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Western Animation / The Nightmare Before Christmas

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"Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween!"

T'was a long time ago, longer now than it seems,
In a place that perhaps you've seen in your dreams.
For the story that you are about to be told
Took place in the holiday worlds of old.
Now, you've probably wondered where holidays come from.
If you haven't, I'd say it's time you begun...

Released to cinemas on October 29, 1993, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Stop Motion animation film produced and conceived by Tim Burton, though actually scripted by Caroline Thompson and directed by Henry Selick (as Burton himself was very busy at the time, shooting Batman Returns and overseeing pre-production for Ed Wood). It starts with the macabre yet kind-mannered citizens of Halloween Town celebrating - you guessed it - Halloween in the grandest fashion possible, due to their love of (er, their unnerving obsession with) scaring everyone senseless. However, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King and the town’s ruler, has grown rather tired of the same old thing, and yearns for something new in his life.

After the current year's celebration of Halloween, the morose Jack goes for a long walk out of town into the forest, where he happens to walk into a circle of trees he's never seen before. Each tree bears a portal which leads to another holiday town. Immediately attracted by the Christmas tree shaped one, he ventures into Christmas Town. There he discovers the wonders of the bright and jolly, and becomes obsessed with understanding Christmas.

He returns to Halloween Town and informs the townsfolk of Christmas, but both his and their understanding of the holiday is limited by their experience of Halloween. In a Perspective Flip of the typical Christmas Special plot of "monsters try to steal Christmas," Jack has perfectly good intentions — he thinks taking over Christmas for a year will be great fun for everyone involved, both in Halloween Town and the human world, and it'll give "Sandy Claws" a year off for vacation once some homicidal children kidnap him and bring him to Halloween Town to sit Christmas out.

The whole town groups together to create Christmas, but a rag doll named Sally (Catherine O'Hara) who is secretly in love with Jack has a vision that it will be a disaster. But with so many folks pitching in to try something different this time of year, what's the worst that could happen?

From 2006 to 2009, the film received a theatrical re-release once a year at Halloween time, with a somewhat disappointingly light-handed makeover into a 3-D movie. Compare Coraline, which is from the same director. The difference likely has to do with the fact that Coraline was intended to be a 3-D film from the time it began filming, and it was specifically shot for that purpose during filming. The 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas was retrofitted approximately thirteen years after its original release. The film also sees frequent TV airings around both the holidays of Halloween and Christmas.

Halloween Town and Jack also appear in the first three entries in the Kingdom Hearts series. Every year during the Halloween season, the denizens of Halloween Town also take over the Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion attractions for the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. Since 2017, Oogie Boogie has also served as the mascot of Disneyland’s annual Halloween celebrations.

Burton would later conceive (and direct this time around) another animated film in the same vein, Corpse Bride.

The Film provides examples of:

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  • Accidental Misnaming: Jack, and by extension everyone in Halloween Town, calls Santa Claus "Sandy Claws". In a deleted scene and in the dialogue when Jack first meets Santa, it's shown that Jack took the "Claws" part literally.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several, but one that takes the cake is Sally picking the flower which transforms into a tiny Christmas tree, and then tragically bursts into flames right before her eyes.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Nightmare was originally a poem by Burton, with the only named characters being Jack, Zero, and Santa.
  • Adapted Out: Of all things, the monstrous toy train with tentacle tracks. Perhaps it would have been too much to animate.
  • Advertising by Association: Early previews began by recounting Disney's "tradition of innovation" in animation — with help from excerpts of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Beauty and the Beast — before announcing that the studio had collaborated with "Tim Burton, the creative genius behind Batman, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands" to produce a similarly-large achievement for stop-motion.
  • Applied Mathematics: Jack puts a number of unconventional "equations" on a blackboard to try and understand Christmas, including various Stealth Puns, like "Roasting Chestnuts/Open Fire".
  • Affably Evil:
    • Lock, Shock and Barrel. They're the Halloween version of nasty little kids; to them it's all a game.
    • Really, almost everyone in Halloween Town can be considered as this. They never actually do anything more evil than trying to induce the biggest frights, and that can be seen as part of their nature. The only truly malicious character in the entire film is Oogie Boogie, and that might be why he's locked away from the other denizens.
  • Affectionate Parody: The whole film comes across as both a dark satire of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated specials of the past and a love letter to them. It features a similar setting and story that they do, with worlds devoted to the assorted holidays on Earth and the people responsible for managing them facing trouble, but with more macabre imagery and Black Comedy.
  • All Cloth Unravels: Jack uses this to destroy Oogie Boogie. Jack grabs a dangling thread from Oogie's clothing (which is basically just a burlap sack) and tangles it in a rotating blade; the blade's pull quickly unravels enough of the thread that Oogie's clothing comes completely off, revealing that Oogie's "body" is a huge mass of bugs. Without his clothing, Oogie simply falls apart. Justified in that the loose thread is part of the sack's stitching; when the stitches are pulled, the cloth is intact but it can't hold together anymore.
  • All There in the Manual: The last track on some prints of the soundtrack is a spoken word epilogue where Santa goes to visit Jack a few years later, and we learn Jack and Sally had a few kids.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • The Mayor. He is voiced by Glenn Shadix, who was openly gay.
    • The vampires are a bit effeminate and they seem to crush on Jack.
    • That one monster. You know, the one that was going to make a hat out of a rat. Have you heard its voice? Voiced by Greg Proops and its name is Harlequin Demon.
  • Animated Musical: Technically an operetta.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification:
    • Jack could possibly be the Personification of Halloween.
    • The opening song features vocal representations of the wind, the shadow on the moon, and the "who" in "Who's there?".
  • Anti-Christmas Song: Kidnap. The. Sandy. Claws. And this is made even more disturbing by Korn.
  • The Anti-Grinch: Jack Skellington (and by extension, the rest of Halloween Town) loves Christmas so much that he tries taking over for the year, only to terrify the ignorant masses with his gifts mail-order from Halloween Town. It gets so bad the human authorities try (and succeed) to shoot him out of the sky, literally knocking Jack to his senses.
  • Art Evolution: As the majority of the characters in the film are derived from filler monsters in the original poem's illustrations, this happened for them- it's possible to pick them up in the Burton artwork, but they look more sophisticated in final form.
  • Artistic License – Biology: If Finkelstein, especially at his age, removed half his brain like he does to create his "wife", he would lose motion on one side of his body (and since he's already a Genius Cripple, that would mean he has only one working limb) and would, depending on which side he removed, develop speech problems. At the same time, his wife would be equally crippled. Not to mention hemispherectomies are very delicate procedures; you don't break apart a brain like a loaf of bread. It could easily be a case of Bizarre Monster Biology.
  • Artistic License – Space: If the moon is full on Halloween, then it will be waxing on Christmas Eve, not full again. Granted, this is meant to be a fairy tale.
  • Ascended Extra: Almost all of the secondary characters in the film are derived from the background characters in the original poem's illustrations, including Sally, Finkelstein, Lock, Shock, Barrel, the Mayor, Oogie Boogie and the majority of the other residents of Halloween Town are also taken from the original drawings.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Jack is the Pumpkin King not just because he's the scariest creature, but because he's also the toughest.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: "What's this?!" Jack having ADD is actually a fairly popular fan theory.
  • Babies Ever After: Not in the film proper, but on the original film soundtrack released in 1993, as well as the subsequent re-release "Nightmare Revisited", there's a epilogue poem where Santa visits Jack and Jack has "four or five skeleton children at hand, playing strange tunes in their xylophone band." There is much debate on whether they are Jack and Sally's kids and how they could have them, since, you know, one's dead and the other's a rag doll.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: While they're not evil, the people of Halloween Town do favor using horror descriptors for things they like, such as gleefully praising their latest Halloween celebration as "their most horrible yet." This of course leads to some poor communication later on, when Sally tries to warn Jack about her "terrible vision," which he takes as good news.
  • Bad Santa: Jack, albeit unwittingly.
  • Bait-and-Switch Compassion: After Jack is shot down, a police officer announces the terrible news... that there is still no sign of Santa Claus.
  • Beneath the Mask: To the citizens of Halloween Town, Jack's the charismatic, self-confident, terrifying Pumpkin King. What they don't know is that Jack is very unhappy and bored about doing the same thing every year and longs for something different. Then he discovers Christmas Town.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Jack is extremely genial, but even Oogie is frightened when Jack is pissed at him.
    • Jolly St. Nick himself. It's fairly startling when Santa Claus squishes what remains of Oogie under his boot. He then gives Jack a harsh dressing down - mind you, Jack is The Dreaded of Halloween Town.
  • Big Damn Heroes: "Hello, Oogie!" Badass. It's unusual that you have a BDH moment where the bad situation is the hero's fault in the first place, but even so.
  • Big Electric Switch: Jack uses one to turn on his electric chair (which is covered with festive Christmas lights).
  • Big Entrance: The song "This is Halloween" is ostensibly a description of the nature of Halloween Town, but its real purpose in the film is to build up to Jack's grand appearance.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Jack's ghost-dog's name is Zero. In Japanese, Zero can be translated as "Rei", which can also mean "Ghost".
    • Santa is nicknamed "Perce-oreille" in French, which is translated as "earwig". What does Santa stomp on when freed? An earwig.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jack finds out that, despite his success as the Pumpkin King, he is not suited to be "Sandy Claws" and he nearly ruins Christmas for everyone, but the experience restores his vigor for Halloween. Meanwhile, Santa moves like clockwork to save the holiday and fix the damage, later delivering a gift of snow to Halloweentown, showing no hard feelings and Jack is delighted to share this. He also goes to Sally, expressing he wants to be by her side and sit under the stars. The audio epilogue shows that Jack and Santa became great friends, and Santa visits regularly and sees that Jack and Sally have children. Jack admits that, even though it was a chaotic night, he would do it all over again.
  • Bizarre Alien Locomotion: One odd little Halloween Town demon "walks" on the tips of its long bat-like wings, with its plump short-legged body suspended between them.
  • Black Comedy: Some of Halloween Town's residents design is this.
  • Blatant Lies: Lock, Shock and Barrel make a Lying Finger Cross when following Jack's "special assignment":
    Jack: Leave that no-account Oogie Boogie out of this!
    Barrel: Whatever you say, Jack.
    Shock: Yes, of course, Jack.
    Lock: Wouldn't dream of it, Jack!
    [Lock, Shock and Barrel quietly share a sinister chuckle amongst themselves with their fingers crossed]
    • Their true mischievous nature is revealed while singing "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" immediately afterwards, since they have every intention of involving Oogie Boogie in their plans.
  • Blessed with Suck: Jack. He's the King of Halloween, yet it's always about Halloween, every single day, which is problematic when you want something different. Taking a break is not an option, as shown when Jack disappears for only two days (at the start of the slack season, no less) and everyone is in a panic. Jack seems to not be able to give the crown to anyone else if he wanted ("But who here would ever understand/That the Pumpkin King with the skeleton grin/Would tire of his crown, if they only understood/He'd give it all up if he only could..."), so he's stuck with the job. And if the scenes after "This is Halloween" is any indication, due to being the biggest in-universe celebrity, Jack can't even have a decent conversation with anyone. Who knows how long Jack's been doing the Halloween job? He could be Really 700 Years Old for all we know. When you think about it, you can't blame the guy for desperately wanting to try out Christmas.
  • The Blind Leading the Blind: Jack: "At least they're excited but they don't understand/that special kind of feeling in Christmasland."
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The people of Halloween Town are macabre, disturbing, scary and enjoy things that are dangerous and unpleasant to regular people, but that's just because it's their nature. In their world, these things are all quite positive. This is the primary source of conflict in the movie, because although the Halloween creatures think they understand Christmas, it's impossible for them to do so. Not even Jack really gets it, nor is he interested in slowing down and taking meaningful measures to learn. Oogie Boogie, however, proves that not everyone is benevolent there. His quislings Lock, Shock and Barrel also are, to put it in the townspeople's lexicon, "mean".
