Dr. Virgil Swann's work focused on astronomy and satellite communication. In 1965, he met with Genevieve Teague to help her decipher her strange, recurring dreams. Dr. Swann also shared with Genevieve a theory that meteors can hold transmissions as well as his intention to record and translate the "messages from the stars.". By 1977, Dr. Swann was considered a top astronomer and pioneer in the field of satellite communication, but around the time of the first meteor shower that struck Smallville, he donated his millions and became a recluse, devoting his life to studying life on other planets. Specifically, his largest body of study was the planet Krypton. A Manhattan-based astronomer, Dr. Swann dedicated a good portion of his life to studying the skies and searching for life beyond Earth. In 1978, he was chosen as Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1977. A pioneer in the field of global communications, Dr. Swann used his SWANNSTAR satellites to explore extraterrestrial communication. He donated a major portion of his company's profits toward the U.S. space program, and in return was given unprecedented access to extraterrestrial findings. Dr. Swann was a quadriplegic, depending on a series of breathing and mobility devices to stay alive and move around. He once had a relationship with Dr. Bridgette Crosby, with whom he had one daughter, Patricia Swann. In 1989, Dr. Swann intercepted a transmission sent from Krypton before its explosion, and it was only after many years of work that he was able to pinpoint exactly what and who had accompanied that transmission. For years, he had tried to decipher the message, and found out that it contained a mathematical key, which allowed him to translate it as: "This is Kal-El of Krypton, our infant son, our last hope. Please protect him and deliver him from evil. We will be with you, Kal-El, all the days of your life." Dr. Swann kept a journal containing Kryptonian symbols along with his own notes about the Veritas Society and the Traveler. It was later revealed that Dr. Swann left the journal to his daughter, Patricia.
In 2003, Dr. Swann saw coverage in the Smallville Torch of a mysterious symbol burned into a barn of a Kansas farm belonging to Jonathan and Martha Kent. He recognized it as a Kryptonian symbol, then discovered that the Kents had an adopted child. Dr. Swann contacted Clark Kent by tracking down the photographer, Chloe Sullivan, then through a series of e-mails and instant messages, he persuaded the boy to visit his Manhattan observatory. When Clark came to see him, Dr. Swann revealed to Clark the truth behind his origins. He played the message he had intercepted and explained that the planet Krypton was no longer visible in the night sky, and shared with Clark his speculation that Krypton had been destroyed. Although Clark was reluctant to learn more about his alien origins, Dr. Swann told him that he would protect his secret.
A year later, Dr. Swann received a visit from Lionel Luthor, who offered conservancy of the Kawatche Caves in exchange for a translation of the symbols. He lied and told Lionel that he could not translate the symbols. Lionel explained about Clark's octagonal disc, and asked Dr. Swann to speak with Clark on his behalf. Dr. Swann refused, but knew that Lionel was dying. When Lionel admitted that he was willing to accept any risk to place the key in the lock, Dr. Swann agreed to an arrangement. When Clark learned of Dr. Swann's involvement with Lionel and confronted him, Dr. Swann expressed his disappointment with Clark's behavior since informing him of his Kryptonian origins, saying he only informed him of his orgins because he thought he was ready, on the subject of Lionel, he claimed to be working in Clark's best interests. He was also able to divulge a new message that originated not from space, but from Earth: "I am waiting." However, he tells Clark that he believes this message was not meant for him. When Jonathan Kent took the disc to the Kawatche Caves, it inexplicably merged into the cave wall after it fell out of his pocket during a fight with Lionel Luther and was somehow obtained by Dr. Swann.
Nearly three months later, Dr. Swann sent Dr. Bridgette Crosby to Smallville to help Martha Kent free Clark from his Kryptonian alter-ego, Kal-El. Before his death a few months later, Dr. Swann returned the key to Clark along with a letter advising him to seek out his Kryptonian birth father Jor-El and telling him that he must create his own destiny.
In season seven it is revealed that Dr. Swann formed Veritas, a secret group that wanted to protect the Traveler. It is revealed that Lionel, wanting the Traveler for himself, poisoned Dr. Swann and killed the other Veritas members (except for Bridgette Crosby, who was killed by the Teagues, Genevieve Teague, who was killed by a possessed Lana Lang and Edward Teague, who went into hiding and was later killed by Brainiac).
- Virgil Swann was portrayed by Christopher Reeve who also played Clark Kent in Superman (Movie) and its sequels.
- Before Christopher Reeve's passing, Al Gough and Miles Miller tinkered with a storyline, of Doctor Swann being Jor-El. His injuries of coming to earth, were to explain his paralysis. When Christopher Reeve died, the idea was scrapped.
- Virgil Swann's address is V.S. Room 434, 939 Walnut 54th Street, New York, New York. His email address is V_swann@thedigitalwave.com.
- It has not been revealed when or how Dr. Swann became wheelchair-bound. When he met Genevieve Teague in Paris in 1965, he was healthy, but was in his wheelchair by 1989.
- 7 Appearances of Virgil Swann (Smallville)
- 1 Images featuring Virgil Swann (Smallville)
- Quotations by or about Virgil Swann (Smallville)
- Character Gallery: Virgil Swann (Smallville)
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