John Tracy (Thunderbirds)

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John Tracy
Thunderbirds character
John Tracy.jpg
First appearance"Trapped in the Sky"
(30 September 1965)
Created byGerry and Sylvia Anderson
Portrayed byLex Shrapnel (2004 film)
Voiced byRay Barrett (1965-1966)
Keith Alexander (1968)
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (2015-)
OccupationSpace Monitor
FamilyJeff Tracy (father)
Lucille Tracy (mother, deceased)
Scott Tracy (brother)
Virgil Tracy (brother)
Gordon Tracy (brother)
Alan Tracy (brother)
Grandma Tracy (grandmother)

John Tracy is a fictional character from Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation television series Thunderbirds and the subsequent films Thunderbirds Are Go, Thunderbird 6 and the live-action film Thunderbirds.

Thunderbirds (1965-66)[edit]


John Tracy was initially to be one of the main characters in Thunderbirds, but he became the least favourite character of creator Gerry Anderson, and consequently had a much more limited role in the series than originally intended.[1] John was the first of the Tracy brothers to be cast. Actor Ray Barrett was so impressed with the attractive nature of the face of the marionette, who was modeled on head-shots of rock singer Adam Faith and actor Charlton Heston, that he immediately advised co-producer Sylvia Anderson that he wanted to play the studious young astronaut with the boyish quiff.[2]

Character biography[edit]

The third son of Jeff Tracy (founder and financier of International Rescue), John was named after astronaut John Glenn.[1] Sources vary in the canon of the Thunderbirds series as to John's age and birth date, although one written source suggests that he was born on 28 October 2041—this would make him the third son. The majority of sources and two decades of Thunderbirds calendars cite John's birthday as 8 October and he is 24 years of age. Chris Bentley, author of The Complete Book Of Thunderbirds, erroneously cited Gerry Anderson as the source of the misinformation about the birth order of the Tracy brothers, but later admitted that he was using the order of the brothers as shown in the credits. Most source books on Thunderbirds prior to the Complete book noted that the birth order matches the number of the Thunderbirds ships, save that the third brother (John) and fifth brother (Alan) trade shifts aboard their respective crafts. Also, the novel Operation: Asteroids from 1965 clearly states that Scott and Virgil are "Jeff's eldest sons".

John is a noted scholar of astronomy, and has authored several popular astronomy textbooks. He is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Advanced Telecommunications. [3] John's quiet intellectual nature and interest in astronomy make him the natural choice for the solitary life as the occupant of space station Thunderbird 5, monitoring for distress calls from around the world. He has only ever been seen physically involved in a rescue during the episode "Danger At Ocean Deep", although he reveals in a conversation with his father in that same episode that he has already been on a "dozen" rescues. According to Carlton Books' Lady Penelope's Secrets, John is known to be exceedingly patient, kindly and gracious and possessed of both great intelligence and poise as gifts inherited from his talented mother.

Thunderbirds (2004 film)[edit]

Lex Shrapnel portrayed John in the 2004 live action film. Owing to the film focusing on Alan Tracy, little is known about this version of John. A brief scene between him and his father Jeff Tracy shows that, like his 1960s counterpart, he is a kind and patient person, because he listens to and provides encouragement for Jeff who is concerned about Alan’s behaviour.

Thunderbirds Are Go (TV series)[edit]

In the 2015 series, John is still the 'pilot' of Thunderbird 5, but his role is greatly expanded beyond simply receiving calls for help, often providing aid in coordinating the rescue missions via long-distance communication. He is voiced by Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

John is shown as being an emotional introvert, who prefers spending his spare time eating bagels, watching TV (his favourite show is Stingray) and stargazing. He is generally a loner, who doesn't like having to spend more time on Earth than he has to, as he's now the lone operator of TB5 until EOS comes, a program that he designed by himself.


  1. ^ a b - characters
  2. ^ Barrett, Ray (1995). Ray Barrett: An Autobiography. Milsons Point: Random House. ISBN 0 09 183074 5.
  3. ^ Marriot, John; Anderson, Gerry (foreword) (1992). "29". Thunderbirds ARE GO!. London: Boxtree. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-85283-164-6.

External links[edit]