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Jimmy Olsen
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Anonymous cameo:
Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
As Jimmy Olsen:
Superman #13 (November/December 1941)
Created by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
In-story information
Full name James Bartholomew "Jimmy" Olsen
Team affiliations Daily Planet
Partnerships Superman
Lois Lane
Notable aliases Mr. Action, Elastic Lad, Flamebird, Accountable
Abilities Possesses a wristwatch that calls and signals Superman anywhere on Earth

James Bartholomew Olsen is a fictional character who appears mainly in DC ComicsSuperman stories. Olsen is a young photojournalist working for the Daily Planet. He is close friends with Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman, and has a good working relationship with his boss Perry White. Olsen looks up to his coworkers as role models and parent figures.

Fictional character profile[edit]

Jimmy is traditionally depicted as a bow tie-wearing, red-haired young man who works as a cub reporter and photographer for The Daily Planet, alongside Lois Lane and Clark Kent, whom he idolizes as career role models. In most depictions of the character, he has a strong friendship with Superman. As Superman's friend, Jimmy has special access to the Man of Steel, thanks to Superman's gift to Jimmy of a "signal watch", a wristwatch which, with the press of a button, emits a special ultrasonic frequency signal that Superman can hear anywhere on Earth. (In Post-Crisis continuity Jimmy invented the watch himself, and Superman briefly considered confiscating it. In New Earth continuity, the watch was designed by Superman based on a larger signaling device Jimmy created.)

In many Silver Age of Comic Books, Jimmy was often seen sharing adventures with Superman, who saved him from various predicaments ranging from dangerous to merely embarrassing. This was particularly pronounced in the series Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen published from 1954 to 1974, which saw Olsen in a variety of slapstick adventures and strange transformations. Like most DC characters, modern portrayals of Olsen have been more serious in tone.

An important part of the Superman mythos, Jimmy Olsen has appeared in most other media adaptations of the character.

"Olsen" is a common Danish-Norwegian surname. However, there is never any reference to the character having a Scandinavian ancestry, other than the name.

Publication history[edit]

An unnamed "office boy" with a bow tie makes a brief appearance in the story "Superman's Phony Manager" published in Action Comics #6 (November 1938), which is claimed to be Jimmy Olsen's first appearance by several reference sources.[1][2][3] The character was first introduced as Jimmy Olsen in the radio show The Adventures of Superman on April 15, 1940[4] mainly "so the Man of Steel would have someone to talk to".[5] With Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creating and drawing the physical appearance and giving him a bigger personality, the character moved from the radio show back into the comics in 1941, first appearing as a named character in the story "Superman versus The Archer" in Superman #13 (November–December 1941).[6][7] But after a handful of appearances, he disappeared again. In late 1953, while Jack Larson was playing the character on the Adventures of Superman television show where he was referred to as "Jim Olsen", the character was revived in the Superman comics after a 10-year absence and then given his own title.

In addition to Larson, he was portrayed by Tommy Bond in the two Superman film serials, Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950); Marc McClure in the Superman films of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the 1984 film Supergirl; Michael Landes in the first season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Justin Whalin in the subsequent three seasons; Sam Huntington in the 2006 film Superman Returns; and Aaron Ashmore in the CW's Smallville.[citation needed]

Silver Age[edit]

Jimmy Olsen, from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #36 (April 1959). Art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.

During the Silver Age, beginning in 1954, Jimmy stars in his own comic book, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen,[8] which featured his various adventures with and without Superman. The stories in the title would often feature particularly outlandish situations,[9][10] ranging from Jimmy being hurled back in time to Krypton before its destruction in issue #36 to dealing frequently with gorillas of all sorts. This version of Jimmy Olsen even had his own (in-story) fan club.[4][11]

Jack Kirby's Fourth World[edit]

Jack Kirby began by introducing a secret "D.N.A. Project" to create Mutated Humans for Good, adding "The Hairies" (a group of technology-equipped hippies), superbeings from other planets (proto-New Gods), Intergang, and Morgan Edge... and reintroduced his 1940s Newsboy Legion characters.[12] About halfway through his run, Kirby introduced vampires,[13][14] the Loch Ness Monster,[15] and Victor Volcanum, the fire-eating archcriminal.[16] Readership quickly dropped back to its pre-Kirby levels.