  • Bogeyman: Oogie Boogie's name comes from this, and he decribes himself as such. However, he's a burlap sack filled with bugs and doesn't get out much, instead spending his time torturing captives in his casino-themed dungeon.
  • Book Ends:
    • Jack and Sally on top of the mountain while the other watches and singing is involved. The first is Jack on the mountain singing about how discontent he while Sally silently watches but doesn't intervene. The end has them reversed — Sally is on the mountain and is joined by Jack who realizes he loves her and they share a Big Damn Kiss.
    • In an unusual musical example, the film both begins and ends with the melody of "Sally's Song." This is despite the facts that Sally is not the main character, and she is not present in the opening scene before "This is Halloween" (although, no other characters are in that scene either.)
  • Brats with Slingshots: Lock, Shock, and Barrel.
  • Brick Joke: Jack tasks Dr. Finkelstein to build him a team of flying reindeer after seeing a silhouette illustration in a Christmas Town book. Of course, since Jack used a silhouette for reference, the finished reindeer are skeletons, not living flesh, and Jack doesn't realize that's incorrect.
  • Bright Is Not Good: In contrast to most of Halloween Town being Dark Is Not Evil, Oogie Boogie has a bright, colorful death-themed casino and appears to be bright green at times.
  • BSoD Song: "Poor Jack" starts out this way. It can also count as both a dark and triumphant reprise of "Jack's Lament".
  • Butt-Monkey: Dr. Finkelstein is almost always shown getting hurt in some way every time he's on screen. The mayor also falls victim to this occasionally.
  • The Cameo: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer makes a brief apperance during the ending when Santa gives Christmastown the gift of snow after Santa forgvies Jack. However, Rudolph isn't depicted with a red nose and isn't seen glowing. He is seen with his red nose on the cover of a book (implied to be the original story by Robert L. May) that Jack is studying earlier in the film after discovering Christmastown.
  • Camp Straight: Jack, who is very theatrical and active. At the end of "Making Christmas", he even swings his hips. He and Sally get together in the end.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Sally is unable to tell Jack how she feels about him for fear of rejection, as she details in her song.
  • Cassandra Truth: Sally tries to tell Jack that his Christmas will be a disaster. Guess what happens.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The various creatures that populate Halloween Town are quite varied
  • CCG Importance Dissonance - The short-lived card game had cards for every item and background character in the movie - even ones that didn't have names (which the CCG was mostly comprised of) such as "Gift-Wrapping Elf" and "Ghost on the Left".
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: Dr. Finkelstein creates skeletal reindeer for Jack Skellington. They pull Jack's sleigh when he travels around the world to deliver gifts for Christmas instead of Santa Claus.
  • Chekhov's Skill
    • When Jack gives in and plays fetch with Zero, his nose lights up where Jack's rib landed.
    • When Doctor Finkelstein is holding Sally's detached arm, she (specifically, her arm that he's holding) bops him on the head repeatedly while the rest of her escapes.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Jack has this mixed with Slasher Smile as his default smile. Sally gets a good one when she tricks the doctor into eating the poisoned soup.
  • Chimney Entry: During his Santa Claus impersonation, the first time Jack Skellington delivers presents he's shown going down the house's chimney.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: True to form, a rooster crows with the rising sun in Halloween Town. A completely skeletal rooster who doesn't even have the chords to crow with.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Christmas Town, Halloween Town, "The Normal World", and the Forest all have different color palettes, making them easier to distinguish from one another.
  • Comforting Comforter: Sally takes the time to tuck Dr Finkelstein in after she drugs him unconscious so she can leave.
  • Comedic Strangling: After Lock, Shock, and Barrel realize that they've kidnapped the Easter Bunny instead of Santa Claus, Shock briefly starts strangling Lock while scolding him for his incompetence, which he is entirely unharmed by.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Things might have gone more smoothly if Jack and the Halloween Town citizens actually understood Christmas before jumping straight to remaking it. (Mind, Jack tries to understand it, and tries very hard. But he just can't quite get it right...)
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: As Santa berates Jack in the end, listening to Sally would have avoided all of the trouble. Indeed, Sally did warn him that his Christmas would be a disaster. It leads to Jack getting his Love Epiphany as he looks at Sally with wonder in his eyes.
  • Cover Version: As part of the 2006 re-release marketing thing, Nightmare Revisited was released. It is a full album's worth of covers of varying quality.
  • Creepy Child: Lock, Shock, and Barrel, being between the apparent ages of 4 and 6, are the youngest residents of Halloween Town seen in the film. They're also some of the creepiest, and some of the few who are actually malicious (although this may be because of Oogie Boogie's influence).
  • Creepy Circus Music: The climax has some pretty intense carnival-esque music as Oogie Boogie sics his casino-themed deathtraps on Jack.
  • Creepy Jazz Music: Oogie Boogie has loud, swingy music for both his Leitmotif and his Villain Song! This signifies quite a few things about him, such as his love of gambling and his Boisterous Bruiser Scary Black Man personality. But most importantly, the contrast between his jazz music and the rather somber orchestral music associated with the other citizens of Halloween Town highlights how different he is from them - namely, how much more violent he is.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Jack.
  • Crowd Song: "This is Halloween", "The Town Meeting Song", "Making Christmas", and "Finale/Reprise".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jack's confrontation with Oogie Boogie is ridiculously one-sided; Jack is never fazed by Oogie's attempts to stop him, and defeats Oogie with an unnerving Tranquil Fury. Foreshadowed by Oogie's Oh, Crap! reaction when he first sees Jack in his lair.
  • Curiosity Causes Conversion: Deconstructed, as this didn't turn out so well.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Sally the rag doll, who still looks very pretty despite having blue skin, being covered with stitches and having a Glasgow Grin.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sally briefly becomes one when she's captured by Oogie Boogie at the end of the film.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: Oogie Boogie, the only monster in Halloween Town who actually kills people, lives in a casino-themed lair. This lair has blacklights that can cause everything to glow vibrant neon colors. This fits with the Creepy Jazz Music associated with Oogie to show that he's Bright Is Not Good to contrast the rest of Halloween Town's Dark Is Not Evil.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Although the denizens of Halloween Town are folks you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley (because they arose from the muck puddles at the bottom of said alley), they clearly aren't intending to be harmful, just scary (with the exception of Oogie Boogie and his posse.) "It's our job but we're not mean/in this town of Halloween..."
    • To make a brilliant contrast, while the colors of the town and its characters are not so bright (even Sally's red hair doesn't stand out very much) they are not mean or evil, while Oogie Boogie first appears being of a very bright (and poisonous) green color and his lair is a bright, colorful death-themed casino - and he is the one who takes pleasure not only in killing, but in torturing his victims with games first.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Jack even tells Sora that the citizens of Halloween Town enjoy scaring people, not hurting them.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: One of the characters in the opening song "This is Halloween" is the monster devoted to this "job".
    I am the one hiding under your bed
    Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red!
  • The Dead Have Eyes: Jack has no problem seeing and hearing, though he obviously has no eyes or ears.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack is sarcastic a couple times.
  • Death by Irony: Oogie planned to make Santa and later Sally into snake-and-spider stew and ends up having all his bugs fall into the concoction, becoming stew himself.
  • Death Glare: When Jack arrives at Oogie Boogie's place, he's pretty pissed already, but when Jack hears Sally scream (thus telling him that she was down there), he gives a Death Glare that signed Oogie's death warrant. A slightly scarier example is when Oogie's bugs are falling into the pit, Jack's facial expression quite clearly says, "You deserve this."
  • Deathly Dies Irae: Dies Irae, Dies Illa is quoted and referenced throughout Danny Elfman's score, given that most of the inhabitants of Halloween Town are, well, dead and undead.
    Erik Hare: The "Day of Wrath" was never more fun and uplifting!
    • When Oogie Boogie realizes Sally used her "sexy" detached leg to distract him while freeing the kidnapped Santa Claus, Oogie Boogie's wrath is highlighted by the bombastic four note "dies irae."
    • "Jack's Lament" adapts the tune into a waltz as Jack sings about no longer taking pleasure in Halloween hijinks. With italics for the variations on dies irae:
      Oh, some-where deep
      in-side of these bones
      an emp-ti-ness
      be-gan to grow
    • "Sally's Song" inverts the reference to rise instead of fall as she despairs in song over her unspoken love for Jack.
    • "Making Christmas," uses the Dies Irae melody to signal impending doom as the residents sing as they prepare to unleash a nightmarish version of Christmas.
    • "Jack and Sally's Song," the Final Love Duet between Jack and Sally, has a six-note variation:
      As a-ny-one could see
      We're sim-ply meant to be
  • Defanged Horrors: Outright stated (in the first song) that the people of the town love to scare, but have no malicious feelings towards people. Their creepy Boogieman (whom even the Halloween folks avoid!) and his rather cowardly cronies are quite the exception. Even though Lock, Shock, and Barrel claim to only work for Oogie out of fear, they sure do show pleasure at the thoughts of mauling 'Sandy Claws' in their star song...
  • Deliberately Monochrome: According to the special features of the DVD re-release, Halloween Town.
  • Dem Bones: Jack, aka Bone Daddy and the doctor's Undead Reindeer Fleet, the hangman skeletons in the tree during the opening song, and the tortured luminescent singing skeletons in Boogie's place.
  • Dice Roll Death: A literal example. Oogie Boogie has Sally and Santa Claus tied up and lying on a tilting platform before a fiendish deathtrap. Oogie rolls a pair of dice to determine how much he will tilt the platform to send his victims to their doom. The dice come up "snake eyes," which wouldn't tilt the platform enough to be deadly. Oogie then invokes this by pounding the table to jiggle the dice to a new number, eleven. With wicked delight, Oogie Boogie begins cranking... and then the trope is subverted since Sally and Santa are rescued.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Oogie and the gunmen. When he hits the button for the saw, a thread gets caught.
