|“|| I was weak. That's why I needed you... Needed someone to punish me for my sins... But that's all over now. I know the truth. Now it's time to end this.
James Sunderland is the protagonist of Silent Hill 2, and arguably also the main antagonist. As the game begins, James states that his wife, Mary Shepherd-Sunderland, has been dead for three years. Regardless, James has received a mysterious letter in Mary's handwriting, stating that she is waiting for him in their "special place", somewhere in Silent Hill. When James arrives at the town, he becomes ensnared in a series of bizarre and nightmarish events which force him to question his sanity, memory and personality.
|“|| He who is not bold enough to be stared at from across the abyss is not bold enough to stare into it himself. The truth can only be learned by marching forward. Or perhaps you are a fool. The truth usually betrays people. I wasn't looking for the truth, I was looking for tranquility. If you do not wish to stop, James, I pray to the Lord to have mercy on your eternal soul.
James was originally envisioned with having two different sides to his personality. Maria describes James as kind; Mary, in her letter to Laura, describes him as a little surly and says he does not talk much, but is sweet underneath his enigmatic exterior. James is typically courteous to other characters he meets in Silent Hill. He is polite and mild-tempered. For example, he tries to help Angela Orosco cope with her emotional distress and tries to touch her shoulder to comfort her but fails. When James first encounters Eddie Dombrowski, he becomes concerned for Eddie's welfare and advises him to leave the town. He also expresses concern for Laura, attempting to follow her through Silent Hill so she won't come to harm.
However, James's darker side is revealed in some of his actions. James lost some of his confidence and self-respect when Mary became ill. James is in deep grief and depression from his relationship with Mary and her death. He denies the murder of his wife, attributing her death to her disease. James may be perceived as cowardly. Upon being confronted about the truth or something uncomfortable, James tends to avoid eye contact, looks down, turns away, or remains silent. James is rather bad at consoling people; he often falls short in regards to helping Eddie and Angela.
James is borderline suicidal, yet seems to deny his suicidal feelings. James originally came to Silent Hill to kill himself, and actually does so in the In Water ending.
James does several questionable things throughout the game, including leaving his car door open, leaving his flashlight on while hiding from Pyramid Head, sticking his hand inside a hole in a wall after being pricked by something inside, dipping his hands inside a filthy toilet to retrieve a wallet and neglecting to wash his hands afterward, and asking a visibly armed Eddie if he's "gone nuts". If the player walks up to Angela again in the cemetery, she will ask, "Aren't you looking for someone?" and a forgetful James will reply, "That's right." and walk off. He also does risky things such as jumping down long, dark holes that appear to be bottomless. His determination to uncover the truth about Mary's fate and his implied suicidal tendencies may explain his reckless and illogical behavior.
James and Mary met at a house party held by a mutual friend. Their affection evolved from a blazing passion to a peaceful and stable relationship. Before Mary and James were married, James would listen to Mary play the piano. Mary liked to play the piano and even though she wasn't very good at it, James still loved to hear her play.
Prior to the events of Silent Hill 2, Mary and James decided to take a vacation in Silent Hill after reading a brochure for the town. They stayed in the Lakeview Hotel, where James recorded a videotape of Mary. Mary stated in the videotape that she loved the town and would love to go to Silent Hill again one day. James accidentally forgot the videotape in the hotel and the couple left Silent Hill.
Three years prior to the game, Mary was struck with a terminal disease, and she deteriorated to the point of having violent mood swings, lashing out at James in anger. Her doctor predicted she would have less than three years left to live and told James that there was no effective treatment for her condition. James questioned Mary's doctors about her illness, and could not believe they would just let Mary die. He searched through medical books for information about Mary's illness, but never found anything useful. Later in her illness, James visited Mary less frequently because she was emotionally volatile. Her mood swings left her spouse bewildered about what was "right" to do.
James began to "drink a fair bit" to escape his pain and loneliness, but it never changed anything. James felt sexual frustration, but felt prevented from pursuing it by his marriage to Mary; this frustration is later expressed by the character of Maria, as well as several creatures during James's quest in the town. Mary had become a burden on James and he slowly began to resent her; yet simultaneously, seeing the one he loved in such pain tormented him. The emotional trauma and emptiness left James in a constant state of mourning. Eventually he snapped, walked to Mary's bed and kissed her on her forehead before suffocating her with a pillow.