Kirby's tenure on the series ended with issue #148; and with issue #164 (April–May 1974) Jimmy's book was folded into the anthology title The Superman Family.[17] In that series, Olsen became a more serious character who battled criminals as an investigative reporter known as "Mr. Action" in urban crime stories that rarely involved Superman. Jimmy Olsen appeared in new stories in The Superman Family #164, 167, 170, 173, 176, 179, and 182–222.[18]

Modern adventures[edit]

The Man of Steel[edit]

Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, the entire Superman mythos was rebooted from scratch in the limited series The Man of Steel. Despite recent modernization efforts on Superman and his supporting characters, Jimmy Olsen has not been significantly changed in the Modern Age. He is still a cub reporter working for The Daily Planet, and is still friends with Superman. His look was made over as he stopped wearing bowties, and started wearing casual clothing (though this trend started in 1970s comics). An interesting alteration to the relationship was that Jimmy designed the signal watch himself, leading to his first meeting with Superman.[19] Superman briefly considered confiscating the watch, but decided to trust Jimmy to use it responsibly.

While Jimmy's transformations no longer occur as regularly as they did in the Silver Age, Jimmy once became a type of "Elastic Lad" on contact with the Eradicator; this transformation, however, was extremely painful for Jimmy and hasn't appeared since. He also took the identity of "Turtle Boy" in a series of pizza commercials, made when he was temporarily laid off from the Planet.

In the 1990s, Jimmy quit the Planet in a dispute over a story and went to Metropolis broadcaster Galaxy Broadcasting, where he worked as an on-air investigative reporter. This change matured Jimmy somewhat, but he became more ambitious, as well as more brash and arrogant. He still stayed on good terms with both Clark and Lois, to the point where Jimmy was best man at their wedding. This period ended when he believed (wrongly) that he had discovered Superman's secret identity and said he would announce it live on air. He reconsidered his actions, but lost his job for wasting the timeslot. He was again rehired by the Planet.

Jimmy later came under the angry hand of the Alpha Centurion, an alternate universe dictator with a deep-seated hatred for Superman and an eye toward Lois Lane. It was Jimmy who first uncovered his secret plot to control the world's finances through his company Aelius Industries, Inc.

Superman: Metropolis[edit]

Olsen is a central character in the twelve-part miniseries Superman: Metropolis (beginning June 2003). Written by Chuck Austen and illustrated by Danijel Zezelj, the series focuses on the futuristic technology unleashed in Metropolis by Brainiac in a previous storyline and how it affects the everyday lives of Metropolis citizens.

Jimmy takes a position as a regular star reporter for The Daily Planet, replacing the recently demoted Clark Kent. This caused a strain at the Planet.


Jimmy Olsen as Mr. Action. Cover art for Countdown #38 (October 2007) [August 8, 2007], by Shane Davis and Matt Banning.

Jimmy's story in the 2007–08 weekly series Countdown to Final Crisis begins with an investigation into the death of Duela Dent.[20] Tying into the Death of the New Gods storyline, Jimmy starts to develop many superpowers, which he first discovers when he is attacked by Killer Croc while gathering information on Duela's death.[21][22] As the story progresses he tries to uncover the origin of these powers and starts to discover their potential limitlessness in stories which mimic the Silver Age Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen adventures. Briefly operating as the superhero Mr. Action,[23] Jimmy is unable to command the respect of established superheroes in the Justice League and Teen Titans. He gives up on this particular avenue.[24] One of these powers allows Jimmy to realize the identities of some superheroes, such as Robin and Superman, who requests that he take care of Krypto.

Jimmy is eventually tracked down by the New God Forager,[25] with whom he begins a romantic relationship.[26][27] Forager informs him that Jimmy has become a soulcatcher for the spirits of dying New Gods.[28] The Monitor known as Solomon later tells him that his new powers are the consequence of Darkseid using Jimmy as a host for powers he wishes to use to recreate the universe in his image, knowing that "Superman's pal" is one of the world's most well-protected citizens.[29] Later, as the events of Countdown begin to come to their close, Jimmy becomes a more confidently powerful character and is reunited with the series' other cast members on a mission to stop Karate Kid's disease from becoming a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions.[30] Unfortunately, they fail, and the Morticoccus virus devastates an alternate Earth.[31][32] Upon return to their Earth, Jimmy is captured by Mary Marvel, who had been manipulated towards evil by Darkseid.[33] When Superman comes to save Jimmy, Darkseid takes control of the powers within him, causing Jimmy to radiate Kryptonite radiation, until Ray Palmer manages to rewire Darkseid's control from inside of Jimmy. Jimmy then transforms into a giant turtle-like creature, and prepares to take on Darkseid himself.[34] Darkseid overcomes Jimmy, and prepares to kill him. Ray Palmer then comes out of Jimmy with the New God soul battery, and destroys it, returning Jimmy to normal.[35][36]

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special[edit]

During Superman's fight with Atlas, Jimmy witnesses a mysterious figure hovering over the fight. After some encouraging words from Clark Kent, he decides to take two weeks off to investigate.