    • Jack's plan. Let's have a town who has only known scares for their afterlife take over a cheerful holiday that you barely understand.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The Mayor finds "This is Halloween" so catchy, we find him humming it later as he brings Jack the plans for next year's Halloween.
  • Disney Death: Jack. Fortunately, he recovers, which ticks Oogie off.
    Oogie: J-J-J-Jack! But they said you were dead. You must be double dead!
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Oogie Boogie's Song is a downplayed, and maybe justified, example. In the song, almost everything in Oogie's casino-themed lair, including Oogie himself, glows in bright neon colors as if under a blacklight, only to return to normal tones when the song ends. Considering all the gadgets that Oogie has, it's not unreasonable to assume that he might actually have a blacklight in his lair, but this is never made clear. Played straight with the dancing ghost figures that appear at the very end of the song. Those are harder to explain.
  • Disney Villain Death: Oogie Boogie ends up like this when his sack is torn.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sally takes off her shapely, slim leg to distract Ooogie so her hands can untie Santa.
  • Distressed Dude: Santa, when he's captured by Oogie-Boogie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: To misquote CinemaSins, it’s amazing how quickly the town decides that murdering the Santa imposter is the best course of action, considering his biggest crime is delivering scary gifts.
    • Possibly justified if they believe the gifts to be an attack they must defend themselves from instead of a misdeed to punish. After all, it's Christmas. They aren't expecting Jack's frightening "toys".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Averted, [it was originally planned that Dr. Finkelstein was actually Oogie Boogie's true identity, leaving Jack Skellington confused, but it was cut because apparently Tim Burton acknowledged the reveal would have been too confusing.
  • Don't You Like It?: The reaction of Jack's Christmas.
  • Dr. Fakenstein: The creatively-named Dr. Finkelstein.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Jack makes his preparations to take Santa's place, and asks Sally to make his Santa costume, Sally tells him "This isn't right Jack" as she realizes that Jack and the others are out of their depth trying to recreate Christmas and replace Santa, but he mistakes it as her feeling unable of making his Santa clothes and tries to reassure her that she's capable of doing it.
  • Dressed in Layers: When Jack rips off his Santa costume, he has his normal tuxedo on underneath.
  • Dutch Angle: Several, from the subtle to the very obvious. Granted that it's a Tim Burton-produced film.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Jack appears in Tim Burton's 1982 short stop-motion film Vincent and as a skull on top of Beetlejuice's carnival hat.
    • Jack is the scarecrow on the sign pointing the way to Halloween Town, though it's not clear until the end of the song.
    • The black cat Sally sings to could very well be the same from Coraline given how closely they resemble each other and the cat's ability to walk in and out of other worlds.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Sally is a rebellious creation who has to run away to get a semblance of freedom from her father Dr. Finkelstein. She spends a portion of the movie warning her crush Jack about his plans, trying to sabotage the sleigh launch, and eventually attempting to rescue "Sandy Claws". Jack then looks at her with new eyes after he rescues her and Santa, and says that he wants to sit with her under the stars.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Lock, Shock and Barrel receive no comeuppance for going against Jack's orders to keep Oogie Boogie uninvolved. He even gives a good natured chuckle when one of them throws a snowball at him.
    • Played with. Although Santa does chew Jack out for messing with his holiday, he later calms down and brings a little Christmas to Halloween Town after he's set things right. While Santa was rightfully pissed with Jack for hijacking Christmas and leaving him at Oogie's mercy, once Santa reverses the havoc Jack caused, he returns to Halloween Town with a flurry of snow, giving its denizens their first snow day. He even shouts "Happy Halloween" to them, conveying that there are no hard feelings. The audio epilogue reveals he visits Jack and Sally regularly. Justified in that if anyone could tell whether Jack was truly behaving maliciously or not, it'd be Santa Claus.
  • Enfant Terrible: A trio of them: Lock, Shock, and Barrel, three professional trick-or-treaters and kidnappers.
  • Epic Fail: Instead of giving presents that give children joy during his Christmas run, Jack Skellington gives them presents that traumatize them.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: "Jack's Obsession" leads to one. Jack even shouts "EUREKA!"
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Subverted, since the people of Halloween Town are not actually evil; however, due to their existence revolving around (good natured) fear and horror, their innate inability to really understand the concept or point of Christmas is a big part of the reason that Jack's plans don't pan out. Even Jack himself, for all he desperately wants to, does not truly understand the niceties of Christmas.
    • A straight example with Oogie: "Santa Claus, huh? Ooh, I'm really scared!". Whether it's because he's from Halloween Town or because he's a bully (most likely a bit of both), he literally can't imagine someone with power who isn't about being scary. As far as he's concerned, Santa Claus (a Holiday King, mind, and if Gods Need Prayer Badly is in operation in this world, surely the strongest of all) is just weak.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Jack has a nice one—as his natural laugh. A reminder that he is a resident of Halloween Town.
    • Oogie Boogie gives a villainous laugh at the end of his Villain Song.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Sally's (or possibly Finkelstein's) potions, and Jack's books take this to a ridiculous extreme.
  • Expressive Skull: Jack Skellington uses this trope, although it's questionable whether he is actually a skeleton or is a living creature that happens to resemble a skeleton.
  • The Faceless: None of the adult humans' faces are seen in the movie.
  • Face Palm: Jack covers his face with his hand after Lock, Shock, and Barrel bring back the Easter Bunny instead of Santa and start fighting over it.
  • Fat Flex: In one part of "The Shadow Dance", a deleted short clip of Oogie Boogie dancing in silhouette, he raises up his girth for a few seconds before it drops back down.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Oogie Boogie likes to put on an air of charm and style, but in reality he's a coldblooded killer and a cheating jerk.
  • Fear Song:
    • Played with. The song "This is Halloween" has the residents of Halloween Town singing about themselves, because they're scary and that's their job.
    • "Sally's Song" is primarily a Melancholy Musical Number, but also has elements of this trope. It starts off with Sally singing about how she's anxious because she's the only one who realizes that Jack's Subbing for Santa plan is not going to end well.
  • Final Love Duet: Jack and Sally.
  • First Time in the Sun: The inhabitants of Halloween Town are overcome with astonishment and wonder when they see snow in their town for the first time.
  • Foil:
    • Some believe that Jack and Oogie are foils to each other, the former being thin, artistic, and thoughtful, the latter fat, rude, and sadistic.
    • Sally might be a foil for Jack, since he's outgoing, energetic, loud, and usually enthusiastic while she's shy, reserved, quiet and usually sad.
  • For the Evulz: Oogie Boogie's motivation. During his Villain Song he carefreely sings out that he does all the bad things because "It's much more fun" when "lives are on the line".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • While Jack wanders out of Halloween Town, Zero pesters him to play fetch. When Jack throws a rib into a tree hollow, we see Zero using the light of his Jack-o'-lantern nose to find it, demonstrating this attribute of Zero's and setting up its use to guide Jack's reindeer through the fog Rudolph-style later on.
    • Jack's first visit to Christmas Town in the song, "What's This?" Among other things, we see him unintentionally smashing a snowflake, destroying a snowman and scaring a little sleeping elf - a taste of the unwitting destruction that Jack's curiosity in Christmas will bring.
    • When he's trying to understand Christmas scientifically, he attempts to cut a paper snowflake and finds that he's made a spider. The rest of the same scene, his attempts to understand the paraphernalia of Christmas only result in the items of his experiments being destroyed. "Jack's Obsession" also ends with him smashing several Christmas ornaments, and causing a string of lights to explode.
    • During the Town Hall meeting in which Jack reveals the inhabitants of Halloween Town what Christmas is, the Mayor says cheerfully, "How horrible our Christmas will be", thinking this is a good thing.
    • There's Sally's premonition with the burning Christmas tree.
    • "This is Halloween" has the "shadow of the moon at night" taking the form of Oogie Boogie. This is later confirmed to be his shadow in Oogie's Revenge. Also, if you listen closely to the instrumental part when the Shadow sings, it almost sounds like the opening to Oogie Boogie's Song.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Oogie Boogie has the ability to suck in everything like a gigantic vacuum, which is how he recaptured Santa and Sally. He never thought to use this in his battle against Jack Skellington, though this is somewhat justified, as Oogie was trying to get away from Jack.
  • Formula for the Unformulable: Jack tries to find a formula for Christmas when he tries to figure out the meaning of this intriguing holiday. The equation on his blackboard is quite elaborate and it includes a snowman multiplied by bracket that has chestnuts divided by open fire (Stealth Pun for "Roasting Chestnuts/Open Fire"), the whole thing is divided by a bell multiplied by 12th root of December 25th plus Sandy Claws. And some sugar plum visions and eggnog and holly and ice or snow should be there as well.
  • Four-Fingered Hands:
    • Jack is the most noticeable since he's humanoid.
    • The werewolf holds up four fingers ("Three-sixty-*four*!") and it's his entire hand.
    • Some of the human children have four-fingered hands as well.
    • Avoided on Jack's part in the animated short on the DVD of The Nightmare Before Christmas poem narrated by Christopher Lee.
    • Most of Halloween Town has four-fingers. The exceptions seem to be Sally and Big Witch, who both have five, and Oogie, who has none.
  • Funny Background Event: Remember that boy whose parents screamed when they saw his Christmas present was a shrunken head? Next time we see him, his parents have fainted in the hallway. His dad's hand twitches.

