The details about his undeath are a little non-linear. The rest of the biography should be expanded to include more information.
Dr Owen Harper (MD) was Torchwood Three's chief medical officer during a portion of the 2000s. Moody and forthright, Harper wasn't slow to show his dissatisfaction with Jack Harkness' decisions. (TV: End of Days) After being shot and killed by Aaron Copley, (TV: Reset) Owen was brought back to life briefly by Jack with the resurrection gauntlet. (TV: Dead Man Walking) After Death itself tried to use Owen as a vessel to manifest, Owen was restored fully in a state of "living death". In this state he couldn't heal himself, and wasn't considered to be actually alive. He later died again, this time for good after being exposed to a large amount of radiation but not before accepting his feelings for Toshiko Sato. (TV: Exit Wounds)
Owen was born on 14 February 1980, (TV: Exit Wounds) or at some point in 1981 in Plaistow, part of London's East End. (PROSE: Slow Decay, TV: Dead Man Walking) He could hear the Hammers playing at home from the back bedroom of his house, where he would listen and make up his own commentary. (PROSE: Slow Decay) As a child he enjoyed watching Scooby-Doo. He would later call himself a "true" fan of the series. (PROSE: Slow Decay) Owen Harper had a difficult relationship with his mother, so much so that, on his tenth birthday, his mother declared that she did not have to love him, only like him. (TV: Adam) He lost his virginity in a school stationary cupboard when he was fifteen. (PROSE: Slow Decay) When he was sixteen years old, his mother packed his things — Owen was apparently leaving for something. He said that it was "the nicest thing you've done for me in years". (TV: Adam) Watching his friends growing up and becoming car mechanics and estate agents, Owen decided he wanted to do something which meant something. Shortly after, when his father died of an aortic aneurysm, he decided he wanted to be a surgeon so that he could stop the same thing happening to himself. (PROSE: Slow Decay)
Owen attended college in London, where he had a short relationship with Megan Tegg. Megan wanted to get married, but Owen wasn't interested in a long term relationship and so walked out on her. (PROSE: Another Life)
Owen trained for seven years. (PROSE: Slow Decay) He wrote his MD thesis on immunology, using the published works of Dr Aaron Copley as part of his research. (TV: Reset) He then spent a year as a junior houseman at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, (PROSE: Slow Decay) where he became engaged to fellow junior doctor Katie Russell, who, unknown to both of them, had an alien parasite in her brain. Though Owen was unaware of this, both knew that she had a degenerative neurological condition.
Despite his superior insisting that what she had possessed no cause, Owen insisted on her being given more tests. It turned out Katie had a tumour growing on her brain that the doctors presumed was cancer, given Katie's smoking habit. Relieved, Owen took Katie for her surgery, her memory becoming worse; she couldn't even remember Owen's name.
Owen waited patiently as the minutes ticked by before Jack Harkness suddenly arrived on the scene. Jack informed him there was an alien inside Katie and that it had just released a gas in the surgery room, killing her and the surgical team who had removed the top of Katie's skull in surgery. Jack claimed he needed to take her body and sterilise her, something Owen refused to allow, resulting in the doctor being sedated.
Owen awoke in a ward where he told others the unbelievable story about aliens. No one believed him and he was advised to take some leave. Owen even tried to use security footage but Jack had altered it. He began to feel hopeless and disillusioned.
