Biographical Information
Full name: Hayden Upchurch
Age: 17
Status: Alive

"The Smirker"

Gender: Male
Hair color: Blonde
Eye color: Blue
Occupation: * Leader of the ComBom
  • Connor Lassiter
  • Bam Covalt

-Sonia's Safe House -The Graveyard -With the Stork Club

  • Mother and Father(not present in his life)
  • Only Child
Character Information
Appears in:

Hayden Upchurch is an Unwind who went AWOL around the same time as Connor and several others. From the basement of Sonia's antique shop, they were sent to the Graveyard, where the group stayed for over a year with other AWOLs. Hayden grew to become a loyal friend to Connor.



Hayden is from a wealthy family, whose father is implied to be a powerful figure in the corporate world. His parents divorced and fought over their fortune. Only after spending all the money on lawyers and arguing did they fight over the last thing left: Hayden. They finally agreed that they would both rather have Hayden unwound than have the other parent have custody. He managed to escape before the Juvey-cops could capture him and ended up at Sonia's safe house with Risa, Connor, the baby, Lev, and Roland. He stayed at Sonia's safe house for a few days until he was brought along the train of the Anti Divisional Resistance to eventually end up in the Graveyard. He stayed at the Graveyard under the Admirals and then Connor's leadership until its' falling out when Juvie-Cops raided the scene. 

Sonia's Basement

We meet Hayden when he is in the basement with Mai and Roland when Connor and Risa enter with the baby. Connor thinks of him as a rich kid because of his perfect looks, and immediately doesn't like that, until he realizes it is impossible to not like Hayden [1].


During the plane trip to the Graveyard, Hayden was in a crate with Connor, a boy who became known as Emby, and Diego. He constantly asks everyone would they rather die or be unwound, and he asks them when they think someone is "alive" or has a soul. His answer to that question is he didn't know. [1]

When he first arrived at the Graveyard under the Admiral, he was assigned to food distribution.[2] Later, when the Graveyard was managed by Connor, he headed up the communications center, known as the ComBom, where he also ran a radio station to reach other "Whollies" on the run, though their signal had a small reach.[3]

Cold Springs

After getting captured at the end of Unwholly, Hayden is taken by authorities to the harvest camp Cold Springs. He's over the unwinding age, but the director of the camp informs him that he's been specifically taken to a camp in a state that's sure to pass the bill that criminals can be unwound, and that Hayden will be unwound the very day that the bill is voted on. Hayden never gives up his sarcasm while at the camp; he cheerfully tells the director, Maynard, to wear his retainer for two years once they unwind him and take his teeth since they removed his braces, and when Maynard tells him he'll be sure to put his middle finger on a keychain, Hayden asks "Left or Right? These things matter."  Hayden is treated remarkably better at Cold Springs than Connor was at Happy Jack, which Hayden correctly guesses is to decrease the chance that the other Unwinds will view him as a hero as they did Connor. It seems to work, as only the kids who knew him from the Graveyard like him, while the other kids at the harvest camp despise him. He's given a suite room - which is always kept locked, including the door to the balcony, which is made of bullet-proof glass - and steak dinners. He showers three times a day to try and "[scrub away] the filth of his situation." He's set free when the Stork Club liberates the camp. Hayden reveals, as he's led out to the courtyard by a kid he recognizes from the Graveyard, that he had a small bit of hope that his liberator was Connor, and his hopes are crushed when he sees Starkey waiting with the Storks. Starkey orders him to shoot Maynard, but Hayden refuses; a randomly chosen fourteen-year-old from the crowd does it instead. Hayden realizes his best chance for survival is to join the Stark Club, but he's extremely wary and troubled at Starkey's position of leadership and power.

Stork Club

Hayden reluctantly leaves Cold Springs with the Stork Club after its liberation. Starkey appoints him to computer duty, recognizing Hayden's past as the ComBom leader, a position in which Hayden reunites with Jeevan, one of the former ComBom members who abandoned the rest of the crew during the Graveyard's invasion in favor of escaping with Starkey and the other Storks. Shortly after arriving at the Stork Club's hideout, Hayden protests Starkey's leadership and directives; although Starkey comments that he could feasibly behead Hayden for it, he just demotes him to food inventory duty, calling it a "menial job for a menial mind." Hayden makes a sort of friendship with Bam while on inventory. Although Bam easily gets annoyed with his flippant attitude and comments about Starkey being a poor leader, she visits him enough to recognize 'landmarks' on the path to the inventory room (specifically a small rock outcropping that she hits her head on every time she passes it). Hayden eventually gets reassigned to computer duty - Starkey, via Bam, tells him it's because Jeevan needs help breaking firewalls, despite Hayden recalling that Jeevan could break through firewalls easily in the Graveyard - where he resumes his radio show, Radio Free Hayden. Eventually, after he, Bam, and Jeevan collaborate to blackmail Starkey out of the Stork Club, Hayden opts out of assuming a leadership position in Starkey's absence, choosing instead to travel the country in order to temporarily overtake various small radio stations and broadcast the plans for a congregation in Washington, D.C. in protest of Unwinding. 

