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10 Most Popular Nightmare Before Christmas Characters Ranked

Released in 1993, the animated classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas" brought us a ghoulish interpretation of our favorite holidays, as the inhabitants of Halloween Town attempted to take over Christmas. The brainchild of writer and producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick, "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is one of the finest examples of the labor and time-intensive stop-motion animation, and — despite the film being only 76 minutes long — it manages to pack a lot of world-building and incredible storytelling into its efficient runtime.

Along with the distinct aesthetics of the film — thanks to the unique visionary flair of Tim Burton — "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is filled with wonderfully imaginative settings, catchy songs, and a host of memorable characters. In creating the distinct worlds of Halloween Town and Christmas Town, as well as the "real world," the creators of the film let their imaginations run wild when it came to crafting the creatures and characters that would inhabit these places.

While there are many peripheral characters across the film that make their small impact on-screen, this list will be focusing on the main cast of characters, whose distinct personalities and traits truly make them stand out amongst the crowd. How does your favorite stack up? Read on for our ranking of the 10 most popular "The Nightmare Before Christmas" characters.

10. Dr. Finkelstein

The wheelchair-bound mad scientist of Halloween Town is an interesting character, possessing qualities that see him straddling that hero/villain line in a gray area. On the one hand, he is a brilliant and intelligent man, proving himself to be a helpful ally to Jack by loaning him some scientific equipment, and building the reindeer to pull the sleigh Jack is constructing. However, Dr. Finkelstein also keeps the spirited Sally under lock and key, positioning himself as her protector because he made her, though he's unfairly keeping her sheltered away from the world.

As the film progresses, it becomes clearer that Dr. Finkelstein's intentions in creating Sally were at least honorable — he didn't necessarily plan for her to have a mind of her own. While he has his assistant Igor for company, it is evident that there is still something missing from his life, and when thought about in that context, there is something quite sad about the character who — despite some questionable behavior — is really just lonely.

As Sally continues to outsmart and evade him, Dr. Finkelstein later decides he has had enough and makes himself a new companion. In one of the best visual gags in the film, he flips open his own head and removes half of his brain, in order to bring to life a companion that is much more like him. Call it selfish or ingenious, it is certainly one way to guarantee you'll "have conversations worth having" as Finkelstein himself states.

9. Sandy Claws

While he may be better known as Santa Claus, in "The Nightmare Before Christmas," he is rebranded as Sandy Claws. Despite his lack of any claws, he is a surprisingly brash and feisty version of the famous figure. It is understandable, however, that he is a little irritated after he is unceremoniously thrown into a sack and taken to Halloween Town against his will — and on the eve of his big night, no less.

Sandy soon finds himself in a real predicament when the conniving trick-or-treaters, Lock, Shock and Barrel, decide to take him to meet the nefarious Oogie Boogie. Subjected to various sinister-looking torture devices, there is a glimmer of hope for Sandy when Sally arrives to try and help him, but, despite a valiant effort, she finds herself captive as well.

Though there are some spooky shenanigans, the story has a happy ending. When Jack returns to save them, Sandy is of course quickly able to put things right and save Christmas. While other films may have more memorable versions of the famous festive figure, the one depicted in "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is notable for displaying some uncharacteristic anger, and perhaps — most crucially — he recognizes that the wonderful Sally is the one speaking the most sense in Halloween Town. His experience could leave him bitter, but Sandy is made of stronger stuff, and still manages to spread some holiday cheer by bringing snow to Halloween Town in the film's closing moments.

6., 7., 8. Lock, Shock & Barrel

Introduced as "Halloween's finest trick-or-treaters," this trio has built a reputation from their mischievous antics, and their allegiance to the notorious baddie, Oogie Boogie. We first meet them when Jack is handing out jobs to the townspeople, and their arrival alone is enough to strike fear into the heart of The Mayor. Jack recognizes their talents however, and they are assigned perhaps one of the most important tasks of all — kidnapping Sandy Claws and bringing him to Halloween Town, so that Jack can take his place.

While they bicker and brawl amongst themselves, it seems initially that these willing tricksters are on Jack's side. Despite a false start involving the Easter Bunny, they do eventually succeed in bringing Sandy to Jack. However, their impish ways soon become clear when they renege on their promise to Jack to not involve Oogie Boogie, as they hand-deliver Sandy to their boss.

The ingenuity of these pint-sized pranksters is evident when they discuss their proposed scheming in the incredibly catchy song, "Kidnap The Sandy Claws." While there are questions about how these children have access to traps, cannons, and a number of other deadly weapons, they are clearly very skilled at what they do, and — as the trusted minions of Oogie Boogie — we wouldn't want to cross them either.

5. The Mayor

The good thing about The Mayor of Halloween Town is you can always tell what kind of mood he is in, due to his unique, head-spinning design that can perfectly pivot between happy and fearful. Despite seeming like he is a good leader, The Mayor lacks a lot of his own agency and is completely reliant on Jack when it comes to making their Halloween plans — as he himself memorably says, "Jack, please, I'm only an elected official here, I can't make decisions by myself!"

