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"I know you're trying to save lives. I am too! But we're on the brink right now, because we keep reacting to things we don't understand! We're scared, we're hurt, and we're reaching for violence because we can't figure out what do to. But just this once, can't we try something else?"
— James Holden

James "Jim" Holden is the captain of the Rocinante. Born between 30 BXT and 21 BXT in Montana on Earth, Holden joined the United Nations Navy, later being dishonorably discharged after seven years of continuous service. Following the destruction of the Canterbury, Holden, along with Shed Garvey, Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton, and Alex Kamal, underwent a quest to uncover the true culprit, uncovering conspiracies and mysteries across the system. His exploits continued aboard the Rocinante, eventually raising him to system-wide recognition and his appointment as the first President of the Transport Union.



A Montana native, he is the only child born to eight parents as part of a genetic collective. At a time when Earth's population is over 30 billion, there are big incentives for people not to have children and undeveloped land is a distant memory for most of Earth's population.

Holden is an only child of 8 parents whose DNA has been artificially combined to create an heir to his parents' fight to preserve one of the last undeveloped wildernesses in Montana. When he was 18, his closest parent, Elise, in a moment of guilt, told him he had been raised to fight a losing battle and that he should run away as far as possible.

Holden joined Earth's Navy to escape. In the UN Navy he served as a First Lieutenant on board the UNN Zheng Fei[1] until an ideological conflict turned into a physical confrontation where Holden tried to punch a superior officer. The officer dodged and Holden broke his hand on a bulkhead. Holden was then given a general court-martial, convicted and discharged from service as a result.

After being discharged from the Navy, Holden took a contract with Pur'n'Kleen (owner of the Canterbury), looking to get as far from home and Earth and the UNN as possible.


At the beginning of the series, Holden is presented as having been enjoying the relative lack of responsibility that comes with being the 2nd officer on a remote ice hauler. Born on Earth, he left after being kicked out of Earth's Navy and has run to one of the most remote places in the solar system onboard the Canterbury.

As events unfold he soon becomes the captain of the Rocinante. Raised to be moral and responsible, once he has taken on a cause, he feels honor-bound to see it through.

Throughout the series[]

In "Dulcinea", a small crew from the ice hauler Canterbury – Holden, Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal, Shed Garvey and Amos Burton – respond to a distress call from a seemingly abandoned ship, the Scopuli. Once on board, they discover the distress call was planted. Shortly after, Holden watches as a ship with advanced stealth technology blows up the Canterbury, killing all the crew onboard.

In "The Big Empty", with oxygen dwindling, Holden and the surviving crew of the Canterbury struggle to stay alive in their shuttle. They theorize the Canterbury’s destroyers were Martian, since the distress call transponder was of Martian Naval origins. Holden broadcasts a public message that implicates Mars in the attack, thus ensuring he and his crew won’t be killed by Mars (for fear they’ll look more guilty). The message goes out just as a Martian warship, the Donnager, approaches the shuttle.

In "Remember the Cant", the Martian Navy detains and interrogates Holden and his crew over Holden’s public accusation that Mars destroyed the Canterbury. Holden is interrogated and made to doubt Naomi’s loyalty. The ship’s captain wants Holden to rescind his statement and blame Naomi and her supposed Outer Planets Alliance ties for the explosion, just as a fleet of aggressive stealth ships approach.

In "CQB", the Donnager comes under attack by a fleet of stealth ships just like the one that destroyed the Canterbury. The crew realizes this indicates Mars’ innocence. While Shed is killed, Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos escape the destruction of the Donnager by commandeering a Martian attack ship, the Tachi.

In "Back to the Butcher", Holden and his crewmates escape the Donnager’s destruction through the fighter ship, the Tachi. They receive an offer of help and refuge from Fred Johnson. After much debate, given Fred’s reputation, they decide to take him up on his offer, shortly before disguising the ship with the new name of the Rocinante.

