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NOTE: This page is only about the version of Jack Torrance in Stephen King's original novel and 1997 TV adaptation. For his movie counterpart in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation, see here.
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This Villain was Headlined on September 2019.

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John Daniel Edward "Jack" Torrance is the central antagonist of Stephen King's 1977 horror novel The Shining as well as its 1997 TV miniseries adaptation. He is also a posthumous character in Stephen King's 1987 novel Misery, and a posthumous antagonist in the 2013 sequel Doctor Sleep.

Jack was a writer and a recovering alcoholic who lived with his wife Wendy and his son Danny, the latter of which wielded a special psychic power known as "the Shining". He was put in charge of the Overlook Hotel, and during the time there, was driven into madness by a demon that possessed the entire Hotel and attempted to kill his own wife, Wendy Torrance, and his own son, Danny Torrance.

In the 1997 miniseries, he was portrayed by Steven Weber, who also played Aldon Webber in Crawlspace.

Biography

Unlike in the 1980 film adaptation, within the original novel, it was made quite clear that Jack slowly fell under the influence of the unspeakable evil force that appeared to be the Overlook Hotel itself, or the demonic entity that took complete control of it and commanded its ghostly population. The ghost of the former bartender often appeared to Jack and explained that he murdered his family upon the hotel's request and served as the spokesperson between Jack and the hotel, which/who tried to hire Jack as well and make him do the same.

However, Jack soon descended into madness that wasn't yet fully explained; depending on the view of the reader, he could have either suffered an intense mental breakdown or was possessed by the spirits of the Overlook Hotel from the beginning. Whatever truly happened to the unfortunate Jack wasn't fully explained by then. Yet, the demonic possession was further implied by all the ghosts that haunted the hotel — especially the ghosts of two young girls, who frequently appeared to Danny as well. The ghosts were apparently attracted by the boy's power and seemingly tried to drag him into the Underworld.

At any rate, Jack soon lost his mind completely, and became increasingly abusive toward Wendy and Danny while holding conversations with a ghostly Bartender (who appeared to be the ghost of the previous caretaker) that apparently only he could see; he also had a traumatic experience with a ghastly phantom in a hotel room, and ultimately descended into a murderous psychosis in which he tried to kill his wife and son with a rogue mallet (much as the previous caretaker had done years previously).

At the end of the story, when Jack was completely controlled by the demonic entity, the narration no longer called him "Jack," but as "the creature" or "the monster." It was clearly stated that the unfortunate Jack underwent an awful metamorphosis and was no longer human. "Jack" attacked his family with his rogue mallet and severely injured Dick with the mallet, but Dick managed to pull through.

Jack has a redemption arc in the book when his possession is fully proven during the final confrontation between Danny and "the creature" when the boy managed to awaken the spirit of his father with his Shining. Jack then momentarily gains control over himself, hugs Danny, tells his son that he loves him, and bids him farewell, giving him, Wendy, and Dick time to escape. He then kills himself to prevent the spirits from repossessing him and lets the hotel explode, which Danny, Wendy, and Halloran (the cook who worked in the hotel who also wielded the Shining) managed to do by detonating the heating system.

Other Appearances

1997 TV Series

The TV series The Shining followed directly to the novel as well as the roles of the characters and Jack. Author Stephen King was disappointed with the previous adaptation, so he made the TV series to make it more loyal than the Kubrick version. This version featured him forgetting to check the hotel's gas generators, causing them to explode and kill him. Years later, as Danny is graduating high school, Jack's redeemed spirit returns to him to tell him how proud he is.

Gallery

Trivia

  • In the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, it was revealed that during his days as an English professor, Jack Torrance had an affair with a student and she had a daughter named Lucy. Lucy would go on to have a daughter of her own named Abra, who possessed a more potent version of the Shining. That would make Jack Abra's grandfather, and Danny Lucy's half-brother (and therefore Abra's uncle). His ghost would appear briefly to assist his granddaughter in the climax.
  • The demon that had control of the Overlook Hotel was the main antagonist because had it not been for the demon, Jack would not have turned evil in the first place.

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Cressner

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Dwight Renfield

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The Outsider

Why We're In Vietnam
Ronnie Malenfant

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Wilfred James

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