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Film / The Dark Crystal

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Another world, another time, in the age of wonder.

"When single shines the triple sun
What was sundered and undone
Shall be whole, the two made one
By Gelfling hand, or else by none."

A 1982 Dark Fantasy film produced by Jim Henson (of The Muppets fame) and co-directed by Henson and Frank Oz with creature design by fantasy artist Brian Froud. It's inarguably Henson's most ambitious project, created entirely with animatronic puppets and miniature sets, and with a heavy emphasis on Worldbuilding.

One thousand years ago, on the planet Thra, the Crystal was whole. When it cracked on the day of the Great Conjunction of the planet's three suns, two new races appeared: the Always Chaotic Evil and aggressive Skeksis and the Always Lawful Good but all too passive urRu (aka Mystics). A few centuries later, the Skeksis discovered a prophecy that the elf-like Gelflings would heal the Dark Crystal, thus undoing their reign, so they sent their Garthim soldiers to hunt them down and kill them all. All except for the protagonists Jen and Kira, the last of their kind.

In 2013, an "original cut" of the film was leaked on YouTube, featuring extended/deleted scenes, less expository dialogue and the alien language that the Skeksis were originally going to speak until test audiences responded unfavorably to it. Though it was taken down, it still can be found on Dailymotion and Vimeo.

A Netflix-produced prequel series detailing the start of the war between the Skeksis and the Gelflings and the ensuing decay of Thra, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, was released in August 2019.

For the franchise as a whole, see here.

The Dark Crystal includes examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: The urRu/Mystics are kind, gentle creatures, but they do nothing to stop the Skeksis from destroying the land, enslaving the Podlings and committing genocide against the Gelflings. Justified in that the urRu could not act against their evil counterparts without destroying themselves in the process. Word of God says even if they wanted to commit suicide to stop the Skeksis, the urRu have no will to act, because all the strength and drive of the urSkeks is embodied in the Skeksis themselves. Even the narrator states that the urRu live in a hazy, half-dream state.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: Never directly addressed, but since Jen and Kira are the Last Of Their Kind, it's pretty obvious.
  • Age Without Youth: Applies to both the Mystics and Skeksis (though they're not technically immortal), but the Skeksis suffer a bit more from it, especially when you learn that they weren't outwardly evil in their early days, but rather represented the passionate hedonistic side of the urSkeks, and were rather pleasant to party with. Then as they aged for a thousand years, their true nature slowly manifested itself as a rotting from the inside out. They could reverse their decay by drinking the vital essence of other living creatures, but the effect was always temporary.
  • Alien Sky: The planet Thra has three suns; a small purple sun, a medium-sized red sun, and a large bright yellow sun.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Pretty much all the names of the Skeksis and Mystics are featured in the novelization and "Art of" book.
    • Even though the name of the planet this story takes place on is never mentioned, it's referred to in the novelization as 'Thra'.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Skeksis were once very easy to get along with; by the time of the film, they slip into this trope.
  • Always Lawful Good: The Mystics are all calm, kind and slow, in contrast to their animated and selfish halves, the Skeksis.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • SkekEkt the Ornamentalist. Word of God states that while there are no specifically female Skeksis (they're all meant to be an uncomfortable combination of both genders), skekEkt is the most effeminate.invoked
    • Aughra too is meant to be a combination of male and female genders, being a large, burly, mustachioed humanoid with the voice of a bossy old lady and a feminine-sounding name. Jen specifically refers to Aughra as "he" while in the Netflix series, the princess refers to "Mother Aughra".
  • Animal Eye Spy: The Skeksis' crystal bats, which they sent all over Thra in search of Jen.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Skeksis Slave Master has a hook for a hand while the Scientist has a mechanical arm and leg. Their Mystic counterparts have wooden limbs in the same places.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The urSkeks do this at the end of the film. Either that, or they just return to their homeworld.
