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Characters / Hellblazer – John Constantine

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"My name's John Constantine, and here I stay: haunted by London. And London, haunted by me."

Mictlantecuhtli: You forget yourself. I am no upstart demon, scrabbling in the dirt of the human soul. I am Mictlantecuhtli. I am a god.
John: Great stuff. I'm John — and I'm a bastard.

John Constantine is a creation of Alan Moore and Steve Bissette, first appearing in Saga of the Swamp Thing #25 (June, 1984) and going on to head his own Vertigo series, Hellblazer, in 1988. The character started out firmly entrenched in The DCU — his first arc was a crossover with Crisis on Infinite Earths — but gradually drifted off into his own self-contained universe. (Although the likes of Zatanna, his ex girlfriend, and The Phantom Stranger still popped in from time to time, as did Morpheus.) He returned to the DCU in the Cosmic Retcon of Flashpoint, subsequently heading a number of series.

Constantine himself is generally portrayed as an adrenaline junkie who's constantly getting involved with the supernatural because he hates the snobs who rule the world. Although he is a Badass Long Coat Anti-Hero, he's portrayed as being a poor fighter (unless he's fighting dirty or gets the first punch in), generally eschews guns, and is actually not that powerful a sorcerer. Instead, he uses his brains to outwit, trick and manipulate his enemies. Well, brains, magic (mind-reading and gambling a specialty!), bullshit, and not infrequently the power of his own reputation. His reputation as a manipulative bastard has led to him being referred to as the World's Greatest Con Man.

One of his most persistent traits is his habit of manipulating friends and allies into fighting for him, frequently getting others involved in his schemes. This often winds up getting others hurt or killed. Indeed, the series became notorious at one point for introducing a new "old friend" of Constantine's, then killing them off every few issues. Despite this, Constantine is generally a sympathetic character who refuses to absolve himself of his guilt — except for the time that he turned it into a demon baby and threw it off a cliff — and generally does the right thing, even if he does it in a particularly nasty way. He is a strident humanist and sort-of anarchist who fights for humanity's right to make its own decisions free of the control of Heaven, Hell, politicians, or other forces of control. The fact that he does this by manipulating people is an irony that has not been lost on several writers, or even on Constantine himself during moments of self loathing. It is a major theme in the comic that Constantine never has any unequivocal permanent victories — enemies will always return, revenge will be sought and friends will be lost. Ultimately, Failure Is the Only Option.

In 2011, Constantine was re-integrated into the mainstream DC Universe, and served as a founding member of Justice League Dark. This younger and hipper Constantine became the de facto mystic guest star whenever a comic needed a one, supplanting Doctor Fate and Zatanna from the role. He had a larger hand in big events as well and was more prone to backstabbing others, and had very little of his prior history. Eventually, the history of Hellblazer gradually returned.

A cute version of John appears with other Vert-goMites in the Bat-Mite story Mitefall.

John Constantine was portrayed by Keanu Reeves in the 2005 film adaption and Matt Ryan in Constantine and later the Arrowverse. Ryan also voiced him in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Taron Egerton voiced Constantine for the Audible dramatization of The Sandman (1989). To the surprise of many, Constantine also made appearances in Justice League Action.

Notable Vertigo Appearances

  • Hellblazer #1-300 (January 1988-November 2012)
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing #37-40, 44-45 (June 1985)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (July 1985)
  • Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #46-51, 55, 65-67, 70-74, 76-77, 84, 88-90, 99, 114-115, 166, 169-171 (March 1986)
  • The Sandman (1989) Vol. 2 #3 (March 1989)
  • Books of Magic Vol. 1 #1-2, 4 (January 1991)
  • The Horrorist #1-2 (December 1995)
  • Hellblazer/Books of Magic #1-2 (December 1997)
  • Sandman Presents: Love Street (July 1999)
  • Hellblazer Special #1 (1998)
  • Vertigo: Winter's Edge #1-3 (January 1998)
  • The Trenchcoat Brigade #1-4 (March 1999)
  • Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer #1 (August 2000)
  • Hellblazer: Bad Blood #1-4 (September 2000)
  • Hellblazer: All His Engines (January 2005)
  • Papa Midnite #3-5 (June 2005)
  • Chas: The Knowledge #1-5 (September 2008)
  • Hellblazer: Dark Entries (October 2009)
  • Hellblazer: Pandemonium (March 2010)
  • Hellblazer: City of Demons #1-5 (December 2010)

