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Rise of the Guardians is a 2012 animated action-fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. The film acts as a sequel (albeit in Broad Strokes) to William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood series, and features many of its characters (albeit with altered designs). As in the books, popular mythological characters such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, The Sandman, and Jack Frost co-exist with the real world, having sworn under the Man in the Moon to protect childhood around the globe. However, as Pitch Black, also known as the Bogeyman, threatens to spread the power of his evil nightmares, the Guardians must unite and fight against their greatest threat.

Not to be confused with Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole. This movie is also the final DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by Paramount Pictures; their next films would then be distributed by 20th Century Fox, and then after NBCUniversal's acquisition of the company, Universal.

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A sequel was planned but was scrapped after the film underperformed in theaters.


This film provides examples of:

  • Acquainted with Emergency Services: Jack Frost has become acquainted with the yetis guarding Santa's workshop after trying to get inside for years. He says "Hey, Phil" to one guard, who gives him an "I'm watching you" gesture.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? North, whose "mysterious" nesting egg looks like The Shadow, also portrayed by Alec Baldwin.
    • A couple to Hugh Jackman: When Sandy accidentally puts the Guardians to sleep, one of Bunny's floating carrots grabs one of North's floating candy canes and begins to dance, a nod to Jackman's numerous roles in musical theater on Broadway and the West End. Also Bunny doesn't like flying at all.
    • And this isn't the first time a Chris Pine character has ended up in a hole in the ice.
  • Adult Fear:
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    • Your children go out ice-skating. One of them falls through thin ice and drowns.
    • The Boogeyman is real, and he wants nothing more than to destroy the best parts of your kids' childhood, on top of making sure they have nightmares every time they go to bed. And there is nothing an adult can do to protect children from him.
  • Air Jousting: In the third act, Jack and Pitch swoop at one another through the air. Jack even has his staff for a lance. Pitch makes rather quick work of his opponent.
  • All Myths Are True: Early in the film, the big four talk of other potential guardians. The Leprechaun and the Groundhog are specifically mentioned. They even acknowledge the Tooth Mouse, which is the Tooth Fairy equivalent in a number of Latin-American and European countries. (In the movie, it seems to be the French variant).
  • All There in the Manual: The back-stories of the Guardians can be found in the novels and picture books written by William Joyce himself.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • The Big Bad suffers from these whenever he gets hit. He makes funny faces, flails his arms and legs wildly, and never seems to sustain any lasting damage. When he gets knocked out near the end, there is even a variant of Circling Birdies for him.
    • The elves punch each other, get electrocuted, get painted along with eggs, are used as bells by Sandy, etc.
  • And This Is for...: Tooth preemptively tosses Pitch a quarter just before she punches out one of his teeth.
    Tooth: And that's for my fairies.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Some elves fit a shoe onto one of Santa's reindeer shortly before the sleigh takes off. Although there are such things as "reindeer shoes", they generally consist of two pieces of metal, allowing the hoof to splay out naturally, and they definitely aren't just a normal horseshoe nailed on backwards.
  • As Long as There Is One Man: Children across the world have stopped believing, but there's one child out there who clings to hope. He immediately becomes Pitch's main target. Jack Frost rushes to protect him and learns that the belief of one child is all good needs to make a comeback.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Pitch boasts that they'll never truly defeat him since fear will always persist. The Guardians retort that they'll be around to beat him every time.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: In the third act, the Guardians adopt one as they corner Pitch. Jack holds his stuff like a gun, North brandishes his swords, Tooth menacingly hovers in the air, and Bunny twirls his boomerang.
  • Audience Surrogate: Jack Frost, and Jamie to a lesser extent.
  • Award-Bait Song: Still Dream by Renee Fleming.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The story makes it clear that Bunny resents Jack for causing a blizzard on Easter Sunday in 1968. However:
    • When Jack seemingly falls off North's sleigh, Bunny panics and looks over the edge ... to see Jack casually leaning against the side.
      Jack: Awww; you do care.
      Bunny: Oh rack off, you bloody show pony!
    • Later, when Pitch mocks Jack's invisibility to children because of their lack of belief, Bunny immediately attacks him for it.
      Pitch: I'm going to ignore you. But you must be used to that by now.
      (Jack steps back, clearly hurt)
      Bunny: Pitch, you shadow-sneaking ratbag, come here!
  • "Aww"-choo: After Babytooth is thrown off a cliff by Pitch, Jack asks her if she is O.K. She nods and then sneezes. Since she is a tiny fairy, it's very cute.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Pitch and Jack trade these in one of the trailers.
      Pitch: You can not kill fear, Jack.
      Jack: I'm not afraid of you.
    • In the actual movie, Pitch starts his Breaking Speech after Jack makes this boast.
  • Badass Crew: The Guardians, of course. They may be the personifications of memories, hope, wonder, fun, and dreams, but there's also a very good reason why the Man in the Moon chose them specifically to keep the children of the world safe. Pitch Black finds this out the hard way.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: How Jack is "recruited" by the others. It was North's idea, though Bunny is more than happy to go through with it.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Man in the Moon says Jack will be a Guardian, so:
    North: You cannot say no. It's destiny.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: North's sleigh slams into the rooftop of a building when the Guardians are still dozing off from Sandy's mis-aimed sleep sand and can't steer.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • All of the Guardians are pretty much nice guys, although a couple of them have more of a hardened streak to them. Threaten a child in any way, though, and well... the kid gloves come off and they go into full Papa Wolf / Mama Bear mode.
