Scary Jack-in-the-Box

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 in media.

May overlap with: Jump Scare, Surprise Jump, Monster Clown


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  • 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.

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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?

    Comic Books 
  • Used frequently by The Joker in all of his incarnations, particularly during the Silver Age of Comic Books.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry Potter's first encounter with a Boggart. 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 scary jack-in-the-box appeared in Poltergeist.
  • 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.
  • One of the most terrifying sequences in the 2015 comedy-horror film Krampus involves a Jack-in-the-Box monster called Der Klown, a massive snake like figure with an unhinged, split jaw, which enables him to swallow people whole.

  • The jack-in-the-box in Neil Gaiman's horror story "Don't 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.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

    Theme Parks 
  • A "Killer Jack-in-the-Box" was but one of the ghouls in UniversalStudios' former Ghostbusters Spooktacular attraction. Like his spectral cohorts, he was designed by the Chiodo Brothers, and became a character in his own right in one of Universal's "Halloween Horror Nights" stories.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • 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.