Joanna Manning
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Portrayed by
First seen
Appeared in
First mentioned
Episode count
Joanna Manning
Also known as
Joanna Miller
Manner of death
Family members
Bob Miller - Ex-Husband
Theodore Manning - Late Husband
Josh Miller - Son
Andrew Robinson - Ex-Stepson
Alex Manning - Adoptive Son
Casey Norwood - Mother-in-Law
Buck Norwood - Father-in-Law
Dean Hall - Son-in-Law
S1 - S2 - S3 - S4 - S5
I'm your mother.

Joanna Manning (previously Miller) is one of the main characters of Desperate Schoolboys. Life as a mother and wife proved to be to much for her, so after abandoning her husband and son, the woman finds herself starting over. She meets and marries the mysterious Theodore Manning and becomes stepmother to his 'son', Alex. Realizing she has matured over the years, Joanna and her new family return to Wiksteria where they reunite with Josh, but little do the mother/son duo know what past baggage the Manning's bring with them...


Early Life

It was all just too much for me. I couldn't handle the responsibility. I had just got a job, I was struggling to make end's meat, your father was no help at all... It was a constant struggle... but eventually... I left. I decided one morning that I had had enough. I left your father a note, explaining that I left you with him because I didn't think that you would have any sort of better life... with me. I'd been fired from my job due to exhaustion, me and your father fell out of love long before... I couldn't handle motherhood any longer.

At a young age, Joanna met Bob Miller and they got married and had a son, Josh. It didn't take long for Joanna to grow impatient being a mother and having a huge responsibility taking of a child for her to realize she wasn't mature enough. One day, she decides to abandon her family and doesn't look back. She left a note stating her reasons for leaving, thus angering Bob, resulting in him telling Josh that his mother had died. ("Infinity, Part 2"/"A Tangled Web")

Years later, Joanna meets Theodore Manning in a church and they instantly fall in love. Joanna and Ted get married and move back to the town of Wiksteria where Joanna plans to reunite with her own son. ("Infinity, Part 2"/"The Madness Within, Part 2")

Season 3

Is it the move? I know it's a big change, but we're going to be happy here.

At the Wiksteria hospital, Josh notices a mysterious woman watching him. He sees the woman later on when getting coffee. He finally asks who she is, resulting in her revealing herself to be his mother. Josh and Joanna meet up with Bob and have a cold and awkward reunion. Bob asks where she had gone, and Joanna apologizes for leaving. She says she wasn't ready for motherhood and that she had grown up now and is ready to have a relationship with her son. As Joanna leaves the hospital, her phone rings with her new husband on the other line. She tells him that she is on her way home. Once coming through the front door, she asks her husband, Ted, where he is. Ted directs her upstairs where she goes into a teenage boy's room and tells him that their family will be happy there. ("Infinity, Part 2")

Season 4

Please, just kill me. I'm the one who has hurt you.

Joanna has Josh over at her new home where she introduced her son to Ted and Alex. Ted gives Josh a tour of the house and shows the latter his room, stating that Ted and Joanna always welcome him into their home. Ted suggests Josh come and spend a week with them, to which he agrees. Joanna tells Ted that They are all so lucky to have him. ("Come on in for Dinner")

Joanna joins Josh in breakfast and asks how he's enjoying living with her and his new step-family. She's pleased to hear her son enjoys Ted, but urges him to keep trying to bond with Alex. She tells Josh about how Ted saved Alex from his biological parents and how the memories still haunt the poor boy. Her son reluctantly agrees to try harder. ("May the Smartest Man Win")

Joanna is on the couch reading a book when Josh approaches her, interested in learning why she left him and Bob all those years ago. Joanna tells Josh the truth about leaving, and apologizes for doing so. She says that she regretted it the moment she left, but thought he'd have a better life without her. Josh is able to forgive his mother and they hug. ("A Tangled Web")

When the Manning's and Josh have Dean over for dinner, Joanna tampers with the AC, trying to turn down the heat. As she does so, Ted asks Josh why he's being so quiet, to which he responds Alex killed the girl in the park. A shocked Joanna tells her son to take back what he said, but Josh refuses. ("The Dog Days Are Over")

Joanna and Ted run into each other in the hall after the latter comes out of Josh's room. Joanna is curious to why Ted was in there, and he states that they were bonding. This pleases the woman, but doesn't make Alex to happy. ("Gracious in the Face of Danger")

While Josh is eavesdropping on Alex, Joanna yells upstairs for the boys to come down and get their lunch. Later on, Josh finds a newspaper article revealing Ted being wanted for murder. Josh runs downstairs and tries to warn Joanna and run out of the house before her crazy husband catches them. Ted makes it downstairs first, however, and holds his family at gunpoint. ("Flashes Before Our Eyes")

Joanna and Ted passionately kiss on their shared bed. Joanna tells Ted that she forgives him for everything, and that no matter what, she'll always love him. She also tells her husband that she thinks they should move on soon, but an insulted Ted makes it clear that his wife does not tell him what to do. Joanna says that it was merely a suggestion, but Ted holds up the revolver proving that they have nothing to worry about. Joanna laughs, but once her husband leaves the room, her smile drops and her hand is shown to be handcuffed to the bed. The Manning's and Josh are later seen watching TV. Joanna "accidentally" spills a drink on her blouse. Ted urges her to clean it up. Once she gets up, instead of cleaning her top, she grabs Ted's revolver, aiming at him with tears now coming down her eyes. Ted manipulates his wife into dropping the gun. He prepares to kill Joanna and and Josh, but Lydia Ashdale shows up for dinner, so he puts the gun away, not harming his family. ("Connecting the Dots")

