Jumanji. A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind. You roll the dice to move your token. Doubles gets another turn. And the first player to reach the end wins.
~ The inductions of the boardgame Jumanji.

Jumanji is a cursed African game with supernatural powers and the titular object of the book of the same name and the main antagonistic object in the 1995 film adaptation, animated series, and the 2017 sequel to the film. Even though many calamities ensue during the movies and the animated series, it must be noticed that the source of all of this evil is none other than the game itself due to its curse of bringing harm to its players.

In the 1995 film and the animated series, Jumanji appears as a board game that brings the jungle-like dangers and traps into the real world for whoever plays the game. In the film's sequel Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji transforms itself into a video game that traps up to five individuals who play it into its virtual world and has them face dangers under the identities of Jumanji's protagonists.


1995 Film

The game's origins date back to the 1800s during the infamous period of African history known as the Scramble for Africa, during which the British Empire conquered a vast slice of the continent primarily through miliaristic means. During the conquest and colonisation of the southern half of the continent, British soldiers and settlers took over lands won or taken from African tribespeople. In the very north of the lands that would become the nation of South Africa during the 1840s, a regiment of British soldiers was stationed in a fort to guard against raids by the native tribes. To pass the time, the soldiers most often played a board game purchased from a South African merchant which was named Jumanji. In one instance, a troop of soldiers from the fort was sent to visit one of the local tribes to establish better relations and brought with them the board game for possible use as a medium for talks, a strategy which was surprisingly effective. The soldiers continued to visit the tribe several times and developed good relations with them but one night, one of the British soldiers accidentally shot and killed a member of the tribe due to mistaking him for a predator. Enraged, the tribes-people turned on the soldiers and drove them away, killing many in the process and resulting in the game being left behind.

The survivors returned to the fort, called in reinforcements and commenced a bloody massacre of the entire tribe in revenge. As it was ending, a soldier went to pick up the abandoned Jumanji from where it had been left. As he did so, the tribe's shaman went to attack him from behind but the soldier heard him just in time and shot him first. As he lay on the ground dying, the shaman placed his bloody hands on Jumanji, summoned dark magics and in that instant placed a powerful and terrible curse on the game, vowing to the soldier in tribal-speak that no matter where they went, the monstrous horrors, evils and dangers of the darkest African jungles would find them. Visibly shaken, the soldier grabbed Jumanji and left with his comrades.

One week after the contingent returned to the fort, it suddenly went completely radio-silent and nothing was ever heard from it again until months later, when backup British forces arrived to find the fort obliterated, reduced to a smoldering ruin and the entire populace dead or missing. The only survivor was ironically the same soldier, grievously wounded and close to death, who had brought back the game from the previous massacre of the local tribe. Driven insane by whatever had transpired, he could only mouth over and over the word "Jumanji". He was subsequently declared insane and sent to a military hospital on the western coast, always with the game in hand for he refused to let go of it and became manically destructive and violent when anyone attempted to wrest it away from him. Not long after he arrived at the hospital, he broke out and vanished into the expanse of Africa. Neither he nor the game was ever heard from again.

The game remained lost and forgotten for almost a decade until it was recovered from the skeleton of its previous owner by a team of British hunters in the Congo circa 1888. The hunters foolishly played a round and were quickly overwhelmed by the game's evil until only one was left. The hunter finished the game, banishing the evil back into it and resolved to make sure it would never kill again. He returned to England and joined an expedition to the New World, always with the game close at hand but ignoring the sinister drumbeats used by the game to tempt in victims. When he arrived in the New World in the land that would eventually become New Hampshire, he set up a new life guarding the game.

In the beginning in 1890, in the New World, two local boys discovered and stole the game from the hunter in his sleep and played it managed to win. Amazingly, both survived to win the game but were frightened of its power and set out to bury in the woods. When one boy asks, "What happen if someone digs it up?" the other says, "God have mercy on that soul.". After some time, the game is found 100 years later in the year 1969 by a young boy named Alan Parrish and his girlfriend Sarah Whittle. They both start playing the game, until the game starts to show its dangers by incorporating bats in the house's fireplace that chase Sarah down the street, while Alan is sucked into the game until another player gets a 5 or 8 in the dices. 26 years later, two other kids, Judy and Peter Shepherd, move into the house Alan lived before and find the game, unleashing more and more dangers as they progress, but also releasing Alan when Peter rolls the dice and gets a 5. They find Sarah and get her to play the game, and after escaping a stampede, a vicious hunter known as Van Pelt, carnivorous plants, a crocodile and venomous spiders, Alan manages to win the game and send everything back, including time itself, allowing him to hide the game once again. Alan and Sarah throw the Jumanji game tied up with heavy bricks into a river, where it sinks below and out of sight.

