Freddy Krueger is the antagonistic protagonist of the slasher-horror film series A Nightmare on Elm Street. Once a mortal man who lived a life of murder and perversion, he would be reborn through death as a creature that stalked the dreams of the innocent, able to slay people in their dreams and kill them in the real world. Easily recognised by his horribly burned face, striped sweater and trademark glove adorned with a blade on each finger, Freddy's character is synonymous with the horror film genre. He has consistently been portrayed by Robert Englund in all of his film appearances before 2010's remake of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street in which he was played by Jackie Earle Haley.
Amanda Krueger, a nun who worked at Westin Hills Asylum, was accidentally locked in a room where one hundred maniacs were housed, they attacked her and raped her repeatedly until she was found, barely alive, and pregnant. On November 12, 1938, she gave birth to a boy named Frederick Charles Krueger, who was placed under the care of an abusive alcoholic named Mr. Underwood.
While in elementary school, Freddy killed the class hamster and was picked on for being the son of one among a hundred maniacs. During his adult years he would cut himself with a shaving razor. He used the same razor to kill Mr. Underwood when he was beating him.
As an adult, Freddy worked in a boiler room at the power plant and it was this place that would become his hideaway as he carried out his horrific crimes. For years, he abducted children from their homes and off the street, bringing them back to his boiler room where he tortured and killed them. Although he was eventually discovered and arrested for the murders, Freddy was released on a technicality: someone forgot to sign the search warrant in the right place. Outraged, the parents of Springwood banded together to put an end to Freddy's killing spree once and for all, tracking him back to his boiler room hideout and setting the place ablaze with Molotov cocktails.
As Freddy burned alive, he was approached by three Dream Demons who gave him the power to invade people's dreams. In life, he was a menace, but after his death he literally became the stuff of nightmares.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
In 1984, Freddy began his reign of terror from beyond the grave, stalking and killing the youth of Springwood in their dreams. Whatever injuries he inflicted upon his victims in their dreams would also appear in the real world, and since he possessed almost god-like power in the dream realm, he could kill in many bizarre and impossible ways.
After a string of killings, Freddy's rampage is thwarted by Nancy Thompson who discovers Freddy's origins and figures out how to draw him out into the real world. After being attacked by Freddy in a nightmare, Nancy grabs him and pulls him out of the dream. In the real world, Nancy runs from Freddy, who trips on a series of booby traps that Nancy had set up in preparation for this confrontation. She lights him on fire, locks him in the basement, and rushes to the door for help. The police arrive, and they realize Freddy has escaped the basement. He finds Nancy's mother Marge in her bedroom and attempts to smother her. After Don puts out the fire, Freddy and Marge have vanished. Despite her father's words, Nancy believes she is still in danger.
Freddy attacks Nancy once again. Realizing he is powered by his victim's fear, she calmly turns her back on him, reducing him to nothingness. She steps outside into a bright morning where all of her friends and mother are still alive. She gets into Glen's car to go to school when the top comes down and suddenly locks them in. As the car is driven uncontrollably down the street, Marge is grabbed through the window of their front door and is dragged through it to her apparent death.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Freddy was unable to operate in his usual way, so he appeared in the nightmares of Jesse Walsh, who moved into Nancy's house five years after she defeated Freddy. He manipulated him and made him pick up his clawed glove, and would often possess him to kill his victims, which would briefly transform his body into Freddy's (interestingly enough, whenever Freddy appeared, he was not wearing his clawed glove; instead, knives were protruding from his fingers). In this method, Freddy killed Schneider, Jesse's coach who was always punishing him, and his friend Ron Grady. He then proceeded to kill seven guests at Lisa Webber's party before Lisa got through to Jesse, who was able to fight Freddy from the inside, weakening him and using his power to set Freddy on fire; burning him and releasing Jesse unharmed. However, Freddy apparently returned to attack people in their nightmares, attacking Jesse and Lisa on the bus. Whether or not this was a dream sequence is unknown.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Freddy has resumed attacking the youth of Springwood in their dreams. This time, he makes his attacks appear as suicide attempts, leading to several Elm Street kids being committed to Westin Hills Asylum to be treated for mental illness. Freddy continued to stalk Kristen Parker (who possesses the power to pull people into her dreams), Roland Kincaid, Taryn White, Joey Krusel, Phillip Anderson, Jennifer Caulfield, and Will Stanton, all of whom were committed to Westin Hills Asylum. Freddy killed Phillip and Jennifer, making their deaths appear as suicides, but his further attempts against Kristen are foiled by the intervention of Nancy Thompson, who had thwarted his first post-death killing spree.
