John Palmer (2009-present)
Shane Withington; Rex Palazzi (Young John, 2017)
Date of Birth: 7th October 1959
Parents: George & Enid Palmer (both deceased)
Marital Status: Jenena Palmer (divorced); Gina Austin (2010-2013, deceased); Marilyn Chambers (2014-present)
Children: Shandi Palmer
Adopted Children: Jett Palmer
Step Children: Trey Palmer (former); Hugo, Brendan & Xavier Austin (former)
Occupation: Bus Company Owner, Gym Owner
A newcomer to Summer Bay, John was first seen when Kirsty tried to resign as his stepson Trey’s tutor. John initially accepted but, after talking with Trey, told Kirsty she had to finish what she’d started and if she didn’t he’d talk to Martin Bartlett. When he overheard Trey telling his friends that he and Kirsty had slept together, John believed it and, after walking in on Kirsty trying to get Trey to change his story, reported her for having an affair with a student. He defended Trey when he was wrongly accused of causing the car crash where Roman had been injured but was disappointed when it came out that Trey had vandalised the school. He accused Miles of assault when he accidentally caused Trey to break his arm and began rallying support against the couple among the P&C. When he found Trey fighting with Jai, he accused Miles and Kirsty of sending Jai to intimidate Trey. It was finally revealed that Trey had been bullied for being fat at his previous school and John had helped him lose weight and moved town so he could have a new start. Trey admitted he had made the whole thing up and John withdrew his complaint.
Angry about the incident, John forced Trey to work with him at the surf club as punishment. He organised the surf carnival and was worried when a hand was washed up on the beach after a shark attack, telling Alf and Miles they needed to keep a lid on it. He was furious when Hugo claimed to have been attacked by a shark while diving, resulting in the carnival being cancelled. He accused Hugo of making it up and taunted him about it at Noah’s Bar, leading to him and his friends ending up in a brawl with Gardy and Roman. When Trey broadcast a video of himself having sex with Nicole to the town, John took him round her place to sort it out but Miles and Kirsty refused to let them see Nicole and threatened to press charges. John went to see Martin and offered to have Trey apologise to Nicole in front of the school instead but the apology descended into chaos with John angrily berating Trey for being useless as the students threw rubbers at him.
John and Trey’s relationship began to deteriorate even further, with John at one point pulling Trey out of his chair at the Diner for ignoring him. He asked Martin and Miles to let Trey go on the school trek, thinking it would be good for him, and offered to give them a bus and act as driver to keep an eye on Trey (although it was Nicole’s persuasion that eventually saw Trey allowed to go), as well as talking to Alf about Trey joining the lifesavers. He helped search for Jai and Annie when they went missing on the trek and arrived back at camp to learn Trey had made a pass at Nicole. He and Kirsty prepared to take the other students back home but after everyone else had boarded the bus Trey announced he had placed a mine on a timer under it. John initially didn’t believe him until Xavier looked under the bus and saw it. Using some plans Trey had accidentally left behind, John, who had spent time in the Navy, worked out how to defuse the bomb but couldn’t get to it and, when Hugo and Martha arrived, had to direct them to defuse it. As the danger seemed past, it turned out the bomb had a secondary timer and John and Hugo were both injured in the explosion. The incident eroded John’s last remaining sympathy for Trey and he expressed his desire for the police to catch him, believing they had been too soft on Trey. When Trey turned up in his hospital room with a syringe, John refused to stop goading him and it fell to Kirsty to talk him into giving himself up.
By the time John was next seen, his marriage had broken down and Jenena, Trey’s mother, had left town. He objected to Hugo’s plans to sink a schooner in the bay as a dive attraction and announced he was running for council. Hugo tried to convince him the attraction would bring money to all businesses in the bay, including John’s bus company, but John refused to change his stance. He annoyed Hugo and Brendan by trying to make capital out of Grant Bledcoe’s murder and, when the family caught him making a speech claiming Hugo was going to wreck the town for the sake of profit, Martha spoke up and argued Hugo’s case. Martha chose to run against him and John was probably responsible for the advertising campaign that made reference to her history as a pole dancer, although he denied knowledge of someone throwing a brick through the couple’s window and of Hugo receiving death threats. He agreed to a debate with Martha where he spoke about the marina development that was his main policy, although Martha managed to impress the crowd with her counter arguments. He met Gina, Hugo’s mother, whilst giving a talk on the surf club at the school and they surprised each other by getting along. John spoke to her about his history with Trey, admitting he’d handled things badly. He lost some of his election support when it came out that his marina development actually meant some of the locals would lose their fishing berths and he tried to get Aden to keep the truth to himself by promising him a berth if he didn’t say anything. He still won the election but found it a hollow experience as he was left to celebrate on his own.
John reluctantly hired Romeo to work as a surfing instructor but fired him when he turned up late for a shift and couldn’t explain himself. Gina told him he was being too hard and should have just given him a warning. He offered Romeo his job back but Romeo refused to work for a bully. It was enough to convince Gina to give him another chance and join him for a surf however. Xavier was horrified to learn the pair were spending time together and John attended a dinner at the family’s house where he was amused by both of Xavier’s girlfriends turning up and the evening descending into an argument. Afterwards, Gina announced John would be staying the night, causing Xavier to leave in disgust. John pretended to be keen on the idea until revealing that he knew Gina had only said it to prove a point and left. He provided Charlie with some information over Ian Radcliffe falsely claiming Miles assaulted his son that helped clear Miles.
When Tony ran into financial trouble at the gym, John agreed to Gina’s request to look over the books and, after the gym was vandalised, offered to buy a 75% share. Tony accepted but was disquieted when John immediately started rebuilding the place. John got into an argument with Hazem Kassir, the tradesman who had done the refit, accusing him of coming up with excessive hidden charges that he hasn’t quoted for and refusing to pay. Ruby misunderstood the argument and, when John was quoted in an article about asylum seekers being found in the Bay saying they were using up medical care which could have gone on residents, accused him of being a racist. Hazem suggested to John that they get an independent judge to decide if his charges were fair and John agreed. He refused to contribute to the collection Ruby was making to pay the refugees medical bills and objected to her racist allegations. He tried to calm down a couple of racist thugs who were abusing Hazem but ended up in an argument with Ruby and Romeo before being punched by Mink. He helped out when Hazem was attacked by a racist mob and unsuccessfully tried to talk the mob out of firebombing the Diner and attacking the ambulance sent for Hazem.
Afterwards, John was blamed for the riot and business at the gym suffered, causing further clashes between John and Tony. When Geoff attacked one of the thugs in the surf club, John broke up the fight but was unable to confirm that the man was involved in the firebombing. He and Tony eventually agreed Tony should be in charge of the day to day running whilst John handled the business side. When Tony told him people were staying away from the gym because they thought John was a racist, he went to see Hazem, who agreed to tell people that John had helped him, and also paid his medical bills. He seemed to grow closer to the Bay’s residents as a result, encouraging Leah to have a reopening for the Diner to show people they hadn’t been beaten by the riot, which Tony persuaded John to attend. He and Gina had drifted apart in the aftermath of Hugo’s apparent death but began spending time together again. Although he and Tony seemed to have put aside their differences, Tony finally decided he couldn’t work with him and John bought him out.
John celebrated his divorce from Jenena by taking Gina out and sleeping with her, only for Xavier to walk in as he was getting dressed. Xavier confronted him at the gym and told him to stay away from her. He told Gina which resulted in Xavier moving out of home, until Gina agreed that she and John would only meet up away from the house. He felt the need to give some pointers when Tony began teaching Xavier boxing so he and Tony challenged each other to a boxing match but in the end neither of them threw a punch. Gina invited him to have dinner with her and Xavier but not stay the night and, although Xavier left as soon as he could, they got through it without any arguments. He then persuaded Gina to stay over at his place. He was intrigued when Xavier hired a locker at the gym and helped Gina check it out. They found the money from the people smuggling operation that Hugo had left behind, angering Xavier. When it came out that Hugo was alive and had been in witness protection, he annoyed Gina by sympathising with Angelo’s position.
When Romeos mother Jill arrived in town, John had a drink with her but when Gina kept seeing them together she got the wrong idea, especially when she saw Jill kiss John, even though he pushed her away. He went round to Gina’s house to explain but only got a glass of water in his face, despite spending all night sleeping on her porch. Despite the trouble Jill was causing him, he advised Romeo not to give up on her, saying his own father drank himself to death and he wished he’d done more to stop him. When Gina didn’t answer one of his calls, John thought she was breaking up with him and took Jill back to his place where they shared a kiss, only for him to have to hide her in the next room when Gina turned up. Gina explained to him she had been kidnapped but John turned down the opportunity to spend the night with her, then found Jill drunk and asleep, resulting in Romeo blaming him for her getting in that state.
