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Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a f-cking big television, washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose your friends. Choose DIY and wondering who the f-ck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f-cking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f-cked up brats you've spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life...
~ Mark's opening narration.

Mark Renton is the main protagonist of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting franchise.

He appears as the main protagonist in the 1993 novel Trainspotting, its 1996 film adaptation and the film's sequel T2: Trainspotting. Additionally he appeared as the deuteragonist in the predecessor novel T2 was loosely based on Porno and the main protagonist of the prequel novel Skagboys.

An angtsy and misanthropic young man, Renton was rebellious but also lazy and poorly motivated. In spite of that however he did rebel against the aspects of modern life but also wished heavily to quit his addiction and become a more functioning member of society.

He was portrayed by Ewan McGregor in first villainous role in the films who also portrayed Black Mask in the DC Extended Universe. Additionally, he was also portrayed by Ewen Bremmer in the stage play adaptation in 1994.



By the start of this story Renton is a young man in his mid twenties living in Edinburgh with his parents and stuck in a dysfunctional group of friends featuring Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, the psychopathic Francis Begbie and the healthy and alarmingly ordinary Tommy Lawerence (Mackenzie in the film). He would often relent at the constant lecturing he would receive about his addiction to heroin something he shared with Spud and Sick Boy.

One day, Renton attempts to give up on drugs and goes to a nightclub with his friends where he meets and falls in love with a girl named Diane, and attempts to have sex with her at her home, but discovers the next morning that she is 15 years old. A paranoid Renton attempts to distance himself from Diane and blow off the budding romance she wants to develop but soon relents after she threatens to tell the police if he doesn't keep in touch with her. Afterwards, Renton returns to heroin and is caught along with Spud stealing from a bookshop to get opium out of the products. Whilst Spud goes to prison, Renton is spared after he enters a Drug Interventions Programme, where he takes a dose of methadone every day. However, Renton wishes to have a more substantial high and goes to the flat of his drug dealer Swanney, but nearly dies from an overdose. Swanney sends Renton in a taxi to hospital, where he is saved by the nurses.

Afterwards, Renton's parents take him home and lock him in his room in an attempt to get him to withdraw. While this is happening Renton begins seeing visions in what he describes as "Junkie Withdrawl", Renton has nightmares such as Diane singing, his friends giving him advice, the dead baby of Sick Boy's crawling on the ceiling, Tommy appearing before him sickly and in pain and his parents being on a TV game show hosted by Dale Winton answering questions on HIV. Renton is later taken by his parents to be tested for HIV, to which the tests come back negative. In an attempt for a new life, Renton leaves Edinburgh and moves to London and becomes a property letting agent whilst keeping in touch with Diane. However, much to Renton's annoyance, the now fugitive Begbie and growing pimp Sick Boy arrive in London and move in with him.

The trio return to Edinburgh to attend the funeral of Tommy, after he dies from HIV related toxoplasmosis and reunite with Spud, who had been released from prison. After the funeral, Sick Boy suggests a lucrative but dangerous heroin transaction which Renton at first objects to but eventually accepts. Renton tests the heroin on himself to test it's purity. The quartet return to London, where they sell the heroin to a dealer for £16,000. The group celebrate at a pub, where Begbie glasses and beats up a man after he bumped into him, causing Begbie to spill beer on himself and injures Spud's hand, when he gets in the way. The following morning, whilst the others are still asleep, Renton steals the money and shares a gaze with Spud before leaving the hotel room they are in. Renton leaves £4,000 for Spud in a locker before leaving to live a more stable and traditional life.


Twenty years after his betrayal saw Renton living in Amsterdam with a wife and child. Shortly after suffering a nasty heart attack he decides to travel back to Edinburgh where he meets the gang once again. Soon enough he runs into Sick Boy who has overtaken the family business of his grandfather's pub, after a brief brawl the two reconcile. Renton then saves Spud from committing suicide and engages in several endeavours with Sick Boy and his girlfriend/pawn Veronika.

One night Renton and Sick Boy head to a nightclub. Once there Renton goes into a cubicle in the toilets only for a man to walk in himself and use the door next to his, after the man drops his viagra on the floor and it rolls under Renton's side he makes some friendly banter before the man suddenly threatens him to give him it back something which Renton already intended to do so in the first place leaving him annoyed at the man. Renton then realised he recognized the voice as Begbie's and slowly and silently made his way to the door to open it and leave undetected, unfortunately however Begbie had grown suspicious as well and looked over the cubicle wall to see Renton leaving him furious.

Renton runs out of the club much to the confusion of Sick Boy and is pursued heavily by Begbie. Eventually however Renton evades him although ends up with a massive injury to his shoulder blade. Renton then continues to evade Begbie throughout the film eventually climaxing in a battle inside of the lofts of Sick Boy's pub. The battle ends with Renton getting pushed over a loose ledge and his neck by coiled by several wires, as he desperately gasps for air Begbie holds him in an attempt to have him die quicker and painlessly. Thankfully however Sick Boy arrives just in time to pepper spray Begbie's face and rescue Renton, Begbie preparing to shoot both of them with his shotgun was then promptly knocked unconscious by Spud wielding a toilet bowl.

After this Renton moved back in with his father and was once again best friends with Sick Boy.


Renton is a cynical and intelligent man but also a fairly lazy and poorly motivated one. He is also rather moody and intolerant of the modern life attitudes held up by so many of those around him. This is complimented by him being a misanthrope who not only exhibits self loathing traits but also has a strong dislike for most of his friends and family, the only two of whom he ever truly felt sorry for and cared about being Spud and Tommy.

Overtime though Renton matured and became far more compassionate and level headed with his conscience also growing and becoming much more caring to those around him. He also grew more accepting to the idea of living a simpler more ordinary life and eventually grew to love those around him such as his father and ultimately Sick Boy who he obtained a better and more healthy friendship with,


In his youth Renton was a very skinny young man with pasty white skin who was baby faced and with very short closely cropped ginger hair. As he grew older Renton had gained more defined and sharp features in his face and significantly bulked up (Although it didn't help much with his strength) becoming much more athletic, his hair also darkened by this time and he let it grow out longer.

He always wore tight ill fitting clothes in his younger years such as a brown, tattered bomber jacket which barely reached his hips, T-Shirts which were so short they exposed his belly button and trousers that went down to his ankles. During special occasions, in court sessions, funerals and while working as a real estate agent he wore ill fitting suits in either black or dark gray colours, with short sleeved shirts underneath. As he began to clear up his act Renton began wearing more decently fitting clothes but still usually on the tighter variety.

In later life Renton kept his habit of wearing more traditional clothing however he also wore running attire alongside these as well.


  • Renton is bisexual in the novels shown by the many affairs he has with both men and women whilst living in London. In the films however his sexuality is left ambiguous.


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