The Minor Characters


There are a few characters in Labyrinth that hardly have screen time, never say anything, or have some hidden influence on what happens. And some of them have no purpose but are just there for flavor. Sometimes they get overlooked, so we decided to mention them here.

Merlin is one of these because he has almost no role. He has some early scenes but spends the rest of the movie in the garage. Merlin may have played Ambrosius in the Labyrinth, but these are separate parts (same dog, different characters). He's like Bowie in that regard, as these actors got to appear in two roles. (Bowie was also Linda Williams's On-Again Off-Again Semi-Committed Archival Co-Star Boyfriend. At least, we assume this is a different role, not just Jareth himself in disguise.)

Merlin is Sarah's beloved pooch, an Old English Sheepy who is all slobbery wet dog affection. He's the only member of Sarah's family who loves her, and Sarah's stepmom hates him too. She doesn't even call him "Merlin." She refers to him as "The Dog!" which often means that the Owner-Pet relationship needs help.

Sarah's Mom

By what the film provides, Sarah's Mom is a specter. You wouldn't even notice her if you were watching this movie in the theater in '86. The camera pans over a scrapbook that has clippings of "Mom," who is/was a stage actor with a glamorous life that Sarah envies. But they never tell us what happened to her or why. It's not even clear whether she's still alive or has contact with Sarah, though this mystery is normal territory, considering the film's time period. (The whole Missing Parent thing was common in kids' TV shows and movies from about 1978 - 1990. In this era, tons of kids said "Shove it," to their stepparents and went on quests to find their "real" moms and dads.) We only know that her name is "Linda" and she's dating Jareth's twin.

Only from the novelization of the movie do we learn more. Linda divorced Sarah's father and "walked out" (so says Mr. Embittered Ex) on Sarah, but Sarah loves her mom and seems to be on good terms with her. She has fond memories of spending time with her and Jareth's Twin, who is a good guy named Jeremy.

The Fairies

This fantasy world isn't full of magic flowers, princesses, and unicorns. It's mainly goblins, trolls, crazy horned muppets, and other aesthetically-challenged creatures of myth. Except for King David, these child-fairies are the only cute things. But they end up being unfriendly and they bite people.
That's their whole point, to show that nothing is what it seems, and that you should evaluate people and muppets by the content of their minds instead of by their appearance. This is carried through the whole movie somewhat well, with the exception of all the smaller goblins being spiky and rat-like in appearance. We do have a beautiful heroine, but also a stunning villain, Hoggle is troll-like but basically good, Ludo is monstrous but all good, Didymus is cute but stupid and obnoxious. It's a pretty good mixture when you think about it.

If Labyrinth were a Disney film, they would claim to communicate that exact same message (characters would be spouting it at every opportunity), but they would still have all the good characters be strapping and beautiful, all the evil characters be either ugly or too thin or too fat, and even their so-called attractive villain would obviously be ugly, and even their non-villain who is supposed to be a "Hideous Beast" would be more attractive as a Beast than a Prince.
Would be and was.

The Eyeball Plant !!

Oh gosh, we LOVE this thing ! The Eyeball Plant (or "Lichen" for you purists. It's not really a plant) is a special creature that lives in the outer walls of the Labyrinth. It has tendrils with eyeballs on the ends of them. These are usually BLUE eyes, and they can move around and some of them can even blink. Sarah encounters several of these plants, but of course doesn't find them interesting in the least. ("Plant with eyeballs watching me?" Fine. Next.)

This is our kind of wonderful, crazy thing. It's the *best* kind of crazy: polite and unassuming. Because the Eyeball Plant isn't harmful. It just grows in the wall and likes to look around. We're not sure if it's intelligent life, but it does pay attention. It even makes noise sometimes. It doesn't seem to have a mouth or any way of talking, but it makes a sound like "Ooooh..." when it's surprised.

If you ever get to see one of these in person, be nice to it. No matter how tempted you are, don't poke it in the eyes.

Underground Screaming Tile People

We don't know what these are. They're too small to be goblins or people, but they're one of the more human-looking things in the Labyrinth. They live under the Labyrinth's floor tiles and have very good hearing. They can hear the sound of lipstick being drawn on the ceiling, and then they come out and yell at you and change the arrows you draw. They're also very strong. They can lift the floor tiles that are solid stone, which is like a regular-sized human picking up a motorcycle.
They seem to speak/scream English or Italian, possibly Spanglish or Engtalian.

The Cleaners

The Cleaners are the goblins who operate this sharp, spinning machinery. Their job seems to be to clean out the tunnel passageways, like mangle/shred/destroy any debris that's cluttering up the Underground's underground. (Goblins are intolerant of clutter, contrary to the many acres of discarded junk that imply otherwise just outside the Goblin City.) And "debris" is like, dirt, rocks, tree roots, fallen stonework, and the occasional body of an Oubliette escapee. This would make a horrible, bloody mess, so "cleaners" is iffy.

The Stone Faces

There are a lot of these guys in the tunnels. They're "False Alarms" to tell you that you're going the wrong way when you're actually going the right way. The Stone Faces have one of the worst lots in the whole Labyrinth, because they're basically prisoners. They're not mobile, so they can't leave or do anything, but they're clearly intelligent and self-aware. They're also actual *employees*, but their job is very boring because they have to work from a script with every person who walks by them. They're like people in Retail.

Also, the Stone Faces don't know what they're talking about. How can Sarah be "going the wrong way" when they don't even know where she's trying to go?

The Dancers

What are these? Imaginary? Are these people in the Labyrinth? And why are they wearing Goblin masks?
Jareth designs this fantasy for Sarah, and it's full of humans. Random people that she doesn't know, and they're supposed to be parodies of the goblins. This is way deep and has any number of interpretations. We can't figure it out, but we at least wanted to give these people a nod. They were all very fortunate to get to be in this amazing sequence with Bowie and Connelly. A few of them even got to dance with The Man.

But the only thing that this says conclusively is that the Underground is multi-dimensional, the Labyrinth is just one possible environment, and Jareth can make any fantasy completely real.

Assorted Poultry

This movie is full of white meat, and we don't just mean Jareth and his delectable, scrumptious self. The Labyrinth has extensive bird life. Owls, chickens everywhere, crows in the Bog, even vultures in the castle. Some of these birds seem to live wild Underground, but the chickens are just part of everyday life. The goblins play with them in the King's chamber. Sometimes they're mean to them and other times they hold them and seem to like their company. Lots of chickens wander around the goblin city. We're not sure why. Are we supposed to eat these things? Maybe they lay eggs somewhere and that's what we eat.
We're not sure why anyone would keep a vulture. This one perches on the wall above Jareth's throne. Is it a pet? No one pays attention to it, and vultures are not a good animal for eating. Even those starving lions on Animal Planet never seem to attack the vultures, like they would rather go hungry than go there.

The Old Peg!

Don't forget this guy! The Pegasus from Tri-Star's old logo. He's not "in" the movie, but he's a cool, fantasy-related thing that you see right before Labyrinth starts.
This actor is probably deceased (along with the dog who played Merlin/Ambrosius). He's since been replaced (a couple times now) by a new horse with CGI wings.

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