Notable DCU Appearances

  • Justice League Dark #1-#40, #0 (November 2011)
  • Constantine #1-23 (May 2013)
  • Constantine: Futures End #1 (November 2014)
  • Secret Origins Vol. 3 #11 (May 2015)
  • Constantine: The Hellblazer #1-13 (August 2015)
  • The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 (September 2016)
  • The Hellblazer #1-ongoing (October 2016)

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    Vertigo Comics (1988-2013) 
  • Abusive Parents: John's father Thomas is a complete jerk to John, both emotionally and physically abusive. He's an angry, stubborn, working class man who John admits had no idea what to do about having such an "arty-farty ponce" for a son. Even after dying and being sent to Hell, he still carries a grudge against his son, but confesses he does have some fatherly love for John. He even visited John's wedding as a ghost.
    • It's not only John who Thomas has troubled. He forced his wife to have coat-hanger abortion, the event leading to her death. He also used to peek in his daughter Cheryl's room while she dressed, and gave his grandson away against Cheryl's wishes.
    • It's worth noting that, despite John having every right to despise his father (and in many ways does), his first reaction to Thomas's death at the hands of the serial killer known as the Family Man, was to sink down to the floor and cry. He even goes out of his way to avenge his father's death afterwards, though it brings him little satisfaction.
  • Action Survivor: John is sometimes drawn into situations that he had no part in or was even looking for. Without time to prepare or investigate, he is often the only one who survives. Ironically, he shares many of the listed traits of an action survivor in general.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Actually an annoying niece, Gemma Masters, who wants to follow in her beloved uncle's footsteps. Things don't end well.
  • Anti-Hero: John, when his motivations are purely selfish. Which isn't uncommon.
  • Astral Projection: One of John's magical abilities. He uses it during his battle with evil businessmen in the Joyride arc.
  • Badass Boast: From Hellblazer #41:
    "I'm the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat and cigarettes and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I've got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I'll drive your demons away. I'll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they're down and then I'll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone... who would walk with me?"
  • Badass Long Coat: Literally. After years of being worn during various mystical encounters, the damn thing's developed sentience.
  • Bedlam House: Constantine spent a considerable length of time here and often reflects on the traumatic impact it had on his life.
  • Blue-Collar Warlock: The Trope Codifier, from an interview with Trope Namer Alan Moore about his creation.
  • Casual Kink: Shown multiple times with multiple partners, though often with casual hookups or prostitutes instead of in his more serious relationships. John is a sub, and a pushy one. Everything from handcuffs to whips to even burn play have all been fair game.
  • Catchphrase: "Bollocks"
  • The Chessmaster: John himself is. He has a huge arsenal of Unwitting Pawns.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Constantine became the biological father of the child of Swamp Thing and his wife, as Swamp Thing possessed his body at the time (it's also not made very clear whether or not John consented prior). He kept saying after, "At least he could have asked," as he'd actually been planning to propose it to Swamp Thing before the elemental simply pushed John's consciousness out of his body. John managed to return in the middle of orgasming inside of Swamp Thing's wife, Abby. She was NOT pleased.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Winning is important to John. Cheating is the easiest way to win. It's not like one gets points for style in these things.
    • During The Family Man arc, a serial killer who dispatches his victims by cutting them open with a knife is loose in London and is on a family-killing spree. In order to stop him, John baits the killer and challenges him to a fight. Well, he'd been baiting the killer in general, but was simply taking a piss when the serial killer caught him unawares. The killer immediately readies his knife, but to his surprise John, armed with a revolver, shoots and kills him rather quickly. A classic maneuver! Which he then ruins by puking in disgust at becoming a cold-blooded killer.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: When he was first created, he was drawn to look like Sting of The Police.
  • Comic-Book Time: John has aged realistically since he first appeared, though the appearance of it varies Depending on the Artist. In Hellblazer #8 he celebrated his 35th birthday, in Hellblazer #63 he celebrated his 40th, and in Hellblazer #298 he opines, "Where's it all gone, Chas? I mean, what have I done with sixty-odd years of life?". His birthday is stated to be 10 May 1953.
