Jack Bristow

From Academic Kids

This article is about a character from the television show Alias.

Jonathan "Jack" Donahue Bristow, played by Victor Garber, is Sydney Bristow's father on the television series, Alias.



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Jack Bristow has always been portrayed as a character who appears callous, distant and aloof. He tries to soften his callousness in regards to Sydney, but he is highly protective of her and is willing to do anything: torture, kill, even betray his country to do so.

Prior to the events of the series, Jack fathered Sydney with Irina Derevko, a long-term KGB spy who married Jack to get close to the CIA and took the name Laura Bristow. Once it was realized that Irina was a double agent, she disappeared, leaving Jack to raise Sydney alone. However, as an agent of the CIA, then later as a double agent within SD-6 working for the CIA, Jack was often an absentee father. As Sydney went to college, Arvin Sloane recruited Sydney into SD-6 without Jack's knowledge.

Eventually, Sydney realizes that she is in the same position as her father - the only two double agents inside SD-6 and they learn to work together to bring down the organization. When Irina Derevko makes her reappearance in Season 2, Jack must also deal with his unresolved feelings of love and bitterness towards her while continuing to perform his job at SD-6 and the CIA. With SD-6's destruction, Jack found himself finally able to grow closer to his daughter.

As discovered in the season three cliffhanger, Jack submitted Sydney to Project Christmas, a project that trained and hardwired potential spies.

As of the start of Season 4, it is revealed that Jack, having learned that Irina had hired a hit man to kill Sydney, killed Irina. This action causes yet another rift to form between him and his daughter, a rift aggravated when both agents are recruited by Arvin Sloane into the new CIA black ops agency, Authorized Personnel Only (APO). By the second half of the season, this rift has begun to heal.

Jack Bristow contracted radiation poisoning during the events of the fourth season episode "Nightingale" when he entered a radioactive area in order to save Sydney's life during a mission. He initially kept his condition a secret from his APO colleagues except for Marshall (although Marshall later revealed it to Sydney). Bristow was seen consulting with a doctor who told him the condition was terminal. Not accepting this verdict, Jack subsequently began a painful regimen of blood filtering treatments in order to delay the inevitable, and appeared to be experiencing memory loss related to medication; he was also puzzled by the appearance of a mysterious implant in his hand, which his doctor said was designed to regulate the anti-radiation medication.

It was subsequently revealed that this doctor, and in fact Jack's entire treatment regimen, were hallucinations, and that Jack, his mind affected by the radiation, had been injecting himself with a poison. Further investigation by APO revealed that the hallucinated doctor actually existed; he was a scientist who had developed an experimental treatment for radiation sickness. In the early 1980s, Jack had helped the man escape to Scandinavia. Sydney and her colleagues stage an elaborate deception in order to get Jack to reveal the doctor's whereabouts; the man is located and began a genuine treatment regimen for Jack, which was presumably successful as the radiation sickness was no longer an issue by the end of the fourth season.

The fourth season finale saw Jack learn that he had not, in fact, killed Irina, but had shot a genetically engineered imposter. He was subsequently reunited with Irina, who chastised him for being so quick to rush to judgment about her.

Although it has yet to be mentioned on screen, according to background information provided in the official Alias magazine, Jack Bristow is originally from Canada (reflecting the fact that actor Victor Garber is Canadian).


  • Jack is widely referred to as "Spy Daddy" by the Alias fandom, and consistently ranks as one of the most popular characters. Victor Garber has thrice been nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Jack.

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