He's the human astronaut, just one guy stuck in the middle...
NOTE/SPOILERS: This profile is updated through to events in #10301 "Season of Death".
John Crichton, or Commander John Robert Crichton, Jr. to give his full name, was just an ordinary guy. Sure he was scientist and an astronaut with the IASA (International Aeronautical Space Association), but he was still just your run-of-the-mill human being. He lost his mother at a young age, and grew up somewhat in the shadow of his father, Jack, who was also a major player in IASA. John and his best friend since childhood - DK - set out to prove their own theory that a manned spacecraft overcoming a planet's gravitational friction will increase a ship's velocity to speeds never before recorded.
John was pretty nervous, but after a talk with his dad the mission was underway. Unfortunately, it all went wrong. His experiment apparently created a wormhole close to Earth's atmosphere and he was flung through it, ending up elsewhere in the universe. Immediately he saw small ships fly past at lightning speeds, one of which hits him and is destroyed when it collides with an asteroid. John stumbles across a huge ship, and is brought aboard. He is ushered to the ship's command centre by DRDs – Diagnostic Repair Drones – where he becomes the first human to have alien contact, only he is now cut off completely from Earth, leaving the rest of Earth's population unaware of his discovery or that he even survived. After being injected with "translator microbes" by a DRD, he was able to understand what the aliens were saying. First contact is not as he'd imagined though as they are escaping prisoners who only brought him on board their hijacked prison ship in hopes that he or his craft could aid in their escape. The prisoners, Zotoh Zhaan, Ka D'Argo and Rygel XVI, quickly decide that John and his craft are woefully primitive and of no real use.
Unsure of John's loyalties – and unsure of his species after examining him – the escaping prisoners hold him in a cell along with a fighter pilot captured during their escape. The pilot is a Peacekeeper; the military regime which imprisoned them and rules this region with brute force. John is pleasantly surprised at first to find that this soldier, Officer Aeryn Sun, looks human. He quickly learns though that looks are all they have in common as she first attacks him then uses him to help her escape to the commerce planet where D’Argo and Rygel are looking for supplies.
On the planet they are confronted by Officer Sun's commander, Captain Bialar Crais. Unfortunately for John, Crais is also the brother of the pilot killed in the accident when John first came out of the wormhole. Aeryn Sun makes a fatal mistake in stating her belief that the accident really was just that. John learns just how little regard the Peacekeepers have for other races as Crais deems Aeryn "irreversibly contaminated" by this alien human – a breech of protocol punishable by death. John manages to escape. He also manages to talk Officer Sun into going with him and talk a reluctant D'Argo into allowing her to join them. John, Aeryn, D'Argo, Zhaan and Rygel escape into a region known as the Uncharted Territories. This universe just keeps getting stranger to John as he learns that the ship, Moya, is a bio-mechanoid; a living ship. She is maintained and piloted by a creature – appropriately known simply as "Pilot" – who is genetically bonded to Moya in a symbiotic relationship. John is now painfully aware that he is truly lost in the universe; astrologically, culturally, physically, emotionally, lost.
Although the Peacekeepers have no jurisdiction in the Uncharted Territories, they still have a strong presence there and the crew of Moya remained on the run from Crais. On their journeys they meet some rather colourful races. All of this was very overwhelming for John, particularly when he was put in the position of being an alien on another Earth-like, pre-first contact world shortly after he arrived. Gradually, he and the crew of Moya began to pull together and, though often reluctant to do so, learned to work together as a team for survival's sake. John was always the underdog in trying to win over the trust of Aeryn and D'Argo – Moya's resident warriors – but with support from Zhaan, a 9th level Delvian priest, he gradually earned their respect and trust.
Particularly after confronting D'Argo head on after storming off after a wormhole, he and D'Argo had a considerably heated discussion and realised that though they may never be friends, they can be allies. However they did grow as friends and after everything they've been through they share a great friendship, although it's not without its problems.
He looks to Zhaan in more of a motherly role and for guidance. She is also the crewmember he speaks with more deeply than the others, particularly after sharing a Delvian ritual called "Unity" with her, which is the joining of two souls. John was also instrumental later on in allowing the Nebari prisoner Chiana to stay on board Moya, recognising her distress and that her situation was not much different than the rest of the crews. Their relationship is more friendship, with an occasional hint of sexual tease, largely on Chiana's part.
