|Degrassi: The Next Generation character|
Ryan Cooley as J. T. Yorke
|First appearance||October 14, 2001
(episode 1.01; "Mother and Child Reunion, Part 1")
|Last appearance||January 26, 2007
(episode 6.11; "Rock This Town")
|Created by||Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore|
|Portrayed by||Ryan Cooley|
Unnamed son (with Liberty)
|Significant other(s)||Manny Santos
Liberty Van Zandt
Ryan Cooley found out he would leave the show "around" April 2006, prior to the filming of the sixth season. While surprised his character was being killed off, Cooley was contemplating going to a university and leaving the series. Cooley's last episode "Rock This Town" was shot in August 2006.
Throughout the series, J. T. is portrayed as a class clown who constantly makes jokes, with usually positive reception by his classmates and not by the person who he is making fun of. His joking often caused much of his own problems, including getting put in detention and even resulted in his relationship with Manny ending.
Fictional character biography
- Season 1
J. T. aids Manny and Toby in stopping Emma from being raped during a meeting with a sexual predator who posed as someone her age. When his seventh grade year started, J. T. was asked by Toby to run against his stepsister Ashley Kerwin for class president and he does before Ashley pays him eighty dollars to withdraw. Early in the school year, J. T. and Toby passed on going to the school dance in favor of looking at pornography websites. The two were caught by Toby's parents, who returned home earlier than expected and the pair were made by Toby's parents to look at pornography sites with men, in order to be taught a lesson on objectifying women.
Liberty is revealed to be romantically interested in J. T., who does not like her back. After she takes the blame for him during class, her crush becomes obvious to Toby, Manny and Emma. J. T. denies it for a time, but realizes it and tries to act obnoxious to get her to stop liking him. Once this fails to work, he tells her that he is homosexual, which disappoints her but backfires when she asks to do an interview with him and have him come out of the closet and serve as an inspiration for other students struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality. When Emma has her period, J. T. mocks her for coming to class in oversized shorts, not knowing her other clothes were stained. He finds out when she reveals she is having her period to the class.
- Season 2
J. T. gains a crush on Paige, who is raped sometime after the two go on a date together and confesses this to him. When he learns of the rape and the identity of the offender, he attacks him. Despite being outclassed, J. T. is able to get him suspended when the boy attacks him in retaliation.
- Season 3
J. T. changes his appearance from the previous two seasons, abandoning his cap. The character also becomes attracted to childhood friend Manny Santos, who begins to dress more promiscuously. He stops her from exposing herself to the class when she volunteers and has to bend over as a result. When Liberty asks him out, after having crushed on him for years, J. T. rejects her and she asks him if he is rejecting her because of his feelings for Manny.
J. T. is featured in a commercial. In anticipation for its premiere, he invites students from Degrassi, including Manny. She is the only one to not laugh at the commercial and even after Sean and Jay both mock him for his role in the commercial, she gives him a positive reception and the pair become friends again. He tries taking this one step further and asking her out to a dance, but backs out after seeing her with Craig, who she got pregnant by. When Manny confronts him about not asking her out, he admits that he chose not to when he saw her with him. Manny reveals that Craig wanted to see how she was doing since the abortion and the following day, J. T. confronts Manny. He apologizes and asks her out, which she accepts.
- Season 4
Early in the season, his relationship with Manny ends after she catches him trying to use a penis pump to make his penis bigger after seeing Craig Manning's, which made him feel his was too small. However, Manny discredited this and said that she was turned off by J. T.'s constant joking. He becomes good friends with Liberty's younger brother Danny Van Zandt and the pair shun Toby for being friends with Rick Murray, who was the perpetrator of the school shooting. After he is confronted by Manny, J. T. makes up with Toby and apologizes for treating him badly. J. T. and Danny had previously expressed dislike for Rick before the shooting and his death.
J. T. and Liberty bond while working on a school play based on the school shooting. The pair end up in detention after Liberty sings their rebellion song to the school principal, where they share their first kiss and begin a relationship. The friendship between J. T. and Danny deteriorates after the latter realizes that J. T. is more interested in being with his sister than interacting with him. After Danny purposely fails to alert the pair of when his and Liberty's father is coming home and thus getting the two in trouble, he gets into a fight with J. T. and gets the pair both in trouble with his sister. Danny makes up for it by covering for the two when his father comes home.
