- "Your DNI might show you all the options, but only you can decide what you are willing to sacrifice."
- — Taylor
Commander John Taylor is the secondary antagonist, later tritagonist of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and main protagonist in the Call of Duty: Black Ops III prequel comic. As the Executive Officer of the Winslow Accord Black Ops team Phi, Taylor quickly became one of the WA's most experienced operators. After his former teammates leaked classified CIA intelligence and attempted to defect to the Common Defense Pact, he and Jacob Hendricks successfully eliminated the defectors. Sustaining serious injuries on the mission, Taylor received augmentations and continued serving the WA as a Cyber Soldier.
Taylor was born on February 1st, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. He later in his life began a military career, being the fourth generation in his family.
Taylor began his military career by enrolling at West Point Military Academy in 2037, who becomes the fourth generation of his family to do so. He excels at all challenges and is soon promoted to Bridge Commander at the end of his First Cadet Year. He graduates magna cum laude in 2041 and is later recruited to the US Army 1st Special Forces Group. Taylor is assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula and serves dutifully with distinction. He attains the rank of Captain and is granted the position of Detachment Commander to his Special Forces Operation Detachment-A team in 2048. He is seconded to the Winslow Accord Special Forces in 2049. Taylor is later transferred to the black ops team Phi in 2058, comprising himself, Dylan Stone, Javier Ramirez, Alice Conrad, Joseph Fierro, Hussein Patel, Eamon Xu, and Commanding Officer Jacob Hendricks.
In 2059, Taylor, along with Patel, Xu, Stone and Hendricks, was tasked with taking down a Saudi-Polish triple agent named Timur Abulayev. While going to acquire KN-44 assault rifles from a merchant, the squad (minus Hendricks) encountered various local gang members, led by a mysterious red-haired woman, nicknamed "The Wet Witch of Lubryanka". After taking down the thugs, they met up with Hendricks, who later briefed them on the mission. Taylor took on the role of intel gathering, by meeting up with a local woman, Dorrit, who told him about Abulayev's base as well as the Wet Witch, real name Mokrie Baba. Afterwards, the team attacked Abulayev's hideout, and took him out. However, Baba showed up and killed Patel. She was seemingly killed by Hendricks (who took a sniping position), however, she survived thanks to her bulletproof armor.
Some times later, the team headed to Helsinki, Finland, in search of Baba's asset, a target named Maxim Chernakov. However, their first day in Helsinki took a turn for the worse, as Chernakov's men chased them down, resulting in the death of their latest team member, Haruko Mandelbaum. Hendricks managed to capture one of Chernakov's men and forced him to lead them to Chernakov's hideout. However, upon arrival, his hideout was booby-trapped, and Taylor got injured in the process. They learned from Chernakov's former mistress, Katrina, that he had escaped with Baba to Sápmi. Hendricks then had Taylor contact Xu to bring in a sniper and a demolition expert to assist with the mission. The next day, they met with Conrad and Fierro, and headed out to find Chernakov. Upon arriving at Chernakov's place, their VTOL was shot down, and the crew immediately split up, with Conrad taking on Chernakov herself, while Taylor and the rest of the squad opened fire on Baba. While she escaped, Chernakov was killed, with Conrad barely alive. However, before he died, he referred to Mokrie by the name Krasney Baba, the Red Witch.
Team Phi's hunt for Mokrie Baba leads them to Mogadishu, Somalia, where they find her arranging a meeting with the crime lord Ahmad Ghury Al-Ghazi. She initially offers him the head of his rival, Hassan Shabaab, but unbeknownst to Al-Ghazi and Team Phi, she secretly rigged the head to blow up, tricking Al-Ghazi into imprisoning her. Taylor, meanwhile, struggles with Hendricks in Budapest in order to capture and interrogate the local Moscow Center operator, Konrad. They discover that Mokrie and Krasney are two separate people, and that Krasney sent Mokrie to Mogadishu to steal a data drive from Al-Ghazi. As Taylor and Hendricks contemplate on what to do with Konrad, Stone leads the rest of the team and storms Al-Ghazi's compound, and eventually kills the crime lord himself. However, Mokrie manages to escape captivity and retrieves the data drive from Al-Ghazi's safe, and evades the Winslow Accord soldiers.
