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NOTE: This page is only about the version of Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation. For his literary counterpart, as well as the version in the 1997 TV adaptation, see here.
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Villain Overview

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…
~ Jack Torrance's papers written after losing his sanity, and one of the most famous movie quotes of all time.
Here's Johnny!
~ Jack Torrance appears after chopping down the door that Wendy was hiding behind — another famous line.

John "Jack" Torrance is the central antagonist of the 1980 psychological horror film The Shining and a posthumous character in its 2019 supernatural horror sequel Doctor Sleep, both based on the respective Stephen King's 1977 and 2013 novels of the same name.

He is a former teacher, aspiring writer and a recovering alcoholic who lives with his wife Wendy and his son Danny, the latter of which wields a special psychic power known as "the Shining". Jack is offered the position of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel for the winter season, but during his time there, slowly falls into insanity due to cabin fever and the evil influence of the ghosts inhabiting the place, such as the Hotel Caretaker, leading him to turn on his own family.

In The Shining, he was portrayed by the legendary Jack Nicholson, who also played Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick, The Joker in Batman, Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men, Jimmy Hoffa in Hoffa and Frank Costello in The Departed. In Doctor Sleep, he was portrayed by Henry Thomas, who also played a young Norman Bates in Psycho IV: The Beginning.

Biography

Unlike his more sympathetic literary counterpart, Jack is almost a threat and unsympathetic character right from the very start. He has a disturbing and unsettling demeanor even when he was simply applying for the job as a caretaker in Stuart Ullman's office. It's also revealed early on in the film that he broke Danny's arm when he was younger, and Jack acts as though it never happened.

Jack was a writer who accepted the job of winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, despite being informed of the building's grisly past and reputation as a cursed place (which he shrugged off as a superstition) and he took his wife Wendy and son Danny with him to the hotel and thought that the solitude of the place would help inspire him in his writing as well. He shows his first sign of going insane about a month after his application when he verbally abuses his wife Wendy for "distracting" him from his work.

Not long after, Danny has communicated with him about their experiences in the hotel. Danny uses his Shining ability to tell that Jack wants to hurt both him and his mother, implying that Jack has already gone insane. He has one of his more sympathetic moments in the film when he has a nightmare about killing Wendy and Danny, before waking up, screaming and crying about it to Wendy.

However, when a silent Danny walks in on and reveals the neck injury that he received from the old woman in Room 237, Wendy accuses Jack of abusing his son again. Jack is surprised and confused by this. Jack bitterly goes downstairs to the Hotel's abandoned pub to brood about his family, whispering to himself that he'd sell his "goddamned soul" for a glass of beer.

Not long after this Lloyd the Bartender mysteriously appears (implying the Overlook Hotel may have taken up Jack's deal) and offers Jack fine alcohol on the house. Jack accepts the bourbon, breaking the alcohol abstinence he had been taking for the past few months. Lloyd and Jack act as if they've known each other for years, as the latter tells Lloyd that he's not happy with both his family and his life, and claims that he injured Danny's arm three years ago, whereas Wendy claimed that it was only five months ago. This implies that this wasn't the first or last time that Jack injured Danny or Jack lied to make himself look better.

When Jack goes back upstairs, Wendy immediately apologizes for accusing him and immediately tells him about the woman in Room 237. He insults her and calls her crazy instead of accepting the apology before she makes herself serious. He then checks the room where he finds a beautiful woman in the bathtub. With a sinister grin on his face, he lustfully embraces the woman as she seduces him and they start kissing, blatantly cheating on his wife, before discovering that the beautiful woman is actually the ghost of a hideously deformed old lady. In shock, he escapes the room as the ghost cackles wickedly.

When he gets back, he lies to his wife about not seeing anyone in the room, in order to cover up his tracks, claiming that Danny injured himself. When she asks for them to leave the hotel, he berates and insults her, claiming that he absolutely refuses to leave the hotel before storming off in a rage. When he gets to the barroom, it's now filled with ghosts before reuniting with Lloyd and asking for a drink. He starts exploring the place before a waiter accidentally spills lemonade all over him. The waiter apologizes and takes Jack to the bathroom to clean him up.

