Johnny Smith (Dead Zone)

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Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith (Dead Zone).jpg
Christopher Walken portraying Johnny Smith
First appearance"Wheel of Fortune (Part 1)"
Created byStephen King
Michael Piller
Portrayed byChristopher Walken (film)
Anthony Michael Hall (TV series)
Evan Smith (9)
Kai-Read Friedman
OccupationPsychic detective
Former schoolteacher
FamilyJohn Smith (grandfather, deceased)
Herbert Smith (father, thought deceased, but found alive in Series finale)
Vera Smith (mother, deceased)
J. J. Bannerman (son)

John "Johnny" Smith is a fictional character and the protagonist of Stephen King's 1979 novel The Dead Zone. He is portrayed by Christopher Walken in the film adaptation and Anthony Michael Hall in the USA Network television series.[1] Paste Magazine has ranked Johnny Smith the sixth out of eight creepiest Christopher Walken performances.[2]


In the novel, Johnny Smith is an English teacher in New England, the only slight mar in his past being a fall on an ice rink when he was six years old, in 1953, which he barely even remembered as an adult. After a date with his girlfriend Sarah to a county fair, he is caught in a car crash, which sends him into a coma for four and a half years until May 17, 1975.

When he regains consciousness, Johnny and his doctors swiftly discover that seemingly minor brain damage that he sustained while he was in his coma caused the reactivation of a long-dormant part of his brain that gives him the ability to learn something about the past or future of people and objects he touches.

While he initially wants to use his powers for good, such as to warn a woman that her kitchen is on fire, Johnny eventually denies their existence, the only exception being when he is contacted by a sheriff seeking assistance in tracking a serial killer. After finding the killer, Johnny goes into semi-retirement once again, taking a job as a private tutor when he finds himself unable to return to his old teaching job on the grounds that he is "too controversial" to be an educator.

During a political rally, he shakes hands with candidate Greg Stillson and foresees an apocalyptic future that would take place if Stillson won the election. Although reluctant to resort to murder, Johnny's hand is forced when he discovers that he has developed a tumor as a result of his accident, which gives him a short time to live. With no hope of gathering evidence to expose Stillson's threat in the time left to him, Johnny instead attempts to shoot him at a press conference.

Although Stillson survives and Johnny is killed by his security force, Stillson's attempt to use a child as a human shield ruins his political career, as the dying Johnny knows by grabbing Stillson's leg.

Television series[edit]

In the television series, Johnny is introduced in the pilot episode, "Wheel of Fortune (Part 1)". Born John Robert Smith in 1967, Johnny taught Biology at Cleaves Mills High School until a horrific car crash, on 6 June 1995, put him into a six-year coma from which he awoke on 1 September 2001. Since then, he has experienced psychic visions, triggered by physical contact, of the future and the past. He has repeatedly used these visions to aid Penobscot County Sheriff Walter T. Bannerman, the man who had married Johnny's own fiancée, Sarah Anne Bracknell. He also helped her raise Johnny's son, J.J., while Johnny was comatose. Unlike his novel counterpart, Johnny is very relaxed about the use of his abilities and uses them on several occasions to help his friends investigate the mysteries and dangers surrounding them.


  1. ^ "Uncle Ira's Basement: THE DEAD ZONE". Jul 24, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  2. ^ Flood, Laura (September 7, 2012). "The Eight Creepiest Christopher Walken Performances". Retrieved 2015-08-31.

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