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The Expanse Wiki
This page is about the Book-icon-simple.png books character. For the TV incarnation, see Fred Johnson (TV).
Book-icon-simple.png Books character Tv icon.png TV character

Frederick "Fred" Lucius Johnson is a former Colonel of the  United Nations Marine Corps, one of the most decorated officers in the UN military, and the de facto leader of the OPA's moderate arm.


He is a dark-skinned man with heavy facial bones of an Earther.



Fred Johnson became famous when he was a Captain with command over three missile frigates. He destroyed a dozen pirate ships and two major bases, causing a drop in piracy in the Belt. Johnson was promoted and given command over the Coalition Marine division responsible for policing the Belt, where he continued to serve with distinction.

When Anderson Station was taken by insurgents, Colonel Johnson led the successful attack to retake the station, killing 173 armed insurgents and over a thousand civilians. This battle earned him fame in the inner planets and the Medal of Freedom, the UN Marines' highest honor. On the other hand, in the Belt, he became notorious as "The Butcher of Anderson Station".

Filled with disgust, self-loathing, and the inability to cope with the burden of conscience from his actions, Johnson resigned from the Marine Corps and publicly apologized for his actions. Withdrawing from the public spotlight for years, he started frequenting bars in the Belt, drinking heavily and getting in skirmishes with the OPA, until he encountered Anderson Dawes who recruited him to the OPA.

Four years after his disappearance, Johnson showed up during a Belter revolt against the Coalition on the Pallas colony. He spent a year negotiating between the Coalition and the insurgents, ending the conflict peacefully and improving conditions for workers on the asteroid, and earning Johnson status as a hero in the Belt.

Eros Incident[]

After spending ten years working peacefully to improve the lives of Belters and giving up his Earth citizenship, Johnson has become the OPA's spokesperson and de facto leader, operating out of Tycho Station.

While the Knight's crew is en route to meet up with the Donnager, Fred sends them a message telling Jim Holden and the other survivors of Canterbury that they are about to play a major part in the events to come. Fred also assures Holden and crew that they have allies in the belt. Fred offers Holden a code word to use while he is in the custody of the MCRN. Holden is suggested to use the word "ubiquitous"[1] in the first sentence of any outgoing public message in order to indicate to Fred that he is not being coerced.

After the Donnager is destroyed and the crew of the Tachi escapes, Holden, unsure what to do next, contacts him. Fred then gives Holden directions and new transponder codes for his ship. Upon the arrival of the "Rocinante" (formerly the "Tachi"), Fred meets Holden and his crew. He escorts them to their rooms and explains his situation. An all out war between the Belt and Mars would bring about a horrible toll of deaths. However, there is one way to save all the blood shed; view the destruction of the Canterbury and Donnager as a criminal act instead of an act of war thus allowing for a trial incriminating a group that both the OPA and the Martian Congressional Republic can agree on. In the event of such a trial, Holden and his crew would be the star witnesses having experienced both ship's destruction first-hand and give Fred and the OPA credibility in the process.

A few days later, Fred calls Holden to his office. He asks Holden if he can borrow his ship. Holden refuses but offers to go instead if he knows the details. After Fred some deliberation, he explains the job; Lionel Polanski, a fake alias created by Mr. Tycho to own things he doesn't want tied to his public record such as the Scopuli, has checked into a hotel on Eros. Due to this being a fake person, Fred knows it's someone who knows the OPA intimately and who is in trouble. Holden negotiates in exchange for the Martian data cube from Donnager to be allowed for his ship and crew to be signed on as independent contractors for the OPA. Fred does put one condition on Holden being signed on; he has the right to outbid any one else who tries to hire the Rocinante.

Once the crew of the Roci arrives on Eros and meets Miller, Fred sends them a message indicating that they have found a mole on Tycho who is known to have been tracking and relaying the Rocinante crew's location.

When the Rocinante makes it back to Tycho after leaving Eros and stopping at the remains of the Scopuli, Fred meets with Holden and Miller and reads over the after action report. Together they conclude that the only way to stop Protogen is to assault the station that is controlling it. With this joint determination in mind, Miller is able to use his contact, Dimitri Havelock, to obtain for Fred the coordinates to Thoth Station where Miller deduces that the Eros incident is being managed from.