He tracks down a figure connected with the past of Jonathan Drew and is told the story of how Jonathan became Codename: Assassin. His informant is quickly executed by Codename: Assassin who then tries to kill Jimmy. Jimmy is able to avoid being killed and is apparently shielded from Codename: Assassin's telepathy due to his own many physical transformations over the years.

Jimmy goes to Project Cadmus and speaks to Dubbilex, who tells him the story about the death of the original Guardian at the hands of Codename: Assassin and how cloning is such an imperfect science that the only viable clone alive went into hiding in the desert. Dubbilex then dies from injuries sustained in an earlier conflict with Codename: Assassin. Jimmy heads south to the town of Warpath, AZ, managing to avoid conflict with Codename: Assassin on the way.

Upon arriving in Warpath, Jimmy interviews the sheriff, Greg Saunders, who evades his questions. Jimmy follows him after dark and sees Saunders working with the last Guardian clone. He then confronts the clone at his home and the two speak.

With his two weeks up, Jimmy returns to Metropolis horrified from learning that a faction within the US military is actively plotting to kill Superman.

Willing to do anything to uncover the conspiracy behind Project 7734, Jimmy uses an anonymous chat server and gets in contact with Erik/Amazing Woman from Infinity Inc., who claims to have informations useful to help Jimmy. Despite being actively pursued by Codename: Assassin, who goes so far to place bugs in his house, Jimmy goes to the appointment, only to find Erik's house burned to the ground.

Jimmy pulls Erik out, who with his dying breath, shifts to his more reliable and powerful Erika form. Erik gives him Natasha Irons' number. Natasha contacts then Jimmy, telling him about the plans of General Sam Lane, his outworldly fortress and his capture, and use of a Planet Breaker weapon of Captain Atom, now codenamed Project Breach (due to his similarity to Tim Zanetti's fate).

Finally ready to uncover the truth, Jimmy is openly confronted by Codename: Assassin, who until that point had merely followed him closely. Jimmy uses his signal watch to call Mon-El. Jimmy is shot twice in the chest by Codename: Assassin, and sinks into the ocean.[37] Despite surviving his assassination attempt, Jimmy decides to fake his death, having his documents planted on a heavily disfigured corpse. With no one knowing about his survival, Jimmy moves into the old Pemberton Camera Factory, sharing the results of his now unhindered investigations with Perry and Mon-El.[38]

Action Comics backup and Jimmy Olsen[edit]

DC Comics has reported in solicits[when?] that Nick Spencer and R.B. Silva will be producing a monthly 10-page backup feature in Action Comics chronicling the adventures of Jimmy Olsen in Metropolis. Reported story topics include an alien civilization choosing Metropolis as the base of a major cultural celebration, and the introduction of Chloe Sullivan (from the Smallville television series) to the DCU proper. In the latest arc, he goes on a charity date with a girl named Maggie, only to discover that she somehow has ties to Mr. Mxyzptlk, and that she wants to marry him.[citation needed]

The last three chapters of the story are told in the self-titled one-shot, Jimmy Olsen.

Powers, abilities, and equipment[edit]

Cover art for the trade paperback Superman: The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen, by Brian Bolland.

Jimmy possesses a watch which emits a high-pitched signal only Superman can hear. In a 2010 story, he claimed it stopped working some time in the past, never worked particularly well in the first place, and contacted Superman through Morse code now, anyway, but still wore it for show.[39]

Mostly during the Silver Age of Comic Books, Jimmy would find himself temporarily transformed, for better or worse, or undergo a disguise for various purposes. The variety of transformations Jimmy received during the Silver Age is often homaged or parodied in later comics and adaptations featuring the character — for instance, in JLA: The Nail, Jimmy cites three of these transformations as his motivations behind backing Luthor's bill to outlaw metahumans and in Countdown, Jimmy is used as a spirit container for the deceased New Gods, causing him to exhibit strange powers, albeit uncontrollably, with other stories simply make passing references.

