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Jack Skellington is the main character of Tim Burton's 1993 stop-motion Disney film The Nightmare Before Christmas and the poem it is based on. He is the "Pumpkin King" from Halloween Town, responsible for coming up with new and exciting ideas for each year's Halloween festivities. Jack 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.
Role in the film
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, and he wanders off into the woods with his ghost dog, Zero. Accidentally sleepwalking through the Hinterlands, Jack stumbles upon a place in the forest he's never been before, revealing to be a grove of trees that have doors leading to different holiday towns. Jack is drawn towards the Christmas tree shaped door and opens it, finding his way into Christmas Town. Soon after, he becomes infatuated with the holiday.
After obsessively researching the holiday, he decides that this year the citizens of Halloween Town will manage Christmas, in the hopes of "improving" it. Wanting to give Santa Claus a rest, Jack orders the 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. Sally, an animated rag doll who secretly loves 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 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 terror rather than joy to the children of the world.
Sally attempts to rescue Santa Claus after discovering that military forces are planning to defeat Jack, but she too is captured. 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 rescue Santa and Sally, and defeats Oogie Boogie. Santa Claus 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 Halloween Hill blanketed in snow and reveals his own affection for her, ending the film.
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.