Learning of Kristen's ability to pull others into her dreams, Nancy invites the other patients into a group therapy session where she teaches them how to take control of their dreams so that they can defend themselves from Freddy. However, Freddy interrupts their session and kidnaps Joey in the dream world, leaving him comatose in the real world. Nancy and the Dream Warriors (Kristen, Kincaid, Taryn, and Will, all of whom have powers in their dreams) fought Freddy, but he was able to kill Taryn and Will. It is revealed that Freddy takes the souls of his victims in order to gain more power. When Nancy's father Donald and Neil Gordon attempt to bury Freddy's bones, he took control of them and impaled Donald on a spike. He then tricked Nancy and stabbed her to death but she was able to use his glove against him in once last attempt to subdue him, before she died. Meanwhile, Neil was able to bury Freddy's bones and throw holy water and a crucifix on them, destroying him once again.
The Dream Master
In the fourth Nightmare on Elm Street, it becomes clear that Freddy cannot die while there are those who remember him. In the years since their previous victory over Freddy, the surviving Dream Warriors - Kristen, Kincaid and Joey - are enjoying normal lives and making new friends. However, Kristen still fears that Freddy may return and this fear inevitably leads to the dream killer's resurrection.
Having been pulled into Kristen's dreams by accident one too many times, Kincaid experiences a dream where he and his pet dog Jason find themselves in the junk yard where Freddy's bones were buried. Jason digs up Freddy's bones which allows him to reincarnate and he kills Kincaid. That same night, Freddy also kills Joey, leaving Kristen as the last of the Elm Street children. Kristen later discovers that Freddy has returned and is horrified to learn of her friends' fates. Kristen's mother Elaine, stressed out over her daughter's anxieties and refusal to sleep, forces Kristen to take sleeping pills and unwittingly dooms her.
When Freddy attacks Kristen in her nightmare, he forces her to use her power to bring him new victims. Kristen, remembering earlier advice from her friend Alice Johnson, summons Alice into her dream. Freddy kills Kristen in front of Alice and consumes her soul, but not before Kristen passes on her power to Alice. Having killed the last of the children whose parents had originally killed him, Freddy could not invade the dreams of anyone else in Springwood, at least not by himself. With Alice now in possession of Kristen's power, Freddy was able to use Alice as a gateway into other children's dreams, beginning a new killing spree in which he slaughtered most of Alice's friends.
As each of her friends were killed off, Alice seemed to change, adopting some aspect of her friends' characters and harnessing it to make herself stronger in the dream world. She would fight against Freddy in her dream, the battle taking place in a dilapidated church. Grabbing a shard of stained glass, Alice used it to reflect Freddy's own evil back at him. This caused the tormented souls within Freddy to stir and tear him apart from the inside, destroying him and releasing all of the souls he had consumed over the years.
The Dream Child
Freddy was reborn through the spirit of his mother Amanda Krueger, and began using Alice's dream power to pull more victims into his dream world, and tried to control her unborn son, Jacob's soul, to enable him to live in Jacob's dream world forever. He killed Dan Jordan and Greta Gibson, feeding their souls to Jacob in order to turn him into a creature of pure evil. Realizing this, Alice tried to find Amanda to bring Freddy back to hell. Later, he kills one of Alice's best friends, Mark Grey before Alice could defeat him. After Mark's death, Alice calls her another friend Yvonne, who survived an attack from Freddy, to release Amanda's soul, and she enabled Jacob to use his power on Freddy to revert him back into an infant, where Amanda absorbed him.
Canonically, this is Freddy's final appearance in the original Nightmare saga. It is unknown how Freddy returned this time, but it can be assumed that the mere memory of him allowed him to come back and continue killing. Ten years since the events of The Dream Child, Springwood has been turned into a veritable ghost town as Freddy has killed all of the town's children. The former parents of Springwood have all been driven mad with grief. Only one teenager has survived Freddy's slaughter, but he loses his memory after being traumatised by Krueger.
Unable to leave Springwood by himself, Freddy allows John Doe to escape across the town's border. In the next town, John arrives at a youth shelter where he meets Maggie Burroughs. He explains that he is being plagued by horrific visions and has been struggling to stay awake for a long time. Maggie believes that in order to help John recover his memory, she needs to take him back to Springwood. However, this is all part of Freddy's plan to reunite with his long-lost daughter.
Maggie and John return to Springwood, inadvertently taking runaways Tracy, Spencer and Carlos with them. The group investigate the town and discover evidence regarding Freddy's existence which leads them to 1428 Elm Street. They find themselves trapped within as one by one they fall asleep and are attacked by Freddy. Spencer, Carlos and John are all killed, but Tracy and Maggie manage to escape. However, it is revealed that Freddy was able to use Maggie as a vessel so that he could leave Springwood as well. The reason Freddy could do this was because Maggie was actually Freddy's biological daughter, originally named Katherine Krueger.
Free from Springwood, Freddy plans to slaughter all children everywhere. However, dream psychologist Doc figured out that Freddy could be pulled out of the dream world (and subsequently killed), and so Maggie entered the dream world and pulled Freddy out. She then inflicted several injuries on him before stabbing him with his own clawed glove and sticking him with a pipe bomb, which blew Freddy to bits and released the dream demons that gave him his power.
