- "What's life without a little excitement?"
- —Joanna Dark
Joanna Dark, nicknamed Jo by friends, is the top agent employed by the Carrington Institute, specializing in combat, espionage, and undercover operations. She is the protagonist of the Perfect Dark series, and plays a pivotal role in the events of the games and novels. She began as an enforcer agent with her father, Jack Dark, in the Dark Bail Bonds agency. She comes into employment with the Institute shortly after the events of Perfect Dark Zero. Her flawless performance in training earned her the callsign "Perfect Dark".
Joanna Dark was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 18, 2000. She was born with severe spinal damage, which would require specialized experimental treatment throughout most of her childhood. The experience would haunt her subconscious for years. It wasn't until she was five years old that she could walk on her own. She never knew her mother, who died shortly after she was born.
At the young age of seven, Joanna's father, Jack Dark, began teaching her to fight, including how to properly operate firearms. Jack was a bounty hunter, and he took Joanna with him as he tracked criminals across the world. She briefly attended an American school in Beijing, China, but was expelled after hospitalizing another student following a bullying incident. As a result she was home schooled by her father, including some online and remote teaching, and tutoring by AI lecturers. Her innate curiosity filled in most of the gaps.
As a teenager, Joanna did not directly assist Jack on his missions. She was left to regularly perform weapon maintenance, provide secondary assistance and train on the HoloMan and DeathMatch VR systems.
Perfect Dark Zero
In 2020, Joanna and Jack ran into financial trouble. Needing the money, Chandra signed Dark Bail Bonds onto a contract to apprehend Nathan Zeigler, with the reward being $475,000. They tracked and subsequently chased Zeigler across the globe. They finally tracked him to Hong Kong, where he was captured by a Triad gang. Joanna was to assist Jack on her first field op, hanging back while Jack extracts Zeigler from Killian's nightclub. She is inserted by Chandra Sekhar via speedboat on a dock. When Jack gets into trouble in the nightclub, Joanna fights Killian's thugs as she moves through the building. Joanna arrives to assist, but she throws Jack's guard off and Killian is able to escape.
Zeigler refuses to go anywhere without his research documents, and Jack has been injured, so Joanna is sent to recover them. After quickly dispatching a group of bikers, She moves through the streets of Hong Kong, sneaking past and dispatching Killian's thugs as she does so. She retrieves the research documents from a safe house and meets up with Jack at the rendezvous point in a subway.
Joanna can only watch as Zeigler implants Jack with his information and dies. Jack and Joanna then move to the rooftops, hoping to meet Chandra at the extraction point. Due to Killian's interference, Jack and Joanna are separated and Joanna covers Jack from the rooftop as they make their way to the extraction point. A dataDyne assault team impedes their progress, assisted by Killian in his dropship. After an intense fight Joanna is able to bring down Killian's dropship, with the following explosion killing him. Joanna escapes with Chandra, but Jack is captured by dataDyne.
Rescuing her father
The tracker in Jack's nullsuit pinpoints him to Zhang Li's mansion in China. There, she able to perform the then unheard-of feat of infiltrating the mansion. She stumbles in on a DeathMatch session in progress, but is taken by surprise when one of the contenders die as a result of losing. Zhang Li notices Joanna, and mistakes her for a professional player. Mai Hem, Zhang Li's daughter, challenges her, and Joanna readily accepts, entering into a virtual reality duel with Mai Hem in a small chamber. Joanna defeats Mai Hem, but Zhang Li stops the game before his daughter can be killed. As medical support is called for Mai Hem, Joanna moves deeper into the facility.
Joanna finds Jack in a cell. She notices he's been tortured, and he has a brief bout of speaking random coordinates to Joanna. Jack and Joanna then fight their way out of the complex. They steal a hovercraft, and with Joanna piloting they make their way down the river, arriving at the airbase. Before they can escape Mai Hem appears with a security team. Jack and Joanna are pinned down, and they come to the conclusion they aren't going to make it out. Joanna is taken by surprise as Jack steals her weapon and charges the security team. Joanna takes advantage of the moment and runs to the dropship. Joanna watches her father be executed by Mai Hem. Joanna maneuvers the vehicle near Mai Hem and sets her on fire as an act of revenge before escaping.
Joanna pursues Zeigler's lead and traces Dr. Eustace Caroll to the Trinity Research Platform. Shortly after arriving Joanna loses contact with Chandra. She is ambushed by two bounty hunters hoping to cash in on killing her. She dispatches them and proceeds into the station. Dr. Caroll then uses the neurodrive technology to extract the memory of the words Joanna's father muttered concerning Zeigler's work. Chandra arrives and kills Dr. Caroll. She reveals she was working for Zhang Li, having been made a large offer. She then prepares to kill Joanna, only for Jonathan Steinberg to foil her plans by blowing down the door.
