- "Only through communication will we live in peace." - Virgil Swann, Rosetta
Dr. Virgil Swann was a brilliant and wealthy scientist dedicated to communicating with other planets and a founding member of Veritas.
Virgil was a medium-sized man who was a wheelchair user and wore glasses.
Virgil was very brilliant, most notably with math and science, as well as was extremely kind, strong-spirited, courageous and always kept his word with people, especially with Clark Kent, who he assured that his secret would never leave his office. He was a great father.
Dr. 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 the 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.
At some point, he had a 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."
The Veritas Society
Based on his belief that one could receive messages from outer space, Dr. Swann formed a theory that a "Traveler" was coming to Earth and founded a secret society for influential families called to study and wait for the Traveler. The group included Lionel Luthor, Edward and Genevieve Teague, Robert and Laura Queen, as well as Bridgette Crosby. They had meetings in Virgil's mansion in 1987 in which they discussed the purpose of the group and their intended role in the Traveler's life.
Some members believed in protecting the Traveler, while others were concerned with controlling him and possibly defending Earth against him. Apparently, Dr. Swann's point of view was cautious but open-minded: he seemed to believe that the messages pointed to a threat or invasion, but upon actually meeting the Traveler himself, he decided to protect him and his secret. He even founded companies such as S.T.A.R. Labs in order to help The Traveler learn more about himself and the planet around him.
By the time Dr. Swann translated the Kryptonian message, it can be presumed that Veritas had disbanded because Dr. Swann claimed to Clark Kent that he did not reveal the message to any of the other members. However, Lionel eventually learned the Traveler's name was "Kal-El" and realized that Kal-El, the Traveler, and Clark were one and the same.
- "You won't find the answers by looking at the stars. It's a journey you'll have to take by looking inside yourself. You must write your own destiny, Kal-El." - Virgil Swann, to Clark Kent, Rosetta
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.
- "I'm a scientist. I find curiosity to be a most admirable trait." - Virgil Swann, Legacy
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 origins 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, with the use of the first example of black kryptonite.
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.
Justice and Doom
Dr. Swann (or his daughter, Patricia) apparently had an association with Clark’s protector, John Jones, who used Swann Communications to build himself a large orbital satellite for him to use as a base.
It is revealed that Dr. Swann formed Veritas, a secret group that wanted to protect the Traveler. It is revealed that both Patricia Swann and Edward Teague believed that Lionel, wanting the Traveler for himself, poisoned Dr. Swann and killed the Queens. While it's highly likely Lionel did murder the Queens, it's doubtful he also murdered Virgil since Virgil died after Lionel had undergone a conversion experience but before that conversion ended.
- Season Two: Visitor (Mentioned only)
- Season Three: Covenant (Mentioned only)
- Season Four: Crusade (Mentioned only), Sacred (Mentioned only), Spirit (Mentioned only), Blank (flashback only)
- Season Seven: Traveler (Mentioned only), Veritas (flashback only), Descent (Mentioned only), Sleeper (Mentioned only), Quest (Mentioned only), Arctic (Mentioned only)
- Season Ten: Finale, Part 2 (flashback only)
- Season Eleven: Detective (flashback only)
- 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 was not revealed when or how Dr. Swann became a wheelchair user. When he met Genevieve Teague in Paris in 1965, he was healthy but was in his wheelchair by 1989.
- In reality, Egyptian president Anwar Sedat was Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1977.
- Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Dr. Swann is significant because Reeve portrayed Superman in Superman: The Movie and its sequels.
- Christopher Reeve is the second of many Superman alumni to have a role on Smallville, the first being Annette O'Toole. Reeve was followed by Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, Helen Slater, Marc McClure and Teri Hatcher.
- In a parallel universe where Clark was found and raised by Lionel Luthor, according to Oliver Queen of Earth-2, Virgil and his daughter were murdered by Clark Luthor/Ultraman.
- Dr. Virgil Swann (Christopher Reeve) is a character very similar to or perhaps based on Dr. Stephen Hawking since both are renowned scientists (theoretical physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists), excellent scholars and discoverers of various cosmic mysteries. Both are also wheelchair users, but the difference is that Virgil was quadriplegic while Hawking suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease.
- Chloe Sullivan states this in Rosetta
- Dr. Crosby states this in Crusade
- Both addresses are visible in Rosetta.
- Genevieve's diary page states that he was walking, but Lex Luthor saw him in his wheelchair as a child, as seen in a flashback taking place in 1989 in Veritas.