  • Speed Demon - In 1956, a month before the debut of Barry Allen as the new Flash, Jimmy drank a potion produced by a Professor Claude and briefly gained super-speed.[40]
  • Radioactive - After being exposed to a radioactive substance, Jimmy began to irradiate everything in his presence.[41]
  • Super-Brain - Jimmy briefly evolved into a "man of the future" with superhuman mental powers.[42]
  • Monstrous beard growth — The machinations of the sinister Beard Band cause Jimmy to grow an immense beard.[43]
  • Gorilla - When Jimmy switched minds with a gorilla, he went about his reporting duties as a gorilla in Jimmy's clothes.[44]
  • Elastic Lad - As Elastic Lad, Jimmy by serum or by alien virus could sometimes stretch himself, akin to Elongated Man or Plastic Man.[45] As Elastic Lad, Jimmy was inducted as an Honorary Member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.[46] In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, Jimmy was afflicted with uncontrollable and painful elasticity by the Eradicator.[47] It had to be genetically edited out.
  • Alien-form - Aliens transformed Jimmy into a telepathic Jovian for a week.[48] Fortunately, this turned out to be a Jovian week... which is much shorter than an Earth week, about 70 hours = slightly less than three days.
  • Fire-Breather - An accident involving an experiment gives Jimmy fire-breath.[49]
  • Human Octopus - After eating an extraterrestrial fruit, Jimmy grew four extra arms. According to Superman, this was actually a hallucination, but Jimmy suspected that Superman said this to teach him a lesson since Jimmy had foolishly ignored advice from the Man of Steel that would've saved him a lot of trouble.[50]
  • Genie - Jimmy found a genie's lamp and was tricked into replacing its villainous occupant.[51]
  • Wolf-Man - In the vein of the 1957 Michael Landon film I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Jimmy found himself transformed into a werewolf.[52]
  • Woman - Jimmy would occasionally go undercover dressed as a woman in #44,[53] #67,[54] #84,[55] and #159.[56][57] Grant Morrison paid a brief homage to this in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel[58] and in All-Star Superman.[59][60]
  • Morbidly Obese - Jimmy tried to get fat in an attempt to stop a jewel smuggling and to impress a Circus Fat Lady.[61]
  • Giant Turtle Man - One of Jimmy's most frequently cited transformations was that of his turning into a giant turtle man.[62]
  • Human Porcupine - After rejecting the romantic advances of an imp from the 5th Dimension.[63]
  • Flamebird - This is the name he took as a costumed superhero, with Superman disguised as Nightwing, in the shrunken Kryptonian city of Kandor.[64] These names were inspired by two native Kryptonian birds, the nightwing and the flamebird, but the relationship between Nightwing and Flamebird intentionally paralleled the crime-fighting team Batman (a night-winged creature) and Robin (a flame-colored bird).
  • Bizarro Jimmy - Although Jimmy has a counterpart on Bizarro World, he was briefly turned into a Bizarro himself.[65]
  • Hippie - Investigating a colony of hippies at "Guru Kama's Dream Pad", Jimmy grew a beard and participated in a mock "hate-in".[66] On the cover of this story's issue, Jimmy is wielding a sign that says "Superman is a freak-out!"
  • Viking - Jimmy put on Viking armor and mistakenly thought he'd been transported 1000 years backward in time.[67]
  • Steelman - after a volcanic eruption hurls Jimmy and an experimental inter-dimensional travel device into an alternate universe, Jimmy develops his own superpowers as a result of the transit to the (unnamed) "Earth-X" but is vulnerable to fragments of Mount Tipton from his own universe ("Tiptonite"). He adopts a fusion Superman/Batman outfit and launches his own superhero career as Steelman, facing a Joker-masked Clark Kent, secretly the leader of the LUTHAR League before his return to his own universe of origin.
  • Ultra Olsen - Jimmy gained from Professor Lang and his father 2 halves of to the Magic Medallion of the Mayans that, when fused back together, granted him "The Powers of the Mayan Gods". While he wore it, he possessed super strength, invulnerability, anti-gravity power, and lightning vision. It was revealed the amulet had a limited charge and required recharge from absorbed kinetic energy. Jimmy destroyed the amulet with his lightning vision after the second time he used it.[68][69]

Other versions[edit]

JLA: The Nail[edit]

Jimmy Olsen in The Nail. Art by Alan Davis.

JLA: The Nail is set in an alternate reality in which a nail punctures a tire on the Kents' car, preventing them from finding the spaceship containing a baby Kal-El; subsequently, Kal-El never becomes Superman. Jimmy Olsen, an aide to Metropolis Mayor Lex Luthor, is revealed to be the primary villain. Having discovered Superman's spaceship and using DNA samples to create numerous Bizarro clones, Luthor grafts Kryptonian DNA onto subjects who either die instantly or mutate before death, except Olsen. The graft gives Olsen superpowers, but also drives him insane, mentally transforming him into a Kryptonian determined to replace human life with Kryptonian life. Olsen plays up the public's fear of superheroes via propaganda, encouraging the popular view of them as alien invaders rather than the enhanced humans of the Justice Society, hoping to have them imprisoned so he can use their DNA as well in an attempt to create a stable template to create other new Kryptonians.

