John Carter is a fictional character, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who appears in the Martian series of novels. Though actually a Virginian from Earth and a visitor to Mars, he is often referred to as "John Carter of Mars" in reference to the general setting in which his deeds are recorded, in the time-honored tradition of other heroes (such as Lawrence of Arabia). The character is an enduring one and has appeared in various media following his 1912 serialized debut.
Carter reappeared in subsequent volumes of the series, most prominently in the second, The Gods of Mars (1918), the third, The Warlord of Mars (1919), the eighth, Swords of Mars (1936), the tenth, Llana of Gathol (1948), and the eleventh, John Carter of Mars (1964). John Carter is also a major secondary character in the fourth volume, Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920), and the ninth, Synthetic Men of Mars (1940).
His character and courtesy exemplify the ideals of the antebellum South. A Virginian who served as a captain in the American Civil War, he strikes it rich by finding gold in Arizona after the end of hostilities. While hiding from Apaches in a cave, he seemingly dies, and leaving his inanimate body behind is mysteriously transported by a form of astral projection to the planet Mars, where he finds himself re-embodied in a form identical to his earthly one. Used to the greater gravity of Earth, he is much stronger than the natives.
Again, Carter's apparent demise is not a true death; rather, he is restored to Barsoom, where after more adventures he rises to the position of Warlord of Mars. He afterwards returns to Earth on a number of occasions to relate his adventures to his nephew (Burroughs), revealing that he has mastered the process of astral travel between the two worlds. During his adventures on Mars his earthly body reposes in a special tomb that can only be opened from the inside.
John Carter and Dejah Thoris become the parents of a son, Carthoris, and daughter, Tara. Carthoris plays a secondary role in The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, and is the protagonist of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Tara is the heroine of The Chessmen of Mars (1922), and the mother of Carter's granddaughter Llana, heroine of Llana of Gathol.
John Carter earned the name Dotar Sojat, which is a combination of the names of the first two Barsoomian Tharks he defeated on Barsoom.
Carter appeared in various Big Little Books of the 1930s and 1940s and has appeared as well in numerous adaptations of the Martian stories, notably in a 1994-1995 storyline in Tarzan's Sunday comic strip and various comic book series, including Marvel Comics' John Carter, Warlord of Mars, two appearances in Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In the story Allan and the Sundered Veil that appeared in the end of volume one, Moore states that H. P. Lovecraft's Randolph Carter is a descendant of John Carter. He also appears in the beginning of volume two, helping the Barsoomians fight the Martians from The War of the Worlds. The same scenario also appeared in the Burroughs entry in the War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches anthology.
One of the protagonists of Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast is a Captain Zebediah John Carter- the fact is commented on, since all of the protagonists are fans of science fiction from this period.