He visited Gina and gave her some flowers, then told Jill they couldn’t spend time together anymore. However, when Romeo caught them having a non-alcohol drink together and accused John of getting her drunk, he was forced to ask John to dinner at Miles place as an apology, only for Tony and Rachel to turn up as well. Tony was annoyed with John apparently cheating on his sister and a quiet chat on the beach turned into an embarrassing brawl. Jill went home with John and they slept together. When Gina found out, he told her he was fed up of her constant hot and cold behaviour. He spent another night with Jill but then told her he still loved Gina. He was pleased when Gina then got in touch with him to talk about getting back together and assured her he was serious, turning Jill down when she tried to spend time with him again. He was surprised when Gina told him Romeo had encouraged her to get back with him.
He asked Gina to move in with him but she suggested he moved in with her and Xavier instead. Xavier wasn’t happy with the arrangement and threatened to make John’s life a living hell but grudgingly helped him move in. John consulted with Alf about the surf clubs financial difficulties and agreed with Marilyn’s suggestion to Angelo setting up his restaurant there. Xavier went to him for advice after Ruby kissed him after he’d started dating April and John told him not to tell April; however, when he did and she was fine with it, Xavier told John that from now on he’d ask his advice and do the exact opposite. When April and her sister Bianca moved in with them for a while, John objected to Bianca hogging the bathroom. They continued to clash, especially after John, Xavier and April ate some chocolates Bianca’s ex-fiancé Vittorio had sent her, and Gina ended up getting tired of the arguing and saying April and Bianca had to move out. Xavier blamed John, leading John to agree to do him a favour in future if he stopped being aggressive. When Gina tried to help Tony and Rachel sort out their marital problems, John quizzed her about her opinion on marriage. He joined Alf in trying to contain the bad publicity after Nicole suffered a needle stick injury on the beach and was annoyed when Penn contacted the press about it.
April wanted John to represent her idea of banning the sale of bottled water to the council but he refused, even when Xavier called in the favour and threatened to make trouble for him if he didn’t fulfil his promise. Xavier and April got round him by telling Gina he’d agreed, impressing her, leaving him with no option but to support them. He organised a rally and stood up for the proposal against local businessmen. He was disappointed when the demonstration at the rubbish tip brought no opposition, since it would have given them a headline, but pleased when Xavier found a Ford Falcon at the tip which they decided to take home and do up. Xavier then went to him for advice about what to do with the people smuggling money when Charlie asked for a loan. John gave the argument to council but was annoyed when funds allocated to his own Highway to Summer Bay proposal were allotted to the idea and Xavier and April overheard him complaining about it to Alf. He asked April to find a scheme that would make him money and was impressed by the combi-bus idea she presented, using environmentally friendly buses as a taxi service, which she said had been used in Sweden. In fact it had been rejected there. When April and Xavier eventually admitted the truth, John told Gina he’d found out they were lying early on but wanted to teach them a lesson. They were both furious when they found out but John held his own in an argument with April, who accepted she deserved the treatment but told him that Xavier, who had been against the lie, didn’t. John realised he’d gone too far and tried to apologise to Xavier but they argued, after which John suffered a heart attack. He was found by Penn Graham and resuscitated.
John became closer to Gina and Xavier in the aftermath and asked Xavier’s permission to propose to Gina. To everyone’s shock, she turned him down, thinking he was only asking because he thought he was going to die. He was further shocked by the appearance of a woman claiming to be Shandi Ayres, a daughter he had had whilst living at a commune twenty years previous and hadn’t known about. He was too depressed about Gina turning him down to care when Miles told him he and Shandi were going out and the four of them ended up having dinner together, although John remained in a maudlin mood. He soon realised Shandi wasn’t interested in getting to know him and gave her some money. His bitterness over Gina’s rejection grew and he ended up breaking up with her and moving out. He stayed at the Sands and nearly got into a fight with Penn when he asked to borrow Gina as payback for saving Johns life. He was briefly questioned by Robertson when Penn’s disappeared and was the one that found Penn’s body on the beach.
Xavier encouraged him to make things up with Gina but he said the ball was in her court. However, he continued working on the car with Xavier. Xavier and April set him and Gina up to talk and, although Gina was only putting on a show for Xavier’s sake, John was convinced she still loved him. He pulled out of representing April’s idea, even after Gina had a go at him about it, but a lecture from Xavier caused him to change his mind and he made the arguments, impressing everyone even though only a small part of the proposal was implemented. He and Gina reunited as a result, seeing each other in secret, with John having to listen to Xavier’s theories that Gina had a new boyfriend. The situation got so confusing that John gatecrashed Gina’s secret meeting with Roo, thinking it was a secret meeting with him, before finally telling Xavier the truth. Gina then agreed to her and John going public again on condition there was no talk of marriage.
John and Xavier were approached by Roo and Gina with regards smuggling the money from the people smuggling operation to Hugo and Martha in the States. John agreed to help, employing Roo to work for him and giving her the money as payment. He also agreed to help Xavier by throwing a bucks party for Vittorio, as part of Aprils plan to get Bianca and Liam back together, since it gave him a chance to try and get Vittorio to invest in his businesses. He was now definitely one of the family and, after Bianca and Vittorio’s abortive wedding, Gina took over the service and asked John to marry her instead. John readily agreed, asking Xavier to be best man, and the pair were married.
John was shocked to learn the woman he’d met the previous year claiming to be Shandi was a con artist named Daria Hennessey and gave the police a statement so they could keep her in custody. He was reluctant to meet the real Shandi after his previous experience, even after Robertson pointed her out in the distance, but Gina invited her to the house. Although they got on, she declined to keep in touch, feeling it would be disloyal to the man who brought her up, but John was left pleased they’d had the meeting. John had taken over the running of the surf club while Alf was on remand accused of Penn’s murder, introducing new ideas like pokie machines and charges for car parking. Alf initially opposed the ideas, arguing with John when he attended the party to celebrate the charges against Alf being dropped. John began canvassing support among Angelo and the other club members and was annoyed when Alf had Johns car towed away to prove a point. However, when Alf saw the merit of John’s ideas he stood down and made John the new president. John accompanied Gina to the hospital when Xavier was brought in after inhaling toxic chemicals and was more trusting of him when Gina assumed he had stolen the chemicals from the school.
He objected to the presence in town of the River Boys, ordering Romeo to enforce the beach rules when they were present and then undoing Romeos attempts to reason with them by reading them the riot act. When VJ nearly drowned whilst surfing, John blamed Heath. He tried to ban them from the surf club even though they were only playing pool and when he found drugs in one of the surf club lockers he suspected they were involved. When the River Boys refused to leave the surf club when asked, he called the police and was delighted when it resulted in Darryl Braxton being arrested until Brax took a civil action against him and forced him to back down. He criticised Charlie for arresting Brax for kissing her and losing authority.
He tried to advise Xavier over his break-up with April and stopped him dealing with his frustrations by picking a fight with Heath. He joined Sid for a night out where they tried to help Liam with his song lyrics. He defended Xavier when he went for a spin in their Ford Falcon, asking Charlie to look for him but not charge him and overruling Gina when she tried to sell the car as punishment. He supported Xavier’s decision to go for a pizza delivery job at Angelo and Brax’s restaurant and was impressed to learn Gina used to be a biker chick and still had the leathers. When Xavier took an interest in philosophy, John realised it was to impress a girl.
He asked Roo to help organise the surf carnival but was shocked when Nicole, who was redesigning the surf club costumes for the event, presented him with some lycra pink outfits, brutally rejecting them and needing a lot of persuading from Roo to give her a second chance, although he was ultimately impressed with her new designs. Romeo asked him for more work but John turned him down after receiving an objection from one of the carnival sponsors, Phil Logan, whose daughter Romeo had messed around. He reassured Gina over Xavier’s new girlfriend Miranda, who he thought was good for him since she had encouraged him to join the surf club, trying to talk her out of spying on the pair, and encouraged Xavier over his event. Roo signed him up to a Twitter account to help advertise the surf carnival and Xavier hijacked his phone to make an inflammatory post about the Mangrove River team. Although John was forced to apologise, it encouraged him to make similar posts of his own and he ended up renewing his rivalry with the Mangrove River president, Gary O’Connor, who had beaten him in an event thirty-five years earlier in what John claimed were dubious circumstances, leaving Gina and Roo exasperated by his attitudes. He was delighted when Summer Bay won and crowed over Mangrove River in his victory speech but was genuinely concerned when Gary suffered a mild heart attack. When a brawl sprang up afterwards, he expressed his disgust with the Mangrove River team, telling Brax they should carry themselves in a decent manner. He tried to get Charlie to investigate it and also shared his suspicions with her when he noticed one of the River Boys on drugs at the surf club.
