In The Show
Bridgens first appears in episode 2 where he can be seen giving Harry Peglar the book "The Vicar Of Wakefield" before the latter departs on a sledge party in search for open water. Later in the episode he informs Sir John and Commander Fitzjames of the return of the first sledge party. In episode 6 he overhears the conversation between Fitzjames and Mr. Blanky about walking overland to safety and he gives Peglar a book about Xenophon and "The March of the Ten Thousand" to prepare him for the 800 mile journey south. He passes Peglar the book and the two briefly caress each other’s hands. He is reunited with Peglar after the carnivale fire started by Dr. Stephen Samuel Stanley and Bridgens volunteers to be Dr. Goodsir's assistant after overhearing Tom Hartnell say Dr. John Smart Peddie died in the fire leaving Goodsir the last surgeon alive.
He appears briefly in the next episode helping Goodsir to get John Morfin back on his feet shortly before he commits suicide to end the pain of his lead poisoning. In episode 8 he appears applying camphor to Mr. Collins. He excuses himself to go examine symptoms of scurvy on Peglar and when he returns Collins is gone. Later Goodsir is asked to testify in Cornelius Hickey's court martial but before he does he asks Bridgens who took the Peruvian wine of coca to which Bridgens replies he hasn't given any to anyone when in actuality Collins drank it all without his knowledge.
He survives the attack from the Tuunbaq during the trial and in episode 9 he describes the catatonic state of Francis Pocock similar to a diary with the entries removed. Fitzjames later collapses from exhaustion and is placed into one of the boats but Bridgens informs Crozier the rough ride is hurting him and they make camp. Bridgens tells Crozier the hartshorn and camphor are having little effect easing Fitzjames's pain and that the muscles are stiffening. Fitzjames requests to be euthanized and Bridgens bids his farewell saying poems will be written about him and he shows Captain Crozier how to properly euthanize him. Later Peglar collapses from exhaustion while towing the sledges and Bridgens is there to comfort him and camp is set up not long after. After Peglar dies of scurvy, he reads his journal, kisses his hand, and heads out into the hills, walking past Robert Golding, to commit suicide via starvation and exposure from the despair of losing his love.
In The Book
- Bridgens' age was listed as 26 on the crew musters from 1845 meaning that the real John Bridgens was born in 1819.