Jack Frost is a sprite-like character with roots in Viking lore, where he is known as Jokul Frosti ("icicle frost"). In Britain and the United States, he is a variant of Old Man Winter and is held responsible for frosty weather, for nipping the nose and toes in such weather, coloring the foliage in autumn, and leaving fernlike patterns on cold windows in winter. He sometimes appears in literature, film, television, song, and video games as a sinister mischief maker.
Appearances in Christmas specials
Rankin/Bass had two different depictions of Jack Frost in their animated specials; one was introduced in Frosty's Winter Wonderland, and the other was featured in his own self-titled special, Jack Frost.
In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, Jack was a mischievous sprite who was jealous of Frosty because he didn't get the attention he wanted like Frosty does. He tries to get rid of Frosty by stealing his magic hat, but after this fails, he eventually has a change of heart when he is asked to be the best man at Frosty and Crystal's wedding. This version of him was later seen again, this time in stop-motion animation, at the end of Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July; here, Big Ben brings him in from South America to revive Frosty, Crystal, Chilly and Milly after they are melted by the July heat.
In Jack Frost, he is an invisible sprite that nobody can see or hear. One girl named Elisa claims she loves him, causing Jack to fall for her. After Jack works his magic to save Elisa from going a waterfall, she exclaims, "Jack Frost, not only are you a magician-- you're a hero!" Jack decides he'd like to become human. When he asks Father Winter to grant his wish, Father Winter tells him that he can become human permanently if he acquires the following: a house, horse, bags of gold, and a wife. As a human in January Junction, Jack adopts the last name "Snip" (inspired by his friend, the snowflake maker) and stays with Elisa and her family, running a tailor shop out of their home. He is later joined by his friends, Snip and Holly, who Father Winter has sent down to keep an eye on him. Later on, Jack defeats the village's evil Cossack king, Kubla Kraus, and is able to take Kubla's castle, a robotic horse, and bags of gold for himself. Unfortunately, just as he goes to ask for Elisa's hand in marriage, he learns that he's too late-- Elisa is just about to marry Sir Ravenal. Jack is heartbroken, but knows life must go on: he returns home to his friends in the Kingdom of the Winter Clouds, who are delighted to see him back.
Some fans argue that the two versions of the character may actually be the same, as they share the same outfit and vary only slightly in appearance. In recent years, another fan theory has surfaced that the character went on to become the Snow Miser from The Year Without A Santa Claus.
Under Disney, Jack Frost appeared as the antagonist of The Santa Clause 3, portrayed by Martin Short. In this film, he is jealous of the attention that Santa Claus receives and schemes to replace him. To do so, he manages to avoid severe punishment from the Council of Legendary Figures for his actions against Scott by suggesting he be put in community service and help out around the North Pole for an impending visit by Scott's in-laws. The Council agrees, but during his tenure, he sabotages the workshop, causing problems that could possibly delay Scott from making his annual journey. When he discovers the Hall of Snow Globes, and having learned of the Escape Clause, he steals Scott's, freezes Neil and Laura when they catch him, and threatens to do the same to their daughter Lucy if she rats him out to Scott, before locking her in a closet. After his sabotage ends up enraging Scott's in-laws, Frost consoles Scott, and gives him his snow globe as a gift, while also convincing Scott to invoke the Escape Clause by speaking the phrase to activate it. This sends Frost and Scott back 12 years to the night when Scott first invoked the Santa Clause and became Santa. Before the past Scott can come out and fulfill past events, Frost intentionally causes the previous Santa to fall off the roof, and when Scott tries to intervene, Frost knocks him out with a shovel, allowing him to reach the coat first and become the new Santa, creating an alternate timeline as a result.
When Scott confronts him over his actions, Frost taunts him by reminding him of having said the phrase that invoked the Escape Clause to begin with. However, with the support of that timeline's Lucy, Scott retrieves Frost's snow globe, interrupting one of Frost's performances, and when Frost catches the snow globe, he immediately realizes Scott's plan and tries to taunt him again over trying to get him to invoke the Escape Clause, but there was no need. Scott had recorded Frost saying the phrase earlier, and chooses that moment to play it back, to a horrified Frost's shock. The clause having been invoked once more, Frost screams in fury as he and Scott are whisked back in time once more to the night Scott originally became the new Santa. This time, Scott is able to hold down Frost long enough for his past self to come out and allow past events to play out as they were supposed to as the past Scott puts on the coat and thus becomes the new Santa, restoring the original timeline. Frost screams in anguish as his alternate timeline is erased from existence, and he and Scott find themselves back in the present, moments before Scott had been encouraged to invoke the Escape Clause originally. As Scott rushes to make amends with his in-laws, Frost is disappointed in his plan having failed so spectacularly.
Later, he's brought before Scott and the Council of Legendary Figures when his actions against Neil, Laura, and Lucy are exposed. Faced with his crimes, Scott demands that Frost thaw Neil and Laura, but Frost snidely refuses, saying that to thaw them would require him thawing as well, and he refuses to do so, leaving Scott to face facts of having Neil and Laura frozen permanently. As Frost thinks he's still won one over Scott with freezing Neil and Laura for eternity, Scott has Lucy approach Frost to give him one of her heart-warming hugs. Lucy's hug is so full of warmth that it begins to thaw Frost and his icy heart, causing him to assume a more normal-looking appearance, which he takes a positive liking to. His thawing frees Neil and Laura from their frozen states, and Frost joins everyone in a big group hug before Scott has to rush his wife to the hospital to give birth to Buddy Claus before making his annual journey.