  • Consummate Liar: Being a walking plot device, this is Constantine's greatest power aside from magic.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: His defining trait; he's a Blue-Collar Warlock who dares to kick the snobs - rich, well-connected or supernatural - in the bollocks. Deconstructed in that while it always proves a worthy pursuit - he has no difficulty finding high-status Asshole Victims in desperate need of humiliation, pain and death - but going to war with the people who own the world inflicts a lot of collateral damage on the world, on him, and on his allies. None of them let him forget that, either. Some of them suggest that he's not so much a champion of the oppressed so much as an adrenaline junkie who uses powerful and amoral opponents as a source of schadenfreude.
    Clarice: Sticking your hand in something nasty, getting good and pissed off, getting the blood flowing—vintage John Constantine.
  • Crazy-Prepared: John Constantine. Sometimes all you need is a bottle of stout, box of ciggies, and a stinky goat to defeat a powerful demon.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: John was described as a fox by God Himself. Can't argue with that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: How else do you describe a guy who'll call the Dark Knight "Squire"?
  • Depending on the Artist: As the book series was drawn by a multitude of artists with very different art styles, sometimes even within a single arc story, John's appearance changes radically between issues.
    • Sometimes, he will have short hair, other times a really shaggy mane, sometimes a combed and clean do, and other time a spiky, very punk-rock look. Sometimes he's clean-shaven, while other times he rocks the Perma-Stubble. Not to mention his hair color, is it fair almost white, or a dirty blonde?
    • Sometimes, he looks exactly like Sting, his direct inspiration, and even with the exact same haircut that he sported in 'Quadrophenia', and sometimes he looks like a regular handsome, if sometimes rugged, white British man.
    • The looks of his trenchcoat is also always affected by this, sometimes it looks clean, other times its dingy and old, sometimes is a very short trenchcoat that reaches to his hips, other times is almost like a big heavy cape that flows with the wind. Its color changes too, ranging from light tan, dark tan and has even reached to green tones.
    • And what he wears under the coat changes too; sometimes he wears a full blue business suit, other times a completely black one, in others he just sports the dress shirt, and his tie has changed from black to blue and red.
    • Not to mention, what John's supposed to also have in his own body, ranging from the showing and disappearing of his one earring, to the tree tattoo that Swamp Thing gave him in his right (or is it left?) butt cheek, and the symbols and shapes that compose the large back tattoo he got late into the series.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In both the comics and movie version, John does just that: to the First of the Fallen in the books, and to Lucifer in the movie.
    • Subverted later in the comic book, when John realizes all he'd done was piss off one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
    • And later when a reborn First of the Fallen - returning from a trap John laid out for him - flips John the middle finger, slightly amused and still vengeful about it.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: John's tricked a lot of Gods in his adventures. Most notably The God of Death, Rainbow Serpent, Lovecraftian gods, and First of the Fallen. John's the essential Trope Codifier.
    • Deconstructed as although he does defeat a lot of enemies by tricking them, there are plenty of examples where this has simply just piss said, enemies off and later come back to make John's life a living hell. Most notable example is First of the Fallen.
  • The Dreaded: John Constantine is one of the only mortals to ever be feared by gods, heaven and hell.
    • In one guest appearance in The Books of Magic, Zatanna and Timothy Hunter unwittingly got themselves cornered and outgunned by a whole army of sorcerers and monsters. When all hope seems lost, John Constantine suddenly appeared on scene, which quickly got their attention. He stood in the doorway, lighting a cigarette, and asked the Wretched Hive if they knew who he was, what he was capable of, and whether they intended to cross him. The villainous horde departed. John later explained that since he has a reputation of getting anyone near him killed, nobody ever wants to be near him anymore — not even to fight him.
  • Dreadful Musician: In his youth, Constantine was in a punk band called "Mucous Membrane" that he freely admits was terrible.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: As befits John's working-class roots, his favorite drink is either gin, over ice, or a gin and tonic. If he's drinking with friends, though, he'll usually have a Guinness (or several).
  • Escape Artist: John is second to none, save perhaps Mister Miracle. He escaped life-threatening things considered impossible to escape. When he did die, it was voluntary.
  • Evil Twin: John himself; he strangled his brother in the womb with his own umbilical cord. But John's not really "evil", just a worse person than the unborn twin would have been.
