Dennis T. Nedry was an American computer programmer from Cambridge employed by International Genetic Technologies, Inc. during the 1980s and early 1990s. He is considered largely responsible for the incident on Isla Nublar that occurred between June 11 and June 13 of 1993, which led to the deaths of several of his coworkers and visiting personnel. Nedry himself died due to an animal attack in the evening of June 11, within minutes of his act of sabotage that started the incident.
Dennis is a given name of Greek origin. It is derived from the earlier name Dionysius, which describes a follower of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry. His middle initial is known only from his InGen employee ID card.
It is widely believed that the name Nedry is simply an anagram of the English word “nerdy” and was an invention by Michael Crichton, but it does occur in real life as an extremely rare surname found mostly in the Midwestern United States. The earliest known use of Nedry as a surname occurred in Ohio in approximately 1840, more than a century before the word “nerd” was invented by Theodor Geisel in his 1950 children’s book If I Ran The Zoo.
Nedry’s early life is mostly unknown, as is his date and place of birth. The actor chosen to portray him, Wayne Knight, was born in 1955; this may give some idea as to the approximate year Dennis Nedry was born. The surname Nedry is extremely rare and mostly occurs in the Midwestern United States; most members of the Nedry family reside in Michigan and Ohio, though others have lived in other parts of the country. Very few live outside the United States.
In his adult life, Nedry worked in computer programming and debugging. He became respected in this field, though he did face some financial difficulties. Nedry was based in Cambridge (presumably Cambridge, Massachusetts). It is unknown how much higher education he had achieved prior to this.
Employment at InGen
By the late 1980s, International Genetic Technologies was well underway constructing a de-extinction theme park called Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, Costa Rica. InGen held a bidding for the position of lead programmer on the project, which Nedry won. As the nature of the Park was kept highly secretive, Nedry would not have known much about it until after he had secured the position.
Upon being introduced to his position on Isla Nublar, Nedry found that he had underbid for the job and that there were more technical issues in the programming than he had anticipated. This unexpected larger workload and comparatively low salary put financial stress on Nedry throughout his time at InGen. He did not work directly with the animals, remaining in the Park’s control room of the Visitors’ Centre most of the time. It is unclear if he was aware of Isla Sorna; an email from Hammond to Director of Internal Security Jim Boutcher claims that sensitive files concerning Site B were so strongly encrypted that not even Nedry’s hacking skills could access them.
Nedry ran eight IBM Connection Machines simultaneously, and between his hiring and 1993 he debugged about two million lines of code for InGen. His computer station included a Quadra 700 system and an SGI Crimson system. His workstation was easily identifiable due to its messy nature, with items such as a Panic Pete stress toy, cans of JOLT Cola, a wind-up swamp monster, and a picture of Robert Oppenheimer on the side of one computer screen.
His stressful financial situation eventually soured his relationships with his coworkers, including his employer Dr. John Hammond. Despite hearing Nedry’s requests for a pay raise, Hammond considered Nedry’s underbidding to be a mistake that Nedry would need to deal with himself. This only worsened Nedry’s overall situation; his constant stress took a toll on his mental and emotional wellbeing. By the summer of 1993, he was in a nearly perpetual unpleasant mood and did not appear to have any positive relationships with his coworkers. He had also ensured that the Park’s security programs could not be accessed by just anyone, programming it to lock out users who tried to access it without his password.
By June of 1993, Nedry had been contacted by Lewis Dodgson, an employee of InGen’s corporate rival BioSyn. The two entered into conspiracy, plotting to steal trade secrets from InGen; Dodgson’s company would benefit by gaining access to de-extinction, while Nedry would be paid handsomely for his contribution.
On June 10, 1993, Dodgson personally met with Nedry while he was taking shore leave in San José, Costa Rica. During their meeting, Dodgson provided Nedry with a cryopreservation device to smuggle vials containing dinosaur embryos off of Isla Nublar. The device, which was disguised as a fully-functional canister of Barbasol shaving cream, contained enough coolant to keep the embryos viable for forty-six hours. Nedry was paid US $750,000 up front, and was promised an additional $50,000 for each viable embryo delivered to Dodgson. This would add up to a total of $1,500,000 (over $2,660,000 in 2019 after adjusting for inflation).