Working with Carrington
Jonathan and his team take Joanna to the CPU where they download the Zeigler information. The team then fights to the surface, and they escape in a dropship. Jonathan introduces Joanna to Daniel Carrington, who informs the group that dataDyne is moving a large amount of their forces to a temple in the Amazon rainforest. Joanna agrees to come along.
Not long into the mission, Joanna's dropship is shot down by dataDyne. Joanna and the dropship pilot defend the craft from a wave of dataDyne forces. The area having been secured, Joanna sets off into the jungle. She steals a jet pack to fly over to the Peruvian temple, the focus of the dig site. There, she discovers that dataDyne has excavated an ancient artifact. She plants a tracking device before stowing away aboard a dropship.
Exiting the dropship, Joanna learns that Jonathan Steinberg and his team was captured while in the Amazon. She quickly rescues them before they can be interrogated. The team fights through the desert town and disables dataDyne's air defenses. Their extraction is interrupted by Mai Hem, who has survived the encounter back in China, albeit with large amounts of skin grafts. She attempts to kill Joanna, but fails and is killed when her hovercraft explodes.
Knowing that Zhang Li cannot be allowed to access the Graal, Carrington sends his forces to the excavation site for an all out offensive. Joanna aids the Institute squads in crossing the bridge, taking on a large contingent of dataDyne forces. Successfully making it across in one piece she faces Zhang Li in an arena, alone. The Graal grants Zhang Li supernatural powers and he attacks Jo. A heated fight ensues, and it ends with Joanna stopping Zhang Li, who is killed. In the aftermath, an injured Joanna is helped by Jonathan (who is injured as well) to walk away. Carrington commends her performance. Between now and the events of Perfect Dark, she is employed and trains further at the Carrington Institute.
Extracting Dr. Caroll
Joanna is assigned her first mission for the CI, involving the extraction of a scientist from the research area beneath the dataDyne skyscraper. Upon finding him, she is surprised to discover that this 'Dr. Caroll' is an AI created by dataDyne itself - but she continues with her task of escorting him/it to safety.
In response to this incursion dataDyne take Daniel Carrington hostage two days later at his private villa. They demand the return of the AI - their 'property' - in exchange for his life. Unknown to them, the AI is already at the villa, where it was being questioned on dataDyne's future plans. Joanna eventually rescues the head of the Institute but is unable to prevent dataDyne from taking back Dr. Caroll. However, Carrington has heard enough to take the drastic step of summoning "friends" to deal with dataDyne.
Discovering the conspiracy
Joanna is dispatched to Chicago to spy on a conspirators' meeting at the G5 Building, a front for the dataDyne Corp. It is here that she learns of the involvement of Trent Easton, head of the NSA, and of the strange Nordic men that appear to be in control of the whole deadly scheme. Once Trent discloses the plan to usurp the Presidential position, Jo radios the news back to base, only to find another, more urgent task requires her attention first.
Encountering the Maians
The "friends" Carrington spoke of have been brought down by the conspirators, with survivors and wreckage alike being transported to Area 51 in Nevada. Briefed to rescue any survivors and retrieve their equipment, Joanna is dropped in to link up with Jonathan. Upon breaking into the medlab, Joanna finally discovers the Institute's secret - their allies are Maians, the alien race commonly known as Greys. The particular Maian she manages to rescue goes by the name of Elvis. He was a bodyguard for the Ambassador who had been flying in at the head of the team.
Foiling the conspiracy
Having aided what remains of the Maian delegation, Joanna returns to the matter of the President and dataDyne's designs against him. She poses as a member of the President's entourage to gain access to the air base where Air Force One is stationed, and boards the plane. Once it's airborne, Trent and the cloaked Skedar attempt to kidnap the President and take him to the Skedar UFO attached to AF1 by umbilical, but Joanna rushes the President to a safety capsule. Elvis makes a last-ditch attempt to sever the cord by crashing into it at high speed. All three crafts plummet towards the Alaskan wilderness, and the AF1 escape pod is launched.
Coming around, Jo tries to report in but finds her commmunications jammed by the Skedar craft. She sets off through the snow to find the President and Elvis, encountering teams of cloaked Skedar out searching for her, the President, Elvis, and the President's belongings. She tracks a group back to the downed Skedar ship, where she discovers a clone of the President: she quickly destroys it, shuts down the jamming device and calls in the cavalry. The Skedar are thwarted once more, the President is safe, and Trent's incompetence has earned him a nasty fate at the hands of his 'allies'.