However, it was later seen washed up on a beach, half buried in the sand where two French-Canadian people heard the sound of the game's drums and began to approach it.

Animated series

In the Jumanji cartoon series, the game's role is more prominent. The game is not just an object, but a sentient being, capable of getting angry and receiving information. The game also doesn't send the dangers to the real world, but transports the players into it's interior universe, meaning that if one doesn't solve the riddle the game proposes, the player will be trapped inside the game forever which is why it also said in the rules: "Jumanji gives a clue to help players complete their turn". Inside the deepest parts of the jungle, one will find a new meaning to "game mechanics", as a giant set of gears and machinery will be in the game's outer reaches, keeping everything under control.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

After washing up on a beach, Jumanji would transform itself into a videogame cartridge when it was ultimately found by a man named Vreeke and given to his son Alex in 1996. The game changed its medium due to Alex's apathy towards playing a board game and his interest in videogames.

As a video game, Jumanji gives players the option of selecting one of five protagonists, Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Moose Finbar, Professor Shelly Oberon, Ruby Roundhouse, and Seaplane McDonough, each of whom has a different skillset. The players are then forcibly brought into its virtual world as the character they selected and in order to leave, must beat the game. Only up to five individuals may be transported into the game at once, as a protagonist cannot be selected by more than one player.

The objective of the new Jumanji is to return the Jaguar's Eye jewel to its statue after it is given to the players by the ally NPC Nigel. Opposing them is a re-created Van Pelt, who is now depicted as a corrupt explorer seeking to claim the Jaguar's Eye for himself. Van Pelt is able to control the wildlife in Jumanji to hunt down the protagonists and also has an army of henchmen at his disposal. Players are given three lives and if all are used up, presumably die for good.

Alex became the video game's first victim after he selected Seaplane McDonough as his character. Twenty years later, high school students Spencer Gilpin, Anthony "Fridge" Johnson, Bethany Walker, and Martha Kaply found the game during detention and were sucked in as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Moose Finbar, Professor Shelly Oberon, and Ruby Roundhouse, respectively. Managing to make their way through the game's levels, the four eventually found Alex, who was unable to get past Jumanji's flying section and was down to his last life. Working together and using their unique abilities, the players were able to overcome the game's challenges and despite all being reduced to their final lives, returned the Jaguar's Eye to its statue to beat Jumanji.

Upon completing the game, the four students returned to their school, while Alex went back to when he started playing Jumanji in 1996. The next day at school, however, Spencer, Fridge, Bethany, and Martha heard the sound of the game's drums. In response, the four destroyed Jumanji with a bowling ball.

Villains of Jumanji

The animated series features many dangerous characters, most of whom appear only once. The recurring characters include:

  • Van Pelt (portrayed by Jonathan Hyde in the 1995 film, voiced by Sherman Howard in the animated series, and portrayed by Bobby Cannavale in Welcome to the Jungle) - The only antagonist to appear in all three versions, Van Pelt is depicted as a big game hunter who wants to mount everyone's heads on his wall in the 1995 film and the animated series. He hunts everything, man or beast, without remorse. He hates Alan and wants to kill him. His most commonly used word in the animated series if anything goes wrong, is "Blast!" He is killed by Peter in one episode of the series, but Peter becomes him as there must always be a hunter, so Alan and Judy bring him back. In Welcome to the Jungle, Van Pelt is given the first name Russel and reimagined as a corrupt mercenary attempting to gain possession of the Jaguar's Eye jewel. Instead of relying on firearms, Van Pelt's 2017 incarnation has the ability to control wildlife and is also assisted by a group of henchmen.
  • J.H. "Trader" Slick (voiced by Tim Curry) - The wicked merchant of Jumanji, who sells items to anyone who can meet the terms of his transactions, and has been known to sell simple tools to rare and powerful artifacts to a vast clientele throughout the series. He lives and sells his wares at a trading post located at the heart of the jungle. He always says his whole name when introducing himself, but his middle name changes a lot of time. Some of the items he has sold include a rare paint he tricked Alan into buying, the Slickomatic, a giant potion to make Peter grow and later the antidote, the ChronoRepeater, a "Get Out of Jumanji Free" Card that only worked once, a love potion for Judy, and even a motorboat which allows Peter and Judy to return to their time. If necessary, he becomes a real danger to the trio, but his biggest part in the series is just a sly, cunning swindler known as "Honest John Dealership".
  • Professor J.S. Heinrich Ibsen (voiced by William Sanderson) - The mad scientist of Jumanji. He invents dangerous Steampunk-like machines. Ibsen is tasked to "work" for Jumanji, creating dangers and nightmare machines like poisoned acid-spitting frogs and battle-armored rhinos. He sends daily reports to "Jumanji" itself which broadcasts throughout the jungle. He calls himself a "Master Builder of Jumanji." This is a reference to the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and his play "The Master Builder".
  • Captain Ishmael Squint (voiced by Charles Napier) - The cruel pirate who sails the Jumanji Sea. In "Eye of the Sea", he lost his nose during the battle against the one-eyed sea monster with a hideous odor called "The Draken" over 20 years ago. The Draken is something of a cross between a dragon and a kraken, with a single huge eye like Cyclops. Squint's vengeful pursuit of the Draken is remininscent of Captain Ahab in the Herman Melville Moby Dick. The monster ate Squint alive before Alan stabbed it in the eye, killing it. In "Return of Squint", he later came back with two new shipmates. He forces Judy, Peter and Alan to help him search for treasure at the bottom of the sea with Ibsen's submarine, but get captured by demonic mermaids with his new shipmates while the other three escape.
  • Mr. Shreve - Squint’s 1st one-eyed shipmate.
  • Mr. Shatic - Squint’s 2nd one-legged shipmate.
  • Stalker - The demonic Grim Reaper villain who is the Protector of Jumanji. He's the "Game Over" Demon of Jumanji. He first appeared in "No Dice" when Alan stole the dice from the real world. He is apparently destroyed when he is crushed by a piston, but is revealed to have survived. In "The Gift", Stalker brought Van Pelt, Trader Slick, and Professor Ibsen together to kill the kids after Alan was poisoned by a demonic centipede as Peter threatened to destroy Jumanji if Alan died. He is again defeated after being shoved down a waterfall by Alan, but survives again. His name and destiny was never revealed in the show.
  • Aston Philips - The greedy adventurer. He considers himself the biggest and bravest and betrays even his agents: Alan, Judy and Peter. His catchphrase is "Aston Philips has done it again". Though he was thought to have died in the Temple of Riddles in "The Palace of Clues," he actually survived and resurfaced when it came to looking for the Golden Goblet of Jumanjicon. He encountered Alan, Judy, and Peter again in their search for the artifact and even reclaimed his compass that Trader Slick swindled him into trading. After drinking from the Golden Goblet of Jumanjicon, he reverted to childhood form.
  • Ludwig Von Richtor (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) - The German hunter who is the rival of Hunter Van Pelt. He competed with Van Pelt in hunting Alan. In "The Ultimate Weapon," Ludwig Von Richtor was present at Trader Slick's auction for the Trans-Vector of Jumanji.
  • Ape Judge (voiced by Edward Asner) - An ape-like law keeper that presided over the trial of Alan when he was accused of stealing the Singing Orb from an ape. However, he is not a benevolent Judge as he condemns all without regard to innocence. He is also very greedy as shown when he takes an orb from the Fludgels and is sucked into it. In "The Ultimate Weapon," the Judge was present at Trader Slick's auction for the Trans-Vector of Jumanji. His only weapon is "Justice" which is a giant gorilla.
  • Flint (voiced by Charlie Schlatter) - An evil wizard created by Jumanji to mess with Judy's mind. Turns people into stone, but is defeated by Judy when she reflects his own attack back at him, freeing his victims and turning him to stone. Is presumably destroyed when his statue falls thousands of feet to the ground.
  • Jamazon Queen Gina - The leader of the Jumanji Amazons. Tries to marry Alan, but is defeated by Aunt Nora. In "The Ultimate Weapon," Queen Gina was present at Trader Slick's auction for the Trans-Vector of Jumanji but did not take part in the reclaiming of the device.
  • Black Ant Queen - The Black Ant leader of Jumanji. In "The Ultimate Weapon," the Black Ant Queen was present at Trader Slick's auction for the Trans-Vector of Jumanji but did not take part in the reclaiming of the device.
  • Red Ant Queen - The Red Ant leader of Jumanji. In "The Ultimate Weapon," the Red Ant Queen was present at Trader Slick's auction for the Trans-Vector of Jumanji but did not take part in the reclaiming of the device.
  • Sand King (voiced by Jim Cummings) - The sand monster who is the ruler the sand kingdom and tries to get a chest of cursed gold from Judy, Peter and Alan. He gets destroyed by Peter with a squirt gun.