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Jareth the Goblin King
Created byJim Henson
Portrayed byDavid Bowie
TitleGoblin King

Jareth the Goblin King is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the 1986 fantasy movie Labyrinth. Jareth (David Bowie) is a powerful and mysterious being who has an antagonistic yet flirtatious relationship with Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), the film's protagonist.[1] He also appears in the film's adaptations, including the Marvel comic books, story book, graphic novel, novelization, video game, coloring books, and photo album.


Jareth is the Goblin King of the Labyrinth, a vast kingdom within another realm. Though the monarch of the goblins, Jareth is never said to be a goblin himself, appearing as a handsome human. In the first draft of the script, however, he turned into a goblin when Sarah rejected him, thus suggesting that he was a goblin to begin with. His powers include the ability to form crystal orbs in his hands, which can create illusions of all types or to view things from a distance. Jareth uses his magical crystals to show dreams and offers the crystals to Sarah as a symbol of dreams. Another inspiration for the idea of Jareth's magical crystals is Hand with Reflecting Sphere by M.C. Escher, i.e. the inspiration for the mirror properties of the crystals and their power to show reflections of dreams.[2]

Jareth is also a master of disguise. He can transform into a barn owl. In the movie, he disguised himself as a blind beggar.

Jareth resents his position as Goblin King and yearns for a different life, probably somewhere down in Soho according to rock legend David Bowie,[3][4] who first portrayed Jareth in 1986. He has a great deal of angst that only grows when he falls in love with Labyrinth protagonist, Sarah, as revealed through David Bowie's songs from the film and the Return to Labyrinth manga.

According to the music video for "Underground" and Return to Labyrinth and hinted at in the Labyrinth novelization, Jareth has a human alter ego (in Return to Labyrinth he uses the alias Jareth Quinn). In the novelization of Labyrinth Jeremy (who resembles Jareth) is an actor with whom Sarah's biological mother, an actress, had run off years earlier, after they had starred in a show together. Jeremy is also the man who gave Sarah her music box, which in the book plays "Greensleeves", and in the movie plays "As the World Falls Down", the same song that Jareth uses to show his affection for Sarah while within his labyrinth.

In the novelization and according to the song "Within You" part of what Jareth wants from Sarah is for her to believe in him. Though Sarah renounces the power Jareth holds over her it does appear she actually gives him what he wants. The line "I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave," embodies what Jareth feels for young Sarah Williams.

Other appearances[edit]

Jareth in music videos[edit]

Bowie portrayed Jareth in two music videos. One was for the song "Underground" and one for the song "As the World Falls Down", both videos are available on the VHS tape The Bowie Video Collection and the two-disc DVD set The Best of Bowie. The videos feature new footage of Bowie (as himself), appearances by Hoggle and footage of Bowie as the Goblin King taken from the film.

Jareth in Return to Labyrinth[edit]

Little is known about Jareth's personal life or history. As revealed in Volume 2 of the original English-language manga, Jareth at one point or another had a long, romantic relationship with Mizumi, the Queen of Moraine. However, the relationship failed when Jareth revealed he found Mizumi too shallow and boring to love, even though Mizumi loved him completely. He did give her a chance to find his heart, which was hidden somewhere in the Labyrinth. Mizumi failed after many years of searching, and still pines for Jareth.

According to the Return to Labyrinth series, Jareth has ruled the Labyrinth for 1,300 years. In the manga, Mizumi calls him a sorcerer and it is revealed Jareth is not a goblin, deciding to rule them out of boredom. He does not appear to age between the film and the events of Return to Labyrinth, which happen many years later thus further confirming his immortality.

In the manga, Jareth establishes Sarah's then-teenaged brother Toby as his heir, leaving him in charge of the Labyrinth during a rather delicate time. The story also expands on Jareth's obsession with Sarah, embellishing on his twisted desire for both her love, and revenge upon her, albeit this pales significantly in comparison to his desire to have her as his love and queen. In one section of book two of Return to Labyrinth, it could be interpreted as Jareth intending for Sarah to become his queen (an idea that was also included in the original first draft of the screenplay).[2]

Action figures[edit]

NECA released three Jareth action figures: a 12-inch speaking doll, dressed in black, speaking lines from the film, and two 7-inch versions, one of which comes with a figure of Hoggle.

In October 2017, McFarlane released an action figure, in his Ballroom dream outfit, including a mask and a crystal orb.


  1. ^ Jareth at imdb.com
  2. ^ a b "Labyrinth". imsdb.com.
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgCpWZm1NSk
  4. ^ http://www.astrolog.org/labyrnth/inside.txt