  • "Gaining Confidence" Song: Jack reaches his Darkest Hour when his attempt to be Santa Claus failed and left him alone in a graveyard. He sings "Poor Jack", which is at first him moaning about how he'll just hide away and die somewhere due to his horrible mistake. Then, he begins to tell himself that he still tried his best and that he still accomplished something amazing- and ends the song declaring that he is, in fact, "The Pumpkin King" and regains his love for Halloween, as well as a determination to rescue Santa.
  • German Expressionism: The primary art-style in Halloween Town's design. Several of the sets were even covered with clay and etched to create a 3D crosshatching effect.
  • Gigantic Moon: The moon is pretty big and doesn't have any craters.
  • Give Me a Sign: After an entire song asking "What's This?" while in Christmastown, Jack crashes into the town sign, answering his question.
  • Glasgow Grin: Sally has a cute version, both because she's a rag doll and because she's clearly inspired by the Frankenstein monster.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Poor Jack; all he wanted was to try his hand at another holiday. Instead, he ended up ruining Christmas for the poor people back on Earth, and accidentally put Santa's and Sally's lives at risk.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Santa's innocent pleas to Oogie Boogie to release him or face the consequences (during "Oogie Boogie's Song") have a whiff of this trope - Santa is literally too good and pure to comprehend that Oogie Boogie actually is rotten to the core and wants him dead, and certainly doesn't care if the children are expecting him.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: Dr. Finkelstein has some of this kind of stuff in his Mad Scientist Laboratory, most notably a big, globe-shaped flask with a severed hand floating in it. He never uses any of it, but he does loan it to Jack Skellington along with a microscope to use for his Christmas experiments.
  • Guile Heroine: Sally uses her brain most of all to get out of tight spots.
  • HA HA HA—No: Invoked three times in Oogie Boogie's Song. Oogie keeps going back and forth between mocking Santa Claus out of sheer disbelief that he's "the one everybody's talkin' about", and threatening him, showing him who's boss. Note that he only goes back to mocking mode whenever Santa tries to stand up to him.
  • Halloween Songs: Out of all the songs in a movie set in Halloween Town, "This Is Halloween" describes it and its residence the best.
  • Halloween Town: The Trope Namer!
  • Halloween Trickery: The characters Lock, Stock and Barrel embody this. They love to cause trouble and play tricks, especially on Halloween.
  • Hammerspace: Sally pulls a slotted spoon out of her sock that is easily double the length of it.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: The caroling elves that pass Jack during his "What's This?" song are riding on a sled that's propelled by a penguin in a wheel.
  • Hand Gagging: Sally's disembodied hand does this to Santa Claus when she's rescuing him.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: You've uncovered a new passion in life and yearn to express this newfound aspect of yourself? Well, think long and hard before you do — you may be making a terrible mistake. Perhaps you should just stick with what you know, instead. Although your new source of inspiration can help you rekindle an old passion if things have been feeling stale lately.
  • Heel Realization: In "Poor Jack".
  • He's Back!: "That's right... I AM the Pumpkin King!"
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen:
    • The faces of the adults in the human world are not shown.
    • Oogie Boogie, who appears as the shadow on the moon in "This is Halloween" and as a shadow on the wall in "Kidnap the Sandy Claws", but he himself doesn't appear himself until his own song.
    • Compared to the skeletal reindeer, Santa's eight reindeer (later nine with Rudolph's cameo during the ending) are only seen in silhouette format. Notably the "Making Christmas" musical number where it cuts between the citizens of Halloweentown and Christmastown preparing for Christmas Eve. The reindeer do make a full appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series (specifically Kingdom Hearts II) and Oogie's Revenge.
  • Here We Go Again!: Outside of the movie. While Jack failed to bring a merry Christmas to the world, he tries again with an already-scary location by bringing it to The Haunted Mansion every year.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Jack owns Zero, a cute ghost dog.
  • Hero Antagonist: Sally, quite possibly. She's a heroic character who just wants the best for Jack, so when she has a vision that his Christmas will go down in flames, she does everything she can to oppose his goals until the end of the film.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jack undergoes two, once during "Jack's Lament" and again once he realizes that he was accidentally ruining Christmas for the entire human realm.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone, save maybe Lock, Shock and Barrel. Even Dr. Finkelstein, who's basically lonely, and likely created Sally for companionship.
  • Hive Mind: Oogie Boogie is made of insects and worms and yet he manages to move, speak and do all kinds of evil stuff. It's debatable if there is a Hive Queen (if there is, it's probably a little, white, earwig-like bug). This is confirmed in Oogie's Revenge.
  • Holiday Motif: The film takes place in a setting in which each holiday has its own town, behind a series of themed doors. Only Halloween Town and Christmas Town are given any focus, but there are apparently also towns based on major holidays such as St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. This extends to the characters as well; Santa Claus and Easter Bunny have roles in the film as characters that represent their respective holidays, and Jack Skellington (also known as the Pumpkin King) is the physical representation of Halloween.
  • Homage: Halloween Town looks an awful lot like Holstenwall.
  • Hope Spot: When Sally is trapped in Oogie Boogie's lair with Santa Claus, she is about to tell Oogie what will happen when Jack gets ahold of him, only to be interrupted by the Mayor's announcement of Jack's demise; subverted when Jack enters Oogie's lair for the climactic showdown between Jack and Oogie.
  • Howl of Sorrow: When the Halloween Town residents believe than Jack has been killed, the werewolf throws back his head and cuts loose with one of these, tears in his eyes.
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: While not a direct parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, there are similarities in the plot as Jack and Halloween Town try to occupy the holiday to make it their own - which nearly ruins it for everyone, as the Halloween residents don't get the Christmas spirit right.
  • Hub Level: The circle of trees with holiday-themed doors, which allow passage between the various holidays' realms.
  • Hufflepuff House: Doorways to the other holiday worlds are seen, and the Easter Bunny makes an appearance, but they otherwise play no role in the story.
  • I Am What I Am: After his disaster at being Santa Claus, Jack finds his passion for his calling renewed, as he sums it up in five words: I AM THE PUMPKIN KING!
  • Iconic Outfit: Jack's pin-striped tuxedo and bat bow-tie; also Sally's dress. Both have even been made available as Halloween costumes for adults through the Disney company.
  • Idiot Hero: Jack is probably one of the more justified examples, as his idiotic moments come from not being an idiot, but from either not understanding concepts outside of Halloween (the whole Christmas fiasco, thinking the shells were fireworks, etc.) or being so excited for Christmas that he doesn't listen to reason (Sally and her prediction).
  • The Igor: Mad Scientist Doctor Finkelstein has his own hunchbacked assistant aptly named this. He likes doggy treats.
  • Impact Silhouette: When Jack hits the Christmas Town sign and falls into a foot of snow.
  • Impairment Shot: Used after Jack runs face-first into a candy-cane-striped pole. And when Santa first sets eyes on Halloween Town, having been roughly hauled out of a sack previously.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Oh, it was Tim Burton by the way. (Conceived rather than written, to be exact; it was expanded by others.) This trope combined with the advertising ("From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas") inadvertently caused people who aren't aware of Henry Selick's involvement with Nightmare to think that Coraline was directed by Burton (it was Selick who directed that film too).
  • Incendiary Exponent: Jack sets himself on fire, while dressed as a scarecrow, at the end of "This is Halloween".
  • Incoming Ham: "Well, well, well! What have we here? Santa Claus?! Ha! Oooooh, I'm really scared!"
  • The Infested: It's unclear if Oogie Boogie is a sentient burlap sack filled with bugs, or if Oogie is the bugs themselves and the sack is just something they use to appear relatively humanoid.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Sally is extremely shy and insecure towards Jack Skellington, probably due to the physical and emotional abuse she receives from Doctor Finkelstein. In her number "Sally's Song," she admits she hasn't much hope to be noticed by him, because "she is not the one".
  • Ironic Echo: The first time Jack sings "And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King" (during Jack's Lament), he is angsting over how Halloween has stopped being special to him. The second time (during the second half of Poor Jack) he is getting over his angst about ruining Christmas and how he "just can't wait until next Halloween".
  • Iron Maiden: Oogie Boogie's lair is revealed to contain an iron maiden during his Villain Song.
  • "I Want" Song:
    • "Jack's Lament" Also counts as an "I Am" Song, as he describes how he is the Master of Fright and a Demon of Light, amongst other things. It can be divided verse-by-verse into each of those. The verses in 4/4 are almost entirely self-description while the slower, 3/4 time verses are "I Want" verses.
    • "What's This" climaxes with the line "I want it! Oh I want it! Oh I want it for my own!"
  • Jar of the Bizarre: During the "Jack's Obsession" song sequence, Jack briefly inspects a small series of jars containing preserved possessions. What are these objects that Jack has preserved for study? Christmas toys and a gingerbread cookie. This can be considered an inversion, as creepy things like body-parts or animals would be the norm in a place like Halloween Town, so to have Christmas toys and cookies instead would be appropriate.
  • Karma Houdini: Lock, Shock and Barrel receive precisely no comeuppance for trying to feed Santa to Oogie Boogie, although admittedly they were serving him out of fear, and did go and get the Mayor to show that Jack was alive. The closest they came to comeuppance is in a deleted scene, in which Jack scared Lock, Shock and Barrel when they were watching Oogie Boogie trying to put Sally and Santa Claus in the stew.
  • The Kindnapper: Jack Skellington has part of this being a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant. His way of indulging himself in his new passion for Christmas not only involves planning to run the show himself, but kidnapping the one who already does to enable his doing so. And he sees it as a favor for Santa, too! Despite Jack's unquestionable status as The Hero, though, his kidnapping is clearly shown as not being a good thing, especially because of what it leads to...
    Santa: (bursts out of the bag) Let me out! (the Halloween Town citizens gasp in awe)
    Jack Skellington: Sandy Claws - in person. What a pleasure to meet you. (prepares to shake but then looks down when their HANDS touch)
    Jack Skellington: Wh — ! Why, you have hands! You don't have claws at all!
    Santa: (dazed) Where am I?
    Jack Skellington: Surprised, aren't you? I knew you would be. You don't have to worry about another Christmas this year.
    Santa: Wh-what?
    Jack Skellington: Consider this a vacation, Sandy. A reward. It's your turn to take it easy.
    Santa: B-But there must be some mistake!
    Jack Skellington: See that he's comfortable! (Lock, Shock, and Barrel start to close up the bag, but then stop) Just a second, fellas! Of course! That's what I'm missing! (takes Santa's hat)
    Santa: B-But—-
    Jack Skellington: (as he's putting on the hat) Thanks.
    Santa: Hang on - you just can't - (has the bag thrown over him again) - Hold on! Where are we going now?
  • Killer Teddy Bear: One of the dolls (the one that's seen along side the wooden duck with painted on bullet holes) is stated in the original poem to be a vampire teddy bear.
  • Large Ham:
    • Oogie Boogie.
    • Jack is a bit more classy, but is pretty hammy whenever he sings.
    • It's kind of par for the course when one lives in Halloween Town.
    • The Mayor. "The king of Halloween has been blown to smitherEEEns!!! Skeleton Jack is now a PILE of Dust!"
  • Large and in Charge: Easy to overlook due to his bean-pole physique, but when one really sizes him up to his surroundings, Jack appears to be around 7-8 feet tall!
    • Santa Claus is normal human size, perhaps even a bit short, but he still towers over the elves.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Jack and Sally, although it's heavily foreshadowed.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "This is Halloween" for the citizens of Halloween Town.
    • "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" for Lock, Shock, and Barrel.
    • Sally's leitmotif plays every single time she's onscreen. (at one point, even when she's not: it's the street band's first tune) About 3/4ths into the movie she finally sings to the tune of it.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like bringing skeletal reindeer to life and in the prequel game heal Jack.
  • Limited Animation: A rather subtle example, as the animation was entirely filmed on threes to replicate the rather jerky stop motion of the animated Rankin/Bass Productions before being smoothed out.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The only time Jack ever changed out of his tuxedo is when he imitates Santa Claus (well, and one scene when he's in bed and wearing off-white pajamas, but that's only for a couple of minutes). Possibly even taken up to eleven, since in "Poor Jack", when Jack declares that HE IS THE PUMPKIN KING!!!, he rips off the tatters of his Santa outfit to reveal that he's been wearing his tux underneath the suit all this time. Sally also wears the same dress throughout the film, though considering that either she's locked up by Dr. Finkelstein or stalking Jack, this is more justified.
  • Love Epiphany: Jack has always assumed Sally was his friend and the best seamstress in town. When he finds out that she proactively tried to rescue "Sandy Claws" and said she was doing it to help him, he starts stammering. Then he goes to her at the end of the movie, saying he wants to spend time with her under the stars.
  • A Love to Dismember: Perhaps the only unwitting example yet - see Show Some Leg below.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Lock, Shock, and Barrel do this after Jack tells them to leave Oogie Boogie out of their plot to capture Santa Claus.

