Netflix’s new teen drama Outer Banks follows sunkissed rebel John B. (Chase Stokes) as he and his squad of so-called “Pogues” seek a secret treasure his father (Charles Halford) may have discovered before he mysteriously vanished. What really happened with the treasure and John B.’s dad is one of Outer Banks’ most intriguing mysteries, and untangling it brings about some of the show’s most exciting scenes. Yet there’s another mystery you may have while binging season 1 of Outer Banks: Why does everyone insist on calling him John B.?
When I say everyone calls John B. by his first name and initial, I’m not kidding. It’s not merely his friends or his teacher looking to differentiate him from John D., John P., and John T. John B.’s social worker — whom he meets with because he’s basically a child living alone — refers to him this way. The cops call him John B. His girlfriend, his boss, his friends’ parents — even when there are no other Johns around, John B. is known as John B.
(When I first started watching this show, I misheard John B.’s name. I assumed this kid’s name was Jamby. As in, rhymes with zombie. Now, I have “Zombie” by the Cranberries stuck in my head, with the swapped out lyrics “John. B, John B., John B., B., B.,” playing on repeat.)
John B. narrates Outer Banks, and in the first episode, we learn his name is John B. Routledge. That’s right: John B., technically, is also John R. This might be a clue as to why John B.’s nickname is what it is. Since his dad is also John Routledge — aka, another John R. — the “B” may be one way for him to differentiate himself from his father.
Except, here’s the thing: John’s father also has a nickname. It’s “Big John,” and nearly every single person on the island refers to him this way. So Big John has a nickname, and John B. has a different nickname, and neither one of them ever drops it. This nickname can’t just be about differentiating the two Johns.
To add an extra layer into this nickname stuff, John B. has a best friend named J.J. (Rudy Pankow). Occasionally, people will call John B. “J.B.” So there’s a J.J., and a J.B. Oh, and if you want to get really, really crazy, the actor who plays fellow BFF Pope, Jonathan Daviss, apparently goes by J.D. (At least, that's how Stokes referred to him in our interview.)
Is John B.’s nickname the most important thing about Outer Banks? Not even close. But if we have to wait a long time for a season 2 in order to see if John B. can take back his stolen gold, then we better also learn the origins of this name.