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Jack Reacher, or simply - "Reacher", is a fictional character created by British author Lee Child who has written more than 30 novels and short stories with Reacher as the protagonist.
Reacher is a former U.S. Army Military Police Officer who is currently wandering around the United States, visiting places he had only heard about while he was growing up. By choice, he has no possessions except for a folding toothbrush, an ATM card and a Passport. He has a strong sense of duty to "do the right thing" which causes him to become involved with people in need. In the Army, he was a Major who was demoted to Captain, but then worked his way back to Major before leaving the service.
- "I was thirty-six years old, a citizen of a country I had barely seen, and there were places to go, and there were things to do. There were cities, and there was countryside. There were mountains, and there were valleys. There were rivers. There were museums, and music, and motels, and clubs, and diners, and bars, and buses. There were battlefields and birthplaces, and legends, and roads. There was company if I wanted it, and there was solitude if I didn’t. I picked a road at random, and I put one foot on the curb and one in the traffic lane, and I stuck out my thumb."
- —Jack Reacher in The Affair
Jack Reacher's father, Stan Reacher, was a United States Marine Captain. His mother was Josephine Moutier Reacher. He had an older brother Joe, who died 4 hours before the start of the first book Killing Floor. Reacher was a military brat and grew up in military bases all around the world. Reacher and his brother Joe were described as being big children and got into lots of fights and Jack reminisces that he was the more aggressive of the two. Though they didn't always get along, the scar on Jacks' forehead was a result of one of their disagreements. After Joe went away to West Point, they fell mostly out of contact.
United States Army service
Reacher served 13 years in the U.S. Army. His education consisted of 4 years at West Point, and then he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. His service included tours of duty in Lebanon and Iraq. Reacher received accelerated promotions up to Major, and then he was charged with assault on a civilian which resulted in his demotion to Captain. He was promoted again to Major before he left the service. Reacher earned numerous medals and awards during his service. The most notable were two Silver Stars, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, the Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Post Army service
After his separation from the Army, Reacher felt liberated. He felt that he had been in the Military his whole life and he didn't really have any place to call home. He became a wanderer, and with few exceptions, never stayed in one place for more than a few days.
Novel Series Timeline
- 1928 (est) - Father (Stan) born (Past Tense)
- 1930 (est) - Mother (Josephine) born (The Enemy)
- 1958 - Brother (Joe) born
- 1960 - Reacher was born on October 29
- 1974 - In Okinawa (Second Son)
- 1977 - In New York on the way to visit Joe at West Point (High Heat)
- 1979 - Entered West Point
- 1983 - Graduated West Point, commisioned as 2nd Lt.
- 1983 - Injured in Beirut
- Promoted to 1st Lt.
- Promoted to Captain
- Promoted to Major
- 1988 - Father dies
- 1990 - Mother dies (The Enemy)
- 1990 - Demoted to Captain (conclusion of The Enemy)
- 1990 - Assigned back to Panama (conclusion of The Enemy)
- 1993 - Promoted back to Major
- Assigned to 110th MP Special Investigations Unit
- 1996 - With Neagley in Germany (Night School)
- 1997 - Left Service (conclusion of The Affair)
- 1997 - Brother Joe Killed (Killing Floor)
- "His face looked like it had been chipped out of rock by a sculptor who had ability but not much time"
- —Lee Child
Reacher is described as being 6 feet 5 inches (1.95 m) tall, weighing 210–250 pounds (95–113 kg) and having a 50-inch (130 cm) chest. In Never Go Back, he is described as having "a six-pack like a cobbled city street, a chest like a suit of NFL armor, biceps like basketballs, and subcutaneous fat like a Kleenex tissue." In his youth, his physical appearance likened to that of a 'bulked-up greyhound'. He also reveals that his size is purely genetic; he states in Persuader and Never Go Back that he is not much of an exercise enthusiast and he shows little interest in any kind of healthy diet.
He has various scars, most notably a collection of roughly stitched scars on his abdomen caused by a bombing in Lebanon, with ugly raised welts that are later instrumental in saving his life, a 3-to-4-inch-wide (8 to 10 cm) white scar that intersects his shrapnel scar that he received during a knife fight in Gone Tomorrow. Reacher attributes his survival to the rough MASH stitch work.