There, they have a friendly conversation, before Jack recognizes him as Charles/Delbert Grady, the previous caretaker, and reminds him of what he did. Grady then claims that he "corrected" his family and that Jack needs to "correct" his. Jack is then seduced by the hotel, and unlike the novel where he was being brainwashed against his will by the spirits, he willingly agrees to kill his family.

After Jack attempts to murder Wendy, she locks him in the pantry for her and her son's safety. He's quickly let out though by the spirits and gleefully attempts to kill his wife and son with his iconic ax instead of a rogue mallet. When Dick Halloran arrives to help, Jack murders him with the ax.

During a fearsome manhunt, he maniacally and gleefully chases Danny with his ax through the snowy maze until Danny outsmarts him by leaving a false trail, allowing him and his mother to escape. As he stumbles around in the maze, all Jack can do is scream and yell incomprehensible gibberish, showing just how far his mental state has degraded. Jack is ultimately left to freeze to death in the giant maze outside the hotel, clearly having gone way too far to redeem himself.

The film ends by featuring an old photograph of a ball at the hotel from July 4, 1921, that shows Jack at the event. What does this exactly mean is beyond anyone's speculation and is likely up for the viewer to think about.

Quotes

Jack: Wendy, let me explain something to you. Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you're breaking my concentration. You're distracting me. And it will then take me time to get back to where I was. You understand?
Wendy: Yeah.
Jack: Now, we're going to make a new rule. When you come in here and you hear me typing or whether you don't hear me typing, or whatever the f-ck you hear me doing; when I'm in here, it means that I am working, that means don't come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?
Wendy: Yeah.
Jack: Good. Now, why don't you start right now and get the f-ck out of here?
~ Jack Torrance to Wendy.
It is so f-cking typical of you to create a problem like this when I finally have a chance to accomplish something! When I am really into my work. I could really write my own ticket if I went to Boulder now couldn’t I? Shovelling out driveways, working in a car wash… any of that appeal to you? Wendy, I have let you f-ck up my life so far but I am not going to let you f-ck this up!
~ Jack Torrance to Wendy
Have you ever had a single moment's thought about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought, for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers? Has it ever occurred to you that I have agreed to look after the Overlook Hotel until May the First?! Does it matter to you at all that the owners have placed their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a contract, in which I have accepted that responsibility? Do you have the slightest idea what a moral and ethical principle is? Do you? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? Has it?
~ Jack Torrance
Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence… I said I'm not gonna hurt ya… I'm just going to bash your brains in. Gonna bash em' right the f-ck in!
~ Jack Torrance
Danny, where… (sees Danny and Wendy leaving in Halloran's snowcat) Danny!
~ Jack Torrance's last words.

Trivia

  • The scene where Jack broke down the door and yelled: "Heeeeere's Johnny!" as he did so was unscripted, yet kept in the film.
  • The catchphrase "Heeeeere's Johnny!" at the time of the film's release had a doubly iconic meaning, being the introduction to the long-running host of The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson. It even became a popular Internet meme.
  • In the film adaptation of the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, Jack appears in flashback scenes where he is portrayed by Henry Thomas. He also breifly cameos as the bartender.
  • Jack starts out clean-shaven, but as he descends into madness, he grows a five-o-clock shadow to reflect this.
  • It is believed that Jack starts wearing his iconic red jacket once he reaches the climax of his insanity.
  • He makes a small cameo appearance on the screen of the drive-in cinema before the screen gets destroyed by the F-5 tornado in the 1996 film, Twister.
  • Jack makes a brief cameo appearance in The Shining level in the 2018 film Ready Player One, chasing Aech. However, Jack is seen backward as his face isn't seen at all.
    • Interestingly, Jack Nicholson was actually approached to appear in Ready Player One, possibly reprising the role of Jack for his cameo appearance. However, Nicholson desisted as he has retired from acting since the release of How Do You Know in 2010.
  • Similarly to how Danny Lloyd, who played the young Danny Torrance in The Shining, appeared in Doctor Sleep in a cameo appearance, Jack Nicholson was actually considered to appear in a cameo appearance in Doctor Sleep. However, like in the case of his offered Ready Player One cameo, Nicholson declined because of being retired. Director Mike Flanagan ultimately felt that it was better that Nicholson didn't return, as he would not have been able to reprise the role of Jack partly because of his age, and partly because the audience would have felt dissatisfied with just a cameo appearance of him. Nevertheless, Nicholson approved and liked the film.
  • Before Jack Nicholson was cast, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, and the late Robin Williams were considered.
  • The Simpsons story "Treehouse of Horror 5" has a segment titled The Shinning where the Simpsons family has to take care of Mr. Burns' winter lodge. Homer discovers that Burns and Smithers cut off the lodge's beer supply and cable TV and with some convincing from a dead Moe (playing the role of Lloyd), he goes Jack Torrance on his entire family in exchange for a beer at Moe's ghost bar. There are several references to the movie which include the blood elevator, Homer having to ax down three doors, and the entire family freezing to death watching a portable TV.

