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John Constantine Can’t Smoke on Network TV

Constantine - Season Pilot

When Constantine premieres in October on NBC, DC Comics’ occult investigator will sport his familiar trench coat and skinny tie — we’ve seen as much in the promotional materials — but he’ll be missing one signature element: his cigarettes.

“It’s the one thing — a compromise, I guess,” Neil Marshall, who directed the pilot, told Collider. “On network it’s the one thing you can’t smoke on network. That’s one of his character traits. We’re working around that. We’re trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We’ll see.”

It probably shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, as Executive Producer David S. Goyer revealed in March that the Constantine team was “negotiating” with the network about including cigarettes, which he described as “tricky.”

Asked whether the character will have cancer in the TV adaptation, Marshall said that while there’s no mention of it in the pilot, he has “no idea” where the series goes from there. But the filmmaker, who’s recently earned acclaim for directing two epic episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones (“Blackwater,” “The Watchers on the Wall”), assured that Constantine will be able to creep into some pretty shadowy corners.

Hannibal is on NBC, and that’s pretty dark and disturbing,” he said. “Whatever the regulations are, you can be as dark and disturbing as you want and we’re going to go in that direction. The intention is to be as dark and scary as possible with the show. And that was our whole kind of plan going in, to make it scary. So we’re going to explore all kinds of things. But the smoking is very frustrating. Who knows where it will go, where the story will go, where the character will go? There’s still lots of options.”

Constantine, which stars Matt Ryan, Lucy Griffiths, Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford, premieres Oct. 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.


  • jeez

    So you can be a cannibal serial killer and headline a show on network tv, but not a smoker. That’s not insane at all.

  • Jorge

    Is pretty weird that many characters are active smokers, and assassins, and drugdealer. Darn it, even de gigarrette smoking man from X Files … well… smokes. But no constantine. Can he have a ligther or is “too extereme” too?

  • Michael Singer

    It’s weird that NBC is cool with Hannibal showing fairly graphic violence/gore, and SVU showing the traumatic physical and psychological aspects of rape, but smoking is where they draw the line. Look I HATE smoking, I’ve lost several friends/relatives to it. However, it’s kind of a big part of Constantine’s character and to not do it basically for PR reasons makes little sense to me. Also, they seem to have no problem with their shows showing alcoholism and hardcore drug used, but smoking is a no no, really?

  • demoncat_4

    in other words canibalism is okay as long as the canibal is not shown cutting up his victims before eating . but when it comes to lighting up now sorry can’t do it and that probably includes the producers having the character be using a electronic ciggerrette.

  • demoncat_4

    though if they are allowed to be dark with the show then maybe fans will get the story where John tricks three demons to cure him and gives the finger to the devil

  • Irabbit75

    Nailed it on the head.

  • penguintruth

    Network TV is f***ing dead because of this crap. It’s done. The only channels with any gravitas now are cable channels.

  • Rene Narciso

    I don’t agree with it at all, but I believe the rationale is that cannibalism is so out there that no one will be influenced by a TV show to take it up (or at least no one who isn’t pretty messed up in the first place). While cigarettes (and a smoking habit) can be acquired pretty easily.
    Also, and this is counter-intuitive at first, but alcohol and other drugs have more of a immediate impact. Show a guy drunk or drugged out of his mind and it’s easy to make it appear unappealing. But cigarette smoking looks cool. There are only so many times you can have the character winded easily after running and complaining about smoking.
    But you know, in the end of the day, and as much as I understand the reasons, smoking is such a big part of Constantine, that it’s a betrayal to have it removed.

  • Victor Acosta

    Can anybody please explain this ridiculous rule to me?
    You can show attempted rape, murder and all sort of other terrible things on Network TV, but heaven forbid you show someone smoking a cigarette?

  • Jason M Bryant

    As someone who is anti-smoking, I think there should be an exception to the rule for characters who are dying of lung cancer.

  • G-man

    How about if NBC let John smoke then aired anti-smoking ads during the commercials? Wouldn’t that please both sides?

  • Jason M Bryant

    That would just look hypocritical.

    Like I said, showing him smoke, then showing him get horribly ill as a direct consequence of smoking.would be the best thing.

  • Chelsea

    Eh…. It’s a big part of his character, and I’m quite frankly baffled as to exactly WHY it’s barred considering… you know… all the other horrific stuff you can find on the network (Hannibal) but…. ok I guess, whatever. Maybe since Cannibalizing someone is really hard to do (what with the person fighting back and all) but cigarettes are something a kid actually might be able to get their hands on? Not trying to defend NBC, just trying to figure out if there’s ANY rational basis for this…

    But either way, the fact that the producers are aware of how important his smoking is to the point that they tried to get it allowed gives me faith in the show. I’m hoping even if they lose this battle, we might see some allusions to it. Can he have a pack of cigarettes? Talk about smoking? Where is the line drawn exactly? Because it Might be a funny joke at one point to Have Constantine have a pack of cigarettes and talk about wanting to smoke them but have whatever the thing he’s dealing with that episode constantly stop him. Like knock the cigs out of his hand or something, so by the end of the episode he’s like “JEEZ, Can’t a guy get a smoke?!”