  • Experienced Protagonist: When John first shows up, he's been in the magic business for quite awhile. Flashbacks to his earlier days before the series started are frequent.
  • Fatal Flaw: His cigarettes, his addiction to thrills, his continued meddling in occult matters, his habitual lies, his drinking... well, we've got ourselves a little list, don't we?
    • The crux of all of them is John doesn't have the type of will power to not give in to his vices. Even though he full aware of all his flaws, and how exactly the constantly screw him and everyone he gets close to over, he simply enjoys it all to much to restrain himself, much less quit.
  • First-Person Smartass: John narrates much of the story with artistry, sometimes he becomes an Unreliable Narrator, but he's not shy in criticizing what the writer is writing.
  • Forgotten Birthday: In "Forty".
  • Friendly Target: If you're ever associated with John Constantine, chances are you're already dead.
    • A perfect example was during the Reasons to be Cheerful arc. John's demonic children attempted to kill everyone that John has ever met and knew. That includes his family, close friends, and those he hasn't seen for a long time. They almost succeeded, and it nearly drove John to suicide.
    • Even Dream, of The Sandman (1989) fame — a being more immortal than most gods — expired within a few years of first meeting John. Although there was no causal connection between the two events. As far as we know.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: John firmly maintains this status to nearly if not all of his allies due to his deceitful behavior and tendency to screw people over for his benefit. Even notable Nice Girl types like Zatanna and Abigail Arcane end up complaining how much they genuinely hate John and don't want him around despite him helping both at various times.
  • God Is Evil: The First of the Fallen came to this conclusion when He created humanity and gave them free will. John thinks he might be on to something.
  • Heroic Lineage: The Constantine family tree is an example. The lineage is known in history as Laughing Magicians; mortals who exist only to bluff, trick, and humiliate gods. This family existed just after the creation of gods and existence. Though not always seen as heroic, many of the family makes up a great Magnificent Bastard. Not to mention saving the world countless of times.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Constantine might be a cynic and a right bastard, but he's no misanthrope. He takes obscene pleasure in fucking with the forces of Evil, but he also has little respect towards God, Heaven and its angels, thinking that the human race would be better off if they all left them alone.
  • Hustler: John himself has been shown doing short cons for cash as well as to get himself out of trouble. In fact, being a con man is the closest thing he has ever had to a job.
  • Hypocrite: For all his piss and vinegar at others for using people for their own ends, John's personally M.O. is manipulating anyone and anything to accomplish his goals, with a tendency to toss them aside once he's finished. John is perfectly aware of the contradiction, of manipulating others in the name of free will, and doesn't like having to own up to that particular flaw.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Frequently does, although few of his friends/associates happen to like it.
  • Interspecies Romance: John himself is no stranger to this. He's slept with the demon Rosacarnis who later gave birth to three children trying to kill him, and "Angel", the embodiment of oppression, famine and murder, along with a couple of succubi along the way.
  • In the Blood: The Constantine line consists of a long history of somewhat dodgy magic users, although John's father, sister, grandfather and uncles were Muggles. Apart from John himself, Lady Johanna (18th century) is the most famous. It's also mentioned by other entities and even John himself that the qualities of being a Doom Magnet that sacrifices friends and foes alike until left alone and being a self-obsessed troublemaker that messes with the occult are inherent in the blood.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: John's spells are often this. One time John just uttered a curse that gave a poor sod an erectile dysfunction, or that one time he almost made his father wither and die.
    • In issue 250, John went face to face with a powerful goat demon which easily pummels him down. When John was in a chokehold, the only thing he did was give it a sharp glance, and it exploded.
  • It Gets Easier: Constantine used to be freaked out by horribly mutilated bodies but these days he's cold as stone.
  • Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: John switches between the two. He can be genuinely charming, friendly and truly care about the people that get close to him, and he always regrets destroying their lives. At the same time, he is petty, selfish, manipulative and vengeful. He is often an asshole to complete strangers and spits in the eye of any authority because he can. He draws people into his life time and again with little hesitation, constantly craving companionship and love, despite knowing the consequences. He uses magic to curse people who cross him from minor to horrifying ways.