- Season 5
J. T. and Liberty become sexually active over the summer and he speaks openly of his relations with her to Toby, frustrating Liberty. She pours a coup of soda down J. T.'s pants after hearing him talk to Toby and leaves. The following day, J. T. and Liberty argue over his immaturity and her controlling ways before she reveals she's pregnant, causing a surprised J. T. to crash his car. J. T. breaks up with Liberty after she continues to ignore his pleas for her to go to the doctor, but he gets a job at a pharmacy and swears to not abandon his unborn child. Danny learns of the pregnancy soon after and attacks J. T. and promises not to tell as long as the latter helps him with an assignment taking care of a baby doll. After the project fails, Danny still chooses not to tell his parents about his sister and J. T.'s secret. J. T. and Liberty argue a bit on whether to keep the baby or put it up for adoption, but ultimately decide to keep the baby. As a result, J. T. quits the job he loves at a children's TV show to pick up more hours at the pharmacy. Jay Hogart persuades J. T. to steal Oxycodone from the pharmacy and sell it to a friend of Jay's at the Ravine. J. T. tells the buyer that he needs more cash, so the buyer agrees to give J. T. an extra $400 as a payment on another score of drugs. When Liberty finds out about J. T.'s drug-dealing, she is infuriated and J. T. begins to regret his decision. He tells Liberty he will buy back the drugs from his buyer and never sell again. Meanwhile, he and Liberty decide it's time to tell their parents. J. T.'s grandmother doesn't take it well, which makes them both nervous about Liberty's parent's reactions. Liberty and J. T. first announce to them that they are moving to an apartment together, and then J. T. reveals that the two are having a child. Liberty's mother is relatively calm, but Liberty's father becomes angry and states he never wants to see J. T. again, but that they will help Liberty. Liberty tells her parents that regardless, she will be moving in with J. T. She storms out of the room and, loud enough so her parents could hear, tells J. T. to help her begin to pack. J. T. asks Toby for financial help in order to buy back the drugs, but Toby refuses and J. T. snaps at him, telling him, "This is why you don't have friends." When J. T. confronts the buyer about getting the drugs back, they get in a physical fight which causes J. T. to steal Oxycodone from the pharmacy again because the buyer wants the drugs for which he'd already paid $400. He reveals to Liberty that he has to steal drugs again, and she is again upset with J. T. J. T. brings the pills to the Ravine again, and has some left over after selling several to the same buyer as before. He is distraught because he realizes he has lost everything he cares about, and takes all of the leftover pills as a suicide attempt. He collapses because of the overdose, and he is next seen awake in a hospital bed. It is assumed that Jay Hogart brought J. T. to the hospital. Liberty is seen talking to her parents, and her father, who is a lawyer, tells her he will try to help J. T. out of legal trouble. Liberty talks to J. T. and tells him she has decided to give up their baby for adoption because neither of them can handle raising a child. Liberty has her child later in the season; J. T. is seen at the hospital with her but didn't appear to be present until after the birth. He saw the infant briefly before it was taken out of the room.
- Season 6
J. T. becomes frustrated with the attacks on Degrassi students by students of Lakehurst, a school minutes away from Degrassi. He begins a relationship with Mia Jones, who had previously been in a relationship with a Lakehurst student. He is stabbed in the back on the night of Liberty's birthday party while he is looking for her to tell her that he loves her and wants to be with her instead of Mia. Liberty is the person who found J. T. just after his being stabbed and she calls for help. J.T. is rushed to the hospital, and soon pronounced dead, with the original grade 7 class (Emma, Manny, Liberty, Sean, and Toby) at the hospital grieving his death.
- Season 7
A memorial with his picture is shown in the finale "We Built This City", and is honored by his graduating friends by flipping the tassel on the graduation cap reserved for him.
- Manny Santos
- Start Up: Our House (3.21)
- Broke Up: Mercy Street (4.04)
- Reason: Manny believed that J. T. was too childish/immature.
- Liberty Van Zandt
- First Relationship:
- Start Up: Voices Carry: Part Two) (4.12)
- Broke Up: Foolin' (5.04)
- Reason: Liberty got too controlling.
- Second Relationship:
- Start Up: Turned Out: Part One (5.07)
- Broke Up: Turned Out: Part Two (5.08)
- Reason: J. T. attempts suicide by overdosing on Oxycodone.
- First Relationship:
- Mia Jones
- "theTVaddict.com Exclusive Interview: Degrassi's Ryan Cooley Talks About the Death of J.T." TheTVaddict.com. January 18, 2007.
- "Mercy Street". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 4. Episode 4. September 21, 2004.
- "Family Politics". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 1. Episode 3. November 4, 2001.
- "Eye of the Beholder". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 1. Episode 4. November 1, 2001.
- "Secrets and Lies". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 1. Episode 8. December 9, 2001.
- "Coming of Age". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 1. Episode 9. December 16, 2001.
- "When Doves Cry: Part One". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 2. Episode 1. September 29, 2002.
- "How Soon is Now?". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 2. Episode 12. February 9, 2003.
- "Accidents Will Happen: Part Two". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 3. Episode 15. February 9, 2004.
- "It's Raining Men". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 3. Episode 19. March 15, 2004.
- "Our House". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 3. Episode 21. March 29, 2004.
- "Back in Black". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 4. Episode 9. October 19, 2004.
- "Voices Carry: Part One". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 4. Episode 11. November 2, 2004.
- "Voices Carry: Part Two". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 4. Episode 12. November 9, 2004.
- "Eye of the Tiger". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 4. Episode 16. December 14, 2004.
- "Foolin'". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 5. Episode 4. October 10, 2005.
- "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Degrassi: The Next Generation. Season 5. Episode 6. October 24, 2005.