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In the film Labyrinth Jareth, the Goblin King has the form of a healthy, handsome middle aged human male, played flawlessly by David Bowie. The rest of the Goblins are all essentially creaturelings of various make, made by Jim Henson's puppet shop. This could mean 2 things:

  1. Jareth is an "evolved" form of Goblin, that is either similar to or can mimic human form. [This is possible, considering he showed shape-shifting powers in the film by turning himself into an owl. Or...
  2. Jareth was once human and mortal, but "became" the Goblin King somehow. This could also be possible, as it explains why he would want a human baby; he would need a new heir to take his place.

Was any clear explanation given in-canon?

Note: I know there was a "Sequel manga" of such, but never read it, so perhaps that could spread some understanding as well.

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    He had looks, charm and singing talent. The whole package. – Valorum Oct 19 '19 at 21:36
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    He's positively bulging with kingly abilities. – Valorum Oct 19 '19 at 21:44
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    @Valorum you're just having All kinds of fun with this question, aren't you? ;-] – Russhiro Oct 19 '19 at 21:53
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    No help in the film's comic novelisation; archive.org/stream/Marvel_Super_Special_40_Labyrinth/… – Valorum Oct 19 '19 at 22:10
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    You should probably edit "played flawlessly by David Bowie." To add a paragraph break, and then "Let us take a moment to bask in his magnificence" before proceeding with the rest of the question. Just sayin'... – Lexible Oct 21 '19 at 1:45
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Jareth is, according to the film's official novelisation, not a goblin. He merely rules them.

He needed something to keep him amused here. The goblins were, frankly, a bore. They were so stupid they couldn’t find their own way through the Labyrinth. They were without wisdom or wit. In the old days, when many babies had been offered to him, Jareth had been more tolerant, reckoning that soon he would certainly find one who could be trained as a worthy companion to the throne, one whose young blood would serve to refresh Jareth’s, whose high spirits would dispel the thoughts of aging that oppressed the King of the Goblins.

That being said, the goblins are themselves (potentially) children who were abducted in earlier years, so it's more than possible that Jareth was an abducted child who was mentored for the job by the previous king.

It pleased him to think of his Labyrinth as a board game; if you got too close to the winning square, you might find a snake taking you back to the start. No one had, and very few had gotten as far as this disturbing girl, who was too old to be turned into a goblin. Jareth examined her face in his crystal. Too old to be a goblin, but too young to be kept by him, damn her innocent eyes.

  • So we know he himself is not a Goblin, and was likely once human; that's fair. But How did he get his powers and throne? – Russhiro Nov 4 '19 at 17:49
  • @Russhiro - Presumably he was mentored by the previous King and given them by magic. In the same way that he plans to make the boy his companion – Valorum Nov 4 '19 at 18:06
  • So it's to just be assumed that the "kingship" is a title that is passed on to a worthy human successor chosen by the previous king, including all the magic and immortality that role entails? Okay, I can do that...but where and how was this tradition started? considering the mystical nature of the Labyrinth, are we to presume some human or Fey wizard "set up" this realm and the rules for kingship after subjugating the goblins? – Russhiro Nov 4 '19 at 18:09
  • @Russhiro - Given that Jareth can manipulate time, who's to say that it's not turtles all the way down? – Valorum Nov 4 '19 at 18:25

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