[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jackandthebeanstalk.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350: First it's only stealing some poultry. Before you know it it will be Harp-Jacking and Giganticide.]]

The story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" seems to be an amalgamation of many of the giant-killing stories such as "Literature/JackTheGiantKiller" (which has its links to [[KingArthur Arthurian]] lore), and the tale of "Literature/TheBraveLittleTailor". A 2016 Linguistic study traces its roots to at least 3500 B.C.E. as 'The Boy Steals The Ogre's Treasure' making it one of the oldest continuously told tales in all of history.

Jack and his widowed mother are a poor family with nothing to their name but the family cow. When the last of their money finally runs out Jack's mother sends him into town to sell their cow at the local village. On the way, however, Jack meets a mysterious stranger who offers him five magic beans in exchange for the cow. Jack accepts the offer and brings the beans home to his mother. Needless to say she is furious and throws the beans out the window. Overnight the beans grow into a massive beanstalk that stretches onwards up into the clouds. Jack decides to climb the beanstalk and when he reaches the top finds a massive castle. He sneaks into the castle to find that it is the home to a Giant, who says:

-->''Fee-fi-fo-fum!\\
I smell the blood of an Englishman.\\
Be he 'live, or be he dead,\\
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.''

Jack is about to run but he sees a bag of the giant's gold, which he quickly nicks before fleeing back down the beanstalk.

The next day Jack, remembering all the other treasures up the top of the beanstalk, decides to give it another crack. He climbs back up and into the giant's castle. Once again the Giant's nose gives him the tip-off that there is a human around, but the Giant's wife hides Jack in the oven until her husband falls asleep. Jack sneaks out, but on his way grabs the goose that lays the golden eggs and takes it with him.

On the third day Jack decides to head up the beanstalk again. His mother pleads with him not to go, but Jack chooses to give it one more time. When he reaches the castle the Giant pulls out a little golden harp that plays music by itself. The soft music lulls the Giant to sleep, then Jack sneaks out and snatches the Harp. But the Harp doesn't like the idea of being stolen and cries out to the Giant, waking him up. The Giant chases Jack down the beanstalk, but Jack reaches the bottom first, grabs an ax and chops down the beanstalk, killing the giant.

Full text [[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/jackbeanstalk/index.html here]] -- not the oldest variant, but the oldest one of the commonly known tale, as collected by Creator/JosephJacobs.

Many critics of this story like to point out Jack is a petty thief, who also kills the Giant he robbed. Some versions justify his actions by various means, such as adding a bit about how the giant killed Jack's father and/or that the Giant stole most of his treasure in the first place. The latter, such as in ''Disney/FunAndFancyFree'', the Harp is explicitly eager to be liberated from the Giant and helps Jack (or his stand-in) in any way she can. At other times this story gets the FracturedFairyTale treatment, showing Jack as a jerk of a robber.

Not to be confused with "Literature/JackTheGiantKiller" which has a different plot and is much BloodierAndGorier despite common elements.

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!!This folk tale provides examples of:

* AdaptedOut: A lot of adaptations tend to leave the Giant's wife out.
* AntiHero: However you look at it, the protagonist goes from gullible fool to thief to killer (albeit in self-defense) over the course of the story.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Creator/StephenSondheim's ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'', Brian Henson's ''Series/JackAndTheBeanstalkTheRealStory'' and Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'' all have a go at Jack.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Jack kills the Giant by cutting down the beanstalk, making the Giant fall to his death.
* FloatingContinent: The Giant's [[OminousFloatingCastle cloud castle.]]
* ImAHumanitarian: Perhaps the giant and the witch from "Literature/HanselAndGretel" swap recipes.
* TheNoseKnows
* SpaceElevator: The magic beanstalk.
* MysteriousBenefactor: The man with the beans.
* OlderThanPrint: While the story has it's roots in various folktales, it also shares striking similarities with [[Myth/NorseMythology The Theft of Idunn]]: a trickster travels to a giant's lofty castle and steals a few magical treasures, only to be found out and chased back home, where the giant meets his doom.
** OlderThanDirt. "The Boy Steals The Ogre's Treasure" - style stories have been traced to the Indo-European language circa 3500 B.C., making this one of the oldest stories ''ever'' told.
* OurGiantsAreBigger
* RuleOfThree: Gold, Goose and Harp.
* WealthyEverAfter
* GiantFood

!!Adaptations with their own trope pages include:

* ''Series/JackAndTheBeanstalkTheRealStory''
* ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'', a StephenSondheim musical that combines it with several other fairy stories
* ''Disney/FunAndFancyFree'': The Creator/{{Disney}} version, with a [[Franchise/MickeyMouse certain mouse]] playing the part of Jack.
* ''Disney/Gigantic2018'': Another Creator/{{Disney}} film. This time it's an AllCGICartoon musical involving a human Jack helping a 60-foot 11-year-old girl find her home.
* ''Anime/JackToMameNoKi'': {{Anime}} version of the story from the late '70s.
* ''WesternAnimation/PussInBoots'': The ''WesternAnimation/{{Shrek}}'' SpinOff has Puss involved in a plot to get the magic beans and use them to get the goose that lays gold eggs.
* Although not a true adaptation, this Jack is a supporting character and love interest in ''ComicBook/RapunzelsRevenge.''
* Alluded to in the Green Bean Casserole episode of ''Series/GoodEats''. The Giant is upset with Alton, but is appeased by Alton's casserole. Apparently, the Giant is also something of a HenpeckedHusband.
* The 2013 film ''Film/JackTheGiantSlayer''.
* The original ''[[VideoGame/HarvestMoonOriginalSeries Harvest Moon]]'' game had a part where you could grow a giant beanstalk. This led to fans [[FanNickname calling]] the protagonist, and almost every other male protagonist, "Jack" - despite the fact that his CanonName is "Pete".
* Fragments of the tale appear in ''Series/OnceUponATime'', where Prince Charming and a [[GenderBender gender-bent]] Jack climb the beanstalk in order to rob the giants and kill them all and the last surviving giant is a human-enthusiast. The Beanstalk still stands in the middle of the enchanted forest long after the events of the tale have passed.
* The DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse book ''Literature/TimeLordFairyTales'' retells this as "Jack and the Wormhole", in which Jack is more of a straight-up hero as the story is ''also'' a TwiceToldTale retelling of [[spoiler: the Fourth Doctor serial "The Horns of Nimon"]].
* Jack is also the title character in the sixth ''VideoGame/DarkParables'' game, ''Jack and the Sky Kingdom,'' which paints him as something of a RobinHood-wannabe and a LovableRogue. He assists the Fairy Tale Detective in getting to the Sky Kingdom via the beanstalk, as he left something rather important there when he went treasure hunting there ten years earlier. [[spoiler:That something would be his fiancee, Emma.]] Like all of the ''Dark Parables'', the story connects multiple fairy tales; in this case, Jack's story is joined to that of Literature/{{Rumpelstiltskin}} and also Literature/TomThumb. He later returns to also be part of the action in the tenth game, ''Goldilocks and the Fallen Star.''
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