Joanna, Josh, and Alex are taken from their home by Ted and driven to an old abandoned ranch that the latter use to reside in. Inside the ranch, Ted starts cleaning up where he in confronted by Joanna. She tells him that they can't live in that place and that what he is doing is wrong. Ted ignores this and tells his wife that he loves her. Joanna says that he betrayed her and she could never love him again. Her crazed husband refuses to believe this. Joanna tells Ted that Josh can never know what the latter did to those children. Ted promises that he won't and that he'll protect him so they can be a family again. ("Death Do Us Part")

Joanna and Josh tidy up some of the living room. The latter asks if they're going to be staying. Joanna reveals that she doesn't exactly know at the time being. She apologizes for bringing Ted into their lives and getting them in this entire mess. Josh tells his mother that she shouldn't apologize. Joanna promises that she will either kill Ted or she and Josh will run away together the first chance they get. Josh tells his mother that he's going to look for clues in Alex's room since that's where he learned Ted's secret to begin with. ("Secrets That Lay Buried")

In the farmhouse, Joanna and Josh watch as Ted gets in his car to go into town and get supplies. ("The Madness Within, Part 1") Ted returns from town where Joanna confronts her husband, yet again. She tells him that the farm isn't working, Josh won't turn out the way he should, and that he will never have the family he truly desires. Ted refuses to believe his wife at first, but Joanna keeps insisting. She tells Ted that she will never love him again. At this, Ted snaps, now dragging Joanna to the chicken coop. Along the way, Ted also grabs Josh and Alex, locking the three in the bloody coop. Joanna and Josh bang at the door, hoping Ted will let them out. Alex tells them that there is no chance of escape and that Ted is going to kill them. Josh asks Alex about how Reed got away. Josh and Joanna listen as Alex tells them the truth about Ted and Reed. After the truth comes out, Joanna, Josh, and Alex try breaking out of the coop. Ted comes in with an axe before they're able to escape. Joanna tells Ted that she'll sacrifice herself in order to save Josh and Alex. Ted holds up the axe, but instead of taking his wife's life, he sticks it in the ground, freeing Joanna, Josh, and Alex. As the Manning's and Josh leave the coop, Dean and the police arrive where Ted is arrested for murder. ("The Madness Within, Part 2")

Season 5

I've been evicted from my house.

Joanna, Josh, and Alex arrive at the prison Ted was detained in. The family go into a viewing room, revealing a large window showing an execution room. Joanna tells Josh that he didn't have to come and see this if he didn't want to. Josh tells his mother that he had to say goodbye. Joanna, Josh, and Alex watch as Ted's veins are injected with lethal poison and his life is taken. ("The Greatest Lie of Omission")

Joanna argues with Josh about how the latter never spends time with Alex. Josh states that his brother is a freak and doesn't want anything to do with him and doesn't even understand why Joanna continues to take care of him. Later on, Joanna helps Josh move the latter's belongings out of the former's house as Josh has decided to move back in with Bob. Joanna stumbles while carrying a box, leading to Bob catching her. Josh notices the smile on his parents' face and starts scheming. Joanna arrives at the Miller's home that night after seemingly receiving a message from Bob. The former couple find a fancy dinner set up and both think it's made my the former significant other. Bob and Joanna start to put the pieces together and realize Josh set them up. After talking to their son, Bob and Joanna make it clear that they are not getting back together. ("Hidden Truths")

Joanna sits on the front bench with the four schoolboys while attending Alex's funeral. ("The Inevitable End") Joanna arrives at the Miller's door steps after being evicted from her house. Joanna tells her son and former husband the reason she was forced onto the streets was because with Ted's execution and Alex's suicide, she hasn't had time to find a job and hasn't been able to pay any bills. Josh, to Bob's dismay, invites Joanna to live with them. Later on, Bob finds Joanna sobbing over a picture of Alex. She explains that she acted as he was a burden and didn't see how much he was torn up on the inside. Bob comforts Joanna, leading to the two sharing a kiss. ("I Offer You Solace")

Josh confronts Bob and Joanna about their kiss and asks once again if the former couple is getting back together. Bob and Joanna explain that the kiss didn't mean anything and that just because they are getting along doesn't mean they're reconciling. Later on, Bob sends Josh to the store to pick up skim milk, but when he comes back after forgetting his wallet, he finds Joanna and Bob having sex in the kitchen. After getting re-dressed, Joanna and Bob clarify that they're still not getting back together and that it is just sex. Josh tells his parents that that is not an option and that they're going to talk and either get back together or stay platonic friends. Bob and Joanna decide to get serious and discuss their options. At first they are against the reconciliation, but after reminiscing, the couple decide that it wouldn't be bad to give it another shot and they ultimately decide to get back together. ("Something to Confess")

After the schoolboys go on the run, Officer Greg Larkin visits Bob and Joanna and assures them that Josh and the other's will be alright, but as of the moment, the four friends are suspects for murdering Fraser Gale. Joanna asks the officer why he helped the boys escape capture, and he tells her and Bob that he has faith in them. This still leaves Joanna worried who says they could be anywhere. ("Run") After the police take Eric away, Bob and Joanna are there to reunite with Josh, stating that they missed him. ("End of the Road") As Josh gets ready for Annie and Brian's wedding, Bob and Joanna tell him how proud they are of him. ("The Parting of the Ways")