Click to viewThe case of Jack the Ripper has never been solved, leaving us to wonder who he was, why he committed his crimes, and why the killings suddenly stopped. Here's how science fiction solved the case.
He's an Alien
Star Trek "Wolf in the Fold": Psycho author Robert Bloch reinterprets one of his favorite subjects as an alien force. Redjac is a parasite that bonds to humanoid organisms, compelling them to commit crimes so it could feed on fear and pain. Redjac was responsible for the Ripper murders as well as serial killings in Shanghai, Kiev, and the Martian colonies.
Doctor Who "Matrix": The Time Lord known as the Valeyard travels to 1888 London and takes on the identity of Jack the Ripper. He uses the Ripper murders to power the Dark Matrix, the computer that harbors all the Time Lords' evil impulses. He plans to unleash the Dark Matrix on the universe and transform it into an unimaginable nightmare. (Jack the Ripper also showed up in an unfilmed script for the 1996 Who TV movie.)
The Outer Limits "Ripper": When prostitutes start turning up dead, the police suspect John York, a drug-addicted daughter whose misdiagnosis lead to the death of the duke's daughter. But Dr. York realizes the truth is more horrifying than the police could possibly imagine: an alien force is taking possession of prostitute's bodies, killing them each time it jumps to a new host.
He Escaped into the Future
Time After Time by Karl Alexander: Around the time he unveils his time machine, HG Wells begins to suspect (correctly) that his friend, John Leslie Stevenson, is Jack the Ripper. Stevenson steals the time machine and Wells follows him to the year 1979. The murderous Stevenson fits into modern life far better than Wells does, and continues his bloody crimes.
"A Toy for Juliette" by Robert Bloch: Rather than escape, Jack is pulled into a hedonistic future against his will by Juliette, a woman named for the character invented by the Marquis de Sade. Juliette kidnaps historical figures and then gleefully murders them, but Jack isn't having any of it. In Harlan Ellison's follow-up, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World," the serial killer is driven mad by a populace no longer shocked by his sexuality and violence.
Babylon 5 "Comes the Inquisitor": Harlan Ellison contributed to this episode, in which it is revealed that the Vorlons employ an inquisitor, a human male named Sebastian who is especially capable of inflicting violence without remorse. Sheridan learns that Sebastian, known to history only as "Jack," was abducted from London in 1888 on the very day after the Ripper committed his final murder.
He Escaped to America
Batman "Gotham by Gaslight": When murders mirroring the Ripper killings start happening in 1888 Gotham City, everyone suspects Bruce Wayne, who has just returned from Europe and cannot account for his nocturnal whereabouts. (The graphic novel is an "Elseworlds," putting Batman in an unfamiliar context.) Strangely, no one suspects Jacob Packer, Wayne's misogynistic lawyer who also took a recent European vacation. In a different "Elseworlds" book, the Joker takes the place of Jack the Ripper, cutting smiles into the faces of his victims.
"Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" by Robert Bloch: In Bloch's earliest Jack the Ripper story, the Ripper doesn't commit violence for its own sake; his murders function as a sacrifice to dark, Lovecraftian gods, who grant him eternal youth for his blood offerings. After using the five London prostitutes to work his ritual, he travels to America to enjoy his immortality.
Cloak and Dagger "Predator and Prey": Jack the Ripper slips off to America to quietly continue his crimes. He dies when a church collapses on his head, but his soul continues on in the Darkforce Dimension, ready to be unleashed on the world at the Predator's will.
He was Driven Insane by Supernatural Forces
Sanctuary: John Druitt is part of a circle of scientists in Victorian London who inject themselves with vampire blood. The injection gives him the ability to travel through space and time, but each jump comes with sanity-crippling brain damage. Soon the maddened Druitt is beyond help, murdering prostitutes in Whitechapel.
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman: In an alternate England in which Count Dracula has married Queen Victoria and turned London into a vampire society, Jack the Ripper is murdering vampire prostitutes. And this Jack is none other than Dr. John Steward of Bram Stoker's Dracula, driven mad by the turning of Lucy Westenra and driven to kill the vampire women who remind him of her.
He Wanted to Keep Women Down
From Hell by Alan Moore: Queen Victoria's royal physician William Gull saw the Masonic God Jahbulon during a stroke. As a result, when the queen asks him to deal with a group of blackmailing prostitutes, Gull believes that he is making sacrifices on the alter of Victorian London that will shape a male-dominated 20th Century. And his forays into mental time travel only strengthen that belief.
Wonder Woman "Amazonia": In another "Elseworlds," Jack Planters is an American cousin to the members of England's royal family. He follows up his murder of five prostitutes with the decimation of the royal family, making himself the king of England and making female subservience the height of proper etiquette.
He's a Monster of a Different Kind
Amazon Women on the Moon: In one segment of the channel-surfing sketch comedy film, an Unsolved Mysteries-style show explores the possibility that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, a certain elusive sea monster:
Justice League of America "The Island of Dr. Moreau": In anohter "Elseworlds," Dr. Moreau's experiments create a team of superpowered human/animal hybrids: a cheetah Flash, wolf Wonder Woman, and porcupine "Black" Arrow. When the group succeeds in tracking down Jack the Ripper, they are horrified to discover that he is the first of Moreau's experiments, an uplifted orangutan who seeks to use Moreau's technique to transform men into beasts.
X-Men: The Animated Series "Descent": Mad scientist Nathaniel Essex created for himself a minion, Jack, to procure mutant organs for him. Essex would use the mutant DNA of Jack's victims to transform himself into Mr. Sinister.
Special Unit 2 "The Beast": The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper was actually a "Link," one of the evolutionary gaps between humans and apes. This Link in particular is an ogre, who uses injections to become human and control his murderous instincts. But when the serum wears off, the Ripper resurfaces in modern day Chicago.
He's the Good Guy
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: Accompanied by his faithful familiar, Snuff, the sorcerer Jack must commit grisly acts in the service of his magic. But his ultimate goal is to protect the world from the Elder Gods, who threaten to burst through the gateway into our world on Halloween.