  • Ax-Crazy: SkekZok, the Ritual-Master, is the first to suggest killing Kira when she is captured and is the one who stabs her to death.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Literally, since the Mystics and Skeksis are actually two halves of one being — if one of them is injured or killed, the same thing happens to their counterpart.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The Podling villagers are enjoying a rowdy celebration when the Garthim bust through the walls and start capturing everyone they can grab.
  • The Beastmaster: Kira can call out to just about any animal out there and coax it into helping her. There are a lot of weird animals out there and this ability comes in very handy.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played with. The protagonists, the Gelflings, are obviously intended to be attractive. The pure urRu are made to look noble and sagacious, and when they die, they fade into sparkles. The Skeksis, on the other hand, are clearly intended to look twisted, deformed and vulture-like, which is made even worse by their advanced age and the fact that the Emperor's body crumbles to pieces within seconds after his death. Aughra, however, is quite hideous and warty, yet proves to be a helpful character. A bit of background checking shows that in the grand scheme of things, she's actually supposed to be True Neutral, and not one to take sides. It gets really confusing with the Podlings, who are supposed to be a good, Closer to Earth race, yet somehow they wound up looking Ugly Cute at the same time. Brian Froud did admit that he toned down their appearance from the earliest incarnations, because those were far too grotesque and potato-like.
  • Big Good: Aughra and the Mystics share this role.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: Fizzgig curls up into a ball and rolls when he needs to move quickly.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism:
    • Gelfling females have wings; males don't.
      Jen: Wings? I don't have wings.
      Kira: Of course not. You're a boy.
  • Blatant Lies: It would be unwise to trust anything skekSil the Chamberlain says. Fortunately, Jen and Kira don't.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The reason the Skeksis never acted against the Mystics? Their mutual lives are linked — if a Mystic dies, so does a Skeksis.
  • Cat Scare: Fizzgig introduces himself to Jen this way by jumping out of a hollowed tree log and startling Jen so much that he falls over.
  • Central Theme: As spoken by the urSkeks at the end, everything is interconnected: "We all are part of each other."
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Part of a ward that protects the Valley of the Mystics.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Aughra comes off this way to Jen at the start, but by the end we see that she's a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: By the standards of Thra, Aughra unleashes one on the Skeksis after they burn down her observatory.
  • Conlang: The Pod People speak one of the "foreign conversion" variety. It mostly uses Serbian words (or Croatian, or Bosnian — they're very similar languages), but is pronounced with an accent more akin to Russian. Aughra and Kira are introduced while speaking the same language, which may imply it is the most commonly used language on Thra.
  • Constructed World: Possibly one of the most thorough examples of one, with no plants or animals, or even people, recognizable from our world; from the start the film was planned as completely alien with absolutely no discernible connection to our world.
  • Consummate Liar: Word of God says the Skeksis have told so many lies to themselves and to each other for so long that the truth was lost centuries ago.invoked
  • Cool Old Lady: Aughra knows all the secrets. An elderly Podling is shown thumping a Garthim's back with her walking stick, although her feisty attack doesn't accomplish much.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Crystal of Truth, or in its damaged form, the Dark Crystal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In his bid to become the new Emperor, the Chamberlain accepts the challenge declared by the General. He picks the Trial by Stone, a clear trial of strength, despite having the strongest, most aggressive and least withered of his fellow Skeksis as his opponent. It goes exactly as you would expect.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Fizzgig, the roaring furball.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is a Jim Henson film, the guy who did The Muppets and Sesame Street, although the main concept designer was actually more into the mystical and deep material that makes up the strange creatures. Storywise, it involves mass genocide, gruesome deaths, Fate Worse than Death and Everything Is Trying to Kill You thrown into the mix. This is the only Henson work that is not a comedy of any form.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Lampshaded by Aughra.
    Aughra: Are you afraid of me? Think I'm going to EAT YOU? HMM?
  • Decadent Court: The evil Skeksis rule Thra while attended by servants, wearing opulent dress, dining with Jabba Table Manners, and plotting against each other.
