Jess Aarons is the protagonist of Bridge to Terabithia.

Role in the film

Jess appears in this film as one of the two protagonists. He lives with his father, mother and sisters. Times are tough for them because they're living in poverty and Jess has been bullied and mistreated his whole life (even by his older sisters and somewhat abrasive father) and as a result, he is very insecure and is pessimistic. His little sister, May Belle worships him, however. 

All summer, Jess had been praticing to win a race being held at school. A new girl, Leslie races against him and the other boys, but no matter how fast Jess runs, Leslie won. Despite losing the race, Leslie is a good sport and offers Jess friendship. Jess however, refuses and takes May Belle away. 

When getting off the bus, Jess and May Belle realize that Leslie is their new next door neighbor. May Belle and Leslie instantly bond, but Jess is still reluctant. Leslie however, takes much intrest in Jess as possible and tries to befriend for him. 

The next day at school, Leslie recites a poem in the school and Jess is intrigued by her creative and imaginative mind. Soon enough, Jess and Leslie start hanging out more and more often and become fast friends. On Jess' birthday, Leslie buys Jess a brand new art kit, which he loves. 

One day after school, they race into the woods and discover a rope to the other side of a creek. Jess tries to warn Leslie that it might be dangerous to swing on the rope, but she does it anyway and makes it across the creek. Jess then follows her as well and enjoys swinging on the rope as well. 

Leslie suggests that she and Jess create a new world especially for themselves, so they can escape the burdens of reality. She dubs it "Teribithia". Soon enough, Leslie starts to make up many things for their brand new world to the points of saying that all her fantasies are real. Jess starts to learn more and more about Leslie, while at the same time, have brand new adventures in Teribithia. 

Back in the real world, Jess and Leslie start hanging out more. Jess is still having problems however as his father has yelled at him many times, he keeps getting in trouble for things he didn't do and everyone else is still mistreating him. Since Jess is fed up with his miserable life and burdens, he refuses to go back to Teribithia. Despite this, Leslie still stays a friend to him and as a way to make her know he still cares about Teribithia, he buys her a dog, who they name "Prince Terrien". Soon enough, Jess starts getting a better attitude and a more positive look on life when he embraces the world of Teribithia and bonds with Leslie's parents. 

When Jess and Leslie become fed up with Janice Avery's bullying, they decide to get back at her, they play a prank on her by writing a love note that they pass off as from a guy she really likes. The next day, they hear Janice in the bathroom crying and realize that their joke went too far. Leslie, pitying Janice, finds out that the reason Janice is mean is because she's abused by her sadistic father and befriends her. 

Jess then takes Leslie to church with her on Sunday and she learns all about God. On the way back, May Belle tells Leslie that if you don't believe in the bible, God damns you to Hell. Leslie says that she doubts it because God is too busy making the world a better place. 

The next day, Jess' teacher, Miss. Edmunds takes him to a museum out of state. Since he has a crush on Ms. Edmunds, he doesn't turn her down nor does he invite Leslie to come along. 

When he comes back, he finds out that Leslie drowned to her death while trying to go to Teribithia. Soon enough, he starts to go through denial with his best friend being gone, takes long, silent walks by himself, becomes bitter towards everyone, reverts back to his original cynical and bitter self and refuses to speak to anyone. 

At school, Jess is still being bullied and demeaned. When one of the bullies mocks him about Leslie's passing, Jess hits him in the face and sends him flying across the classrooms. When the teacher tells Jess to go into the hallway, she gives him advice on how to cope with his loss. 

Jess tries to go to Teribithia himself, but May Belle wants to come with him. Jess snaps at her and pushes her off a tree trunk, causing her to run off and cry. His father, Jack follows him into the forest and forces him to confront reality, causing Jess to finally break down and cry his eyes out. Jess blames himself for Leslie dying, feeling that if he turned Miss. Edmunds away or if he had invited Leslie, this wouldn't have happened (which is kind of true), but Jack apologizes for not being a better parent before and hugs him. 

Leslie's parents decide to move back to their previous town, but before they go, Jess gives them Prince Terrien and he finds out that Leslie loved him and that he meant the world to her and they leave. 

Realizing that he can't hide from reality, Jess goes to May Belle and apologizes to her. Then, he builds a bridge to Teribithia and decides to carry on Leslie's legacy there with May Belle as the new princess of Teribithia.