After Katie's funeral, Owen was at the grave site when he saw Jack in the distance. Enraged, he ran at and assaulted Jack, eventually crying in his arms. Jack offered Owen a job with Torchwood Three, so he could save people and find purpose without Katie. Owen reluctantly accepted. (TV: Fragments)
Life at Torchwood
At some point, Owen had had sexual relations with Torchwood operative Suzie Costello. (TV: They Keep Killing Suzie) In his mid-twenties, Owen's personal life appeared to mostly revolve around the pursuit of casual sex, which he was happy to use alien technology to facilitate. He was indirectly responsible for bringing Gwen Cooper onto the team by ordering pizza to be delivered to the Torchwood Hub under the name "Torchwood". (TV: Everything Changes)
When Gwen released the sex gas from a meteor by mistake, Owen captured Carys Fletcher, who had become host to the gas, inside a portable prison cell. He tested the gruesome effects the gas' pheromones had on a rat, dubbing it "rat jam". Carys escaped the Torchwood Hub during a medical scan, but Owen had cornered her at the Conway Clinic. There, Gwen tricked the gas into escaping Carys into the portable cell, where it succumbed to the Earth's poisonous atmosphere. (TV: Day One)
Torchwood had taken a quantum transducer from Bernie Harris. Owen used it and saw Ed Morgan murder Lizzie Lewis in 1963. He threatened Ed in his present with punishment, and later held him at knifepoint. Gwen stopped Owen, but Ed impaled himself on the knife. (TV: Ghost Machine)
Ianto Jones had helped awaken the partially cyber-converted Lisa Hallett from beneath the Hub. Gwen and Owen kissed passionately whilst hiding from Lisa as she tried to take over the Hub. The team escaped, but Ianto ran back to her. After Lisa had put her mind in the body of Annie, Owen and the others shot her. (TV: Cyberwoman)
The Torchwood team travelled to the Welsh countryside to investigate a series of gruesome murders. The Torchwood SUV was stolen by a group of cannibals that harvested travellers once every ten years. The team followed the cannibals to their village. Right as his team were captured, Jack stepped in and incapacitated the cannibals. The cannibals were arrested by the police. (TV: Countrycide)
Following this, Owen had seduced Gwen and embarked upon an affair with her, largely because she couldn't share her supernatural and extraterrestrial experiences with her boyfriend, Rhys. (TV: Countrycide, Greeks Bearing Gifts) Apparently, Gwen was capable of many techniques that caused him extreme sexual pleasure. The thought of Gwen's body or the various ways she would please him caused him to become aroused. (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts)
Owen misdiagnosed a cadaver that was found near some alien technology as being a woman who was shot, rather than a "very girly" male soldier whose heart had been ripped out. He apparently had sex with Gwen in his car later that day, something Toshiko found out and later revealed, which Owen scolded her for. (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts)
Gwen revived Suzie Costello with the resurrection gauntlet for questioning. Instead of keeping her alive for a minute for a brief interrogation, Suzie kept the link between her and Gwen intact and slowly drained her life, which strengthened Suzie, something Owen initially doubted only to be proven wrong by Ianto. Owen and Jack pursued Suzie, and tried and failed to break the gauntlet's link. Eventually, Tosh destroyed the gauntlet, killing Suzie and saving Gwen. (TV: They Keep Killing Suzie)
Diane Holmes came through the Rift with John Ellis and Emma-Louise Cowell from 1953. Torchwood helped settle them into their new life. Owen, intending to only have casual sex with Diane, fell in love with her. Owen had his heart broken when Diane decided to fly into the Rift, not knowing what would await her. (TV: Out of Time)
Gwen called off her affair with Owen. Owen claimed that she was getting boring anyway. While investigating Dan Hodges' death and similar attacks, he was led to Mark Lynch's company. Lynch showed him the Weevil Fight Club. Owen entered the cage with a Weevil and stared it in the eye. Jack stormed in and shut the operation down. Owen chastised Jack for saving him, saying that he felt "totally at peace". (TV: Combat)
Owen and Ianto discovered Jack and Tosh had fallen through the Rift into 1941. Owen travelled to the Ritz where they had disappeared and found a missing piece of the Rift Manipulator. In an attempt to stop Owen from opening the Rift with the manipulator, Ianto shot him, but Owen succeeded, bringing Jack and Tosh back to the 21st century. (TV: Captain Jack Harkness)
The Rift spread cracks in space and time across the Earth, rapidly pulling flotsam and jetsam through. As a result of this, Jack dismissed Owen. While drinking his sorrows in a bar, Owen saw an apparition of Diane. She said she was lost and he needed to open the Rift. Owen returned to the Hub and saw Rhys' dead body inside.
Owen and the rest of the team turned against Jack. Owen shot Jack and reopened the Rift to send everything that had come through back. The opening of the Rift forced out Abaddon, who Jack defeated. When Jack eventually revived from this encounter, he embraced Owen, saying he forgave him for what had happened. (TV: End of Days)
Over time, Owen got tired of casual sex and felt like settling down, though he had no one in common to share his experiences in Torchwood with.