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Live-Action Films
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Animated Television
The Grinch | Cousin Mel | I.M. Slime | Snow Miser | Heat Miser | Montana Max | Elmyra Duff | The Brain | Katie Ka-Boom | Satan | Walter Wolf | Sid the Squid | Beanie the Bison | Snowball | General Parvo | Werewolves | General Grievous | Dr. Nuvo Vindi | Wat Tambor | Son | Savage Opress | Riff Tamson | Pong Krell | Keeper Agruss | Darth Maul | Saw Gerrera | North Wind | Hervnick Z. Snerz | Goat | Yes-Man | The Dooka of Yookia | The Dookess of Zookia | Philip Trousers | Marilyn Blouse

Live-Action Television
Kurt Barlow | Richard Straker | Jack Mac Gruder | Marsten House | Father Blackwood | Billy Marlin | Madame Satan | Weird Sisters (Prudence Blackwood, Agatha Night, Dorcas Night) | Batibat | Crimson Avenger | Plague Kings (Beelzebub, Asmodeus & Purson) | The Pagans (Pan, Circe & Nagaina) | Green Man | Caliban | Jimmy Platt | Dorian Gray | Bartel | Jerathmiel | Mehitable | Aphophis | Satan

Video Games
Alma Wade | Paxton Fettel | Swan | Dark Purveyors (Zed, Vikke, Mariska, Josey & Lewis Legend) | Killabilly | Zombies | Forrest Blackwell | Rex Fury | Sauron | Black Hand of Sauron | Celebrimbor | Tower of Sauron | Hammer of Sauron | Lord Vortech | Children of Arkham (Vicki Vale, Oswald Cobblepot & Blockbuster) | Catwoman | Two-Face | Falcone Crime Family | Joe Chill | Victor Zsasz | Mr. & Mrs. Vale | Gotham Criminal Triumvirate (Thomas Wayne, Hamilton Hill & Carmine Falcone) | The Pact (Riddler, Harley Quinn, Bane, Mr. Freeze, John Doe & Eli Knable) | The Agency (Amanda Waller & Roger Harrison) | Rumi Mori | Willy Deever | S.A.N.C.T.U.S. | Zog the Eternal | Brûz the Chopper | Patricia Rakepick | Merula Snyde

Shorts
Daffy Duck | Sylvester | Tasmanian Devil | Wile E. Coyote | Elmer Fudd | Yosemite Sam | Marvin the Martian | Instant Martians | Gossamer | Tom | Jerry | Spike | Butch

