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This article contains plot details.
Mary Sibley (Lover)
|“||My father's boots were the very first in Salem and I'm warning every goddamn one of you murdering hypocritical Puritan bastard's that these boots will be the last.||”|
— John Alden in The Vow
Captain Johnathan "John" Alden is the male lead and one of the main protagonists of Salem. He is the son of John Alden Senior and Sarah Alden, the former lover of Mary Sibley and father of her son, and a hardened war hero. After fighting in the Nine-Year-War, he returned home to his native Salem, Massachusetts, to be reunited with Mary (the love of his life), only to find his hometown amidst a witch panic and that she was now married to George Sibley, the very man who had sent him off to die. In the midst of trying to win Mary back and unravel the mysteries behind the witch panic, John quickly uncovers horrific mystical truths and is forced to confront evil supernatural forces to protect his loved ones.
He is portrayed by American actor Shane West.
Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts he is one of the firstborns in the new world and the son of the late John Alden Senior, head of one of the founding families and a member of the selectmen board. John had a loving relationship with his father though he often disappointed him particularly for not learning scripture or attending university choosing instead to join the war, but his father soon came to accept his son's choices (Departures). Before the events of 1685, John embarked on a relationship with the young Mary Walcott the pair quickly fell in love but he was later sent to join the militia to fight the French and the Indians. The night before he left Salem after witnessing the branding of Isaac Walton he made a vow to Mary that he would return for her within a year, splitting a silver coin in half and giving one-half to her. A token of his promise to her (The Vow).
During John's time in the militia, he was severally injured in battle and left for dead but was found by the Mohawk tribe who brought him back from the brink of death. Their medicine man took a particular interest in John and he lived with them while he healed from his injuries, learning their ways and language while they treated him with exceptional kindness and compassion. One day while out hunting with their warriors the Mohawk village was raided by white men, the men, women, and children murdered. Enraged by what had been done he hunted down all those responsible killing them all except for William Hooke who he spared (Ashes Ashes).
John is pragmatic, stubborn, and hot-tempered. He is considered to be a loose cannon among the Puritans, but is adored particularly by the commoners of Salem. During the war, he demonstrated a dark side - he killed 20 of his own militiamen to avenge the deaths of the Mohawk people who had taken in after he was injured (Ashes Ashes). When his fellow soldier, William Hooke, first arrived in Salem, John murdered him as he had threatened to reveal his secrets (Survivors).
He often rebels at the Puritan way of life and is thought to be a heretic but he is also brave and gallant which he shows when he saves Anne Hale on numerous occasions. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in or stand up for what is right.
John is a rugged, handsome man in his late twenties, with shoulder-length brown hair, green eyes, a short beard, and a broad-shouldered, muscular physique that is quite scarred due to his time in the war. He usually wore shades of browns with white or blue tunics, along with a brown leather duster. He was also shown to often carry his rifle wherever he went.
In Season Two, John's appearance changed: his hair was cut to a short crop, and his body was covered in tattoos following an initiation he underwent with the native Indians.
Throughout The Salem Series
Skills and abilities
- Marksmanship: John Alden is a perfect sniper, precise in the use of firearms, such as bayonets and rifles commonly used in the century in which the story is set.
- Melee combat: Alden is an amazing swordsman, skilled and agile in his movements although he has a remarkable musculature that does not fit exactly the slender body canons of the fencers. He is also skilled in hand fighting, having been tempered in barroom brawls and war fights.
- Orienteering: thanks to the techniques learned from the Native American tribe, Alden is very skilled to cross the woods without getting lost, following the tracks and covering his own.
- Mastery of the tribal language: during the time spent with Native Americans (whose exact tribe has yet to be determined) Alden has learned their language.
- Main article: Mary and John
|“||Time for truth...I lied to you earlier I was young once, young enough that I believed in goodness, I believed in it because I saw it in you. You can't help it, you can't stop it, you can't be any other way. I think that's why I loved you. Imagine my surprise being told you're a murderer.||”|
— Mary to John in Lies
Mary Sibley is John's former lover and the love of his life. The pair fell in love before the events of 1685 but he left Salem to enlist in the nine years war not knowing that she had become pregnant with his child. He returns seven years later expecting Mary to be waiting for him but discovers her to now be the most powerful woman in Salem after she had married his former enemy George Sibley. Upon returning John tries to convince Mary to run away with him so that they can be together but she refuses not knowing that the reason was that she was the witch behind all of Salem's misfortune. Following John's arrest for witchcraft, Mary saves him by transporting them both from his cell to the woods revealing that she is a witch (Ashes Ashes). The pair had planned to flee Salem together but their plan was hindered by the witches when it was revealed their child was alive and Mary was forced to stay in Salem to complete the Grand Rite to save their son (All Fall Down).