  • Defiant to the End: When the Chamberlain reaches for the dying Emperor's sceptre.
    Emperor: Mine! Ehh-ehh! Mine! Not! I-I-I-I am still em... pe... ror.. I ... [dies, crumbles into dust]
  • Desperate Object Catch: Kira throws the Shard to Jen just before she's stabbed, so he can heal the Crystal when the three suns align.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Aughra, when cussing out (in her language) the Skeksis for sending their mooks to burn down her observatory rather than just asking her for the location of the Gelfling. The Skeksis are taken aback and the Ornamentalist cries out in offense, "Oh, how rude!"
  • Disney Villain Death: The Skeksis Scientist. Although it was into a shaft into the center of the planet, and we see his opposite burn to death.
  • Dissonant Laughter: The Chamberlain begins to laugh as the castle crumbles and the urRu enter. It's clear he knows exactly what is going to happen next. It's ambiguous as to whether he's pleased by the prophecy being fulfilled or simply doesn't care anymore.
  • Dissonant Serenity:
    • The urRu. When the Chamberlain's hand is stabbed, his counterpart says unemotionally, "So, my hand," when a deep gash appears in it. When one of them is consumed by fire, the urRu consumed by flames doesn't even murmur in the slightest, and the others glance but continue on indifferently.
    • Jen himself when the castle is crumbling. He doesn't care about the danger of it coming down on him; he merely sits with Kira's corpse and mourns.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After the Chamberlain fails the Trial by Stone, the other Skeksis all pounce on him and start tearing his clothes off while he squawks in terror; re-watching this scene as an adult, it's pretty hard not to see this as essentially a G-rated gang rape (indeed, if the Skeksis had been more humanoid and the Chamberlain had been female, it's unlikely they could get away with putting such a scene in a kid's movie.)
  • Duet Bonding: Kira and Jen have a nice duet as they cruise down the river.
  • Dueling Movies: In its initial run at the box office, it was a bit overshadowed by another film starring an animatronic alien creature that happened to be released the same year.
  • The Dreaded: An interesting example in that it goes both ways. The Skeksis are feared as the unseen, genocidal, slave-making tyrants they are. Meanwhile, the Skeksis view the Gelflings — beings capable of ending both their rule and their existence as individuals — with reactions ranging from disgust to outright terror.
  • Dying Race: The film provides the page quote. The Skeksis and Mystics are both slowly dying out because they are the two broken and incomplete halves of a single race of immortal beings.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Aughra. The last thousand years have left her much wiser, if a little dotty.
  • Either/Or Prophecy: " Gelfling hand, or else by none."
  • Empty Shell: The Podling slaves drained of their essence and the Garthim. Neither seem to have any personality or will of their own.
  • Enemy Without: Played with; each of the urRu/Mystics and Skeksis are literally two equal halves of a whole being. Word of God says that in the past, the urSkeks tried to use the light of the Crystal to purify themselves by burning out the evil in them. Instead of purification, they achieved division because their darker halves were as much a part of their fundamental nature as their lighter halves.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Great Conjunction will end the world, and begin it anew.
  • Everything Fades: The Mystics fade when they die.
  • Evil Tastes Good: The Skeksis dinner is lavish, served by mindwiped slaves, and contains at least one animal we're intended to sympathize with. Much gobbling and absurd sounds of enjoyment ensue.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Skeksis castle. In the end, we see underneath it is really a beautiful crystal tower of pure cut diamond.
  • Eye Scream: Aughra can remove her own eyeball at will and use it like a remote camera. While it doesn't hurt her, it certainly is weird. In the backstory told in The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, she lost her other eye and came to be how she looks in the film when she laid on the ground to watch the Great Conjunction. A beam of intense light struck her eye, destroying it and burning her badly. She considered the knowledge she gained from the experience to be well worth the loss.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: When skekSil the Chamberlain makes his move to take the throne, many of the other Skeksis whisper that they're all with him. After losing the trial by stone, they all gleefully turn on skekSil on skekZok's command.
