Opinion: The Mistreatment and Abuse of John Murphy

My take on the wrongful hanging and banishment of John Murphy from the popular netflix show “The 100.” (Spoiler alert for Season 1 of “The 100”)



“The 100” season one Netflix cover art and promo poster. Currently streaming on Netflix.

by Sam Goerke, Reporter

Trigger warning for mentions of violence and suicide.

In the popular Netflix series “The 100,” radiation bombs have blown up the world. What everyone thought was the last of the human species is living up in space on a massive spaceship city called The Arc, waiting for the ground to be survivable again.

When their oxygen generator begins to fail, their leader Chancellor Jaha sends one hundred delinquent kids to the ground to see if they can return to Earth.

Included in these kids is the main character Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), the Chancellor’s son Wells Jaha (Eli Goree), a former guard turned potential assassin Bellamy Blake (Bob Morely), and the angsty bad boy John Murphy (Richard Harmon).

Over the course of the seven seasons aired on Netflix, Murphy has one of the best character redemption arcs of all time. But for the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on the first season.

When the hundred kids arrive on the ground, they explore the world around them and begin to establish a home. As any society would, a few kids start to become the “leaders” of the group. 

Clarke Griffin immediately takes control by focusing on getting to Mount Weather, a bunker of stored food and supplies for them to use. She and a group of people leave camp to retrieve the supplies, and Bellamy Blake takes charge back at camp.

I don’t know what constitutes a leader, but from what I gathered Clarke and Bellamy just decided they were in charge and everyone else followed them. I don’t think they had any right to make any decisions for the people without having a discussion with them first. 

They weren’t voted into that position, they just took it. And for the rest of the series they are considered the leaders of their people, even though they have no authority or skills to lead a whole society. 

John Murphy has significant hatred towards the people on the Arc, and sees this as an opportunity to finally live his own life how he wants to. Bellamy and Murphy join forces to spread the message of “whatever the hell we want, whenever the hell we want.” 

It catches on quickly, as most people who were sent to the ground no longer have families up on The Arc. The law system on The Arc was quite strict, and even a minor offense was punishable by death. They start removing people’s wrist bands that send vital monitoring to the doctors on The Arc, giving them the impression that they are dying and Earth is not survivable so they won’t follow the kids down.

Wells Jaha disapproves of this idea, and protests it to Murphy. Murphy already hates Wells for being the son of the Chancellor, and sees him as a goody two shoes. The two of them fight often, and Murphy threatens to kill Wells. 

Of course, he was never going to actually do it. Murphy had never killed anyone before and was merely putting on a tough exterior.

Among the group of kids still at camp was a young 13 year old girl named Charlotte. Her parents were “floated” by Chancellor Jaha, meaning they were put in an airlock with the outside door opened, essentially executing them as a form of law enforcement. 

Charlotte was traumatized by this event, and had nightmares about it almost daily. She expressed this to Bellamy, who in turn told her that the only way to make it go away was to slay her demons while she was awake. 

Unfortunately, Charlotte took this in the complete wrong direction and proceeded to kill Wells Jaha with Murphy’s knife. 

Nobody ever blamed Bellamy for this even a little bit. While it wasn’t intentional, he did influence her decision to kill Wells. Bellamy is just as if not more responsible for what happened and what happens afterwards than Murphy is, but he faces no consequences for it. 

When Clarke and her group returned from their trip, they found Well’s dismembered fingers next to Murphy’s knife. Since the two of them had a history of not exactly liking each other, Clarke assumed Murphy had done it and announced to the entire crowd that Murphy killed Wells.

Clarke never asked Murphy on his own if he had done it, she never looked for any other answer, she never tried to figure out who had actually done it.

This was the first murder of their lives, and in the spirit of “whatever the hell we want,” the crowd rioted and beat Murphy up beyond recognition.

Despite his protests and insistence that he was innocent, because of what Clarke said they did not believe him. 

Murphy wasn’t exactly the nicest guy in the world. He had a rebellious attitude and didn’t care about the consequences of his actions. He threw insults at anyone who opposed him, and even peed on someone who wasn’t working to his expectations. 

By all means, people had reason to dislike him. But nobody deserves what he got.

To put the cherry on top of an innocent man’s punishment, the crowd dragged him to a nearby tree and tied a noose around his neck. 

