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Stingy Jack

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"Happy Halloween, foolish mortals!"

Stingy Jack is a character of Irish folklore, who was said to have tricked the devil into an inescapable situation, be it he was tricked into his pocket where a rosary was, or he climbed a tree with a cross on it, anything cross-y really. Jack then made a simple deal with him; Jack lets him go, the Devil makes sure he does not enter Hell. Unfortunately for Jack, his party-filled lifestyle does him in and when he enters the afterlife, he can't get into Heaven. Having nowhere else to turn to, he bites the bullet and makes his trek to Hell. But oh no, the Devil was still sore over that silly joke he played! With Jack having nowhere else to go but into the infinite darkness, the Devil did him a solid and gave him a candle (a coal from Hell, in some versions) to light his way, which he keeps to this day inside a small hollowed-out turnip as a kind of lantern.


Over time, the idea of Stingy Jack would be revered as a cautionary tale to those who play tricks and are virtually not Christian enough for everyone's liking, even equating Jack to certain phenomena like Will-o'-the-Wisp.

With ye auld traditions migrating to America, some sacrifices were made and the traditions changed with the times, as soon enough the turnip was traded for the pumpkin (due to being larger and thus easier to carve) and the rest is history. To this day, the Jack-o'-Lantern (for "Jack o' the Lantern", another name for Stingy Jack) is a popular Halloween icon, and the idea of Stingy Jack has transcended into media in many incarnations.

Such adaptations usually portray him as possessing a Jack-o'-Lantern for a head, while other cases simply portray him as possessing a pumpkin somewhere on their person. Because of the secularization of the holiday, how Stingy is perceived differs as well, from being portrayed as a jovial soul simply searching for peace to a Scary Scarecrows out to cause trouble and anarchy on old Samhain — like some sort of freakish Halloween Krampus.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lantern, the primary antagonist of the Tokyo Ghoul Prequel, JACK. The murderous ghoul wears a Halloween-themed disguise when hunting, with a pumpkin-head mask and an overly-large trenchcoat. Their motivation also ties into the associated legends: Minami desperately wants to live as a human, but can never escape her existence as a ghoul. Trapped living a double-life, she lashes out and kills people she thinks don't appreciate their good fortune.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fables spinoff Jack of Fables, Jack Horner recalls in his youth how he found a devil by the name of Old Scratch who was trapped up a tree because the locals surrounded the tree with crosses. Scratch could tell that Jack was destined for Hell and decided to make a deal with Jack. he frees him, he does not have to go to Hell. Sweet deal. He agrees, Old Scratch runs free and Jack spends the rest of his life however he wants. He ends up getting caught kidnapping a princess (how he got into that situation, I'll never know) and is executed for it, the executioner being such a lousy shot that he ends up getting his back, the side of his neck and his scalp cut off before the executioner somehow ends up getting his own face hacked at. He is denied entry into Heaven and makes his way to Hell where Old Scratch is waiting. Remembering their deal, the Devil keeps him out, giving him nothing but a lit coal to light his way. Lost in the mortal plane, Jack comes across the Headless Horseman, who he then knocks out and takes his jack o'lantern head for himself to carry the coal.
  • The Global Guardians originally had a member named Jack O' Lantern from Ireland, and his powers came from a magic fairy lantern. There've been three people using the character's name. The first was killed and replaced by a supervillain's agent to act as The Mole, and then he was killed as well. The third and current version of the character is the cousin of the original. He's been a member of the Guardians and two other teams, Primal Force and the Ultramarine Corps.
  • The identity of Jack O' Lantern has been taken by several people in the Marvel Universe, usually as second-string D-Lister foes of Spider-Man. The first Jack O' Lantern, a former CIA agent turned mercenary named Jason Macendale was probably the most notable, though he only gained any sort of prominence (and supernatural ability) after he took over as the Hobgoblin and made a Deal with the Devil for demonic power. The current Jack O' Lantern is a lackey of the Crime Master, a pyromaniac, and appears to have regenerative abilities.
  • A version of him appears in IDW Ghostbusters, in which he escapes the Devil by putting himself into a ghost trap.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas has some clear parallels with Stingy Jack, including his name, his undead skeletal appearance, his ceremonial pumpkin-headed scarecrow costume, and his status as the charismatic figurehead of Halloween Town. He's a far more heroic figure, though.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Sam from Trick 'r Treat is a malevolent being that appears on Halloween, doing trick or treating (said tricks killing people) and has a head that looks a lot like a jack o'lantern.
  • Pumpkinhead from Pumpkinhead is a demon of vengeance that is summoned from a pumpkin patch. Pumpkinhead is usually passed on from person to person, given corporeal form from the corpse of the previous summoner. To wit:
    Haggis: It's what you wanted, Ed Harley. For each of man's evils, a special Demon exists. You're looking at Vengeance - cruel, devious, pure-as-poison vengeance.
  • One of the many monsters in The Cabin in the Woods is a tall figure with a jack o'lantern for a head that breaths fire.
  • The Headless Horseman in The Hollow has a massive jack-o'-lantern for a head. He can remove it and carry it under his arm.
  • More than once in Headless Horseman, Headless appears with a jack-o-lantern in place of his head. Destroying the gourd does nothing to slow him down.