He listened to Gina’s talk about her old friend Vanessa Unley and encouraged her to cut Xavier a break and let him go to a music festival on his own. When Gina ended up going camping with Vanessa after the festival was called off due to heavy rain, John roped Xavier into going to rescue them only for their vehicle to get bogged down in mud. Their attempt to dig themselves free saw them both covered in mud and in the end Gina and Vanessa had to tow them out.
When Bianca told him Gina had been crying in a classroom, he accepted Colleen’s theory it was the menopause and, after trying to get her to talk to him about it, arranged for her to have dinner with someone who knew about it: Colleen. Gina’s response was to make him sleep on the couch. He was annoyed when a swimmer nearly drowned on Romeos watch while he was breaking up a fight between Casey and some of the River Boys and fired him. He asked Roo to help him look into a development in the area and tried to get back in Gina’s good books by arranging for them to go to a business conference in Hawaii. However, when Xavier was injured in a surf accident, he accepted they both had to stay and gave the tickets to Roo. He was shocked when she selected Romeo to accompany her, even more so when Indi ended up going too.
He had to break up a confrontation between Xavier and Dexter when Xavier learned Dexter had been seeing April behind his back. When Xavier got into a scooter accident that left Summer injured, John had a go at him and they ended up in an argument but John later stepped in to protect Xavier from Summers angry father Warren, referring to Xavier as his son, which improved their relationship. He quickly realised Xavier had kissed Kelly O’Mara after Gina had let her stay with them on condition their relationship was platonic but, after they admitted they were now a couple, helped convince Gina to let her stay. He also agreed to Kelly’s brother Dean staying there and was unconcerned when Xavier worried there was something dodgy about Deans attempts to get Kelly to sign over some land to him. He looked over the contract and found nothing wrong but suggested they contact the council. He then came home to find Dean fighting Xavier after trying to force Kelly to sign over the land, which he intended to sell on to a mining company, and threw him out. When Kelly showed them a photo of Dean, John saw he had the tattoo which Bianca had seen on the man who raped her. He phoned Liam and helped convince Kelly of Deans guilt. He later inadvertently gave Xavier the idea of following Kelly home and rang him up to try and convince him to abandon the idea. However, he also dissuaded Gina from going after him.
He tried to sort out the tensions between the River Boys and a rival gang but ended up being caught in the middle of a brawl between them at the surf club and suffering a fractured ankle. He was left at home recuperating while Summer Bay was hit by a storm and collapsed on his own. He was found by Sasha Bezmel and her brother Felix who called an ambulance for him and, at hospital, he was found to have a ruptured spleen. He recovered and was soon helping Gina protest the schools closure. When Xavier found out repair work had been recommended after an earthquake, he used his council contacts to confirm it had never been done and joined Miles and Gina in blackmailing the department representative.
When Gina organised a birthday dinner for him, he asked her to tell everyone he was 49, only for a cake saying he was 50 to be produced. He joined Gina in complaining about the Braxtons noisy parties. When Xavier wanted to go backpacking during his gap year, John offered to sell the V8 and split the money to fund the trip. Harvey later asked him to speak up for him with Dennis Harling, the head of the development, threatening to report that he’d been accepting gifts and free meals from Dennis if he didn’t. John asked Dennis to vouch for him only to learn Dennis actually had been trying to influence him and he was asked to resign from the council. He decided to take advantage of the situation by investing $100,000 in the development only for Harvey to announce he was standing for John’s old seat and opposing the development. He warned Alf about his lack of policies when he chose to stand against Harvey. He was worried by news Geoffrey King was coming to town and warned Charlie. He also went out of his way to stop Heath dealing drugs at the surf club, quizzing Summer and pressuring Charlie into doing something. He was aghast when Harvey made sketches of the resort public and pointed out the damage to the environment, calling it a PR disaster.
John helped Alf and Sid rescue Irene when she collapsed out at sea. He organised a meeting to discuss the development at the surf club only for Harvey to hijack it and Dennis to get everyone offside. John’s plans collapsed when Harvey was elected to council, Dennis was charged with moving Stu Henderson’s body from the development site and the project was closed down. He considered suing Harvey but was furious when he found Roo working for him. He admitted to Alf that he had invested the proceeds from the sale of his old house, $400,000, in the development without telling Gina and, when Dallas Phillips dropped a box of gelato at the bar, used it as an excuse to fire her and take her shifts. He tried to sell the V8, only for it to be stolen by Tyler Churchill, and admitted he hadn’t kept up to date with the insurance. He desperately tried to keep the development going by asking Dennis to pull out, then demanded his money back and took to driving his own buses to cut costs. When Alf told him that the council was buying the land back off Dennis, he tried to get his cut of the payout. However, he arrived at Dennis house to find him skipping town. Gina was unhappy about the decisions he’d made without consulting her while he was upset to find Gina and Alf working with Harvey on a fundraiser for Thailand.
Brax told him Tyler was responsible for the car theft and offered him the money Tyler got from selling it and another 10% in return for not telling the police. He and Gina broke up because of his keeping his arrangement with Brax from her and Alf offered him his room at the caravan park house while he was away in Thailand. John moved out without talking to Gina, leaving her a note, much to her fury. John’s idiosyncrasies soon got on the nerves of housemates Roo, Marilyn and Ruby and they tried to reunite the pair. Xavier and Sasha also made an attempt by cooking a family meal but John spoiled the mood by letting slip that he’d lied to Gina on their first date that he liked the dish shed cooked and ever since she thought it was his favourite meal. He cooked a meal for Marilyn and Roo to try and smooth things over only for them to list all the things they found irritating about him, prompting him to dump the meal and storm out. He returned to overhear Roo and Harvey mocking him. After cleaning the house to prove a point and spending the day looking after a suspended VJ, he and Gina talked things over and were reconciled.
John challenged Dexter when he set up a chess game with a $10 stake in the Diner, claiming to be a former naval chess champion, but Dexter beat him straightaway. He was annoyed when Harvey’s proposal for the development site turned out to be almost identical to the development he invested in and Harvey had campaigned against. He joined Sid in putting up a united front against Xavier and Sasha to tone down their relationship but left most of the difficult subjects to Sid. After Xavier told him he’d seen Harvey arguing with Mayor Coombes, he asked him some pointed questions about it when Gina and Roo forced them to have dinner together, prompting Harvey to threaten to take the council bus contract away from his company. John got into an argument with Jayden Post and threw him off the bus, which gave Harvey the opening he needed, but John swore revenge. After questioning Romeo about Harvey’s behaviour during the election, he announced he had evidence Harvey had rigged the vote and alerted the newspapers, which resulted in Harvey being thrown off the council and facing criminal charges. He arranged a sponsorship meeting between Romeo and Terry Kosla from the Yabbie Creek surf shop but the deal fell through when Romeo was injured.
John developed a heavy mistrust of Jett James when he stole a man’s wallet on the beach and was frustrated when Gina continually defended the boy.He tried to convince Marilyn to take things seriously when she was mugged. When Gina gave Jett a place to stay after finding out he was behind the mugging, John called the police. However, it then turned out his mother had died. John reluctantly went along with Gina’s plans to foster him but warned Jett not to take advantage of her. He invited Jett to spend time with him at the surf club only to catch him stealing a purse. However, when he later found Jett at the bus stop with his bag, he convinced him to come home with him. He continued to support Gina even after Jett pushed her, going looking for him when he briefly ran away, and defending him when Xavier said he’d been in a fight. He summoned Gina to the beach when Jett was upset about his lack of contact with his father.
When he learned Xavier was in danger of getting into trouble for using the police computer to track down Richard Bozic, Xavier’s supposed father, John tried to intercede on his behalf with Senior Sergeant Emerson but that nearly resulted in Emerson reporting Xavier. Afterwards, Xavier told John he was moving closer to the academy. John initially tried to dissuade him but eventually helped convince Gina of his decision. He also stopped Jett running away when he found out Gina had hampered his efforts to find Richard and taken his only photograph of him. When Richard turned up, John gave him a lecture about the responsibilities of taking on a fatherhood role with Jett which prompted Richard to leave town. Jett began spending time with John in the aftermath and, when Gina worried he hadn’t deal with what had happened, John advised her to deal with a problem if one arose. He was thus annoyed when Gina brought Natalie along to a family meal to try and force a counselling session.
