Cyberpunk 2077

Why I like Johnny Silverhand

I think Johnny is a base breaking character because they do take a bunch of space up from the story of V and that could have been devoted to developing their personality. However, I just can't help myself, I absolutely love Johnny's personality and history. I'm a cyberpunk 2020 player and a huge fan of his before he was everywhere. I also love Keanu Reeve's interpretation of the character that I feel like passed some characters by.

Some thoughts on him:

Johnny is a failure

This is something that I think is interesting for a character like him in the fact that almost everything that Johnny tried to accomplish in life ended in ruin. He's a failed soldier, his music didn't inspire people to rebel, he failed to save Alt, and his attempt to destroy Arasaka industries (AT BEST) delayed it a few decades from world domination. His ending notably doesn't have any plans to continue the fight against Arasaka because he's realized that he doesn't have it in him anymore and what he did ruined the city he loved.

Johnny is unlikable

This is actually something in-universe as it becomes clear that Rogue, Alt, and Kerry were Johnny's best friends (if not ONLY) yet struggled with putting up with his shit. He was THAT friend who is only good in small doses. He's also a tremendous taker who heaped abuse and derision on the people who cared about him.

Johnny is aware of 1 and 2

The best part of Johnny's character is that his digital ghost has apparently learned some humility in the 50 years he's been in cyber-hell. A lot of his commentary and treatment of others is still pretty shitty but he has a much more self-deprecating view of himself. He knows he was a lousy friend and that his efforts caused more harm than good.

Johnny doesn't want to live

It's an interesting contrast to V in the fact that Johnny is completely resigned to death and I wonder if he never expected to survive the Arasaka Tower Assault in the first place. However, he's pretty much mapped out that this is your body, he's not going to take it, and isn't even tempted to do so.

V is Johnny's redemption

It's something that becomes incredibly clear if you keep playing and paying attention that Johnny wants to save one person, only one, and that is you. You're their second chance to be a hero and it's a monofocus that guides him. It's not really quite atoning because Johnny doesn't seem to care about other people but seems to think saving you will make up for the hundreds of thousands of other people he killed. It adds a different layer to the Sacrifice ending as Johnny may realize V feels the same way about themselves.

There's a lot of flaws to Johnny Silverhand in that he treated his friends terribly, was not great at all to his girlfriends (possibly even having something of a misogynist streak given how he talked of them and sex workers), and is unable to keep himself from snapping at V too. Yet, despite all of these things, he's trying to do the right thing and doesn't attempt to make a defense for what he did in the past.

People criticize the laid back performance of Keanu Reeves but I think it's a very deliberate one. Johnny is shell-shocked from the consequences of his actions and can't numb himself to the pain with booze or drugs. We got the biggest low of Johnny's life when he witnessed the mushroom cloud of Night City shown to him by Saburo and one of his victim's wives telling him that he killed her husband.

Powerful stuff.


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