- Main article: Anne and John
|“||I suppose one could choose that life honest work, community, a loving family and not a witch in sight. Maybe there's hope for us yet.||”|
— Anne to John in Children Be Afraid
Anne and John first meet at the dinner party hosted by Mary Sibley, where Anne shows to be clearly attracted to him. As time progresses they soon develop a friendship of a sort and later share a passionate kiss (only due to John being under Mary's dream spell) (Our Own Private America). John often comes to Anne's rescue saving her from thieves in the orphanage following the death of Bridget Bishop (In Vain) and when she is lost in the woods (The House Of Pain). Anne later watches helplessly when John is arrested by the selectmen for witchcraft. She is later coerced by Increase Mather into admitting during John's trial that he forcefully kissed her further damning him (Ashes Ashes).
- Main article: Cotton and John
|“||I admire your 'sangfroid.' It's French for cold blood. It's a compliment.||”|
— Cotton to John in The Red Rose and the Briar
John and Cotton both knew each other briefly as children (The Vow) though how much contact they had is unknown. Both are firstborn sons in the new world but while John became a war hero, Cotton chose to become a scholar studying at Harvard and spoke of his shock that John did not join him there. They are reunited when John returns to Salem and often come at odds especially after Cotton stones John's old friend Giles Corey to death. The pair is forced to join forces to combat the witches though they both have different ideas on how to defeat them but soon develop a friendship (The Red Rose and the Briar). When Cotton's lover Gloriana Embry is accused of being a witch John tries to plead her case on Cotton's behalf (Departures) and when John himself is arrested for witchcraft Cotton defies his father and vows to defend his friend during his trial (Cat and Mouse).
- Main article: Isaac and John
|“||Does he deserve anything less? The man who marked your flesh, drove me to war and has ruled over Salem like a power-mad king? And now, what, he begs for compassion?||”|
— John to Isaac in Departures
Both are first born son's in the new world they were both raised in Salem, Massachusetts but it is unknown in how much contact they had before the events of 1685. John with the rest of Salem witnessed the branding of Isaac by George Sibley but was the only one that tried to prevent it but was later sent to join the militia (The Vow). Seven years later when John returns his arrival is witnessed upon by Isaac who later informs Mary of his return. Isaac tries to convince John that witches are real and take him into the woods where they spy on their Sabbath and they both become allies but when Isaac is later captured and spelled by the witches leading to his arrest it is only John who tries to save him (In Vain). Isaac turns to John following George Sibley's injuries after the carriage crashes, but John tells him to leave him there and keep quiet as he deserves nothing from either of them (Departures). Isaac considers John to be one of his only friends.
|“||No dead animal could threaten a storied soldier such as yourself, Captain.||”|
— Magistrate Hale to John in In Vain
Magistrate Hale knew John as a young man and presumably when he was a boy. When John returns to Salem and following the death of Giles Corey he has him arrested believing him to be a threat to the witches cause (The Stone Child) but is warned to leave John alone by Mary Sibley. John later becomes suspicious of him suspecting him to be a witch (Survivors). When the Magistrate suspects his daughter has feelings for the captain he forbade's his daughter to have any contact with him and later with Tituba's help tries to force John to leave Salem. After Anne goes missing in the woods he turns to John for help and when he is arrested on the charge of witchcraft the magistrate is coerced by Mary Sibley into voting against John going to trial.
|“||An honor, Captain. Truly, I can have no greater respect than for a man who has risked his life in battle. Sadly, not all young men possess the same mettle.||”|
— Increase to John in Departures
Increase knew the late John Alden senior as a young man as they both were classmates together at university. It is said John's father had greatly respected the man before his death. When Increase arrives in Salem, he holds John in high regard for his prowess in battle and comments in how he wishes his own son was more like him (Cat and Mouse). When Increase begins to suspect Mary Sibley is the witch who has spelled his old friend George Sibley, he has John falsely arrested on the charges of witchcraft to lure Mary into saving him but after he tortures the young Tituba she reveals that John had killed his own militiamen leading him to have John convicted of treason and sentenced to hang (Ashes Ashes).
|“||You didn't come back for all this horseshit. You came back for one thing and one thing only.||”|
— Giles to John in The Vow
Giles Corey is John's oldest friend and is presumably a family friend of his parents. During the events of 1685 Giles was aware of John's relationship with Mary and also witnessed the branding of Isaac Walton stopping John from attacking George Sibley warning the younger John that George tolerated his father but would see him hang. After John was sent to join the militia Giles witnessed Mary sacrificing their unborn child in the woods but kept what she had done a secret but when John returned seven years later who had been presumed dead gave Mary the ultimatum to tell John the truth or he would. Mary not wanting John to know her secrete had Mercy Lewis accuse him of witchcraft and had him stoned to death while John was forced to helplessly watch his friend die (The Vow). After John discovered that his body had been dumped into the crag he recovered his body burying him in Salem's cemetery (The Stone Child).