    • Sandman is the shortest, plumpest, and easily the most overtly friendly and adorable of the Guardians. When Pitch starts turning his dreams into nightmares, therefore endangering the children, Sandy is absolutely furious and engages him one on one, completely wrecking him.
      Jack: Whew. Remind me never to get on your bad side.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Even without his memories, Jack acts very much like a fun-loving, older brother to the children around him. In his memory flashback, the moment that caused Jack to become a Guardian was sacrificing himself to save his little sister.
    • Bunny seems to have shades of this towards Jack. Despite constantly being at each other's throats, he leaps to attack Pitch after he mocks Jack's invisibility due to lack of belief, and later, when he sees Pitch attacking Jack from behind in the climax, he tries to knock Pitch's scythe out of his hands with his boomerang.
    • Ironically, in earlier versions of the movie, Pitch was intended to be this toward Jack. In some official artworks and fanarts, (mostly drawn by rufftoon), Pitch and Jack have a classic Aloof Big Brother and Annoying Younger Sibling relationship, or Odd Couple one.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Sandman, after he recovers from his Disney Death.
  • Big "NO!": Jack yells this when Sandy is shot by an arrow of Nightmare Sand, and then again after Sandy is killed.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Shanghai, the billboard that the Tooth Fairy flies into is an advertisement for toothpaste in Chinese. Also, when the sleigh crashes, Santa calls "Moi deti!" ("my children!") after his fleeing reindeer.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins and ends at the frozen pond where Jack was introduced. At the beginning, it was where he drowned before the Man in the Moon made him the spirit of winter. At the end, it's where he officially takes the oath to become a Guardian.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: The only character who ever says "Ho ho ho" is Bunny—twice.
  • Break Them by Talking: Pitch to Jack, about his fear of never being believed in by children or accepted by the Guardians.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early on, Pitch doesn't feel very threatened by the Tooth Fairy and makes a sarcastic remark about her putting a quarter under his pillow. Later, she does give him one. Right before she socks him hard enough to knock out a tooth.
    • Jamie is shown reading from a book about Bigfoot, and his friends make fun of him for his beliefs. It turns out that Bigfoot is actually one of North's yetis named Phil and in The Stinger, he signs Jamie's book under the Bigfoot entry, and we see that its Bigfoot photo is an exact match of Phil.
    • A small one with Jamie's sled ride interrupting a moving truck at the beginning. The sofa that fell out of the truck hits him later and knocks out one of his teeth.
  • Broad Strokes: To The Guardians of Childhood series, as some designs and characterizations are somewhat different while retaining the general concept of the series.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: All of the Guardians are a little dysfunctional (and one of them, of course, has actual bunny ears). Santa, AKA North, is probably the worst offender.
  • Burning with Anger: Sandy makes "steam" of dreamsand come out of his ears when the other Guardians finally notice him pointing at the Man in the Moon and wonder why he didn't say so earlier.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Jamie's playing in the snow with his friends, his mom first mentions Jack Frost by saying "Don't let Jack Frost come nipping at your nose." Later, when Jack tries to get Jamie to believe in the Easter Bunny again, it snows in his house, and a snowflake falls on his nose. This is how he comes to see Jack.
    • When North first takes them all riding in his sleigh, he tells them to "buckle up", only to reveal when Bunny asks where the seat belts are, that that was "just expression". Later, when they have to go to the Easter Warren, Bunny summons a slide-hole portal and turns those words back on North, whose response when they land is simply a good-natured "Buckle up...very good!"
    • When they are about to board the sleigh in the beginning, North remarks that "Everyone loves the sleigh" in response to Jack's awestruck reaction. In the end, when Jamie and his friends are overjoyed to see the sleigh, Bunny proudly repeats the phrase.
  • Calling Your Nausea: When on a sleigh ride, Bunny (who is motion-sick) says, "I hope you like carrots" (the implication being he ate some and is going to puke them up), but he doesn't throw up. Interestingly, Real Life rabbits can't vomit.
  • Cassandra Truth: Subverted. Tooth and Bunnnymund are initially a bit skeptical about North's claims about Pitch appearing but quickly come onboard, especially after getting a message from The Man on The Moon.
  • Cheerful Child: Jamie and Sophie.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jamie. The fact that he is woken while the Guardians and Jack are in his room means that he's seen the Easter Bunny, and thus keeps believing in him long after the other children have stopped. This allows him to be the one child left who Jack is able to inspire, and that action leads to Jamie being the first person to believe in and see Jack - which in turn leads them both to turn the tide in the belief battle.
  • Christmas Light Chaos: One of the elves who decorate the tree gets tangled in the Christmas lights.
  • Christmas Town: North's Workshop is a gigantic Russian Palace located in North Pole. It has a huge workshop where the Yetis and North design toys for the children of the world and huge room where the Globe of the World is located. It may also have multiple room for the Yetis, Elves, and the reindeer to stay and sleep. It also has an office where North makes his toy design from ice. And a base where the sleigh is kept with the reindeer. The workshop acts as a meeting HQ for the Guardians whenever they are needed, having a tough enough security that Jack Frost has tried and failed to infiltrate.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: How much power a Guardian has depends on how much the children believe in them. Belief in a Guardian can cause them to become more powerful and bring them back from the dead, while disbelief causes them to degenerate in power and appearance and become Invisible to Normals. This seems to only apply once they've achieved Guardian status.
