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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Labyrinth
This isn't the first time 'round.
The beginning (hi david bowie, hi sara, let's do this thing) and end (everybody is here, dance party, so easy!) of the movie have always seemed problematic, and this seems to be a good reason why. Jareth has shown that he can warp reality and place people in dreams or fugue states... even his minions (the trash lady) can do it. So who is to say that the entirety of the movie we see doesn't take place within one of these, and it is not Sara's first go through the labyrinth? It may have seemed like a success for her, but in reality Jareth is simply running a Groundhog Day on her, learning more about how she ticks, wiping her memory, then trying again in another layer of dream. That explains why all the trappings of her "real life" are really symbols from the labyrinth, why there is an element of familiarity between Sara and Jareth who shouldn't have met at the beginning of the movie, why Hoggle seems to know and be wary of her, and also why Jareth's punishment of him is so draconian- Hoggle has helped Sara before. Lastly, it gives poor Jennifer Connoly an out for her terrible teenage acting: whatever MIB neuralyzer method Jareth is using, it's giving Sara brain damage.

The Right Words always were "You should have dates at your age".
And *POP* the Goblin King (plus package) shows up! Sarah's stepmother has no idea what she initiated.

David Bowie is a Muppet. The man never ages.
His career before Labyrinth was an elaborate experimental ruse by the Jim Henson company. It's the same style as having Elmo interviewed on a current affairs program, but on a grander scale. After the film was done, he somehow escaped, and he has been maintaining his fame as a security measure and because performance is all he knows how to do (and gods, he does it well...). There are legions of people who would notice if he ever disappeared.
  • Ooh. And Jim Henson never died. After Labyrinth he realized how much more lucrative being a rock star was compared to being a puppeteer. He's been "playing" Bowie ever since.

Labyrinth contains no special effects. It functions entirely on David Bowie's actual powers.
Ball-rolling and turning into animals? David Bowie does it with ease. Operating multiple Jim Henson muppets simultaneously with the power of his mind? Child's play for Bowie. Walking up walls and across ceilings? Just how Bowie gets about. The only thing that distinguishes Jareth from any of Bowie's other personae is the baby-stealing.
  • Strangely, The Venture Bros. does insist that he is an actual shapeshifter. He even turns into a bird like in this movie, which is Lampshaded: "The guy from Labyrinth just turned into a bird!"

What we see in the fantasy part of the film is the result of Sarah's deranged and deluded mind after she kills Toby and sinks into insanity.
The end of the movie shows her having a brief lucid moment, though still being in denial about the murder, when her parents get home; then she sinks irrevocably into insanity at the end.
  • Nooooooo!
  • Some people just can't cope with fantasy.

Sarah commits suicide shortly after the end of the film.
Realising that she has turned down paradise with Bowi... um.. Jareth (in a bout of brief paranoia) hits home later that evening. She cries for several days straight, and then her body is found crumpled on the ground outside after she jumps off the roof trying to get back to Jareth's goblin kingdom.
  • Jareth (Bowie) could raise her from the dead and bring her back with him, but is far too faye to do so since she already made the wrong choice.

Jareth is of the same Witch Species as Yuko Ichihara from Xxx Ho Lic.
Both of them are masters at screwing around with space and time. Both of them like screwing over ignorant mortals by giving them exactly what they asked for. Both of them have the odd habit of having a new and ridiculously elaborate outfit every time they appear onscreen. Both like flirting with barely-legal teenagers in ambiguously sexual relationships. The similarities are scary.
  • Count D from Petshop Of Horrors is another of that species. Same wish-granting theme and elaborate outfits.

Jareth is the same type of Fae as the gentleman with thistledown hair from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
The similarities are left as an exercise for the reader.

Jareth is the same type of Fae as the Beldam from Coraline.
They both steal children, preside over fantasy realms, change form, and have problems with their minions defecting. They both can be beaten by challenging them to games, and they both will cheat if you start to win.
  • They both seem to be powered by desire. The Beldam lures in Coraline when she starts to get upset with her life. Jareth provides an adventure for Sarah, who is also upset with her life.

Jareth is romantically interested in baby Toby.
Sadly, very sadly, this is the plot of the Labyrinth Spin-Off yaoi manga, featuring bishounen teenage Toby being stalked for his whole life by Jareth the magical pedophile.

Well, he is a supernatural being and may have different ideas of what's an appropriate age to begin lusting after someone, or the difference between 'What a cute baby!' and 'Hel~looo, nurse.'
  • This just makes the lyrics of "Magic Dance" a million times worse...
    Dance, magic dance!
    Dance, magic dance!
    Put that baby spell on me
    Jump, magic jump!
    Jump, magic jump!
    Put that magic jump on me
    Slap that baby... make him free!
    Jareth & The Goblins, "Magic Dance"
  • Jossed. The manga has Toby brought to the Goblin Kingdom to become the new King so that Jareth can run after Sarah in the Real World as her Stalker with a Crush. The yaoi implications, like the art on the covers, were just there to lure in the fangirls.
    • Anyone lured in by that yaoi deserved what they got.

