Jason Voorhees is the main character from the Friday the 13th series. The character has primarily been an antagonist in the films, whether by stalking and killing the other characters, or acting as a psychological threat to the protagonist, as is the case in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. Jason Voorhees's hockey mask is a widely recognized image in popular culture.
Jason Voorhees first appeared in Friday the 13th (1980) as the young son of camp cook-turned-killer Mrs. Voorhees, in which he was portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S. Cunningham and Tom Savini, Jason was not originally intended to carry the series as the main antagonist. He first appears during a nightmare of the main character Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) in the original Friday the 13th film; he becomes the main antagonist of the series in its sequels.
Jason made his first cinematic appearance in the original Friday the 13th on May 9, 1980. In this film, Jason is portrayed in the memories of his mother, Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), and as a hallucination of the film's protagonist, Alice (Adrienne King). Though the character makes no contemporary appearance onscreen, he propels the film's plot—Mrs. Voorhees, the cook at Camp Crystal Lake, seeks revenge for his death, which she blames on the camp counselors. The character's physical appearance has gone through many transformations, with various special makeup effects artists making their mark on the character's design, including makeup artist Stan Winston. Tom Savini's initial design has been the basis for many of the later incarnations. The trademark hockey goalie mask did not appear until Friday the 13th Part III.
Jason's second appearance was in the sequel, Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981). Revealed to be alive, an adult Jason exacts revenge on Alice for decapitating his mother in the original film. Jason, returns to Crystal Lake, living there as a hermit and guarding it from all intruders. Five years later a group of teenagers arrive to set up a new camp, only to be murdered one by one by Jason, who wears a sack over his head to hide his face.
In his original appearance, Jason was scripted as a mentally disabled young boy. Since Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees has been depicted as a non-verbal, indestructible, machete-wielding mass murderer. Jason is primarily portrayed as being completely silent throughout the film series. Exceptions to this include flashbacks of Jason as a child, and a brief scene in Jason Takes Manhattan where the character cries out "Mommy, please don't let me drown!" in a child's voice before being submerged in toxic waste, and in Jason Goes To Hell where his spirit possesses other individuals. When discussing Jason psychologically, Sean S. Cunningham said, "...he doesn't have any personality. He's like a great white shark. You can't really defeat him. All you can hope for is to survive." Since Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, filmmakers have given Jason superhuman strength, regenerative powers, and near invulnerability. He has been seen as a sympathetic character, whose motivation for killing has been cited as being driven by the immoral actions of his victims and his own rage over having drowned as a child.