Music
Crazy Taxi Driver | Cry Baby | Big Bad Wolf | Mr. Potato Head

See Also
A. Film Production Villains | Adventure Time Villains | Amblin Entertainment Villains | Aquaman Villains | Archieverse Villains | Arkhamverse Villains | Arrowverse Villains | Batgirl Villains | Batman Villains | Batman Beyond Villains | Batwoman Villains | Ben 10 Villains | Birds of Prey Villains | Black Lightning Villains | Blade Runner Villains | Blue Beetle Villains | Blumhouse Productions Villains | Captain Planet Villains | Cartoon Network Villains | Castle Rock Entertainment Villains | Catwoman Villains | Cats & Dogs Villains | Christopher Nolan Villains | Constantine: The Hellblazer Villains | Danmachi Villains | DC Animated Universe Villains | DC Animated Movie Universe Villains | DC Extended Universe Villains | DC Super Hero Girls Villains | DC's Legends of Tomorrow Villains | Die Hard Villains | Doom Patrol Villains | DreamWorks Villains | Dune Villains | Eraser Villains | Flash Villains | Game of Thrones Villains | Gotham Villains | Green Arrow Villains | Green Lantern Villains | Gremlins Villains | Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe Villains | Harley Quinn Villains | Harry Potter Villains | Injustice Villains | Justice League Villains | Justice League Dark Villains | Justice Society Villains | Laika Villains | Legendary Entertainment Villains | Legion of Super-Heroes Villains | LEGO Dimensions Villains | Lethal Weapons Villains | Lollipop Chainsaw Villains | Loonatics Unleashed Villains | Looney Tunes Villains | Lucifer Villains | Mad Max Villains | Melanie Martinez Villains | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Villains | Middle-Earth Villains | MonsterVerse Villains | Mortal Kombat Villains | New Line Cinema Villains | Pacific Rim Villains | Peacemaker Villains | Pokémon Villains | Powerpuff Girls Villains | Primal Villains | Regular Show Villains | Rick and Morty Villains | Robin Villains | Robot Chicken Villains | Rush Hour Villains | Samurai Jack Villains | Sesame Street Villains | Scooby-Doo Villains | SHAZAM Villains | Sherlock Holmes Villains | Smallville Villains | South Park Villains | Space Jam Villains | Star Wars Villains | Static Shock Villains | Steel Villains | Stephen King Villains | Steven Universe Villains | Studiocanal Villains | SWAT Kats Villains | Suicide Squad Villains | Supergirl Villains | Superman Villains | Swamp Thing Villains | Syfy Villains | Teen Titans Villains | Telltale Batman Villains | Terminator Villains | The Addams Family Villains | The Banana Splits Movie Villains | The Conjuring Villains | The Hangover Villains | The LEGO Movie Villains | The Matrix Villains | Tim Burton Villains | Tiny Toon Adventures Villains | Tom and Jerry Villains | TMNT Villains | Village Roadshow Pictures Villains | Watchmen Villains | Wild Wild West Villains | Wonder Woman Villains | Xiaolin Showdown Villains | Yu-Gi-Oh! Villains | Young Justice Villains

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Carrie
Billy Nolan | Carrie White | Chris Hargensen | Donna and Mary Lila Grace Thibodeau | Helen Shyres | Margaret White | Mortimer Snerds | Rachel Lang | Ralph White | Ruth Gogan | Tina Blake

Salem's Lot
Kurt Barlow | Richard Straker | Marsten House

Children of the Corn
Children of the Corn (Isaac Chroner | Malachai Boardman) | He Who Walks Behind the Rows

Trucks
Westway Refrigerated Truck | Bulldozer

Jerusalem's Lot
Philip Boone | The Worm

The Mangler
Bill Gartley | Lin Sue | The Mangler | The Mangler Virus

Quitter's Inc.
Mr. Donatti | Quitters Inc.

The Boogeyman
The Boogeyman

The Shining
Overlook Hotel | Jack Torrance (Stanley Kubrick) | Hotel Caretaker | Lorraine Massey

The Stand
Barry Dorgan | Bobby Terry | Harold Lauder | Julie Lawry | Lloyd Henreid | Nadine Cross | Randall Flagg | The Kid | The Rat Man | Trashcan Man | Whitney Horgan

Rage
Charlie Decker | Mr. Decker

The Long Walk
The Major | Gary Barkovitch

Roadwork
Barton George Dawes | Sal Maglorie

The Running Man
Damon Killian | United States of America

The Dark Tower
Dark Tower Villains

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
Bogs Diamond | Byron Hadley | Elmo Blatch | Samuel Norton | Sisters

