John Teller was an idealist. He believed that the Sons could walk on another path, without running guns. He was a jaded war veteran, having experienced the evils of the Vietnam War. His war experience, and subsequent return home to a hostile and divided country helped shape his views on peace, freedom, and liberty. He became engrossed in the views and writings of anarchism, incorporating these views into his own manuscript. John was also street smart, and foresaw the complications that would result from the club's entry into gun-running. In the end, he felt that the Sons of Anarchy "lost their way", and gave his life to return the club to peaceful pursuits. He had a good relationship with his fellow First 9, Piney Winston, who also shared his concern that the SOA were on a wrong road. He was an example of the internal battle most men hide inside. Piney described John to J.T.'s daughter-in-law Tara, "a complicated guy, angry, impulsive, righteous as hell, hated being wrong, book smart, too loyal". Piney also said that John would read three or four books at the same time.
John 'JT' Thomas Teller, was born May 5th, 1940. He served in the 25 Infantry Division of the United States Army; along with his best friend, Piney Winston. He served two years in Vietnam, from 1965-1967. Upon returning home, he and Piney saw the deterioration of the country they'd left, and faced considerable discrimination and economic hardship common to many returning Vietnam veterans. Teller formed the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club with Piney and Lenny, with the hope that they could rediscover the feeling of brotherhood they had found in Vietnam. Teller started the Sons of Anarchy clubhouse at 1968 Fairfield Rd. in Charming and took over the automotive repair and garage business with Clay Morrow, calling it Teller-Morrow Auto Service. With little other economic opportunity available, the founding Sons made their seed money in the black market, running dope and smuggling contraband goods through Northern California. John was hit by a semi-truck, Nov. 11, 1993 and dragged 178 yards. He lived two days before dying from his injuries. Before his death, he wrote a manuscript called The Life and Death of Sam Crow: How the Sons of Anarchy Lost Their Way. He started writing it after his second son, Thomas' death and finished it March 3, 1993, the same year he was killed. The manuscript quotes many great poets, writers, and thinkers, notably Emma Goldman and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, two towering figures of anarchist thought (indicating that he himself was a philosophical anarchist). It espouses a radical ideology of individual freedom and liberty. With regard to the MC, John details what he sees as the club's downfall--the Sons' entry into the gun-running business in the manuscript. It goes on to document John's efforts to get the club out of guns, and back to a peaceful and legitimate motorcycle club and John's unwillingness to change course despite the internal opposition.
Clay states to Jax, that he and his father started the gun running business sometime in the mid-80's, served time and lost brothers for it. He had Trinity in 1988, with Maureen, so his prison time had to be between 1989 and 1991, for gun related charges, stemming from an ATF raid on the clubhouse. Clay states to McKeavy, that most of the club was busted for assembling guns at the clubhouse and they learned to keep both sides of club business separate.
Jax finds a copy of the manuscript in a box of his father's things in storage. Jax later starts to burn the manuscript, but rescues it from the fire while it is still intact. Gemma finds the burnt manuscript in a box of Jax's clothes and steals it. Gemma then shows Clay the burnt manuscript, claiming it is proof that Jax may be questioning his role in SAMCRO and insisting that Clay needs to take Jax under his wing & be more of a father figure to him. Clay points out that since Jax 'burned' the manuscript, he must not have completely agreed with his father's "ramblings". Through a law enforcement connection (& a peaceful confrontation with the head of the Niners, Laroy), Jax learns that Donna Winston's murder was a botched attempt at killing Opie. Jax later confronts (& tests) Clay, saying he will accept the truth (about Donna's murder) as water under the bridge, even if the truth is that SAMCRO killed Donna. In an attempt to bring Jax closer to the club, Clay lies & insists SAMCRO had nothing to do with Donna's murder, but Jax, knowing the truth, can tell that Clay is trying to deceive him. This starts conflict between Clay & Jax, which causes the brothers to take Clay's side (as he is the president of SAMCRO) & is evident when Jax briefly stops by Donna's funeral to pay his respects & is shunned by most of the SAMCRO members. Another copy was given to Piney, whom John calls his oldest, dearest and wisest friend. At the conclusion of episode 13 (Season 1 Finale), Piney gives his copy of the manuscript to Jax during/after Donna Winston's (Opie's wife) funeral. Jax is sitting on his brother's headstone (after briefly attending Donna's funeral & feeling the tension between him & the SAMCRO members) when Piney brings him the manuscript.