When his secret identity is revealed, he engages in a fight with the Justice League that spills into the local countryside. An Amish farmer attempts to stop Olsen but is blasted by his heat vision—which reveals that the farmer is the (now adult) Kal-El. In this reality, an Amish couple had raised Kal-El as a pacifist encouraged to ignore worldly affairs so that he could walk in righteousness. Olsen asks Kal-El to join him, claiming that they are virtually brothers with the same DNA. When Kal-El refuses, Olsen kills Kal-El's foster parents. During the subsequent battle, Jimmy's body rejects the Kryptonian DNA, causing him to disintegrate. His last words to Kal-El are: "We should have been friends". The Justice League asks Kal-El to join them, recognising that his DNA had just been a contributing factor to a chain of events that had driven Jimmy insane rather than bringing out something that was not there before.[70]

Frank Miller's Batman titles[edit]

In Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, an older Jimmy Olsen (James, as he is now called) is featured as the writer of "Truth to Power", a Daily Planet article that recalls the age of heroes.[71] In the 2001 sequel Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Olsen appears on various TV shows, where he attempts to reveal that the current President is a holographic projection.[72] His attempts to publicize the truth are halted by Lex Luthor as Metropolis is destroyed (killing hundreds, including Jimmy, Lois, and Perry) by BrainIAC.[73]

A young Jimmy Olsen makes an appearance in All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #6. He helps Vicki Vale, whom he appears to be attracted to, escape from a hospital and giving her files on Batman and the Flying Graysons.[74] This incarnation is described as a cub reporter for the Gotham Gazette as opposed to his regular position at the Daily Planet and as 'Superman's Pal'.

Superman: Red Son[edit]

In Superman: Red Son, written by Mark Millar, Jimmy is depicted as an agent of the CIA, eventually becoming the director. He joins Dr. Lex Luthor in his Presidential bid and becomes Vice President.

Superman: Kal[edit]

In Superman: Kal, Jamie Olsen of the Middle Ages is an early alchemist, working with blacksmith's apprentice Kal to forge a suit of armor for Baron Luthor using metal acquired from a 'silver egg' that fell from the sky years ago. Kal is killed in his final effort to slay Luthor. In the epilogue, Olsen tells his apprentice Merlin of his friendship with Kal, noting that Kal's last action was to hide away his indestructible sword until it would be needed.

All-Star Superman[edit]

In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman series, Jimmy is a successful reporter for the Daily Planet. He has a regular column in which he takes on unusual jobs for a day. Issue #4 of the series focuses on Jimmy and his adventures as the one-day director of the DNA P.R.O.J.E.C.T., a reference to the Jack Kirby-era Jimmy Olsen series. After Superman is temporarily turned evil by black kryptonite, Jimmy saves him by injecting himself with a drug that briefly turns him into a version of Doomsday.[59] In the final issue, Jimmy manages to stop Lex Luthor's deranged niece from destroying Metropolis by giving her the one thing she really wants: free publicity.


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Jimmy Olsen is an agent of Cyborg sent to spy on the Amazons.

He is with Lois Lane reporting on a fashion show in Montmartre when the Atlanteans flooded Europe. Jimmy is one of the thousands to perish in Western Europe. He tries to save an old man; Lois survives by getting into a church steeple. Jimmy's place at the Resistance was then taken by Lois, after she got his camera, revealed to be a communications device that can transform into different forms for concealment.[75]

DC Universe Online: Legends[edit]

In the limited comic series DC Universe Online: Legends, Jimmy Olsen is captured (alongside Lois Lane and Perry White) at the Daily Planet by Brainiac but is saved by Superman, with Lex Luthor in possession of the canister containing them.[76][77] Later, Jimmy becomes one of the people who have gained metahuman abilities from Braniac's Exobytes, transforming his body into a large being with reptile-like skin.[78]

Superman Beyond[edit]

Taking place decades after Jimmy's final appearance in Justice League Unlimited, the Superman Beyond one-shot features an elderly version of the character. It is revealed that Jimmy purchased the Daily Planet after Perry White's death, and he runs a successful media empire.[79]

Injustice: Gods Among Us[edit]

Jimmy appears in the comic book prequel to Injustice: Gods Among Us. He is killed by the Joker while on a stakeout with Lois Lane who is subsequently kidnapped by Joker.[80]

Earth 2[edit]

Jimmy Olsen is a hyper-intelligent knowledge-assimilator known as Accountable in the Earth 2 series.[81]

In other media[edit]


On the Superman radio series, Jack Kelk and Jack Grimes portrayed Jimmy Olsen.