In "Rock Bottom", Holden and his crewmates arrive on Tycho, where Fred Johnson reveals that he was the one that chartered the Scoupli, the ship whose distress call started the chain of events that destroyed Holden’s ship, the Canterbury. He tells Holden and co. he needs their ship, the Rocinante, to go find the Scopuli’s sole survivor – code name Lionel Polanski. Holden agrees to lend the ship if he's part of the crew, as Lionel might be able to reveal who really destroyed the Canterbury. Fred agrees, and Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos decide to stick together until they get answers.

In "Windmills", on the way to retrieve Lionel Polanski, the person that can reveal who destroyed their ship, Holden and Co. elude detection by a Martian warship. They discover Avasarala’s spy, Kenzo stowed away aboard the Rocinante. Holden and Amos disagree over his treatment.

In "Salvage", out in space Holden and his crew find the Anubis at the coordinates provided by Lionel Polanski. They realize the Anubis was the stealth ship that blew up the Canterbury, and is filled with a dangerous substance that must have killed the crew. The crew traces the Anubis’ shuttle to Eros, where they meet Miller and escape U.N. Underecretary Errinwright’s team of assassins, only to discover the agent they’re looking for – Julie Mao - is dead and infected with the same strange substance.

In "Critical Mass" and "Leviathan Wakes", Holden and his crew compare notes with Miller. Both parties realize that the trails they’d been following point to the bioweapon that made its way from Phoebe. Eros goes on lockdown, and Miller deduces it’s the work of the same people responsible for the bioweapon. Believing this could reveal why the Canterbury was destroyed, he accompanies Miller on a search for answers while Naomi, Alex and Amos head to the Rocinante. Holden and Miller are hit with a fatal dose of radiation. Together, they manage to elude detention by those security forces keeping Eros on lockdown and then the pair get back to the Rocinante. After getting some medicine, Miller, Holden and the Rocinante crew vow to find Dresden, the scientist who is responsible for locking down Eros to use its populace as an experiment for the bioweapon.

In "Safe", in the aftermath of the Eros station disaster, Holden is still recovering from an almost lethal dose of radiation. Holden and the crew of the Rocinante go on the run, this time with a sample of the protomolecule, the extra-solar lifeform responsible for all of the havoc on Eros station. With so much at stake, they decide to reconvene on Tycho with Fred Johnson, the very man who sent them there in the first place. Naomi and Holden also embark on a romance.

In "Doors & Corners", once on board Tycho, the crew of the Rocinante hatch a plan to get rid of the protomolecule, the extra-solar life form that destroyed Eros. Holden and the crew of the Rocinante depart for Thoth, a black ops station hidden in the belt and the whereabouts of the foremost protomolecule scientists. Once on board Thoth station, Holden finds a group of protomolecule scientists. When his boarding team disrupts them, things go sour and only one of the scientists survives the resulting shootout. Holden, Fred Johnson, and Miller corner the lead protomolecule scientist, Dresden, and seem poised to finally extract the truth from him regarding the protomolecule, before Miller shoots him dead.

In "Static", after the battle on Thoth station, the crew of the Rocinante take some much-needed R&R. Naomi and Holden clash over Miller’s murder of protomolecule scientist Dresden; Naomi thinks that Miller was protecting the Belt with his actions and Holden believes Miller’s actions to be motivated by revenge. The two come to a truce, but their alliance and relationship may have been formed on a cracked foundation. Meanwhile, Holden works with Amos to extract vital protomolecule information from Cortazar, the only scientist to survive Thoth station.

In "Godspeed", Fred Johnson and Miller inform Holden and the Rocinante crew of their plan to get rid of the protomolecule threat on Eros once and for all: by using a commandeered Nauvoo as a battering ram, they plan to push Eros into the sun. Eventually, Naomi gets on board with the plan. Alex, Naomi, Holden and Amos take off with the massive generational ship the Nauvoo in tow, which will be used to destroy Eros (and the protomolecule). Once they get close to Eros, they encounter a small rogue Belter ship, the Marasmus, has boarded Eros and been exposed to the Protomolecule. Holden has no choice but to fire upon the Marasmus crew lest they infect the rest of the system with the protomolecule. Later, the Rocinante crew launches the Nauvoo into Eros, but the asteroid defies all physics and dodges the starship.

