It’s Official: John Constantine Won’t Smoke in New NBC Series

Published 4 months ago by

Matt Ryan as Constantine Its Official: John Constantine Wont Smoke in New NBC Series

Well, this isn’t good.

We’ve known for some time that a cigarette-smoking John Constantine might not be featured in the upcoming Constantine TV show, as producer David S. Goyer previously said it was under negotiation with NBC. Now it seems it’s official – the famously cancer-stricken, chain-smoking Constantine will not be allowed to light up so much as a single cigarette during his self-titled series.

During a recent interview with Collider, Constantine pilot director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) confirmed that the occult detective will be missing what many would consider an essential ingredient of the character – a move largely attributed to network standards and practices. That loud sound you just heard was the force of a thousand sighs from Constantine fans who hoped NBC might faithfully adapt the character.

On the surface, one wouldn’t think the loss of a single personality trait would be enough to derail as well-drawn a character as John Constantine, but it really can’t be overstated just how iconic an aspect of Hellblazer John’s addiction is. There’s a reason that the 2005 Constantine film starring Keanu Reeves made sure to retain the title character’s smoking habit, despite jettisoning many other recognizable aspects of his look and background.

Taking away Constantine’s cigarettes is almost akin to taking away Batman’s orphan origin or Superman’s status as the last son of Krypton. It’s an integral part of who he is, one made obvious by the fact that almost any picture of the character includes a lit cigarette dangling from his lips.

nbc fall constantine Its Official: John Constantine Wont Smoke in New NBC Series

While this development isn’t unexpected, it’s still very disappointing, if only because NBC seemed to be going out of its way to court Hellblazer fans that were unhappy with Francis Lawrence’s theatrical take on the franchise. Constantine is once again a sarcastic blond Brit instead of a monotone dark-haired American. Chas is now an adult friend of John’s again, as opposed to being a whiny understudy, and is no longer played by a miscast Shia LaBeouf. Yet so much of that goodwill is likely to be erased by the simple fact that Constantine’s signature pastime is no longer present and accounted for.

As disheartening as a nicotine-free Constantine is, this doesn’t mean NBC’s adaptation won’t still be worth checking out. Series creator Daniel Cerone seems to have a great handle on why John is the way he is, and every intention to do the character justice. Were it not for broadcast networks’ commitment to not promoting cigarette smoking in any way whatsoever, it’s almost a guarantee that Cerone’s Constantine would be puffing away on butts like his life depended on it. Plus, Matt Ryan’s performance in the trailers and clips released so far seems spot on, and it would be a shame if his rendition of John Constantine goes unheralded due to a corporate rule that no one on the creative staff has any power to override.

Would Constantine be better on cable? That’s debatable, but there’s really no point in dwelling on what might have been. All that’s left for fans to do is decide whether they’re willing to give a non-smoking Constantine a try. If not, NBC better hope that enough uninitiated newbies show up to keep the show afloat.


Constantine will premiere on Friday, October 24, 2014 @10pm on NBC.

Source: Collider

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: constantine


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. He’d be “smokin’” if he brought in Dr. fate actively to the series! Maybe as Constantine’s “consultant”? And any love for Deadman or Spectre?

    • I can totally see them using those characters. Maybe Zatanna too. Push some of the Justice League Dark characters and story lines.

  2. :(
    Really disappointing !
    They just killed the Character !

  3. Wow, cool…it’s time to reveal Batman’s Cryptonian origins now… Wonder Woman does need a beard (Conchita Wurst anyone?) and I want the Flash in a wheelchair ASAP… BTW… Green Lantern so boring… bring on Red Lantern instead… everybody knows Clark Kent isn’t alien… he was just recreated by scientists in a secret lab… the Terran Martianhunter knows that Aquaman hates water, he is allergic to it and the Arrow would never touch a bow as he is a pacifist who despices all sorts of weapons…

    • Kryptonian

  4. Kiss my @$$ NBC.

  5. For crying out loud. From the network who brought you hanniball?

    And cons can’t smoke, does this also mean swearing and nudity is out?

    • It’s NBC, nudity’s out for sure. Did you see the effort they had to go to in Hannibal to cover any ‘sensitive areas’ of corpses? Swearing will probably be pretty much gone too, or at least very toned down.
      This should have been a cable show.

  6. Just downloaded the pilot from the PBay, so far it has been great, give it a shot and stop bellyaching.

    • Thanks for the Tip,found it !
      Will check it out !