Silent Hill 2
James drives to Silent Hill, intending to kill himself in the town he and his wife cherished to be with her in death. James is not the only one called to Silent Hill; two others, Eddie Dombrowski and Angela Orosco, have been drawn to the town by similar forces. However, before he arrives, his mind snaps from the trauma of killing Mary and he represses the memory. Instead, he becomes convinced not only that Mary has been dead for three years but that he has received a posthumous letter from her.
James discovers the main road to Silent Hill is blocked and breaks briefly in the Observation Deck's restroom. He takes a moment to stare deeply at his own reflection in a mirror. He exits the restroom, reminds himself of Mary, and then enters the town via a hiker's path. On the way, he meets a young woman named Angela Orosco, who has also just arrived in Silent Hill. James disregards Angela’s warnings about the town and reaches the main roads only to discover that the entire area is covered in fog and infested with grotesque monsters. He tries to find the "special place" mentioned in Mary's letter, where she is waiting for him.
James's first guess as to Mary's "special place" happens to be his first destination, Rosewater Park. Because all direct routes are destroyed or barricaded, he must cross through an abandoned apartment complex, where he meets Eddie Dombrowski. The apartments are also the scene of James's first encounter with Pyramid Head, a relentless persecutor who hunts down and attacks him at several points in the game. James also repeatedly runs into a mysterious little girl named Laura who knows of Mary's name, leaving James curious as to what else she knows.
When James reaches Rosewater Park's lakeside observation deck, he thinks he sees his wife, but is mistaken when the woman introduces herself as Maria. James agrees to let Maria accompany him for safety's sake. He remembers his other "special place", the Lakeview Hotel. He visits Pete's Bowl-O-Rama and encounters Eddie and Laura again. Concerned for Laura's safety, James and Maria pass through Heaven's Night and follow Laura into Brookhaven Hospital.
In the hospital, Maria stops to rest in a patient's room, claiming to have a mild hangover. James eventually finds Laura, who then convinces him to get a letter from Mary in a room. She then locks the door, trapping James in the room with creatures called Flesh Lip. After defeating the monsters, James finds that the hospital has been transformed into the horrific Otherworld. He finds Maria and they try to find a way out of the hospital. In the basement, Pyramid Head reappears behind both of them, and Maria is killed by the creature's spear while James is helpless to save her. James is saddened by her sudden death and refocuses on finding Mary.
After leaving the hospital and exploring the town, he finds a key that lets him into the Silent Hill Historical Society, which according to the map is also a port to get to the Lakeview Hotel. However, he soon finds a series of disturbing secret entrances and bizarre holes that lead him into Toluca Prison. Eddie resurfaces again in the cafeteria, now armed with a revolver and once more sitting in close proximity to a human corpse. James attempts to reason with Eddie, but his reasoning has no effect on him.
As James explores the empty prison facility, he finds himself within a maze. James finds Maria, locked inside a cell, alive and unscathed following her death in Brookhaven Hospital. Maria comes onto James and beckons him to find a way into her cell. She undergoes a change in personality, switching between Mary and Maria's personalities at random. Maria also drops clues regarding Mary's "special place" and a videotape she and James made together. James soon relocates Angela, who is about to be attacked by the Abstract Daddy, a creature representing Angela's abusive father. After injuring the monster, Angela finishes it off in a series of violent attacks and has a tense confrontation with James.
Eventually, James locates an alternate route to Maria's cell, but upon entering, finds her lying dead on the bed. James exits the cell, and jumps through a hole representing his future grave. He stumbles upon Eddie surrounded by bullet-ridden corpses. Eddie gleefully admits the solution to his problems is killing anyone who bullies him. When James protests, Eddie perceives James to be ridiculing him too and attacks him. Eddie reveals that both he and James were summoned to the town for a similar reason. James is then forced to kill Eddie in a gun battle inside a meat locker. After this, Mary's letter becomes blank.