Right before they kicked the bucket from under his feet, Murphy told Bellamy one more time that he didn’t do it. Bellamy was “giving the people what they want,” and let Murphy hang.

Charlotte watched him struggle, and guilt overtook her. She admitted it was her, and Murphy was quickly cut down. 

Even though they now had the murderer with a confession right in front of them, the crowd had done a full 180 on what to do about it.

Murphy and a few others still wanted justice, but the majority of the hundred wanted to let the little girl live.

I wonder, if Charlotte had been a little boy would the crowd have still reacted this way? If she hadn’t shown remorse the way she did, would they still want to see her hang? If she was just a few years older, would they do to her what they did to Murphy? 

Clarke and Bellamy took Charlotte to a secret location to hide her from Murphy’s search party. He wanted her to feel everything that he had, and he wanted her to pay for what she had done.

Honestly, if I had been beaten and hung for something I didn’t do, I would do anything to see the real murderer punished. Murphy’s feelings about it were not only valid, but arguably the lawful decision would be equal punishment for all. 

Charlotte begged Bellamy and Clarke to let her turn herself in to Murphy. Even she agreed with him that killing her would be the right thing to pay for what she had done. 

For some reason, Clarke and Bellamy decided for her that she was “too young” or “too innocent” to die the way Murphy was supposed to. Although she was only 13, she was still old enough to make her own decisions and they had no right to act like they were her guardians. 

Eventually she escaped their protection and confronted Murphy and his group at an open area near a cliff. 

Clarke and Bellamy found them, and they were at a stalemate.

Murphy tried to reason with Clarke, saying that she deserved what she was going to get. When that didn’t work, he tried lying to her and saying that he wouldn’t hurt her. 

While they were arguing, Charlotte stepped up. She announced that she couldn’t let anyone else get hurt for what she had done. 

She openly admitted to what she had done. She agreed that she deserves the punishment. She didn’t think Murphy had deserved what he got. The only people who cared at all about protecting her were Clarke and Bellamy. 

Maybe it’s because they had become the leaders of the hundred and they felt a need to protect their people. But if that’s the case, why didn’t they protect Murphy too? Rude and rebellious people don’t deserve any less rights or protections from their leaders. 

When Charlotte tried one more time to give herself up to Murphy, Clarke and Bellamy still wouldn’t let her go. She saw only one way to make sure nobody else got hurt. She turned, and jumped straight off the cliff. 

For some god-awful reason, Clarke and Bellamy blamed her suicide on MURPHY. He didn’t push her, he didn’t kill her. He definitely would have killed her had he gotten the chance, but that wouldn’t have been murder. It would’ve been justice. 

Clarke and Bellamy discussed how to punish Murphy for Charlotte’s death, despite it being completely her own decision and not at all his fault. They banish him from camp and forget that he ever existed for a while. 

Murphy might’ve been a mean and rude person, but he didn’t deserve any of that. He was abused by people who he thought were his friends, and then punished for another person’s suicide. He might’ve been able to forgive and forget, but they banished him and let the resentment build in him.

After being banished, he was captured by a savage group of people who had survived the radiation, who proceeded to torture him and send him back to their camp infected with a contagious plague. 

The people at camp were at war with these “Grounders,” and to prepare the battlefield for attack the grounders sent Murphy and the virus into the camp to weaken the enemy. 

Then, he murdered a few of the main offenders in his hanging and almost killed a few other people. He was upset about what had happened to him, and how that had caused him to be tortured and hated by everyone left on Earth. 

Maybe killing a bunch of people wasn’t the right decision to deal with this, but he was rightfully angry and honestly I would’ve done the same thing. Justice had to be served somehow. 

Murphy was never the bad guy. Throughout the entire show they make him seem like he is evil, and give him the nickname “cockroach” because they can never seem to kill him. He wasn’t exactly trying to be helpful at all times, but everything villainous he did was a direct result of the poor leadership of Clarke and Bellamy. 

As previously mentioned, Murphy eventually redeemed himself. He fell in love and single-handedly saved the human race on multiple occasions. But, he was given a horrible start on Earth and his life could’ve turned out drastically differently if the hundred were able to provide equal rights to everyone on Earth.