  • Fantastic Fallout: The splitting of the Crystal seems to have had the effect of turning the land around the Skeksis' castle into a desolate wasteland. Though once the Crystal is restored, the effect is undone and the land is green and verdant once more.
  • Fantastic Livestock: Nerbies are large, tame animals farmed for their meat, skin and milk in a manner similar to cows.
  • Fantasy Aliens: The Skeksis, and their counterparts the Mystics hail from another planet, or rather, their original combined forms, the urSkeks, do. This series actually uses this concept with Gaia-style philosophy where in the regular inhabitants of the planet get to become one with the planet upon their death while the Skeksis as aliens simply cease to exist upon death. Where they originally came from or why they came to Thra (or even how) is left largely unanswered. Creation Myths reveal that the original urSkeks arrived on Thra during the first Conjunction, with the narration stating that they "stepped across the cold vastness of space" through the power of the Crystal, possibly a wormhole. The graphic novel also implies that they might have been exiled from their homeworld due to possessing darker qualities than the rest of their kind, and their attempt at removing those aspects of themselves during the second Conjunction, which resulted in the creation of the Mystics and Skeksis instead, was due to their desire to be allowed to return home.
  • Fat and Skinny: SkekAyuk the Gourmand and skekEkt the Ornamentalist are often seen together, and seem to share a common love of food.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Chamberlain. For a while he appears to be Ambiguously Evil, feigning sympathy and friendship towards Jen and Kira to try to gain their trust, but comes off as creepy and unnerving due to his monstrous appearance being a representation of his true nature. He quickly shows his true colours, trying to murder Jen once they soundly reject him.
  • Fauxshadow: SkekSil the Chamberlain is set up perfectly to pull a Heel–Face Turn, but then he just... doesn't.
  • Fountain of Youth: The Skeksis use the light of the Crystal, focused by a reflector, to drain the vital essence of other creatures into a liquid form that they can consume to restore their youth. Podlings restore youth for a handful of seconds. Gelflings restore it for a longer period, but the rejuvenation is still ultimately fleeting. The Skeksis exterminated nearly the entire Gelfling race for their essence which ran out as a result.
  • Freak Out: The Skeksis go completely non-linear when the Crystal is healed. Seeing the urRu casually strolling in just makes it worse.
  • Friend to All Living Things:
  • Fusion Dance: Foreshadowed by the Synchronization of the urRu/Mystics and Skeksis.
  • Genius Loci: In a curious subversion, Aughra is. She's the planet Thra's attempts to understand itself, the solar system it resides in, and all the living creatures who dwell upon it.
  • Genocide Backfire: If there's only one race of people that can end your reign of tyranny, you better make sure you wipe them all out rather then leaving a few behind.
  • Genocide Survivor: Jen and Kira survived the genocide of the Gelflings by the Skeksis; Jen because the Mystics took him under their wing, Kira because her mother hid her before the Garthim came, and she was later found and raised by Podlings.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Garthim. They've even got a bit of Fiddler-Crab likeness to them. One arm is a massive slicing claw, the other is a powerful gripping hand.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Aughra. Word of God states that this is because she is a combination of both genders, but mostly identifies as a Cool Old Lady.invoked
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The urSkeks quite literally caused a near-apocalypse-level event with the ill-advised and arrogant (if somewhat noble) decision to try and eliminate their darker natures. This single choice wrought, in its 1000-year aftermath, the eventual near-extinction of one race, the decimation of a second, and the creation of beings of pure evil that ruled over the planet for an entire millennium.
  • Good Is Boring: The urRu. Justified in that the passion, drive, and ambition of the urSkeks is embodied within the Skeksis.
