Richard Armitage’s John Porter was the main character of the original series of Strike Back, but here’s how and why his character died in season 2.
Here’s why Richard Armitage’s John Porter was killed off Strike Back during the second season. Strike Back is based on the novel by former SAS sergeant Chris Ryan, and the show started life as a six-episode British action thriller. The cast was led by Richard Armitage as a disgraced Special Forces soldier named Porter who earns a chance at redemption while uncovering a dark secret about the mission that killed some of his men. The show was a solid hit, and the second series Strike Back: Project Dawn became a co-production between Sky and Cinemax.
This led to a marked increase in Strike Back’s action, explosions, and sex scenes, with Porter’s exit leading to the arrival of new leads Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Stonebridge (Philip Winchester). The show’s new buddy action formula proved extremely popular, with this incarnation running for four seasons. Strike Back was rebooted again with a new team for the sixth season Retribution in 2017. It’s worth noting Strike Back “began” with the second season Project Dawn in the U.S., with season 1 later airing as a prequel dubbed Strike Back: Origins in 2013.
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While Strike Back: Project Dawn does bring back Richard Armitage’s John Porter for the first episode, it’s really just to kick the plot in motion. It’s revealed Porter, who is part of the counter-terrorist unit Section 20, was captured by a mysterious terrorist named Latif. Porter was trying to uncover the truth behind an operation called “Project Dawn” and Scott and Stonebridge are assigned to find him. Sadly, Porter’s executed during a live broadcast, though he managed to sneak a hidden message into this final speech before being shot by Latif. His death also reveals to Scott and Stonebridge that somebody inside Section 20 betrayed him.
Porter’s death set up that few characters in Strike Back were safe, and the show often killed off major characters. That said, it’s a shame Richard Armitage didn’t get to stick around, as Porter was a great character. It turns out the actor had a very good reason for passing on the second season, as he’d been offered the role of Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit trilogy and wouldn’t be available for filming.
Armitage’s exit worked out for the best for both his career and the show. The Stone and Stonebridge era of the series is easily the most popular, while Armitage has since appeared in everything from Hannibal to Netflix’s Castlevania. Strike Back ended with 2020’s Vendetta, though given its enduring popularity, it’s sure to get rebooted in some form in the future.
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It’s pronounced Paw-rick, not Pad-raig. Now that’s out of the way, a brief introduction. Padraig has been writing about film online since 2012, when a friend asked if he’d like to contribute the occasional review or feature to their site.
A part-time hobby soon blossomed into a career when he discovered he really loved writing about movies, TV and video games – he even (arguably) had a little bit of talent for it. He has written words for Den of Geek, Collider, The Irish Times and Screen Rant over the years, and can discuss anything from the MCU – where Hawkeye is clearly the best character – to the most obscure cult b-movie gem, and his hot takes often require heat resistant gloves to handle.
He’s super modern too, so his favorite movies include Jaws, Die Hard, The Thing, Ghostbusters and Batman. He can be found as i_Padds on Twitter making bad puns.
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