In "Home", with Eros now hurtling towards Earth at speeds that defy physics, Holden and the Rocinante crew convince the UN to give Fred Johnson the codes to a horde of nuclear missiles, so that he can control them remotely through information the Rocinante feeds him. The UN agrees, but it’s Miller that saves the day when he convinces a protomolecul-infected Julie Mao controlling the asteroid to crash into Venus instead of Earth.

In "Paradigm Shift", Holden and the Rocinante crew return to Tycho and are hailed as heroes. Holden pleads with Fred Johnson to return Earth’s nuclear missiles in his possession, but Fred sees these missiles as a valuable tool in keeping the Asteroid Belt’s residents from suffering because of Earth and Mars’ conflict. Worried about the sample of the protomolecule still in the Rocinante’s possession getting in the wrong hands, he convinces the rest of his crew to blast it into the Sun to destroy it. Naomi, thinking it may be valuable to the Belters, secretly saves it, lying to Holden in the process.

In "The Seventh Man", Holden witnesses Fred and Anderson Dawes vying for power within the Outer Planets Alliance. He tries to throw his support behind Fred, the only person in the room advocating peace. But Holden is quickly proven to be in over his head. Dawes wins the support of the Belter tribal leaders, and sniffs out the existence of Fred's secret weapon: protomolecule expert Cortazar. When Holden finds Cortazar's cell empty, the Roci crew race to catch him, but Dawes has scurried him away.

In "Pyre", with the knowledge that there is protomolecule on Ganymede, Holden and Naomi work to track down the prominent scientists on the Jovian moon who might be responsible for the contamination. Their search reveals a Dr. Strickland. One of Strickland’s acquaintances, Praxideke Meng, is one of the refugees that has just arrived on Tycho. Holden questions Prax, but the botanist doesn’t know anything about the protomolecule. Naomi and Holden argue over Holden's increasingly violent approach to stopping the protomolecule threat; other people may behave that way, but he's supposed to be better. As tenderly as he can, Holden explains that this time he can't back down until his job is done. In order to protect the Belt, Holden and the Roci crew depart Tycho with Prax, to go to Ganymede and destroy the protomolecule.

In "The Weeping Somnambulist", Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are en route to Ganymede, but need a way onto the damaged Jovian moon that is less conspicuous than boarding with a Martian gunship. They hitch a ride on an aid ship called the Weeping Somnambulist and conscript the unwilling help of two Belters for safe passage to Ganymede.

In "Cascade", Holden and the rest of the Rocinante crew, sans Alex, begin to canvas Ganymede for any signs of Prax’s daughter. Their search leads them to a corrupt video technician named Roma who is exchanging his access to the video feeds for canned chicken. After some aggressive negotiations, they find the last video of Prax’s daughter alive, being lead into the bowels of Ganymede.

In "Here There Be Dragons", on Ganymede, Holden and the Roci crew seek to track where Dr. Strickland was leading Mei, Prax's daughter. They find Strickland’s cronies and appear to be ready to negotiate, when Prax sees Mei’s backpack and abandons all tact or discretion. His agressive demands for immediate answers triggers a similarly hostile defensive response. In the ensuing gunfight, Amos gets wounded before Strickland’s crew escapes. Afterwards, they find one of Strickland’s young test subjects. It appears that the researcher was injecting protomolecule into humans. The calm is broken when a grenade is dropped in the lab though a quick reaction by Amos spares Holden's crew. Through the door where Strickland's associates fled, they hear a massive explosion and confrontation; someone or something destroyed the lab and everyone in it. Jim sees a protomolecule-human hybrid in open space without a vacuum suit and tells his team to suit up for battle.