Sarah, but not Toby, is related to the famed Morgan Le Fay.
This is why, when SHE said the words, it worked.

Meiriona is using this in her own fanworks on fanfiction.net.

The right words were "Somebody take me away from this awful place!"
This makes the entire movie a set up for when Sarah inevitably runs back to the generous but cruel Goblin King, who had indeed fallen in love with her.

There Is No Toby.
The "baby" is a creation of Jareth, specifically a MacGuffin to lure Sarah into his world so he can evaluate her potential as his Queen. All the trials Sarah goes through in his world are tests of fitness. All her "memories" of Toby are false. Her "parents" either have false memories, too, or are fakes themselves.

Sarah is the sole beautiful statue in the Goblin World come to life.
Inspired by the speculation above. If her parents are constructs of Jareth's, then what does that make her? Simple — another construct, only she has free will.

Jareth was stolen by goblins as a baby.
Hence his human appearance. He was stolen from the Krolock family, and his older brother later became a vampire after inheriting the title of Graf. (Jareth didn't age past about 30 because he lived in another realm.)

Both brothers, in spite of completely different upbringings, later fell in love with and lured teenage girls named Sarah who were bored to death with their normal lives.

In addition, isn't it obvious that Herbert (Graf von Krolock's son) is SOMEHOW related to Jareth? Just look at Jareth and then Herbert.
  • Not only is that the case, but Jareth was also specifically trying to duplicate that with Toby, more or less—he wanted to raise Toby to be his heir. Either he really ages at a normal rate and couldn't be the goblin king forever, or he didn't want to be the goblin king forever but couldn't leave without finding a replacement. (Abdication - successor = chaos, and not the kind the goblins will like.)
    • The second theory is the implication of Return to Labyrinth, although whether or not it's canon depends on the reader.
    • According to the Book of the Movie, the first theory is partially correct. Jareth does age, but at a much slower rate. The beginning of the book has him realizing he's getting older and that he needs an heir.
      • There's a BOOK!?
      • Sadly, it's out of print, but you can find the text here
      • The text may also be accessible here, but the link is currently dead.
  • Jareth's being taken by the goblins and either not aging or aging slowly makes his attraction to Sarah less creepy. After all, the era he was born in may have considered a girl eligible for marriage at 16, or even 14, depending on how long he has been in the care of the goblins.
  • Different version of the theory but along the same lines: Jareth was stolen as a baby by a previous Goblin King also named Jareth because his big sister wished him away. His sister tried to get him back, but instead fell for the King's charms, and the King used the girl to break out of the Goblin Kingdom and into the real world to live with her. He named his "heir" Jareth as well before leaving the kingdom in his control. Jareth stopped aging at around 30, so this may have been centuries ago. In Labyrinth Jareth tried to to the same thing to Toby that was done to him, even considering changing Toby's name to Jareth.

Jareth is a vampire

Jareth is an Anthropomorphic Personification of Deception.
He certainly seems to operate on a different plane from the other goblins, who might or might not be constructs he personally created based on Sarah's books and toys when he targeted her.

Likewise, he follows no particular rules of time or space; but when Sarah stops believing in his power, it is broken, just with a lie. And he cannot show up until she tells him to.

Jareth is an Anthropomorphic Personification of stories
The goblins all seem to come from Sarah's stories. This leads to strange implications.
  • Well, let's make a long essay comparatively short:

Jareth is a facet of Dream.
He rules a magical kingdom. He put a girl he had fallen in love with but who refused his gifts into an oubliette. He offers that same girl the world ("Fear me love me..." / "I would have made her a goddess"). He pissed off a young woman by appearing to have stolen a fair-haired baby while it was being babysat and mum was out; but he didn't personally steal the kid. The young woman embarks on a quest to get revenge on the king for stealing the kid. The young woman gains three allies who help her to defeat this king. He desires to have the "stolen" child take his place. He is defeated, and his power is broken, when the young woman comes into the heart of his kingdom; his kingdom is destroyed by this. And he has '80s Hair and long flowing cloaks.

The only real difference is that Sarah got Toby back, while Daniel took over for Morpheus. It's obviously an alternative ending Dream made for himself and his heir to be comforted by.
Jareth is a personification of dreams and stories, but not Neil Gaiman's.
He's related to an entirely different attractive anthropomorphic personification of death.

Come on. Look at the way der Tod dresses. Watch "Der Letze Tanz" on one of the productions where Elisabeth's wedding dress looks decidedly white and poofy. Overtones of Sarah? You bet.

Jareth is an empty vessel — he takes all his personality and important details beyond being what he is in the play, with minimal physical description, from Sarah's fantasies.
That's why he wants her to stay. Wouldn't you rather be a handsome, cunning trickster-god in really tight pants than just another goblin in a goblin kingdom?

