Ianto Jones is a fictional character in the BBC television series Torchwood, played by Welsh actor Gareth David-Lloyd. A series regular, Ianto appears in every episode of the programme’s first three series, as well as two crossover episodes of Torchwood’s parent show, Doctor Who. Additionally, Ianto appears in Expanded Universe material such as the Torchwood novels and audiobooks, comic books and radio plays. Within the narrative of the series, Ianto serves as general support officer for Torchwood Three, a team of alien hunters stationed in Cardiff. Initially the regular character with the least screen time, Ianto’s role expanded in response to growing cult appeal.
Reserved and efficient, Ianto was often used by writers to add humorous asides to the episodes’ scripts. The character is notable for being the main romantic interest of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who is the lead male of the series. Established to have had heterosexual relationships prior to the series, Ianto’s story forms a part of the show’s ongoing exploration of human sexuality. Expanded Universe material develops on Ianto’s sexual orientation and the nature of the relationship with Jack, describing Ianto as bisexual and his feelings for Jack as genuine love. Additionally, writers have used these other media to explore Ianto’s characterisation; for example, some stories elaborate on Ianto’s backstory, or provide insight into his feelings.
Beginning as a casual relationship, with little on-screen definition given, the characters’ relationship deepened over the first three series of the programme. The character’s creator Russell T Davies chose to kill off Ianto in the third television series. Professional critics by and large gave the story extremely positive reviews. A number of fans, however, were upset by the death of the character, particularly with regards to the romantic storyline’s abrupt ending. Artistically, Davies felt that the relationship’s unexplored potential maximised the viewer’s sense of grief. Subsequent to the departure, fans set up websites in the character’s honour, petitioning the writers to resurrect him in future episodes of the series, raising money for charity. Torchwood writers and actors have expressed an unwillingness to cheapen the death scene by bringing the character back, though David-Lloyd penned a Torchwood comic book where in an alternative universe Ianto survives.
The character of Ianto Jones is introduced in the first episode of Torchwood, in 2006. Introduced as a mild-mannered and quiet administrator working for Torchwood Three, his first centric appearance was the episode “Cyberwoman” which dealt with both his backstory and motivations. In the episode, Ianto is revealed as a former employee of Torchwood One in London (first seen in parent series Doctor Who), whose girlfriend, Lisa (Caroline Chikezie), has been partially converted into a Cyberman, a cyborg species first seen in Doctor Who in 1966. Ianto has been keeping her alive, concealed in the basement of the Hub, but she eventually breaks loose, and kills two civilians. Ianto is forced into confrontation with team leader Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who is later able to revive Ianto with a kiss when Lisa knocks him unconscious. Ultimately, the rest of Ianto’s team is forced to kill Lisa. Although Ianto’s thoughts continue to be concerned with Lisa, mid-series he begins to develop a sexual relationship with Jack. By the penultimate episode of the series, Ianto is willing to shoot colleague Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) to protect Jack, and refutes claims he is merely his “part time shag.” In the series finale, an image of what appears to be Lisa’s ghost is used to bring Ianto to mutiny against Jack, but still later when an immortal Jack rises from the dead, he and Ianto immediately kiss one another.
