distressed Damsel above. It's true in that her pursuit of a story often got her Chained To A Railway, needing rescue in the nick of time. But she was always more of a Badass Damsel. She didn't just look scared and back away like the Screaming Women of yore. She fought, tried to reason, made snarky remarks, or just broke into a run. She was a budding Action Girl, really, in her early years. But she started out as a Girl Friday for Clark. As a Smart Girl, she was constantly researching whatever he needed even before she knew why he always needed it, making her the show's ultimate and still-unmatched Miss Exposition, with a side of Beleaguered Assistant and Sarcastic Devotee. And this was even before she became Clark's Secret Keeper. After that, she graduated to Hyper Competent Sidekick, had a brief interlude as an Empathic Healer before the show scrapped that, then finally the budding Justice League's Techno Wizard, eventually displaying Beyond The Impossible computer skills.

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Of course, it wasn't all happy sidekicking. Chloe racked up quite the heartache. It started with nearly getting killed by every man who became interested in her, then attempts to use her bitterness at Clark to Corrupt The Cutie in season two by the Luthors and, failing that, multiple Break The Cutie attempts by the Luthors and quite a few others. Chloe might have have spent the most on-screen time Strapped To An Operating Table and Bound And Gagged. She had three infamous Designated Girl Fights, endured much Cold Blooded Torture for what she knew, lost her dream career at The Daily Planet at the hands of the Villain, and lost her husband at the hands of Doomsday. It's no wonder she Took A Level in Badass and became Married To The Job in hero Mission Control to the point of becoming a Control Freak

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Still, Chloe never lost her idealism, in the end. She was an Iron Woobie in the face of the Trauma Conga Line. Perhaps that's why I'm still fascinated with her. Whether all that changing was my cup of tea, the many things she was kept her interesting to watch and worthy of rooting for (and that's without the dozens of tropes I didn't include). And I may not be done watching. As a Canon Immigrant, it's possible Chloe Sullivan could show up again in Superman comics, maybe even make an appearance in future movies. Only time will tell.