The reason for all the puzzles and awkward semi-romantic imagery? Hormones.

The people inside the crystal during Sarah's dream/Jareth's seduction are the other people of his race.
They've been imprisoned by him, either for some crime against him or because he's totally batshit. They continue partying eternally, either because they're under a spell, they like it in there, or they, too, are completely batshit.

Both Sarah and the Goblin King are simply mentally ill humans.
Jareth breaks into the house and steals the kid as Sarah is babysitting. Sarah, not quite understanding 911, follows. She ventures into a small area of the city where the inhabitants don't like the cops but like baby-stealing psychos even less. (This part is justified by reality. Most crooks have a huge soft spot for kids in a good way.) Sarah's allies are friendly humans who want to help save the baby, and they use their underworld connections to do so. It is just fun to image the real world version of the Labyrinth. Maybe the Bog of Eternal Stench is a needle-strewn, long-abandoned crack-house.
  • The other inhabitants of this so-called Labyrinth are simple criminals. They get by, and they aren't heroes, but they aren't crazy either. Jareth, however, works outside the rules and is deeply delusional. Naturally, they would despise and occasionally disregard him— but fear him as well.

Jareth is a creature similar to the elves in Terry Pratchett's Discworld, if not indeed one of them
His actions and motivations resemble those of the Queen of Fairies in the Wee Free Men considerably, and like with the Queen, his world seems to be a reflection of his own mind, and its creatures are either extensions of himself, or wandered in from other places and gotten stuck. His appearance and demeanor are very reminiscent of the elves described in Lords and Ladies. He isn't a sadistic monster, but he clearly struggles with the concepts of human morality, and can't really tell love and possessiveness apart from each other. Of course, the stories take influence from the same ancient myths, justifying the similarity.
  • Elves are canonically an offshoot of the boogeymen and look like small, ugly monkey things underneath their glamours - that is, goblins. They live in parasitical pocket dimensions they can mold to their whims - that is, the Labyrinth. They get off on convincing mortals to worship them and are near helpless against a human that's managed to overpower their illusions. Jareth's an elf that got fed up with all the dog raping characteristics of his kind and decided to head off, start his own kingdom, and play the Trickster God instead! It all makes sense!
    • Where the connection with bogeymen is canonically stated? It's an interesting wild mass guessing theory in its own right, but it's not a canonical fact. Indeed, much of the time it's implied that the elves' true form resembles The Greys in the Discworld.
  • In particular, Jareth is the Elf King himself, absentee husband of the Quin Tiffany fights in The Wee Free Men. Notice their shared power ranges (dreams and delusions), child-stealing characteristics (and for plucky teenage heroines' irritating younger brothers, too!), bizarre and uncertain kingdoms and subjects (and especially using the victims own thoughts/dreams to shape a world), particular affiliation with doors and gateways, 'waking up' from surreal-seeming real life into a dream (actually that doesn't quite sum up what was going on with sarah, but it'll have to do), and even use of the same type of dream (of ballrooms, though in wildly differing contexts). Fairy kings are also apparently more likely to keep in other dimensions, away from the kingdom they rule, while the Queen does the actual business of ruling, and it could be assumed that the Labyrinth was Jareth's one of these, which he retreated to after leaving the Queen?
    • Alternatively, Jareth is a drome that created the Labyrinth dream for Sarah.

Jareth is Sosuke Aizen.
He keeps his zanpakuto in his pants, which Sarah was the only one not to notice. This is why she is presumably the first human to break through his illusion: she was never subject to the full force of the illusions, just the secondary effects that could be broken.
  • Oh my gosh, you made me nosebleed for Aizen's possible crotchitude! You pervert!

Sarah Isn't Crazy; she's the new Goblin King
At the end of the movie, she summons the denizens of the Goblin City to her bedroom; she's not hallucinating them or sinking into insanity, it really is happening. Her bedroom, being her sanctuary away from mundane life, is slowly merging with Jareth's Castle. Having defeated him, Sarah is now the Goblin King (Queen?) and entitled to his realm.

Sarah emerges from the Labyrinth as a Fairest, Toby will grow up to be a Hunter.

Forever touched by the powers of Arcadia, Sarah returns triumphant from her Durance in the Labyrinth, but finds herself growing even more distant from normal humans because she's found real friends among the goblins and hobgoblins she met in the Hedge.