He interrupted Gina’s meeting with Jett’s case worker, Molly Brenner, to suggest they foster Jett permanently. They decided to keep it secret until they received confirmation and John was evasive when Jett started questioning him about private conversations. However, when he learned that Jett had been acting up out of insecurity and had graffitied the surf club, they told him the truth. The plan was derailed though when Molly revealed Richard had requested a DNA test and would be applying for custody if he was Jett’s father and John had to stop Jett from running away. The results came back positive and, when Jett disappeared, John thought he’d gone to Richard only to find he was just getting Gina a birthday present. When Richard claimed custody, John and Gina tried to make Jett’s last day with them memorable before Jett announced he wanted to stay with them. John tried to stop Richard taking Jett and was threatened with arrest until Jett agreed to go with Richard. Things became strained between him and Gina in the aftermath as she refused to move on from Jett but, after talking things over with Marilyn, followed her to the city when she went to meet with DOCS and went to a restaurant with her.
He arranged a meal for the two of them but Gina didn’t turn up. He returned home to find Jett had returned to live with them but his good mood was dampened when Gina and Jett promptly went out without him. Feeling like the odd one out, he ended up missing a family meal to get drunk with Marilyn and tell her about their problems. He told Gina he’d been at a surf club meeting and, when she learned the truth, she told him she didn’t trust him. He did his best to prove his worth and encouraged Jett to enter the surf carnival, training both him and VJ. When Jett got upset about VJ always beating him, John told him to just do his best and earned Jett’s respect when he saved Romeo from drowning. However, he ended up at odds with Gina when he defended Harvey sleeping with Melissa when he thought he and Roo had split up and when Jett overheard them arguing about Marilyn he branded her a marriage wrecker. The whole family apologised to Marilyn, after which John moved to the caravan park. He was annoyed when Romeo badgered him about the surf carnival so cancelled the event, resulting in a steroid-abusing Romeo nearly punching him.
Marilyn tipped him off that Gina and Jett had breakfast in the Diner every day and he met them there but Gina left when she found out it was Marilyn’s idea. Feeling his marriage was over, he tried to kiss Marilyn. She turned him away when he tried to talk to her about it and Roo advised him against trying to start something with her so he went away on an interstate bus trip. On his return, he apologised to Marilyn before going to see Gina. Jett asked to stay with him and John suggested they go on a boat trip but cancelled to help out with the surf carnival, which he’d failed to cancel correctly leaving Alf and Harvey struggling to get it going. Liam told him that Jett was blaming himself for making things worse between John and Gina so John assured him that wasn’t the case.
Jett told him and Gina different stories then he and VJ stole some fireworks meant for the surf carnival and set them off. He disagreed with Gina’s decision to let him off with a telling off and together they sentenced him to clean up the surf club as punishment. He and Gina arranged to have lunch but Gina was caught up sorting a fight out at school and John’s bus ran out of petrol so they changed it to dinner. He learned Marilyn was trying internet dating and witnessed her disastrous date with Winston Markman. He convinced her to see her next date, Sean Dougherty, but when he approached them to tell Sean to treat her right he managed to scare him off and Marilyn berated him in front of Jett. He apologised to both Marilyn and Gina but, when Gina asked him to move back in, he told her to ask him again in a few days.
He spent an evening with Gina and Jett and, when a fuse blew while he was at the house, he took it upon himself to come round the next day to do various DIY jobs. After bursting a pipe in the kitchen, he slipped on the wet floor and hit his head. Gina stayed with him when he went to hospital to get checked over and afterwards he agreed to move back in. When Marilyn asked him to taste some cake icing, Jett recorded him making some pleasurable noises but Gina instantly realised it was innocent. When Natalie told them that Jamie Sharpe had driven Leah and VJ out of town, he warned Jett to stay away from him and sent Jamie away when he approached Jett outside the house. Liam tipped him off to the fact Jamie had been sending Jett messages purportedly from VJ. He wanted to sort Jamie out but eventually went to the police instead, only to find that they couldn’t do anything without speaking to Leah. When Jett’s phone went missing, he realised Jamie had stolen it, retrieving it from his car, but Jamie deleted all evidence he’d used it and Heath stopped him from informing the police. After stopping Adam from harassing Bianca, he angrily told Brax that everyone around his family got hurt.
He helped Brax expose Adam and Jamie by recording Adam’s confession to ordering an attempt on Heath’s life and covering up Jamie’s murder of his mother, and e-mailing the recording to the police. He also attempted to apprehend Spencer and Maddy after they did a runner from the caravan park. Jett confided in him that there was a girl he liked and John asked Romeo to have a chat with him about girls. Jett told him that Gina was expecting him to take her out for dinner, leaving him convinced he’d forgotten a special day and hastily arranging a date. Halfway through the dinner, it became clear Gina had no idea why they were there either and Jett had set them up so he could be alone with Indi, the girl he liked. After Indi had told him she just wanted to be friends, John was left to console him over his first heartache. He gave Jett advice before an underage dance and pointed him in the direction of Nina Bailey, who had been shyly eyeing him up.
He gave Casey a job at the surf club but reluctantly let him go when a member complained. Gina told him John fancied a girl in his class, Tilda Hogan, and he began practising giving Jett a speech only to witness Tilda punching Jett. He told Gina Jett was being bullied but Jett refused to talk to them about it, eventually putting Tilda in her place with help from Spencer and Maddy. John tried to fix the surf club fuse box when Romeo blew a fuse prior to the gym’s reopening only to leave the entire building without power. He tried to dissuade Indi from calling the police on Casey when he went missing with the company vehicle.
He and Gina set about trying to adopt Jett and discussed the matter with Molly. When Richard arrived and a discussion between the five of them resulted in Jett walking out, John suggested Jett and Richard talk alone. After Richard agreed to the adoption, John wished him well. The three of them signed the adoption papers but it still needed to go through court. DoCS insisted on John having a medical before it was approved and Alf convinced him to go through with it. He told Jett and Gina that it was fine when in fact, although the news was generally positive, there was cardiac damage. However, DoCS agreed to rubber stamp the adoption. The family set off to see the adoption through court only for Gina to die of an aneurysm on the way.
John admitted to Marilyn that he wanted to look after Jett the way Gina would want but wasn’t sure if he was up to it. After a pep-tall from Alf, he told Jett he would try to adopt on his own. He accepted Bianca taking over Gina’s job but had to comfort Jett when he got upset about her clearing out Gina’s office. He tried to do everything the same as Gina did but after a talk from Harvey and Jett saying it was just making him miss her more, he decided he and Jett should go back to living how they did when he and Gina split up. He then received a letter saying Gina’s death meant the adoption was void and worried about losing Jett but couldn’t bring himself to tell him what was going on. He met with Molly and insisted he wasn’t just going ahead with things out of duty to Gina. He explained the difficulties to Jett but Jett felt that John was saying the adoption was too much trouble and ran off. John eventually tracked him down and found him sleeping in Gina’s old office. He stayed there with him overnight and ultimately they both accepted they were happy as things were and didn’t need a piece of paper to prove they were father and son. When Maddy asked him to help with her lifesaver training, the experience convinced him to return to the surf club.
He worried when Jett didn’t turn up at school only to find he’d actually played truant to spend time with Nina and was pleased Jett was honest with him about it. He arranged with Brax, who had been giving him and Jett free meals at Angelo’s since Gina’s death, for the couple to have a special meal there and agreed to stay on and keep an eye on the date, inviting Marilyn to join him. He learned Jett had broken up with Nina and Marilyn told him it was because he felt guilty about Gina but Jett refused to talk to him about it, although Indi managed to convince him to change his mind. He refused to let the police talk to Jett when he witnessed Casey having stolen money planted on him, even when Kyle reminded him Jett could be forced to testify, but didn’t feel comfortable taking free meals from the Braxtons anymore after his failure to help them.
John discovered that Marilyn had been coming up with excuses to avoid him, and was annoyed when she suggested he might develop feelings for her again, saying it was too soon after Gina. He fell out with her for a while until Jett engineered a reconciliation by convincing him Marilyn had had an accident. He got his own back by convincing Jett that he’d been running around town looking for her. He got into a rivalry with Harvey that resulted in a session at the gym where John put his back out. He was worried when Jett refused to see him, especially when Jett accused him of breaking his promise to look after himself and said all promises between them were void. He discharged himself from hospital when Jett went missing but only got as far as the caravan park. Jett eventually showed up and lectured John about his parenting but also said he didn’t want him to change. Being looked after by Marilyn and Jett, he exaggerated the injury but they got revenge by giving him a foul drink and telling him Harvey was running the surf club better than him. He admitted the truth and also that he’d liked having Marilyn around. He helped rally the protesters when the Department threatened to demote Bianca. He tried to help Jett sort out the feud between VJ and Nina but continually interpreted the situation wrongly. Marilyn offered to help but then decided to move back home.
