- “Fear and doubt are signs of a strong heart. They push your heart, strike out in new directions! Without them, your zest for life might fade... as would your taste for fear. And believe me, that would really ruin my fun.”
- ―Jack explaining his reasons for scaring people to Sora in
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
Jack Skellington is the "Pumpkin King" of Halloween Town and the main protagonist in Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion Disney film The Nightmare Before Christmas and the poem it is based on. His speaking voice is provided by Chris Sarandon while his singing voice was provided by Danny Elfman.
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 immortal 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 is very much an undead gentleman, graceful and patient in equal measures and can usually be counted on to do what is in everyone's best interest.
Though his logic is sound. his reasoning can be questioned at times--he was quite thorough in his Christmas research, but opted to go with what he and his friends knew when he decided to give Santa Claus the year off and take over for him.
He was also oblivious to Sally's feelings for him throughout most of the story, showing that while among the more intelligent citizens of Halloween Town, he is a bit of a dope at reading people's feelings. This is backed up by the fact that he barely even recognized Santa's distress when they first met.
It seems that Jack might be slightly naive at times, as shown that he trusted Lock, Shock and Barrel enough that he believed that they would simply bring Santa Claus to him without causing trouble, despite them being in cahoots with Oogie Boogie. And he didn't realize all the chaos he was causing on Christmas Eve before it was too late.
Jack almost never loses his temper and hardly ever raises his voice, but Jack was unable to contain his contempt for Oogie Boogie and did not hesitate to severely punish his old foe for endangering his friends with grim dedication.
It is also shown that Jack enjoys things that are new to him. He quickly became delighted with Christmas and grew increasingly excited as Christmas was being remade in Halloween Town just as he pictured, even giddily laughing as he gave out presents on Christmas Eve.
He is also highly optimistic, as he is very certain everything will go perfectly...that is, until he realizes how "Everything has gone all wrong." Even when in despair after ruining Christmas, he is able to cheer himself up by realizing he didn't mean to do what he did and that "nobody really understood" (whether he is referring to Halloween Town not understanding Christmas or humans not understanding his intentions is unclear). He is also humble enough to admit that he has failed and is willing to hand back the reins to Santa Claus in order to rectify everything.
Powers and abilities
Being an undead gives Jack one major advantage that most other Disney protagonists dont have; near-invincibility. Dismembered body parts can easily be re-attached, as well as remotely controlled by his mind. Though this doesn't mean he can't be killed, as in the film Jack states that for him, death would be his bones being ground to dust, this is suported by the fact that after his sleigh is shot down, everyone assumes hes dead. The Mayor even stating on his microphone that "Jack Skellington is naught but a pile of dust" while everyone, but Oogie, is lamenting over the supposed loss of Jack.
He is also shown being very agile and light on his feet, being nothing but a skeleton he has no muscles or organic tissue weighing him down, so he can perform great leaps and bounds through the air effortlessly. And despite having no muscles, he seems to be quite strong, one would think that without muscles he wouldn't be able to move or even lift things. Yet he has no issues lifting glass containers, presents, or even the rotund child of the corpse family as seen in the end of the film.
In his video game appearances, he is shown to be a very capable fighter as well. The Kingdom Hearts series shows him to be a very powerful mage, capable of using fire, ice, electricity, and gravity magic. He's also shown being able to use dance moves, such as twirling about and striking with his legs, or performing knee slides, as effective physical attacks. And he is also shown using his skeletal fingers like claws to slash at enemies as well.
In Oogie's Revenge, he is given a gel like weapon called the Soul Robber, which functions as a multipurpose shape shifting weapon, most commonly used as a whip, as well as a grappling hook. In The Pumpkin King, he's also shown to have access to other weapons such as the Frog Gun, the Bat Boomerang, and Pumpkin Bombs.
The film commences with the grand finale of Halloween Town's Halloween celebrations, which are hailed by Jack as being "the most horrible yet". However, when Jack sneaks away from the adoring citizens, it is revealed that he is tired of the same old Halloween. He expresses a sheer sense of emptiness and he wanders off into the woods with his ghost dog Zero.
While walking through the Hinterlands, Jack stumbles upon a place in the forest he's never been before, discovering a grove of trees that have doors leading to different holiday towns. Jack is drawn towards the Christmas tree-shaped door and opens it, therefore ending up in Christmas Town. Soon after, he becomes infatuated with the holiday. After obsessively researching it, he decides that this year, the citizens of Halloween Town will manage Christmas in the hopes of "improving" it. Sally, an animated rag doll who is secretly in love with Jack, has a premonition that his plans for Christmas will be a disaster and attempts to warn him, but he politely dismisses her fear. Sally's premonition later proves to be right.
Not really understanding the "spirit" of Christmas, the citizens of Halloween Town create a celebration of the macabre rather than a "season to be jolly"; Jack, dressed as Santa Claus, unintentionally brings fear rather than joy to the children of the world. Wanting Santa Claus to rest, Jack had ordered local trick-or-treaters Lock, Shock and Barrel to bring Santa to Halloween Town; however, after Santa was firstly brought to Jack and greeted by him, the three kids took him to Oogie Boogie, who teased and eventually planned to kill Santa. Sally attempts to rescue Santa Claus after discovering that military forces are planning to destroy Jack, but she too is captured.