During the weekend, Jurassic Park would be operating with a skeleton crew while the non-essential staff took shore leave on the mainland. This, and the upcoming endorsement tour occurring at the same time, made for a perfect opportunity for the plot to be carried out. While the few remaining staff members were preoccupied with the tour, Nedry would activate the command code whte_rbt.obj to hide his keystrokes and then disable the Park’s security systems. The deactivation would be done by timer, allowing Nedry to have left the control room before the security systems were disabled and thus evade suspicion. With the surveillance cameras deactivated, he would be able to enter the cold storage area of the now-empty laboratory and retrieve the embryos without detection. The frozen embryos were stored in small vials which Dodgson’s cryopreservation capsule was designed to hold; at the time, InGen officially had fifteen species kept on Isla Nublar (other species were kept highly classified, and Nedry was likely unaware of them). From here, he would take a Jeep from the Visitors’ Centre to the East Dock.
The InGen vessel C-3208 would depart at 7:00pm CST on June 11, bringing the non-essential staff members to Costa Rica for the weekend. Dodgson’s associates Miles Chadwick and Nima Cruz would meet with him at the East Dock for the hand-off, boarding the ship as it left. Nedry would then return to the control room and restore the security systems. He expected the entire operation, from execution of whte_rbt.obj to the point at which he would “fix” the problem, to take about eighteen minutes. A boat would arrive with his payment afterward, and presumably also to remove him from the island in the event that InGen investigated the cause of the lapse in security and/or discovered the theft of the embryos.
1993 incident and death
Nedry waited until close to 7:00pm to put his plan into action, expecting to make the hand-off shortly before the cargo ship left dock. Throughout the day he showed clear signs of stress, but his coworkers did not suspect anything was amiss. Due to inclement weather, C-3208’s departure time was moved up. Nedry tried to convince Chadwick to get the captain to wait, but was unsuccessful; he activated whte_rbt.obj sooner than he had hoped and left the control room under the excuse of going to buy a soda from the vending machines. He also claimed to his coworkers that the security systems were compiling files and might turn off temporarily, hoping that this would delay any suspicions while he was gone.
As soon as the security systems turned off, Nedry was in a race against time. He needed to get to the boat before it departed, and get back to the control room before his coworkers became suspicious. He retrieved the embryos from cold storage and left the Visitors’ Centre in Jeep 12 without any incident. Later investigation by InGen would discover that the pipes delivering liquid nitrogen to the cold storage units had been severed, but it is unlikely that Nedry had the time to do this manually on his own. The true cause remains unknown.
The weather continued to worsen as Nedry drove eastward through the now-deactivated paddock security gates, and he was delayed when he accidentally struck a road sign directing him toward the East Dock. He was able to find his way again, passing close to a Dilophosaurus paddock where he crashed his Jeep. While attempting to use a winch to pull his vehicle free from where it had become stuck, he was investigated by a juvenile dilophosaur; not having any knowledge of the animal’s biology, he paid it little attention. The dinosaur became aggressive and attacked, blinding Nedry with its venom and preparing to ambush him in the Jeep. Nedry, not having seen the animal enter the vehicle, got inside and was mauled to death.
Nedry’s death, of course, did not end the 1993 incident. Chadwick and Cruz became concerned that Nedry had failed to show in time, and used the canister’s tracking device to locate him. They discovered the crash site and Nedry’s partially-eaten corpse, freeing the dinosaur which had been inadvertently shut inside the Jeep. In the ensuing incident, Cruz located the canister but Chadwick was killed and partially eaten by the pack of Dilophosaurus. The canister was ultimately lost on the island. Details of this part of the incident were relayed to InGen by Park veterinarian Dr. Gerry Harding, leading to an investigation in late 1994 which uncovered more details about the sabotage. Nedry’s remains may have been removed from the island during the investigation, as InGen performed an autopsy to determine his cause of death.
Jurassic Park never recovered from this blow. With the liquid nitrogen delivery system severed, the embryos in the laboratory were destroyed due to temperature damage. While the Isla Sorna specimens were mostly retrieved from the island’s facilities safely, lawsuits and other financial troubles brought InGen to the brink of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, no lawsuits were filed against InGen by Nedry’s family. The cause is unknown; InGen may have paid his family off, or Nedry’s family may simply have chosen not to sue for one of several reasons (the fact that Nedry had engaged in criminal activity that led to his death being a likely reason).