  7. Don Draper smokes every time… and John Constantine can’t.

  8. Constantine does have a pivotal story arc with his cigarette addiction, but it doesn’t make or break the character.

    And there are scenes of him with a lighter and putting out a cigarette bud while drinking.

    As for the special effects, they’re good enough. For now. The grandmother scene and the possessed woman (both were in the trailer!) were both horror movie-like.

    I hope they do Bad Habits storyline cause I don’t think the network will have problems with quotes like ‘John’s a heavy smoker and so he’s dying of lung cancer’.

    And people….Constantine the film was good but let’s be honest, the bas***d deserves better and this show, with the exception of the smoking, is doing it!

    The pilot had no cheesy lines (don’t lump generic with chessy), had some great horror moments and a proper Constantine. Better acting from the support cast and better special effects will make better. 9/10!

  9. this was such a brave choice for nbc, just think of all the children they just saved from a life of smoking. thank you nbc youre the real heroes.

    • Kids will start smoking anyway because they’re silly. If they don’t get it from their parents, from the education at school, from the knowledge that cigarettes cost money, that it’s said everywhere and written anywhere (even on the packages themselves) that smoking is bad, a TV show is not gonna make the difference.

      • parents who use television as a scapegoat for their kids bad behaviour are deluded. they are so wrapped up in this illusion of their kids being perfect that they will blame anything aside from their own parenting skills as a way to keep their world in balance. people make choices, did every kid who played vice city go and kill people, no two or three did because they were nutters yet as a result I was never allowed to play gta. its pathetic

  10. What I don’t get is that it is totally acceptable for him to smoke his ass of in the comics but on TV it isn’t allowed, I mean WTF.

    • The comics thing is gone. He doesn’t smoke anymore in the New 52 comics. Nor is Hellblazer still active, it’s now DC’s Constantine.

      I still like how they’re trying to incorporate the smoking through veiled references like the stubbed cigarette in the ashtray and the lighter. Kind of like Hannibal. I hope they do the storyline somehow.

      The fact that they bought in Chas, Astra, Nergal and the rest means that they will try to adapt as much of Hellblazer as possible. Fingers crossed.

  11. I’m glad he won’t be smoking. smoking looks dirty.

    • so does stuffing your face with food so that you become a drain on health services but its socially unacceptable to call someone fat! why is it okay to call smokers dirty when the tax on tobacco pays for the medical costs threefold

  12. Well that’s a shame, but to me his smoking was never a make it or break it deal for me.

  13. All I did was read the headline and it told me everything I needed to know about this series. If they really wanted to do a faithful adaptation as professed, they would have taken the series to FX, Netflix, AMC, etc but instead, it buckles to the Peacock Network’s ridiculous demands. If you read the comic, smoking is waaaaayyy down on the list of things that they should be concerned about. It really does show their cards for the entire series. I for one am no longer interested in this series. Funny, it may seem like one small detail to leave out, but when it seems small, that’s when you know you don’t get this particular character at all. It’s incredible how these people operate at these networks.

  14. Well, looks like I won’t need to bother watching this garbage then.

    Upon loading up the game and probably startling Google Chrome itself with the absurdness of what I was playing, the word disappointment temporarily fell out of my vocabulary because after even 30 seconds of playing my head was filled with rainbows, amazement, and awe at how simultaneously simple and entertaining the experience was. Aside from the frightening array of colours that would distress even the hardiest of retinas, everything about this game is unbelievably simple and easy to grasp. Taking the fact that you are a mechanical unicorn as given, you are thrown into a bubblegum world of fantasy and sparkle which, upon witnessing it with your own eyes, will make you understand what those Skittles talk about when they bang on about ”tasting the rainbow”. As a robot unicorn, your job is to simply run endlessly across terrain, jumping intermittently when the ground beneath you ends and landing on the next platform. The jumps become increasingly difficult as you progress, with terrain and giant star-shaped obstacles getting in your way.

  16. Interesting how many people decry this news, but think changing a characters race (in other instances) is no big thing.

    • I predict this series will be utter crap. As few things should be changed in adaptations as possible (but some changes are inevitable due to the differences in medium). I mean a female Sherlock? Well just don’t call it Sherlock. A white Othello? Idiotic. Constantine should smoke or it ain’t Constantine, it is someone else.

      There is somewhere between none and zero chance of me wasting my time watching this.