John was perplexed when Marilyn started avoiding him, tracking her down to the wharf where she was fishing and accidentally being knocked in the water by her. When Marilyn lied about having an ear infection to avoid him, he went round to look after her and, when she didn’t recover, he called Sid only to discover the lie. He was annoyed when he found out Marilyn thought he was after more than friendship, and told her he wasn’t ready to move on from Gina. He then found himself in financial difficulty and was unable to pay for Jett to go on a school trip, having to give up his volunteer work. He was humiliated when Marilyn offered him money. She got him a job at the Diner but he broke the coffee machine and got her to buy takeaway coffee instead of owning up, resulting in Irene sacking him. He sold one of Jett’s video games behind his back to raise money, inadvertently causing trouble between him and Nina. He helped Casey when he collapsed from alcohol poisoning. He considered leaving town to find work but Marilyn solved the issue by helping him set up a bus tour company around town, with her as guide and him as driver. He convinced Jett to act as a passenger on a test run but the minibus broke down and John went to get help. His absence allowed Jett and Marilyn to talk things over and they picked John up after the bus restarted.
When Jett skipped school with Pippa, John quickly recognised he’d been dragged into it and wasn’t angry. He accidentally sprung Indi and Chris when they tried to use the gym for privacy. By now, John was beginning to develop feelings for Marilyn and was thrown when Winston Markman arrived in town and made his own feelings for Marilyn clear. When he and Jett saw Winston wining and dining Marilyn on the pier, he let Jett drag him into intruding on the date. Afterwards, Winston told him to back off but John refused and they both agreed they wouldn’t play fair. John sent Marilyn flowers as an apology but when Winston tried to outdo him, Jett stole John’s credit card and sent Marilyn some earrings in his name, angering John. He tried to put an end to the competition but Winston turned up at Sally and Pippa’s farewell party with some expensive champagne, prompting an argument between the two men that saw Marilyn walk away from them both. Jett told him that Marilyn was arranging for Winston to go away on holiday and he went to wish Winston well, only to misunderstand one of his comments about Harvey accompanying him and think Marilyn was going with him until she put him straight. They were worried when Nate Cooper attended their first tour and was unimpressed, thinking he was a journalist. John tried to pay him off until Roo announced the journalist had missed the trip. It wasn’t until Dexter invited them along to a welcome party for the new doctor that they learned who Nate really was.
He advised Marilyn when she found out Maddy was hiding Josh in her room, suggesting Josh’s parents would be worried. When Jett gossiped about Brax being arrested, John took him round to the house to apologise only to walk in on Kyle with Robyn Sullivan. Marilyn insisted he stay at the Diner when she had a premonition of something bad happening and saved him from choking. Jett tried to get him to declare his feelings to Marilyn but he said he wasn’t ready to move on from Gina. He tried to console Jett when Nina broke up with him and he and Marilyn admitted their feelings. They arranged to have lunch together but had to postpone when Harvey and Winston went missing at sea, and John tried to use his contacts in the navy to get news. He had to admit his financial situation to Jett when he wanted to go to the same private school as Nina. When he learned that Nina had run away and Jett was hiding her at the house, he contacted her parents and arranged to take her back to boarding school but she and Jett ran away. He was scared of DoCS finding out and taking Jett away from him. They eventually returned but John was annoyed Jett had broken his promise not to run away again.
Despite wanting to keep Jett on a tight leash, he accompanied Marilyn to April and Dexter’s wedding. Jett worried that he and Marilyn weren’t spending time together so he and Alf arranged a romantic lunch for the pair. When their relationship went public, he was unsure how to react but ended up accompanying Marilyn to Harvey’s memorial. He tried to stop Jett finding out about the music festival Kyle and Tamara were putting on, but Tamara pointed out how futile it was, so Marilyn suggested he organise a shuttle bus to take people to the festival in order to keep an eye on him. At the end of the day, he danced with Marilyn in the festival car park.
He closed the surf club as a mark of respect after the explosion at the hospital and was present when Leah exposed Jade Montgomery as the one responsible. He threw Andy out of the surf club when he caught him betting on a pool game with Jett, but apologised when he discovered it was Jett’s idea. When Sasha accidentally kissed Chris, John told Spencer a kiss didn’t mean anything, but was annoyed when Marilyn kissed Nate to prove him wrong. He thought his luck was in when Marilyn invited him round for dinner but she was only trying to cheer up Roo. John took Jett to task when he held a party at Irene’s place while she was away, setting him chores to do as punishment. When Marilyn did some of them for him, John sent him to move a pile of mulch at the caravan park. He then learned Jett had tried to blackmail Marilyn into doing the chores after finding out she’d stolen from Alf when she was younger. He gave Harvey a place to stay when his and Roo’s marriage collapsed and tried to stay out of it but ended up comforting Roo.
Chris asked for his help in finding a man for Irene. He was puzzled when Marilyn started avoiding him until he discovered she thought the secrecy was because he was planning to propose. He found a date for Irene but the man cancelled at the last minute and he had to help rescue the evening by joining Alf, Marilyn, Roo and Chris in treating Irene to a friendly dinner. He claimed to have broken up a fight between Andy and Brax but when Marilyn confronted Andy about it he was forced to admit that, while he had been there, they had separated without his intervention. When Jett began planning a memorial for Gina, Alf warned John that Marilyn was feeling left out and he personally escorted her to the fundraising concert. Afterwards, he asked her to move in with him and Jett but the offer caused her to run off. After talking things over with Alf, he settled for giving her a key to the house and pretended not to mind when she started rearranging things. He was reluctant to be tested as a donor when Leah looked like she might need a liver transplant, afraid of what would happen to Jett if anything went wrong, and also tried to dissuade Marilyn but eventually accepted it was her choice. He stayed the night with her while Alf was on an all-night fishing trip but Marilyn was embarrassed when Alf returned home early. Even though Alf didn’t mind, John agreed he and Marilyn should only stay overnight at his from now on.
John was run off his feet at the juice bar for a time when the Diner closed down after Chris served poisoned risotto. Marilyn wanted him to warn Oscar about his crush on Maddy but John misunderstood and instead gave him tips on how to win Maddy. He attended the launch of the writing contest commemorating Gina and was disappointed when Marilyn didn’t appear, until he found out she’d had a bench dedicated to Gina on the headland. He helped Alf organise search parties for Tamara, Darcy and Harley. Marilyn helped him remember that Jett’s birthday was coming up and he learned Jett had never celebrated his birthday. He organised to buy Jett a boat but was thrown when Marilyn received flowers from someone called Brian, until it turned out Brian didn’t exist and Marilyn had thought that his secrecy over the boat was because he had another woman. The boat turned out to need a lot of work doing on it. John was thrown by the discovery that Jett was going on school camp, since it would be the first time they would be apart since Gina died. He was happy when Jett announced he didn’t want to go, until Marilyn revealed Jett was worried they had money troubles and John gave him his blessing. Spending time alone with Marilyn, John asked her if she wanted him to remove his wedding ring. He did so but was distressed when he then lost it and ushered Marilyn out of the house. He eventually admitted the truth to Marilyn and they made a thorough search. John eventually concluded he could manage without the ring, at which point they found it by Gina’s bench. John put it away safely, intending to give it to Jett one day.
He and Marilyn had trouble finding anything to talk about other than Jett and resorted to texting him multiple times until he told them to stop. When it turned out Jett had done $500 worth of damage at camp, John grounded him and was annoyed when Marilyn let him go to the skate park. He told Marilyn she needed to learn to discipline Jett so Marilyn decreed Jett had to pay for the damages, although John decided to have a good cop/bad cop arrangement in future. He got Jett to work at the gelato bar for free in order to pay off his debt but Jett ended up quitting. John tried to withhold his payment from the last shift but Marilyn stepped in and decided John should pay Jett and Jett should pay him back in instalments.