In "The Monster and the Rocket", Holden, Alex, and Prax are in pursuit of the human-protomolecule hybrid on Ganymede. The creature seems to evade their every move, and Prax suggests that he himself try to reason with it, but Holden is convinced that it needs to be destroyed. When MCRN ships surrounding Ganymede target lock on the Weeping Somnambulist, Holden abandons the chase in order to save them. Unbeknownst to them, the hybrid creature seems to have latched onto the Rocinante and is now burrowing into the ship’s hull.

In "Caliban's War", Holden has an emotional reunion with Naomi aboard the Rocinante, but their jubilation is short-lived. They discover the human-protomolecule hybrid aboard the ship and must construct a plan to destroy it. In the ensuing battle, Holden gets pinned to the wall by one of the cargo boxes that the creature hurled at him. Luckily, the creature seems more interested in finding the ship's nuclear power-source than killing the captain. Prax and Naomi venture out to the exterior of the ship with one of the Roci’s nuclear missile cores and, when Alex cuts power from the Epstein Drive, the creature is attracted to the energy of the radioactive core. Prax hurls the core away from Rocinante toward open space, and the creature leaps after it. Then, Alex turns on the engines to vaporize the hybrid. Afterwards, Naomi admits to Holden that she gave their protomolecule sample to Fred Johnson instead of destroying it.

In "Fight or Flight", while the crew makes repairs and tidies up after having eliminated the protomolecule hybrid threat, Holden receives the news that the UN declared war on the MCR. Thus, he directs the crew to next change the transponder and drive signature. Amos approaches Holden to inform him of the decision to go to Tycho despite his and Alex's feeling about Naomi's betrayal. Holden, while still suffering the agony from his crushed leg, dismisses Naomi's attention and in a bout of frustration destroys the prized coffee machine. Preparing to go dark and hide out for the duration of the war, Holden begins a little investigation. He discovers a series of leads that suggest Strickland and Mei might be tracked to the Jovian moon Io. Holden admits to Prax that the crew used him and that he wanted to honor his commitment to help the botanist find his daughter. Despite Naomi's insistence that they head to Tycho, Amos agrees to follow Holden's new plan and Alex heads to the flight deck in order to set their new course.


"Exodus"turned down for dinner by naomi. told ship wouldn't be ready for long time by sakai. monica "bumps into him" at the japanese noodle place where she tells him she has reason to believe someone has protomolecule. vedesto(sp?)(links?) and tamir douru are watching them. demands to know what fred has done with the protomolecule.

"Oyedeng"gets message from alex and bobbie revealing naomi's ship is with marco inaro's free navy fleet of stolen martian warships. with prodding from monica and bull, determines to continue pursuit of zmeya instead of the chetzemokah. tells bobbie and alex to not lose the marco inaros fleet despite the risk. monica explains to holden her reasons for believing marco has friends high up in the martian navy in order to get ships and must be trading cortazar and protomolecule. catches up with zmeya and after surviving torpedo salvo takes out its epstein drive but is unable to question the crew or gather communication or navigation logs because the ship is scuttled in a self-destruct.


Thanks to his time in the UNN, Holden was proficient with firearms, such as handguns and machine guns, and was an accomplished marksman.

Memorable Quotes[]

