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John Monad is a mysterious, wealthy young man who comes to Imperial Beach to take surfing lessons from . He has a habit of repeating other people's words back at them, and seems to be mentally challenged. However, he seems to have a genius for surfing, and his presence in the Yost's lives begins to have a strange impact.

HBO Character DescriptionEdit

John materialized from the mist of the Tijuana Sloughs one morning. Repeating phrases he picks up around Imperial Beach, he has a disconcerting habit of rambling nonsense in the tone of a message. Tagging along as Butchie's surf student, John seems to be studying more than waves, approaching every experience as if for the first time. No one knows who he is or where he's from - Cincinnati sounds as likely a place as any - but from the moment he arrived, random miracles have arisen in town. As it turns out, John's oddness dovetails well with the Yosts, who are so outlandish themselves that they don't immediately notice the phenomena unfolding around them. [1]

Who is John?Edit

John's performer, Austin Nichols, says, "I could be an angel or a Greek chorus. The mystery of John has yet to be unfurled, but it will be very exciting." [2]

"John could be anybody at this point," says executive producer Mark Tinker. "One of the things that John brings to the show is love, and a forgiveness for anyone and anything that opens people's hearts." [3]

Co-creator David Milch says, "I don't think he changes their lives, so much as reorients their understanding of the life that they've been living." [4]

And in a NY Post interview, Milch said this about John, "He was a variable creature of enormous energy and power, and very little understanding. And that, to me, is kind of what the world is like." [5]

Nichols reiterated the religious connection in an interview with "I just heard David Milch say, the show is like what would happen if God wanted to talk to us with relative urgency." [6]

John's nameEdit

In philosophy, a "monad" is a symbol for a single, indivisible element, the essence of "oneness". "Monism" is the metaphysical and theological view that all is one, that there are no fundamental divisions, and a unified set of laws underlie nature.

An article in The Los Angeles Times reported that this view underlies David Milch and Kem Nunn's philosophy of the series:

During a break on the set, Milch was asked to boil down the premise of the series. His 20-minute response touched on German philosophy, 9/11 and physics. At some level, he said, the show is about his own sense that all matter "organic and inorganic" is part of a single energy source. "The idea of the separate identity of each individual is an illusion," he said. Nunn agreed. "The wonderful thing we hope people would see is the connectedness of these people. In fact, we're all part of the same organism at some level." [7]


John's vocabulary seems to be purely based on repeating phrases he has heard, however some phrases seem to come to him endogenously. He is apparently able to hear and repeat phrases that are far out of normal earshot.

While his parroting of phrases usually obeys proper grammar and conjugation, he sometimes will repeat entire phrases in an incorrect context.

See alsoEdit


  1. "HBO Cast & Crew: John Monad",, 2007.
  2. "John hits the beach: HBO show premieres on faux coastline", Anthony D'Allesandro, Variety. June 4, 2007.
  3. The Making of John From Cincinnati, HBO featurette. First aired June 6, 2007.
  4. The Making of John From Cincinnati, HBO featurette. First aired June 6, 2007.
  5. "John's Wane: HBO Passes on Second Season of Surf Show", Adam Buckman, NY Post. Aug 15, 2007.
  6. "LAist Interview: Austin Nichols", Tim Hammer, June 7, 2007.
  7. "HBO hopes to stoke its franchise with John From Cincinnati", The Los Angeles Times, Lynn Smith. June 3, 2007.