Adventures of Superman[edit]

On the Adventures of Superman television series (starring George Reeves), Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Jack Larson, who appeared as the cub reporter from 1952 to 1958. Largely because of the popularity of Larson and his portrayal of the character, National Comics Publications (DC Comics) decided in 1954 to create Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, a regular title featuring Jimmy as the leading character.[82] Decades later in 1996, Larson portrayed an unnaturally aged Jimmy Olsen in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.[83]

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman[edit]

On the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Michael Landes in the first season and Justin Whalin for the rest of the series' run.[84] The reason cited behind the change is that Landes looked too much like Dean Cain as well as to emphasize Jimmy's youth.[85] Landes played Olsen as a cocksure, sarcastic Generation X character, who often seemed like he was very sure of himself although usually, the opposite was true. Whalin gave a portrayal closer to previous incarnations of the character, playing Jimmy as a lovably naive rookie. When Whalin took over the role, more emphasis was placed on Jimmy's love-life and he would frequently seek out Lois, Clark and Perry's advice on these matters. Whalin's Olsen was described as being a computer whiz and these talents often came in useful to Lois and Clark/Superman, particularly in the episode 'Virtually Destroyed' where Jimmy's computing abilities come in handy as Lois and Superman battle a villain inside of a virtual reality simulator. Jimmy's home life and background is described in some detail throughout the course of the show. Although we never see her, some references are made to Jimmy's mother who is described as being overweight and having allergies. Jimmy's father Jack Olsen is a James Bond-like secret agent for the fictional National Intelligence Agency (N.I.A.) and the episode 'The Dad who Came in from the Cold' is entirely devoted to this character.


In Smallville the series incarnation of Jimmy Olsen is first referenced in Season 2 by Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack), when she refers to a "cute boy" she met in Metropolis that made her forget all about Smallville for the summer. His name is first given in Season 4 when Chloe says that he was her "first time". In Season 6's premiere "Zod", he appears in person (played by Aaron Ashmore) on the staff of the Daily Planet and prefers to be called "James". As Season 6 progresses, Jimmy and Chloe become a couple again. At first Jimmy is jealous of Clark Kent but their relationship becomes friendly after Clark reunites him with Chloe in the Season 6 episode "Trespass".

In Season 7, Jimmy is still at Daily Planet working as a budding photographer, his relationship with Chloe is going through a rough phase due to Chloe's new-found abilities caused by an amount of Kryptonite meteor in her blood stream. They broke up in a very emotional scene in the episode "Cure" since Chloe was unable to share her secret with him. Meanwhile, Kara Zor-El (Laura Vandervoort), daughter of Zor-El and thus Clark's cousin, has developed a crush on Jimmy and they become friends. Jimmy is smitten by her and teams up with her in episodes such as "Cure" and "Lara". They are in a relationship briefly, but they break up and Jimmy is shown to be in a relationship again with Chloe in the episode "Sleeper". In the season finale, he proposed to her but she was arrested before she had the time to answer.

In Season 8's premiere "Odyssey", Jimmy is seen waiting for Chloe at the Talon. Chloe arrives and Jimmy tells her that he takes back his proposal saying it might risk what they have between them. But Chloe disagrees. She reveals that she loves Jimmy and says that she'll gladly be his wife. She kisses Jimmy passionately afterwards. In "Committed", Jimmy admits to Chloe that he lied about his father being a Manhattan investment banker; Jimmy says his father was an alcoholic and a mechanic in Oklahoma City and has never met his mother. He apologizes for lying but she hugs him. In "Bride", Jimmy marries Chloe in the Kent barn but the reception is interrupted by Doomsday, who nearly kills Jimmy and kidnaps Chloe. Jimmy's condition is so serious he must be taken to a hospital in Star City. In "Turbulence", Jimmy sees Davis Bloome (Doomsday's human form) murder a drunk driver and becomes almost violently obsessed with proving it. Davis convinces Chloe that Jimmy is hallucinating from high doses of pain medication, ultimately ending Chloe and Jimmy's marriage and causing Jimmy to become addicted to his pain medication. In Season 8's finale "Doomsday", Chloe and Jimmy finally reconcile after Jimmy discovered Clark's secret and understood why Chloe had been with Davis to protect Clark from his Kryptonian alter-ego, Doomsday. As Chloe gives Jimmy a passionate kiss, Jimmy is mortally wounded by a jealous Davis who was stripped of his Kryptonian persona by Clark and Chloe. Before succumbing to his injury, Jimmy kills Davis. At his funeral, his full name is revealed to be Henry James Olsen. His camera is given to his younger brother (portrayed by Ryan Harder). While Jimmy's younger brother's name is not mentioned, the boy is wearing a bow tie,[86] leading to the possibility that this is Jimmy Olsen (James Bartholomew Olsen), who will befriend Superman. In Season 9 finale, Clark has a premonition about the future in 2013 where Lois Lane calls out to an "Olsen", likely calling the younger Jimmy Olsen.[87] In the Season 10 episode "Homecoming", Clark accidentally time-travels to the future in 2017 (thanks to Brainiac 5) and reads a Daily Planet article that listed Jimmy Olsen. In the series finale, it is verified that the brother at Henry James' funeral is the "real" Jimmy Olsen, who is trying to follow his late brother's footsteps after being recruited as a news photographer at the Daily Planet. The young adult version of the character is also portrayed by Aaron Ashmore.[88]

The 2008 DVD box set for the seventh season of Smallville includes a 22-minute featurette, entitled Jimmy on Jimmy, which is a round-table discussion featuring four of the six surviving actors at the time who had portrayed Jimmy Olsen in live action: Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman), Marc McClure (Superman film series, Supergirl film), Sam Huntington (Superman Returns), and Aaron Ashmore (Smallville). Michael Landes and Justin Whalin (both from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) did not participate.