  • Chimney Entry: North, being Santa Claus, can hop into chimneys and pop back out at the blink of an eye.
  • Circling Birdies: A variation: Dream Sand figures circle above the characters' heads whenever they're conked out. It's teeth for Tooth Fairy and Baby Tooth, carrots for Bunny, and candy canes for Santa. When Pitch gets knocked out in the final battle, there are butterflies circling above his head.
  • City of Adventure: Action happens in many different locations in the movie, but for one reason or another, they always find themselves back in Jamie’s home town of Burgess.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The elves.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each character has a distinct color and identifying shape. Both Bunny and Tooth are interesting cases, because while the art book gives their symbols as thus, in advertisements and the movie proper, Bunny is often associated with green and Tooth purple. (Look at both of their respective headquarters.)
    • North is a red square.
    • Bunny is a light purple triangle (pointing downwards).
    • Sandy is a yellow circle.
    • Tooth is a green diamond.
    • Jack is a blue hexagon.
    • Pitch is a black hexagon (although his hexagon is shaped to resemble a coffin).
  • Color-Coded Eyes: The Guardians, Jack, and Pitch all have eyes that match their powers and domains:
    • North and Jack, both winter spirits, have Icy Blue Eyes with frost patterns in the iris.
    • Bunny, a spirit of spring, has green eyes with a grass pattern in the iris.
    • Tooth, a powerful wealth-bringing fairy, has pinkish purple eyes with a crystalline pattern in the iris.
    • Sandy, the most senior and most powerful Guardian, has Supernatural Gold Eyes with a grainy pattern in the iris.
    • Pitch has dark grey eyes with a bit of gold radiating into the iris from the pupil, giving the appearance of a solar eclipse. It's almost an inverse of Sandy's eye color, which is fitting considering their somewhat identical domain.
  • Condensation Clue: When Jamie asks the Easter Bunny to give him a sign that he exists, Jack frosts his window over and draws an Easter egg in the condensation.
  • Cool Old Guy: North. Given their nature, all of the Guardians are much older than the oldest humans, but he's the only one whose body shows it.
  • Cue the Sun: The climactic battle happens at night; as the Guardians win and Pitch gets Dragged Off to Hell, the sun rises.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sandy vs Pitch, when they first meet one-on-one. And again in the climax when Sandy comes back from his Disney Death.
    Jack: Remind me never to get on your bad side...
  • Damsel out of Distress: When Pitch holds her hostage against Jack and refuses to let her go, the tiny, adorable Baby Tooth stabs his hand with her beak. Pitch's fist is bigger than her; yet, she frees herself.
  • The Dark Times: Pitch, a Humanoid Abomination, is something of a remnant of the Dark Ages when he wielded great power. In the present day, he wants to restore his former glory.
  • Darkest Hour: Sandy is dead, the Guardians are losing their powers, and Pitch has estranged Jack from the rest and snapped his staff in two while Jack lies in despair at the bottom of a ravine... until Baby Tooth goes into his pocket and pulls out the memories that can give him hope.
  • Dead All Along: The third act reveals that Jack drowned in a frozen lake 300 years before the story proper began.
  • Deadly Dodging: At one point, two nightmares lunge at Jack from opposite directions. Instead of trying to fight off both, he just gets out of the way, letting them crash into each other.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "There are other ways to snuff out a light." Pitch says it as he lunges at Jamie during the climax. We never find out what he meant to do, but he probably wasn't going to give him a hug.
  • Death-Activated Superpower: Jack was originally a mischievous human boy who drowned in a frozen lake while saving his sister, and was made into Jack Frost by the Man in the Moon after his death.
  • Death by Depower: If enough kids stop believing in the titular Guardians, they will lose their power and eventually fade away.
  • Death by Irony:
    • In the end Pitch is driven away by his own nightmares.
    • Winter killed its future spirit. Justified in that Man in Moon may have given him such ironic powers on purpose.
  • Defiant to the End: When Pitch strikes Sandy with a Nightmare Sand arrow, Sandy simply glares at him before closing his eyes and letting it engulf him completely.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The source of Jack's indifference towards the Guardians and refusal to adhere to rules was mostly because of his frustration with the Man in the Moon never answering his questions about who he was or why he was created. This wasn't helped by the fact that no human, child or adult, was able to see him for centuries because no one had believed in him.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Bunny says "bloody" repeatedly throughout the film. In the US, this is fine, but the film is completely unedited in the UK, where bloody is considered much ruder. (It still received a PG certificate.)
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The Guardians really behave like a family in every sense of the word, with their roles being: North as the father, Tooth as the mother figure, Sandy could be like an uncle, and Bunny and Jack are the perpetually bickering siblings.
    • Pitch's reaction to Jack's rejection could be interpreted as a possessive friend or a jealous lover who has just been dumped. This is even pushed further when he threatens Baby Tooth in front of Jack, and doesn't let her go despite having given his word.