Whether intentional or not, The Mayor is a wonderful representation of the "two faces" of political figures, with the public-facing façade exuding control and command, while the other face is perhaps a truer representation of their inadequacies and flaws. As the film progresses — and particularly when Jack is absent from the town — we see the smile less and less, and it is clear how much he relies on the support of Jack to govern.

The Mayor is still a great character, however, and what he lacks in decision-making capabilities, he more than makes up for in personality. He clearly cares about Jack a great deal, and isn't afraid to show his emotions very publicly when it is understood that the Pumpkin King has perished. With Jack as the brains, and The Mayor as the mouthpiece, the pair make for a pretty formidable duo when it comes to preparing the spooktacular shenanigans each year.

4. Zero

The ghostly companion to Jack Skellington is one of the unsung heroes of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and makes a big impression, despite only communicating with a series of adorable barks and yaps. Zero may not have a physical form, but he enjoys all the usual dog activities, including playing fetch. Fortunately, his master — the "Bone Daddy" himself — has no shortage of bones to throw for his beloved companion.

Even though Zero can't talk, he's unusually perceptive and — along with Sally — is one of the few characters who shows reluctance to Jack's Christmas plans. While Zero is loyal and always by his master's side, his expressive little face can't hide the concerns he has. When Jack is trying to work out what Christmas means, his helpful companion tries to draw his attention to the portrait of him as the Pumpkin King to remind him what he is good at.

After Sally experiences visions suggesting that Jack's plans for Christmas will end in disaster, she tries to thwart his attempts to fly in his makeshift sleigh with some fog juice. Based on what does transpire, you could argue whether this is a good thing or not, but Zero's unique glowing jack-o-lantern nose means he is the perfect pooch to head up the column of skeletal reindeer and light the way for Jack. Though Zero may have shown reservations, his loyalty means he is ready to step in and help Jack, demonstrating that he always has his master's interests at heart.

3. Oogie Boogie

It takes a truly formidable villain to strike fear into our hearts long before they are seen, and Oogie Boogie is one such character. Hiding in the shadows beneath Halloween Town, Mr. Oogie Boogie employs his loyal henchmen, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, to do his evil bidding and keep him well-fed. There is clearly a past between Jack and Oogie, and the Pumpkin King seems particularly keen to make sure Oogie Boogie is kept out of his Christmas plans.

With his lair resembling a threatening casino, Oogie is shown to be a character who relies on fate and chance, with a tendency to gamble on the lives of those he's captured. Making decisions on the roll of a dice demonstrates the madness of the character who is very inventive, but also completely willing to make random and rash decisions and treats the fate of his captives like it is a game.

Oogie Boogie is such an iconic villain that he not only gets a song sung about him, he gets his own number, and the vibrant colors and wonderful vocal performance of Ken Page make it one of the film's standout moments. Equally memorable is the moment he finally meets his end, as the burlap sack of his body is torn away to reveal the multitude of bugs underneath. It is a nightmarish sight and yet — despite this and the character's gleeful malevolence — he is an incredibly likable villain. The film wouldn't be the same without him.

2. Jack Skellington

Known as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington is beloved by its inhabitants and seems to hold even more weight than the elected officials when it comes to the town's plans to make each Halloween scarier than the last. After one particularly successful spooky season, Jack starts to have an identity crisis and questions whether the ghoulish and the ghastly are all that life has to offer.

Jack is a charismatic and undeniably likable character, and the childlike joy he experiences when he stumbles upon Christmas Town is truly infectious. Jack's hubris ultimately ends up being his downfall, but he successfully manages to convince the residents of Halloween Town to try their hands at something a bit more festive and positions himself as the skeleton to do it. Despite it ending in disaster, Jack's heart was always in the right place, and his intentions were ultimately good. He just couldn't shake the spookiness enough to make the Christmas he had originally envisioned.

What makes Jack such a great and memorable character is that he is fallible, and he admits this when his Christmas goes awry. Eager to put things right, Jack saves the day, defeating Oogie Boogie and freeing the captured Sally and Sandy Claws. He might make mistakes, but Jack should always be commended for trying to do something new, as it was in doing so that he found a reinvigorated passion for what he was so renowned for.

1. Sally

Voiced by the incomparable Catherine O'Hara, Sally is the living doll with a heart of gold and the undisputed hero of "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Secretly in love with Jack Skellington, Sally lives out her days under the watchful eye of her creator and keeper, Dr. Finkelstein — all while plotting his demise and subtly providing invaluable help to the Pumpkin King.

Not content with being subservient to the man who gave her life, Sally is determined to do anything for Jack, even going as far as to throw herself out the window — and nonchalantly stitch herself back together — in order to deliver a gift to him. While Jack might be painted as the main protagonist of the film, it is clear that he would not be able to succeed without Sally's help. When she experiences a terrifying vision that Jack's plan to take over Christmas will end in smoke and fire, Sally desperately tries to warn him. However — while he is listening — he's in too deep and doesn't truly understand the seriousness of what he's getting into.

Where most people would simply give up trying to speak sense to Jack, Sally is persistent, trying to deter his plans right up until the last minute — even taking on the formidable Oogie Boogie in order to rescue Sandy Claws. Jack doesn't see it until the very last moment, but Sandy said it best when he said, "She's the only one who makes any sense around this insane asylum!"