While chasing a Blowfish through Cardiff, Jack saved a family's life and quickly took over Torchwood again. Torchwood met an old lover of Jack's, Captain John Hart, who had came through the Rift searching for some canisters that had also come through. He told Torchwood that they contained radioactive bombs. John wounded Owen, who then treated himself. Owen managed to treat Gwen's poisoning by John. Owen caught up with John, but the contents of the canisters were actually components of a bomb that latched onto the DNA of the owner of the canisters' murderer. Owen concocted a mixture of the team's DNA to confuse the bomb, which Jack injected into John to detach and safely dispose of it. John was forced to leave 21st century Cardiff. (TV: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang)
After a murder at a flat, Owen and Gwen went to find out who the murderer was, suspecting alien intervention. They found a girl named Beth and brought her to the Hub. Owen watched as Jack interrogated her and learned she was a sleeper agent intended to explode to cripple the Earth's defences for an alien invasion. He sedated the woman, Beth, but she managed to escape. At the same time, the sleepers around the city activated and began detonating in banks and other populated places. Owen, Ianto and Tosh were on the comms to Jack, learning that the end of the world could be imminent. Owen quickly stated that they should all have sex, something which disgusted Ianto. However, they all survived when Jack succeeded in killing the last cell. While celebrating, Beth feigned still being a sleeper, threatening to kill Gwen. Owen and the others gunned the woman down. (TV: Sleeper)
As standard procedure, Owen reanimated the body of soldier Tommy Brockless, a shell shocked soldier from World War !, to ensure he was still alive and functioning. He and Tosh took blood tests and assured the soldier still remembered who he was. Owen was reminded by Jack that Tommy would one day be needed for a mission. Meanwhile, rift activity increased around a hospital nearby, resulting in the team investigating. While there, Owen told Tosh she was becoming too attached to Tommy, having taken note of their relationship. The next day, the rift activity became so strong it threatened to fuse Cardiff with itself nearly 100 years ago. Realising this was the day Tommy needed to go back, Owen helped the others send him back and then injected Tosh with a sleep agent to connect with Tommy so he knew to seal the rift on his side in the past. Owen consoled Tosh over losing Tommy. (TV: To the Last Man)
When investigating a scheme of cutting alien meat from a creature that continuously grew no matter how mutilated, Owen tried to make a sedative for it to figure out a way to make it stop growing but when told it wasn't possible, he instead proceeded to kill the creature to put it out of its misery. He also helped Rhys recover from a gunshot wound in the shoulder. (TV: Meat)
When the alien Adam altered his personality and memories, Owen became a shy, sheltered nerd. He analysed Gwen when she failed to remember her boyfriend Rhys, unaware that Adam had altered Gwen's memories. He was also very uncomfortable when seeing Adam and Tosh kiss, harbouring jealousy. That night, he stumblingly declared his love for Toshiko, only to be rejected. He later apologised with flowers. He was present when Jack revealed that Adam was a creature from the rift who had altered them to force his way into existence. Owen took retcon to forget the entire incident. (TV: Adam)
Though neither of them remembered the incident, Tosh haltingly asked him out on a date (despite his flirting with temporary Torchwood Three agent Martha Jones) and he accepted, although circumstances would intervene and prevent this from occurring. (TV: Reset)
First deathJack summoned his old friend Martha Jones to help infiltrate the Pharm, a medical organisation illegally creating a miracle drug called Reset through alien experimentation. These experiments involved injecting people with extraterrestrial Mayflies which emerged from the test subjects, requiring the Pharm to hire an assassin that would murder the subjects before the Mayflies were released, so their work would be kept secret. Torchwood Three put an end to their plans, but just as Torchwood began shutdown of the Pharm facility, Owen was shot and killed by Aaron Copley, the director of the Pharm, who was in turn killed by Jack. Owen bled out on the pavement from his gunshot wound in the chest. Martha was unable to save him and he died gasping in pain. (TV: Reset) He was just 27 years old. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
Before Martha performed the autopsy on Owen, Jack used the second resurrection gauntlet to temporarily restore Owen to life so that he could say goodbye to his friends, during which Tosh confessed her love for him, (and, ostensibly, so Jack could obtain the passcode to the morgue). Although it was assumed that he would only regain consciousness for two minutes before dying forever (per how the first gauntlet worked), for reasons unknown Owen remained conscious, having been returned to a state of partial life.