  • Made of Iron:
    • Jack manages to get shot down by flak guns without being blown to pieces. This could be justified, however, by the coffin sleigh taking most of the blow. However, this does not explain how at least a mile-high fall onto a stone angel didn't break any of his bones (the impact from the fall did seem to be strong enough to knock off his jawbone, however). This all still could be justified by the fact that Jack's undead, so he would not feel pain, if it weren't for an earlier scene where Sally accidentally pokes Jack's finger with a needle, and he yelps in pain. It's a little confusing. Perhaps it's important that he was caught by an angel. Also, he's already dead and clearly magical, so...
    • Sally - while she's made of cloth and stuffed with leaves, she's very hard to hurt. At one point she throws herself out of a window, and then puts herself back together again.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Finkelstein.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: In the "artificial creation" sense of "daughter". Other theories are that he made her as a housemaid, or even with the intention of wooing her.
  • Magic Pants: Jack's outfit may count. When he rises out of the fountain and his collar visibly straightens. When Jack is shot down, the Sandy Claws outfit is shredded, but the tux is completely unscathed, as is Santa's hat.
  • Magic Versus Science: Sort of. Santa can do magic (flying reindeer, flying away at the end followed by a trail of sparkly magic stuff), while Jack's way of going at Christmas is more scientific (employing Dr. Finkelstein, reading books on The Scientific Method). However, Jack can and does do magic in his own realm. It's probably a question of spheres of influence: Jack has no power over Christmas, so he has to use different tools than Santa. Tim Burton himself has said that magic does not exist in Halloween Town, so Henry Selick employed some loopholes to allow some of the effects he wanted.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Subverted. As trick-or-treaters, Lock, Shock and Barrel wear costume masks all the time, but in their introductory scene they take them off, revealing faces that look exactly the same as (or worse than) their masks.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The film combines elements from Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. On a more specific level, the Halloweentown residents are made up of monster types from folklore and pop culture alongside famous literary monsters like Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein's Monster. A witch resembling the old hag form of Queen Grimhilde also makes a brief appearance.
  • Matryoshka Object: The monsters inspired by Mr. Hyde place a dead animal in a small doll, then put the small doll into a larger doll, and again into yet another larger doll.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While Oogie Boogie is taunting Sally and Santa Claus, if you look behind him, you can see Jack sneaking into the lair all spider-like. Doubles as a Chekhov's Skill in the scene immediately following.
  • Meaningful Echo: Early in the film, Zero plays fetch with one of Jack's ribs. Late in the film, Zero retrieves Jack's detached jaw after his sleigh was shot down and crashed.
  • Meaningful Name: Jack's name is likely a reference to jack o'lanterns and Skellington is what some Brits call skeletons.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: Jack borrows scientific equipment from Dr. Finkelstein in an attempt to uncover the magic of Christmas: he examines a holly berry under the microscope and accidentallly squishes it, dissolves the stripes off a candy cane, attempts to make a snowflake by cutting paper (and ends up with a paper spider), cuts open a teddy bear to analyze its plush stuffing, and crushes a glass ornament into tiny pieces and puts them into a beaker, and they emit a green glow. After perplexing research, he has a "Eureka!" Moment when he realizes he's been overthinking the magic of Christmas and decides to spread his own brand of Christmas cheer, presenting his findings to the citizens of Halloween Town, which leads the Mayor to endorse Jack's plan to bring a Halloween themed Christmas to the world.
  • Medium Blending: A minor case. The majority of the film is created with stop-motion animation, but the ghosts in Halloween Town are animated in 2D and composited into the scene.
  • Melancholy Moon: The primary image in "Jack's Lament".
  • Merry in Minor Key: This movie is an odd case. Most of the numbers sung by the citizens of Halloween are bouncy, orchestral tunes in minor keys. The monsters sing these songs in a very sinister-sounding way, yet they don't really have evil intentions, and genuinely believe they're doing good. The songs may sound scary to the viewer, but to the characters, this is just ordinary happy music. Examples include:
    • "This is Halloween," in which the citizens of Halloween Town introduce themselves and their town, and explain that they love to scare people, but mean no real harm.
    • "Making Christmas," which is set to the melody of Deathly Dies Irae, in which the citizens make creepy, twisted toys (that they think kids will actually like) for their own version of Christmas.
    • Subverted with "Finale." As Jack returns to the town, having saved Santa Claus and Sally from Oogie Boogie, the song starts with the citizens reprising the tune of "This is Halloween," but it soon switches to a major key version.
  • Mind Screw: "This is Halloween". It's so surreal that bats have strings attached to them.
  • Mistaken for Santa: Lock, Shock, and Barrel mistake the Easter Bunny for Santa Claus. Far from the normal example, these kids were trying to kidnap the guy.
  • Modest Royalty: Jack, the Pumpkin King. He wears a snappy tuxedo, but no crown or other royal insignia.
    • Santa Claus, leader of Christmas Town, who wears his traditional cold-weather gear.
    • Played with with the Easter Bunny. He wears only a banner that says "Happy Easter", but as a non-anthropomorphic rabbit, one assumes that he wouldn't usually wear anything.
  • Moment Killer: The Mayor near the end, with a spotlight.
  • Monster Clown: One of the recurring townsfolk. Subverted in that he is not actually evil.
  • Monster Mash: The citizens of Halloween Town include living skeletons, ghosts, zombies, witches, vampires, a werewolf, a devil, a Monster Clown and a Mad Scientist with his stitched-together creation, along with many original monsters.note 
  • Mood-Swinger: Jack Skellington. Until the third act, he is either depressed, extremely enthusiastic, or concentrating intensely on his obsession. He is at his calmest only at the end, during his and Sally's duet.
  • The Multiverse: There's apparently a dimension for every holiday celebrated in America (though it's not clear if any of these dimensions consist of much more than one town).
  • Must Make Amends: Jack and Oogie's fight is about Jack trying to fix things.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sung pretty much word-for-word at the beginning of "Poor Jack."
    Jack: What have I done? What have I done?
  • My Hero, Zero: Jack's ghostly dog, who serves as his Rudolph with his jack-o'-lantern nose.
  • Myth Prologue: The first minutes introduces the land of (American) holidays. It's a circle of trees, each with a door representing its respective holiday - an Easter egg for Easter, a turkey for Thanksgiving, a shamrock for Saint Patrick's Day, a Christmas tree for Christmas and a jack-o-lantern for Halloween. The narrator suggests that the viewer may have seen this land in their dreams and, if they never asked where the holidays come from, it's time to begin, as the Halloween door opens to introduce the dark, scary but also amusing Halloweentown.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Santa Claus is in trouble and Christmas is ruined. Three guesses to who is responsible. First two don't count.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Expected from the King of Halloween. For example, there's that scary face Jack does to scare Lock, Shock and Barrel into doing their job right.
    • And "the clown with the tear-away face".
    • Oogie's face at the beginning of his song.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Jack. The entire town consists of Nightmare Fetishists, but even Jack's attempts at innocent merriment turn scary.
  • No Name Given: The Mayor (though some of the merch calls him Hizzonor). Most of the citizens also seem to not have names (The Clown With The-Tear-Away-Face, The Wolf Man, etc). Awesomely used with one off-screen horror who proclaims "I am the "who" when you call "Who's there?"".
  • Noodle Incident: In "Jack's Lament", some of the lyrics are thus: "To a guy in Kentucky, I'm Mister Unlucky! And I'm known throughout England and France!"
  • Noodle People: Per Burton's style, most of the characters are very skinny. This is averted by Sally, Santa, and Oogie, and taken up to eleven with Jack.
  • No Peripheral Vision: After Oogie Boogie realizes that the knife-wielding king cards wasn't going to stop Jack from kicking his ass, Oogie pulls a rope that stops the murderous cards. Jack goes for Oogie, never noticing the gun-wielding gambling game cowboy skeletons approaching to his left and nearly getting shot. However, considering that Jack doesn't have proper eyeballs, it's entirely possible that Jack really doesn't have peripheral vision, therefore justifying him not seeing the weapons.