Apt Pupil
Kurt Dussander | Todd Bowden

The Body
John "Ace" Merrill | Milo Pressman

Christine
Arnie Cunningham | Christine | Repperton Gang | Roland D. LeBay

Cujo
Cujo | Joe Camber | Stephen Kemp

Cycle of the Werewolf
Lester Lowe

The Dead Zone
Frank Dodd | Greg Stillson

Firestarter
Captain Hollister | Doctor Herman Pynchot | John Rainbird

It
Alvin Marsh | Bowers Gang (Belch Huggins | Henry Bowers | Marcia Fadden | Patrick Hockstetter | Peter Gordon | Vic Criss) | Butch Bowers | It | Richard Macklin | Tom Rogan

Creepshow
Creepshow Creep | Crate Beast | Nathan Grantham | Richard Vickers | Upson Pratt | Wilma Northrup

Creepshow 2
Creepshow Creep | Creepshow Bullies | Lake Blob | Sam Whitemoon | The HitchHiker

Creepshow 3
Creepshow Creep | Rachel

Cat's Eye
Cressner | Mr. Donatti | Quitters Inc. | Troll

Thinner
Tadzu Lemke | Billy Halleck | Richie Ginelli | Duncan Hopley

The Tailsman
Heck Bast | Sonny Singer

The Mist
Mrs. Carmody | The Mist

The Monkey
The Monkey

Cain Rose Up
Curt Garrish

The Raft
Lake Blob

Word Processor of the Gods
Richard Hagstrom | Roger Hagstrom

Maximum Overdrive
Bubba Hendershot | Camp Loman | Happy Toyz Truck | Ice Cream Truck | M274 Mule | Vending Machine

Misery
Annie Wilkes

Pet Sematary
Church | Gage Creed | Rachel Creed | Ellie Creed (2019 film only) | Wendigo | Timmy Baterman | Renee Hallow | Gus Gilbert | Clyde Parker | Zowie

The Tommyknockers
Tommyknockers | Nancy Voss

The Langoliers
Craig Toomey | Langoliers | Roger Toomey

Secret Window, Secret Garden
John Shooter

The Dark Half
George Stark

Dolores Claiborne
Joe St. George

Gerald's Game
Gerald Burlingame | Moonlight Man | Tom

Needful Things
Danforth Keeton | John "Ace" Merrill | Leland Gaunt

Gramma
Gramma Bruckner | Hastur

Crouch End
The Entity

Dolan's Cadillac
Jimmy Dolan

The Green Mile
William Wharton | Percy Wetmore

Sleepwalkers
Charles Brady | Mary Brady | Sleepwalkers

Storm of the Century
André Linoge

Dreamcatcher
Byrus | Mr. Gray

Bag of Bones
Max Devore | Sara Tidwell | Roggete

Rose Red
Professor Joyce Reardon

Insomnia
Atropos | Crimson King

Rose Madder
Norman Daniels

Desperation
Sheriff Collie Entragian | Tak

The Regulators
Seth Garin | Tak

Lunch at the Gotham Café
Guy

From a Buick 8
The Buick

Cell
Phone Crazies | Raggedy Man

Lisey's Story
Andrew Landon | Long Boy

Black House
Charles Burnside

Duma Key
Perse

Under the Dome
Christine Price | Dawn Sinclair-Barbara | Jim Rennie (TV series version) | Junior Rennie | Phil Bushey Phil "Chef" Bushey (novel)

11/22/63
Lee Harvey Oswald | Frank Dunning

A Good Marriage
Robert Bob Anderson

Big Driver
Lester Norville | Ramona Norville

Blind Willie
Raymond Fiegler

Mr. Mercedes
Brady Hartsfield | Morris Bellamy

Doctor Sleep
Rose the Hat | The True Knot | Crow Daddy | Grandpa Flick | Barry the Chink | Snakebite Andi

Gwendy's Button Box
Richard Farris

In The Tall Grass
Ross Humboldt

Locke & Key
Locke & Key Villains

The Crate
Crate Beast

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer
Ellen Rimbauer

The Gingerbread Girl
Jim Pickering

The Ledge
Cressner

The Night Flier
Dwight Renfield

The Outsider
The Outsider

Why We're In Vietnam
Ronnie Malenfant

1922
Wilfred James

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