      Jack: Now let her go.
      Pitch: No. You said you wanted to be alone. So BE ALONE!!
  • Dragged Off to Hell: In the end, Pitch is literally dragged down a black hole by his own Nightmares because they can smell his fear which causes them to turn on him.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: Sandy creates good dreams for children and Pitch Black creates nightmares for them instead. Both of them use sand-like structures to make it work.
  • Elemental Powers:
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Pitch loves appearing behind people. He does it to hit the Sandman In the Back with an arrow. During the final battle, he melts into shadows and reappears behind Jack with his Sinister Scythe at the ready.
  • Escalating War: When the Guardians help Tooth collect her teeth, Bunny and Jack begin to playfully challenge each other, but North is the one who really turns it into a competition. In their mad dash to get to the teeth first, they start pulling all kinds of tricks (occasionally up to Comedic Sociopathy levels) in order to constantly one-up each other. At the end of their run, it's revealed that they were so focused on collecting the teeth as quickly as possible that they completely forgot to leave presents behind and have to do it all again. This, of course, leads to another competition, wherein Tooth's trademark coins are replaced by more and more extravagant gifts, including Easter eggs, candy canes, and—in North's case—an entire Christmas tree with tons of presents underneath.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several.
    • North's first appearance shows off his Naughty and Nice tattoos and has him draw a sword at the first sign of trouble, showing that he's not the typical holly, jolly Santa we've come to know. At the same time, his delighted expression when taking a bite out of his cookie and obvious glee at the train set he just carved out of ice alludes to the more familiar, warmer parts of himself.
    • Bunny races through his tunnels and pops out at the North Pole to stirring, dramatic music, only to immediately start complaining about the cold. He's a serious character, who's going to have the piss taken out of him all throughout the movie.
    • Jack in modern times is first seen flitting around having fun with his ice powers, but in ways that unintentionally cause harm, like someone slipping and falling on a patch of ice he made. He's a good guy and well-intentioned, but still a troublemaker.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In one comic, Pitch doesn't attack North during the Christmas Truce of 1914, and even shares a moment with him although he doesn't like it.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: When Sandy comes back to life, he creates several enormous dinosaurs out of Dreamsand. They don't do anything; they're just there for extra awesomeness.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Pitch is one to the Sandman. Pitch delivers fear and bad dreams, Sandman gives hope and good dreams. They even use dust which reflects their color-schemes. This is probably why Pitch's attack affects Sandman so adversely, temporarily killing him, and why Sandman's return creates a huge advantage for the Guardians near the end of the movie.
    • Jack and Pitch. Both simply want to be believed in, seen, and acknowledged for what they do. This is even used in a sort of Sympathy for the Devil fashion in the later part of the movie when Pitch tries to get Jack to come to his side, reasoning that they both want to be acknowledged and seen and heard. But while Jack's purpose (and thus his method of getting recognition) is to spread fun and joy, Pitch's is to spread fear and darkness.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold:
    • Inverted. North and Jack are associated with cold temperatures but are the embodiments of wonder and fun respectively.
    • Pitch tries to invoke this to tempt Jack, saying that dark and cold go very well together.
  • Exact Words: The reason (other than being a Manipulative Bastard) that Pitch refuses to give back Baby Tooth: "You said you wanted to be alone? So BE ALONE!!"
  • Eye Recall: Opening his tooth reliquary fills Jack's mind with the life he had before the Moon picked him to be Jack Frost. As he realizes this the memory ends coming out his eye.
  • Fanfare: The elves try to give Jack one for their first attempt to initiate him into the Guardians, but he simply shuts them up with an ice blast. At the end of the movie, they're still clearly annoyed by the incident, with one elf even pounding his trumpet into his fist menacingly, much to Jack's amusement.
  • Fangirls: Tooth and her fairy helpers openly swoon over Jack at various points, though they soon prove less interested in his looks than in his teeth.
    North: Tooth! Fingers out of mouth.
  • Finger Wag: Toward the end, when Sandy comes back, he issues one to Pitch before pounding him into the ground (again).
  • Flying Seafood Special: Many of Sandman's dreams take the forms of flying dolphins, rays, and fish.
  • Foreshadowing: After Jack hits him hard for [[killing Sandly]], Pitch remarks that Jack is "someone who knows how to have a little fun." "Fun" turns out to be Jack's center.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Guardians' original lineup before the Man in the Moon decided it was time for an expansion. Pitch even outright calls them "the Big Four": North is Sanguine (always upbeat and positive), Bunny is Choleric (irritable and impatient), Tooth is Melancholic (task-oriented but emotional), and Sandy is Phlegmatic (very calm and composed.)
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Dreamworks actually managed to hide a Precision F-Strike on Santa's globe behind the Fictionary characters, as explained here.
  • Friend to All Children:
    • All of the Guardians' main duty is to sustain happiness and hope for the children of the world. Though because of their busy lifestyles, North, Bunny, and Tooth struggle to relate to children.
      North: We are always working on bringing joy to children. We have no time... for children!
    • Jack plays this straight. When he realizes this after he gets his memories back, it gives him his Heroic Second Wind and is key in defeating Pitch when they get cornered at the start of the finale.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When the Guardians first meet up and North jokes at the importance of Easter, Sandy can be seen chugging eggnog.