  • Nose Tapping: Having freed Santa Claus from Oogie Boogie's deathtrap, Jack Skellington hands Santa his hat, saying, "I hope it's not too late." Santa dons the hat, and replies, "To save Christmas? Of course not. I'm Santa Claus!" At that moment, Santa lays his finger alongside his nose, and promptly zooms up the pipe that leads into Oogie's lair. Moments later, news reports come in that Santa is undoing all the chaos that Jack wrought, running the every-household-in-one-night drill despite having been delayed by a few hours.
  • Not Where They Thought: Jack tells Lock, Shock and Barrel to go through the door leading to Christmastown so they can catch Santa Claus. They come back with the Easter Bunny, having gone through the door leading to Easter by mistake.
  • Obliviously Evil: Jack. His actions do drive the central conflict and cause needless strife, but he never acts maliciously in any of them.
  • Oblivious to Love: Jack — though to be fair, the only overt gesture Sally is seen to make is easily explained by the fact that they're friends (which they clearly are). And he does catch on eventually.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When Jack goes to rescue Sally and Santa from Oogie Boogie. Last we see Jack before the Final Battle, he was sneaking in behind Oogie's back, quite a ways away from the platform where Santa and Sally were. With the way the scene is set up, it would have been impossible for Jack to get to the platform without Oogie seeing him, no matter what sneaking skills being the Pumpkin King would get you. Perhaps Jack's powers operate on Rule of Scary.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Jack, when he falls into the portal to Christmas Town.
    • Santa, when he sees Lock, Shock, and Barrel at the door and he realizes that they're about to stuff him into a bag.
    • Sally, when she realizes that the military is going to shoot down Jack's sleigh.
    • Jack, when he realizes that those shells are not fireworks. "They're trying to hit us!"
    • Oogie gets two big ones: 1) when he sees Jack on the platform instead of Sally and Santa and 2) when Jack pulls the thread that keeps him together. He has several smaller ones as Jack passes each of his deathtraps, but these may be feigned, as he always has another trap ready.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Averted, as during "Poor Jack", Jack refers to God twice ("And, by God, I really tasted something swell!" "And, by God, I'm really going to give it all my might!").
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations:
    Jack: Sally, I need your help more than anyone's.
    Sally: You certainly do, Jack; I had the most terrible vision.
    Jack: That's splendid!
    Sally: It was about your Christmas! There was smoke and fire—
    Jack: That's not my Christmas; my Christmas is filled with laughter and joy, and this! [Jack shows Sally a sketch of his "Sandy Claws" outfit] My Sandy Claws outfit. I want you to make it.
    Sally: Jack, please listen to me, it's going to be a disaster!
    Jack: How could it be? Just follow the pattern. This part's red, the trim is white.
    Sally: It's a mistake, Jack!
    Jack: Now, don't be modest. Who else is clever enough to make my Sandy Claws outfit?
    • Another example is when Jack has a kidnapped Santa in front of him. Jack thinks he's made Halloween Town merry and is recreating Christmas in his own way, so Santa should take a vacation to relax. Santa has been kidnapped and suddenly brought out of a sack to see a skeleton and town full of monsters saying they're taking over his holiday and that he's going on vacation in a less innocent way. Seeing Jack prepare makes us sympathetic to his view, but the results make Santa's interpretation more accurate.
  • Only Sane Woman: Sally seems to be the only denizen of Halloween Town who even approaches the realization that people don't want to be scared or attacked on Christmas.
    Santa Claus: The next time you get the urge to take over someone else's holiday, I'd listen to her. She's the only one who makes any sense in this insane asylum!
  • Opening Chorus: "This is Halloween".
  • Opening Narration: Narrated by Santa, and this would have qualified for Book Ends if they had kept the epilogue under Babies Ever After. (The ending narration can be heard on the soundtrack, and it's read by Patrick Stewart for extra awesome points.)
  • Origami Gag: While studying Christmas, Jack tries to make a simple paper snowflake. He folds a piece of paper into a triangle and cuts it up, then opens it to reveal a hexagon with a spider in the middle.
  • Our Demons Are Different: There's the stereotypical Devil for one (though him being The Devil is probably unlikely), and Jack in "Jack's Lament" says he's a "Demon Of Light," indicating he's some sort of Noble Demon. In some of the foreign dubs, Jack actually declares himself the Devil. There's also the Harlequin Demon.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Used with the Halloween Town citizens when Jack's flying sleigh is shot down in the human world.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Every resident of Halloween Town is some kind of horrible monster, yet nearly all of them are good-natured in their own way. The creepy nature they all have is just how they are, as they don't technically mean to bring harm to anyone... unless you ask for it.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Jack must have been really delusional if he thought a red suit and deep voice would hide the fact that he's a seven-foot tall skeleton trying to be Santa.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Implied to be the reason why Jack doesn't see Sally as more than a friend. He highly respects Dr. Finkelstein and knows her as his friend's daughter, so he won't interfere in their fights. When he sees Finkelstein with another creation at the end, Jack seems to realize what this means and goes to Sally.
  • Pass the Popcorn: In a deleted scene, Lock, Shock, and Barrel grab candy, pop, and — yes — popcorn to eat while they watch Oogie tormenting Sandy and Sally. This scene was deleted due to both timing issues and that Burton and Selick feel that having Lock, Shock, and Barrel enjoying Sandy and Sally's torture would put the trio beyond just "playful tricksters" to "evil little bastards"note .
  • Patter Song: "What's This?"
  • Perky Goth: Jack, if not most of the citizens of Halloween Town.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Nearing the end of the film, Jack lies defeated in the arms of a graveyard statue of an angel.
  • Pivotal Wake Up: Jack moves in this way when rising out of his completed sleigh, which is built around a coffin.
  • Planet of Hats: Every (American) holiday has an alternate reality devoted to that one holiday.
  • Polar Bears and Penguins: There are penguins all over the place in Christmas Town, while a wind-up polar bear gives rides to young elves and Arctic animals appear on the carousel.
  • Portal Crossroad World: The grove of trees with doors to various holiday-towns is a small-scale, specialized example.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Jack wants to understand Christmas, so he makes off with a large bag of stolen holiday goods and runs experiments on the holly berries and candy canes. If actually speaking to the denizens of Christmas Town was ever attempted, we never see it.
  • Power Trio: Lock is in the middle role, with female Shock being the smartest and Barrel as the dumb one who gets smacked, or the Hyper-Competent Sidekick, depending on who you ask.
  • Precious Puppy: Santa gives one to the boy who received a severed head.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: When Jack encounters Oogie in the Final Battle, he quips "Hello, Oogie."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Just as Jack is about to kill Oogie, he says, "How dare you treat my friends so shamefully!"
  • Pretty in Mink: At the end when it's snowing in Halloween Town, Dr. Finkelstein's new assistant is wearing a winter coat with an ermine collar.
  • Pumpkin Person: Jack Skellington has a pumpkin on his head in his Pumpkin King costume.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The entirety of Halloween, with the exception of Boogie, counts as this insofar as the world population considers them scary villains. Their Blue-and-Orange Morality means that they frighten and terrify people every year on Halloween, but most of them are shown to be perfectly amicable and even friendly off the clock.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: WHAT! IS! THIS! (smack)
  • Rage Against the Reflection: When Sally tries to talk Jack out of Subbing for Santa by showing a picture of Jack as the Pumpkin King, Jack simply takes the picture and breaks it over his knee.
  • Recycled Trailer Music : The song "What's This?" is used in lots of trailers. The trailers for the movie itself were scored with John Williams's theme to Hook and "The End" from Edward Scissorhands.
  • Red Alert: Occurs twice, when Jack goes missing (he's in Christmas Town) and while he's delivering toys on Christmas Eve.
  • Ridiculously Alive Undead: At one point, Sally sends a basket of snacks up to Jack (a living skeleton) while he's working.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Jack the Pumpkin King, who does a good job of running the town, and doesn't hesitate to put things right once he realizes the chaos he's caused.
    • Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the respective leaders of Christmas Town and Easter Town do the primary work of delivering the relevant treats on their holidays.

