Jack Torrance

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Jack Torrance
The Shining character
The shining heres johnny.jpg
Jack Nicholson as Torrance in the iconic "Here's Johnny!" scene
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byStephen King
Portrayed byJack Nicholson (film)
Steven Weber (miniseries)
Full nameJohn "Jack" Daniel Edward Torrance
SpeciesHuman (formerly)
OccupationTeacher (fired)
Winter Caretaker of the Overlook Hotel
AffiliationTorrance family
The Overlook Hotel (temporarily)
FamilyMark Torrance (father)
Mrs. Torrance (mother)
Brett Torrance (brother)
Mike Torrance (brother)
Becky Torrance (sister)
SpouseWinifred "Wendy" Torrance
Alessandra "Sandy" Reynolds (ex-wife)
ChildrenDaniel "Danny" Torrance (son)
Lucy Stone (daughter)
RelativesAbra Stone (granddaughter)
Diane "Jackie" Torrance (niece)
Powers and AbilitiesPsychic powers
Being able to see ghosts

John Daniel Edward “Jack” Torrance is the main protagonist/antagonist of Stephen King's horror novel The Shining (1977). He was portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the novel's 1980 movie adaptation (as antagonist) and by Steven Weber in the 1997 miniseries. The American Film Institute rated the character (as played by Nicholson) the 25th greatest film villain of all time.[1] In 2008, Jack Torrance was selected by Empire Magazine as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters.[2] Premiere Magazine also ranked Torrance on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.[3]

He is married to Wendy Torrance, the brother of Brett and Mike Torrance, the ex-husband of Sandy Reynolds, the father of Daniel Torrance and Lucy Stone, father-in-law of David Stone, and the grandfather of Abra Stone. According to the television series Castle Rock (written by King), he has a niece named Diane “Jackie” Torrance, who took the name “Jackie” in honor of him.


In novels[edit]

Jack Torrance grew up in Stovington, Vermont, where his father worked in the Regional Community Hospital. He is a writer and former teacher whose alcoholism and volatile temper cost him his teaching position at a small preparatory school and nearly ended his marriage to Wendy Torrance. He gives up the drinking after breaking his son Danny's arm in a blind rage and promises Wendy that she can leave him if he ever drinks or uses again. He accepts a position maintaining the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado for the winter, hoping this will salvage his family, re-establish his career, and give him the time and privacy to finish a promising play. He moves to the hotel with Wendy and Danny, who is telepathic and sensitive to supernatural forces. Danny receives guidance from an imaginary friend he calls "Tony". Danny is also comforted by meeting the hotel's kindly cook, Dick Hallorann, who shares Danny's telepathic abilities.

It is later revealed that Jack's father, also an alcoholic, was abusive towards his family. A flashback scene in the novel shows his drunk father brutally bashing Jack's mother with a cane.

The Hotel is haunted by the ghosts of those who died violently within it and is itself host to a being of unknown origin, who wishes to coerce Jack into killing Danny. Apparently, the Hotel believes if it can harness the boy's "shining", then it can gather enough power to "break free" of the building in which it has somehow become trapped. Jack has encounters with ghosts of previous staff of the hotel, who insist he had always been working there and he must kill his family, Jack eventually succumbs to these supernatural forces, as well as his drinking and grows to hate his own wife and child.

Jack cuts off all radio communications and sabotages the hotel snowmobile, their only means of transportation. He then tries to kill Wendy, who knocks him out and locks him in a storage room. Jack is later helped out of the food storage room by the ghost of the previous caretaker, who murdered his own family before committing suicide.

Jack then brutally attacks Wendy with a roque mallet he found, although she escapes. He is interrupted by the arrival of Hallorann, whom he almost beats to death.

Jack finds and confronts Danny, and is about to kill him when his son reaches through the hotel's power and brings out his father from the corrupt version of himself. This, however, is brief, he tells Danny to run and remember how much he loves him, then the corrupt comes in and smashes in his face with the roque mallet (To kill off the uncorrupt). Jack had forgotten to dump the boiler and Danny tells the corrupt version so. It makes it there to dump it, but it is still too hot and the hotel explodes. Danny, Wendy and Hollorann get out just in time.

In the sequel novel Doctor Sleep (2013), Danny (now going by Dan) learns that Jack is also the biological father of Lucy Stone, a woman whose daughter Abra has manifested shining abilities even stronger than Dan's. Shortly before he was fired from his teaching position, and unbeknownst to Wendy, Jack had a brief sexual encounter with a student teacher at a party that led to Lucy's conception. Dan is thus Lucy's half-brother and Abra's half-uncle. This book gives Jack's middle name as Edward rather than Daniel.

In the climax of the novel, Jack's ghost intervenes to help Dan and Abra defeat the main antagonists, Rose the Hat and the True Knot, at the site where the Overlook once stood. After the battle, Jack blows a goodbye kiss to his now grown son.

In film[edit]

Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) is portrayed in a less sympathetic manner in the 1980 film. In the novel, Jack is a tragic hero whose shortcomings lead to his defeat, while the film implies that he is insane from the start. The film also leaves out Jack's traumatic childhood.

The film's first major deviation from the source material occurs when Jack attacks Hallorann. In the film, instead of merely injuring him with the mallet, Jack kills Hallorann by planting an axe in his chest.

In the film, Jack hears Danny scream as he kills Hallorann, and chases his son to a hedge maze outside the hotel, while in the novel, topiary animals come to life and threaten Danny. In the film, Danny walks backwards in his own footprints to mislead Jack, then jumps to a side path and slips out of the maze.

In the film, Wendy and Danny escape the hotel in Hallorann's Snowcat, while Jack gets lost trying to pick up Danny's tracks, sits down to rest, and freezes to death. This is in contrast to the book, in which Hallorann (whom Jack kills in the film), Wendy and Danny all escape minutes before the boiler explodes, killing Jack. The film ends featuring an old photograph of a ball at the hotel from July 4, 1921, that shows Jack at the event.

In the miniseries[edit]

Author Stephen King was unhappy with director Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation of the novel, particularly Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance:

King then decided to create a miniseries based on his vision of the novel, with Jack Torrance as a more sympathetic character. Torrance in the miniseries is similar to the character in the novel, but the ending is changed. In the book, Jack redeems himself, and the boiler explodes due to the hotel's negligence. In the miniseries, Jack sacrifices himself by causing the boiler to explode in order to destroy the hotel.

The miniseries ends with a scene not in the book: Danny graduates from high school, while his spectral father looks on.


  1. ^ "AFI'S 100 YEARS…100 HEROES AND VILLAINS" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 20, 2012. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  2. ^ "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters| 73. Jack Torrance | Empire". www.empireonline.com. 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  3. ^ "100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time". Filmsite.org. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  4. ^ Libbey, Dirk. "Stephen King's Biggest Problem With Stanley Kubrick's Version of The Shining" 2016. www.cinemablend.com