He arranged to take Marilyn away to a hotel and referred to her as his wife when he made the booking. When Marilyn challenged it, he explained he felt embarrassed referring to her as his girlfriend at his age. John was shocked when Marilyn proposed to him, so much so that he turned her down, much to Jett’s distress. He later told Marilyn he’d always dreamed he’d propose to her; he did so and she accepted but in the meantime Jett had taken his boat out without it being waterproofed. He nearly drowned before Brax, Alf and John rescued him. John was furious with Jett and tried to get Alf to give him chores as punishment but Alf felt he’d learned his lesson. John forgave Jett after accepting he’d been upset by the idea of him and Marilyn splitting up.
John was worried about Marilyn’s mood and Chris suggested she wanted a ring. John managed to score a hit by buying Marilyn a large ring, which he hid in the garden and got her to find with a metal detector, but what was really concerning her was moving into his and Gina’s house. He pretended he had committee meetings to get out of discussing wedding arrangements before admitting he didn’t have a clue. The pair debated where to live after they got married and, for a trial, Marilyn spent a few days living with John and Jett and soon began making plans to redecorate, then John and Jett moved in at the caravan park house, where even John’s eccentric charades wasn’t enough to put Alf off. However, when Roo returned from the States unexpectedly the house became overcrowded and Jett quickly went to stay with Leah and VJ. John told Marilyn the trial wasn’t working and suggested they buy somewhere new. However, after a day trawling through real estate adverts and trying to find somewhere to rent, Marilyn suggested they have another go at living at his place.
John and Marilyn witnessed Josh kissing Evelyn and John warned him not to hurt Maddy. They and Jett moved back into the house when Roo was in hospital and helped look for information about where she had gone on holiday. John helped Phoebe house hunt by putting her in touch with a real estate agent he knew. When Roo returned home, he prepared to move back into his house but Marilyn refused to go with him and Jett. Alf advised him to let Marilyn have her own way but when he spoke to her she ended up walking away from him. However, when she sent a pizza to the family, John realised she still cared and agreed she wait until after the wedding before moving in; Jett convinced them to set a date.
John and Marilyn planned a small wedding but when Roo took over as wedding planner he found himself driven to distraction and spent his time hiding, suggesting he and Marilyn use the code word “coconut” to get out of discussions. He was horrified when Marilyn asked Roo to be bridesmaid and, although he happily asked Jett to be best man, he resisted attempts to make him choose a groomsman, despite Chris offering his services. He was reluctant to invite anyone to the wedding, despite Marilyn inviting Nina, and explained the one person he wanted there wouldn’t be there. He was talking about Xavier and a phone conversation confirmed he didn’t feel able to come. Marilyn admitted she’d invited Shandi, thinking it was her John was talking about, and he admitted he’d never told Jett he had a daughter and was worried he’d think badly of him for ignoring her. He was reunited with Shandi and they began to get on but she was angry when he told her about Jett and realised that he’d been there for someone else but not her. He then filled Jett in, only for Jett to worry John wouldn’t want him anymore. John attempted to reassure him with breakfast and gardening before Marilyn got them to talk to each other.
Both Marilyn and Shandi wanted a family dinner but John was reluctant and admitted to Marilyn he was scared of Jett and Shandi comparing notes. He eventually agreed to an afternoon tea which went well for everyone except Marilyn and he was left trying to convince Shandi of her virtues. He tried to build bridges by getting Marilyn to give Shandi a tarot reading but Shandi made fun of it. He argued with Shandi but worried when she disappeared and was relieved when she returned. However, he was stunned when Marilyn then announced she was going to take a step back from their engagement so as not to ruin his relationship with Shandi. When Casey died, they were reunited when they teamed up to tell Jett. When Roo told him the deposit for the wedding venue was due, John wondered if they should postpone the wedding but Jett talked him out of it. Instead they made plans to elope. However when Marilyn accidentally invited Roo, John asked Jett and Shandi while Marilyn wanted to invite Alf. When Irene, Leah and VJ ended up inviting themselves as well, they decided to forget the idea and have a small ceremony instead.
He was driven to distraction by Roo trying to reorganise the wedding and she overheard him criticising her to Marilyn. Although he tried not to have a bucks party, Alf, Jett, Spencer and Chris surprised him with an impromptu party at home. However, having injured his back trying to stop Marilyn seeing him before the wedding, he put it out while playing on the Wii and ended up in hospital. Marilyn visited him and thought they should call the wedding off. However, John managed to get back on his feet in time to attend the wedding, where he and Marilyn lit candles to those who couldn’t be there and Jett asked them to adopt him. John made arrangements and at the same time tried to get Marilyn to change her name. However, when he realised staying as Chambers meant a lot to Marilyn he told her he didn’t want to change anything about her.
Looking to raise money for a holiday, John hit upon the idea of making a meditation CD by recording the sound of the sea. He convinced Irene to sell them at the Diner and Jett to sell them at school but his inept handling of the computer software resulted in the CD including him commenting that only chumps bought them. He and Marilyn had to run around town to retrieve them. He helped organise a search party when VJ, Brax and Nate went missing. When memories of Gina caused Jett to be reluctant to go to the city to sign the adoption papers, John arranged for it to be done at home. He decided to organise a family business with Jett and settled on a movie night; he was pleased when Jett called him Dad for the first time. He arranged to show the film The Deeper Depth at the surf club but Denny questioned if he’d got permission and he ended up in a rivalry with Phoebe, who was having an open mic night upstairs at the same time. The event went ahead but Alf reminded John he had said he was donating the money to the surf club.
When Marilyn told John his moneymaking ideas were rubbish, he was upset and felt patronised when she then prepared a dinner to talk over his ideas. Marilyn asked him to fix the dishwasher but he got frustrated and stormed off when he couldn’t. He unsuccessfully tried to give Jett advice about HSC subjects and tried to help him with his Maths but had difficulty understanding it. He tried learning but it was suggested he hire a tutor instead. John hired Oscar and agreed to pay him whatever he wanted but was angry when Jett didn’t turn up for the session. Marilyn realised Jett was worried John couldn’t afford it and John reassured him. When Jett got irritated by Marilyn hanging around, John pointed out that he was starting to see her as a mother figure. They received Jett’s new birth certificate listing them as parents and took him out to celebrate but John put off telling him when the birth certificate showed Jett was a year older than he had believed. He told him the next day and Jett accepted the news without much worry. He was pleased with Jett’s end of year marks and bemused when Marilyn invited Zac over to discuss his comments, although he reassured her it was good she cared. He arranged a bus to take Kyle and several other residents to the city for Phoebe’s single launch and reassured Nate after he contributed to the bus crashing.
When Jett crashed a surf club buggie into a tent at the caravan park, John took him through several levels of punishment, getting him to do jobs and pay for the damage and arranging for him to get a telling off from new police officer Katarina Chapman, before Jett admitted he had just been trying to cheer up VJ while Leah was in a coma. When he found out Brax had been accused of murder, John decided to move house. He overheard Brax talking about skipping bail so temporarily moved everyone to the caravan park house. He saw Ryan Kelly hanging out in the Braxtons’ backyard and came to Phoebe’s rescue when he menaced her in the house, but the experience left him more convinced than ever that they needed to move and he decided to sell the house privately.
Chris approached him about joining the lifesavers and John put him through a day’s worth of chores before telling him anyone could join. When he found out that Josh had graffited a mural on the side of the surf club, he tried to wash it up only for Josh, Evelyn and Jett to lead a protest to save it. He was disappointed when Marilyn sided with the protestors, undermining his attempts to reason with them, and was unable to get Kat involved. Alf eventually had the mural cleaned up but Marilyn told John that he didn’t understand romance. Worried about her attitude, he decided to make a romantic gesture, first enlisting Josh’s help to try and make a sculpture, then trying to write poetry. However, his priorities changed when he learned an offer had been made on the house. Marilyn told him that the house was full of happy memories and that was true romance, so John took down the For Sale sign.
He and Zac began giving Jett and VJ boxing lessons but refused to let them have a bout, knowing Marilyn wouldn’t like it. They decided to put the boys through a gruelling training regime to put them off. However, it failed to deter them and the boys caught on to the deception. John reluctantly agreed to let Jett fight but Zac refused to let VJ take part when he realised Leah wouldn’t have allowed it and Jett soon abandoned the idea. John took part in the town’s colour run, despite having trouble with the concept of a race without a winner. When he was unable to attend his ship’s reunion for Anzac Day, he began considering setting up a war memorial in Summer Bay and got onto the council. With Alf, he acted as chaperone for the teens’ trip to the war memorial in Canberra and led them in spending the night in a makeshift trench. He attended the Anzac Day commemoration that Jett organised. When Alf was hospitalised with chest pains, John looked forward to bachelorhood with Marilyn and Jett in the city with him, but found himself missing them so was not pleased when Chris started hanging around the surf club and rejected one of Marilyn’s calls, although after Irene convinced him that Chris was just missing Spencer he went round and watched a movie with him.
