The Burton Trilogy: Fact of Fantasy

Tim Burton with pictures of his characters.

While I am a great lover of Tim Burton films, both animated and live action, I was never one to get behind the idea that his movies were somehow connected (outside of the fact that he can’t go five minutes without casting Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter). Though I understand I am about to crush the dreams of many a macabre fan, I’m here to present irrefutable evidence that Frankenweenie, The Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas in no way share a timeline. So let’s start at the beginning.

Frankenweenie 1984

Frankenweenie sits on the floor of his home.
Disney’s Frankenweenie

The original Frankenweenie was a short Live Action film released in 1984. Being Live Action it is immediately disqualified from being connected to the Burton Trilogy Theory, but I wanted to mention it anyway because the dog who plays Sparky is really cute.

Frankenweenie 2012

Disney's Frankenweenie promotional poster
Disney’s FrankenWeenie

Victor Frankenstein is a young boy with a passion for film. He spends his days alone with his dog Sparky while making home movies. The characters’ accents are American and it is stated that they live in a place called New Holland, which could be one of several New Hollands across America. The film is also set closer to modern day than the others, already disrupting the timeline. So what we can gather from the film is Victor is a child in modern day America with a dog named Sparky.

The Corpse Bride 2005

Victor and The Corpse hold hands.
Warner Bros’ Corpse Bride

Victor Van Dort is the son of wealthy fishmongers. We know he is a grown man, a talented pianist, and has an arranged marriage to a woman he hasn’t met. He lives in a small village in Victorian England. There is no way, without the use of time travel, for Frankenweenie’s Victor and The Corpse Bride’s Victor to be the same person. Their parents look completely different, their surnames are also different and Victor Van Dort’s dog who we meet in the underworld is named Scraps not Sparky. While some swaying argument could be made that Victor Frankenstein was smart enough to bring his dog back from the dead so he should, therefore, be smart enough to create a time machine, I can’t think of any feasible reason for him to use such a device to go back in time to do anything other than stop Sparky from dying in the first place. In theory, Victor Frankenstein could have built a time machine and accidentally gone too far back in time and in doing so unintentionally killed a young Victor Van Dort. Then upon finding he had such a striking resemblance to him, assumed his identity. Having fooled the dead Victor’s parents and bonded with his dog Scraps he lives out the rest of his life as Victor Van Dort, before the events of Nightmare Before Christmas. I find this extremely unlikely seeing as time travel was never mentioned in Frankenweenie and it is made even more impossible by the events of the next film.

The Nightmare Before Christmas  1993

Jack Skellington marvels at a Christmas tree.
Disney’s Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington is the undead pride and joy of Halloweentown. It is established in the movie that he has been the ‘Pumpkin King’ for hundreds of years. Long enough to be sick of Halloween altogether and become mesmerized at the idea of taking over Christmas. Halloweentown and Christmastown exist in some realm away from the human world. I find it very hard to believe that Victor Frankenstein could develop time travel, let alone harness interdimensional travel as well. And if by some bizarre turn of events Victor did manage it, why would he change his name to Jack? And is the ghost dog Zero a completely new dog he picked up along the way or one of his previous dogs under an alias too?

In conclusion, the inconsistencies far outweigh the ‘cool factor’ of the Burton Trilogy Theory, and while the films being connected would be a very interesting premise for the movies, there is no logic to support it. It is with a heavy heart I declare the Burton Trilogy nothing more than fantasy.

Tell us in the comments what’s your favorite Tim Burton film to watch during this spooky Halloween season.

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