  • Ladykiller in Love: It happens whenever John has a new girlfriend, but most potently with Kit. Her leaving him was a full fledged Despair Event Horizon.
  • Legacy Character: He's the current iteration of the Laughing Magician, an archetypical magic user tied to his bloodline known for their use of Synchronicity Wave Travelling and a penchant for making fools out of incredibly powerful forces.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Aside from being an occultist, John's also a magician, knowing stage magic and real Magick.
  • Magician Detective: John has two occupations from time to time. Magician and Occult Detective. So it's a cross with both.
  • Magnetic Hero: John has a very magnetic personality, able to pull people into being allies, many even after they've sworn to never help him again. Woe is them.
  • Memetic Badass: John is an in-universe example, which is Lampshaded in The Books of Magic. A threat from him gets an entire club of monsters and dark magicians to back off from Timothy and Zatanna, even though Zatanna has far more magical power than him.
  • Mushroom Samba: John takes a LOT of drugs in the earlier issues.
  • Muggle: Averted. Although John is dubbed The Laughing Magician, and has come from a lineage of powerful occultists, in the DC Universe John doesn't have any Homo Magi blood whatsoever, giving an impression he's a Badass Normal. Apparently in the Hellblazer mythos, many magicians and occultists are just people who know some spell, as in this world you don't need any magical blood to perform magic. Heck, even John's sidekick and normal everyman Chas managed to cast a spell once.
  • My Greatest Failure: After messing up a summoning in 1979, John accidentally damned a little girl to Hell. This hung over him until the "Critical Mass" arc, when he freed her and all the other damned children.
    • As a troubled young man, John was blackmailed into reviving the dead son of a gangster ("Son of Man"). Putting aside the fact that this is an impossible task, the lives of John's relatives were on the line. So, John simply summoned a demon and installed him in the boy's body. Cut to the present, where archdemon "Harry" is now running the whole crime syndicate, raping women on a daily basis and harvesting blood from babies to maintain his form. Repeat ad nauseum (pun intended) for ten years. You do the math. Constantine unwittingly stumbled upon the warehouse where Harry keeps his leftovers.
  • Narrator: All the time — and in "Son of Man", he looked at and talked directly to the reader. Lampshaded in the final part, when people overhearing him are laughing at the mad bloke talking to himself.
  • Naytheist: John knows Heaven and the angels exist and hates them almost as much as Hell.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: John has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of minor spells.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: John's plans, as he himself can attest, frequently lead to the horrible deaths of everyone involved, even the ones he's trying to save. Sometimes, he even does this on purpose.
  • Nominal Hero: John Constantine is not so much a hero as a nemesis to much worse people. Most of the time he's fighting because he's being blackmailed, he feels like a challenge, or he sees some material gain to be had. And bystanders tend to end up paying the price.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Being an escapologist, con artist, and walking plot device, John Constantine has made quite a name for himself. He has come up against the most powerful beings in existence such as the First and God/Gods, and somehow only leaves "a nod, a wink, and a wisecrack." It also helps that Deus ex Machina is one of his signature powers.
  • Not So Invincible After All: In "Dangerous Habits", Constantine contracted lung cancer from a lifetime of smoking. However, he tricked the Lords of Hell into curing him. He's also suffered from alcoholism and frequently debilitating depression, with occasional breaks into psychotic depression. There's a reason he spent two years in and out of a mental hospital, and a fair amount of time as a homeless drunk sleeping on the streets.
  • Occult Detective: Though he usually does it out of curiosity or necessity instead of money.
  • Progressively Prettier: Inverted and downplayed. When he was still a Swamp Thing character he was a very attractive man, even bordering on Pretty Boy in the Rick Veitch issues. As time went on he became much more rugged, usually appearing unkept, such as having a 5 o' clock shadow or a Messy Hairdo. Even still, when he cleans up he is still quite handsome.
  • Rape as Drama: Has occurred multiple times throughout the series, happening to both main and secondary characters, and even to John himself, though how whether or not it's taken seriously is really dependent on the writer.
    • The graphic novel Confessional centers around this as the main plot point. When John was 16 and hitchiking his way to London, he was picked up by a much older man who fairly swiftly made his intentions towards John very clear. John managed to escape, barely, but it's made very clear from John's reaction to seeing the man over a decade later that the experience was incredibly traumatizing.