  • Good Prosthetic, Evil Prosthetic: UrTih the Alchemist and his Skeksis counterpart skekTek the Scientist both possess prosthetic arms and legs. UrTih wields a right arm and leg carved from wood, while skekTek has robotic prosthetics. Because the two were once a single entity, they both probably lost their limbs at the same time. What's even more disturbing, it is mentioned that skekTek did it to himself out of a mix of scientific curiosity and sadomasochism, with urTih just sitting there taking it as his limbs fell off bleeding without rhyme or reason.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Both Aughra's observatory and the Chamber of Life (where the Skeksis drain Podlings of their essence) are filled with all manner of lab glassware and other brick-a-brack. Neither Aughra nor skekTek use them for anything, and they exist only to be smashed (by the Garthim when busting into Aughra's home and by skekUng when he has his Villainous Breakdown).
  • Grotesque Gallery: A fascinating case, since the entire world is composed of Muppets and environments that are either deliberately alien or designed off of nature's less cute critters, making the whole thing one dark fairy tale based on look alone.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Kira, with her Friend to All Living Things abilities and generally sweet nature.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Completely subverted with the Chamberlain. Defrocked and kicked out of the Skeksis' castle, he makes obvious peace overtures to Jen and Kira. When Jen stabs him for his pains, his friendly façade completely drops and he tries to kill Jen and promptly drags Kira back to the castle to redeem himself in the eyes of the other Skeksis. It's pretty clear that his promises of peace are Blatant Lies and his whole motivation is to capture a Gelfling or two in order to ingratiate himself with the rest of the Skeksis and get his position back. He is The Starscream after all.
  • The Hero: Jen, not the most useful though.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jen has one. He healed the Crystal, but Kira is dead. She comes back, but still... not to mention everything going crazy in the castle that makes one wonder if Jen actually succeeded.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Many of the cute little fuzzballs that force skekTek into the bottomless shaft go down with him. Fizzgig too, though he ends up catching hold of something and gets rescued by Aughra. And of course, Kira.
  • Hobbits: This is more or less what Gelflings and/or Podlings are supposed to be. They're much smaller than all the other people in the setting, and the Podlings are definitely merry.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: SkekZok causes the downfall of the Skeksis when he kills Kira, giving Jen the resolve to heal the Crystal.
  • Horse of a Different Color: When she and Jen need mounts, Kira calls up a herd of Landstriders: long-legged quadrupeds with an extendable proboscis.
  • Human Furniture Is a Pain in the Tail: The eldest Mystic's "bed" is a wooden bench configured for his low-slung body, complete with a small platform for his head.
  • Ironic Name: The Skeksis scientist's laboratory, where he keeps all those jailed critters and drains Podlings and Gelflings from their vital essence? Its official name is "The Chamber of Life."
    • Conversely, it's a Meaningful Name for the Skeksis themselves, as they extract a life-prolonging potion from the Pod People and Gelflings in there.
  • Irony: In their desperation to thwart the Gelfling's prophecy, the Skeksis ensure it will come true.
  • It's All About Me: Selfishness is probably the core character trait of each individual Skeksis. The accompanying material says that although they hate each other as much as they hate Gelflings, they need each other to maintain their hold over Thra; the minimum number of them to maintain the balance being ten. It's probably the only reason they don't kill each other off completely. Word of God says it's also why urSu, the leader and wisest of the urRu chose to die — to unbalance the Skeksis by taking skekSo with him.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Skeksis, sans skekEkt, who happens to be a dainty eater. SkekAyuk the Gourmand is of course the worst offender (though a strong case can be made for skekUng.)
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed. At the film's conclusion, all of the (remaining) Skeksis are reformed with their Mystic counterparts, and are restored to their urSkek selves, ironically getting the immortality and power they desired in the process. However, none of them wanted that to happen, as in the process, they lose their individuality.
  • Karmic Death:
    • SkekSo's situation and eventual death in the film is due entirely to his own actions, as his manipulation of the Darkening in Age of Resistance causes him to rot and decay much faster than his fellow Skeksis.
    • SkekTek is pushed into the Crystal's pit, just like the Gruenak slave he murdered in Age of Resistance, by the animals he imprisoned and experimented on.