On the Run

Hayden gathers a team of five computer geniuses with him, as they travel on the run from Juvy Cops to several different broadcasting stations for their Radio-Free Hayden. There he unravels the many truths of the Proactive Citizenry, and he educates people about the bad things about Unwinding. He calls for a second teen Uprising on November 1st at every broadcast, and he signs off by playing the song "I've got you under my skin" by Frank Sinatra. He even tells the public that the Proactive Citizenry is behind the Clapper Attacks long before Cam got to it. Although he didn't know, many people were listening to his broadcasts and he gained many supporters. The Second teen uprising that he managed ended up gaining a lot of support, and millions of people went to it to protest. It is because of his uprising idea that Unwinding primarily took a downfall, along with Cam's truth-telling session with Roberta.

Physical description

Connor once said that Hayden looked like he was from a wealthy family. He is said to be blond with blue eyes, perfect hair, and straight teeth, aided by the fact that he wears braces. Despite his apparently perfect hair, his eyes tell of sleepless nights. According to Connor, he has "a smirk on his face that seems to be permanent".

In the third book, Unsouled, it is revealed that they took of Hayden's braces (since he was getting unwound). He supposedly wears a green shirt, because many fan arts show him like that.


Hayden is quite the joker; he smirks a lot, to a point where Connor says he can never tell if Hayden is joking or not, as his tone is usually the same. Hayden's personality is a direct result of his parents' divorce and their decision to unwind him, using jokes to cover up his emotions. He believes that if he does not keep laughing, it might "just tear him apart worse than a Chop Shop".

Although he jokes around a lot, he is very caring and considerate, as was shown in UnSouled, when he was worried about Bam when she was bleeding because she hit her head. In the same book, he was also unable to kill one of the leaders at Cold Springs Harvest camp, even though he hated him a lot, and everyone would think he was a traitor if he didn't do it because he knew it was inhumane. He stands strong for his rights and what he believes in.

At the end of UnWholly, when his crew is stuck in the ComBom, he realizes that he never knew that he actually had people who looked up to him, and although they say they would rather die than be unwound, he saves their lives and they are taken to a Harvest Camp. He claims that he isn't that much of a computer genius and he just takes credit for work, but he has proven to be very smart and helpful. He helped keep track of emails sent by the Proactive Citizenry, he made a plan to overthrow Starkey, he organized a large scale revolt with millions of people, he figured out many things before others such as how the Proactive Citizenry led the Clappers, and he can hack into almost anything he needed too.


  • Hayden once claimed that he will only remain loyal to Connor and the Graveyard until he turns seventeen, and can no longer be unwound. When a fellow wholly points out that he already is seventeen, he tells them "last year didn't count". Despite this, Hayden remains loyal to Connor.
  • Hayden's family is religious, and although it is implied that his faith is not all that important to him, he immediately turns to prayer at the face of death. On a related note, Hayden’s name comes from a German word meaning "an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible".
  • In answer to his question "would you rather die or be unwound", he states he would rather die.
  • Hayden's favorite food is spam, which he acquired a taste for while traveling through the safe houses (and jokes about becoming trailer trash for it).
  • Hayden's surname "Upchurch" was first revealed by Neal Shusterman on Twitter.[4]
  • Neal once stated that Hayden may or may not be gay.[5]
  • Hayden is one of the few large characters who's love life is never mentioned even once. If you count, characters like Risa, Connor, Lev, Miracolina, Bam, Starkey, Argent, Una, Cam, Roland and many other characters (these are the recurring ones) have at least had something mentioned about it, but Hayden has never.
  • In UnDivided, Hayden's broadcast, Radio-free Hayden, has more chapters to narrate than Hayden actually has.
  • Hayden revealed that he wanted to be a radio broadcaster as a profession, which he actually pursued during the books.
  • The only person with who Hayden developed a really strong relationship is Bam, and he has semi-strong relationships with Connor and Jeevan.
  • Hayden might be bisexual. [6]


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