Freddy vs. Jason
In 2003, four years since his last killing spree, Freddy had lost his power to invade dreams and kill. The town of Springwood had effectively erased the memory of Freddy Krueger from its history by removing all public records relating to him and administering a dream-suppressing drug to those who still remembered him. Searching the bowels of Hell, Freddy discovered the soul of the undead mass-murderer Jason Voorhees who was merely "asleep" as he could never truly die. Taking on the form of Jason's mother Pamela, Freddy awoke the undead killer from his slumber and told him to go to Springwood to kill the teenagers who lived there. This would cause the people of Springwood to panic and believe that Freddy had returned, instilling the fear that fueled Freddy which would allow him to kill again.
Freddy wasn't able to control Jason for long and the masked maniac went on a rampage, killing numerous people and robbing Freddy of potential kills. However, a group of youngsters who survived Jason's attack on a rave would come together to formulate a plan to protect themselves from the two monstrous murderers. They visited Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital in order to obtain Hypnocil, a drug that prevented the Westin Hills patients from dreaming as they slept. During this time, one of the teens - Bill Freeburg - was possessed by Freddy, who then loaded up two syringes full of tranquilizers. As Jason was pursuing the teens, Freddy/Freeburg covered the kids' escape and injected Jason with the tranquilizers, putting him under and allowing Freddy to face him in the dream world.
Jason proved to be just as invincible in the dream world as he was in the real world, but Freddy was able to find a psychological weakness: Jason feared water, and Freddy exploited that in order to torture him. Jason would be awoken later on while Lori Campbell entered the dreamscape to confront Freddy and was able to pull him out into the waking world. The kids had transported Jason's unconscious body all the way back to Crystal Lake by the time Freddy had been pulled out of the dream, and so he was forced to fight Jason on the undying revenant's home turf. The battle was brutal and Jason was able to tear off Freddy's clawed arm, but both killers were seemingly defeated after Lori and Will Rollins exploded a stack of propane tanks by the dock. The explosion sent Freddy and Jason flying through the air and into the lake, but Freddy would reemerge and make one last attempt to kill Lori and Will while wielding Jason's machete. Before he could strike them down, Jason suddenly emerged from the lake and impaled Freddy with his own severed arm before falling back into the water. Brought to his knees, Freddy was helpless as Lori picked up Jason's machete and sliced Freddy's head off, which then tumbled into the lake.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
In the 2010 remake, Freddy Krueger is portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley. While he wears the same attire and uses the same bladed glove as his original incarnation, his face has a more realistic, molten appearance to it rather than the exaggerated burn makeup worn by Robert Englund.
In the reboot, Freddy had a somewhat different history to the original version. He worked as a gardener at Badham Preschool and lived in the school's basement. While he was not a serial killer in life, he was a paedophile who molested and tortured children in the preschool basement. While Freddy was able to persuade most of his victims to stay quiet about the abuse, some of the children told their parents. The parents of the children didn't want to traumatise them any further by making them testify in court, and decided to take justice into their own hands and go after Krueger themselves. They chased Krueger down to an abandoned factory where he locked himself in. When Freddy refused to come out, the parents of Springwood threw flaming cans of gasoline into the building, burning Freddy to death.
A decade later, Freddy had returned to life as a demon that stalked children in their dreams, seeking revenge against them for what had happened to him. One by one, he hunted down every last child from Badham's and murdered them while they slept. Two of his would-be victims - Nancy Holbrook and Quentin Smith - discovered the truth behind Freddy's death and reappearance, and after Nancy managed to tear off part of Freddy's sweater in one attack, they devised a plan to stop him once and for all.
Having uncovered the conspiracy of Badham's, Nancy and Quentin visited the abandoned preschool where they discovered Freddy's secret room where he abused his children. There, Nancy went to sleep in order to confront Freddy and pull him out of the dream world. Quentin remained at Nancy's side, armed with a broken paper-cutter blade to attack Krueger when he appeared in the real world. He also carried a syringe full of adrenaline that he stole from the hospital after Nancy's last encounter with Freddy. As Freddy assaulted Nancy in her dream, Quentin was unable to wake her up until he injected the adrenaline straight into her chest. Nancy suddenly woke, bringing Freddy out of the dream, and the two teenagers attacked him. Freddy was stabbed in the leg, shoulder and eye with a pair of scissors and Nancy used the paper-cutter blade to chop off his gloved hand. Nancy then killed Freddy by slashing him across the neck. With Freddy dead at last, Nancy and Quentin used a lantern to set the room on fire, then left the preschool to burn to the ground.
Although Freddy had been killed, he appeared again in the film's final scene. Just as Nancy and her mother Gwen return home, they stand beside a mirror in the hall and Nancy sees Freddy in the mirror. Nancy screams as Freddy plunges his bladed glove out of the mirror and stabs Gwen through the back of the head and pulls her inside.