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • Fizzgig looks a cute furball until he opens his wide mouth and reveals four rows of serrated teeth.
    • Furthermore, the animals in the Skeksis' laboratory use their combined cute fluffiness to escape and savagely maul the Scientist down into the furnace, saving Kira.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Skeksis in general, especially skekUng the Garthim-Master. "GARTHIIIIM! ATTAAAAACK!"
    • Aughra has her moments as well.
  • Last of His Kind: Jen and Kira both thought they were the last Gelflings left alive. And then they met each other...
  • Living Relic: Aughra, who is almost as old as the planet.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: An enormous subversion. Once the shard is rejoined with the Dark Crystal, the castle appears to fall apart inside and out in great chunks of stone and mortar. Actually the stone and mortar is merely a thousand years of accumulated filth, grime and the Skeksis' own interior fittings, which is disintegrated by the power of the now-pure crystal, leaving a pristine castle of pure cut diamond as it originally was. Fortunately, the zombified Podlings were restored too.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Fizzgig, an alien something like a cross between a terrier and a piranha, is a loyal pet to Kira and follows her around wherever she goes.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: The plot revolves around Jen getting the Shard to the Dark Crystal before the Three Suns meet to end the reign of the Skeksis.
  • Mad Scientist: The Skeksis Scientist.
  • Magical Incantation: The urSkeks chant one to bring Kira back to life.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Podlings. Word of God stated they were supposed to resemble potatoes.
    • Aughra, who is for all intents and purposes an augur.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Garthim, who are soulless constructs.
  • Merger of Souls: The wise urRu/Mystics and the wicked Skeksis were created when the Dark Crystal shattered. They were two halves of the souls of the urSkeks, powerful immortal beings who sought to purify themselves of evil but instead divided themselves into two halves: the Mystics and the Skeksis. In the climax of the film, the crystal is mended by the hero Jen, and the two races are made one once more.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The crystal shard.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: A swamp creature called a nebry emerges from the mud and scares Jen, but Kira reassures him it's harmless. We see two baby nebry emerge beside the adult as the Gelflings move on.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Jen is taken to the Podling village by Kira. They have a feast and dance to celebrate... then the Garthim arrive.
    • Jen and Kira's first meeting.
      Kira: Here. I'll help you up. [takes his hand; Dreamfasting begins] The first thing I remember is fire.
    • We are introduced to the friendly nebry and its babies. The next scene? The Skeksis eating a roasted baby nebry.note 
  • Mordor: The castle of the Skeksis and the land surrounding it are dark, barren, and forbidding. That is, until the Skeksis are no more.
  • Mythopoeia: The book The World of the Dark Crystal covers a lot of back story.
  • Narrator: Joseph O'Conor narrates the film.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Jen has to dig through a box of nearly identical crystal shards to find the one that actually is the missing chunk of the Dark Crystal. He identifies it after using a trick with his flute which he learned from the urRu.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If skekZok hadn't decided to kill Kira at that moment, Jen probably wouldn't have have had the necessary anger to inject the shard back into the Crystal.
  • No Body Left Behind: Mystics and Skeksis leave no body behind when they die. Mystics quietly fade away, while Skeksis crumble to dust.
  • No Name Given: Thra is never actually named in the film, and is simply referred to as "the world" or "our world" by the characters.
  • Noisy Nature: Most of the scenes of the flora and fauna of Thra are rife with animal/insect sound and there's a plant with seed pods that take off like little copters with an audible 'pop.'
  • No Indoor Voice: Aughra, the Podlings, and the Skeksis. A quiet movie this is not.
  • Novelization: There is one for the movie which explains the names of the Skeksis and urRu/Mystics.
