Great Characters Wiki

John "Doc" McTeague is the villainous protagonist of the 1924 silent film Greed. He's a former miner-turned-dentist who would marry Trina Sieppe after she won the lottery and eventually ends up in an abusive relationship with her that ends when him killing Trina.

He was portrayed by the late Gibson Gowland.

Why He Rocks

  1. Gibson Gowland brings the performance of his life into McTeague as he's very expressive and he allows the audience to feel for all of his pains.
  2. He has a slow-paced, well-developed arc where he naturally goes from a loving and devoted boyfriend and later husband to depressed, insecure greed freak obsessed with the money. Trina's lottery victory tore John and everybody around her apart: John's friend Marcus wants some her money and breaks their friendship when John refused to give him anything. Then after getting sold out by his former best friend and having his dentist career and his life ruined, his wife refused to spend any of her lottery money even when they had house problems and couldn't find jobs, forcing John to part ways from his wife.
  3. Despite all of his flaws, and eventually turning greedy in the final part, he's far from heartless both before and after the obsession, as demonstrated multiple times:
    • There a scene near the beginning where he picks up an inquired bird and kisses it. He does this near the ending as well, as sort of a call-back and reminder that he still has a soul.
    • He developed true genuine feelings for Trina after having her as a dental patient and had a excellent and touching relationship with her. He noticed how stingy his wife had become after winning the $5000 initially tried talking her out of it.
    • Being close friends with Marcus prior to the latter get envious of not marrying Trina for the money and ending John's friendship over it and ruining his life.
  4. He was very talented as Dr. Potter's dental assistant. So much so, he was able to open up his own dentist business a few years afterward and was very successful at the occupation and was pretty well-known among his town.
  5. There's definitely the notable point where he winds up murdering his wife, but even then, he did so because he constantly had to put up with her stinginess, money hoarding, and overall lack of care for his personal life and him being unable to find a proper job to earn money -- along with the duo's economic decline and the house's condition worsening, plus Trina's lack of concern for their well-being-- was the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.
  6. As a wanted fugitive, he turns out to be surprising skilled at keeping himself out of sight, as he had somehow managed to stay hidden for six months avoid arrest, also he had fled towards an extremely hot desert nicknamed "Death Valley", and yet despite the extreme heat, he lasted an impressively long time out there.
  7. His final moments and death scene serves as not only a tragic, emotional scene, but also a very symbolic scene as he spends his final moments handcuffed to his former friend as a reminder of all the trouble that happened around the money, and his final humane act was releasing his birds from his cage so they could be free... only for the bird to immediately die, symbolizing his wife's death.