Gemma tells Jax that his father loved writing and was very good at it, and that she bought John the old Selectrix typewriter which is briefly seen in the storage unit. Gemma goes on to say though, that John began the manuscript during a very weak and confused time in his life. She tells Clay that it is the ramblings of a lost and deluded soul and not to take it seriously, but Jax sees hidden truths in it and changes his thoughts on why they're in guns. This begins the conflict between Jax and Clay.
In Season 2, Gemma tells Jax that after Thomas' death, John had become lost. She suspects that John's death was not an accident and implies that it may have been suicide. When Tara asks about his father's manuscript Jax states that if Gemma had been raped on John's watch he would have written a different one.
Jax visits his father's grave and leaves the "SO" ring that belonged to him on the headstone.Later in Season 3, Maureen Ashby tells Gemma that John is the father of her daughter. When Liam O'Neill blows up the truck and Jax is thrown to the ground, in the confusion he sees his father (John Teller) walking towards him when in reality, it is Clay.
Later father Kellan Ashby tells Jax how John didn't want his sons to be part of the outlaw life that came with SAMCRO. This leads to Jax leaving his son Abel with another couple. But after the couple are murdered by Jimmy O'Phelan and Abel taken again Jax changes his mind about his dad stating he was done "listening to dead men." Maureen later slips letters from J.T. in Jax's bag so Jax will get to know his father like she did. Once back in Charming he leaves his father's "NS" ring on his grave next to the "SO" one.
During the final part of NS, while half of the club is being taken away by the ATF, Tara reads some of the letters Maureen slipped into Jax's backpack. As the episode finishes, we hear John's voice over reading the letter explain how he loved her and troubles that existed in Charming with Clay and Gemma saying that if he is to pass away he is sure it will be at the hands of Clay and Gemma.
Jax is shown to despise his father, believing him to be a coward for not leaving the club when he wanted to and just wrote about it. It is revealed later between Tara and Piney that John and Kellan were going to a meeting with the IRA to end the gun running business but was killed before it could happen. According to the accident report Unser, then deputy police chief, help cover up the crime but was disgusted when he learned the real reason Clay killed JT. In "Brick" it is revealed that Clay had murdered J.T. and was sleeping with his wife. When Clay learns of J.T.'s letters he does everything to get them including killing Piney and trying to kill Tara. Gemma gives the letters to Jax, after destroying the ones that include her involvement. She says that Clay tried to kill J.T. by sending him into a Mayan ambush, then had forced Lowell Harland Sr. to sabotage J.T.'s bike and killed him to conceal the crime. Jax later returns to his father's grave and takes his "SO" and "NS" rings he left there over a year ago and apologizes to his dad for hating him. Jax confronts Clay in the hospital at knifepoint about J.T., Piney, and the hit on Tara, only leaving him alive so the IRA/cartel deal can happen. He takes the President's patch from him after forcing him to step down. He then takes the seat of SAMCRO President with Tara by his side mirroring a photo of John and Gemma in the same spot.
Gemma gives Tara her and J.T.'s wedding bands for her wedding to Jax. Jax later reveals to Bobby and Chibs that Clay murdered J.T. and Piney and tried to kill Tara and they could never prove it.
Jax is shown to try and get the club out of guns like his father had originally tried after one of their KG-9s are used in a school shooting that kills four students. The IRA are not happy about Jax's choice and murders SAMCRO members Filthy Phil and V-Lin and blows up the clubhouse at Teller-Morrow. O'Shay tells Jax he wants Clay to handle the gun running business. A mugshot of J.T. and his motorcycle are later shown to have survived the bombing and Jax later starts fixing the damaged parts of J.T.'s bike.
Tara later tells Nero that Gemma helped kill J.T. When Nero confronts Gemma she admits that JT was always going to Belfast while their son Thomas was dying of a heart defect. She goes on to say after Thomas died she hated JT for not being there and that she and Clay were together by then. She finishes by saying that she didn't want JT to end the gun running and gave Clay "her blessing" to kill J.T.