The team tracks down Mokrie to Japan, where she meets up with Yakuza boss Oni Bozu to negotiate the purchase of illegal combat drone control chips. Stone leads Conrad and Fierro to infiltrate Bozu's chip factory by an underwater route through the factory's pylon, while Xu, Taylor, Hendricks and Ramirez assault the factory by helicopter. Bozu, however, activates the factory's defense system, shooting down one of the helicopters, seemingly killing the latter three. Unbeknownst to Bozu and Mokrie, the helicopter was filled with dummy dolls, while Taylor, Hendricks and Ramirez attack the two of them by surprise. As Bozu takes refuge in his secret armory with Mokrie, Ramirez works on leaving several C4 charges behind. Later, Bozu steps out with a high-tech armor suit, but is killed along with all of his men, while Taylor and the rest of the team escape. As they check on the explosion for survivors, they find a half-burnt Mokrie, who somehow survived the explosion. Before Xu could react, Mokrie then shoots him in the head, and escapes in the smoke.
The team later travels to Alexanderplatz, Berlin, in order to assassinate Ivan Rudel, who has been suspected of manufacturing combat drones based on Oni Bozu's control chips. However, the mission goes sideways when Conrad fails to snipe Rudel, forcing the CEO to escape in an armored van. Taylor, Fierro, Stone and Ramirez attempt to capture Rudel, but is stopped momentarily by a R.A.P.S. drone. After barely escaping, Taylor and Ramirez join with Hendricks to chase down on Rudel, who unleashes a series of Talon as well as a GI Unit to slow them down, while Stone and Fierro encounter a prototype quad tank. The GI Unit hops on Hendricks' car and grabs him and Taylor by the throat, but is destroyed by Ramirez, who uses a shaped charge to blow it up. Unfortunately, Ramirez himself could not escape the blast, and end up burned in the face. Rudel's driver, who turns out to be a bandaged Mokrie, steps out of the van and attempts to kill the trio, but is stopped by Conrad, who arrives in a motorcycle and puts a shot in Rudel's head, effectively finishing the mission. However, Mokrie escapes once more via the sewers. The team then comtemplates going to Moscow to deal with her once and for all.
Team Phi infiltrates Lubyanka, Moscow, where it is revealed that the Red Witch, a.k.a. Krasney Baba, has been running the operation within the Russian Security Services' headquarters, the Lubyanka Building, as the administrative officer, taking commands from an unknown party. Fierro and Stone manage to take down one of Krasney's squads in the sewers, while Taylor and Ramirez visit the Perinatal'nyy Medical Center to find and eliminate Mokrie, who is still receiving treatment for her burnt face after the incident in Japan. Mokrie then chases them down, with half of her face still untreated and un-bandaged. Conrad, meanwhile, manages to slip through security by going in unarmed, and retrieves her equipment from an airdrop missile later, after taking out a group of chemical agents in the building. Taylor and Ramirez are picked up by Hendricks in an armored van, prompting Mokrie to pursuit. Another of Krasney's squad is sent down to the sewers, where they find that Fierro and Stone have set up several C4 charges under a sewer manhole cover, set to go off at the slightest vibration. The C4 is detonated as Mokrie passes by the manhole, killing her immediately. Conrad manages to pass through lines of security, and kills Krasney as well, effectively ending the threat of the Russians. Moscow is then immediately put on lockdown, as the KGB goes on a hunt for the Winslow Accords fugitives. The agents are found disguising as prisoners on a transport train, however they manage to gain the upper hand as they open fire on the pursuers. Against the unknown party's command, the new admin of the building, Elena, decides to wipe the system of the building clean, and does not pursue Team Phi.
Manhunt for Dylan Stone
In 2064, Taylor and Hendricks were deployed into the quarantine zone in Singapore to investigate a CIA black station that had mysteriously ceased operations. Battling the local 54 Immortals forces and meeting up with their new CIA handler Rachel Kane, the two soon discovered that the staff at the black station had been brutally murdered and the station's data drives - containing highly classified CIA intelligence - had been stolen. Terminal logs indicated that the last recorded personnel to report to the station were Stone, Ramirez, Conrad and Fierro, implicating the four in the attack.