Ultimately, however, Nedry’s involvement in the 1993 incident would be quietly swept under the rug by InGen along with many other aspects of the incident. Five years after the incident, InGen was bought out by Masrani Global Corporation, and seven years after that, a reimagined theme park now called Jurassic World opened on the island. According to former Masrani Global employee Claire Dearing (Jurassic World’s Senior Assets Manager 2007-2015), CEO Simon Masrani continued the mandate that details of the original Jurassic Park and associated incident be kept to a minimum. A “whitewashed” version of the incident, not mentioning Nedry by name, was released to the public with the more grisly or suspicious details removed. Barbasol even became one of Jurassic World’s corporate sponsors, with the Jurassic World website itself featuring the lost cryopreservation canister as one of Isla Nublar’s mysteries.
This treatment of Nedry’s sabotage as a mysterious legend rather than a genuine tragedy continued until after Jurassic World closed on December 22, 2015. It would not be until June 11, 2019, the twenty-sixth anniversary of the 1993 incident, that the public would learn Dennis Nedry’s name in a report by Ross S. of the Dinosaur Protection Group with inside information from Claire Dearing.
A professional computer programmer, Nedry’s skills covered a wide range of operating systems. Jurassic Park used Unix, so this would be the operating system that Nedry primarily dealt with in his job. At the time of his death, he had debugged about two million lines of code, comprising most of what was needed to run the Park. This included everything from security systems to virtual reality simulations to tourist attractions; if it was connected to a computer, Nedry had some hand in ensuring it worked correctly. Nedry’s expertise with programming and hacking computers extended farther than nearly any other InGen employee, enabling him to circumvent their security systems during the 1993 incident.
While its canon status is not yet confirmed, the 1997 InGen IntraNet website contains an email wherein John Hammond describes Site B’s sensitive computer files as being so well-protected that not even Nedry could access them. At the time the system was designed, Hammond mostly trusted Nedry, making it unclear whether Nedry himself encrypted the Site B files or if an even more skilled programmer was hired for this. If Nedry did indeed encrypt the Site B files, it speaks to his skill as a software programmer that he could build a system so watertight that not even his own hacking abilities could gain him access.
Nedry was a relatively skilled driver, though during the 1993 incident he experienced at least two minor vehicular accidents due to the stress he was under. He was capable of driving a vehicle with manual transmission.
Nedry was considerably overweight in 1993, but demonstrated an ability to withstand physical hardship and exertion. He was also visually impaired; nonetheless, he showed some degree of confidence that he could drive a vehicle without corrective lenses. This suggests that he was farsighted rather than nearsighted, meaning his glasses would primarily serve to help him read while he was working.
Despite working in a de-extinction theme park, Nedry knew fairly little about dinosaurs or other forms of prehistoric life. He was unable to visually identify a juvenile Dilophosaurus, despite this animal being a serious safety hazard that all InGen employees should have known about. He did understand the threat that larger dinosaurs could pose, and his system shutdown made an exception for the Velociraptor holding pen. Robert Muldoon had certainly expressed concern about these animals to his coworkers, which is likely why Nedry ensured not to release them.
Recognition for his work
Nedry took great pride in his ability as a programmer, claiming to John Hammond in 1993 that few other people would be able to accomplish what he had done for Jurassic Park on the salary he was given. His confidence in his talent and hard work was overshadowed by his belief that he was underpaid, however, and this impacted his work at InGen.
Though he was certainly a critical part of Jurassic Park’s operation, his financial struggles damaged his relationships with his coworkers; this led to him feeling as though he was not respected. This lack of respect, be it real or imagined, likely contributed to his egotistical perception of himself and in turn the sense of superiority that he maintained over his coworkers.
While working at Jurassic Park for InGen, Nedry seldom left the Visitors’ Centre. He spent most of his time in the control room, and so did not have any interaction with the dinosaurs; in fact, he seemed to know very little about dinosaurs at all. He knew enough, likely from Park warden Robert Muldoon, to ensure that the power to the Velociraptor holding pen would remain on when he sabotaged the Park’s security systems. Despite not working with them directly, he well understood the value that InGen’s de-extinct animals held, eventually accepting a bribe of US $1.5 million to steal fifteen preserved embryos.
Dr. John Parker Alfred Hammond
Nedry worked closely with InGen’s CEO, John Hammond, though the two were increasingly at odds toward the end of Nedry’s employment. Hammond’s “spare no expense” approach to Jurassic Park did not necessarily extend to his employees’ paychecks, a point which Nedry was quick to bring up when finances became an issue. Hammond considered Nedry’s underbidding to have been in poor judgment, and while he did not blame Nedry for this mistake, he was unwilling to compensate him for it. Nedry, on the other hand, thought Hammond unreasonable by not paying him at a competitive rate for the work he did, and remarked sarcastically at the moral philosophizing Hammond would use to justify his refusal.
