Relax, it's just a toy...
A jack-in-the-box is often a staple of childhood playtime and entertainment. Most times, it can be a fun toy for children to play with, but occasionally, it can also be a form of Nightmare Fuel
for some. Either way, you can expect to see jack-in-the-boxes pop up
May overlap with: Jump Scare
, Surprise Jump
, Monster Clown
Anime & Manga
- Double subverted with the Farmers' Insurance commercial featuring a giant Jack-In-The-Box that fills the entire front of a classroom. The professor demonstrates how accidents could be "a little scary" by turning the crank, with the onlooking agents presumably thinking a giant clown will pop out and destroy the room. However, on the "POP" note nothing happens... until about five seconds later when a space capsule falls through the ceiling and crushes the Jack-In-The-Box.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Maximilian Pegasus summons his Bikuri Box, a cackling, vaguely clownlike/Grim Reaper-ish monster jack in the box, to deliver the deathblow to Seto Kaiba's Saagi the Dark Clown. Oh, did I mention that Bikuri Box stores a big scythe in his mouth?
- Used frequently by The Joker in all of his incarnations, particularly during the Silver Age of Comic Books.
- Toy Story had Hand-In-The-Box, a Frankenstein-looking hand attached to the spring of a jack-in-the-box, yet actually turned out to be good and helpful, along with the other mutant toys.
- Harry Potter's first encounter with a Boggart in film three.
- Slightly subverted in the fact that it wasn't supposed to be creepy. It was supposed to be the humorous thought to keep the boggart at bay. Why Pavarti found it funny is beyond most of the audience—-that thing was creepy!
- In Elf, Buddy is the jack-in-the-box tester and every time one "pops", it freaks him out. Later in the film, he has a nightmare about the cackling jack-in-a-box.
- Averted with Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout, who's a jack-in-the-box figure without a box. Played straight with his Evil Counterpart, Zeebad.
- A jack-in-the-box also shows up in The Great Mouse Detective (pictured above), though it's not really doing anything, but it does look a little bit scary.
- A scary jack-in-the-box appeared in Poltergeist.
- The "Heffalumps and Woozles" number from Winnie the Pooh featured "Woozles-in-a-Boxes."
- Muffy was handed a deliberately scary one in April Fools' Day when she was a child.
- "Deliver Us from Evil" features a scary jack-in-the-box (and the accompanying tune, "Pop Goes the Weasel") multiple times.
- The jack-in-the-box in Neil Gaiman's horror story "Dont Ask Jack" (which was apparently inspired by an actual jack-in-the-box someone gave him).
- The group of evil toys in Dean Koontz's Oddkins includes a jack-in-the-box.
- In Jack Yeovil's Drachenfels, one character is murdered and set like this — his bones are removed and the rest of the body is folded in a box with a spring, then sent to a famous spoiled actress.
- The goblin living in a snuffbox in The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen is often depicted (and sometimes explicitly translated) as a jack-in-the-box.
- In the Disney Fantasia 2000 animated adaptation, he becomes an outright villain, and in the end falls in the fireplace instead of the soldier and the ballerina.
- Cul De Sac had a school jack-in-the-box which, when opened, shot a clown into the ceiling. The class then spent the rest of the day hiding from it under a table.
- In Wizardry 8 "Jack in the Box" is a buildable gadget that acts like a weak fear spell. Or you can put in the same box a demon doll instead and make insanity-inducing variant.
- The short game Jack In The Dark (a promotional game for Alone In The Dark 2) is set in a toy shop and has an evil jack-in-the-box (who has the appearance of the main game's Big Bad) for a villain. The jack-in-the-box turns the toys evil, using them to kidnap Santa.
- Mad Jack of Donkey Kong 64 is an enormous jack-in-the-box that tries to squash Tiny Kong flat.
- In American McGee's Alice, one of the weapons is a jack in the box that breathes fire.
- In King's Quest VII, this is one of the ways Rosella can die. In the tree house in Ooga Booga land, there's a jack in the box that will kill you if you open it.
- The Joker is the most prominent villain in Batman: Vengeance, so obviously he has these in his arsenal. Unique in that they follow you if you get too close, and they seem to breathe fire. Their main weakness is Electric Batarangs.
- There's a Spider-In-The-Box version in Legend of the Crystal Skull, although it's not all that frightening.
- A creepy eel-like face pops out of a wind-up box in one of the Last Half Of Darkness games.
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has them, and it's made worse by this theme/laugh that plays when you activate them.
- Walgreen's has intentionally-scary ones in its stores during Halloween. Turn the crank, and "Pop Goes The Weasel" plays, only for a Monster Clown to pop out and gives an electronically-rendered Evil Laugh.