When Jett announced he wanted to join the military, John was worried it was just another passing fancy and Marilyn outright rejected the idea. John tried to organise a mediation but it ended in an argument. Jett eventually changed his mind once Marilyn opened up to him about her fear of losing him. John found Ricky in labour and got her to hospital despite having a puncture but was happy to hand her over to Denny. When Chris asked to train for his bronze medallion, John bet Jett that he wouldn’t last the day and put him through a gruelling schedule. This resulted in Chris injuring his shoulder and John used his winnings to buy him lunch. John set about organising the surf carnival, having to contend with a grumpy Alf. When the news of Brax’s assumed death came through, John patched up Andy’s hand after he punched a sign in frustration.
He found a letter in Jett’s bag saying he had been accepted on a cadet scholarship at boarding school, which Jett had applied to before agreeing to give up the idea. John and Marilyn told him to accept the place but had a hard time dealing with the fact that he would be gone in two weeks. Marilyn decided they should move with him and they announced their departure at Leah and Zac’s engagement party but Jett convinced them to stay. They then took Jett to a surprise farewell party at the Diner.
John suggested to Marilyn that they try for a baby after looking after Casey but Marilyn suggested they foster instead. He tried to stop Irene and Marilyn interrogating Roo’s new boyfriend James Edmunds and hurt Chris’ feelings when he referred to him as the town clown after he and Hannah posed as a couple, prompting Irene and Marilyn to force him to apologise. He and Marilyn joined Irene and new principal Greg Snelgrove for a disastrous dinner where Greg bored everyone. Marilyn convinced him to apply to Greg to get the school bus run back. However, Greg asked him a load of detailed questions then turned down the application on the grounds he blamed John for ruining his date with Irene, resulting in them getting into a fight just as Mary Keen, the foster assessor from DoCS, made her first visit. Greg helped fix things for them and John ended up with a hangover after taking him out for a thank you drink. When Marilyn mentioned that Teddy, a boy she used to nanny who was now a musician, was coming to visit, John had nightmares of a penniless musician staying in their spare room, until it turned out to be the famous Ed Sheeran.
He and Marilyn had their second meeting with Mary, which went well until she found out about Marilyn kidnapping George. John met with Mary’s manager Paula Davies behind Marilyn’s back and made an impassioned defence of her but then learned she was in a coma after being electrocuted in an accident at the Diner, shortly before he got a phone call saying they had been accepted as foster parents. When she came round, she failed to recognise John, having lost nearly twenty years of memory. John tried to jog her memory with their wedding photo, the bag Jett bought her and a recording of them arguing but she just got distressed. James warned that if she didn’t get memories back in two weeks she might never remember. John offered to just be a friend to her but found himself ignored when Irene turned up. When Marilyn was discharged, she chose to go and stay with Irene but then told John she remembered him. It was quickly revealed she was lying but John resolved to make her fall in love with him again and asked that they spend time together. John was disappointed when she began to remember everything but him, but when he told her about their wedding the memories came back.
John was delighted when Marilyn suggested renewing their vows but shocked when she told him she wanted to go travelling, feeling his days of wandering were over. They ended up making barbed comments to each other during a dinner party with Alf, Zac and Leah until Marilyn agreed to shelve the plan. However, as everyone gathered for the ceremony, Marilyn ran away, saying she couldn’t go through with it. When she admitted she still wanted to go travelling, John bought her a ticket on a round the world cruise, saying he’d see her in two months, and they went ahead with the ceremony. He was prevented from getting lonely by the return of Jett, who introduced him to his new girlfriend, Skye Peters. John let her stay with them for a bit but suspected she and Jett were keeping a secret and worried Skye was pregnant: In fact, she had run away from her mother, who had been mistreating her after blaming her for her sister’s death in a car crash. He convinced Skye that they would accompany her home and support her, and, on arriving back in her home town, assured her they believed her after a local boy branded her a liar. He and Jett accompanied Skye when she met her mother Carol, who apologised for her behaviour, and left the pair, promising to stay in touch.
He helped organise the search for Oscar when he went missing during a storm and attended Zac and Leah’s wedding, receiving a mysterious silent phone call during the reception. A few days later, he returned home to find Skye at the house and learned she was behind the phone calls: Her mother had locked her in her room and she had had to break a window to get out. John helped her take out an AVO against her mother then gave her a place to stay, especially after Carol was placed in psychiatric care. He tried to cheer Chris up following his break-up from Hannah and asked Oscar to speak to Skye about Carol. He assured Skye she still had a home despite breaking up with Jett, but soon after had to go and see Marilyn when she had a hiking accident, arranging for Skye to stay with Irene.
He returned once Marilyn was recovered to walk in on Nate and Ricky, who had taken it upon themselves to housesit for him. He turned up late to the hospital fundraiser to find an explosion had happened and helped out in the aftermath. He tried to cheer up Chris after Hannah died from her injuries. He helped Olivia and Hunter look for Irene and found her car abandoned. He convinced Chris to do a lifesaving shift under supervision to get him out of the house, then took him to visit Hannah’s grave. He then surprised him at the house with board games but was called away to help search for Maddy when she disappeared from the hospital. He chided Skye for spreading the news that Andy had caused the explosion and ordered her to stay away from Tank. Although he assumed she was complying, in fact she was continuing to see Tank in secret. When he realised he confiscated her phone and even asked Greg to talk to Tank, prompting her to tell him he was acting like her mother. When Chris saw Skye and Tank together, it prompted a furious row between John and Skye, who later revealed she and Tank had slept together. John then came home to find a note from Skye saying she’d run off with Tank. He bombarded DoCS with requests for information and learned Skye had notified them of her new address but asked them not to tell him. Skye later came round to collect her things and say goodbye, saying that she had to look after herself, and left behind a photo of the two of them that he tried to give her.
He gave VJ extra shifts when he needed to support Billie and the baby and soon after welcomed Marilyn back. He invited Irene, Leah, Roo and Zac over for a welcome home lunch but it came to an abrupt halt when Marilyn revealed she had put them back on the fostering register; John explained that after Skye he didn’t want to foster again. Although Marilyn accepted his decision and John set about turning the bedroom they’d left free for another child into a yoga room, after a chat with Chris and a lecture from Leah about how he was depriving both Marilyn and children who needed help, he changed his mind.
He and Marilyn took in Jordan Walsh and, trying to avoid a repeat of the situation with Skye, John made an awkward attempt to act cool around him, failing to question him properly when he went out to a party, which resulted in him getting into a fight with Hunter. Things became more serious when Jordan stayed out all night without telling them and turned out to have a knife in his room. John and Marilyn convinced him that he didn’t need it to protect himself with them and John gave him a job at the juice bar. They planned to take Jordan away for his birthday only for his father Aaron to turn up. Jordan chose to stay with the Palmers but the trio returned home to find the house ransacked, which Jordan suspected was Aaron’s work. John and Marilyn agreed to drop it when Aaron returned the items and Jordan went back to live with him.
Despite severe misgivings, he was roped into pretending to introduce Zac to Leah in order for them to role play a new first meeting. However, he was worried that Marilyn expected him to do something romantic as well so asked Chris for advice. Chris suggested writing a letter to her, supposedly from a secret admirer, that she’d know was from him, and John asked Chris to write it. He was slightly bemused when this resulted in Marilyn thinking the letters were from Chris until they cleared it up. Hope Morrison accused him of damaging her phone and demanded $300 but he refused to pay without a quote. He was left overworked after Chris suddenly left so Marilyn tried to cheer him up with breakfast on a boat; however, he fell while climbing aboard and suffered a head injury. Although he insisted he was fine, he collapsed in the Diner with a subdural haematoma and was soon looking up worst case scenarios on his smartphone. Although he was discharged, he showed signs of being forgetful.
Marilyn kept him in the Diner and refused to let him do anything because she was worried about a relapse, until Nate pointed out this was just making him bored and irritable. She tried to talk him out of entering a charity volleyball tournament but he insisted he was fit and, partnered with Phoebe, went on to win the competition. When Marilyn suspected Zac was having an affair after seeing him with a woman, John attempted to put the matter to rest by inviting him over and asking him straight out in front of Leah, which resulted in her finding out the woman was Zac’s editor. He then innocently caused trouble between Billie and VJ by telling Billie to argue about all wedding plans. He advised Hunter over taking a gap year and agreed to give him a junior lifeguard job if he passed his bronze medallion. However, his confusion caused him to give Hunter the wrong date for his assessment and not provide him with most of the information he needed. He was then inattentive during the assessment and failed him. Afterwards, they argued and Hunter broke his radio. John went to the caravan park wanting him to pay for the damage and they got into another argument. Shortly after, he found a pile of Hunter’s things on fire and insisted on calling the police. However, he then realised he had accidentally started the fire himself by flinging aside a table with a candle on it.