He has also gradually developed a relationship with Aeryn, one of much love, though rarely acted upon physically. John finds himself constantly reminded that Aeryn has been bred and raised in a world devoid of emotional attachment. Although she looks human, she is very much alien and her growing emotional attraction to him is as foreign to her as this part of the universe is to John. Their early mutual attraction took on renewed tension after John falls for someone else. Aboard the derelict but legendary Peacekeeper vessel Zelbinion, John falls for a Peacekeeper tech named Gilina.
Forced to part ways with Gilina, they eventually met again on a top-secret Peacekeeper Gammak Base when he and Chiana attempted to infiltrate it in the hope of finding a cure for a critically injured Aeryn. This final meeting, which ultimately led to the death of Gilina, and saving of Aeryn, also introduced John to the person that would eventually become his true nemesis – the ever-evil Scarran-Sebacean hybrid known as Scorpius. After he and Chiana did an otherwise impressive job of disguising themselves as a PK captain and his love-slave, Scorpius instantly recognised him as an impostor when they had a chance encounter in a corridor. Using a very painful device called an Aurora Chair, Scorpius began to pick apart at John's memories to discover who he was and what he was doing at the base. Instead, he stumbled across a preview of some very valuable wormhole technology which even John was unaware existed. The information was implanted in John's brain by a race known as the Ancients who had used John as a test not long before to see if Earth was ready for alien contact (incidentally, it was decided that Earth was very much not ready). Unbeknownst to John, or anyone else on the crew, Scorpius did a lot more than just torture John, but no one would realise the full extent of Scorpius' actions for a while.
Whilst imprisoned, John shared a cell with a Banik Slave named Stark. They formed an immediate "inmate" bond, with Stark using empathic abilities to help John through the pain induced by the extreme torture. Later though, when Stark returned to Moya, their relationship was different, as John seemed to not trust the seemingly even more insane man.
Scorpius' arrival, and ultimately his quest for John's knowledge, led to a new relationship between John and his now former hunter, Crais. Overthrown by Scorpius, Crais was forced to bargain with Rygel in order to get free. He ultimately changed his view of what happened to his brother the day John arrived, and subsequently his view of John. He no longer wanted John dead, which at least took one weight off John's mind. New weights were added to John’s situation though as he sealed his status with Scorpius by destroying the Gammak Base. Also during this time, Moya gave birth. Her offspring, Talyn, was a Leviathan gunship genetically engineered by Crais in an experiment carried out just before John arrived in the Uncharted Territories. As part of a deal to help save John and D'Argo, Aeryn helped give Crais control of Talyn. Still, John and Aeryn gradually grew closer despite this and many other setbacks in both their working and personal relationship.
Their relationship was well and truly tested when the run from Scorpius led the crew of Moya to a planet where they were drawn in to a political game in which John was forced to get married to the planet's princess and heir to the throne. This came just when Aeryn seemed almost ready to let John in a little. As if the arrival of Scorpius and the presence of another Scarran wasn't enough, John found that as part of the marriage ceremony, he and the princess would be turned into statues for eighty years. His friends eventually saved him, surprisingly with some assistance from Scorpius (who refused to let John and his wormhole technology die). During the whole ordeal, John had another notable affair with a Peacekeeper spy by the name of Jenavia. Being very new to – and a little put off by – emotions like love and jealousy, Aeryn had some difficulty dealing with it all, but she and John eventually reached something of an unspoken understanding.
He was faced with another tough decision when an accident caused two clones of him to appear aboard Moya – a super-brain Crichton, and a caveman-type version. Only one of him could survive, and he morally chose to sacrifice himself for the super-brain version to live, but eventually he ended up being the one that survived. Not long after that he was captured and his mind was attacked by a Scarran, who again took him back to an imaginary Earth much like the Ancients had done during their experiment to see if Earth could handle alien contact. He was forced to recall and deal with his feelings for his dead mother, but ultimately refused to be fooled like he was by the Ancients into believing any of it was real, and was rescued by his comrades.
Once again his relationship with Aeryn took a turn for the strange when Aeryn left the ship on a short recon mission and a few hours later returned aged sixty cycles! Despite Aeryn’s warnings not to follow her back to the planet where a few hours on Moya equals 60 years on the planet, John went after Aeryn to try and convince her to return to Moya. Instead, he too wound up stuck on the planet until the next window could open for him to return to Moya – 60 years later by the planet’s timeframe. Stark and Zhaan used their mind powers to break Moya free of being in slowed time, however this also meant that both Aeryn and John lost their memories of this situation and an entire life of growing old together.