After some of the data drives ended up in the hands of the 54 Immortals, Hendricks and Taylor posed as arms dealers to infiltrate the 54i headquarters and re-obtain the stolen drives. However, their cover was soon blown by a suspicious Goh Min and Goh Xiulan, the 54i leaders. After inadvertently killing Goh Min with a squad of GIUs, Taylor and Hendricks pursued Goh Xiulan, who had transferred the contents of the drives onto a local computer system. Since the system required fingerprint authentication for access, Taylor was forced to cut off Goh Xiulan's right hand in order to download the stolen information, before hastily escaping the 54i territory.
The security footage obtained from the stolen drives positively identified Stone's team as the murderers of the black station staff. Kane sent Taylor and Hendricks to the site of Stone's last operation - a response to a priority alert signal originating from underneath the abandoned Coalescence facility at the heart of the quarantine zone. Following in Stone's footsteps, Taylor and Hendricks found 54i troops ransacking the area. After eliminating them and delving deep underneath the facility, the two found what Stone's team had discovered: the remains of SP/CORVUS, an illegal CIA-endorsed experiment using involuntary human test subjects that seemed to be directly responsible for the catastrophe that killed 300,000 Singaporeans and lead to the creation of the quarantine zone itself. Upon some more exploration, they located Ramirez in the facility's server room, in the process of leaking more classified intel. After briefly interrogating Ramirez, they learned that Stone was using the stolen intel to make allies of the 54i and guarantee safe passage out of Singapore. He announced Stone's intention to make their discovery of SP/CORVUS public - potentially discrediting the CIA and the Winslow Accord forever. Hendricks then reluctantly eliminated Ramirez, before the entire facility was flooded by the remaining 54i forces in the area in an attempt to kill Taylor and Hendricks, destroying the evidence for SP/CORVUS in the process.
The intel that Ramirez had leaked compromised the locations of CIA safehouses around the world, including their Singapore safehouse, where Kane was located. Although Taylor and Hendricks were ordered to pursue Stone, Taylor disobeyed this order and traveled outside the quarantine zone to save Kane from an army of 54i forces, led by a vengeful Goh Xiulan. Fighting through the war-torn streets of Singapore, and dragging along an antipathetic Hendricks, Taylor managed to rescue Kane before killing Goh Xiulan and evacuating Singapore for good.
Due to the compromising nature of the leaks, WA command was no longer able to assist Taylor, Hendricks and Kane. Alone, they traveled to Egypt, where Stone had arrived earlier with the intention of kidnapping Yousef Salim, a psychotherapist involved in SP/CORVUS. Salim was under Egyptian Army custody at Ramses Station and Taylor planted a tracking device on him to ensure his safety. Soon afterward, Stone leaked information regarding the Egyptian Army's weak points to Nile River Coalition, who took advantage of the intel and launched a massive assault on Ramses Station. In the ensuing battle, Taylor and Hendricks fought alongside Lieutenant Zeyad Khalil to drive the NRC away whilst Stone took advantage of the confusion to extract Salim from the station.
Using the tracker, Kane tracked Salim's location to the ruined city of Kebechet, where Stone was interrogating Salim. Taylor and Hendricks attempted to find Stone, but by the time they arrived Salim was already dead and Stone and Fierro had escaped. They did, however, manage to capture Conrad, who Taylor interrogated. Conrad revealed that Stone and Fierro had fallen back to the sub-Cairo aquifers under NRC protection and was now searching for the sole survivor and director of the SP/CORVUS project, Sebastian Krueger, to hold him publicly accountable for his crimes. Taylor then executed Conrad, much to Hendricks' dismay.
With the help of the Egyptian Army and Lt. Khalil, Taylor and Hendricks launched an assault on the aquifers and liberated them of NRC control. After nearly drowning on the aquifers, Taylor was rescued by Kane, who later confessed to harboring romantic feelings for him, which were reciprocated by Taylor. During the battle, Stone managed to escape, but Fierro was trapped inside the aquifers and cornered by Taylor and Hendricks. A brief fight saw Taylor kill Fierro, which triggered Hendricks to question the ethics of the mission, accusing Taylor of being used by the CIA to cover up their crimes. The two quarreled, before the entire structure began to collapse and they were forced to escape.