His various other scars include one from a chest shot with a .38 Special. and a powder burn from a near-miss at point blank range, and one on his arm where his brother struck him with a chisel.
He suffers his first ever broken nose in Worth Dying For, at over 50 years of age. He resets the bone with a thump from his palm and later puts on a plaster bandage made of duct tape.
Reacher is described as having dark blonde hair and striking blue eyes.
He predominantly wears simple clothing, mainly plain t-shirts, blue jeans and plaid shirts with a jacket. He buys his clothes predominantly from second hand stories and thrift shops and is baffled at the idea of anyone spending a lot of money on clothes.
- "I think ninety-nine of us grow up to love the campfire, and one grows up to hate it. Ninety-nine of us grow up to fear the howling wolf, and one grows up to envy it. And I'm that guy. Compelled to spread his DNA worldwide. Purely for the good of the species."
- —Lee Child
Reacher is a natural loner who shows little interest in any kind of long lasting relationships with anyone, preferring to always keep moving. Lee Child has described him as a modern "knight errant" and akin to a hero from a Western film.
Reacher is a naturally anti-social person who is blunt and direct and isn't afraid to threaten people to get what he needs. Reacher shows no mercy to people he goes up against and will kill without hesitation, showing little interest in seeing people brought to justice the traditional way. He has claimed that he doesn't feel remorse for any of the lives he has taken. In Personal, after killing a thug, he defends his actions to his distraught accomplice, Casey Nice, by stating the man could have spent his life performing good deeds such as "helping old ladies across the street", "raising funds for Africa" or "volunteering in the library". Instead the man extorted money and hurt people and when he "finally he opened the wrong door, what came out at him was his problem, not mine".
Reacher has a very strong sense of justice and will do anything to right what he sees as a wrong, even at great personal cost to himself. He permanently damaged his military career by investigating superiors, being demoted to Captain from Major as a result and even putting one in a coma when the man looked unlikely to be held accountable. Reacher eventually left the Army in disgust due to the corruption.
Reacher has mentioned before that he does what he does not out of any specific sympathy for "the little guy", but simply that he hates "the big guy", meaning those who attempt to extort and bully others.
Despite his taciturn and aggressive personality, Reacher is a caring person at heart who goes out of his way to help anyone in need that he comes across and hates seeing anyone bullied or taken advantage of and he is capable of acts of exceptional generosity as seen in The Hard Way where he bequeaths Edward Lane's fees paid to him for the medical treatment and living expenses of a man whom Lane had betrayed many years back.
While he is usually distant and gruff, he tends to be somewhat softer when talking to children, the elderly, or the disabled who he makes an effort to treat with respect and he also has a love for dogs, even considering adopting one at one point.
Reacher has attributed his morality to his mother who raised him to believe that his size, strength and ability came with it a responsibility to help those in need. In Personal, Reacher reminisces while standing at his mother's grave: "She had said, 'You've got the strength of two normal boys. What are you going to do with it?' I hadn't replied. Our silence was part of the ritual. She answered for me. She said, 'You're going to do the right thing.' And I had tried, mostly, which had sometimes caused me trouble, and sometimes won me medals of my own."
Due to his considerable size and the amount of physical activity he engages in, Reacher is known for eating enormous amounts of food and has a particular love for breakfast food and has a love of black coffee which one character says "makes heroin addiction look like an amusing little take-it-or-leave-it sideline".
- Peak Human Condition: Reacher is in outstanding physical condition due to his years of military training and natural physical attributes. He is extremely strong, able to easily overpower almost anyone he encounters through strength alone. He is able to break bones easily, even breaking people's necks with little effort, and is described as being unusually quick and agile for a man his size, albeit a rather slow and heavy runner. He also possesses exceptional levels of durability, able to withstand very high levels of pain and injuries.
- Master Martial Artist: Reacher is an outstanding combatant who uses his natural size and strength to his advantage as well as his own tactical mind. He has shown to be capable of easily defeating just about anyone he faces. While he is not a master in any one form of combat, he tends to incorporate moves from various styles including Krav Maga, Aikido, Wing Chun Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Brazilian JiuJitsu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, Boxing, Wrestling, and Muay Thai. His favorite moves are headbutts, elbow strikes, and kicks to the groin. Reacher is a ruthless combatant who will do anything he has to to win a fight and will use anything he can as a weapon. Reacher is a brutal fighter who has no compunction about fighting dirty and whose only goal is to end a fight as quickly as possible. As he puts it, "The other guy cares how he wins, I care about pissing on the other guy's grave."
