In 1968, Johnny and his sister Barbara drive to a cemetery in Pittsburgh to visit their deceased father's grave, which Johnny complains about. During the visit, Johnny recalls that he used to scare Barbara in the cemetery. He then begins teasing her again, chanting, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." When he sees a strange man walking through the cemetery, he makes cruel jokes about how the man is going to come after her, not realizing that something is wrong with the man. Annoyed, Barbara walks up to the stranger to apologize for her brother's juvenile behavior, but the stranger attacks her. Johnny rushes to help and fights with the stranger, but he is thrown down, fatally hitting his head on a tombstone. Barbara is forced to run to protect herself from the stranger who continues to pursue her, leaving Johnny behind.
Johnny later appears at the climax of the movie when it is revealed that he died from his injures and became a Zombie. He is part of the group of zombies attacking the farmhouse where his sister has been hiding since running from the cemetery. When the zombies finally break into the house, the undead Johnny attacks his sister through the front door. Barbara, stunned at the sight of her zombified brother, lowers her defenses long enough for Johnny to carry her out into the undead where she is presumably devoured off-screen.
- He appears in the 1990 remake where he is played by Bill Moseley. His story is mostly the same, but at the end of the movie his sister is the only survivor, and helps kill all of the zombies at the farmhouse.
- Johnny was apparently killed by blunt force trauma. However, his body should have been unable to turn from this cause of death, as it would have fatally damaged the brain; this was shown in Dawn of the Dead, when Stephen killed a zombie via blunt force trauma. It is possible that the blow simply knocked Johnny unconscious, and he later died of another cause.