A consequence of Owen's resurrection was the manifestation of an old entity known as "Duroc", which escaped from the afterlife and inhabited Owen. It tried to kill thirteen victims, allowing it permanent passage to the world and the potential to kill all living things in existence by merely touching them. However, Owen, in his half-revived state, was unaffected by Death's touch and vanquished it back to oblivion by shooting the resurrection gauntlet that kept it tethered to the living world and then exposing it to sunlight when they grappled against each other. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
Although once again conscious and sentient, Owen Harper, post-death, found he had limited bodily functions. His wounds would not heal, he could not breathe or blow air and he couldn't sleep. He could swallow liquids and food, but he had no sense of taste and he did not digest food; it had to be removed or somehow expelled from his body. After an unsuccessful attempt to get drunk, Owen stood on his head to allow gravity to drain fluids from his system. His lack of blood flow made erections impossible.
Owen was encouraged to maintain regular physical exercise to prevent rigour mortis from setting in. Normally painful stimuli did not hurt. He injured his left hand twice by cutting it and then by deliberately breaking a finger. These injuries did not heal and he had to wear a bandage/splint on the hand thereafter, which permanently limited his dexterity; he had to recruit Rhys Williams to use the singularity scalpel at one point. (TV: Dead Man Walking, A Day in the Death, Something Borrowed)
Due to Owen's inability to heal, Jack was initially hesitant to allow Owen to take part in regular operations again, and demoted him to "tea boy", but soon Owen was back out in the field. His lack of breathing and other bodily functions proved useful to the team when he was able to circumvent a heat-based alarm system (TV: A Day in the Death) and at least twice he suffered no harm at the hands of Rift-based creatures who found him unpalatable and confusing. (TV: Something Borrowed, From Out of the Rain)
As a doctor, Owen was distressed at being unable to perform artificial respiration on a dying man because he could not breathe. Yet, by telling his tale to a suicidal woman, he was able to prevent her from throwing herself off a building. (TV: A Day in the Death)
Owen coped with his self-pity and managed to pull himself together enough to go back to work and to carry on, which included a deepening, if somewhat strained, friendship with Toshiko. (TV: A Day in the Death)
Martha Jones indicated to Owen that the energy used to keep him "alive" began to dissipate after the defeat of Durac, but considered it impossible to predict when it would run out and "final death" would occur. She told Owen it could take anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty years. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
Owen's original response to his change of status in life and in Torchwood led to him briefly alienating his colleagues, and at least once he tried to commit suicide by jumping into Cardiff Bay. This was ineffectual. (TV: A Day in the Death) To a degree, Harkness — himself accustomed to immortality — tried to help Owen, but was at first rebuffed given that Jack's immortality didn't prevent him from enjoying pleasures such as food and sex. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
Several weeks after his death, Owen was tasked to stop a nuclear reactor near Cardiff from going into meltdown during events precipitated by the arrival of Jack's brother, Gray. Unfamiliar with nuclear reactors, Owen kept in communication with Tosh back in the Hub, who talked him through the shutdown procedure. Unknown to Owen, Tosh had just suffered a mortal injury and was keeping this from him. During the shutdown, the control room was locked down, and Tosh and Owen realised the radioactive waste would be vented through the room, destroying Owen's body. Suddenly Owen saw a door that was not yet locked, pushed a button which would automatically close it, and ran. However, the door closed before he could escape. Owen became defiant and angry and said he wasn't going to die quietly, which upset Toshiko, who was herself dying. After Tosh cried that he was breaking her heart, he relented and asked what was going to happen. As he was "dead" and could not feel the pain, Owen expected to watch as his body fell apart. He talked over the comm with Toshiko, discussing the date they had never gone on and the "Space Pig" incident Toshiko covered for. As the reactor went critical, he appeared philosophical and reassured Tosh with the words "It's all right." The waste entered the room and the comm signal from Owen was snuffed out shortly after muttering his final words, "Oh, God". Toshiko died shortly afterwards. (TV: Exit Wounds)
Owen left a resounding impression on the Torchwood staff. His photograph was still pinned up on Gwen's desktop (TV: Children of Earth: Day One) and Gwen also expressed her desire to "go out fighting, like Owen, like Tosh" when faced with a Dalek invasion of the Hub; (TV: The Stolen Earth) the loss of Owen and Tosh continued to emotionally affect the survivors of Torchwood Three for months. (AUDIO: Lost Souls)
After the 456 incident, Jack revealed that he felt responsible for Owen's death, along with those of all the other Torchwood operatives who had died under his command. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Five)
A habitual womaniser, Owen rarely turned down an opportunity for seduction. He seemed to be the only member of the Torchwood team that was completely heterosexual, except for certain occasions when he would kiss men to get the girl. He had a dark side, willing to manipulate people. (TV: Everything Changes) Owen was a narcissistic genius who was perfectly aware of his own considerable intellect. He possessed a quick, sardonic wit and often lightened dark situations with his humour. However Owen's cavalier exterior hid a soul in constant torment.
