|ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
This article contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.
Jonah Magnus is a servant of The Beholding who founded the Magnus Institute as a way to collect and archive accounts of the paranormal for personal and academic research purposes and later as a system that would continually feed the Eye. He is the main antagonist of Season 5.
Much of Jonah's motivation comes from the fear of death. He calls it "the last and greatest terror."
Almost everything known about Jonah comes through accounts given by his close friends through correspondence to him, preserved in the Archives. The earliest known letter is dated 1816, two years before he founded the Institute.
He was a close associate of the architect Robert Smirke and was one of the few individuals that Smirke gathered to discuss and share what he learned about The Fears from Maxwell Rayner. This was presumably Jonah's first introduction into the world of the Fears, though he had already been "fascinated with the macabre and strange." Various members of their group eventually fell away to one Fear Power or another, but Smirke pleaded Jonah to not give in to the call of The Eye.
In 1824 he was asked for help by friend Barnabas Bennett, who had been sent to the Lonely after a disagreement with Mordechai Lukas. Jonah was on good terms with Lukas, the two learning about the fears together with Smirke, and he had warned Bennett not to cross him. Though he was perfectly capable of helping his friend, Jonah chose to do nothing but observe the situation to learn more about it, truly a follower of the Eye. Jonah eventually "sadly" retrieved Bennett's bones, which can still be found somewhere in the Head of the Institute's office.
In 1830, Jonah stole a trove of esoteric books from Albrecht von Closen.
Over time, Jonah became concerned about his own fate if another Entity were to complete their ritual. He tried to prevent the rituals but realised the only way was to complete his own Entity's ritual.
He secretly modified Smirke's plan for the Millbank Prison to become an ideal location for the Watcher's Crown. Smirke had figured out by 1867 that Jonah was planning the ritual, but it was far too late to change the prison that had been completed in 1821. He sent a letter begging Jonah not to attempt the Watcher's Crown lest he doom the world.
Jonah waited for years until enough fear had accumulated in the prison to attempt it, using the Panopticon at the centre as a focus. The ritual failed, killing all residing prisoners and destroying Millbank. He was left with the ability to see anything he focused on while in the watchtower. Because he could transfer his consciousness to different bodies, Jonah's body remains in the Panopticon and allows him to retain this ability despite his current body being elsewhere.
To safeguard the Panopticon Jonah moved the Institute from Edinburgh down to London and placed it over the old Millbank tunnels. He spent over a century trying to perfect the Watcher’s Crown, taking new vessels as needed, before inhabiting the body of Elias Bouchard in 1996.
While inhabiting Elias Bouchard, Jonah realised that the reason his attempt at the Watcher's Crown failed was that all of the entities are connected and must be brought through together. He devised a plan to bring through all the entities at once, succeeding when he sends his statement to The Archivist, who reads the statement and enacts the Mass Ritual.
In MAG 200, John releases him from being the pupil of The Eye and then stabs him to death.
- Limited Omniscience - Jonah has noted his ability to see and know anything he puts his mind to, but it requires concentration. According to Gertrude, he is able to see out of any eye or eye-related image, and according to Peter, as long as his original body remains in the Panopticon, Jonah is able to see anything.
- Limited Telepathy - Jonah can put any information he wants into another person's mind. It is implied that this information must be true, and he is not capable of "removing" information. It is also implied that he is able to look into people's minds, though this requires conscious effort.
- Limited Reality Control - Jonah was able to doctor the CCTV footage of the security cameras inside of the Institute to give himself an alibi during the murder of Gertrude Robinson.
- Incarnation - Jonah describes himself as the "heart" of the Magnus Institute, and that if he were to die, everyone who serves the Institute would die along with him. Later he specifies those that are tied strongly to another Entity would probably be 'insulated' enough to avoid dying. Jonah speculates John would also be strong enough to 'weather' the effects.
- Body-hopping - Jonah can take over the body of another person to extend his life. It is implied to happen when he transfers his eyes to the new body. If his original body were to be harmed, however, Jonah has stated it would harm both himself and those connected to him through the Magnus Institute.
- Watcher's Call - Jonah can call his Archivist to him, allowing the Archivist to easily find and navigate to him. Unclear whether this will work on anyone or just the Archivist, as it has only been used on John.
Jonah has used his body-hopping powers to stay alive for centuries, continuing his research on The Fears. All known identities have held the position of Head of the Magnus Institute.
- Jonah Magnus (estimated late 1700s - late mid-1800s)
- Richard Mendelson (Unknown - 1973)
- James Wright (1973 - 1996)
- Elias Bouchard (1996 - present)
The following episodes are statements given as letters to Jonah Magnus:
- MAG 23: Schwartzwald - From Albrecht von Closen (1816)
- MAG 50: Foundations - From Sampson Kempthorne (1841)
- MAG 92: Nothing Beside Remains - From Barnabas Bennett (1824)
- MAG 127: Remains to be Seen - From Dr. Jonathan Fanshawe (1831)
- MAG 138: The Architecture of Fear - From Robert Smirke (1867)