Stone was escorted by the NRC to Lotus Towers - the NRC's last stronghold in Cairo. Inciting a civilian uprising by publicly assassinating NRC General Hakim, Taylor and Hendricks worked their way to the top of the towers, where Stone was fleeing to once again attempt an escape. Confronting him on the rooftops, Taylor attempted to eliminate Stone, only to be crippled by him. Taylor was saved only by the last-minute intervention of Hendricks, who shot Stone dead, completing the mission for good.
Having saved the Winslow Accord and the CIA from public disgrace, Taylor became one of their most valuable assets. He was considered a prime candidate for Project Prometheus, which saw his crippling injuries healed through cybernetic augmentation and a Direct Neural Interface implant. Taylor was put in command of a newly-formed "Cyber Ops" unit designed to complete high-risk missions, consisting of himself, Sebastian Diaz, Sarah Hall, and Peter Maretti.
Hendricks, on the other hand, requested to be moved to a lower-risk hostage rescue unit due to the stress of his previous mission. This resulted in the official disbandment of Team Phi. Hendricks and Taylor would part until meeting again a year later. Taylor's continued pursuit of serving the Winslow Accord's special forces also closed the doors on his relationship with Kane, but Taylor was confident that he had made the right choice.
Rescuing Minister Said in Ethiopia
On October 27, 2065, the Winslow Accord launched an operation to rescue Egyptian Minister Said from an NRC base in Ethiopia. The operation was carried out by a hostage rescue unit under the command of Hendricks supported by the Cyber Ops division under Taylor's lead. Hendricks and the Player extracted Said and Khalil, who was captured during the uprising at Lotus Towers, whilst Taylor's team prepared an extraction plan. However, heavy NRC reinforcements ensured that their plan could not be carried out, and thus the team was forced to retreat to the secondary extraction point. Hendricks managed to convince Taylor to focus his efforts on rescuing the rest of the prisoners, whilst he and the Player escorted Said and Khalil to the extraction, which they managed to do successfully. However, without Taylor's support, Hendricks' team was wiped out by NRC resistance. Taylor arrived on the scene just in time to save the Player, who had been dismembered by a GI Unit.
- "Outcome - train go boom."
- — Taylor commenting about the December 12th, 2054 Terrorist Attacks
The Player then suddenly awakes and sees Taylor, who introduces them aboard a private commuter train heading to the Zurich headquarters of the Coalescence Corporation. He continues to explain the onboard cargo, namely the prototype of the Winslow Accord Neural Network Initiative, which holds a specialized AI capable of rewriting its own code to adapt to any computer system. Suddenly, the Maglev train explodes and train cars are derailed before time freezes and Taylor explains that the train was attacked by a terrorist group on December 12, 2054 at 7:31am. He later explains that the Player is currently in a simulation within their minds and how their Direct Neural Interfaces (DNIs) allow them to communicate with each other and the world around them. Suddenly, the Player is transported to an abandoned steel mill the day before the attack on December 11, 2054 at 11:30am. Taylor freezes time and explains the overwhelming firepower of the terrorists against the Zurich Security Forces. When the Player interfaces and discovers the terrorist Xavier Hirtzel, Taylor reappears and explains the inefficiency of the ZSF in recovering the information. He then transports the Player five hours later when ZSF failed to capture Hirtzel. After the Player interrogates Hirtzel and discovers their infiltration plan in the subway tunnels, Taylor explains how the ZSF took weeks to uncover their infiltration weeks following the attack. The Player is then transported back onto the train five minutes before the attack. Taylor reflects on the irony of the terrorist attack and how it accelerated the development of the Neural Network Initiative to prevent attacks such as this. The Player then enters the train and takes down the security bots attacking them before reaching the bomb control. As it is impossible to safely disarm or remove the bomb, the Player detaches the car from the Maglev train before it detonates and Taylor remarks how their DNI can show all the options, but only they can decide what they are willing to sacrifice. The Player finally awakens in the hospital and sees Kane walking away with her bandanna on the table as an unidentified man speaks with Taylor. He later explains how the Player and Hendricks are about to go into surgery to be initiated into the Cyber Soldier program.
However, complications would soon rise the Player's surgery (seemingly Corvus being reborn in their DNI through their pain in death), causing the Player to die. Taylor, being connected to the Player's DNI, was therefore given the infection, which later spread to his team, causing Diaz, Hall and Maretti to die as a result of the infection. Only living on through their DNI, the Player lived out a simulation, differentiating from but being based on Taylor's experience of he and Hendricks hunting down Dylan Stone and his team.
