- “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 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, though all in innocent fun.
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 very oblivious 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, as well as not realizing 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. The closest he got to losing his temper was when Lock, Shock and Barrel abducted the Easter Bunny by mistake and their promptly fighting amongst each other when explaining that Santa's Door looked like a tree, where he made a face and roared at them to intimidate them.
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's 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, though he could mean both). 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 creature gives Jack one major advantage that most other Disney protagonists don't have; near-invincibility. Dismembered body parts can easily be re-attached, as well as remotely controlled by his mind. Largely because of this advantage, he often makes it a hobby to remove his own head to "recite Shakespearian quotations". 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 supported by the fact that after his sleigh is shot down, everyone assumes he's 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 at 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". During the tail end of This is Halloween, Jack, dressed up as a Jack-o-lantern-wearing scarecrow, rides into the town square and proceeds to cause a spectacle by ingesting a lit torch, immolating him while dancing, and then dives into a fountain before emerging as his usual self. 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 a 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, he came close to losing his temper after the three trick-or-treaters brought him the Easter Bunny by mistake, causing him to roar and make a face to intimidate them before apologizing to the bunny for the mistake and ordering them to find Santa again as well as return the bunny to his world. However, after Santa was first 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.
Meanwhile, as Jack continues his delivery of the horrifying gifts made by Halloween Town, he is fired on by the military with their artillery guns. He initially blows it off as celebrations until a near hit on his coffin sleigh causes him to realize they are trying to shoot him down, and another shot lands a direct hit, sending him crashing into a cemetery. Upon realizing 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 of the spiral hill where he confesses his love for her, which leads Sally to reveal she loves him too, just as the two share a kiss.
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. Since there is no mention of who their mother is, that remains unknown or up to interpretation, although it is most likely that the mother is Sally.
Jack Skellington once made a cameo as a pirate in the 1996 live-laction/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.
An emoticon version of Jack appeared in the As Told by Emoji episode based on The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Taking place before the events of the film, Jack Skellington is shown to have had a rivalry with Oogie Boogie. Oogie makes plans to turn Halloween Town into a New Bug Day.
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 the support of the Heartless, who had recently shown up in Halloween Town. He asks Dr. Finkelstein to make hearts so that the Heartless can dance, but the experiment to create an artificial one leads to the Heartless 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 canceled that year.
In Chain of Memories, Jack reappears as a figment of Sora's memory in Castle Oblivion. This time, he's trying to get rid of the Heartless, which popped up after the doctor created a potion to bring forth true memories. He also encourages Sora by explaining that fear and doubt are signs of a strong heart; without them, both one's zest for life and terror would fade.
In 358/2 Days, Roxas witnesses Jack still trying to create all sorts of terrifying surprises of Halloween Town, with the help of Dr. Finkelstein. Some of his ideas are balloons that release surprises and exploding frost pumpkins. Jack ends up creating an idea based on briefly witnessing parts of Roxas's battle with LeachGrave, a Heartless that fed on its own kind. Jack creates a scarecrow of Roxas, which Roxas states doesn't look like him. Jack is also seen a lot more with his dog, Zero, than in previous games.
In Kingdom Hearts II, Jack's role is much like the film since he discovers Christmas Town and has dealings with Santa Claus, though it is assumed to have been after the film's events as Jack's skeleton reindeer and coffin sleigh have been rebuilt, and Santa Claus remembers him well, indicating this was after Jack tried to take over Christmas from Santa (which is further supported by Santa warning Jack not to make a mess of things on Christmas like "last time", causing Jack to tell a confused Sora that it was "a long story", and later his expressing horror at how Christmas is going wrong, and that Jack wasn't even responsible for it going badly this time around). A group of villains, including Maleficent, Oogie Boogie, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, capture Santa, although Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Jack rescue him. Sally even makes Jack a new 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, still wearing his Santa suit from Sally, 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 decided 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 him, Sally, Oogie-Boogie, Dr. Finkelstein, 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 is a playable character in the series, first appearing in the first installment. His figure received a wide release on October 28, 2013.
His primary attack is known as "Scare", where he frightens his opponents to give damage. He also comes with a weapon, known as the "Halloween Town Jack-O-Lanterns". As the name suggests, it is a pumpkin, which can be thrown to perform long-range attacks; in this case, a fiery explosion to a distant enemy,
In the second installment of the series, Disney Infinity: 2.0 Edition, Jack was given a consume-change power disc, known as "Sandy Claws' Surprise", which had the character don his Santa Claus costume. When in use, the level of damage caused by Jack's attacks is increased significantly.
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. Jack is a very unique walk-around character, in the sense that he is a face actor while being an atmospheric mascot at the same time.
At Disneyland, Jack stars in Haunted Mansion Holiday, a seasonal overlay of the classic Haunted Mansion, an 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.
He also serves as an emcee for the Disneyland Halloween fireworks show, Halloween Screams.
Jack was also featured in a unit based on The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disneyland's Frightfully Fun Parade.
In the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, Jack is only obscurely seen hidden on the forehead of the "decaying man" portrait's final state, appears on a book in the library, and again on a book in the Attic, along with a Sally doll.
Jack also appears in Japan's version of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Tokyo Disneyland.
At the Disneyland Paris, Jack makes meet-and-greet appearances outside of Phantom Manor during the holidays.
Jack also appeared in the former show Mickey and his Magic Halloween Night.
- Jack Skellington made his first onscreen appearance in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988, Warner Bros./The Geffen Co.). As Betelgeuse 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.
- His surname is a play on 'skeleton'.
- Having his color palette consists only of black and white (literally, not counting when he's wearing Santa's outfit or when he's wearing the Pumpkin King outfit), Jack is so the first (and so far only) character in Disney history to be completely colorless despite coming from a technicolor film. All other black-and-white characters before and after him came from black-and-white films as well.
- He is in Sony's LittleBigPlanet 2, as a DLC costume.
- In the original film, by a personal request, Danny Elfman does Jack's singing voice. Chris Sarandon (Jack's speaking voice actor in the original film) wouldn't do his character's singing until the video game The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.
- 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).
- 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).
- In the soundtrack version, it said that Jack had four or five skeleton children after the events of the film. How he had them, and who their mother is, however, is beyond one's speculation.
- Although Jack is the hero/protagonist of his film, in some stores in the Disney Parks (most notably Walt Disney World) his merchandise is seen alongside that of the Disney Villains. This may have something to do by the fact that Jack is a bit antagonistic early on the film when he resolves to kidnap Santa Claus to take over Christmas while being oblivious to Santa's opinion.
- His puppet used for the film is made out of clay.
- Jack implies in Jack's Lament that he was effectively "born" from a cadaver located in Kentucky, which he considered unlucky, and that he had been publicly known in England and France.
- When Jack removes his head "to recite Shakespearian quotations" due to his dead status, he is referencing Hamlet, in particular a famous scene where the title character finds the skull belonging to a deceased Court Jester named Yorick that the title character was very familiar of.