When Toby grows up and finds his sister consorting with monsters (and possibly being able to see through her Mask, having been touched by Jareth's power as a baby), and generally becoming less and less human as she grows more fully into her Fae powers, he'll eventually hear the story of how he was stolen and Sarah came to rescue him, and dedicate himself to keeping the Fae from stealing anyone else.
  • Alternately, Sarah is one of the Wizened. Her Durance certainly had more to do with being cunning than being pleasing, we only think of her as fair because we - most of us, anyway - cannot see through her Mask. She actually looks much like the dweller of the dump who helped her reach one of her most important realizations.
    • Jareth put her through all that because he fell in love with her, in as much as any True Fae can; Wizened durances typically mean pointless, hideous tortures or impossible labors, and they become what they do more than anything like what they were made to be. Since Sarah is as gorgeous as ever and has learned to make friends over the course of the journey, it's unlikely that she picked up the characteristic bitterness and spite that the Wizened all have— however, it may be that she's picked up a dual kith, reflecting her unusually triumphant escape from Faerie by actually defeating her Keeper.
      • What makes you so sure she really did defeat him?
    • And to take it further, Toby has become a Fairest.

Alternately to the above...
The Toby that Sarah brought back was a fetch. Sarah never walks out of the labyrinth with Toby, he's in his crib when she returns. There really were two different Tobys crawling around the staircase maze, one was the real Toby and the other was the fetch. Sarah, unable to completely tell the difference, unknowingly claims the fetch to come back home with her. Jareth lets her be only because he still has what he went to the mortal realm to get in his possession.

David Bowie is the heir of Gondor.

David Bowie is, however distantly, the direct descendant of King Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and Queen Arwen, making him not only the leader of the Dúnedain (and, by extension, the Númenreans), as well as the one of the last elves on Earth. This is evidenced by his slow-aging and as his singing.

Jareth is der Tod.
Sarah keeps almost dying. The film takes place while she's well and truly out of her skull. Maybe she's severely ill (or grappling with depression) or something, and the film (as well as her rejection of his affections, symbolic of a refusal to dream away the rest of her life just taking her medication and waiting for death) is her decision to live, with death returned to its proper place. A story element, not something that will rule her life.

Jareth is Toby.
He went back in time to ensure his own future as Goblin King.
  • ... awesome! This is further supported by the name Jareth bestows on Toby ("I think I'll call him Jareth").
    • W-Wait. But Jareth is in love with Sarah, at least so far as one assumes a Goblin King can be. The manga makes it clear that Toby, like Jareth, has very fond memories of his creative elder sister, and regrets her mundane 'growing up,' and sure, he falls in love with a palette-swapped version of Sarah as she was at his age, but... Ohdeargoditmakessense.

The entire Labyrinth, and everything in it, was created by Jareth for Sarah
Having fallen in love with Sarah, Jareth decides to allow her to live out her fantasies, by creating a realm inspired by Sarah's book, and the objects in her room. By the end, he's exhausted from playing the antagonist for her, without her ever realizing what he's trying to do for her. Realizing he can never have her, he lets her finish the story and sends her back to her own world, along with the friends she made in the Labyrinth to keep her happy.

The Entire Labyrinth, and everything in it, is literally Sarah's dream... until the end of the movie.
Being occupied mostly with her many fantasies, Sarah had dreams that were far more potent - and more recurring - than most. Eventually, one of those dreams actually became self-aware, and understood itself only to be a phantasm in the mind of a teenage girl. That dream acted first to rule the entirety of Sarah's dreamscape, then awaited its moment. When Sarah fell asleep in tears on her bed after her parents had left to see the show, he saw his moment, and worked the dream around her to start off seeming like real life, then take Sarah into a fantastic realm where anything could happen, all building up to a battle against him, personally. It was a massive Batman Gambit to make Sarah (his creator) acknowledge him as completely real (which she arguably did, with the caveat that he had no power over her), thereby allowing him to exist in the real world. He got more than he bargained for - all the Labyrinth creatures Sarah saw were also made real by her, but lack true self-identity, and exist only as Sarah's will dictates (AKA "when she needs them"). Jareth, however, maintains his independence, and flew off into the night to seek further mischief.
  • I had a similar interpretation, but slightly more tragic: Jareth really does want to be loved and appreciated by his creator for how well he's dispatched the role for which he was made. But since he was made with the desires of an Evil Overlord, he can't disentangle this from his urge for dominance, hence his weirdly contradictory pitch (do as I say, and I will be your slave!). When that fails he realizes it isn't going to happen, so after one last look at Sarah and her friends he takes off to form his own destiny.

Jareth actually is a muppet like the other Goblins.
His true form is that of the "beggar" in the tunnels (really well-informed Goblins, such as Hoggle, know this). He practiced shapeshifting magics, however, and learned to become a white owl - chosen as a symbol of his superiority over the Labyrinth as a whole, in mockery of the omnipresent Black Chickens. Armed with this symbol (and the ability to fly over the walls), he amasses great power, and eventually mastered scrying (as well as contact juggling) to the extent he could look into the human world. He was so taken with humans he learned a human form as well — that of David Bowie — and used it almost exclusively thereafter.