Emerging at an old pier at the edge of Toluca Lake, James sees a bright light that is visible from the northern shore; he boards a rowboat and makes the journey to the opposite side. The light is emanating from the Lakeview Hotel, which looks exactly the same as when he stayed there with Mary. James finds Laura there and she hands him a letter that was written by Mary. It states that Mary and Laura became friends one year ago and James realizes that Mary couldn't have died three years ago. Laura then leaves him again to find another letter.
James locates the old videotape mentioned earlier by Maria and finds his way to Room 312, where he and Mary had stayed on their vacation. Inserting the tape into a player, James watches a static-ridden video of himself as he smothers Mary to death with her pillow. Laura enters the room and asks James if he has found Mary yet and James tells her the truth, causing Laura to yell at him and run out of the room. After watching the video, the letter from Mary vanishes completely, leaving only an empty envelope. Exiting the room, James finds the hotel flooded and burnt-out and eventually comes across Angela on a stairwell surrounded by fire. Angela and James speak for the last time and despite James’s pleas, Angela proceeds up the stairs and disappears past the flames.
Entering what was once the lobby, James finds Maria, alive and tied down, screaming for James as she is flanked by two Pyramid Heads. For a third time, Maria is killed and James finally understands what Pyramid Head and Maria are. The Pyramid Heads are a part of James himself, created subconsciously to punish him for his sins. Refusing to flee from his opponents, he turns and attacks the Pyramid Heads. With James now seeking vengeance as opposed to punishment, the Pyramid Heads cease to function and they deliberately impale themselves on their spears.
James finally meets a woman who resembles Mary before the final boss fight. The outcome of this encounter is determined by the player's actions during the game.
It is uncertain what happened to James during or after the events of Silent Hill 2, so James's fate is left ambiguous. In Silent Hill 3 which also has plenty of Silent Hill 2 references, Douglas Cartland mentions he was involved in a case in which a man went missing in Silent Hill and was never found, and it is possible that Douglas was referring to James. Silent Hill 4: The Room revealed that James and Mary "disappeared in Silent Hill". The Book of Lost Memories says "Of the four conclusions, there is no correct interpretation. Each ending indicates a different possibility." However, the novelization uses the In Water ending. Masahiro Ito and Guy Cihi both choose In Water as their personal canon ending.
Regarding James's canonical disappearance, it can be speculated that James either kills himself in the In Water ending to be with Mary in death, or went into hiding after leaving the town to avoid the possibility of being incarcerated for killing Mary in the Leave or Maria endings, although James could have claimed Mary died from her terminal disease if suspicions regarding her death were aroused, considering how she was sent back home to be with James during her final days. Laura is an orphan who was Mary's friend and appears to have forgiven James in the Leave ending, so there is no reason for James needing to hide her identity to adopt her.
- Leave - The woman is Maria. James rebuffs her, because he doesn't need her anymore. She states that he "deserves to die too" (relating to Mary) and transforms into the final boss. After killing her, James meets with Mary. She forgives him for killing her and gives him the letter, telling him to go on with his life. In the next scene, James is seen leaving Silent Hill through the graveyard with Laura ahead of him, possibly intending to carry out Mary's wishes to adopt the girl.
- In Water - The woman is Maria. James rebuffs her because she's not Mary and won't be able to replace her. She states that James will never have Mary back and transforms into the final boss. After killing her, James meets with Mary. She tells James that he has suffered enough for killing her and gives him the letter. Mary dies before James can make peace with her. James is then seeing carrying Mary's corpse out of the room. According to the novelization, Mary's corpse was already in James's trunk and he takes her out and places her in the passenger seat. James arrives at the conclusion that he's unable to live without Mary and realizes that he came to Silent Hill to take his own life in a place of memories. James is heard driving his car into Toluca Lake, killing himself to be together with his wife in death. A view from under the lake with bubbles rising to the surface is seen. This ending is ironic, because James told Angela that he would never kill himself.
- Maria - The woman is Mary. She becomes furious with James for what he did and transforms into the final boss. After killing her, James is seen looking down at the lake in Rosewater Park. Maria appears, resurrected again, and asks James whether he killed Mary again. He believes the encounter with Mary was just another illusion and asks Maria to be with him. Maria then gives James Mary's letter. Before the credits, James and Maria are seen leaving Silent Hill. However, Maria coughs, implying that she will become sick like Mary and the events that drove James to murder may repeat themselves. This is another ironic ending, because Angela told James that he "probably found someone else" to which James replied, "That's ridiculous."