Olsen appears in the series Supergirl portrayed by Mehcad Brooks[89] as a former Daily Planet photographer who becomes the new art director at CatCo in the first episode, and is also a potential love interest for Kara.[90] This depiction of the character is African-American and calls himself "James" rather than "Jimmy". Also unlike most versions of him, he is shown to be more confident, independent, and take-charge. In the pilot, Olsen reveals that he knows Kara's secret, and knows that she is Superman's cousin. Superman actually suggested that Olsen move to National City to keep an eye on her. Unlike his comic-book counterpart for most of his history, Olsen also knows Clark's secret ("Stronger Together"). Olsen also revealed to have a tragic past; he lost his father to criminals when he was a child. At the end of the first-season finale, he decides to become a couple with Kara. In the second-season premiere, Kara decides that she and Olsen will be just friends due to her needs of self-exploration. Due to Olsen's repressed anger towards crimes because of his father's death, he becomes the vigilante called Guardian.[91]


Jack Grimes reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in The New Adventures of Superman.

In the Super Friends animated series, he "appears" in the second episode of The World's Greatest Super Friends season, 'Lex Luthor Strikes Back', with Lois Lane. It wasn't Jimmy at all, but Lex Luthor's henchman Orville Gump in disguise.

Mark L. Taylor played Jimmy Olsen in the 1988 animated adaptation of Superman.

  • DC Animated Universe

In Superman: The Animated Series, part of the DCAU, Jimmy was played by voice actor David Kaufman. One episode was called "Superman's Pal" as an homage to the classic comic series, and Superman gave Jimmy the signal watch by the end of the episode. Another allusion to the comics made in the show was seen in the second-season episode "Mxyzpixilated", where Mr. Mxyzptlk turns all the employees of the Daily Planet into animals. Jimmy is turned into a turtle, possibly as a homage.

Jimmy returns in Justice League making a brief appearance in Superman's nightmare (in which Superman, uncontrollably strong, hugs him so hard he kills his friend) in "Only a Dream", with David Kaufman reprising the role. He makes a cameo at Superman's funeral in "Hereafter". A photographer with orange hair appears beside Clark at the beginning of "Starcrossed". Though his face isn't shown, it is likely Jimmy.

Jimmy appeared again in several cameo appearances in Justice League Unlimited, including one episode where Huntress used sleeping gas on him, tied him up, taped his mouth shut, and used the signal watch to attract Superman. In the episode "Chaos at the Earth's Core", several heroes battle a giant turtle that has a thatch of red hair. Bruce Timm has confirmed this is a reference to Jimmy's Giant Turtle Boy persona, "but it was more economical time-wise to have him revert to cute little turtle than naked, confused photographer."[92]

  • The Batman

Jimmy appeared in the Season 5 premiere of The Batman played by voice actor Jack DeSena. He and Dick Grayson have a back and forth discussion about Batman and Superman from their sides of view. While Jimmy favors Superman to Batman, he is still impressed by Batman's Batmobile.

  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Jimmy appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Battle of the Super Heroes", voiced by Alexander Polinsky. The episode references him with his misadventures of him being transformed into a giant turtle, and having quills thanks to Mxyzptlk. In the beginning of the episode, Jimmy Olsen receives a new signal watch, supposedly from Superman. When Red-kryptonite infected Superman starts causing terror, Jimmy becomes angry and almost smashes his signal watch, until Batman stops him and reveals that the signal watch has red kryptonite in it and was sent by Lex Luthor. Jimmy next appears in the teaser of "Triumvirate of Terror", where he acts as a sports commentator in the baseball match between the Justice League International and the Legion of Doom.

Jimmy appears in the Young Justice episode "Depths".

Jimmy appears in the "Tales of Metropolis" segment of DC Nation Shorts, voiced by Elisha Yaffe.

Jimmy appears in Justice League Action, voiced by Max Mittelman.