Eventually, the conflict between Hammond and Nedry would come to a head. Nedry conspired with BioSyn to steal trade secrets from InGen, betraying Hammond and his other coworkers. Even so, Hammond did not suspect that the security system failures were deliberate sabotage until after they discovered that Nedry had promptly taken a Jeep out from the Visitors’ Centre. Nedry’s actions would cause the Jurassic Park project to become shelved, causing damage to InGen that would not be undone until after Hammond’s death in 1998.
John Raymond Allen Arnold
One of Nedry’s closest coworkers in the control room, Jurassic Park’s chief engineer “Ray” Arnold was also at odds with Nedry fairly often. Where Nedry dealt with InGen’s software, Arnold dealt with hardware; even so, their disciplines overlapped often enough that butting heads was far from uncommon between them. Arnold was critical of Nedry’s lax approach to fixing glitches in the Park’s operating systems, even when Nedry gave valid reasons for not working on the code during the automated tour. Arnold also disapproved of Nedry’s messy workspace. Despite their antagonistic relationship, Arnold eventually admitted that Nedry’s programming skills were superior to his own, and that he could not undo what Nedry had done during the incident.
Nedry did not actually intend to cause any physical harm to his coworkers or the guests, but the grisly failure of his espionage plot left InGen with few options to restart the systems. The best option was to initiate a complete shutdown and restart; this deactivated the fencing on the holding pens, letting out three Velociraptors which ultimately killed Arnold.
Another of InGen’s top brass, Robert Muldoon was frequently in the control room and thus also worked closely with Nedry. He was the warden of Jurassic Park, dealing with the animals directly; as a result, he did not butt heads with Nedry as often as Arnold or Hammond. Their relationship is best described as neutral; they were not hostile toward each other, but showed no signs of friendliness either. Muldoon’s alarmist approach toward Velociraptors appears to have rubbed off to some degree on Nedry, as his virus explicitly left the raptor holding pen operational.
Like Arnold, Muldoon ultimately died during the 1993 incident as a result of the failure of Nedry’s plot. Nedry had planned to return to the control room and restore the security systems, but did not survive the drive to and from the East Dock. With his death, the remaining InGen personnel were forced to perform a complete system reboot in order to get the Park operational, which shut down the fences on the raptor holding pen. The escaped raptors killed Muldoon. Nedry himself likely intended no physical harm toward his coworkers.
Other InGen employees
Nedry does not appear to have had any particularly close friendships at InGen. Based on the way he describes his job, he seems to have viewed himself as the sole architect of Jurassic Park’s software, despite the fact that numerous other programmers would have had to work there. As he chiefly stayed in the control room while working, he would only have interacted with most other employees infrequently.
It is likely that he worked with Benjamin Lockwood between the 1980s and 1993, though at some point Lockwood left InGen due to moral disagreements with Hammond. With Lockwood’s fortune no longer financing InGen, the company would have had to cut some costs; this may have led to Nedry’s financial troubles.
InGen’s laboratories utilized state-of-the-art software, so there is a good chance that Nedry would have been familiar with geneticists such as Dr. Henry Wu and Dr. Laura Sorkin. In particular, Sorkin was at least familiar with Nedry’s programming enough to understand it, hacking the Park’s computer system in ways similar to Nedry’s methods. As with the other victims of the 1993 incident, Sorkin’s untimely death was an unintended, indirect consequence of Nedry sabotaging the Park’s security systems and dying before he could restore them. Henry Wu had left the island by the time the incident was fully underway, but his life’s work suffered expensive damage due to Nedry’s sabotage, and his genetic accomplishments very nearly fell into the hands of his competitors.
Park veterinarian Dr. Gerry Harding, the only employee to survive on the island past June 12, reported Nedry’s death to higher-ups in the company according to an official 1994 report.
Lewis Dodgson, Miles Chadwick, and Nima Cruz
By 1993, Dennis Nedry had become frustrated enough with his job to turn to crime in order to resolve his financial struggles. Lewis Dodgson, an employee of InGen’s prominent rival BioSyn, offered a total of US $1.5 million if Nedry could retrieve viable embryos of the fifteen de-extinct animal species that InGen (officially) had on the island. While details about how Nedry and Dodgson became acquainted are unknown, on June 10, 1993 the two met at a restaurant in San José, Costa Rica. There, Nedry was paid half of his reward up front; he would receive an additional $50,000 for each viable embryo he delivered.