- Rebirth - The woman is Maria. James states that he can't go on without Mary, and Maria won't be able to replace his wife. Maria transforms into the final boss and James fights her. After killing her, James is seen rowing in a boat with Mary's body to the Church of the Rebirth, going to perform a ritual to revive her, with an unknown result.
- UFO - Silent Hill 2 continues the tradition of the UFO ending. James is in Room 312 when UFOs appear suddenly in the sky. The first game's protagonist, Harry Mason, appears holding the Hyper Blaster, pointing it at James. Harry says sorry, and asks James if he has seen his daughter, Cheryl. James is confused, and asks if Harry has seen Mary. James is then shot and knocked unconscious by one of the aliens. James is kidnapped by the aliens and Harry gives the alien a thumbs-up.
- Dog - James walks into a room to find a dog with headsets on and states in disbelief that the dog was the one controlling everything that has happened in the game. James, realizing it was all the dog's work, then falls to his knees. The dog goes up to him and proceeds to lick his face.
Silent Hill 3
James is also referenced by Heather in an optional cutscene. In the shopping mall, she begins to dislodge a toilet but stops, saying, "Forget it. This is way too gross." She then stares at the player and asks, "Who would even think of doing something so disgusting?" This cutscene is only unlocked if the player has a Silent Hill 2 save file.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
James makes another cameo in the Shattered Memories UFO ending. He interrupts Cheryl and Dr. Kaufmann's appointment, much to Dr. K.'s frustration. He asks if he has the wrong day again, to which Dr. K. tells him his appointment is in the following day. Upon leaving, Dr. K. makes a comment about not having seen James's wife in a while. A few frames later, James can be seen spying on Mira and the alien sitting in the chair. He is voiced by producer Tomm Hulett.
The text messages received by Harry Mason in Shattered Memories reveal that this incarnation of James locked his wife in their basement, believing her to be an alien. She then starved to death and her residual hatred appeared as her boss form in Dr. K's office.
Silent Hill: Downpour
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
James appears alongside Mary in the joke ending of Silent Hill: Book of Memories. They appear in the streets of Silent Hill and are accidentally sneezed on by Becca, which angers James. James becomes worried about Mary, saying she "might catch something", to which Mary replies that he "worries too much", in a humorous nod to her illness in Silent Hill 2.
Aside from his appearance in the joke ending, James also appears as a DLC (downloadable content) character. He is voiced by Troy Baker and several of his quotes are references to Silent Hill 2.
A younger James makes a cameo in the comic Hunger, along with Mary. When Douglas Brenneman discusses how Silent Hill is often a site for honeymoons, an image is shown of James and Mary by Toluca Lake.
|“|| In the initial stages of the scenario, he was a character who had two personalities, "Joseph" and "James." The name "Joseph" was borrowed from the name of a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper, and "James" is a derivative.
- "Mary... could you really be in this town?"
- "I got a letter... The name on the envelope said... Mary... my wife's name."
- "A dead person can't write a letter. Mary died of that damn disease three years ago, so then why am I looking for her?"
- "I guess I really don't care if it's dangerous or not. I'm going to town either way."
- "You're not friends with that Red Pyramid Thing, are you?"
- "Angela. Okay, I don't know what you're planning, but there's always another way."
- "Don't worry, I'm not crazy... Least, I don't think so."
- "Mary?! No... You're not."
- "This town is full of monsters! How can you just sit there and eat pizza?!"
- "Liquor bottles. I don’t need that right now. It’s not that I don't drink. In fact, I drink a fair bit. To get away from the pain and the loneliness... But the drinking never changes anything... Anyway, I don't need it now. There's something I have to do.”
- "Are those hands searching for something? Or are they just a sign of pain?"
- "Once again, I couldn't do anything to help."
- "Eddie, you can't just kill someone cause of the way they looked at you!"
- "...Did that just move or was it only my imagination?"
- "...My God. In the hole... I didn't see that."
- "How do you know about that? Aren't you Maria?"
- "All I want from you is an answer!"
- "Eddie! Have you gone nuts?!"
- "You think it's okay to kill people? You need help, Eddie."
