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I saw corps ... transform Night City into a machine fueled by people's crushed spirits, broken dreams and emptied pockets. Corps've long controlled our lives, taken lots... and now they're after our souls! ... I've declared war not 'cause capitalism's a thorn in my side or outta nostalgia for an America gone by. This war's a people's war against a system that's spiralled outta our control.
- Johnny Silverhand during TapewormCyberpunk 2077

Johnny Silverhand, born as Robert John Linder,[1] is a famous influential Rockerboy and the lead singer of the band Samurai before the breakup in 2008.[2][3] An ex-US military veteran who defined the rockerboy movement to what it is today. He was the most prominent figure that fought against the corrupted US government and the Megacorporations. Johnny concentrates most of his anger to the Arasaka Corporation. He's charismatic and quite the charmer. However Johnny is also known to be irrational, impulsive, and a manipulator often being described as a terrorist.

Johnny has a temper and seems to always be on edge, partly due to his history in the Central American Conflict. His dedication and ambitions are what keep him going, but at the end of the day he doesn't care much for the people around him as long as they are used to accomplish his goals.[4]

Biography

1988 - 2000s

Robert John Linder was born in College Station, Texas, on November 16th, 1988.[1][5] He enlisted into the US military at a young age, and it didn't take long to see some action. The Central American Conflict started in 2000s. While in Mexico, John's life was saved by his friend who gave his life to protect him. The conflict was devastating, as the war was run by a corrupt and manipulative government. However when their secrets were exposed, many of the American soldiers dropped their banners as they fought back by deserting the military. The government used its influence to create powerful propaganda campaign to make the American public hate deserters.

John was also one of the men who decided he wouldn't fight in the corrupt war anymore that ultimately led to him losing his arm and a friend. He left for Night City, and stayed at a hotel in Pacifica. The military and the war had changed his life forever, to forget his past he even changed his name to Johnny Silverhand. His last name would represent the cybernetic arm that replaced already missing limb. Johnny began his mission of rebellion to expose corruption by starting a band.[2][3]

The name of the band was Samurai. Johnny started this band with his friend Kerry Eurodyne, originally only playing in backstreet clubs. Their first gig was in Red Dirt a small bar in Night City. In 2004, while playing in a bar called Rainbow Cadenza, a producer by name of Jack Masters discovered them and signed them up with Universal Recording. Samurai was comprised of the co-founders Johnny and Kerry as well as Denny, Nancy/Bes Isis, and Henry. His music became revolutionary, starting the rockerboy movement and becoming an overnight sensation. He rose to the top of the US charts in record time with his band. However despite their success, Samurai struggled as personal issues made it to the surface.[3]

During this time keyboard player Nancy was in an abusive relationship at the time. She reached a point where she couldn't take anymore abuse, and pushed her abusive boyfriend out of a window. After the NCPD discovered the body she was arrested and taken to prison. Without her, Samurai struggled and finally split up in 2008.

Johnny Silverhand was still one of the most popular musicians at the time. He planned to use his star power to begin a solo career and continue to push his anti-corporation and anti-government message. DBS Music wanted to sign him so desperately that they blackmailed him, threatening to reveal his true identity, as a deserter of the Central American Conflict.

Instead, Johnny Silverhand signed with Universal Music again, and released an entire album called 'SINS of Your Brothers' admitting that he was a deserter, and revealing all the terrible things the government ordered. The album was wildly successful, and changed public perception of what it meant to be a deserter.[3]

2010s

In 2010s, Johnny continued his rebellious campaign this time in Japantown during his famous free benefit concert to bring attention to brutal methods the NCPD used to quell the the Homeless Riots.[6]

In 2013, after a concert Johnny went on a walk with his girlfriend, Alt Cunningham, when she was suddenly kidnapped by gangers hired by the megacorporation Arasaka. Alt in the company of Toshiro, was treated to a drink and told she was a valuable asset to the corporation. They wanted her to develop a software called the Soulkiller that would be able to download any netrunner's mind. It was a dangerous software, that would have killed anyone whose brain they wanted to download that she previously developed for her employer, ITS.