- Main article: John and Little John
|“||Are you really truly my father...John Alden?||”|
— John Jr to John Alden in On Earth as in Hell
John was unaware of his son existence for seven years as he didn't know that Mary had been pregnant with his child went he went to war. John finally discovered the truth after Mary freed him from Tituba who had been holding him captive and together joined forces to save their son from the Countess Marburg who planned to sacrifice him to complete the grand rite. John later enlisted Cotton's help to perform an exorcism on his son who is possessed by the devil and begins to bond with his son, proving the lengths he will go to save his only child. When the Countess arrives with her son to take his child he urged Cotton to flee with his son and tried to hold them off so that Cotton and his son could escape but was soon stabbed by Sebastian.
|The Stone Child||Appears|
|The Red Rose and the Briar||Appears|
|Our Own Private America||Appears|
|Children Be Afraid||Absent|
|The House of Pain||Appears|
|Cat And Mouse||Absent|
|All Fall Down||Appears|
|Book of Shadows||Appears|
|The Wine Dark Sea||Appears|
|Ill Met by Moonlight||Appears|
|The Beckoning Fair One||Appears|
|Wages of Sin||Appears|
|Til Death Do Us Part||Appears|
|On Earth as in Hell||Appears|
|Midnight Never Come||Appears|
|The Witching Hour||Appears|
|After the Fall||Appears|
|The Heart Is A Devil||Appears|
|Night's Black Agents||Appears|
|The Commonwealth of Hell||Appears|
|The Man Who Was Thursday||Appears|
- John Alden: "Salem can go to Hell. If it ain't already there."
- — The Vow
- John Alden: "The universe itself is made out of vows, and breaking them carries consequences."
- — The Vow
- John Alden: "I would rather die than have Salem's finest control my fate."
- — Lies
- John Alden: "I always wondered why Giles Corey never fought back. Now I know, he knew he lost the moment he played their game... Dignified their madness."
- — Cat And Mouse
- Johnatan, shortened to John, is a masculine given name of Hebrew origin. It means "Graced by God". It is a very common name in the United States.
- The Alden surname originates from the old English language. It derives from Ealdwine meaning "Old Friend"
Status and Rank
- Captain: following his enlistment in the militia, John Alden took over the role of captain. This has given John a prominent place in the community of Salem (over the inherited one from his founding family), and a certain respect among his subordinates. 
- Historically, John Alden escaped from Salem after the accusations that he was a witch and took refuge with friends in Duxbury. He also married an Elizabeth Phillips Everill who gave him 14 children. The real John Alden wrote a written account of the Salem Witch Trials.
- Between the first and second seasons, John hatred towards the Puritans is replaced by the even more ruthless hate towards the witches.
- He died at the end of the second season and was resurrected by a dying Mary. The consequences of this resurrection spell have yet to be revealed.
- Even in the period between the introduction and the beginning of the first season, Alden was on the verge of death and was healed by a shaman.
- John Alden (Shane West) and Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle) never had interactions on the scene after the events of the pilot episode; they never had, however, a dialogue.
- The description given on Official Instagram to accompany the promotional photos of the third season is as follows: "John Alden: the brokenhearted war hero."
- The updated character description for the third season, released on WGNA Salem, reads as follow:
"Former war hero, John Alden is forced to bury his love, Mary Sibley. After being captured and dragged back to Salem, Alden agrees to train the militia, preparing them for the coming war."
- In discarded content still visible in some earliest promotional videos, John Alden's back was horribly scarred by whippings. A potential reason for discarding such feature is due to the long process to create large prosthetic make-up and for a main character, and possibly it's cost for the first original series of a small channel already spending a lot on sets and costumes. 
- ↑ In the episode "In Vain" Isaac Walton addressed to John with his full name, Johnathan.
- ↑ Britannica.com, French and Indian War
- ↑ For further info on the role, see: Military History Gateway: Militia Captains
- ↑ John Alden on Wikipedia.org
- ↑ The People of Salem — Cotton Mather