Throwing caution to the wind, dataDyne and the Skedar steal the Government's deep-sea research vessel 'Pelagic II' and head out to the Pacific crash site. Joanna and Elvis leave to disrupt activity on board the ship and find out what lies at the heart of the grand Skedar plan. After crippling the vessel's diving operations and recalling the submersible, they head down to the ocean floor, where they get their first sight of the downed Cetan battle cruiser. Boarding the ship, they fight off the remaining Skedar and make their way down to the core of the ship, where they find the AI that was once Dr. Caroll. They manage to restore his personality, whereupon he urges Joanna and Elvis to leave the ship so that he may destroy it for good.
Later, back at the Carrington Institute, Joanna is about to leave for a Presidential reception at the White House when all hell breaks loose. The Skedar assault team survivors are venting their anger on those responsible for their failure to recover the Cetan ship. Joanna dashes around the Institute helping CI employees to reach the safety of the hangars, as the Skedar launch attacks on various parts of the building: the majority of the employees make good their escape while Joanna holds the fort, but eventually she is knocked unconscious and taken prisoner.
She comes to in a holding cell on board the Skedar assault ship, with only Cassandra De Vries for company. In a shocking move, the dataDyne CEO willingly gives her life to create the distraction necessary for Joanna to break out. Battling her way through the ship, Jo eventually manages to locate and disable the docking bay shields, allowing Elvis to bring in a few friends to assist in the capture of the ship.
The captured assault ship enters orbit above the Skedar Battle Shrine, which shocks Elvis as the Maians never managed to find the home planet throughout the long interracial war. If the Shrine were destroyed, Skedar morale would be dealt a fatal blow and peace would finally be achieved. Jo sets her sights on the Skedar leader, the high priest of the Battle Shrine, while Elvis returns to the ship in order to summon the Maian fleet.
In the wake of the climatic battle, the temple lies devestated with Elvis calling for a lull in the bombardment so that he can find Joanna. She is alive, held under a pile of rubble by the last tenacious Skedar that caught up during the last few seconds of her escape bid. Elvis quickly offers her a gun to convince the Skedar to let go, and with the job finally done, the Skedar Shrine and morale both in ruins and the conspiracy dealt a mortal blow to the heart, the two of them depart for orbit.
Description and Personality
Joanna has red shoulder-length hair, with distinctive blonde streak that was the result of a genetic quirk. She has bright, deep blue eyes. She has a pale complexion and a slender, athletic build. She has a purple star tatoo on the left side of her neck, which she got while she was in Hong Kong when she turned sixteen.
Joanna is naturally curious. She does not trust people easily, especially those whom are associated with the hyper-corporations. She craves praise, as noted by Jonathan Steinberg. She is remarkably well adjusted and content to live each day as it comes. Earlier in life, Joanna was capable of deep, destructive anger, and often lacked the discipline to keep her temper in check. This led her to undertake reckless, ill-advised actions.
She is an avid supporter and non-professional player of DeathMatch VR. She notes that if things had gone differently, she'd have tried out for the Seattle Slayers, a professional team. She also enjoys a variety of adventure sports such as rock-climbing, free running, dirt-biking and grav boarding.
Skills and Abilities
Joanna is a naturally skilled marksman, a lethal hand to hand combat fighter, and an expert pilot and driver. She has incredible reflexes and an ability to sniff out trouble. Her technical skills stretch as far as wiring up a charge, picking a lock or hacking a basic system. She also has an innate ability at 'being who people want her to be', which has allowed her to become an expert at keeping a false identity, suiting her for undercover operations. Joanna is incredibly enduring, in one case after being shot she continued doing her mission even though the wound worsened, haven been torn open several times and developing an infection.
- In the 'Duel' mission in Perfect Dark on the Special Agent difficulty, Joanna is told to defeat a hologram of Jonathan Dark, revealing he is Joanna's brother. Also the co-op character, Velvet Dark, is apparently Joanna's sister. In Perfect Dark Zero, Jonathan Dark is renamed Jonathan Steinberg, retconned to have no previous relationship to Joanna Dark.
- Joanna was always intended to have red hair, but it was above the N64s capabilities.
- Ranked #9 in Gametrailers Top Ten Women of Gaming
- Joanna bears a striking resemblance to the title character of the German film Run Lola Run. The resemblance is most prominent during the second mission, due to the nature of Joanna's attire.
- Inspiration for Joanna was taken from several fictional heroines including Kim Kimberly from Snowball, Agent X-27 from the 1930s film Dishonored, the eponymous femme fatale of the film Nikita, and FBI agent Dana Scully from The X-Files.
- Martin Hollis decision to make Perfect Dark's protagonist female is due to his belief that there "should be more games centred on women".
- The name Joanna Dark was taken from the French pronunciation of Joan of Arc as "Jeanne d'Arc".