Johnny made a plan that required precise timing. He gathered a strike team to infiltrate the Arasaka offices so that he could save Alt. On top of that, he called in a favor from all the members of his old band. Samurai gathered together and performed an entirely free show. The show was right in front of the Arasaka Tower in Night City.[3] This led to a riot on the tower as troops were called in to control the situation. In a panic Toshiro used the Soulkiller on Alt while the assault took place. Johnny and team consisting of his ex-girlfriend Rogue and media reporter Thompson, and a nomad named Santiago infiltrated the Tower while Alt was still trapped in the computer trying to get back to her body. The team made it to the bar where Toshiro, Akira, and Alt were. Johnny looked over Alt's body and presumed her dead moments after killing Toshiro out of anger. He turned to gather up Alt's still warm body in his arms off the couch disconnecting her. Behind the wall of monitors, a disembodied Alt screamed to him, but Johnny didn't hear her.[7]

After the assault on the Tower, Johnny left Night City for a period of time with Santiago and join the Aldecaldos nomad community.[8] Little was known of what he did during this time.[9]

2020s

In 2023, Johnny, alongside Rogue, Shaitan, Thompson, and Spider Murphy led a Militech assault team on the Arasaka American HQ in Night City, with the intention of ending the Fourth Corporate War by destroying the tower with a mini nuke.[10][11] Johnny had another reason for going back to the Arasaka offices, he wanted to find Cunningham, but there were more than a few obstacles in the way. The biggest obstacle was a Borg, Adam Smasher, a once man who was now more machine than flesh.[10]

After he escaped the fight, Johnny attempted to reach the helicopter where Rogue was waiting, to yet again be stopped by Smasher. Johnny was presumed dead, gunned down by Smasher. His body was never found, because of the mini nuke dropped into the Arasaka Tower, in the aftermath there was nothing left to find.[11] Johnny was not actually killed at Arasaka Tower, but was recovered and interrogated by Arasaka security and later by Saburo Arasaka himself with a techie. He would be subjected to the Soulkiller program, his consciousness scanned and stored on an engram; his physical body dying and buried in concrete in a derelict oil field just outside of Night City.[12]

Despite there being no body to intern, a niche was dedicated to his memory at the Night City Columbarium. His epitaph, which uses his real name, reads: "Robert John Linder: Son of a bitch who never gave up. A legend among legends."[13]

2077

At some point prior to 2077, Johnny's engram was placed onto a prototype version of the Relic. It and the device were stolen by Yorinobu Arasaka and stored within a secure vault in Konpeki Plaza, to bring his father out into public. Johnny's engram and its location were uncovered by the Voodoo Boys, who planned to steal it to bring them into contact with Alt and bypass the Blackwall. The group hired Evelyn Parker to braindance the room for security measures and its location, though she decided to betray them and steal the device for herself. Through fixer Dexter DeShawn, Parker hired mercenaries V and Jackie Welles to steal the Relic from the room. The two mercenaries were able to steal it, though the Relic's storage case was damaged during their escape. To ensure it survived, a fatally wounded Jackie carried it in his shard slot and placed it into V's before he died.

Due to its presence when they were murdered, Johnny's engram finally awoke when the Relic revived V. Due to the devices' functions, it began uploading it onto the brain and replacing the mercenary's consciousness. Initially attacking them in a bid to take over, Johnny eventually decided to cooperate with V to ensure he survived or could be retrieved from their head. He appeared on multiple occasions to either provide advice to V or give his thoughts on their situations. The Relic also provided V glimpses of Johnny's memories, including his attempt to save Alt in 2013 and his final attack on Arasaka Tower. Johnny's engram also attempted to take control of the body on multiple occasions.

Mikoshi

Depending on the choices made by V, they can either make Johnny's engram admit he's nothing but data or give him a sense of humanity. If Johnny is treated nothing but data, he will admit his nature was to inspire rebellion within them. The fate of the engram will change depending on whether V decides to side with Arasaka or access Mikoshi themselves. The former results in Johnny being removed with the Relic and apparently shredded by Arasaka. The latter allows either Johnny or V to decide whether he will inhabit their body or follow Alt's engram through the Blackwall. If V agrees to give up their body to him, Johnny gives up his rebellious nature and leaves Night City.

Database Entry (2077)

They say you can become a legendary rockerboy without all the sex and drugs, the manic depression, run-ins with the law and one toxic relationship after another. But Johnny Silverhand's old school.
Frontman for Samurai, charismatic visionary, rebel with a cause, sworn enemy of corporations (but especially Arasaka) and the mind behind the cult singles "Chippin' In" and "Never Fade Away" - currently residing in V's brain as a digitized tenant.
Silverhand met his demise during the attack on Arasaka Tower after getting shot by Adam Smasher and subsequently flatlined by Soulkiller. But some rockerboys never really die. Point in case - Silverhand's personality construct was kept in Arasaka's labs for decades before it landed on a prototype biochip call the Relic, which - following a series of unexpected events - ended up in V's brain. If you think spending eternity in a cyberspace prison is worse than sharing your headspace with a complete stranger, you'd be dead wrong. For an egomaniac and narcissist like Johnny, it's a living hell.