    • In one of the later issues, a succubus actually succeeds in raping John when he's passed out drunk. He'd stumbled home to find her waiting, told her to get the hell out, and even drew a magic circle around himself to keep her away, but in his drunken state, he left a gap of just an inch in the circle, and that was enough for her to get at him while he was unconscious. Despite the fact that John very explicitly did not consent to the encounter, it wasn't taken nearly as seriously as the aforementioned graphic novel, perhaps due to Double Standard Rape: Female on Male.
    • Then there was the other demoness who decided to both physically and mentally rape John so she could have his demonic children. He had a real mental breakdown after that one. Really, John's life is practically a Trauma Conga Line.
  • Really Gets Around: The title character. One could easily lose track of his exes, especially with the frequent introductions of New Old Flames. From his appearance in The Books of Magic alone, it's clear he's been involved with Madame Xanadu and Zatanna. He's quite the slut, and is not above paying for sex, though he is also shown having real, longterm relationships, and was happily married by the end of the series. Even if he often sleeps around while in a relationship. On the other hand, he's rarely been jealous when his lovers have slept around, either.
  • Reality Warping: John's synchronicity wave traveling allows John to warp events so they favor him. Things like the roll of the dice, catching the right taxi, meeting the right person, are not pure chance or John's own ability. Sometimes this ability is active on its own and other times John has some control over it.
  • Rules Lawyer: Constantine relies heavily on manipulation of rules. Most of his victories over beings tremendously more powerful than himself have relied on his use of the magical rules and restrictions they must abide by. In some ways his greatest threats have come from The Unfettered — particularly regular humans, who don't have any magical restrictions.
  • Screw Destiny / You Can't Fight Fate: John tries to do both. When he learns he is fated to die he goes along with it to the point of physically "dying" and pretending to accept death. Yet he has previously taken steps to arrange his own resurrection by using his ashes to create a new body. The Fates know something is up so they send Gemma to kill him once again. Realizing the Fates will never give up and how sooner or later he destroys the lives of everyone he cares about, John disappears, leaving it ambiguous as to what finally happens to him.
  • Significant Monogram: John Constantine and several of his ancestors and relatives.
  • Smoking Is Cool: John is rarely without a cigarette and the the most iconic images is Constantine lighting his cigarette like the page image. Also averted — he actually has to face the consequences of lung cancer (though, as usual, he weasels his way out of inescapable and hideous death). Still, even after almost dying of lung cancer, he went right back to chain-smoking.
  • Tender Tears: John cries openly and not infrequently, often alone but also in the company of others, even enemies.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Trademark Favorite Cigarette: Constantine prefers the Silk Cut brand of cigarettes.
  • Trenchcoat Brigade: John is the Ur-Example and actually coined the term.
  • The Trickster: Yours truly. Constantine is the Trope Codifier of Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?.
  • Weak, but Skilled: John doesn't fight fair or use magic all that often. Yet he still manages to take on Heaven, Hell, and whatever else, if only because he's really good at planning and manipulating others.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Turns out John's unborn twin is the actual Reality Warper, arranging things to bring John into the greatest contact with horror and despair while leaving him physically unharmed. The goal is to induce a final Heroic BSoD so John will essentially go catatonic, retreat from reality and allow the twin to take over.
    • Lampshaded by a demon in ''Son of Man':
      Fuckpig: You belong here, don't you, Constantine? This is your world. Eyelids slit off and babies on hooks. Guttings and rapings. I swear to fuck, yours is the kind of life serial killers wank off to.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: In-universe example. Following the events of "Critical Mass", John is left entirely good. Deciding he doesn't like it, he goes on a journey to recover his inner bastard.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: It's rare to see a story arc without it.
    • One great and early example is the Original Sins arc. Gary Lester, a long time junkie and close friend of John Constantine, has successfully trapped a demon. The demon suddenly escapes and Gary looks for John's help. He finds John and seeks his assistance in retrapping the demon. John agrees to help, but instead uses Gary as a sacrifice to placate the demon. He ends up waiting next to Gary while drinking and sobbing until he collapses and pukes all over himself. Nice work to start off the series.