- "I killed a... human being... a human being..."
- "I've already read enough medical books. None of them ever did any good."
- "So Mary couldn't have died three years ago... Could she really be here? Is this the quiet, beautiful place she was talking about?"
- "The Mary you know isn't here."
- "Mary's going to die? You... you must be joking! But you're a doctor. It's your job to heal people! How can you just let her die!?"
- "Me? No... I'd never kill myself."
- "Stop! Leave her alone! Leave us both the hell alone!"
- "Mary? I... uh... I brought you some flowers."
- "Yes, I wanted to see you... Even an illusion of you... that's why I came here."
- "It's true... I may have had some of those feelings... It was a long three years... I was... tired."
- "Forgive me. That's why I did it, honey. I just couldn't watch you suffer. No... that's not the whole truth... You also said that you didn't want to die. The truth is... part of me hated you. For taking away my life." (in Water variant)
- "Forgive me. That's why I did it, honey. I just couldn't watch you suffer. No... that's not true... You also said you didn't want to die. The truth is... I hated you. I wanted you out of the way. I wanted my life back..." (Leave variant)
- "Maria. I want you... I want you with me."
- "You better do something about that cough." (to Maria in the Maria ending)
- "Now I understand. The real reason I came to this town. I wonder what was I afraid of? Without you, Mary, I've got nothing. Now we can be together." (in the In Water ending)
- "Mary. You look so peaceful. Forgive me for waking you. But without you, I just can't go on. I can't live without you, Mary. This town, Silent Hill. The Old Gods haven't left this place. And they still grant power to those who venerate them. Power to defy even death..." (in the Rebirth ending)
- "So it was all your work!" (to Mira in the Dog ending)
- The color green may have symbolism. James's jacket and eye color is green. In the beginning of the game, when James walks to Silent Hill, he walks through a forest, filled with green vegetation. In the Wood Side moth room, James sticks his hand in a hole with green liquid and the wallpaper is green. In the same room, there is green liquid on the wall and green cages. In Brookhaven Hospital, James obtains a key from a drain with green liquid. The Otherworld Brookhaven Hospital contains green tones. The Book of Lost Memories is green, the dry cell battery is green, and the wire cutter is green. The Rotating Cube Puzzle has a green tint to its face. Even the PlayStation 2 cover for the game is green.
- Green is the color of fertility and growth in traditional Japanese culture. As the color of nature, the Japanese word for green, midori (みどり, ミドリ, 緑, 翠), is also the word for vegetation. In addition, the color green represents youth and vitality, and the energy of growth. Green can also represent eternity, since evergreen trees never lose their leaves or stop growing. This may relate to James's character growth, his unfaltering energy to find Mary, and possible desire to be with Mary for all eternity, no matter what. James will need a lot of "green" on his quest.
- Red is the complementary color of green. Red may also be seen as a symbolic color in Silent Hill 2; Pyramid Head glows red, Maria is dressed in red, Maria has red soles on her boots, the save points are red, blood spilled from monsters is red, etc.
- The save menu's background is of James's face, stained with red which could represent anger or blood from a murder. His face appears to be blurred by water or glass. It could also simply be James's reflection on the Save Point's glossy surface.
- If James wields the chainsaw, he may raise it above his head and scream. If the player goes into standby mode with the chainsaw equipped, he will set it down blade first and lean on it like a cane.
- It can be speculated that because James had just recently killed Mary, her corpse is actually in the trunk of James's car at the beginning of the game. Book of Lost Memories alludes to this and the novelization affirms this with the In Water ending. However, Masahiro Ito stated that he believed that Mary's body was actually in the back seat. When asked how James didn't notice her corpse, Ito replied that James had repressed the memory of her murder.
- James's surname could be seen as an allusion to his mental state; "sunder" meaning "to break or shatter", and "land" being representative of James's sense of reality, or his world.
- James's beta design depicts him with slicked back, auburn hair. This hairstyle made him resemble Harry Mason. James shares other similarities with Harry: the two of them suffered for having lost their wives, who both died of diseases. Depending on the endings, both of them leave Silent Hill with a girl (Heather in the Good and Good+ Endings for Harry, Laura in the Leave Ending for James).
- In the Dog ending, James has a tattoo of a heart on his left arm.