Jareth represents Sarah's over-obsession with a world of fantasy, while Ludo, Hoggle and Sir Didymus are healthy amounts of imagination.
As Sarah goes through the movie she learns the facts of life and grows up from an annoying primadonna to a responsible teenager. Going with Jareth would've meant she neglected all the duties and normalcy of life and instead live in a world of fantasy where nothing could hurt her or be 'unfair'. Leaving with her brother however shows that she accepts the responsibility and harshness of the world. However, she feels slightly down that she is alone in the cruel real world, and realizes that certain amount of fantasy are good for the soul, and help to cope with all of life's troubles.
  • This is actually what I got out of the movie upon first viewing, but also, each of the goblins represents a responsibility that Sarah has shrugged off or forgotten, which is why Toby is in danger of turning into one.
    • And every puzzle represents something she can do to help repair her relationship with her father and grow up - for instance, asking for permission, asking politely for information instead of demanding it, being somewhere on time, helping because it's the right thing to do instead of it being required, not placing so much value on material possessions, not taking things at face value etc.
  • ^ This. Probably the reason why I don't like the The Nostalgia Chick review much is because she scorns the ending of the movie as a Completely Missing the Point about letting go of childhood, when any psicologyst will tell you that a little amount of phantasy is not only unavoidable but also healthy. Besides, don't you think that if letting completely go of your imagination was an unavoidable step into adult hood, it would make somehow difficult to people like Jim Henson to exist at all?
Jareth isn't a fae, a muppet, or a human...
He's a saiyan. One who's stuck in Super Saiyan form the way Goku and Gohan were during the Cell Saga. It would certainly explain his lack of aging.

Jareth is Satan.
Throughout the film, he continues to tempt Sarah to live a life of sloth and decadence, deceiving her at every turn and tempting her with everything she wants. Not to mention that peach... forbidden fruit anyone?
  • Therefore, The Labyrinth is Hell, and all the Goblins are former humans atoning for their sins (for example, by being forced to wage battles blind, being dismembered until they go mad from it, being immobilized across the hall from someone they hate, being trapped in the Bog Of Stench, etc.) - Sarah's stepmother sold her firstborn child to the devil, hence Jareth's interest.
    • Underground suddenly makes more sense, doesn't it?

Jareth is Nakago.
The Goblin Kingdom is really the "other world" Nakago wanted to conquer. He had two ways of becoming a god; one was by tricking Sarah into declaring him one, and the other was by getting Yui to use her last with as Seiryuu No Miko for that purpose. Being the Goblin King to Sarah and a Seishi to Yui, he decided that Sarah would be far easier to manipulate, therefore he went after her first. Upon failing, he turned to his last option—finishing the deal with Yui. Jareth and Nakago look a lot alike, anyhow.

Jareth is actually Loki.
Loki was a charming, sexy, shape shifting trickster who was willing to use manipulation, lead monsters, and steal children. And where is he imprisoned? Underground.
  • And Jareth does want someone to help get him out of there...

Jareth is The Sovereign.
Jareth obviously survived the movie, ventured into the real world under a alias known as David Bowie, sometime down the road became involved in The Guild and rose through the ranks till he became Sovereign. In between Guild related stuff and his music he still watches over Sarah

Jareth isn't the Gobling King, he's the Goblin God.
The masquerade ball wasn't a dream created by Jareth, but another plane of existence, a Mt. Olympus-type realm for gods, that humans can only entire through dreams. Each god or goddess controls a race of mythical creature, and attends the ball in costume as a member of that race. Hence Jareth's goblin mask.

The people inside the globe failed to complete the Labyrinth.
And the goblins in the court were the children they wished away. Jareth had to decide what to do with them, and so decided to throw a masquerade ball. When Sarah shattered the walls they were freed.
  • Implied in the book. Jareth clearly states that if Sarah fails to save Toby in time, he will turn into a goblin. When she advances further, he muses about the threat she poses to him, because she is 'too old to be a goblin, but too young to be kept by him, damn her innocent eyes.' He tried to corrupt her in the bubble, but failed to do so. The other people inside might have been the ones he was able to corrupt all right.
  • Many if not all of the masks that the dancers wear match up with individual goblins who follow Jareth around. Perhaps each dancer's mask is a reminder of the younger brother or sister who is now a goblin, because they failed to complete the labyrinth.

The dancers in the globe are the goblins, and the goblins are younger siblings who were wished away.
The dancers' masks match up with individual goblins. (The one with the unicorn horn and the bird beak; the one with the long horns; the one with the squashed-in nose; etc.) The dancers are the goblins, temporarily returned to their human forms, now at the age they would be had they been able to grow up as humans. The goblin masks represent how the curse hides their true human form, trapping them in a goblin shell. Both in the globe as humans and outside it as goblins, they have childlike personalities. In the globe they dace, play tricks on Sarah, and shout (albeit silently) for Jareth's attention. As goblins, they're like a group of four-year-olds playing cowboys & Indians. After all, what little boy or girl *wouldn't* love to run around with medieval weapons, operate a giant ax-wielding robot, or jump and dance along to a David Bowie song?