Another of his relationships - his now close friendship with D'Argo – was tested to the extreme when the crew went looking for D'Argo's son, Jothee. Stark had a plan to free Jothee from slavery, but it involved robbing a Shadow Depository and none of the crew wanted anything to do with it. D'Argo took out the bulk of his frustration on John, since he had followed John's plans and ideas numerous times. D'Argo put the plan into action anyway, effectively forcing the crew to go along with it, and they successfully robbed the Depository. However, during the robbery John was once again faced with Scorpius, whom for months had been appearing to John in hallucinations. Scorpius revealed that he had placed a neural clone in John's mind, to extract the wormhole technology, back when he tortured him on his Gammak Base. After a fierce battle of minds, John thought he'd left Scorpius for dead. Unfortunately this was not the case, and Scorpius went and bought the lot of slaves that included Jothee, which made D'Argo even angrier with John, once again blaming him for this turn of events. When all the other plans seemed to fail, John decided to do what he thought was right for his friend and the rest of the crew, and traded himself to Scorpius for Jothee. Of course, his friends could not just forget him, and they carried out an elaborate plan to rescue John. With the help of a number of old acquaintances, and Crais and Talyn, John was rescued, and again Scorpius was thought to have been killed when Talyn destroyed the Depository.
John's turmoil wasn't over though. With the clone blaming John for Scorpius' death, he pleaded with D'Argo to take his life, being at his wit's end. Instead, D'Argo and the crew opted to find a doctor who could remove the chip. The trouble was that the clone was gradually taking over John's mind, and he was becoming more and more a shadow of his former self, and gradually being taken over by Scorpius.
This led to the ultimate test in his relationship with Aeryn. With the clone in control of him, he left Moya and began signalling for Scorpius, forcing Aeryn to pursue him, and if necessary, shoot him down. Still under the influence of the clone, John tricked Aeryn and rammed her prowler, forcing her to eject. As everyone realised she was going down over a frozen lake and the force of her ejected pilot's seat would certainly break through the ice, John managed to take control of his own mind again. But the damage was done. Aeryn's harness was jammed, and in her ejected seat she descended through the ice and into the lake. John was torn apart by Aeryn's demise, and didn't even want to live. At her funeral he cut a lock of her hair to remember her by, and soon afterwards, the operation to remove the chip began. However, his message to Scorpius had gotten through, and Scorpius entered surgery knocking out the doctor and taking the chip, leaving John on the operating table, unable to speak and the poor man’s brain exposed mid-operation.
Rygel thankfully found him and revived the doctor, allowing him to finish the operation. But when his speech was restored he told his friends that he didn't want to live knowing what he had done to Aeryn. The clone was still present in his mind attempting to drive him mad, but he managed to put a lid on it temporarily. D'Argo pleaded with him to allow them to save him, knowing it would've been what Aeryn would have wanted, and John eventually allowed it.
More sacrifice was to come though, when Zhaan and Stark found that Aeryn was not clinically dead but frozen in stasis to be used by the doctor as an organ donor. Zhaan, recognising John's true love for Aeryn and the unjustness of her death, joined with Aeryn in Unity and sacrificed her life energy to give to Aeryn, leaving Aeryn alive but Zhaan dying. Reunited, John finally told Aeryn that he loves her, and she reciprocated, but refused to act on it because she didn't want to be the cause of any more deaths. This turn of events sadly appears to have torn John's feelings apart more than ever before.
Written by Mary Wood and Dani Moure exclusively for this site.
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Liars, Guns and Money, Part 3: Plan B
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Infinite Possibilities, Part 2: Icarus Abides
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About Ben Browder
Ben Browder was born on 11th December 1962 in Memphis, TN (USA). He was raised in Charlotte, NC, and is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, SC. He received his acting training at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England. He is best known as playing Sam, Neve Campbell's boyfriend in the hit TV series "Party Of Five", but has also guest starred in such TV shows as "Melrose Place", "Murder, She Wrote", "Strangers", "Grace Under Fire" and "The Boys Of Twilight" (playing Tyler). Browder has starred in a variety of TV movies including "The Sky's On Fire", "Steel Chariots" and "Danielle Steel's Secrets". His movie debut came in the 1990 film "Memphis Belle" playing a rookie captain. His other feature film credits include "Nevada", "Boogie Boy" and "A Kiss Before Dying", which also starred Matt Damon. He has also appeared in theatre productions and on Broadway in "The Merchant Of Venice".
Click here to see all the information on Ben Browder on the Internet Movie Database.