Battle at Thoth Station[]

During the battle at Thoth station, Fred arrives with the ground forces on the Guy Molinari where he guides the OPA forces to the station's ops center. Once Miller arrives and meets Antony Dresden, he hails Fred to join them there. As soon as Dresden faces Fred, the protomolecule researcher starts to negotiate with the OPA leader under the premise that the entire assault is comparable to a hostage scenario. As the crew of the Rocinante arrives on scene with Fred and the others, Dresden proceeds to explain the Protomolecule and Protogen's involvement. Miller eventually hears enough of Dresden and shoots him in the head much to everyone's surprise. Holden begins vocally chastising Miller, telling him to find his own way home. Only Fred shows no reaction.

Once back on Tycho, Fred pays Miller for his time on Thoth. Later, Miller comes to Fred in hopes of a job consequentially, Fred hires Miller as an independent security consultant. He then asks Miller how best to handle the Eros situation. Miller tells him to send the Nauvoo into a collision course with the station knocking it into the sun. The next day, Fred calls Holden and Naomi to his office where Miller briefs them on their plan to destroy Eros. The Roci will patrol the perimeter of Eros and serve as a deterrent against any attempted outside landing parties while a coordinated team of engineers attach five freighters triggered by proximity to explode on the surface. As soon as those primary stages are complete, a final stage will conclude bringing the Nauvoo on a trajectory to crash into the station and drive it directly toward the sun. With Holden and the Roci going back into combat, Fred demands that he turn over the protomolecule sample he has. Holden refuses and, when Fred presses the issue, Holden calls Amos to direct him that if he doesn't contact him in an hour to take the Roci and leave shooting his way out if necessary. Under Miller's advisement, Fred relents.

Once Eros dodged the Nauvoo, the crew members of the Roci begin to panic. Holden opens up a channel to the UNN Ravi asking if they would like to follow Eros as it has now somehow become invisible to radar. Holden then opens a channel with Fred. They concluded that Eros is heading towards Earth and plan to detonate the bombs on the station in hopes of slowing down the ship. At this point, needing Miller to activate the bombs, Holden discovers that Miller willfully remained aboard Eros and Roci's captain seeks other alternatives.

Once the Eros internal video feeds go live, the knowledge of Protogen's involvement is made known. The United Nations begin arresting personnel and dismantling their network looking for clues. While looking, they discover that Fred Johnson was considered Protogen's largest threat and the UN forgives him of his past offenses.

With the Roci traveling at high-g, Fred contacts him with a plan to paint Eros with a targeting laser while Earth fires nukes at it. Holden points out that there is no way for the Roci to maintain visual contact with the station while not killing his crew in the process. To that, Fred responds to put the ship on autopilot if he needs to. Holden replies that he'll think about it. After discussing it with Naomi, they realize that they can use the broadcast transponder codes from the OPA freighter ships on Eros to establish targets for guiding the Earth nukes while not endangering Roci crew. This new tactic receives approval from both Fred and the UN Naval Command.

After realizing that Julie Mao is controlling Eros' flight, Miller suggests a different strategy where he would convince her to head toward Venus instead of Earth. Wanting also to attempt an extraction of Miller, Holden concocts a deal with Fred Johnson to delay the UN nuclear arsenal en route. In exchange for the protomolecule sample that Holden has, Fred Johnson would rotate and modulate transponder codes for the Eros-locked freighter ships which would effectively lead the nuclear missiles on a longer trajectory toward the speeding asteroid. The UN detects the manipulations and this raises their ire and it leads to threats of reprisal for the deception.

Three weeks later after Eros descends on Venus. Fred gives a speech at the peace conference on Ceres. On the Belt, Miller is subsequently and posthumously heralded as a hero. In contrast to prior mutual sensibilities, this is ironic.

Ganymede Incident[]

Fred contacts James Holden, who had just convinced a pirate ship to turn themselves over to him and the OPA, about the Ganymede incident. Fred gets the Roci crew to take the Weeping Somnambulist to Ganymede to investigate potential protomolecule involvement.