His constant rage, while usually under control, would occasionally explode, once going so far as to shoot Jack Harkness dead (unaware of the fact that he was immortal at the time) because he felt that Jack didn't care about what he and the others had lost. (TV: Combat, End of Days) While he pretended to be largely self-interested, Owen had empathy as shown by his obsession with avenging Lizzie Lewis' death. (TV: Ghost Machine)
Three of Owen's favourite things were eating, sleeping and having sex and he was greatly disappointed by the fact that he couldn't do any of them when he was brought back to life after being shot dead. (TV: Reset, Dead Man Walking)
He was deeply loyal to the Torchwood team and had a protective relationship with Gwen Cooper. Owen liked to project an aura of callous indifference; he himself was often unaware of his own feelings, most likely including his love for Toshiko Sato. (TV: Adam)
Skills and abilities
A skilled doctor, he could heal several injuries; even his own; such as bullet wounds, (TV: Countrycide, Captain Jack Harkness) cuts, (TV: Dead Man Walking) and poisons. (TV: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) He could also reanimate a frozen body, (TV: Sleeper) diagnose the Black Death in patients at a hospital, (TV: Exit Wounds) quickly check for a pulse, (TV: They Keep Killing Suzie) understand various chemicals which could stop a rift creature from consistently growing in size and how to give lethal injections. (TV: Meat) However, he wasn't perfect proven when he misdiagnosed a dead cadaver for having died naturally and not shot by a woman, (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts) and couldn't give accurate instructions to Toshiko on how to heal his bullet wound, forcing him to do it himself. (TV: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) Further more, he was initially inferior in skill to Martha Jones, not checking a dead man's medical records or their bloodstream for any anomalies, but he later managed to test a victims blood effectively (TV: Reset)
After being resurrected, he no longer needed to breathe, enabling him to stay conscious underwater for at least 36 minutes; (TV: A Day on the Death) he essentially had no breath to steal. (TV: From Out of the Rain) Being dead also meant he wasn't "fresh" so he wasn't eaten by a carnivorous alien. (TV: Something Borrowed) Due to his tissues cells being dead, he was impervious to pain demonstrated when he didn't realise he cut his hand with a scalpel (TV: Dead Man Walking) and could break his fingers willingly. (TV: A Day in the Death)
However, this did mean he was unable to heal naturally, forcing him to constantly redress any wounds he sustained, as well as no longer being able to enjoy natural pleasure such as taste and sex. He was also vulnerable to rigor mortis, forcing him to exercise regularly to stave it off. (TV: Dead Man Walking) He had no body heat, which meant he couldn't be picked up by heat signals, along with being unable to die by electrocution. Hair growth evidently ceased as well; Owen realised that he would never "have a beard." (TV: A Day in the Death)
Strangely, Weevils began to stalk, cower before or worship him, (TV: Dead Man Walking, AUDIO: Corpse Day) enabling him to cross Cardiff without being attacked during the uprising (TV: Exit Wounds) despite previously having almost been killed by one in his first life. (TV: Combat) He later called himself "King of the Weevils". (TV: Exit Wounds)
Despite being a doctor first, he was skilled with guns, (TV: Day One et al.) could disarm an opponent by taking and using their own weapon (TV: A Day in the Death) and was occasionally quite violent. (TV: Fragments) He was a skilled hand to hand combatant, being capable of pinning a man single handedly and later held his own against three more men. (TV: Combat) He also overpowered Ianto Jones in a fight despite the man tackling him to the ground. (TV: Captain Jack Harkness) After being resurrected, he tended to avoid direct combat due to becoming rather brittle, becoming more stealthy and taking opponents by surprise. (TV: A Day in the Death) However, Owen was once overpowered by a Welsh police officer, who pinned him against a wall with little trouble despite Owen resisting. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
- Owen Harper kept a UNIT ID card in his wallet. (TV: Ghost Machine)
- He was Torchwood officer 565. (TV: Dead Man Walking, A Day in the Death)
- Three of his favourite things were eating, sleeping and "shagging". (TV: Dead Man Walking)
- Of the Torchwood Three team in place following the death of Suzie Costello, Owen was the only one never to, in some way, meet the Doctor.