Jack Skellington as he appears in Kingdom Hearts
|First appearance||The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)|
|Created by||Tim Burton|
|Voiced by||Chris Sarandon (speaking)|
Danny Elfman (singing)
|Full name||Jack Skellington|
Jack Skellington is a character and the main protagonist of the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack is the "Pumpkin King" of Halloween Town, a fantasy world based solely on the Halloween holiday. Jack is voiced by Chris Sarandon. Danny Elfman provided Jack's singing voice in the original film and soundtrack album, with Sarandon providing Jack's singing voice in subsequent productions.
His overall appearance is a skeleton dressed in a black pin-striped suit and a bow tie that strongly resembles a black bat. Originally, his suit was meant to be completely black, but it blended with the background too well, so it was changed. At the beginning of the film, Jack makes his grand entrance by emerging out of a fire-breathing dragon-themed fountain. His last name is a play on the word "skeleton". He has a ghost dog named Zero for a pet, who has a small glowing nose that looks like a jack-o'-lantern. He is adored by Sally, a rag doll created by Dr. Finklestein. The character is a popular design on bags, hats, clothing, umbrellas, belt buckles, pet collars and other items.
In The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington is the patron spirit of Halloween, portrayed as being on par with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny within his own holiday. As a living skeleton, he is supernatural and can remove parts of his body without harm, as is often demonstrated for comic relief. He is the most important of many Halloween spirits, with the implication that their job is to scare people in the real world on Halloween night.
Jack, as the "Pumpkin King" and Master of ceremonies, is in charge of Halloween Town's Halloween celebration. He is respected and even idolized by the other residents for his role, but he has grown weary of celebrating the same holiday endlessly and is depressed about it. The only one who understands Jack's feelings is a lonely ragdoll named Sally. She overhears his singing monologue and feels she can relate to his situation.
One morning after the usual annual celebration, Jack enters a forest containing portals to other worlds themed around holidays. He discovers Christmas Town and decides that this new experience is what his life was missing. He makes preparations for his own Christmas celebration in Halloween Town and wants to impersonate Santa Claus in the real world. While his intentions are not malicious, Jack does not understand the true spirit of Christmas. Halloween Town plans to give the holidays a macabre make-over. Sally reveals to Jack a bad premonition, but Jack's basic nature is impulsiveness. He does not seem to register contradictory information. By the end of the film, he notices Sally and her determination to help him. He proves that love can be a part of his nature by calling Sally his "Dearest Friend", telling Sally that they were meant to be together, embracing his future with her and embracing her.
Jack follows the formula of a tragic hero, because he begins the story at a lofty position. In spite of all his fame and talent, he yearns for another side of life. While a desire for completeness is not a flaw, his impulsiveness proves to be. He tends to be enthusiastic and inclusive, and his charisma is enough to sway every member of Halloween Town except Sally. His selfish decisions lead to the near destruction of Christmas and himself. The strength of Jack's character is demonstrated by his will to correct his own mistakes.
The official film soundtrack CD contains an epilogue not in the film, stating that "many years later" Santa returned to Halloween Town to visit Jack, where he discovered that Jack had "four or five skeleton children at hand" who play together in a xylophone band.
In video games
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The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King
Jack Skellington has been shown to have an extreme hatred for Oogie Boogie as was proven when he spoke of this plan to Lock, Shock, and Barrel, stating to "leave that no account Oogie Boogie out of this!" He later finds out that Santa Claus and Sally have been kidnapped by the Boogie Man and are in his underground lair. While trying to save his friends, Jack manages to destroy Oogie and save Christmas.
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge
Tired of using the same old themes over and over on Halloween, Jack Skellington goes to Doctor Finkelstein, who gives him the Soul Robber, an invention that changes shape. Jack decided to leave Halloween Town to get new ideas for Halloween frights. When Jack comes back to town, he finds that Oogie Boogie has been resurrected. Now Jack has to set things right again. Jack dances, fights, and sings in this game to attack Oogie Boogie's minions. Jack is portrayed as inept to some degree in this game.
Chris Sarandon did both the speaking and singing voice for Jack in this game.
Jack Skellington features in the Nightmare Before Christmas downloadable expansion pack which includes Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie-Boogie, Dr. Finklestein and the Mayor as in-game playable costumes. The downloadable content can be bought from console stores (e.g. the PlayStation Store). The package included the costumes of which some could be found in the downloaded level. Unlike the worlds originally in the game which all had 3 chapters, the Nightmare Before Christmas world only had 1 chapter called 'Halloween Graveyard'.