Fred sends Bull, Michio Pa and Ashford aboard Behemoth to join a fleet of UN and MCRN ships headed to the Ring

Fred sends Rocinante to mediate the settlement dispute between the Royal Charter Energy personnel that arrived aboard the Edward Israel and the Ganymede refugees that arrived first aboard Barbapiccola

When the damaged Rocinante arrives at Tycho Station, Johnson meets up with James Holden and informs him of the Roci needing six months to repair. Their conversation then leads to them discussing the goldrush for new worlds and how he is setting himself and the OPA to benefit from Medina Station's position in the Slow Zone. Later Holden asks Fred of a possible OPA connection with missing ships but he denies it.

When Johnson receives a call from Holden of rogue OPA on Tycho Station, Him and Holden investigate the disappearance of Monica Stuart. Their investigation leads them to trace the steps of the men who kidnapped her from security footage but do not find her after looking for Monica in a shipping crate. Fred responses to this by putting the station on lockdown. When Holden discovers a clue to Monica's whereabouts, they do find an unharmed Monica and later they all come to an agreement to do an investigation on the missing ships. Fred then hires Holden as his personal security guard.

In trying to find whos behind rogue OPA on Tycho, Fred contacts Anderson Dawes who informs him of his chief engineer William Sakai possibly being involved. Their questioning of Sakai reveals his resentment against Holden and Fred for being Earthers but of also his betrayal. An angered Fred punches Sakai and makes his chief security Camina Drummer imprison him.

Tycho Station Coup[]

After news reports of an asteroid hitting Earth,  Fred Johnson was in his office with James Holden when a priority alert from Drummer warns them of a ship target locking the station. In the that moment, three Belters dressed in Tycho uniform storm into his office and started firing. Fred and Holden managed to hide behind the desk and manage to kill most of them.

Once they meet up with Drummer, Fred activates the ambush teams he prepared to take back auxiliary engineering – which had been commandeered by 20 hostiles. The electrician Garret Ming takes Fred to auxiliary engineering's environmental controls to shut down the air supply. Fred and Drummer prepare a decoy team for the hostiles and approach engineering. Within minutes the hostiles exit the room; Fred and his teams take them out. Within hours of the attack, Fred and Holden discover that a salvage mech from the hostile ship stole Fred's Protomolecule sample.

Following the coup, Fred Johnson gets two offers – one from Anderson Dawes to join the new faction of the OPA and another from Chrisjen Avasarla to a meeting with the Martian Prime Minister on Luna. He makes his decision when Drummer informs him of Medina Station going dark and not reporting back to him. Johnson hires James Holden and the Rocinante to ferry him to the meeting on Luna and leaves Drummer in charge of Tycho Station.

In Fred Johnson's temporary office on the Rocinante, he tells Holden about Marco Inaros likely being a puppet to someone since he lacks organization and coordination skills. Holden questions Fred about Naomi's connection to Marco, and Fred tells him they likely had a history. 

Johnson makes it to Luna aboard the Roci and has many meetings with Avasarala to discuss plans to deal with the then declared Free Navy.  

Fred joins the coalition of governments that sanctions an operation to lead the Rocinante, headed by Bobbie Draper, against the Azure Dragon, the ship that the Free Navy used to propel asteroids into collision trajectories with Earth.

Fred allows Michio Pa safe passage to Ceres after her breakaway pirate fleet separates from Marco Inaros' Free Navy.

Free Navy ambushes Rocinante[]

Fred calls a meeting of OPA leaders to join a growing Consolidated Fleet coalition to oppose Marco Inaros' Free Navy. Fearing of possibly being ambushed, Fred hires the Rocinante to escort him to Tycho Station. He does not reveal to James Holden any details of his plans for the OPA leaders before dying from a stroke in a high-g battle with the Pella en route to the meeting on Tycho.


  1. The word "ubiquitous", as used in the sequence of code words given by Alex to the Yangtse, seemingly evolved in the TV adaptation from the use as a signal (in the novel Leviathan Wakes) between the survivors of the Canterbury and Fred Johnson to indicate no coercion.