John got into constant arguments with Alf while doing the surf club inventory, then collapsed. He was taken to hospital where Tori dismissed it as a faint, even though he was showing signs of headaches and distracted behaviour immediately after being discharged. He tried to throw himself back into work at the surf club but Alf and Marilyn convinced him to slow down. He clashed with Matt when Justin’s personal problems meant his car wasn’t fixed when promised and questioned Kat about the fires that were being lit around town. During the Summer Grooves festival, John sneaked away and started a fire nearby, indicating he was also responsible for the fires at the caravan park, garage and surf club.
Despite this, John guided Zac, Hunter, Matt, Phoebe and Evelyn to the relative safety of a tin shack but was unable to find Marilyn, who remained missing. He went looking for her with Alf and was horrified when Marilyn was found to have been badly burned in the fire, insisting the person responsible needed to be found.. He tried to downplay the seriousness of her injuries to her and ended up being sent away. However, he soon returned to her side when the blood supply to her hand was lost. He brought her paraphernalia to the hospital to make her feel comfortable and took her home when she started to recover but found the task of changing her dressings difficult. Marilyn heard him discussing the difficulties with Alf but he talked her out of going back to hospital.
He talked Marilyn out of going to see VJ and Leah after Billie died. However, he became increasingly distracted, forgetting about Marilyn’s rehab. He tried to light a fire near the bait shop, leaving behind fingerprint evidence connecting him to the fires, and randomly lost his temper with Marilyn and Raffy, then collapsed from a brain tumour, which had been causing him black-outs, meaning he didn’t know he was behind the fires. He was therefore shocked to be confronted by Ash blaming him for Billie’s death, which had been hastened by smoke inhalation. He nearly refused surgery, thinking he deserved to suffer, but Marilyn and Alf talked him into it. The tumour was removed and he survived an allergic reaction but was charged with arson, as well as causing Billie’s death.
He considered not fighting the charges and learned the surf club committee wanted rid of him. When he returned home, he had a brick thrown through the window and was harangued by locals, considering leaving Marilyn to protect her. VJ stopped him by telling him he knew he was a good man and forgave him. Alf arranged for him to return to the surf club on light duties. Ash attacked him at the news but later came round and accepted John wasn’t himself. However, John told Marilyn he needed to leave town for a fresh start and Marilyn agreed. Alf had a go at him however, accusing him of taking Marilyn away from everything she loved, so he backed down. When he went to the caravan park, he was shocked to find it full of people who had lost their homes in the bushfire. He went back and gave them his number, telling them to call him if they needed anything, and cooked a dinner for them. However, his good mood evaporated when he learned his trial was in two weeks.
When his legal aid lawyer showed no interest in whether his story was true or not, he was convinced to hire Morag. She told him that the prosecution were offering a reduced sentence of two years if he pleaded guilty and he initially decided to take the deal but was later convinced to fight the charges. Morag suggested he ask VJ to be a character witness but VJ refused. He did end up speaking for him but John was accused of fitting the identity of a serial arsonist and provoked into losing his temper on the stand. He was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years. He attracted an enemy in Deacon Marx, whose daughter had died in a fire, and who slapped Marilyn on the bottom when she visited, provoking John to grab him in anger. When Deacon confronted him again, John pushed him and was beaten up by Deacon’s thugs but talked Deacon down when he tried to kill him. He was released after appealing the sentence which was reduced to community service.
Marilyn distanced herself from him on his return and he tried to repair things by giving her back her wedding rings, which he had had repaired after the damage done in the fire. Marilyn then told him she didn’t love him any more, worried the tumour had merely brought something out of him that was already there. After spending a night at the surf club, he moved into the beach house where he drove Irene mad doing odd jobs. He tried to prove himself to Marilyn by organising a black tie ball to raise funds but she was unimpressed. VJ suggested he organise something anonymously to raise funds for the burns unit and he persuaded Nate to front it. Marilyn found out the truth and helped him but only seven people turned up and John wrecked his progress with Marilyn by focusing on the personal insult rather than the money raised.
Jett returned and was upset about Marilyn’s decision but John admitted that he was beginning to doubt why he started the fires himself so Jett convinced him to see a therapist. However, he left after discovering the therapist, Bailey Voss, had only been qualified a year. Marilyn convinced him to go back and he realised he couldn’t remember anything before the age of twelve, not even his father, who died when he was ten. He and Jett went to his old childhood home where they met the new owner, Bede Hadden, and learned that John’s father George had died in a fire, not of a heart attack as he’d always been told. John had flashbacks of himself as a child with a billy can and suspected he had started the fire but Marilyn and Jett were less than convinced. He failed to remember anything during sessions with Bailey so Jett suggested he try hypnotherapy.
Since there was a waiting list, Marilyn offered to help and he had flashbacks of playing with a lighter as a child. He was convinced to have another session with her but could remember nothing of what he said during it and Marilyn would only tell him that he didn’t kill his father. They eventually told him the whole story: his father had committed suicide and his mother had convinced him to set fire to the barn so they wouldn’t have to live with the shame, telling him to forget about it. He became somewhat withdrawn after the revelation and turned Marilyn down when she invited him to move back in, worried he had a genetic predisposition to depression and would do the same as his father. However, after a talking to from Alf, he agreed to move back in. However, he admitted to Marilyn that he felt angry about what his parents had did.
Bede then turned up with John’s childhood trunk, which contained George’s suicide note. Although he initially hid it, he got Marilyn to read it to him and learned George had motor neuron disease. After this revelation and understanding why his father had done what he did, he finally remembered the day he died. Marilyn put up a framed photo of John as a child with his father, taken from an old newspaper report, and John added the note to the back of it. He then took the Astonis on a bus trip but they discovered his history on finding an old newspaper and brought an abrupt end to the tour, although he assured Marilyn that it didn’t matter since their friends knew the truth.
He and Marilyn took Raffy in during Brody’s drug recovery but quickly had troubles when she stayed out late without telling them. More by luck than judgement, he managed to help her out with her history assignment. He put Hunter to work at the surf club as penance for having caused Marilyn’s amnesia two years earlier and chatted to his grandmother Peggy but quickly made himself scarce when it was pointed out that she was flirting with him. He suggested to Marilyn that they try fostering again and they received references from Roo and Raffy. However, they were rejected because of his criminal record so he suggested they try for a baby of their own. Marilyn refused to discuss it and was annoyed to find him babysitting Luc before giving him a firm no.
He felt proud when he learned Raffy was advanced for her age. He tried to encourage her to move up a grade at Roo’s suggestion but she was against the idea and they were left giving an awkward explanation to Justin when she ran away. Raffy did eventually agree and John paid VJ and Hunter to take her out for lunch on her first day. He was jealous of Marilyn’s fondness of Robbo but went along with her attempt to find him a job, although testing his driving skills only managed to get him arrested for driving without a license. He inadvertently let Olivia know about a newspaper article about her disastrous launch party.
Still jealous of Marilyn’s interest in Robbo, he manipulated him into resigning from the caravan park only to find Marilyn had hired him as a handyman. Marilyn pointed out Robbo was similar to how he once was so John agreed to give him a go and gave him the benefit of his experience of memory loss. When Raffy accidentally smashed Roo’s car window, he was convinced she’d done it on purpose. Not long after, Raffy moved back home and John amused himself by intruding on Ash and Tori’s first date. When Brody started work at the Diner, John bet Irene $50 that he would start trying to make the menu more high class. Brody ended up paying John the money so he’d be allowed to change the menu. He helped Mason prepare for his last date with Beth.
Marilyn told him she’d seen Robbo looking angry so John went to see him and learned he’d started to remember things, advising him to tell Kat. He partnered Maggie in the glow day obstacle course and gave Roo a wrong steer by convincing her Ryder was on drugs. He tried to stop Ryder when he went joyriding in Alf’s car but failed to stop him running over Roo. He was asked by the gym owners to find a new manager and ended up giving the job jointly to Mason and Willow. He and Marilyn took in Raffy again while Robbo was on the loose after briefly kidnapping Tori. He was present for Kat’s memorial.