- In the Wood Side Apartments, the body of a man sitting in front of a TV displaying static can be seen after James finds a pistol. The game's art director, Masashi Tsuboyama, said in "The Making of Silent Hill 2" that the man sitting in the chair is actually James himself and that he came straight out of James's imagination. This scene also acts as heavy foreshadowing of the scene when James discovers the truth about his wife. He slumps back in the chair in a very similar position and the TV displays only static.
|The whisper heard in Room 209.|
- In the Blue Creek Apartments, inside of Room 209, James may be able to hear a whisper that appears to say, "See my dead wife and come home, do some laundry, do some..." It has been speculated that it may represent a part of James's thoughts about what to do after he murdered Mary, although Japanese translator Jeremy Blaustein stated in an interview that he believes it was just one of the voice actors talking to himself in the recording booth and that the Japanese sound recorders would not have known what it had meant as it was unscripted.
- In Brookhaven Hospital, James finds records about three patients: Jack Davis, Joseph Barkin and Joshua Lewis. It may not be a coincidence that James and the three patients' names start with the letter J. It may be that Jack represents the part of James who is normally a model person, yet also has suicidal feelings. Joseph represents the part of James who feels guilt and regret for killing Mary and the delusions James is immersed in. Joshua represents the part of James who feels he needs to be persecuted and also represents his violent self (i.e. the act of killing).
- The Tablet of "The Oppressor" represents James and his sins.
- Almost every corpse in the game (excluding the ones in the holes inside the prison) wears the exact same clothing as James.
- James is the only naturally blond protagonist in the whole series.
- James wears the same green M-1965 field jacket as Jacob Singer, the protagonist of the 1990 psychological thriller Jacob's Ladder. In the Book of Lost Memories, the developers stated that Jacob's Ladder was an influence, likely making this an homage. The jacket was also sold as licensed clothing for Insert Coin Clothing.
- Guy Cihi reprised his role for a fan-fiction novelization of Silent Hill 2.
- Guy Cihi initially thought the Leave ending to be his personal canon as it was the best outcome for James, but eventually changed to In Water because he felt it was more bittersweet and fit the tone of the story better.
- Guy Cihi has speculated that the "In Water" ending may be based on a dark and taboo social practice in Japan known as "Shinjū", a "family suicide" where two or more family members suicide in tandem as a form of repentance of shame. However, Mary did not kill herself and was instead murdered by James, so it is possible this speculation is incorrect.
- In Silent Hill: Homecoming, one of the achievements is known as "Shades of James", unlocked if the player defeats a Siam.
- In Silent Hill: Homecoming, if the player completes the game on Hard difficulty, they earn the achievement "The Old Gods haven't left this place", a reference to a comment made by James in the Rebirth Ending of Silent Hill 2.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Silent Hill 2 Character Commentary: Book of Lost Memories
- ↑ Silent Hill 2 novelization, chapter 3
- ↑ Upon examining some liquor bottles in Heaven's Night
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Justice: Book of Lost Memories
- ↑ Silent Hill 2 Ending: Book of Lost Memories
- ↑ Silent Hill 2 novelization, chapter 6
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Masahiro Ito, Twitter
- ↑ Guy Cihi and David Schaufele interview
- ↑ "If I remember correctly, it's on the back seat ( not in the trunk).", Masahiro Ito
- ↑ "He hasn't noticed he killed her too.", Masahiro Ito
- ↑ Making of Silent Hill 2
- ↑ Jeremy Blaustein interview
- ↑ Guy Cihi fan fiction Silent Hill 2 retelling
- ↑ Guy Cihi and David Schaufele interview
- ↑ Guy Cihi and David Schaufele interview
For a complete list of images of James Sunderland, please visit our James images category.
|Whately - Rosy - Aickmann - Douglas Brenneman - Mario - Bryce Canavan - Perkins - Mary Shepherd-Sunderland - James Sunderland|
|Insane Cancer - Nurse - Samael - Scraper|
|Brookhaven Hospital - Silent Hill - Silent Hill Gazette - Toluca Lake|
|Brand of Samael - Fog World - Monster - Otherworld - Real World - Manifestation - The Book of Samael|
|Scott Ciencin - IDW Publishing - Konami|