    New 52 (2011-present) 
In the New 52 reboot, an alternate, younger John works as a member of the Justice League Dark, a team that focuses on the magical and supernatural aspect of the DCU. He also received a DC solo title called simply Constantine in 2013, which often ties into Justice League Dark.
  • Adaptational Badass: John is a more conventionally powerful mystic following the New 52, even after he starts getting back to his roots in the Rebirth era, being widely acknowledged as 'very powerful', as demonstrated when he subconsciously manifests an extremely powerful Tulpa while dying. It's implied that if he ever really worked at it, he could be a much more classically powerful mage if he wanted to be, but he much prefers his usual method of leveraging knowledge, creatively applied minor magic, and manipulation to get what he wants.
  • Amicable Exes: More or less with Zatanna in the Rebirth era, at a contrast to their previous relationship - though there's still tension over his lies, manipulations, and involvement with her father's death (though that's a bit more complicated than it seems).
  • Back from the Dead: Giovanni Zatara sacrifices his own life to resurrect John after the defeat of the Upside-Down Man.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: In a parallel universe where everyone's natures are reversed, John is forced to tell the truth. It's hilarious.
  • Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Despite John's obsessive attachment to Zatanna, he never hits on her because he knows it would only make things worse.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • To be fair, there are two notable exceptions to this in the Newcastle incident and the very first issue of Hellblazer. Given the former was a Break the Haughty moment for John and the second is likely many people's first impression of him, it's likely a Never Live It Down moment for him. John also has a high casualty rate with his followers that is going to look suspicious to anyone even if his past is only in Broad Strokes. "New John" is very much a con man influenced by these elements.
    • Rebirth mixes in more of the classic John's personality, making him somewhat more heroic (or at least, not as much Jerk with a Heart of Jerk).
  • Deadpan Snarker: He wouldn't be John Constantine if he wasn't this, and often directs it at the 'spandex underpants brigade'.
  • Disappeared Dad: In John Constantine: Hellblazer, he finds out to his great surprise - and given the circumstances, horror - that he's the father of Noah, the mute kid who'd been performing Chas' usual role of driving him around and acting as John's mundane ally. Given that he has to then essentially make the kid kill a friend who's being possessed by demons, this is why he's horrified, as he's turned the kid into himself.
  • The Dreaded: The narration in the 2018 Justice League Dark run describes him, sitting in the corner of the resident magical bar when the Upside-Down Man initiates a major crisis, as 'the dangerous man'. Even Doctor Fate, one of DC's heaviest mystical hitters, hesitates to kill him when John points out that doing so would bring practically every demon in hell out of the woodwork to claim his soul, and opts to trap him instead.
  • Flanderization: He is constantly accused of backstabbing his own friends and leading them to their destruction. Unless they've done a lot of rewriting, John doesn't actually betray people to their doom: instead, he tends to be helpless to save people who were already doomed (Gary Lester, Brendon Finn, etc.) He's not a good man, but as a rule he's not making a moral choice to damn people. Such treatment is also unjustified considering much of the character's original past (i.e. Hellblazer) was reset.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • John admits, while sober and not magically-compelled, that he feels responsible for the death of Zatanna's father and it will not do him any favors winning Zatanna's heart back.