  • One-Eyed Bats: The Skeksis use "Eye Bats" as flying spies. They consist of batlike wings grafted onto a large, single crystal which gives the effect of a cyclopian eye.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Skeksis concentrate their efforts on killing Kira, but forget about Jen. They start screaming their heads off when in Jen's incurred anger and despair he's about to heal the crystal, and there's nothing the tyrants can do about it.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Enslaved Podlings are akin to Haitian zombies.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Jen spends most of the film this way. He doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing or much of anything about the outside world. He requires the Mystics, Aughra and then Kira to tell him what to do and help him out of every jam he gets into. It's not until Jen and Kira make it to the Skeksis castle that he's the one pushing the action forward.
  • Power Crystal: The Dark Crystal.
  • Precursors: The urSkeks, the original form of the urRu/Mystics and Skeksis.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: Yep, this one too.
  • Psychic Link: The Gelflings exchange their backstories through a touch-enabled mindlink that Kira calls Dreamfasting.
    • There is also one between the Skeksis and Mystics as they are the same being, as if one dies or is injured, the other dies or is similarly injured. This is also likely the reason the Mystics are able to keep the Garthims quiet in the climax, and also why the Skeksis never even tried to get rid of them.
  • Purple Is Powerful: The Dark Crystal is purple, and its rays, which feed the Skeksis' Magitek, are purple.
  • Race Against the Clock: Jen has to get the shard back into the Crystal before the Great Conjunction ends (the read-along storybook version also says this Great Conjunction is the last, but the movie contradicts this). The narration indicates that both the Mystics and Skeksis are dying, suggesting that they won't survive until the next conjunction.
  • The Resenter: SkekZok the Ritual-Master is visibly resentful of skekUng the Garthim-Master's rise to power. He even questions the new emperor's competency when it seems the Garthim have failed to capture Jen. In the written material, skekZok was described as the old emperor's favorite and he had his own ambitions to take the throne when the emperor died. Unlike skekSil the Chamberlain, skekZok just didn't have the balls to make his play for the throne against skekUng.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Fizzgig.
  • Rule of Three: The Great Conjunction of the three suns, the recurring visual motif of triangles. The supplementary material makes it clear that this is present in Thra on a cultural and spiritual level: their cosmology, mathematics and art are all influenced by the number three, and Aughra criticises the urSkeks for attempting a division based on duality alone when threes are so important.
  • Scenery Porn: In pretty much every single frame. The film was actually created far more to show off the world Henson and Brian Froud had created than for the story.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
    When single shines the triple sun,
    What was sundered and undone,
    Shall be whole; the two made one!
    By Gelfling hand, or else by none.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Word of God says the Skeksis were originally meant to be based on this, but they grew to ten in total later. You can sort of recognize which sin each of them represents:
    • Avarice: skekShod the Treasurer.
    • Envy: skekSil the Chamberlain.
    • Gluttony / Sloth: skekAyuk the Gourmand.
    • Lust: skekEkt the Ornamentalist.
    • Pride: skekZok the Ritual-Master.
    • Wrath: skekUng the Garthim-Master.
  • Shameful Strip: A G-rated version: after the Chamberlain loses the Trial by Stone, the other Skeksis tear all his elaborate robes and the like off while he squawks in terror. SkekUng, however, orders his fellow Skeksis to let him go before they can do more than strip him, declaring him a exile in favor of killing him.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The film pulls off an impressive feat by doing this during the opening studio logo. The Universal logo animates, and a dark chord blasts on the soundtrack. Then the score starts playing the theme proper, and the viewer knows full well this is not going to be your regular Muppet movie.
  • Shout-Out: Aughra is fairly similar to the Norse god Odin, at least when you know the back story (see the Eye Scream entry). They both lost an eye in the pursuit of knowledge, and both consider it an acceptable trade.
  • Sissy Villain: SkekEkt is the most flamboyant of the Skeksis, but all of them are rather fragile due to their old age.
  • Smug Snake: SkekSil the Chamberlain, who is constantly grinning and often humming as he plots.
    skekUng: I hate your whimper!