    • During North and Bunny's argument over the importance of Christmas and Easter, Tooth is giving orders to her fairies in the background. She gives a particularly long order, and just as North interrupts her, she cries, "Is that all in one house?!"
    • Jack angrily blasts ice and air at the first Guardian ceremony. North and Bunny slightly stumble from it. Tooth is blown off-screen from the force.
    • When Jamie's sled first starts going haywire (via Jack), his friends panic. Cupcake, however, nods with a slightly crazed smile.
  • The Ghost: The Man in the Moon, despite being the leader of the Guardians, is not shown in the film. The only indications of his presence are the various shots of the moon in the night sky.
    • Also several other legendary figures, like the Leprechaun and the Groundhog.
  • Ghost Amnesia: A major plot point for Jack, despite not actually being a ghost.
  • Give Me a Sign:
    • After Easter inexplicably fails to happen, Jamie asks this of his toy stuffed bunny, having met the real Easter Bunny previously. He almost gives up, but Jack steps in at the last moment by drawing a bunny and an egg in the frost on his window, therefore keeping his faith alive.
    • Jack himself has a moment like this early in the film, pleading with the Man in the Moon to give him a sign as to why he is the way he is. He figures it out by the end of the movie.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly:
    • It appears that when a mythical spirit becomes a full Guardian, their power strongly depends on children's belief in them. The exact details are hazy as Jack Frost had notable power without being a Guardian and the existence of other non-guardian mythical spirits are acknowledged (i.e., the Leprechaun and the Groundhog).
    • There also seems to be an undefined threshold of belief necessary for a mythical spirit to become "visible" to the children in the "real" world.
  • Green Lantern Ring:
    • Sandy's control over his dream sand works this way, and he can make any physical construct he can imagine with it, as well as use it to put people to sleep.
    • Pitch's nightmare sand also works this way, as he copied the power from Sandy. However, he only uses it to make weapons and his nightmare horses.
  • Happy Dance: A villainous example. Pitch celebrates his near-victory by bursting into North's workshop and dancing on the globe.
  • Headdesk: When North tells a yeti to change the color of the soldiers to red, the yeti sees the enormous pile of toys he's painted blue and does this with a groan. Becomes a Running Gag when he experiences it again—but reversed (red to blue)—throughout the film.
  • Held Gaze: Between Tooth and Jack at the end until they're interrupted by Baby Tooth.
  • He's Back:
    • Bunny in the climatic battle. When a couple of Nightmares chase him into hiding under a car, they make the mistake of dragging him out, only to find that he's returned to his full size and power, ready to fight.
    • Sandy as well, who straight up comes back to life.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Bunny suffers one when the children have stopped believing in him, even dropping to his knees in despair.
      They don't see me... they don't see me...
    • Jack also has a brief one when Pitch breaks his staff and leaves him in a crevice.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jack. As a human boy, his sister got caught on thin, cracking ice while on a frozen lake. Jack used a nearby branch—which later on became his iconic staff—to toss her to safety, but ended up accidentally swapping places with her, falling through the already-cracked ice, and drowning.
  • The Hero's Journey: The story follows this for Jack pretty closely, including but not limited to a textbook spiritual rebirth moment in the ice chasm.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite his blatant badassery, Bunny is heartbroken when Easter is ruined, mentioning it as being a time of hope and rebirth, and much more important than just being about eggs.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Pitch is dragged into his own lair by his own nightmares when they smell his fear. This trope is mentioned during that sequence in the audio commentary.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Pitch barters Baby Tooth for Jack's staff, as it is what channels Jack's powers.
  • How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: The movie reveals how not only North, but also Bunny and Tooth get around the world to do their jobs. North has magical snow globes that open portals to whatever location he needs and can seemingly teleport instantly between chimneys; Bunny has a series of tunnels that allows him to appear anywhere on Earth and his eggs have legs to enable them to walk to their destination; and Tooth has millions of fairies to collect her teeth, along with Tooth Mice from the Latin-America and European Division.
  • Humiliation Conga: In the end, Pitch goes through one. Jack hits him in the face with a snowball, and all goes downhill from there. The kids stop being afraid and turn the black sand back to gold, every Guardian lands a good hit, Sandy comes back to life and wipes the floor with Pitch, and then his nightmares turn on him.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Bunny has no qualms mocking Jack about his lack of believers, but when Pitch does the same, Bunny immediately tries to attack him for it.
  • I Am Not Weasel: To annoy Bunny, Jack keeps calling him a kangaroo; Bunny objects.
    Jack: And the Easter kangaroo.
    Bunny: I'm a bunny.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Pitch comes up with a rather poetic reason why he and Jack can rule together.
    Pitch: What goes together better than cold and dark?
  • I Lied: Pitch does not give back Baby Tooth when Jack gives him his staff as promised.
  • In the Back: Pitch uses the Nightmares to distract the Sandman and shoots him with a black sand arrow from behind.
  • Invisible to Normals: Any mythical manifestation who does not have active believers, such as Jack, is invisible and intangible to humans. Jack loses this status in the third act.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When Sandman utterly trounces him, Pitch pretends to give up to stall for time until the Nightmares show up.
    Pitch: It was stupid of me to mess with your dreams, so I'll tell you what. You can have them back.