There was a button. I pushed it.
— Holden to Johnson in "Churn"
Amos, all we've been through how many have I asked you to trust me?
— Holden to Amos in "It Reaches Out"
There shouldn't be any teams.
— Holden to Johnson in "Paradigm Shift"
Earth and Mars are still in the dark about the protomolecule. We need to tell them everything we know about it. We need to tell everyone.
— Holden to Johnson in "Paradigm Shift"
Fred saw what the protomolecule did to Eros, and now he's going to squeeze every ounce of information out of Cortazar's head to figure out how it works. He wants to control it.
— Holden to Naomi in "Paradigm Shift"
Or so he claims. It's too dangerous to leave our sample out there anymore. We have to destroy it.
— Holden to Naomi in "Paradigm Shift"
If any side believes they have a strategic advantage by using the protomolecule, then eventually someone will.And then we're going to have another Eros or worse. The only way to prevent that is to destroy it. All of it. While we still can.
— Holden to Naomi in "Paradigm Shift"
We just might. When Dresden's people lost the Anubis, it stopped the project dead in its tracks.Which tells me, protomolecule samples aren't easy to come by.We vaporized the Anubis.Phoebe, the original source was destroyed.We broke Dresden's station down to the bolts, nothing was there.And Eros burned up in Venus. We're this close to getting rid of it, once and for all.
— Holden to Naomi in "Paradigm Shift"


Season One
1 "Dulcinea"Appears
2 "The Big Empty"Appears
3 "Remember the Cant"Appears
4 "CQB"Appears
5 "Back to the Butcher"Appears
6 "Rock Bottom"Appears
7 "Windmills"Appears
8 "Salvage"Appears
9 "Critical Mass"Appears
10 "Leviathan Wakes"Appears
Season Two
1 "Safe"Appears
2 "Doors & Corners"Appears
3 "Static"Appears
4 "Godspeed"Appears
5 "Home"Appears
6 "Paradigm Shift"Appears
7 "The Seventh Man"Appears
8 "Pyre"Appears
9 "The Weeping Somnambulist"Appears
10 "Cascade"Appears
11 "Here There Be Dragons"Appears
12 "The Monster and the Rocket"Appears
13 "Caliban's War"Appears
Season Three
1 "Fight or Flight"Appears
2 "IFF"Appears
3 "Assured Destruction"Appears
4 "Reload"Appears
5 "Triple Point"Appears
6 "Immolation"Appears
7 "Delta-V"Appears
8 "It Reaches Out"Appears
9 "Intransigence"Appears
10 "Dandelion Sky"Appears
11 "Fallen World"Appears
12 "Congregation"Appears
13 "Abaddon's Gate"Appears
Season Four
1 "New Terra"Appears
2 "Jetsam"Appears
3 "Subduction"Appears
4 "Retrograde"Appears
5 "Oppressor"Appears
6 "Displacement"Appears
7 "A Shot in The Dark"Appears
8 "The One-Eyed Man"Appears
9 "Saeculum"Appears
10 "Cibola Burn"Appears
Season Five
1 "Exodus"Appears
2 "Churn"Appears
3 "Mother"Appears
4 "Gaugamela"Appears
5 "Down and Out"Appears
6 "Tribes"Appears
7 "Oyedeng"Appears
8 "Hard Vacuum"Appears
9 "Winnipesaukee"Appears
10 "Nemesis Games"Appears
Season Six
1 "Strange Dogs"Appears
2 "Azure Dragon"Appears
3 "Force Projection"Appears
4 "Redoubt"Appears
5 "Why We Fight"Appears
6 "Babylon's Ashes"Appears
Season Six (One Ship)
1 "Ankawala"
2 "Zenobia"
3 "Win or Lose"
4 "Night Watch"
5 "Remember the Cant"Appears


  • James Holden is the only known human to be the biological descendant of eight people in just one generation.
  • Holden is the only character to have appeared in every single episode of The Expanse.
  • Alex Kamal's nickname for Holden was "Hoss".
    • "Hoss" is Southern US slang for A big, strong and respected or dependable person, usually a man. [source]
    • The term "Hoss" might also be a nod to the American Western TV series, "Bonanza", seeing as Alex comes from Mars, which is heavily influenced by cowboy culture. One of the main characters in the show, Eric Cartwright, is nicknamed Hoss by his family, and the nickname is attributed to mean a "big, friendly man", reflecting Hoss's strength and formidable size but also his kind and gentle nature.


See also[]


  1. "Remember the Cant" Season 1, Episode 3
    The Expanse Origins: James Holden digital comic

External links[]