In the weeks after 9/11, Americans weren't looking for grim and gritty stories starring comic book characters like Batman or the Punisher. Luckily, just a month after the attacks, Smallville debuted and reminded the world why Superman needs to exist. This WB series focuses on the early days of Clark Kent as he grows up on his family’s farm and discovers his amazing powers. Starring Tom Welling as a young Superman, Michael Rosenbaum as a young, but still very much bald, Lex Luthor, and Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Clark’s boyhood crush from the original comics, Smallville introduced this colorful mythology to the digital generation.

The stories ranged from the heartfelt to the eye-rolling, but was a genuinely good-natured TV show full of love and affection for its characters. Before superheroes became big business on TV and movies, Smallville simply strived to be a humble drama about what it’s like to grow up different. Grounded by its universal lessons, it attracted a loyal legion of followers that still love it to this day.