Skeletons in the Closet: Jack Skellington

Graceful and patient to the core, Jack Skellington is the epitome of the undead gentlemen.  He is also the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town and the hero of the 1993 Disney film The Nightmare before Christmas.

Halloween town is a fantasy world which lives in constant celebration of Halloween. Jack is the patron spirit of Halloween and is regarded as, to Halloween, what Santa is to Christmas. Other characters are also spirits of the spooky holiday, with Jack being the most important. The collective job of the spirits is to scare people in our world, on Halloween night. As the Pumpkin King, in charge of Halloween Town, Jack is in charge of Halloween celebration. Jack is idolized by the other residents of Halloween Town but Jack quickly becomes depressed about the holiday and craves something more.

Jack enjoys new things and becomes fascinated with Christmas, deciding that this new experience is what Halloween Town needs.  He immediately begins making preparations for Halloween Town’s celebration of Christmas, but he fails to understand the true spirit of Christmas time. He is also optimistic and positive, certain that Halloween Town’s Christmas transformation will be carried out without a hitch, not even realising that things have gone wrong until much later. Though Jack fails in his mission to inflict Christmas on Halloween Town as he had planned, he shows the true strength of his character- he is humble and gracious. His love for the people of his town shines through when he asks Santa to rectify everything.

Jack has several companions in the film including a pet ghost dog named Zero, who has a jack-o’-lantern style nose, and his love interest Sally – a zombie style rag doll. Throughout the film, Jack is oblivious to Sally’s feelings for him, but the background thread of their romance is always present. Sally is depicted as the only character who understands Jack’s feelings – this is established when she overhears his singing, and his emotions resonate with her. At the end of the film, Jack embraces this new love, telling Sally that they belong together.





Disney Parks

Jack can be met at all of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. At Disneyland California, the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack and the rest of The Nightmare before Christmas cast at Halloween. Jack in particular, can be seen wearing Christmas attire throughout the ride.

Hack also hosts the “Halloween Screams” fireworks display at Disneyland California.



Jack appears in many video games, including the Kingdom Hearts series.



  • Many of Tim Burton’s film’s feature cameo appearances of Jack, including Vincent, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland and James and the Giant Peach. In the latter, Jack appears as a pirate. Upon seeing him, Mr Centipede says “…a skellington?”
  • Jack appears in the Disney film, The Princess and the Frog as a shadow
  • Jack can also be seen in Coraline, also directed by Henry Selick. In the film, Jack’s face appears in the yolk of an egg
  • Jack appears in the made-for-TV South Park movie Imaginationland
  • In Edward Scissorhands, one of the cookie-cutter machines at the beginning fo the film resembles Skellington


Disney on Ice

Jack is featured in the show when Mickey Mouse asks him to organise a Halloween Party which is crashed by several of the Disney Villains



Jack makes appearances in several songs including “Problem Me” by Modwheelmood and “Fallen Star” by Blood on the Dance Floor. In “I Miss You” by Blink 182, the lyrics read: "We can live like Jack and Sally if we want, where you can always find me, and we'll have Halloween on Christmas ..."



Fast Facts

  • Jack’s name is a play on the word “skeleton”
  • Jack appears in almost a dozen video games
  • Danny Elfman, who lent his singing voice to Jack’s character and composed the film’s score, cited the movie as one of the easiest he had ever made, due to his own similarities with the lead character
  • Jack made his debut screen appearance in Beetlejuice (1988). The carousel that sits atop his head when he rises out of the ground is topped by a white skull which is clearly Jack Skellington’s head
  • Jack is made out of clay
  • Jack was listed as #22 in Empire Magazines list of “The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters”
  • Although Jack is a hero and protagonist, his merchandise is alongside the Disney Villains merchandise at Walt Disney World
  • Though Jack can be seen using black magic in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, he never uses it in anything else he appears
  • In the soundtrack, an epilogue states that Jack had several children after the events of the film. Fans presume this is with Sally
  • As a live skeleton, Jack is immortal and able to be dismembered without causing harm to himself, an ability which is often used for comedy throughout the film.
  • Chris Sarandon (Susan Sarandon’s husband) was case as the speaking voice for Jack, since it matched Danny Elfmen’s vocal tone in the singing scenes
  • The most complicated and difficult scene to shoot was the scene in which Jack is reading for the doorknob which will lead his to Christmas-land.
  • The original poem, from which the movie is based, featured only three characters: Jack, Zero and Santa. The other characters were created for the film
  • Concept art for Jack shows that his suit was originally all black. It was the director, Henry Selick, who gave Jack his famous pinstripes so that the character would stand out from the dark backgrounds of Halloween Town
  • Skellington had more than 400 heads which were used during filming to convey a wide range of emotion








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