Discography

Albums

Title Year
SINS of Your brothers[14] 2009
A Cool Metal Fire[3] June, 2013
Never Fade Away[15] ?
Clone Wars[3] 2020

Songs

Title Album Year
Dancing With My Axe[3] A Cool Metal Fire 2013
Chippin' In[3] A Cool Metal Fire 2013
(Out of) The City[3] A Cool Metal Fire 2013
Flashing Lights[3] A Cool Metal Fire 2013
Never Fade Away[3][14][15] A Cool Metal Fire / Never Fade Away 2013
Old Gold Never Fade Away ?
Synergize Never Fade Away ?
Return of the Sparrow Never Fade Away ?
Gaze Into Galaxy Never Fade Away ?
Lambs Rise Never Fade Away ?
Mechanical Heart Never Fade Away ?
Kill Steel Never Fade Away ?
Purple Flame Never Fade Away ?
Sun's Shadow Never Fade Away ?

State of Mind (2077)

In 2013, Johnny attacked Arasaka purely to save Alt. (okay, so he's also pissed at them because they messed with him). Near the end of the 4th Corporate War in 2023, Johnny's old Media pal Thompson finds out that Arasaka has amassed a huge, uncontaminated database that will make it close to all powerful in the wake of Bartmoss's wreck of the Net. Thompson arranges an assault on the database, backed by Militech (who is fighting with Arasaka worldwide). The Bomb is a suitcase bomb that the team brings along to destroy the database if need be (Militech provides the Bomb, along with Morgan Blackhand, who is there to make sure the op goes off).
Johnny comes along because his friend Spider Murphy has also discovered that Arasaka has trapped Alt after 10 years of hunting for her. He's mainly there to get her back, but is willing to join up with Thompson and Morgan to get the job(s) done. Johnny's recollection of the events that day are scrambled from the rad damage his body took and the process of recording his engram (CDPR and I have both agreed that Johnny is an unreliable narrator at best). The bomb that went off was detonated by someone in the assault (the actual person is unknown), but Militech and the NUSA both decided to pin the blame on Arasaka anyway. - Mike Pondsmith

Development

During the E3 2018 trailer, several pieces of graffiti can be seen asking "Where's Johnny?", alluding to the false reports of his death. During the E3 gameplay reveal, V can be heard listening to Johnny's song, Chippin' In, as well as wearing a Samurai jacket. The Samurai jacket was later showed in game as a replica of Johnny's jacket.

At the Microsoft E3 2019 conference, Keanu Reeves was revealed to be playing Silverhand. He showed up at the end of the 2019 Cinematic trailer, helping V after they were left for dead in a dump site. In interviews it was revealed he had been approached a year prior to the announcement.

Change of significance

Early development trailers and gameplay demos showed that Johnny Silverhand could be selected as a childhood hero, which was the first iteration of the lifepath system. Among the other options was Morgan Blackhand and Saburo Arasaka. During the gameplay reveal, there were hints that Johnny Silverhand had lived until the year 2076 where he supposedly died or disappeared with graffities and radio broadcasts telling different stories of his demise. The official lore of Cyberpunk 2020 stated that he never died in the Arasaka assault but had disappeared which would allow CD Projekt RED to reintroduce Johnny Silverhand as alive to the story of 2077.

Campaign

Silverhand acts as V's guide to the city and will be with them for most of the game. Throughout the game, the player will be haunted by the "digital ghost" of Silverhand, which confirmed he was physically dead. Johnny Silverhand appears at the start of Act 2, he makes comments on the player's actions through voiceover, and will occasionally appear in game as a hologram. Figuring out the mystery of Johnny Silverhand's digital ghost is a large part of the main plot line.[16]

Equipment

RPG
Type Products
Cyberware Chromed cyberarm with a recorder. Sandevistan boost. Two cyberoptics with IR, Low Lite, Enhancement, Boosted Reflexes.[2][3]
Armaments Heavy Armor Jacket, Light Helmet. H&K MPK-11, Arasaka Rapid Assault.[2][3] Malorian Arms 3516
Cyberpunk 2077
Type Products
Outfit Johnny's aviators, Johnny's tank top, Johnny's pants, Johnny's shoes, Ballistic vest, Samurai Jacket
Weapons Malorian Arms 3516

Behind the Scenes

“Wake the fuck up, samurai.” In the game, these words announce that Johnny Silverhand, legendary rockerboy, has smashed into our character’s brain. At the Xbox E3 2019 press conference, the words announced that Keanu Reeves, a legend himself, had smashed into gamers’ hearts as Johnny’s voice actor and visual inspiration.