  • Scenery-Based Societal Barometer: The palace of the Skekses is a dismal, bleak place, as though made from black mold and creosote. Once the central crystal is made whole again, the dingy outer layer of the palace crumbles and falls away, leaving a glittering, crystalline palace shining in the midday suns.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Kira.
  • Spiritual Successor: Labyrinth, MirrorMask, and others. Highly influential within the fairytale branch of fantasy's evolutionary tree. Not to mention the world of practical puppeteering.
  • Split and Reunion: The Skeksis and urRa are depicted as complete opposites. From the first moments of the film, however, we can see some symmetries between them. Later they reunite and explain they were split beings. The official book about Dark Crystal world says, their split was an effect of purity pursuit.
  • Staff of Authority: The Skeksis Emperor carries a scepter which designates his office. In the death scene of the first emperor, Chamberlain indicates his eagerness to take over by reaching for the scepter.
  • Starring Special Effects: The whole film.
  • The Starscream: SkekSil the Chamberlain tries to grab the emperor's scepter even before he's dead.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: The Chamberlain speaks in a strange broken manner to the Gelflings. In the original version of the film, the Skeksis speak a Conlang, so the Chamberlain's was supposed to switch to broken English to communicate with the Gelflings in these scenes. The Conlang was removed, but his broken speech wasn't altered. It could perhaps be explained as the Chamberlain assuming that the Gelflings are simple-minded. His speech is similarly broken throughout The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, even though he speaks more normally around Skeksis in this film.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Kira is an energetic and worldly girl who knows how to talk to animals, navigate the wilderness and slingshot threats. Jen was educated by the Mystics in math and writing.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The urSkeks. The companion book suggests that they are not native to the planet.
  • Synchronization: If a Skeksis dies or is wounded, the corresponding Mystic suffers identically, and vice versa.
  • There Is Another: Jen believed he was the last surviving Gelfling until he ran into Kira (and vice versa.)
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Sort of, although it's suns blocking one another rather than a moon blocking the sun.
  • To the Pain: Not content to simply drain the life essence from the Podlings, skekTek the Scientist is fond of explaining the process.
  • Unflinching Walk: Aughra casually walks through the castle as it is falling to pieces around her.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The narration and Jen repeat what we already know a lot.
  • Verbal Tic: The Chamberlain constantly makes a simpering "...mmmmMMMMMmmmmmm..." sound whenever he's thinking or reacting to something. The Garthim Master yells at him for "whimpering," causing the Chamberlain to intensify it.
  • Vile Vulture: The skeksis resemble vultures and are an Always Chaotic Evil race who committed genocide on the gelflings in an attempt to prevent The Chosen One from undoing their reign.
  • Villain Ball: SkekZok the Ritual Master stabs Kira after she throws the Shard to Jen, even though holding her hostage is the one thing that might've stopped him from using it. Instead, they're reduced to pleading with him to stop when Kira's blood is fresh on their hands, and he's got nothing left to lose; yeah, like that's going to work.
  • Volumetric Mouth: Fizzgig has a mouth as big as his body when fully yelling.
  • When the Planets Align: The Great Conjunction will take place when all three suns align.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: Aughra's oversized orrery. Justified, as it's a moving model of their world's solar system.
  • Winged Humanoid: Kira and other female Gelflings have wings.
  • Worldbuilding: What Brian Froud and Jim Henson did before making the movie.
  • A World Half Full: By the ending. Sure, the Crystal is healed, the urSkeks are restored and the land becomes green and good again, but the Gelfling race is still all but extinct with seemingly only two left, not to mention the decimation of the Podling racenote . There's a feeling that while things are much better, they aren't as good as the time before all the strife began; much like the scarring of Mordor and its surrounding lands in The Lord of the Rings, the mistakes of the urSkeks and the evils of the Skeksis can never be completely undone.
  • World-Healing Wave: Once the Crystal is healed, Kira is returned to life and/or her mortal wound is healed, the podling slaves regain their life essence, and the blighted landscape around the Crystal Castle is restored to Edenic glory.

Alternative Title(s): Dark Crystal