  • Ironic Echo: When the Guardians first ride North's sleigh on the way to the Tooth Palace, North tells them to "buckle up." Bunny nervously asks where they are and finds out there aren't actually any seat belts. Later, when they go to the underground warren to prepare for Easter, Bunny first warns everyone to buckle up.
    North: [after a ride through a tunnel] Buckle up... Is very funny.
  • Irony: When Jack asks why the Guardians don't know how to act around children (like Tooth showing Sophie teeth with blood still on them), North says they've been too busy protecting children to actually be with them, and the irony dawns on him as he says that.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Happens to Jack as North's way of getting him to the North Pole.
    North: I hope the Yetis treated you well.
    Jack: (laughs sarcastically) Oh, yeah, I love being shoved in a sack and tossed through a magic portal.
    North: Oh, good! That was my idea!
  • Kill the Lights: During the final battle, Pitch smashes the streetlights one by one.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Jack's response to Pitch's We Can Rule Together offer.
  • Le Parkour: Jack uses some smooth moves combined with his air control abilities to get around.
  • Light Is Good: The characters associated with light (like Sandman) and bright colors are good, as opposed to Pitch Black.
  • Logo Joke: Jack takes the place of the boy in the DreamWorks logo.
  • Magic Map: The globe at the North Pole, which shows believing children as points of light.
  • Magitek: Santa's sleigh has been upgraded.
    Jack: There is no way that I'm riding in some rickety, old... (sees sleigh)...sleigh. (Beat) Okay, one ride, but that's it.
  • Manly Tears: North and Bunny are visibly teary-eyed during Sandy's funeral.
  • Man Hug: North gives one to Jack in the end, when the latter officially becomes a Guardian.
  • The Man in the Moon: Is a rather mysterious force who does not take physical form like the Guardians, and only communicates with them via images. He also seems to be in charge, as he picks who the Guardians are.
  • Megaton Punch: Pitch finds himself on the receiving end of one from a freshly revived Sandy.
  • Melancholy Moon: Jack has a number of moments like this when he questions his existence and demands answers from the Man in the Moon.
  • Memory Jar: Baby teeth work this way, storing childhood memories that the tooth fairies return to children when they might forget their youthful dreams or self.
  • Moment Killer: Tooth and Jack can't seem to spend more than a minute together before someone interrupts.
  • Motive Rant: Pitch gives one to the Guardians in the Tooth Palace.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jack feels extremely guilty for allowing himself to become distracted by Pitch, which gave him the opportunity to destroy all the Easter eggs.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • In the first trailer, we see Tooth riding in the sleigh with North, Bunny, and Sandy, but in the story they are actually on their way to see her.
    • In the trailer, Bunny says “You don't wanna race a rabbit, mate” while at his warren before hopping into a portal hole. In the movie, he says this when hopping from rooftop to rooftop, in a race between himself, Jack, North, and Sandy to see who can collect the most teeth.
    • In the UK trailer, it indicates that Christmas is in jeopardy when it's actually Easter time.
  • Not Bad: Jack says this to Bunny after the egg-painting sequence in the warren.
  • Not So Different: Jack and Pitch. As part of his plan to get Jack to join him, Pitch points out that they are both alone and ignored by the children, and even mentions how well cold and dark go together.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: In the end, Pitch tries to flee the Guardians only to run right into them. Probably justified with North's snow globes for teleportation.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After Jack, North, Bunny, and Sandy have helped Tooth in taking teeth from under pillows, she asks if they remembered to leave gifts. When they realize they did not, it leads to this expression.
    • Pitch reacts this way when Sandy comes back to life and again later when he realizes that the Nightmares are after him now.
    • Jack has one when, while prodding at a frozen nightmare, Pitch sneaks up behind him and another one when, while frantically searching for his tooth box in Pitch's lair, he suddenly hears Pitch's voice.
  • Papa Wolf: All the male Guardians are this to children in general. Pitch learns the hard way that the easiest way to get an asskicking is to endanger any of said kids.
  • Plucky Girl: Baby Tooth - when Pitch holds her hostage against Jack, she responds by stabbing his hand with her beak. Note that Pitch's fist is bigger than her entire body.
  • The Power of Apathy: At the end, Pitch finds that the town's children refuse to cower and be fearful of his nightmares. As a result, his powers diminish to the point where he becomes the most afraid. The children's combined disbelief reduces Pitch to insubstantial and ineffectual, his worst scenario. As a result, his nightmare mooks, who can smell fear, turn on him.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • More 'pre-defeat' than 'pre-asskicking', but Jamie gets one in the final battle:
      Jamie: (to Pitch) I do believe in you. I'm just not afraid of you.
    • Jack, also to Pitch, preceding Pitch's Hoist by His Own Petard moment.
      Jack: Looks like it's your fear [the Nightmares] smell.
    • Bunny gets one near the end of the movie when he gets pulled out from under the car, now back to his original size.
      Bunny: G'day, mate.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Tooth throws a quarter at Pitch, confusing him for a second, and then punches him in the mouth to knock out a tooth.
    Tooth: And that's for my fairies.
  • Protectorate: The Guardians protect children. When a spirit officially becomes a Guardian, they vow "to watch over the children of the world, to guard them with your life, their hopes, their wishes, and their dreams, for they are all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be."