The Junk Goblins are other girls who failed to get through the labyrinth.
And the one that kept piling junk onto Sarah was trying to turn her into one too. That's how they all get turned. Luckily Sarah was just a little more strong-willed than the rest.
  • This is implied even more heavily in the book than it already was in the movie.

Sarah is a warper.
Except, she isn't obsessed with time travel or psychics, she's obsessed with fantasy. Like Haruhi, Sarah is unaware of her power, and creates Jareth and the Labyrinth in a subconscious desire for something less mundane than having to watch her little brother for the umpteenth time. Jareth, being a creation of her subconscious, is using Sarah's own power to manipulate the Labyrinth, along with its inhabitants, to give Sarah the adventure she unknowingly wants. Either that, or he's a similar being to Nagato.

Toby is Sarah's son
It is never stated that he's her brother, and Sarah specifically says, "Take this child of mine far away from me."
  • Plus only a mother would have the power to give a baby away to Goblins.
  • Explains why she doesn't date. As well as perhaps why she seems to have no friends (back in the day, it wasn't popular to get knocked up in high school)
  • May also explain the flowy tops, dresses and big shirts are common after pregnancy to cover the in between stages of huge and recovered tummy. Toby about one year would put her into that time.
    • This theory might be appropriate for some dubbed versions, but for the English version it's right out. First of all, it is stated more than once that Toby is her brother. (Sarah says, "But I have to have my brother back! He must be so scared..." and Jareth says, "You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your baby brother becomes one of us, forever!" Secondly, it's not likely that her stepmother would be telling Sarah, "You should have dates at your age!" if Sarah had already gotten pregnant. The implied conflict is that Sarah is *behind* in sexuality for her age, not ahead of it. Toby being Sarah's son would also just clash with the entire theme of the story. It's about a girl who is sheltered, living like a child, trying to learn how to take care of herself and live like an adult. Girls who get knocked up in high school aren't sheltered, unless they got pregnant under very unusual circumstances, and the movie would have discussed such a backstory if it were there.

Sarah is now the Goblin Queen.
Jareth, having fallen in love with her, intended to make her his mistress. But when she declared that Jareth had no power over her, that her kingdom was as great, etc... she essentially elevated her to equal stature. He's going to come back in, oh, five or ten years and woo her.

The other door in the Knaves trick leads to the Minotaur...
... And, therefore, to certain death.

Jareth is a figment of Sarah's imagination - but he understands that fact
Knowing that Sarah is on her way to growing up and outgrowing her childish changeling fantasies, Jareth steps in to preserve his own existence as the Goblin King of her mind. At first, he creates the type of fantasy that she's been using up to this point, trying to trap her in the labyrinth and the fantastic dangers within it. As Sarah overcomes these traps, it becomes clear that Jareth will no longer be able to exist in this role - so he creates a second fantasy for her, one sexually-charged and appropriate for the young woman she's becoming. If he can't be her villain, he'll be her lover, and remain in her fantasies. When Sarah overcomes that dream as well, he gets desperate, and the entirety of Within You is his plea to her to keep dreaming, so he won't have to flicker out of existence.
  • In the end she chooses to keep believing in her friends at least, preserving their existence.

After the movie, Sarah's life goes to hell
She changes her name, abandons her parents and Toby, moves to New York and starts taking heroin. Things don't get really bad until she meets Keith David.

The Movie's Sequel is Requiem For A Dream
After experimenting with drugs and hallucinating that she is in a Goblin Kingdom, Sarah becomes addicted to drugs, changes her name, and moves away, feeding her addiction.

The real lesson Sarah learns...

...isn't about maturity or responsibility, it's about learning to cope with unfairness, and become more fair herself in response. She does act like a brat in the scene with her parents, but her parents aren't stellar people either; her stepmother sees her as a complication in her marriage, her father is clearly more interested in his new wife and baby than helping his daughter cope. These things aren't her fault, but she feels like a third wheel in her own family, and she may be right. Going to the Labyrinth reminds her that the only person she can count on to treat her fairly and take care of her needs is herself; once she gains that self-reliance, she recognizes that she can be okay on her own, because she has her daydreams to keep her company.

The whole movie is an inversion of the The Wizard of Oz
Sarah sets off into the Labyrinth, which has no clear path(the opposite of the Yellow Brick Road, where you only have to stay on the path to be safe). She meets Hoggle(all brains), Ludo(all heart), and Sir Didymus(all courage). She must rescue her little brother Toby instead of her dog Toto. The Junk Lady corresponds loosely to the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants to keep her there and make her one of The Junk Lady's kind, instead of killing her and taking her shoes. Dorothy's power is her innocence, whereas Sarah's is gained through maturity and coming of age. The poppy scene corresponds loosely to the peach scene. The morals are inverted: "Every now and again in my life, for no reason at all, I need you [i.e. imagined things]" versus "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with." Almost the first thing we learn in Oz is that good things are beautiful and bad are ugly, while we learn the opposite at the start of the Labyrinth with Hoggle and the pixies. The parallels go on, if you're looking for them, and many(like the sidekicks) seem less-than-coincidental.