Christopher Reeve/Brandon Routh series[edit]

  • In the four motion pictures starring Christopher Reeve, beginning with Superman, Jimmy Olsen was portrayed by Marc McClure. McClure reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in the 1984 spin-off movie Supergirl, making McClure the only actor and Olsen the only character to appear in all five Superman films of the 1978-1987 era. McClure also appears as his character in the toy commercial for the Super Powers Collection.[93]
  • In Bryan Singer's 2006 film Superman Returns, a spiritual-sequel to the original Superman films, Jimmy Olsen is portrayed by Sam Huntington, an older and more confident, yet goofier portrayal of the character who finds it difficult to get a good shot or get any photos published. In a deleted scene included in the DVD release, a slightly inebriated Olsen is seen to complain to Clark about the fact he has not had a photo printed in several months. In the film, Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy in the Adventures of Superman television series, plays Bo, a bartender who talks to Clark and Jimmy. Singer originally offered Shawn Ashmore the role, but the actor declined due to his commitments to X-Men: The Last Stand.[94] Ashmore's twin brother Aaron Ashmore played Jimmy in Smallville.

DC Extended Universe[edit]

Jimmy Olsen is portrayed by Michael Cassidy in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[95] Similar to the Superman: Red Son version, he appears as a CIA operative, but poses as a photographer during Lois Lane's journey to Africa. During an interview, he is exposed as an agent and killed after terrorists find a tracking device hidden within his camera.[96] While the character's name is not mentioned in the theatrical version of the film, it is in the home video-exclusive "Ultimate Edition".[95]

Other appearances[edit]

  • Jimmy Olsen, as an unnamed, rather Neumanesque-looking office boy, appeared in the Superman animated short film "Showdown", where he is voiced by actor Jack Mercer.
  • The first actor to portray Jimmy Olsen in a live-action format was Tommy Bond, who co-starred with Kirk Alyn (Superman / Clark Kent) and Noel Neill (Lois Lane) in the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).
  • Jimmy appeared in Superman: Doomsday, played by voice actor Adam Wylie. He is with Lois reporting the battle between Superman and Doomsday and is one the characters followed through their grieving process; his being quitting the Daily Planet and becoming a Paparazzi photographer. Lois tries to get him to come back and help her investigate Superman's supposed return, which he refuses due to him foolishly liking his new life. He does eventually help Lois after seeing Toyman dead by "Superman's" hand and they discover that this Superman is a clone made by Lex Luthor and later runs alongside Lois during "Superman's" fight with, who Jimmy calls, Rocker Superman, the real Superman. After their fight, Jimmy is happy to see the real Superman alive when Superman confirms it is him through a kiss with Lois.
  • He appeared in Justice League: The New Frontier. He has no dialogue, therefore no voice actor. He is always shown with Lois, and is almost killed during the final battle. He tries to take dangerous pictures during the battle.
  • Jimmy is played again by David Kaufman in the movie Superman: Brainiac Attacks.
  • Jimmy appeared in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. He is in the antimatter Earth as Ultraman's "Pal" and was used to bait him out. He tries to take on Luthor and Superman with super powers in battle. This Jimmy Olsen has the powers of flight, superhuman strength and durability, but despite them, he was easily overpowered by Superman. He was arrested and taken to jail along with Ultraman. In promotional materials for the film, this version of Jimmy is referred to as "Mr. Action". He was voiced by Richard Green.
  • Jimmy appears in the movie All-Star Superman voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler.
  • Jimmy appears in Justice League: Doom, with David Kaufman reprising his role from the Superman animated series.[97] He has a brief speaking role as he and Lois Lane are outside the Daily Planet reporting a possible suicide jump. Jimmy is the one who identifies the jumper as a former reporter from the Daily Planet. It is really Metallo in disguise, who proceeds to shoot Superman with a kryptonite bullet.
  • He appears in Superman vs. The Elite voiced again by David Kaufman.
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Jimmy is mentioned in a news segment where he announces that the fourth year of the TV writers' strike won't interfere with this year's television season.
  • Jimmy appears in Superman: Unbound voiced by Alexander Gould. He doesn't have a major role in the film and is present mainly as one of the cameo characters in the film. He does serve a brief purpose as Lois asks him to use his signal watch to call Supergirl, who he immediately has an attraction to.
  • He also appears in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. Though he was a non-speaking role, his voice was credited by Patrick Cavanaugh.
  • An alternate universe version of Jimmy Olsen appeared in Justice League: Gods and Monsters, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. He was part of Lois Lane's reporter team and snuck into the morgue of the deceased scientists to get some pictures before getting arrested.

Video games[edit]

In Superman 64, he is trapped, along with Lois Lane and Professor Emil Hamilton, by Lex Luthor. Superman has to save him and his friends in this game.

In Superman: Shadow of Apokolips for the Nintendo Gamecube and the PlayStation 2, Jimmy (again voiced by David Kaufman) makes some minor appearances and only seen in the story between game-play. He is seen in the bibliography section of the game.

In DC Universe Online Jimmy appears as a supporting character for the heroes, voiced by Brandon Young.

Cultural references[edit]


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