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Downplayed, but Jack is definitely not happy that he never receives any answers from the Man in the Moon as to why he was created, what his purpose is, and why he is alone and invisible. This leads to a Refusal of the Call when he's selected to be a Guardian, especially when he finds out the Man in the Moon spoke to the other Guardians about it, just not to him.
  • Rapid-Fire Descriptors: Santa describes himself as "jolly, mysterious, fearless, and caring", before concluding that his Centre (i.e. a Guardian's most important deep-down characteristic, a theme in this movie) is having his eyes be "full of wonder", which is why they're so large.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All of the Guardians and Pitch are implied to be immortal. Tooth even admits that it's been 440 years since she was out in the field, despite having the appearance of a young woman in her early twenties at most.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • Partly because he's a lonely trickster more interested in mischief and fun than obeying rules, but also due to feeling ignored by the Man in the Moon without being given a reason for his existence, Jack responds to the offer to become a Guardian this way. Jack's character arc in the story is him learning what the role of a Guardian is and why he was chosen to be one.
    • This is shown to have also happened with Pitch.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: The movie's climax has a dramatic example. The Guardians, once again, promise to protect the kids, and Pitch mockingly asks who's going to protect the Guardians themselves (as they are nearly powerless at that point.) Cue the kids telling him they will and stepping up to defend the Guardians.
  • Running Gag:
    • The poor Yeti constantly has to redo the large pile of already-done work.
      • In the beginning, at the North Pole:
        North: I don't like it; paint it red!
        Yeti: WHAT THE- (looks at pile of blue robot toys) GAH! *headdesk*
      • Later at Bunny's Warren...
        Bunny: Too Christmas-y, mate. Better paint it blue.
        Yeti: (looks at pile of red Easter eggs and screams in frustration)
      • And once more when Pitch tells the Yetis that their services are no longer required.
        Yeti: (has finally finished painting the robots red when they all start to clatter) WHAAGH!
        Pitch: (laughs) You're all free to go! We won't be needing any Christmas toys this year, thank you! Nor ever again!
        Yeti: Awwgh...
    • When Jack tries to put Sophie in bed, she falls on the floor, and he leaves her there, dropping a blanket and stuffed animal on her. In The Stinger, the same sequence happens when the elves try to put her in bed.
  • Santa Clausmas: The main characters include North, the spirit of Christmas, and Bunny, who's in charge of Easter, and there is no religious content in the movie. Bunny states that Easter is about new beginnings, but there is no mention of Jesus' resurrection.
  • Save Your Deity: Save Your Guardian, in this case. When the Guardians get depowered because of the whole Gods Need Prayer Badly thing] the kids have to step in and protect them from the villain and his Night-Mares.
  • Scenery Porn: All over the place. Highlights definitely include the scenes in each of the Guardians' main base of operations—the first walk through of North's workshop; the flight to Tooth's palace, along with Tooth Palace itself; various shots of Bunny's Warren; and even the first visit to Pitch's lair. Jack's frost patterns definitely count.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: From this poster, Jack is freezing the person to your right.
  • Ship Tease: The movie features a few scenes featuring a Held Gaze between Jack and Tooth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A clear reference to Crocodile Dundee occurs with Bunny's line "You call that a bag of choppers? Now this is a bag of choppers."
    • North's "Naughty/Nice" forearm tattoos are reminiscent of Robert Mitchum's "love/hate" knuckle tattoos.
    • When little Bunny runs under the car and turns back into his Guardian form, the background music plays a few notes of Superman's theme.
    • Little Bunny, in turn, also thumps his foot very rapidly when Jamie gives him a scratch under the chin.
    • In his first scene, North is humming and working to Igor Stavinsky's Firebird Suite.
    • The shot when the Sandman floats upwards after defeating Pitch is reminiscent of the scene in Superman Returns when Superman flies above the clouds.
      • For that matter, Jack Frost's early flying scene (right before "Snow day!") is similar to the last flight scene in Superman Returns. Even the music is really Superman-ly. Funnily enough, both scenes involves an orange, dawn-like glow (that makes them similar to the Superman scenes) when it was clearly night in both cases.
    • Sandy's dream dinosaurs are accompanied by a riff on the iconic Jurassic Park theme music.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Jack, to Pitch, in the beginning of the final fight.
    Pitch: So what do you think, Jamie? Do you believe... in the Boogey- (Gets pelted with a snowball.)
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Exaggerated. Jack Frost is the main character, and the first official trailer goes out of its way to completely avoid mentioning or showing him, to the point of replacing him with Tooth in the sleigh launch scene. Since his character arc is based on how no one believes in him as much as the other Guardians, it makes sense to have the initial trailer focused on the others. He's featured prominently in the second official trailer though.
  • Slasher Smile: Pitch has a few in the film. When Jack invades his lair, as Pitch says "what did you do?", he vanishes into the shadows with his eyes and creepy smile being the last to fade away. Then in the climax, he dissolves into the shadows before appearing behind Jack, smiling as he's about to strike Jack down with his scythe.
  • Sleep-Mode Size: When no one believes in him, Bunny drops from six-foot one badass to one-foot cute critter. Getting the neighborhood kids to believe again puts him back to normal.