The movie inverts all of the fairy tales seen on Sarah's bookshelf.
The books on Sarah's shelf, at the start of the movie, include The Wizard of Oz, Grim's Fairy Tales, and Hans Christen Andersen's stories. The above entry covers Wizard of Oz. As for a few others, there's...
  • "Cinderella": Sarah sees herself as a Cinderella figure at the start of the story. She spites her stepmother and half-brother and describes herself as "practically a slave," while her stepmother complains, "She treats me like a wicked stepmother in a fairy story no matter *what* I say..." But of course, the "wicked" step-mother and half-brother are decent people, while the sparkly prince is the villain. The ballroom scene, which is a huge shout-out to Cinderella (especially with that white ballgown), is sinister rather then triumphant. And instead of spending the story trying to escape an "evil" family by marrying a "perfect" prince, she's trying to rescue and reconnect with her family, while avoiding the lure of the seductive prince. Also, while Cinderella starts off as a slave, and ends as a princess, Sarah, in a sense, is a "princess" from the start, as emphasized by her Meaningful Name.
  • "The Little Mermaid": The mermaid leaves her family to enter a race against time, to be with a prince she doesn't even know. Sarah on the other hand is in a race against time to rescue a family member, and resist the urge to leave her family for the prince. Also, Sarah's dog Merlin (and by extention, Ambrosious) resembles Prince Eric's dog Max, from Disney's The Little Mermaid.
  • Many people have noted that Jareth's ballroom attire resembles the Beast's from the famous Disney's Beauty and the Beast. But while Belle must learn not to judge a best by his looks, Sarah is being fooled by Jareth's good looks, in this scene.

The other people in the Masquerade ball are Jareth's former lovers.
Sarah is nowhere near the first person he's brought into the Labyrinth. Once he gets bored with someone, he sends them to the eternal masquerade so he can keep them forever.

Both Sarah and the audience misunderstood the Worm.
Everyone seems to think that the Worm mutters to himself, "She'd a' kept on going down that way! She'd a' gone straight to that castle!", and assume that if Sarah had gone to the left to begin with, she'd have reached Jareth's castle in no time.

However, this troper always heard the worm's words as, "SHOULDA' kept on going down that way! SHOULD'A gone straight to that castle!" This would make more sense, since Sarah did tell the worm, "I have to get to the center of the Labyrinth," so the worm would know where she's trying to go. When the worm said, "Never go that way!" he wasn't talking about going left; he was talking about going *either* left or right. What he wanted Sarah to do was keep going *straight.* The brick-wall illusion continued straight forward, right to the Goblin Castle. If Sarah had kept going "that way" (straight) she would have reached the castle in no time. Instead, she misunderstood the worm, and thought he wanted her to go right.

Sarah was not the first Sarah.

THIS IS NOT MY THEORY. Instead it's the theory of tumblr user glamdamnit, who is a genius and who should get all the credit, but I had to put it here.

"My sister asked if the events of The Labyrinth are meant to be Sarah dreaming, or are they real? Although my primary reaction was that she shouldnt put that much thought into any childrens movie (or any instance of David Bowie in tight pants), Id like to take this opportunity to put so much thought into this childrens movie, that itll blow your mind.

So why is David Bowie kidnapping a child from an underage Jennifer Connelley?

In a time long long ago a sorcerer named Jareth fell in love with a girl named Sarah. Sarahs father and step-mother would not let her marry Jareth because they wanted her to keep her, as a servant, to care for their other child. In a fit of rage Jareth kidnapped this other child and spirited it away to the fairy world. In this new world Jareth built a palace for his Sarah. He turned the spoiled child into a goblin, and kept it to be a servant.

Many stories of the fairy world tell us that time moves differently there than in our world (Rip Van Winkle for one). In the time it took for Jareth to build his kingdom, which he may have thought was little more than a few years, Sarah grew old and died.

Overcome by grief and addled by a lifetime spent in a strange world filled with monsters, Jareth goes mad. He refuses to believe that he has lost his love. He searches the mortal world from his castle, looking for her.

Sarah is Hebrew name. So, it is common, and has been in use for thousands and thousands of years. It does not take long (for him) to find a dark haired girl named Sarah, who has a younger sibling, and who feels that she is treated unfairly by her step mother. In a fit of rage he kidnaps this other child and spirits it away to the fairy world. Perhaps this new Sarah dies in the quest to find the child, perhaps she wins her sibling back and flees.

Jareth searches the mortal world from his from his castle, looking for her. It does not take long to find a dark haired girl named Sarah

This is how Jareth becomes the goblin king. Every goblin in the goblin city is a child Jareth has stolen, who was not recovered by a Sarah. (he told the current Sarah that Toby would become a goblin if she did not find him in time)

This is why he builds the maze. The magic bog, the junk yard of useless treasures, all tricks to slow Sarah down. Because if he can only have his Sarah for the time it takes for her to regain the stolen child, he will make it take as long as possible, keep her as long as possible.

