Why Chucky Chose To Target Hackensack, New Jersey

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Chucky season 1, episode 1.
Chucky episode 1 saw the iconic villain unleash his unique brand of horror upon Hackensack, New Jersey — here’s why he chose that town and how it ties to his origin. Since Don Mancini created him in 1988, the Brad Dourif voiced Chucky has rampaged through a variety of locations. In his human form, the serial killer was dubbed the Lakeshore Strangler and terrorized Chicago for years. After Charles Lee Ray transferred himself into a doll in Child’s Play, he retained the same stomping grounds for a few more outings before moving on. Chucky subsequently targetted a distant Military Academy in Child’s Play 3, went on a road trip in Bride of Chucky, and then resurrected in Los Angeles for Seed of Chucky.
After an extended hiatus, the titular doll returned for 2013’s Curse of Chucky. Going on a more centralized murder spree, he picked off the extended Pierce family solely within the confines of their home. Cult of Chucky followed a similar formula, with the killer doll terrorizing the patients and staff of Harrogate Psychiatric Hospital. With the ending of Cult of Chucky, Mancini directly set up Chucky. In the process, he promised a much wider playground for every one of Chucky’s movie forms to inhabit and unleash havoc.

With Chucky season 1, episode 1, “Death By Misadventure,” the show has already begun to live up to that promise. The Child’s Play franchise has been characterized by frequent reinventions and tonal shifts, so the choice to move to Hackensack, New Jersey allowed Chucky to continue that trend and embody classic genre tropes. The idea of a seemingly idyllic suburban town turned upside down by blood-soaked carnage is a staple of other horror franchises as Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street. By adopting it, Chucky checked off another box in demonstrating its franchise versatility and also set up the kinds of homages and knowing references Child’s Play has become known for — all as the red-headed fiend picks off Chucky 2021’s new and returning cast of characters one by one.
As teased in the closing moments of Chucky season 1, episode 1, “Death by Misadventure,” Hackensack is also Charles Lee Ray’s hometown. That fact was actually revealed during the aforementioned road trip in Bride of Chucky. Long before Chucky decided he loved ruining lives as an unassuming doll, he sought to return to a human body. In service of that quest, he aimed to retrieve an amulet that was buried with his human corpse. As the journey began, Chucky revealed his grave was in Hackensack, New Jersey. That’s also where Chucky’s own genderfluid (and somewhat murderous) child was born and a ripe place to expand his “cult” even further — currently through Jake (Zackary Arthur). As such, Chucky choosing that town as his target was not random. Instead, it was a homecoming that will give the latest chapter of the Child’s Play movie/Chucky saga something of a full circle edge.
Only one episode into the Chucky TV show, it is next to impossible to determine his wider plan for Hackensack, New Jersey. As teased by Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany in the trailer, however, there definitely is one. Equally, it’s unclear whether Chucky is being designed as an overall conclusion or if Mancini already has future outings in mind. There’s always a chance Chucky will serve as both – wrapping things up but allowing him the potential to come back (as he always does). Using Hackensack as the setting would lend the show an element of a conclusion, with things ending where they effectively began and perhaps amid the descendants of some original victims. As much as Hackensack is the perfect place to finally tell Charles Lee Ray AKA Chucky’s full childhood backstory, it’s also the perfect locale for a final showdown that Chucky has built towards for over 30 years.

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