  • Smooch of Victory: Hilariously, North gives Jack's cheeks two in celebration after Jack is formally made a Guardian. One elf does this to another elf, who responds by punching him out.
  • Snowball Fight: Jack's specialty. He uses it for pretty much everything, from celebrations and fun-times to delivering the Shut Up, Hannibal! to Pitch.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Sandy pulls a most excellent entrance on Pitch. Pitch himself is also quite fond of this, considering his ability to melt into the shadows.
  • The Stinger: Shows the aftermath and cleanup of how the kids are returned home.
  • Synchronization: When Pitch breaks Jack's staff, Jack gives a pained shout and clutches at his torso.
  • Sympathy for the Devil:
    • It's a brief scene, but the expressions on the Guardians' faces when Jamie runs right through Pitch at the end, confirming the Boogie Man is no longer feared or believed in. Knowing that this condemns a mythical spirit to being alone and ignored, they can't help but show sympathy for his fate.
    • In the very end, when Pitch is dragged underground by his own Nightmares, Jack looks appalled.
  • Teeth Flying: Tooth Fairy gives Pitch a quarter and knocks out his tooth with a good punch.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Pitch addresses the Man in the Moon as "old friend." According to the prequel comic, Pitch is indeed an Evil Former Friend.
  • That Poor Cat: Lives in a building Jack and Sandy crash through while chasing Nightmares.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: A young boy gets his tongue stuck to the frozen water from a drinking fountain due to Jack Frost freezing various things around town.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • When one remembers the scenes of the enormous long-necked dinosaurs made of dream sand strolling through the city, it broadcasts that Sandy comes back from the dead because you don't see the dinosaurs prior to Pitch killing him.
    • Throughout the movie, Jack can’t be seen by anybody but the four Guardians and Pitch but one scene in the trailer shows a quick clip of Jamie staring wide-eyed at Jack.
  • True Companions: The Guardians are this from the start, and Jack joins them by the end. Also Jamie and his friends in the climax.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • The fairies to Tooth, since she's basically their mother.
    • After he saves her from being kidnapped by a Nightmare, Baby Tooth ends up being very attached to Jack—even taking on Pitch Black when he tries to use her as leverage in exchange for Jack's staff.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When Pitch kills Sandy, Jack's anger spurs him to attack and tap into his fury to unleash a super-charged strike of ice magic that freezes all of Pitch's nightmares.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: It is an animated adventure film focusing on a team of Santa Claus, The Sandman, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost as they bring joy to children. They also fight Pitch, the living embodiment of fear and darkness, who gives children nightmares, commands an army of Hellish Horses, kills Sandy with a triumphant Evil Laugh, mindrapes Jack, and, in the finale, attempts to hurt Jamie.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: It is Pitch's Evil Plan that sets everything in motion.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jack and Bunny. They love to bicker and taunt each other but when the chips are down, they clearly have each other's backs.
  • Walking the Earth: Jack is shown to do this, as he has no specific fixed "home," but instead goes where the Wind takes him, spreading frost and ice.
  • Was Once a Man: Downplayed due to the fact that the Guardians are more mythical spirits than monsters, but Tooth implies that they were all mortal before becoming so. Bunny apparently was an actual bunny. Tooth herself used to be human, or at least physically so. Jack himself was a young human boy who drowned in a frozen lake after saving his little sister from the same fate.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: After the final battle, Pitch tries to flee, frantically looking back every second, and bumps right into North who somehow got ahead of him, probably via one of his snow globes.
  • We Can Rule Together: The villain's pitch to Jack.
    Pitch: What goes together better than cold and dark? We can make them believe. We'll give them a world where everything, everything is...
    Jack: Pitch black?
    Pitch: And Jack Frost, too. They'll believe in both of us.
  • Wham Line: Jack has no idea he was someone before he became Jack Frost, until Tooth tells him:
    Tooth: We were all someone before we were chosen.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The Nightmares lack any distinguishing characteristics, and the Guardians mow them down by dozens.
  • The Worf Barrage: During the first major battle, Jack suddenly unleashes enough power to beat back Pitch. During the climax, Pitch's increased power lets him shrug off Jack's attacks like nothing.
  • The World Is Just Awesome:
    • The opening sequence when Jack tests his powers combined with Scenery Porn make for a fantastic visual.
    • During North's speech about how his job as a Guardian is to preserve a sense of wonder in children, the camera pans to the toys in his room, followed by a wide shot of North's workshop in all its glory. Jack is visibly impressed.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Often enough, a plot development visibly takes Pitch by surprise. But he always quickly adjusts and is able to use it to his advantage.
  • You Are Not Alone: Funnily enough, the speech comes from the villain. Pitch tries to comfort Jack after the latter is rejected by the Guardians.
    Pitch: We don't have to be alone, Jack. I believe in you. And I know children will, too.
  • You Can See Me?: Jack says this word for word after restoring Jamie's belief in the Easter Bunny, causing him to believe in Jack as well and consequentially making Jack visible.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Pitch holds Baby Tooth hostage in exchange for Jack's staff. When Jack hands it over, he then demands Pitch let Baby Tooth go. Pitch's response? "No." Considering he's the bad guy, it's not particularly surprising.

 
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The Sandman

After his body was assimilated by Pitch's nightmare-sand, the children's revived belief in the Guardians revives the Sandman with it.

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