- Master Marksman: Reacher is an exceptional marksman who is skilled with rifles and handguns. He is the only non-Marine to win the US Marine Corps 1000 Yard Invitational rifle competition. He is talented with most handguns, showing a particular preference for the Beretta M9.
- Gifted Intellect: Reacher is highly intelligent and naturally skilled in a variety of areas. In addition to his skills as a detective and tactician, he is very good with numbers and mental arithmetic, is fluent in French and has conversational skills in Spanish and has a very good memory as well as good at tracking people through their patterns of behavior and predicting their next move.
- Master Tactician: Reacher is an exceptionally skilled tactician, owing to his years of combat experience. In addition to being able to come up and execute complex plans easily, he is also skilled at keeping calm under pressure and is excellent at using any advantages he has, especially in a combat scenario. He is also skilled at understanding his opponents and figuring out their next move.
- Master Detective: Reacher is an extremely skilled investigator and has outstanding deductive skills. He is able to gain information easily through conversation and observing others and noticing holes in stories or hesitancy and relating it back to his initial query. He is known as one of the best investigators the Military Police Corps had to offer, and he led a special unit tasked with difficult cases.
- Main article: Reacher's Associates
- Helen Rodin
- Alex Rodin
- Sgt. Samuel Cash (Martin Cash in the Film)
- Susan Turner
- Samantha Dayton (Samanatha Dutton in Film)
- Casey Nice
TV Series Appearances
- Main article: Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson)
Amazon's Prime Video adapted the novel series into a streaming television series with the first season based solely on the acclaimed first novel, Killing Floor, with Alan Ritchson cast in the role of Jack Reacher. He appears in every episode of the series. This adaptation is the first faithful rendition of the character. From the accurate casting to novel-loyal plotlines, Ritchson's character was praised after its release. The television version of Reacher is in his late thirties, having been born in 1986. Despite the shift in birth year, the age of the character remains the same. Additionally, Maxwell Jenkins plays a pre-teen Jack Reacher in the Prime Video series. Young Reacher is 12 years old, living in Okinawa with his family.
- Main article: Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise)
Two of Child's novels have been adapted into films.
- The 2012 film Jack Reacher which was adapted from the novel One Shot
- The 2016 film Jack Reacher: Never Go Back from the novel Never Go Back.
Jack Reacher was portrayed by Tom Cruise in both of the Reacher films.
The film version of Reacher was born in 1974, which is 14 years younger than the character in the novels.
Behind the Scenes
- Reacher's birth date in the films is 18 October 1974 whereas in the novels it is 29 October 1960.
- In Past Tense Several clues lead us to an estimation of Stan Reacher's DOB. 1st, the novel takes place in 2018 and Reacher says that his dad was born about 90 years prior. And 2nd, in Ch 4, Elizabeth Castle says that Stan should appear in the 1930 census records when he was about 2 years old.
- In the novel Past Tense, it is revealed that Stan Reacher was actually William Reacher who used his cousin Stan's Birth Certificate to join the Marines. He lived the rest of his life as Stan Reacher. Therefore, Stan Reacher, who is really William Reacher, was actually born in 1929.
- The novel The Enemy takes place in 1990 and in CH 4 while discussing his mother's health, Joe Reacher says "She's only sixty years old."
- It is not clear exactly when Reacher was tasked with forming the Special Investigations Unit, but as mentioned in CH 7 of Bad Luck and Trouble, getting the command of the new unit was a reward for being promoted back to Major.
- Kellogg, Carolyn (21 December 2012). "Reader reactions to 'Jack Reacher': The fans are furious". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Never Go Back, Chapter 35
- High Heat
- Killing Floor
- Killing Floor Chapter 83
- Never Go Back, Chapter 35
- The Enemy, Chapter 6
- Childhood flashback from episode 1 places the date as 1998, and in the flashback in episode 4, Joe mentions that Reacher is 12 years old