- "We're all being used! Can't you see that? Once we put this shit inside our heads, we handed over our souls to whoever held the keys. We're puppets... actors playing out our roles. This time around... I'm the bad guy."
- — Taylor
Taylor, Diaz, Hall and Maretti are assigned the roles of Stone and his team. However, when the simulation reaches Lotus Towers, Taylor fights back against Corvus and tears his out to avoid killing the Player. However, Taylor is then killed by Hendricks in simulation, who comes under Corvus's control in reality and leaves the Player to die in order to find and interrogate Sebastian Krueger.
The Frozen Forest
- "Fight it!"
- — Taylor to the player
After the events of the simulation, Taylor loses control over his body. After the Player-controlled Taylor kills Hendricks and tries to kill themselves to end Corvus, they end up in the "Frozen Forest", a simulated world created by Corvus so that DNI users could live on after death.
Having resisted Corvus, Taylor became a glitch in the forest, allowing him to reunite with the Player. After reuniting, the Player and Taylor's minds merge together and they are shown both in control of Taylor's body, hinting that the Player took over Taylor's body after the simulation as a result of being connected to Taylor's mind (as revealed by Taylor while training the Player) and that their consciousness remained in Taylor's mind throughout the simulation.
The Player struggles and almost succumbs to Corvus, but Taylor helps them remain determined and regain control over his body by fighting through illusory forces created by Corvus through Taylor's memories. While Taylor holds Corvus off, the Player purges their DNI. As the Player is slowly erased, Taylor comforts them as they bring him to the outside, where a soldier asks for their name, with Taylor answering his name, regaining control of his body again.
Taylor has a reputation for being loyal. He took full responsibility for the botched rescue mission in Ethiopia despite Hendricks disobeying his orders and Taylor refusing to abandon Kane in Singapore when she was captured by the 54 Immortals. On Taylor and Hendricks' hunt for Dylan Stone, he had to consistently keep Hendricks on track to deal with his short temper and his objections to the mission. While he is a lot more laid-back than Hendricks, not being afraid to crack a joke on the rescue mission or while training the Player, he is ultimately caring and determined, stressing the importance of self-sacrifice to the Player and not budging after Hendricks tried to talk him out of rescuing Kane or when Kane tried to talk him out of becoming a Cyber Soldier.
- "It's me - Taylor. I think it's time you woke up don't you?"
- — Taylor in "New World".
- "Right now...? Right now you're in a medically induced coma being prepped for surgery. You've got a new bit of hardware inside your head. It's called a Direct Neural Interface, or DNI. I've got one, too - that's how I'm able to communicate with you. Your DNI is what connects your mind to your new body and the larger world around you. We're connected. All of this... is a simulation inside our minds."
- — Taylor to the Player onboard the train.
- "11:30 AM, December 11th, 2054. Zurich Security Forces receive an anonymous tip giving then the location of a hideout the terrorists are using. Unfortunately, the ZSF underestimated the firepower these assholes were packing. They got caught with their pants down and they took it hard. Outcome? Train go boom."
- — To the Player in New World.
- "Okay newblood, you've been here before. Let's see if you can change history."
- — To the Player during New World.
- "Tell me about the Frozen Forest."
- — Taylor's question to Dr. Salim.
- "Thank you."
- — Taylor before executing Dr. Salim.
- "Welcome back."
- — Taylor to the Player in "New World" and "Life”.
- "I know. It must grow. It wants... everybody."
- — Taylor's reply to the Player in "Lotus Towers".
- "Not safe. Still... here... you... Hendricks..."
- — Taylor's last words before being executed.
- — Taylor's reply to the ZSF soldier asking for a name identification at the ending cutscene in "Life".
- Taylor is seen with a KRM-262 on his back but he is never seen using it. Taylor's KRM is also equipped with a customized body not seen anywhere else in-game, as well as a Suppressor.
- Taylor appeared in the reveal trailer of Black Ops III when he's about to execute Salim however his appearance was different than in the final version of the game. Taylor's original appearance in the reveal trailer appeared to show him bear a striking resemblance to Jacob Hendricks when he aims his weapon at Salim in a short second before the screen fades to black.