- The Nightmare Before Christmas has become a beloved classic and can be watched both during the festive season and as a Halloween staple.
- Jack Skellington has made nine cameos outside of The Nightmare Before Christmas, including in films like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.
- Jack Skellington’s iconic face and figure can be spotted in various forms throughout other movies, showcasing Tim Burton’s distinctive style and affinity for Halloween.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most popular Holiday movies, and while there hasn’t been a sequel, there are a number of Jack Skellington cameos where he can be seen in other movies. The 1993 movie was modestly successful when it was first released, but it has gone on to become a beloved classic, and it’s one of the few Christmas movies that can be watched outside of the festive season, as it’s an annual Halloween staple too.
Not only is Jack Skellington one of Tim Burton’s most famous and recognizable characters, but he’s also the only one with his own filmography. While there’s a demand for The Nightmare Before Christmas 2, the iconic protagonist can still be found in other movies, even ones released before the 1993 animated musical classic. Outside The Nightmare Before Christmas, There have been nine Jack Skellington cameos in total. Whether it’s by a full-body appearance as a featured character or a simple cameo of his smiling skeletal face, Jack has had more than a few film appearances outside his spooky realm.
10 Beetlejuice (1998)
Technically, Jack’s first on-screen appearance wasn’t in The Nightmare Before Christmas, but in 1988’s Beetlejuice. Seeing how the film weighs heavily with Tim Burton’s distinctive style featuring skeletons, snakes, and other spooky creatures, it’s not surprising that a familiarly freaky face would make an appearance in the director’s aesthetic. As Beetlejuice is summoned in the third act of the film, Jack’s head can be seen on top of his circus-inspired attire. Of course, the character is already equipped with spiders, bats, bugs, rats, and other creepy crawlies, so Jack’s face certainly makes a fitting accent to his appearance.
9 Vincent (1982)
Based on Burton’s poem of the same name, Vincent tells the tale of a young boy with a vivid imagination and an affinity for the gruesome and grim. A sentiment that is made visually clear by some fearsome fantasies towards the end. The short film states:
“While other kids read books like Go, Jane, Go!, Vincent’s favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe.“
One of these gruesome ghouls that appear in the boy’s dreamscape bears a striking resemblance to the Pumpkin King. Seen with the ghost of a dead wife and a zombified version of Vincent’s dog, a skeletal figure can be seen at the left side of the shot, ready to terrorize the frightened Vincent-Price-wannabe.
8 Edward Scissorhands (1990)
This feature might take a few moments to properly recognize, and it might not actually be a cameo, but the resemblance is uncanny. The cookie factory flashback in Edward Scissorhands drips with Burtonesque imagery, but it’s the mixing machine that bears a remarkable similarity to Jack Skellington. From the shape of its head to the wide eyes and toothy grin created by its bolts, there’s no mistaking that it’s Jack’s face and figure working those mechanical whisks. Perhaps Edward wasn’t the only creature to be given a life of his own.
7 James And The Giant Peach (1996)
While Burton might have created Jack Skellington, director Henry Selick was the one who brought him to life on the big screen. However, that wasn’t the only stop-motion project the two worked on together and not the only time Jack made a full appearance. When Centepide dives into the icy waters to explore the sunken pirate ship in James and the Giant Peach, he is soon set upon by a load of skeletal pirates. When he discovers the captain clutching the compass, played by Jack, he even refers to him as a “Skellington” before being grabbed by the creepy crew.
6 Sleepy Hollow (1999)
If it wasn’t already apparent, Tim Burton cherishes all things Halloween, and that affection is clearly demonstrated in the dark fantasy movie Sleepy Hollow. However, the Headless Horseman isn’t the only holiday icon that shows up in the film, as Jack’s Pumpkin King form can be seen during the opening chase of the movie. While it might look like a standard-issue creepy scarecrow to some, those who have seen The Nightmare Before Christmas will instantly recognize this design choice as the same one that awaited visitors at the entrance to Halloween Town.
5 Finding Nemo (2003)
While Finding Nemo certainly isn’t a Tim Burton project, the Pixar release features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo that’s hard to spot. While Nemo is brought to the top of the bubbling volcano to be initiated into the fish tank, Jack’s skull can be seen floating in one of the bubbles just by Gill’s head. It’s very subtle, but there’s no denying that’s the face of the Pumpkin King himself. While there’s no clear connection between Finding Nemo and Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick was developing the canceled The Graveyard Book for Pixar in 2012, so it’s likely that the studio had admired Selick’s work for a while.
4 The Princess And The Frog (2009)
Disney has a history of hiding Easter eggs in its films going back decades, but while it’s expected to see Mickey Mouse in backgrounds, it’s strange to see Jack make a shadowy appearance among Dr. Faclier’s Friends on the Other Side in the back of his Voodoo Emporium in The Princess and the Frog. After the Shadowman consults with his creepy companions and summons a series of shadowy minions to help search for Prince Naveen, Jack Skellington’s silhouette can be seen among the various fiendish forms on the wall. He likely won’t appear in The Princess and the Frog remake though.
3 Alice In Wonderland (2010)
Jack is used as yet another costume detail for one of Tim Burton’s characters in 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. Johnny Depp’s interpretation of the Mad Hatter is definitely one of the most unique, but his creepy and colorful bowtie is noteworthy for its use of Jack Skellington. At first glance, it looks like the typical polka-dotted tie seen in other variations before. However, many of his dots are actually tiny Jack heads grinning back at the viewers. Depp’s portrayal of the Mad Hatter might have gotten a polarizing reception, but the costume designs are undoubtedly creative, and as a result, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
2 Coraline (2009)
As one of the pioneers of the stop-motion movie genre, Henry Selick continued innovating long after The Nightmare Before Christmas, and it’s possible that both Jack and Coraline exist in the same universe. Not only do Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas share a similar design and a theme of other worlds, but Jack’s yellowed skull appears in an egg yolk that the Other Mother cracks over a frying pan while making “dinner-breakfast-food.” Selick clearly has just as much of an affinity for Jack Skellington as Tim Burton, and this tease is the closest Jack has come to having his story expanded upon.
1 Wendell & Wild (2022)
Though it had been well over a decade since the last Jack Skellington cameo, as not even Burton had used the character since 2010, Selick briefly brought the character back after the director had something of a hiatus of his own. Wendell & Wild was Selick’s first film in 13 years, and just as audiences thought the whole film flew by without a cameo from The Nightmare Before Christmas character, Jack appeared in the movie’s credits. However, the Easter egg indicates the worst. At the 1:39:24 mark, Jack Skellington’s remains can be found in the background half-buried.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Release Date:
- Henry Selick
- Catherine O’Hara, Glenn Shadix, Ken Page, William Hickey, Chris Sarandon
- 76 minutes
- Fantasy, Family, Animation
- Caroline Thompson
- Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.
- $18 million