  • dekko

    I’ve seen several episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” where all the cast are shown smoking. Was it ok because they were all shown trying to quit? Smoking has been shown but it seems as long as it’s not glamorized (i.e. we see bad side effects, it’s considered by other characters to be disgusting or the smoker is an evil, evil person). I’m surprised they can’t show him smoke once in awhile and as long as they say that he’s really trying to quit an evil habit.

  • Liam

    Have all the violence and sexual themed content you want but heaven forbid if you show someone lighting a cigarette.

  • Jonny_anonymous

    The pilot isn’t remotely scary

  • Dan Wheeler

    Are there rules against smoking on national tv?

  • Tophman

    I’m guessing it’s because those characters are ‘bad guys’ rather than someone you’ll be rooting for. It’s a fine line … but Network TV’s cooky that way… and since Constantine landed on NBC, they have to play nice with the censors.

  • Tophman

    I’d prefer it if they turn it into a ‘thing’ on the show… like someone John crossed in his checkered past got back at him with a curse. Now every time he’d light a cig, the whole stick bursts into flame that threatens to burn his face off. Being John Constantine though, we’ll see him keep trying some new counter spell every week & watch it fail miserably as he tries to get his fix and light up.

  • Sturgeon’s Law

    A Constantine who doesn’t smoke cigarettes is like a Wolverine or Hellboy who doesn’t smoke cigars.

  • John E Cupach

    I get the rational. Smoking looks cool. Cannibalism, etc. doesn’t. To me, that’s the difference.

  • Sal

    That’s because it’s probably not an NBC thing, it’s an FCC thing.

  • lucky gnome

    Just not a martini without the olive

  • wnyconservative

    Buh? John ends selling his soul to the lords of Hell in a desperate bid to avoid dying of LUNG CANCER. Can we not show bad habits even when the characters die from it? And is smoking really a worse habit than constantly getting his friends killed?

  • LorrieKR

    There’s no FCC rule that doesn’t allow smoking. It must just be NBC’s own Standards and Practices that has that rule.

  • buckwhizzle

    I realize that kids can DVR it,but put the show at 10PM.At least then parents would have some measure of control.Or maybe I’m just talking out my butt.Who knows.

  • Gavin

    True Detective. They smoked pretty much constantly in that show, and it had little bearing on the plot other than the hard boiled detective look itself!

  • Gavin

    And True Detective, and they weren’t exactly trying to quit in that show.

  • Kristopher M. Mosby

    True Detective on a Premium Pay Channel, isn’t the same as a show on regular network channels.

  • DaMak

    But that’s HBO, which is not network.

  • BadGuy

    Most people root for and love “bad guys” nowadays, Walter White for example.

  • Constantine

    You put your friends before your relatives? And it’s their fault, not cigarettes.

  • Gavin

    Fair enough, I’m not from the US so not that clued up on the differences of network etc, Here in the UK they have similar rules but far less strict. After 9 or 10pm pretty much anything could be shown (within reasonable limits! lol) As people watching premium pay channels should be over 18 I still think it’s a bit much to ban it. Really I’m sure the show will still be pretty cool, Hellblazer is one of my favourite reads, going through the trades at the moment.

  • Gavin

    Probably the same parents that buy their 8 year old children Call of Duty and wonder why they turn into little shits. I actually saw a woman having a go at a store owner as he was advising her not to buy her pre pubescent son Modern Warfare 2. He sold it to her anyway. Wonder if she minded her son taking part in executions and mass murder in an airport. But seriously, don’t show smoking, even after the watershed!

  • JCM

    People aren’t s likely to emulate the serial killer as the smoking. I HOPE!

  • JCM

    Walter white was a sick monster. I don’t know anyone who was rooting for him as much as they were fascinated by his descent into being that monster.

  • JCM

    Cigarette smoking depicted in a program is seen as a sneaky form of free”advertizing” for a product that is restricted from advertizing on TV. It’s not really about ethics as much as money.

  • JCM

    Cigarette smoking depicted in a program is seen as a sneaky form of free”advertizing” for a product that is restricted from advertizing on TV. I think that’s what this really is about

  • Ezequiel

    In Doctor House House use drugs in almost all the episodes and its ok but Constantine can’t smoke?

  • Victor Acosta

    Well that is just B.S. I could see it as advertising if John was pulling out a pack of Marlboro or Camel or any other damn brand, but that can just as easily be avoided by not showing the pack, or by wrapping it in some make believe generic non existent brand. The point is, Constantine smokes. People in real life smoke too (and no I am not endorsing the filthy habit). By taking that away from John, you take away one of his most iconic and identifiable traits. It is a disservice to the character.

  • Victor Acosta

    Good point.

  • whitepawn

    Constantine is a grade-A, A-hole. People love him for being an A-hole. Let him smoke. Part of what killed the movie, beyond the Keanu thing, was the ridiculous change on the ending re the cigarettes. John lights up after getting his lung cancer cure, cuz that’s just the kind of A-hole John is.

    For the record, I love the no smoking in restaurants thing, never tried smoking, would never date a smoker, don’t want to be around it…ever. But John Constantine should smoke. Copiously. Doubly so after getting his lung cancer cure. These producers are ridiculous.

  • whitepawn

    In the X-files they just made up a brand of cigarettes for the smoking guy. Doesn’t have to be advertising, that’s not why they’re denying it.