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A television show running from 1988 to 1992, originally titled Superboy. The series revolves around a teenage Clark Kent juggling his life between his role as a student and his heroics as Superboy, the Boy of Steel.
If it sounds like Smallville, well, it is. At least in the first season. Clark and his future arch-foe Lex Luthor attend the same journalism school, and Lana Lang appears in a supporting role. The series soon underwent a major retool, owing to a recasting of Superboy; the college setting was dropped in favor of the The Bureau for Extra-Normal Matters, where Clark and Lana help investigate paranormal and alien activities.
Despite high ratings, the series was canceled in its fourth season due to Warner Bros, who filed a lien in an effort to reclaim all Superman film and TV rights (Though Superboy was already a property of Time Warner, its distribution was handled by Viacom). Because of the number of different companies involved in its production, the show never ran again in syndication.
This show provides examples of:
- Alternate History: At least four episodes deal with these including one that has a Superman.
- Actor Allusion: Jack Larson and Noel Neill (Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane from The Adventures of Superman) appear in one episode as Clark and Lana's never before seen (and never seen again) co-workers at the Bureau for Extra-Normal Matters. Upon seeing Superboy rescue a woman who jumped out of a window to commit suicide, Jack Larson's character Lou exclaims "Jeepers!", an exclamation often used by Jimmy Olsen in The Adventures of Superman. Later in the same episode, Lou confesses to stealing office supplies and says that he used to do it all the time when he worked for the newspaper.
- California Doubling: Averted hard. The creators didn't bother trying to mask the fact that Superboy was filmed in Florida, instead having Clark attend the Shuster University of Florida. Superboy continued to operate in Florida even as a government intern, working out of the fictional location of Capitol City.
- Clip Show: There were three of them: "People Vs. Metallo", "Who Is Superboy?", and "Cat and Mouse".
- Faking the Dead - Superboy fakes his own death in "Obituary for a Superhero", expecting his would-be killer to appear and take credit for killing him. Sure enough, Lex Luthor admits to killing Superboy on live TV.
- In Spite of a Nail: Lex Luthor's appearance is different after the first season because he had plastic surgery to look like Warren Eckworth, a businessman whom he later murdered to take his place. Superboy later visits an Alternate Universe where the alternate Lex looks like Eckworth, apparently for different reasons.
- The real world explanation is that it was impractical to get Scott Wells to reprise his role. There is a brilliant in-universe explanation. Alternate Lex was in an anti-Sovereign resistance. (The Sovereign was this world's version of Superboy who is a tyrannical dictator ruling the world.) Alternate Lana tells the Sovereign that she and Lex grew up with him. Alternate Lex had clear reason to change his appearance to that of Eckworth, as the Sovereign would not recognize him as his old childhood friend and thus retaliate against the Luthor family. This could be an example of Fridge Brilliance, intentional of otherwise.
- Opening Narration: The 3rd and 4th season opening sequences started with a narrator speaking over images from past episodes flying through space. "Rocketed from a distant planet to a bold new destiny on Earth..."
- Only Known by Their Nickname: T.J. White, aka Trevor Jenkins White
- Sidekick: Leo was this to Lex Luthor until Lex kills him in the premiere of the second season.
- T.J. White was this to Clark in the first season before being Put on a Bus.
- The Other Darrin: Gerard Christopher replaced John Haymes Newton as the titular character after the first season. Sherman Howard replaced Scott Wells as Lex Luthor after the first season.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Superboy loses his memory in the third season episode "Superboy...Lost", after flying into and destroying an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.