    • He has either forgotten how good he used to be, or thinks that he is beyond saving. He remarks that he could never be as kind as Zatanna, but in flashbacks he wasn't far off from her in terms of decency.
  • Jerkass Woobie: In the Rebirth era JLD, it's revealed that Giovanni Zatara pulled him out of Ravenscar and enlisted him in his long-term scheme against the Upside-Down Man, using him as every bit the pawn that John's often accused of/has used others.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On his better days, and consistently post Rebirth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: New 52!John is more often this than his Vertigo counterpart. Some writers seem to forget to make him sympathetic most of the time, though it gets a good deal better post Rebirth.
  • The Leader: Started out this way because of his efficiency, but was eventually usurped by Zatanna, who is more of a team player.
  • Manipulative Bastard: In general, but a notable example is inviting Zatanna, Deadman, and the others to the House of Mystery - without telling them that once they come in, he can call them back there at any time, without their consent.
  • Morality Chain: John saves Zatanna's life several times and clearly worries when she is in danger. Not that it stops him from using Zatanna in part of his own schemes, or from flirting with Black Orchid right after he told her about his feelings for Zatanna. Or from killing Zatanna in a possible future, according to Xanadu. John really does not like the last one.
  • Screw Destiny: After Xanadu prophesied that John would kill Zatanna in the conclusion of the Books of Magic arc, the House of Mystery is stolen. John does not call Zatanna to help despite her usefulness, which is likely an attempt at this trope. Right before that, John's intended loss on a horse race may have been another attempt to change destiny—which was rejected.
  • Sympathetic Magic: He tends to use blood, hair, and other personal objects in spells, which makes this his specialty.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Treated as such in-universe by every member of the original Justice League Dark, and pretty much anyone he meets, to be honest. He seems quite hated by all. Later, he's better liked but still not entirely trusted as a guest star in Wonder Woman's version of the team.
  • Token Romance: John and Zatanna's love life could have made an excellent story - but not in the middle of a team book in which the writers' focus is the supernatural, and not their relationship.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In the Rebirth era - he's still ruthless and manipulative, but he's notably lighter than he was in New 52.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Deadman attempted to possess John and left a few moments later, calling John filthy and disgusting.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: As a young man, he was more of a Loveable Rogue who fell in love with Zatanna at first sight, then saved Nick out of pure decency. While not a villain in the current series, he's still extremely jaded and cynical to the point where Zatanna would not put it past him to kill an innocent child for selfish reasons. While some of this is later walked back
  • Working with the Ex: Deconstructed. John's attachment to Zatanna is obsessive, and Zatanna is upset and angry whenever he shows up trying to win her back. Eventually, Zatanna kicks John out of the House of Mysteries and the JLD. John has matured enough to realize that she, and everyone else, would be better off without him. Their relationship is considerably healthier in the Rebirth era, though she still holds a grudge over her perception of his involvement in her father's death (the truth is rather more complicated), and he still only has a "consulting" relationship with Wonder Woman's JLD team.

There's been a lot said about John Constantine, all right, and everyone who's known him has their own pet theory.
Really, though, he's just a man.
Perhaps one day, if we let him, he can be a hero.

Alternative Title(s): John Constantine