The protagonist in the Jack Ryan films is actually named JOHN Ryan. I'm not too familiar with the book version of the character, as I've only read a couple of the books. The movies don't mention where the name "Jack" comes from, but uses "Jack" as of his first appearance in "The Hunt for Red October", and even in "The Sum of All Fears", which is chronologically set much earlier. I'm hoping a fan of the series can shed some light on the origin of that nickname.

Do any of the films containing Jack Ryan mention where he picked up the nickname "Jack"?

  • This seems to be more about the books than the actual films really.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 13:59
  • @NapoleonWilson - no, the question is about the character in the movies. Sometimes it's necessary to look at the source material for an answer about a film franchise, but that shouldn't make it an invalid or bad question. I'll tweak the question to make it more obvious I'm asking about the movie version.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:32
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    My father’s name was Jack J. W***. Although he was born Jacob J. W***, he was always called: Jack. He had it legally changed to Jack after WWII. Many men from his generation who were named John, (such as John F. Kennedy,) went by the name of Jack. It was just that common! Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 6:53

1 Answer 1


Jack is simply a common nickname for John -- the most famous example being President Kennedy, who was called Jack from birth by friends and family. Ryan is Irish Catholic, as seen in the Patriot Games movie and various elements of his biography in the books. We can presume that his parents wanted to call him Jack but, being Catholic, baptized him with the name of a saint.

  • 7
    Yes this is the joke in 'Scent of a Woman' where Pacino's character asks for a "John Daniels" and when asked "Isn't it Jack Daniels?", Pacino replies, "Not when you've known him as long as I have!"
    – B.M.
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 8:03
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    It's as simple as this, no extraordinary or specific explanation needed. It's a common nickname. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:19
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    Weird - I've never heard of Jack being used for John before. I'll take it though, and admit I learned something new today.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:30

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