|“||I have come here to chew bubblegum and kickass, ...and I'm all out of bubblegum.||„|
|~ Duke Nukem's famous quote for Nada before killing the aliens|
John Nada (in the movie credits) was a homeless drifter who lived in Los Angeles for a period of time. He is the main protagonist of the film They Live. He is played by the late wrestler Roddy Piper.
When talking to Frank, he described his childhood with an abusive father, until he finally ran away.
Eventually, he grew up and worked at a construction company in Denver, until it went bankrupt when most of the banks their closed (possibly due to the aliens' interference). He traveled to Los Angeles where he found employment at a Union-organized construction site. There, he was taken in by Frank, a co-worker, where they went to the shanty town. He met Gilbert and some other homeless drifters. Some of them started communicating through the church.
The next morning, he enters the church and finds boxes of sunglasses and a chemical lab. He flees the church and escapes from the priest guarding the building. He takes some binoculars from a homeless boy and watches as Gilbert and some revolutionaries load cars filled with sunglasses.
That night, Nada is still watching, but a police chopper hovers over the church. As the last cars pull out of the church, the priest, Gilbert, and a man who appears on television warning people about the wealthy and powerful people flee. As they walk into the shanty town, the police arrive and raid the church, destroying most of the artifacts inside, including most of the sunglasses. SWAT also arrives, and they riot against the shanty town's residents. Nada is forced away, like most of the residents.
Nada runs around to the back of the shanty town to find the TV Man and priest getting beaten to death by a squad of SWAT officers. He helps a homeless boy escape from the police as they almost capture him, and eventually, they take refuge inside a building.
Nada decides to investigate the church after the policemen leave. He grabs an undestroyed box of sunglasses and puts them on. Wandering the city, he sees several mass media ads replaced by subliminal messages persuading people to reproduce, spend, and obey authority. He finds another horrifying truth in the world: several people are, in fact, humanoid aliens.
He shortly recovers from the shock, and sees that the aliens are disguised as businesspeople, politicians, heirs, news anchors, bankers/financiers, and policemen. He stumbles into a grocery store and insults an alien woman, who talks into a gold watch and reports him to the other aliens. He leaves the store to get bullied into an alleyway by two cops (both of them are alien). He knocks one out, snatches his gun, and shoots the first cop. He then kills the cop he knocked out.
As he pockets the revolver, he takes a shotgun and runs into a bank full of aliens as a police car races by. He kills most of the aliens inside, and scares at least three off (one of them teleports). He escapes the bank as the same police cars from the shanty town arrive. He shoots down a drone with a camera and ambushes a human policeman, and forces him to run off.
He abducts a Cable 54 employee, Holly Thompson. He orders her to drive to her house in the hills. When he learns that she is a high-ranking employee at the TV station, he tries to convince her about the aliens. In retaliation, she knocks him down the hill and alerts the police. However, Nada leaves his glasses behind, and Holly destroys them.
He joins up with Frank, and meets with Gilbert, who happens to be the leader of a resistance against the aliens.