'The Nightmare Before Christmas' Fan Theories That Just Might Be True
Photo: The Nightmare Before Christmas / Buena Vista Pictures

'The Nightmare Before Christmas' Fan Theories That Just Might Be True

Voting Rules
Vote up the most plausible theories.

Tim Burton and Henry Selick’s enduring Disney masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, has enjoyed a loyal, ever-growing audience for more than 25 years. Unlike most Disney features of the era, Nightmare was darker, more stylized, and complex. Its spooky-but-humanized ghouls made the film fun and accessible to kids, but also interesting and entertaining enough that adults still watch it year after year.

After so many viewings, one might see past the story and strive to find deeper meaning in the film. Why do Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie dislike each other so much? Who was Jack when he was alive? What do the characters in Halloween Town represent? Is there a “Christ” in the Christmas presented in Nightmare? Fans have spent many years discussing the possible answers to all these questions and more.

  • 1
    4,582 VOTES

    Sally Was Taken Apart Because She Was An Accused Witch

    One Redditor presented the theory that, in life, Sally was dismembered for being a witch. This is why she’s a rag doll in her afterlife, with all her limbs stitched together.

    Sally clearly has some sort of precognitive ability, as her vision of a pretty Christmas tree burning foretells Jack’s muddling of Christmas. After she sees this, Sally runs to tell Jack she’s “had a vision.” The fact that she brews a potion to knock out Dr. Finkelstein lends credence to this theory.

    4,582 votes
  • 2
    3,615 VOTES

    The Movie Hints At All The Ways The Characters Perished

    User @ticklesomething on Tumblr sees hints about the ways in which the citizens of Halloween Town met their ends. While some, like Sally’s demise by dismemberment, seem more obvious, a few of their inferences are less expected.

    Lock (of trick-or-treaters Lock, Stock, and Barrel), for example, is said to have frozen due to his white skin, blue lips, and choice of a devil costume, signifying a desire for heat. Zero, the ghostly pup, is believed to have been electrocuted, as he resembles a wisp of smoke and his nose lights up, signifying some kind of electric current in him.

    3,615 votes
  • 3
    2,867 VOTES

    Jack Skellington Is The Celtic Spirit Of Death

    Redditor u/tiger_toucher believes Jack Skellington to be a Celtic demon. Celtic legends speak of Ankou, a monster of death who appears as a tall, thin skeleton, and a ghost called Dullahan, who has a wide grin and is known to remove its skull from its body. Jack certainly fits the bill for both of these. 

    The poster also contends that Jack is the Pumpkin King because he created Halloween from humanity's fear of the great beyond. Jack begins the movie with a jack-o'-lantern for a head. Jack-o'-lanterns became a tradition among Celts during their holiday of Samhain, because the lit pumpkin faces would theoretically keep demons away from people's homes by making the malicious entities believe that there were already evil spirits present.

    2,867 votes
  • 4
    2,651 VOTES

    Oogie Boogie Represents The Darker Aspects Of Halloween Celebrations

    Redditor u/Dethbringer believes Oogie Boogie to be a serial killer. While the rest of Halloween Town is spooky, he’s the only one who is actually evil. Oogie Boogie may have been cast to the outskirts of town in his underground lair because he ate the children of town, which would explain why there are so few.

    The theorist continues that Oogie’s minions, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, serve him because he ate their parents, and their service ensures that they won’t be next on the menu. 

    2,651 votes
  • 5
    2,384 VOTES

    The Tension Between Halloween Town And Christmas Town Mirrors Burton’s Relationship With Disney

    Disney may have given Tim Burton his start, but the relationship was far from smooth. When Burton was first hired, his offbeat style made him an outcast, and much of his work remained on the cutting room floor. He eventually made two short films for Disney, but was then fired. Their aesthetics just didn’t mesh well.

    YouTube’s Screen Rant contends that this tension can be felt in the differences between the bright, cheery, Disney-like Christmas Town and the strange, dark world of Halloween Town.

    2,384 votes
  • 6
    3,278 VOTES

    ‘Frankenweenie,’ ‘The Corpse Bride’ And ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Are All One, Long Story

    This popular theory, found all over the internet, contends that Victor in Frankenweenie is a younger version of the Victor in The Corpse Bride, and that Victor becomes Jack Skellington in the afterlife. These characters’ physical builds and canine pals lend credence to this theory.

    In all three stories, the male lead interacts with a dog that has kicked the bucket, and all three pups (or ghost pups) are roughly the same size and shape.

    3,278 votes