He likely knew Dodgson’s other conspirators, Miles Chadwick and Nima Cruz, only briefly; they probably arrived on Isla Nublar by boat the same day he did. Chadwick contacted Nedry by video to inform him that the cargo ship would be leaving earlier due to the approaching tropical storm, but this would be their last contact. Nedry never arrived to the East Dock for the hand-off, crashing his Jeep and becoming eaten by a juvenile dinosaur. Chadwick and Cruz discovered his body by following the tracking beacon within the cryopreservation canister; it is unclear whether Nedry was aware of the tracking device. Chadwick, like many others between June 11 and June 13, died as a result of Nedry shutting the security systems down; Cruz’s survival or death has not yet been officially verified, but her fate was ultimately determined by the failure of Nedry’s plot as well.
Dodgson, likewise, suffered because of Nedry’s failure. While he likely did not face legal consequences (as of June 2018, no one had been implicated in the 1993 incident alongside Nedry), he had trusted Nedry to follow through so much as to actually send the remaining $750,000 on a small boat to Isla Nublar before he even had confirmation that the embryos were secure. It is unlikely that Dodgson paid this money out of his own pocket, meaning that he would have gone more than a million dollars into debt with no easy way to pay it back.
Jurassic Park guests
On June 11, 1993, a small group of guests was brought to Jurassic Park to evaluate the facility and, hopefully, endorse it. These consisted of paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm, paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (invited by Hammond despite not being on the original list), and Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim Murphy. Also in this group was Donald Gennaro, a legal consultant for InGen. Nedry did not meet with any of them personally, as none had been to Isla Nublar prior to June 11. However, Nedry’s act of sabotage indirectly led to Gennaro’s death, as well as grave physical injury and psychological damage dealt to the five guests. In particular, Malcolm suffered a broken leg and worrying amounts of blood loss, and both Grant and Sattler later showed signs of post-traumatic stress; the psychological harm done to these latter two cause irreparable damage to their romantic relationship, which ended by 1995.
Jurassic Park animals
Nedry did not work directly with the animals cloned by InGen, and knew little about them other than their monetary worth. He did have an understanding of the danger some of them could pose as predators, thanks to his close working relationship with Robert Muldoon; he ensured that the raptors, for example, would remain contained during his espionage operation. He underestimated how quickly other dinosaurs might discover that their restraining technologies had failed, believing that his eighteen-minute window would be time enough to get the electric fences and other security systems back online. Within a much shorter time frame, the Tyrannosaurus and Dilophosaurus exited their paddock areas and began roaming around the island; Nedry himself was poisoned, mauled, and eaten by a juvenile Dilophosaurus after crashing his Jeep on his way to the East Dock.
Nedry, technically, can be said to have freed the dinosaurs from captivity. This turned out a mixed bag for the dinosaurs themselves. All of the animals now had a wider area to roam and access to new food sources, but were also turned out into a wild ecosystem full of diseases, predators, and other natural hazards without any human caretakers to protect them from danger or heal them if they became sick or injured. Had InGen implemented a contingency plan other than lysine dependency (which was a complete failure), the dinosaurs may not have survived very long at all.
Nedry’s family are mostly unknown. Unlike the families of other deceased InGen higher-ups such as Robert Muldoon and Ray Arnold, Nedry’s family did not sue InGen for his death. This may have been because Nedry had committed several crimes at the time he died, and those crimes led directly to the circumstances that caused him to die. Alternatively, Nedry may not have been particularly close with his family, or InGen may have paid them to keep silent.
The non-canon Jurassic World LEGO series Legend of Isla Nublar introduces a character named Daniel Nedermeyer, who is said to be a nephew of Dennis Nedry who familiarizes himself with the history of Isla Nublar and worked at Jurassic World in 2012 while seeking ways to avenge his uncle. His existence would imply that Nedry had a sister who married into the Nedermeyer family, and that at least his nephew admired him even after the events of 1993. These family characters have not been confirmed in the film canon.
Dennis T. Nedry was portrayed by Wayne Knight, who earned the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Nedry was based on the character of the same name in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel. Wayne Knight was director Steven Spielberg‘s first choice for the role.