This is why there exists in our world a book containing the story. Because it has happened before. So many times. At some point some lucky Sarah must have returned to our world to tell the story.

This is why when the most recent Sarah first meets Hoggle at the start of the labyrinth, and introduces herself; Im Sarah, Hoggle responds Thats what I figured.

Because of course shes Sarah.

They were all Sarah."

  • This WMG also has it's opponents including Pika-la-Cynique (Subtilior and Lixxle also agree with her and all three of these people are big name / good enough to be featured on FanficRecs.Labyrinth) because to quote her and some commenters from here:
    bruwench: The base concept is intriguing, but sloppy exposition and a failure to acknowledge some of the greatest merits of the original story weaken the argument altogether. With a bit more critical thinking and in the hands of the right author, though, I'd read the fanfic version.

    Subtilior: Been there, done that, made him Satan.note 

    toshers-girl: Meh it's sorta a stupid theory isn't it? Backed up by very little, typical/usual in what it suggests and doesn't really add anything to the movie or fanon at all. I mean it's not even that super-creepy because it's just so blandly generic.

    sadsiren: Glad I'm not the only one who didn't like that concept being tossed around. If this person actually paid attention to later in the film, the reason Hoggle knew Sarah was coming was because...Jareth told him she was coming! OMG WHAT A TWIST! 9_9

    TheDiva1977:As to the theory in question...yeah, kind of interesting if your headcanon swings to the morbid, but I have issues:
    1.) For all that Jareth is an old-school Fair Folk and has probably been stealing babies and dicking in human lives for goodness knows how long, I don't see him doing this exact same dance over and over again—especially if, as the theory suggests, he doesn't always come out on top of it.
    2.) The Labyrinth is rather well-populated—the idea that every single goblin in it came about by a) being the much-younger (step)-sibling of b) an adolescent/young-adult brunette woman named Sarah who c) resented their presence enough to wish them elsewhere seems a bit of a stretch to me.
    3.) That last scene seems a bit too...intimate (in a creepy way, but still) to have been played out before. There's just something about Jareth's approach to Sarah that leads me to think there's something about this particular girl that attracts him, not that she's the latest in a long line of (attempted) conquests.

    rosegoddess9: Interesting fan theory, but if that was the case I wonder why he doesn't keep her there perpetually? Have her ever-running the labyrinth... Also, wouldn't the odds be that there is at least one Sarah who would be like "You know what? Yeah. I'll totally be your slave. Let's go."

    LouisaGallie: My main issue with the this theory is the opening paragraph: "Although my primary reaction was that she shouldnt put that much thought into any childrens movie (or any instance of David Bowie in tight pants), Id like to take this opportunity to put so much thought into this childrens movie, that itll blow your mind."
    Yes, yes! My mind is absolutely blown. It just cannot with the remarkable depth of thought and analysis that has been put into this short story, which is like, so much deeper than any of the 8000+ fics (on FF.net alone) and all of the writing that went on before/during the birth of the internet (I think they used stone tablets or something? Or did they have quills then?). I bet she spent whole HOURS thinking this up and writing it, even, and all those shallow slackers who spend months writing multi-chaptered epics with every spin on myth, legend and original theory you could hope for obviously didn't put THOUGHT into any of that. Because THAT much thought obviously causes spontaneous mental combustion. Which she knows, because she is the first person to have ever done it.
    /sarcasm mode to OFF
    8000 fics, a pre-internet fandom in the form of zines and an internet fandom so old we remember Geocities. It's a neat little theory but it's not one-of-a-kind, and simultaneously sneering at the idea of "putting much thought into a children's movie*" while acting like having done so makes her a very clever special snowflake is...irksome also.
    (*Because children's films are not supposed to include depth or lessons because god forbid children actually learn to think about things? Don't even get me started...)

    Pika-la-Cynique: Like, eurgh, "~The clever don't start, 'til I waltz in!~".

    Owl-songs: ... I can't stand the idea that this theory is somehow revolutionary within the fandom when it is very clear—at least to me—that the author has not spent much time at all actually exploring the other fan theories out there.

    Manon-de: I agree- I was already prejudiced against the theory from the start just because of the snide way it began. Fandoms are fun! So are children's movies! Why not think about them?

  • And now some other people against it! A slightly Rouge Angles of Satin tumblr analysis here, a blog entry here, a deviantART comic here, one more from tumblr here.
  • Most of these boil down to: the author is too full of herself (see "itll blow your mind" etc.) and gets hyped too much (see "genius") for someone, who doesn't know much about the fandom and already existing theories, ignores half the rules of the Verse (the Right Words for example) to create a bland theory, that goes against all the original stood for, has major logical issues and (as the Jareth's previous victims idea) was done to death.

KnowingWMG/FilmLast Action Hero

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