Upon realising the error of his ways, Jack overcomes his identity crisis and reaffirms himself as the Pumpkin King. With determination to set things right, Jack promptly returns to Halloween Town, where he discovers that Santa has been taken to Oogie's Lair. He manages to defeat Oogie and rescue Santa and Sally. Santa returns to the real world to save Christmas and, as a sign of no hard feelings, gives Halloween Town a taste of true Christmas spirit, fulfilling his former desire to a limited extent. Jack finds Sally atop Halloween Hill, which is blanketed in snow, and reveals his own affections for her as the film ends.
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. Given the ending of the movie, it can be assumed that the children are Jack and Sally's offspring.
Jack Skellington once made a cameo as a pirate in the 1996 stop-motion animated film James and the Giant Peach. He was the captain of the sunken ship that Centipede boarded in search of a compass. Perhaps in testament to his Shakespearean tribute, his head comes off during the movie.
A silhouette of Jack is shown in The Princess and the Frog as one of the shadows Dr. Facilier summons.
Video Game Appearances
After Jack learns of Dr. Finklestein's daughter's kidnapping, Jack takes it upon himself to save Sally (for the first time) and restore Halloween Town. Jack confronts Oogie, thwarts his plans to take over the town and banishes him to his underground lair. He ultimately rescues Sally, thus leading to her falling in love with him. Few of the Townsfolk actually saw Oogie himself and so assume terrifying ideas about him.
Upon eliminating the threat, the town declares Jack the Pumpkin King and the king of Halloween and all things scary.
Tired of using the same old themes over and over on Halloween, Jack Skellington goes to Dr. Finkelstein, who gives him the Soul Robber, an invention that changes shapes.
Jack decides 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 once again.
Jack dances, fights and sings in this game as he attacks Oogie and his minions. Jack is also portrayed as being inept to some degree in this game.
It should be noted that Chris Sarandon did both the speaking and singing voice of Jack in this game.
Jack Skellington appears in four installments of the Kingdom Hearts video game series. He inhabits the world of Halloween Town, where the evil Heartless threaten 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.
In Kingdom Hearts, Jack tries to create the scariest Halloween with Heartless. He asks Dr. Finkelstein to make hearts so that the Heartless can dance but they end up causing chaos, which is when Sora and the group step in and take care of them. Jack joins the party and the quartet end up having to fight Oogie Boogie, who stirred up more mischief, so Halloween had to be cancelled that year.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Jack's role is much like the film since he discovers Christmas Town and has dealings with Santa Claus. A group of villains, including Maleficent, Oogie Boogie and Lock, Shock, and Barrel, capture Santa, although Sora, Donald, Goofy and Jack rescue him. Sally even makes Jack a Santa costume, at which Santa convinces Jack that he should stick to running Halloween, and Jack, newly inspired, heads towards Halloween Town with The Mayor, who has come looking for him. As he leaves, his costume reveals the next Gate. Later, Jack finds a number of lost presents and returns them to Santa's factory, when he finds out that many presents were stolen. Jack and Sora's group decide to look for the thief and are given clues when Dr. Finkelstein's latest experiment was stolen too. Jack lures the thief out using decoy presents and discovers that the thief was Dr. Finkelstein's experiment itself. Santa showed his gratitude to Jack and explained to him that presents aren't about the gifts, but the wish to make someone happy. During the End Credits, Jack is seen discussing plans for the next Halloween with everyone in Doctor Finkelstein's lab.
In Disney Universe, Jack Skellington is featured 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'.
Jack appears as a playable character in the game.
In the Disney theme parks around the world, Jack and the characters from the film have become extremely popular, appearing in dozens of merchandising and a few attractions, mostly around the time of Halloween and Christmas.
At Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, Jack stars in Haunted Mansion Holiday, a seasonal overlay of the classic Haunted Mansion attraction which runs from September to January every year. In it, Jack takes on the role of "Sandy Claws" once again and brings his twisted vision of Christmas to the traditionally-eerie mansion.
Jack also appears with Sally as a popular meetable character in the parks during the Halloween and Christmas seasons.
He also serves as an emcee for the Disneyland Halloween fireworks show, Halloween Screams.
- Jack Skellington made his first onscreen appearance in Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" (1988, Warner Bros./ The Geffen Co.). As Beetlejuice rises from the ground, a canopied miniature merry-go-round rests on his head; at the very top of the canopy is a comical white skull that would later become Jack Skellington's head.
- He is in the video game, LittleBigPlanet 2, as a DLC costume.
- In the original film, by a personal request, Danny Elfman does Jack's singing voice. Chris Sarandon wouldn't do his character's singing until "Oogie's Revenge".
- Jack Skellington makes an appearance in Bleedman's webcomic: Grim Tales Down Below. It is revealed that Jack is the younger brother of Grim (Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy) (Though the webcomic is non-canonical, so this isn't true).
- Jack was listed #22 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating as his stroke of genius The song "What's this", as Jack - accustomed as he is to the dark, twisted Halloween Town, tries to get his head around the sweetness and light of Christmas Town. Jack Skellington has become a recurring theme in Gothic-style clothing and accessories, mostly due to his character and nature (as well as the nature of the movie in general).
- In terms of appearance, Jack is very similar to Jafar from Aladdin due to them being very slender. Jack is similar in appearance to the internet sensation Slenderman, since both are tall, skinny, with suits and can scare most people (albeit Jack can scare anyone).
- Though Jack can use Black Magic, as shown in the Kingdom Hearts series, he is never shown using it in his other appearances. (Though the opening scene where Jack lights himself on fire inspired the redesign of his Blazing Fury attack in Kingdom Hearts II and the two The Nightmare Before Christmas games has Jack using magic through his costumes.)
- Though Jack is usually shown with white stripes on his clothes, his 2D artworks usually have them absent (or largely absent, some white can sometimes be seen).