Jax later kills IRA member Galen O'Shay and Clay to make the pipeline clear for August Marks to run. In the season finale the club has transferred the gun running for the IRA to August Marks and the One-Niners, fulfilling J.T.'s wishes.
Jax tells the club that moving away from the "outlaw shit" was a mistake, the same mistake his father made believing it's what led to Tara being killed. It is also shown beside Piney that Jury was another man JT trusted even though he wasn't a patched member then. During a heated talk with Jury about his son's death he says to Jax that there were rumors that Clay had JT killed but believed JT would know if his Harley had been sabotaged and says JT hit the semi-truck on purpose to keep the club and family intact. Finally saying JT would be disgusted with Jax's actions. Jax refuses to believe his dad killed himself and shoots Jury. Gemma later gives Abel J.T.'s gold "SON" ring which had also been Jax's at one time for when he becomes a member. Abel is later seen wearing the ring as he heads to Norco, CA with Wendy and Nero. After Jax kills an IRA King he states that his dad tried to end the relationship 20 years ago and was finishing it. In the final episode John's motorcycle has been fully restored. Jax, after dealing with all loose ends making life difficult for his club, saying goodbye to family and friends, rides J.T.'s knucklehead down Highway 580, the very highway upon which J.T. suffered his fatal crash.
Having stopped at J.T.'s roadside memorial, paying homage to and having a heart-to-heart with his father, Jax climbs atop the completely restored bike and starts it. A California Highway Patrol car has pulled up behind him; the officer ~ having checked data via computer ~ realizes a wanted felon is in front of him, tells Jax he needs to get off the motorcycle, at which point Jax turns and opens fire upon the officer. The officer dives into his car for cover, simultaneously radioing for backup.
Glancing back at the memorial for J.T. where his father crashed, Jax proceeds to drive down the highway and is soon accompanied by a growing parade of law enforcement vehicles in his wake. An unwitting Milo is driving his semi-truck towards the chaos. As Jax sees the semi-truck coming around corner, he hits the throttle, releases the handlebars, opens his arms, shuts his eyes, and accepts his fate as he veers into Milo's path and impacts head-on with the semi-truck bearing the label "Papa's Goods".
Echoing his father's death, Jackson Teller dies riding the same bike on the same highway, and in possibly as calculated a manner as John Teller.
J.T.'s bike is a 1946 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead.
Owned by J.T at the time the First 9 founded SAMCRO, it is the same bike upon which he died during an incongruous traffic accident involving a semi-truck and ostensibly calculated treachery on the part of Clay Morrow. (Some made a few intriquing comments suggesting the possibility that J.T. may have committed suicide, although this theory is problematic.) The bike was later restored and displayed in the SAMCRO clubhouse until mid Season 6 when the clubhouse is destroyed.
Following the Irish Kings' retaliatory bombing of the clubhouse at TM (Season 6), Jax is seen again rebuilding J.T.'s bike in various subsequent episodes.
John's motorcycle is fully restored in the final episode. Jax later rides J.T.'s knucklehead down Highway 580, the very highway upon which J.T. lost his life after leading a parade of law enforcement and crashes it into a semi truck similar to how JT died.
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Albification"||"Small Tears"||"Fix"||"Eureka"||"Smite" *|
|"Falx Cerebri"||"Gilead"||"Potlatch"||"Fa Guan"||"Balm" *|
|"Service"||"The Culling"||"Na Trioblóidí"|
|Season 3 appearances|
|"SO"||"Oiled"||"Caregiver"||"Home"||"Turning and Turning"|
|"The Push"||"Widening Gyre"||"Lochán Mór"||"Turas"||"Fírinne"|
|"Bainne" *||"June Wedding"||"NS"|
|Season 4 appearances|
|"With An X"||"Fruit For The Crows"||"Family Recipe"||"Kiss"||"Hands"|
|"Call of Duty"||"Burnt and Purged Away"||"To Be, Act 1"||"To Be, Act 2"|
|Season 6 appearances|
|"Straw"||"One One Six"||"Poenitentia"||"Wolfsangel"||"The Mad King"|
|"Salvage"||"Sweet and Vaded"||"Los Fantasmas"||"John 8:32"||"Huang Wu"|
|"Aon Rud Persanta"||"You Are My Sunshine"||"A Mother's Work"|
* - Voice only