Torchwood’s second series (2008) begins with the team working without Jack, who departed the Hub at the end of series one to reunite with the mysterious “Doctor” from his past. Ianto’s role within the team now more frequently includes field missions, to accommodate Jack’s absence. When Jack returns in the series two premiere, having seen the end of the world, he attempts to formalise his romantic relationship with Ianto, successfully asking him on a date. Jack and Ianto’s relationship becomes more overt, and Ianto’s character becomes less burdened by secrets and happier, beginning to express a newfound confidence and dour sense of humour. The penultimate episode of the series, “Fragments” explores Ianto’s backstory, specifically how he was recruited into Torchwood Three two years prior; Ianto is persistent that Jack hire him after the destruction of Torchwood One, but only succeeds once he is able to aid Jack in capturing a stray pterodactyl. In the second series finale, Ianto and the team face Jack’s 51st-century ex Captain John Hart (James Marsters) and younger brother Gray (Lachlan Nieboer), who has vengefully sought to destroy Jack’s world. After Gray kills his teammates Toshiko (Naoko Mori) and Owen, the Torchwood team is left with a membership of only three. Following from this, Ianto makes his first crossover appearance in Doctor Who alongside Gwen (Eve Myles) and Jack in the two-part finale of the 2008 series, where Torchwood is called on to help contact series protagonist the Doctor (David Tennant) during a Dalek invasion
Torchwood’s third series (2009) is a five-part miniseries broadcast over one week, called Children of Earth. In part one, Ianto starts to express insecurity to Jack about their status as couple. The audience are introduced to Ianto’s sister Rhiannon (Katy Wix) and brother-in-law Johnny Davies (Rhodri Lewis), who confront Ianto about sightings of him on a date with Jack. Ianto eventually admits to being involved with Jack, but concedes that he is not sure where he stands. When aliens called the 456 return to Earth, John Frobisher (Peter Capaldi) puts a hit on Torchwood’s lives to cover a conspiracy. In part two, Ianto and Gwen survive a Hub explosion that obliterates Jack. Once regenerated, Jack is sealed in cement by agent Johnson (Liz May Brice) until Ianto rescues him with a forklift truck. In part three, the group watch helplessly as the 456 demand a tribute: 10% of the Earth’s children; the government appears willing to comply. In part four, Ianto and Jack storm the Thames House to confront the 456. The pair refuse to sacrifice any lives to the alien demands. In response, the aliens release a fatal virus into the atmosphere. Thames House locks down, and Ianto dies in Jack’s arms, telling him that he loved him and begging Jack never to forget about him, to which Jack replies he never could.
Ianto appears in the first six of the Torchwood novels, published by BBC Books. The first wave, Another Life by Peter Anghelides, Border Princes by Dan Abnett, and Slow Decay by Andy Lane, were published in January 2007. Published in March 2008, and tying in with the concurrently airing second series of Torchwood, Ianto appears in the novels Trace Memory by David Llewellyn, The Twilight Streets by Gary Russell, and Something in the Water by Trevor Baxendale. October 2008 saw the release of three more Torchwood books by Peter Anghelides, series writer Phil Ford and writer for the Doctor Who and Torchwood websites, James Goss, the latter’s cover for Almost Perfect reflecting changes to the cast after the episode 2008 finale episode “Exit Wounds“. The character next appears in Into the Silence, Bay of the Dead and The House that Jack Built in June 2009, and Risk Assessment, The Undertaker’s Gift and the short story anthology Consequences in October of that year.
First published in January 2008, the monthly Torchwood Magazine began occasionally including Torchwood comic strips, in which Ianto also appears. In 2010, Shrouded is one such two-part comic, written by Gareth David-Lloyd. The comic posits a “what-if” scenario wherein Ianto, “who struggles with his feelings for Jack from the offset”, sees a face from the future and embarks on a mission that could change the course of his life (from that of his eventual death in Children of Earth). David Lloyd comments that he “knows [the] character implicitly”. In the first part, Ianto (originating from the timeframe of Season Two) is approached by Rhys and Captain John, both post-Children of Earth, who warn Ianto not to believe the offer made by a seductive, time-travelling woman; they do not tell him that their mission is to preserve the timeline in which he dies. In part two, the woman, Mairwyn, informs Ianto of the events of “Exit Wounds” and Children of Earth, and of Jack’s departure. Ianto tearfully watches the scene where Jack learns of Gwen’s engagement, and sleeps with Mairwyn. After learning of the devastating consequences of assisting Mairwyn, he defeats her and later “retcons” himself. However, in a divergent timeline Ianto appears with Mairwyn, observing his funeral, saying “I can’t believe there’s a reality where I said no.” In 2010, “Shrouded” was republished in Titan’s dedicated Torchwood comic book.
During series two, the Torchwood website, www.torchwood.org.uk also hosted an interactive online game written by series writer Phil Ford. Updated weekly with the airing of the new episodes, the website features specially shot footage with Gareth David-Lloyd in character as Ianto debriefing and informing the ‘player’ with regards to their mission. Throughout both series one and two, the interactive websites co-written by James Goss featured electronic literature content (such as fictitious internet messaging conversations and letters) which depict aspects of Ianto and the other Torchwood characters’ work and personal lives. The Torchwood Archives by Gary Russell collects much of this online literature in hardback form, along with new original material, some of which expands on what we know of Ianto. For example, it introduces his sister, Rhiannon and brother-in-law Johnny; Rhiannon and Johnny later appear in 2009’s third televised series.
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