Kingdom Hearts series
Jack Skellington appears in four installments of the Kingdom Hearts video game series. He inhabits the world of Halloween Town, where the evil Heartless threatens its denizens. The games' main protagonists, Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy, befriend Jack and together they battle the Heartless, and also Oogie Boogie. In combat, Jack uses some of his scary powers with demonstrations of some magic, making him a formidable sorcerer.
Chris Sarandon reprises his role for the English version, and Masachika Ichimura provides Jack's Japanese voice.
Jack Skellington introduces himself to Sora, Goofy, and Donald Duck as the ruler of Halloween Town. Jack plans to use the heart that Finklestein created to control the seemingly docile Heartless to make a festival called "Heartless Halloween" so that Halloween can be frightening, but the idea fails when not only the first experiment cause the Heartless to go berserk, but Oogie Boogie steals the finished heart, and plans to use it to take over Halloween Town. At Oogie's manor, Jack, Sora, and the gang confront him. After Oogie is defeated, Jack finds out that Oogie uses dark orbs as his source of life, which Oogie combines himself with his manor to become a giant boss. Once the gang defeats Oogie once again, and his manor crumbles, revealing Halloween Town's keyhole. Jack is considerably shorter in this game than as he appeared in the movie, though he is still rather tall when compared to the game's main protagonists.
Chain of Memories
"Created" from Sora's memories of Halloween Town, when Jack Skellington wanted to ask Doctor Finkelstein what happened when he sniffs the potion that can bring "true memories", Heartless appeared. When Jack Skellington had found out that Oogie Boogie had stolen the Doc's potion, he must stop him before Oogie drinks the whole potion. They fail to reach him before he does, but they defeat him, as Oogie becomes overwhelmed with fear as a side effect of the potion. Sora becomes worried about what will happen when he discovers his true memories, but Jack reassures him that fear is a sign of a strong heart.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
In this game, Roxas arrives at Halloween Town while Jack is in the middle of a brainstorming for Halloween. Jack is having trouble with thinking of things but gets inspiration when he sees Roxas leaving through a Dark Corridor. Time after time, Roxas' adventures through Halloween Town inspire Jack to create such things as balloons filled with spiders, exploding frost pumpkins, and Halloween lanterns. When Roxas is sent to find the source of a terrible drop in heartless population, he finds the town overrun with monsters called Tentaclaws. After seeing Roxas defeating the source of the Tentaclaws, the cannibalistic Leechgrave, Jack invents a terrifying scarecrowish version of Roxas as his centerpiece for that Halloween.
Kingdom Hearts II
Following the film loosely to some degree, out of reference, Jack tries to take Santa Claus's place again. To that end, Jack asks Sora and gang to help him be Santa's bodyguards. But after fighting the Heartless and Oogie Boogie, who has been resurrected by Maleficent, Santa explains to Jack that they each have a job to do with their respective holidays. Despite this, he begins to wear a Santa suit Sally sewed together for him. In the second trip to Halloween Town, Jack still wears the Santa suit, as he still longs to deliver Christmas presents and feels that it would be rude not to wear the suit Sally worked so hard on. Along with Sora and the gang, he helps defeat Doctor Finkelstein's experiment, who stole Christmas presents from Santa in search of a heart. As a reward for all his hard work and assistance, Santa brings Jack on a ride-along with him in his sleigh for a while. After Santa drops Jack off at Halloween Town, Jack learns the true meaning of Christmas by understanding the act of giving. He dances with Sally in the end, finally realizing all of the gifts she had given to him were all from the heart and wishes to give her something in return. She tells him that the nicest present she could ever ask for is just to be with Jack. Jack responds telling her that she does not even have to ask for that, meaning Jack feels the same way for her. During a cut scene in the end credits, he is shown to be wearing his original suit, suggesting he has taken Santa's previous advice to heart completely, and apparently begins presenting new ideas for next Halloween.
In the Disney Infinity video game series, Jack appears as part of the second wave of playable characters. He has the ability to scare enemies and throw exploding Jack-O-Lanterns. If he rides Ghost Rider's motorcycle, his head will catch on fire, resembling Ghost Rider's flaming head.
Jack appears as a meetable character at several Walt Disney Parks and Resorts including Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World. At Disneyland during the holidays, Haunted Mansion is taken over by the cast of The Nightmare Before Christmas and is turned into Haunted Mansion Holiday. Jack and other characters appear throughout the ride wearing Christmas attire. Additionally, Jack hosts the Halloween Screams and Not So Spooky Spectacular! fireworks shows, as well as the Frightfully Fun Parade. Chris Sarandon provided the voice for the character in each instance.
- In Vincent, Jack appears as one of the phantasmic imaginisms of the titular character, during the final minutes of the short film.
- During the opening scene of Sleepy Hollow, a scarecrow bearing a strong resemblance to the Pumpkin King scarecrow at the beginning of "This is Halloween" can be seen.
