Has anyone ever noticed how many heroic characters in movies, tv shows, or books are named Jack? It’s a bit out of control.
To name a few:
Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Jack Bauer (24)
Jack Kelly (Newsies)
Jack Shepherd (Lost)
Jack & Jill, Jack Sprat, Jack Horner (Mother Goose)
Jack Skellington (Nightmare Before Christmas)
Jack Dawson (Titanic)
Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy books and movies)
Jack and the Beanstalk
And if you’re still skeptical, here’s an entire Goodreads list dedicated to characters named Jack,
and here are some more movies.
It’s also become the name for the coolest card in the deck (assuming you grew up in the Midwest), the ultimate prize (the jackpot), a pretty amazing cereal (apple jacks), and the person who can do everything (jack-of-all-trades).
My Taco Bell name (the name I tell them to call when my order is ready) is even Jack. And I’ll be darned if it doesn’t make me feel a bit more heroic when they tell me that my food is ready.
So, how did this happen?
Back in medieval Britain, “Jack” was a slang word meaning “man”. It became a way to refer to any man, usually of the common classes.
Eventually, writers began creating Jack the character, and he came to embody the idea of the “everyman.” He especially came to embody the common man in all of us- not the royal or rich or exceptional. Perhaps that’s why Jack always triumphs; Jack embodies the hope that we too, as typical “everymen”, will triumph. We’re not a Kingly Richard or Charles or George, we’re Jack.
Authors and filmmakers (and our subconscious’s in the Taco Bell line) want us to relate to the non-wealthy, non-privileged, yet triumphant Jack. We see ourself in Jack climbing the beanstalk and confronting the giant, in Jack leading the people in “Lost”, in Jack starting the Newsie rebellion, and in Jack the dreamer on the Titanic. And maybe just a titch of you feels like Jack Sparrow…on occasion.
We may be common, but we’re also awesome. We are all Jack.