  • Sacred Hospitality: Jack sees the kidnapped Santa as his guest for Christmas Eve, and instructs that he be kept comfortable for the duration of his stay. When Jack discovers that Oogie Boogie is not treating Santa properly and is instead trying to eat him, Jack is pissed.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: When Jack comes across the trees with the doors to the different holidays, one of the doors has a four-leaved clover/shamrock, presumably to represent St. Patrick's Day. However, St. Patrick's symbol is a three-leaved shamrock. This may seem pedantic, but the whole reason it's the symbol of St. Patrick is because there were three leaves on it - he supposedly used the three leaves to illustrate the Holy Trinity.
  • Santa Claus: The unwitting MacGuffin is the king of Christmas Town.
  • Santa Clausmas: The religious roots of both Christmas and Halloween (whose traditions are greatly influenced by the pre-Christian Samhain, but whose name and date are given as the Christian "All Hallows' Eve") are downplayed, as in-universe all holidays "come from" their own Planet of Hats. "God" is mentioned but not specifically Jesus.
  • Satan Is Good: One resident of Halloweentown is a devil...who's every bit as friendly and harmless as the rest of the town's denizens.
  • Saving Christmas: Subverted in that the hero is the one to kidnap Santa, but then played straight after things go pear-shaped.
  • Scary Black Man: Oogie Boogie's voice actor is black, but as he is a sentient sack of insects, he himself has no actual race.
  • Scary Scorpions: The box of scorpions in 'Kidnap the Sandy Claws'.
  • Scary Stitches:
    • Sally is a rag doll covered in these, and can undo them to allow her limbs to operate on their own.
    • Jack's smile has been mistaken for these on a DVD cover.
    • Oogie Boogie's seams and mouth feature prominent stitching.
  • Scene of Wonder: After Jack discovers Christmastown, he runs around singing "What's This?" as he explores the many things he never seen before.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: When making the final roll in his gambling game to decide how many cranks to give the platform about to lower Santa and Sally into the furnace, Oogie Boogie rolls "snake eyes"note . Oogie gets furious and slams the table to reroll the dice and change the result to 11, then cranks the platform as if nothing happened.
  • Screw Yourself: Not only does the wife Dr. Finkelstein made for himself look like a female version of himself, he gave her half of his own brain. Jack's shocked expression upon seeing them is pretty understandable, really.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: The movie ends with Jack and Sally sharing their first kiss.
  • Seers: Sally has a vision representing Jack's Christmas going to hell by a Christmas Tree going up into flames. It's unclear if this is a one-time thing or not; however, she does remark to Jack that she had a vision, and the implication seems to be that this has happened before.
  • Serious Business: Jack impersonating Santa provokes news reports and a major worldwide military response.
  • Severed Head Sports: The vampires are seen playing hockey with a shrunken head.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Oogie and Santa echo a line from the Betty Boop cartoon "The Old Man of the Mountain", which stars Cab Calloway, the inspiration for Oogie Boogie. Oogie's gyrating dance bears a strong resemblance to that of the Walrus rotoscoped over Calloway in the Betty cartoon Minnie the Moocher.
      Santa: What are you going to do?
      Oogie: I'm going to do the best I can...
    • Some of the toys are the same ones as seen in Batman Returns and two of the Real World kids are wearing pajamas with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on them.
    • The scarecrow outfit Jack wears in the beginning sequence looks like an evil version of Jack PumpkinHead from Return to Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz.
    • A deliberate one to Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, when Zero turns his nose red and moves to the head of the sleigh team to guide them through the fog. There's also a Little Red Riding Hood reference here.
      Jack: My, what a brilliant nose you have... The better to light my way!
    • Speaking of Rudolph, after Jack discovers Christmastown and the holiday itself. He decides to take a couple Christmas decorations, Christmas Ornaments, and other Christmas-related things back to Halloweentown to deeply study at home. Overnight, he's seen reading tons of Christmas books with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer being one of the few books that Jack's reading. This Rudolph book is implied to be the original 1939 story by Robert L. May which gained a followup story in 1954.
    • The entire film seems a gothic tribute to the Stop Motion films from the Rankin/Bass Productions, especially Mad Monster Party?.
    • To Shakespeare in "Jack's Lament": "And since I am dead, I can take off my head/ To recite Shakespearean quotations."
    • One of the statues in the cemetery depicts The Scream.
    • Said statue is facing a bust of a horse's head, referencing The Godfather.
    • The title itself is a Shout-Out/Punny Name to the classic Christmas poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". Jack yells "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" as he falls after being shot down.
    • Another Shout-Out /Punny Name can be found on a gravestone that reads "Witch Hazel".
    • According to Word of God, Sally was partly inspired on The Little Match Girl.
    • Jack's doorbell screams, like the doorbell of the mansion in Murder by Death.
    • One of Halloweentown's citizens is a man that is always melting, as a reference to the 1977 movie The Incredible Melting Man.
    • Jack declaring, "I am the Pumpkin King!" is a reference to Jim Morrison declaring, "I am the Lizard King!" The Doors had been enjoying some resurgence thanks to the film that had been released a year earlier, with the trailer having Val Kilmer yell the line.
    • The policeman taking calls about Jack during Christmas has a mug on his desk that heavily resembles the head of Beetlejuice. Also hearkening to the earlier Burton film, the giant snake that Jack delivers to one house and which subsequently starts eating a Christmas tree is evocative of the Sandworm that menaces the ghosts, with a similar pointy, elongated head and banded pattern.
  • Show Some Leg: Played with: Sally shows off a bit of leg to attract Oogie's attention, but it later turns out the leg is unattached, serving to distract Oogie while the rest of Sally unties Santa.
  • Shrunken Head: The first boy to get a visit from Jack as Santa gets a shrunken head as a present.
  • Silent Snarker: The saxophone player shakes his head and rolls his eyes as he listens to the Harlequinn Demon boast about what a genius he is while making a hat out of a rat. Being put in the stocks and used as a model for it likely didn't endear the musician to the latter.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: "Sally's Song".
  • Slasher Smile: Oogie Boogie and Barrel. Jack's is a borderline between a Slasher Smile and a Cheshire Cat Grin.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Sally's preferred method of sneaking away from Finkelstein is to sneak deadly nightshade into his tea and food. Because they're in Halloween Town and Finkelstein may or may not already be dead, all it does is lay him out snoring.
  • Snow Globe of Innocence: Jack shakes a snow globe with a snowman inside as he comes to realize that the citizens of Halloween Town just don't understand Christmas, lamenting that "They'll never know that special sort of feeling of Christmasland." Unbeknownst to him, he doesn't understand Christmas all that well either: he has innocent intentions, but doesn't know how to act on them.
  • Snow Means Love: Jack and Sally kiss on the snow-covered Spiral Hill.
  • The Song Before the Storm: "Making Christmas".
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Corpse Bride. Made even more obvious by the fact that its trailer ended up with Recycled Trailer Music from this film.
    • Wreck-It Ralph essentially has the same plot as this film, just set around video games, made in CGI and without the gothic styles.
  • "Spread Wings" Frame Shot: Jack sings "Poor Jack" on a statue of an angel holding an open book. On the lines "Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?" he sits directly in front of the statue's head, making it look like he has the angel's wings for a split second.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Sally is a good-natured version; she accidentally overhears Jack's lament in the graveyard but is too shy to reveal herself. She later goes to his house, delivers some food and a gift of colored lights in a bottle. This leads to...
  • Stalking is Love: It's not played out straight though, since while most of the examples find out and are flattered rather then creeped out, Jack never finds out that Sally stalked him. Then again, he's such a Nightmare Fetishist he probably would love it.
    • Considering everyone in the town is a Nightmare Fetishist, it's very probable that in Halloween Town stalking actually is a way to show love.
    • Not much of what she does is really stalking, either. The first time, she's hiding in the graveyard from Dr. Finkelstein when Jack happens to show up and start singing. The next time they're in the same place, it's in a meeting where the whole town is invited. The next time, she gives him a dinner basket at his home, but he sees her and accepts it, so it's not like he shows any discomfort at the action. Every other time they meet after that is because Jack enlists her to make the "Sandy Claws" outfit, even if he is oblivious to her feelings at this point.
  • Status Quo Is God: First deconstructed and by the end of the movie reconstructed.
  • Stop Motion: It's even widely believed to be the first full-length three-dimensional stop-motion feature, but according to Wikipedia, this is not the case. The animation is of such quality that a viewer unfamiliar with the film's age could easily mistake it for an All-CGI Cartoon.
  • Subhuman Surfacing Shot: The film uses this as an Establishing Character Moment for Jack Skellington; to cap off the big "This is Halloween" number, after lighting himself on fire, he jumps into Halloween Town's fountain and unflinchingly rises in all his skeletal glory...all with a big cheery smile on his face.
  • Take That!: "I'm only an elected official here, I can't make decisions by myself!" The DVD Commentary and the Mayor's actual two-faced head draws parallels with the Mayor to two-faced politicians.
  • Tear Off Your Face: There's a clown with a tear-away face.
  • That Man Is Dead: "But you're the Pumpkin King!" "Not anymore!" *breaks picture* "I feel so much better now!" Makes one wonder what Jack's long-term plans for Christmas were...
  • There Are No Therapists: Seriously, just look at Jack. He's dealing with both depression and a mid-afterlife crisis, and possibly bipolar disorder and ADD. The bone man is in desperate need of a therapist
  • Tickle Torture: Oogie becomes distracted by Sally's leg and he proceeds to remove her shoe before tickling it. The foot is shown to be fidgeting, meaning Sally is indeed ticklish. Unfortunately, this causes the leg to slip out of the doorway, revealing that it is not attached to a body.
  • Title Drop: Not in the film itself, per se, but in Tim Burton's original poem that inspired it:
    Twas the nightmare before Christmas, and all through the house,
    Not a creature was peaceful, not even a mouse.
  • Toothy Bird: The rolling wooden duck the vampires make for Jack's Christmas.
  • Torture Cellar: Oogie's lair contains several torture devices including an iron maiden as revealed during his Villain Song.
  • Tranquil Fury: From the moment Jack confronts Oogie, he never loses his affable composure as he dispatches his traps and gruesomely takes out the boogeyman, even scolding him beforehand for being such a shameful host to his friends.
  • Traveling-Pipe Bulge: Santa's little trip to Oogie Boogie's lair.
  • Triumphant Reprise: At least two: "This is Halloween" and "Sally's Song" both get them, along with "What's This?" and "Jack's Lament."
  • Twisted Christmas: Though nobody meant any harm, for a while there, Christmas Eve looked pretty frightening thanks to the goodies Jack leaves as Santa.
  • Two-Faced: The Mayor, who has two faces — one colorful and happy, one ashen and distressed. It's more of a facial mood ring than a split personality, though.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: The Mayor. Justified as there really isn't any higher authority that exists in... wherever Halloween Town is. And Jack does all the real work anyway.
  • Uncommon Time:
    • The verses of "What's This?" are in 6/4.
    • "Jack's Obsession" is partly in 7/4 ('Christmas time is buzzing in my skull...').
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Apparently none of the citizens of Christmas Town find a singing skeleton wandering around to be unusual.
  • Uptown Guy: Jack is the Pumpkin King and Sally is merely a resident.
  • Usurping Santa: Downplayed. Jack Skellington does try to take over Christmas, but he doesn't seem to have plans to become Santa. There's no mention of him gaining Santa's powers, and although he does have him kidnapped, he doesn't want to harm him, and there's a suggestion that he's only doing it for this year (he tells Santa to "take a break this year").
  • Vague Age:
    • Jack. He seems to be in his late twenties-early thirties, yet since he's Dem Bones, he could always be Really 700 Years Old.
    • Oogie. Honestly, how can anyone tell exactly how old that guy is?
  • Villainous Advice Song: There's Oogie Boogie "advising" Santa Claus to be afraid in "Oogie Boogie's Song" which isn't really much good given that he is at his mercy already and fear won't help him in any way apart from apparently making him tastier.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Oogie Boogie after he loses his burlap covering and his true form falls apart.
    Oogie: MY BUGS! MY BUGS! My bugs... my bugs... my bugs...
  • Villainous Lament: "Jack's Lament" and the first half of "Poor Jack", though this trope is subverted by Jack not being evil just wrong about some things.
  • Villain Protagonist: Downplayed with Jack. While he's technically responsible for the movie's conflict and everything bad that happens, Jack himself is a pretty nice guy and genuinely wasn't trying to hurt anyone. The same also applies to the citizens of Halloweentown: They didn't understand that people don't want to be scared on Christmas, and Jack didn't know the presents were harmful. The only truly evil person in the film is Oogie Boogie, and that's because he's not a resident of town to begin with.
  • Villain Song:
    • "Oogie Boogie's Song", in which Oogie Boogie gloats about having captured Santa and threatens him with death, tries (and fails) to intimidate him, and generally throws his weight around. It's sung by Ken Page, the same fellow who voiced King Gator in All Dogs Go to Heaven and played Old Deuteronomy in the video version of Cats. As such, it's amazing.
    • A second one, for the Quirky Miniboss Squad, is "Kidnap the Sandy Claws."
    • Although Jack is technically a Villain Protagonist, most of his songs aren't exactly villainous in nature, although the ending of "Jack's Obsession" comes close. In it, Jack decides that the best way to understand Christmas is to try making his own Christmas, which he announces in a very Card-Carrying Villain-esque way. Keep in mind, though, that considering the Blue-and-Orange Morality of Halloween Town, Jack clearly considers this a good thing.
  • Visual Pun: The Mayor is two-faced.
    • There are a lot of puns on Christmas songs on Jack's blackboard full of equations, such as "chestnut/open fire".
    • Oogie has some deadly slot machines dressed up like gun-toting cowboys. A slang term for a slot machine is "one-armed bandit".
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: At the end of "What's This?", Jack unknowingly hits a pole and falls into the snow. He looks up to find the Christmas Town sign on top of it.
  • Weird Sun: The sun has the face of a jack-o-lantern.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Santa gives Jack a hefty chewing-out when he comes to apologize. In the original poem, he's much more understanding (maybe because he hadn't just escaped from a sapient burlap sack gloating about how it intended to turn him into stew and eat him).
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The unnamed city Jack visits.
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: Dr. Finkelstein can casually take out half his brain to use as part of Sally's replacement, to say nothing of the fact that his skull cap is on a hinge.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief:
    • Jack and Sally can walk, talk, feel pain, and are implied to have a need for nourishment? Why not. Jack and Sally having children, particularly through being able to have sex? The fandom is divided by this. Some say why not, while others think Jack and Sally either lack certain parts for successful reproduction or shouldn't have kids at all. And this isn't getting into the Squick aspect of the argument.
    • Jack is lit on fire at the beginning of the film without expressing any sign of pain and later falls hundreds of feet, landing hard enough to knock off his jaw bone, yet he still says "ow" when he pricks his finger on a needle. This may be Fridge Brilliance, given that it's Sally using the needle; Sally is the only one who could hurt Jack emotionally.
  • The Worm That Walks: Throughout most of the movie, Oogie Boogie is a humanoid shape made out of cloth. Near the end it's revealed that, inside the cloth, his body is made of insects in a humanoid shape.
  • Worth It: In the ending narration of the soundtrack, Santa visits Jack a few years after the events of the film and asks whether Jack would do it all again if he knew what he does now. Jack in turn asks Santa "Wouldn't you?"
  • You Are Grounded!: Dr. Finkelstein to Sally constantly. This is the source of the friction in their relationship.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: This is Oogie Boogie's reaction to Santa almost word-for-word.

Alternative Title(s): Nightmare Before Christmas


Dr. Finkelstein

Dr. Finkelstein from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown's resident scientist and creator of Frankenstein's Monster-inspired Sally.

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