  • In the Goosebumps book "Attack of the Jack O'Lanterns", the main characters are forced to trick or treat all night by a group of fire-breathing entities with jack o'lanterns for heads. They are revealed to be anthropophagous aliens by the end.

    Myths and Religion 
  • The tale of Stingy Jack stated above, who tricked himself out of Heaven and Hell alike and was doomed to wander the world forever with a hollowed-out turnip lantern to light his way. An early form of the story in print can be seen here as "The Romance of Jack O'Lantern" (1851).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pumpkin Jack from the Champions supplement Enemies: The International File is a villain based on Stingy Jack. He is identified as Scottish rather than Irish, though.

    Video Games 
  • The character is a recurring demon in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, under the name Jack O'Lantern. (Usually changed to Pyro Jack in translation for space reasons) It has a pumpkin head, carries a candle and is the fiery counterpart to the mascot Jack Frost.
  • Jack Skellington in his Pumpkin King outfit in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.
  • The 2020 indie 3D platformer Pumpkin Jack features Stingy Jack, the world's greatest rogue who infuriated the Devil and was banned from the afterlife as a result. In exchange for removing that ban, the Devil tasks Jack with defeating the Wizard, the only being standing between the Devil and control of a world that's too saccharine for its own good. Jack appears in-game as a disembodied spirit residing within a jack-o-lantern atop a scarecrow body.
  • Toasty from Spyro the Dragon (1998). He wears a dark-brown cloak and a pointy hat, has a Jack o'lantern for a head/mask and carries a god damn scythe.
  • Overwatch: Reaper's "Pumpkin" skin is very similar to Stingy Jack in design, although he's only referred to "a dread servant" or "the Reaper", and is generally compared to the Headless Horseman more than Jack.
  • Subverted in The Secret World. Though players are expected to assume that the alarmingly persistent humanoid pumpkin abomination Jack, who haunts Solomon Island and rules over the local population of Will o' Wisps, is indeed Stingy Jack, he's later revealed to have been a turn-of-the-century Irish American musician who made the mistake of courting the daughter of local psychopathic sorcerer Archie Henderson, and was transformed into a monster as a twisted punishment after being caught with her in Henderson's pumpkin patch. Although the the player never encounters him, the lore implies that the original Stingy Jack also exists in the setting.

    Web Comics 
  • Stingy Jack is a major character (heck, he's right there in the title) in the webcomic Zack Jack, where he tricks a recently-deceased young man, Zack, into giving him a ride back to Earth for as-yet-unknown purposes.
  • This strip from Rock, Paper, Cynic.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-2331 ("SCRAVECROW"). SCP-2331 is an animated scarecrow with a pumpkin head who throws spontaneous raves. The last interview log implies that SCP-2331 is the spirit of Halloween, saddened over the commercialization of the holiday, trying something new to relive the joy the holiday once brought him.
  • Gnoggin: "The DARK, R-Rated Origins of Pumpkaboo" features a retelling of the story of Stingy Jack, since the Pokemon in question is based on a Jack O' Lantern.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Real Ghostbusters episode "When Halloween was Forever", the Ghostbusters must stop a powerful Halloween ghost named Samhain (who notably has a pumpkin for a head) from gathering all of the ghosts and goblins of New York to make it Halloween Night permanently.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Billy & Mandy's Jacked-Up Halloween", it was revealed that Jack was a prankster that caused Endsville so much trouble that the townspeople set up events for the queen to have one of her knights execute him. When The Grim Reaper came to his house, Jack tricked Grim into dropping his scythe, not giving it back until Grim gave him immortality. Grim agreed, then cut his head off immediately after, and Jack replaced his head with a pumpkin. Centuries later, he meets with Billy (who had the scythe) and tricked him into giving him the scythe. He then used it to turn his pumpkin patch into an army of monsters, with intentions of enacting his revenge on Grim and making it Halloween forever.
  • What, no mention of Freakazoid!'s Candle Jack? He'd be very pleased to note that he very much enjoys this trope, and that he's very quickly running out of rope.
  • Men in Black: As with other folkloric creatures, Stingy Jack turns out to be an alien. In this case an evil creature that steals children for slave labor.


Video Example(s):


Jack Skellington

Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas has some clear parallels with Stingy Jack, including his name, his undead skeletal appearance, his ceremonial pumpkin-headed scarecrow costume, and his status as the charismatic figurehead of Halloween Town. He's a far more heroic figure, though.

How well does it match the trope?

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