Johnny’s face is pure Keanu, but the rest of his appearance is ripped straight from the pages of the Cyberpunk 2020 manuals. As we put it in our early character briefs, “Johnny is lean and wiry, with a lot of sex appeal. His entire body exudes a kind of built-up tension and nervous energy. Even when he seems laid back, you get the impression he could flip out at any moment for the most unexpected reason.” He’s self-confident in the extreme—to put it bluntly, he’s a narcissist with a massive ego. Though he’s only in his late 40s, he’s seen and done and fucked it all already.

He’s also stuck in V’s head. Our head, that is, the head of a fledgling cyberpunk, an unproven rookie, someone who’s still just figuring out who they really are—and he’s not too happy about it. Johnny’s therefore a protagonist that’s also, in a way, an antagonist. He’s a clashing, constant presence. So it’s a good thing he’s so damn likeable.

Notes

  • Johnny used to drive a modified Porsche 911 Turbo.
  • Johnny is left handed, therefore the custom Malorian Silverhand Pistol is designed to accommodate him.
  • His blood type was AB RHD+.[1]
  • His ID was "NC488402-V".[1]
  • Johnny first appears in the Cyberpunk 2013 supplementary booklet, Welcome to Night City, within the mini adventure Never Fade Away.[2]
  • Depending on the dialogue choices the player makes in Cyberpunk 2077, they can either make Johnny's engram admit he's nothing but data or give him a sense of humanity. If Johnny is treated nothing but data, he will admit his nature is to inspire rebellion within V and to honor the real Johnny Silverhand's final wish while he returns with the image of Alt Cunningham through the Blackwall.
  • Johnny Silverhand writes all of the quest descriptions in V's journal, often using second person language for side quests and switching to first when he is directly involved. This is similar to the Witcher series of games, also developed by CD Projekt RED, where the bard Dandelion writes all the journal entries for quests using second person language and switching to first when the quest involves him.
  • In many interviews, Mike Pondsmith has mentioned Johnny Silverhand may be one of the main characters, but he is far from being the good guy in the story. In Cyberpunk there are no good guys.
  • Pondsmith's original inspiration for Johnny Silverhand was David Bowie from 'Labyrinth'.
  • Silverhand is portrayed by two people in 2077, his face is modeled after Keanu Reeves, who also does his voice throughout the game. The Samurai soundtrack Johnny is portrayed by Dennis Lyxzen from Refused.

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Never Fade Away, Ripperdoc's computer
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 PONDSMITH, M. Cyberpunk. 1st ed. Berkeley CA; R. Talsorian Games, 1988
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 PONDSMITH, M. Cyberpunk 2020. 2nd ed. Berkeley CA; R. Talsorian Games, 1990.
  4. Mike Pondsmith Deep Dive Interview 2019
  5. Twitter
  6. FISK, C. Night City Sourcebook. 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R. Talsorian Games, 1991
  7. PONDSMITH, M. Cyberpunk RED Corebook. Kenmore, WA; R. Talsorian Games, 2020.
  8. WINN, R. Neo Tribes. 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R. Talsorian Games, 1994
  9. Silverhand: The Creator (and Destroyer) of Samurai
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sevile, A. Firestorm Stormfront. 1st ed. Berkeley CA; R. Talsorian Games Inc, 1997.
  11. 11.0 11.1 ACKERMAN GREY, D. Firestorm Shockwave. 1st ed. Berkeley CA; R. Talsorian Games Inc, 1997.
  12. Chippin' In
  13. CD Projekt RED. Cyberpunk 2077. Video Game, Multi-Platform. Poland, CD Projekt S.A., 2020.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Countdown to the Dark Future (#3, #67)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Time Machine
  16. Marks, Tom. "Cyberpunk 2077: New Gameplay Details from the E3 2019 Demo." IGN, IGN, 11 June 2019, www.ign.com/articles/2019/06/11/cyberpunk-2077-new-gameplay-details-from-the-e3-2019-demo.
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