  17. I haven’t gone through the comments yet and I’m sure a million people have already said this, but I’m just really surprised that with all the success a show like “Hannibal” had this season and all of the things they were allowed to show, NBC is now drawing the line at a fictional character being seen onscreen smoking a cigarette.

    I thought NBC was getting to the point where they realized the benefit of taking chances and allowing a show’s creators to just be 100% faithful to a characters essence.

    Maybe it won’t matter, maybe 2 seasons from now none of us will even be thinking about this issue, but it’s really surprising. I’ve seen people from other countries lately on tv stating how prudish we seem to them and I can kind of understand their point of view, unfortunately.

    • About your message regarding “Hannibal”, I made this point earlier yesterday about having a show like Hannibal, and then not having the titular character not smoke, this kind of cencorship and distorting the facts is something, you would expect on Chinese national television.

      nevertheles im am curious to see what kind of litheration they come up with for constantine character. Lets face it Hannibal might not have the largest Audience but NBC is still very supportive of this show, and this has allowed Hannibal to flourish to become the great tv show it currently is.

      nevertheles i wonder what could become of “Constantine”, had it landed on a network like “AMC”, or HBO. both are known for their rough edge shows like, True Blood, The walking Dead, And of course Breaking Bad.

  18. Then this is not Constantine who read comics will agree with me.
    NBC = Communists

    • Just watched the Pilot and all I can say is..he SMOKES !!!
      They do not clearly show it but near the end of the episode as the scenes change and they cut to a bar you see him put a cigarette out in a ashtray !

      In front of him his lighter and a pack of cigs !

      But that was it !

      The rest of the show nothing,sadly !:(

      Seems they are really fighting with it to have it in ! Maybe in future eps they will let him do more,but in the Pilot nothing !

      The rest of the show was ok..could be more mature,could be more dark but it’s promising !

      Will keep watching when its out !

  19. after watching the pilot quite impressed with it and at the end he is putting a cigarette out so it aint that bad :))

  20. Lame! The movie was terrible, and my hopes of this show being true to Hellblazer are quickly being dashed.

  21. So there are instances of smoking like at the very end it shows him butting out a smoke, from what the pilot leaked shows

  22. Actually, I just watched the pilot; it was leaked. The smoking is somewhat implied. There is a scene towards the end of the episode in which John is drinking in a bar, and he puts out a cigarette butt in an ash tray; however, you never see him actually smoking. I think this is a great compromise. The episode was not bad either.

  23. It’s so bad it’s painful.

    At least Keanu had some element of the character present, this tv series just…. well it’s s*** isn’t it?

  24. Great. Time to dissociate smoking from ‘cool’ once and for all. 1 in 2 people who smoke will die from it. Seems like a small price to pay to reduce its promotion.

    • Ever read ‘Dangerous Habits’? It’s not about promoting smoking as something “cool”, it’s about the preserving the integrity of the character Alan Moore created. Enough of his characters have been ruined already…

  25. Why not just let John Constantine be himself? Who cares if he smokes? That is just his character and his smoking is interwoven into his original story. Because he tricks the demons into removing his cancer remember? That’s just soooo JOHN!!! Anyway, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the Constantine graphic novels and so far I was not let down at all for the pilot episode. I really liked it! I am so glad he is British with blond hair and an attitude! That is what ruined the movie for me. I liked the movie, just not the casting of a dark haired American! Here’s hoping the rest of the season rocks on!

  26. Quick word about constantine. Would you have batman without his cape. No, or green lantern without a ring or wolverine without claws; so I ask you that cigaretteser of long standing how can a decision like taking constantines cigarettes away be an intelligent idea. I guarantee the series will definately crash and burn.
    why? Quite simply because its a relatively unknown hero the fan base for the show will be hard core fans. When they see it they will hate it because the cigarettes prop will be missing. Look at the last superman movie. No red shorts. Skme wo.en were offended. And no cryptonite. How ridiculous was that. No suprise it bombed and got a razza. They asked for it and constantjnd will bomb as well because if one prop. Shame keypad is bust. My apologies

  27. Ok. First the the movie, then DC and that bastard Milligan ruin the character in the comic books, and now some corporate pig ruins what could have been a great show. Man, John and Conan the barbarian are my all-time favorite chilhood (and adulthood) characters…this sucks…I guess I will keep re-reading my old comics and NEVER buy any of the justice league dark horrendous issues, or that “constantine” series DC started with th new 52. Screw-you DC, NBC and Peter Milligan.