- In the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, Jack's face can be found on the Mad Hatter's bow tie.
- In James and the Giant Peach, Jack makes a cameo as Captain Jack, an antagonist second to Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, in the pirate scene. Upon discovering him, Centipede says "A Skellington?".
- A silhouette of Jack is shown in The Princess and the Frog as one of the shadows Dr. Facilier summons.
- Jack Skellington's face made a cameo appearance on a doormat in the first volume of the graphic novel series Lenore, created by Roman Dirge.
- Jack appears in an episode of The Critic in a short parody called "The Nightmare Before Hanukkah", done in the same stop-motion animation style as the original movie. In this parody, Jack wears a red suit rather than his usual black and white striped one.
- Jack also appears in Adult Swim's show Robot Chicken finding "Hanukkah Town" and watches children open up presents, but finding out that it is just socks and pencils for their first day of Hanukkah, he says to himself: "Wow, This Sucks..." Jack appears again on a sketch called "Grown-Up Halloween" alongside the Mayor of Halloween Town.
- Jack appears in the background in a South Park made-for-TV movie called "Imaginationland".
- Jack appears in the movie Coraline as the yolk of an egg cracked by the Other Mother.
- Jack appears in the Mad episode "Kitchen Nightmares Before Christmas". He also makes a cameo appearance in the short it was paired with, "How I Met Your Mummy".
- A parody of Jack Skellington, in the form of a character named The Pumpkin Guy, appears in the opening of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Night Ghoulery".
- Jack appears in the movie Beetlejuice, in the scene when Beetlejuice comes out of the model town with a carousel-shaped hat on his head. Jack's head is at the top of the carousel.
- Jack appears in "Peter's Sister" from Family Guy, in the scene Jack and his friends made a short song called "Patriotic Weridness".
- A Jack plush doll also made an appearance in Stocking's room in the anime Panty and Stocking.
- Jack is included as one of many characters featured in Disney on Ice's production Let's Celebrate!. Mickey Mouse calls upon him to throw a Halloween party, which a number of Disney Villains find their way into. During his appearance, a medley of "Jack's Lament" and "What's This?" are performed, along with the film's opening number "This Is Halloween". Sarandon provided both the speaking and singing for Jack.
- In Edward Scissorhands, also a Tim Burton film, during the opening scene, one of the cookie-cutter machines closely resembles Jack Skellington. Again, this may be a coincidence, as Edward Scissorhands was released in 1990.
- In the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 video game Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, the titular character references the main plot of The Nightmare Before Christmas from the point of view of Jack in the winter/Christmas-themed level, "Christmas Land" as he remarks "Christmas Town? I'm Jack Gexington from Halloween..."
Jack Skellington has been made into a Bendies figure, as well as a Funko Pop Vinyl figurine that also had a Day of the Dead variant. He appeared in the Kingdom Hearts action figure collections, and was also released in Japan's REVOLTECH Sci-fi line in 2010, along with the Japanese monsters, Gamera and Gyaos.
In 2017 a life-size Jack Skellington animatronic prop was released. The prop was six feet tall and sold exclusively at Spirit Halloween. But in 2019 the prop became a wholesale item.
In 2019, a Lego minifigure of Jack Skellington was released as part of the Lego Minifigures Disney Series 2. A Lego Brickheadz figure of Jack was also released alongside a Brickheadz version of Sally.
Jack has become one of Disney's most popular characters. Jamie Frater adds, "Jack is perfectly realized as the 'town hero' who seeks more in his life (or death, as it may be), a place we all find ourselves time to time." UGO Networks listed Jack as one of their best heroes of all time.
- Lammers, Tim (October 29, 2013). "Sarandon remains proud of 'Nightmare Before Christmas' as film classic turns 20". Strictly Cinema. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide: The Experts Guide to the Best Recordings (Backbeat Books, 2001), 997.
- "The Nightmare Before Christmas Merchandise & Toys - Hot Topic". Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- Slater, Shawn (August 29, 2016). "The All-New 'Frightfully Fun Parade' Debuts During Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland Park". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- Frederick J. Augustyn, Dictionary of Toys and Games in American Popular Culture (Haworth Press, 2004), 18.
- "Spirit Halloween Officially Announces Jack Skellington For Halloween 2017 | AnimatronicHalloween.com".
- Jamie Frater, "Top Ten Kids' Movies Adults Will Love," The Ultimate Book of Top 10 Lists: A Mind-Boggling Collection of Fun, Fascinating and Bizarre Facts on Movies, Music, Sports, Crime, Celebrities, History, Trivia and More (Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2010), 380.
- UGO Team (January 21, 2010). "Best Heroes of All Time". UGO Networks. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2011.