1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Human Wednesdays: Jareth

Sep 5, 2012

Weekly Human Wednesdays: Jareth

Written by Kyle Mahoney.


Performed by...
David Bowie (1986)

First appearance...
Labyrinth (1986)

Most recent appearance...
Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth (TOKYOPOP Manga) (2010)

Best known role...
King of the Goblins; Master of the Labyrinth; granter of wishes

Sarah Williams, Sir Didymus, Ludo, Hoggle

Jareth is the ruler of Goblin City and the Labyrinth that surrounds it. He, along with his goblin army, overheard Sarah's wish to have her half-brother, Toby taken away forever. He is endowed with many magical abilities aided by crystals. He is able to teleport himself at will, transform into a white owl, turn humans into goblins (his plan for Toby) and cause hallucinations.

Although Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus are all his subjects who betray him, Jareth only cares about Hoggle's betrayal. Constantly sneaking up on him and questioning his actions. Jareth threatens to throw him into the Bog of Eternal Stench as punishment for treason.

He also performs in the film's musical numbers: "Magic Dance," "As the World Falls Down," and "Within You." These musical numbers all revolve around Sarah and were all written by Jareth's performer, David Bowie.

At first Jareth just seems to be helping Sarah out by fulfilling her wish, but he later becomes enamored with her. He offers him one of his crystals in order for him to not only control her but to turn Toby into a Goblin. During the musical number, "As the World Falls Down," Jareth causes Sarah to fall into a hallucination in which the two are at a masquerade ball and dance together.

He sings to her again with "Within You" where he states his unrequited love as she searches for her brother in a maze not unlike M.C. Esher's famous painting, "Relativity." He sings of everything he is offering her and he becomes devastated when she refuses.

In the 4-Part Manga Series Return to Labyrinth we learn that even after Sarah and Toby come home to their parents, Jareth hasn’t given up all hope on Toby. He and his Goblins have been protecting Toby for the last 15 years and making sure he gets everything his heart desires until the day when he would return to Labyrinth (hence the name) and become the heir to the Goblin Kingdom.

Jim Henson knew that one of the reasons The Dark Crystal didn't do as well as he hoped was because people might have been off put by its lack of "Henson-ness" that people were accustomed to. So when he began working on Labyrinth he knew he wanted musical numbers written by a major musician who would also perform the character of Jareth. Jim was drawn to Bowie's "other-worldliness and energy" which made him a perfect casting choice.

The Labyrinth needs Jareth because without him there would be no Labyrinth. He is charmingly evil and classy. He is also needed because I bet his crystals were the inspiration for the children's toy "Fushigi."

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com


  1. Jareth... *drool* I'm sorry. Was I oogling? Dang it! I love the labyrinth and everthing about it! My dad still says I'm obsessed..... I am. But.. I like to call myself a muppet specialists.... I think I'll go watch the labyrith again on my sick Saturday. Hugs and giggles ~maria