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Google’s adorable Halloween Doodle is part of a larger ghost story

This Halloween, a ghost named Jinx takes on the scariest challenge of all: self-acceptance.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

On Halloween, we look forward to scares, tricks, and chills. But Google’s annual holiday Doodle gives the holiday an unexpected warm and fuzzy side. How’s that for a twist?

If you’ve seen this year’s heartwarming Halloween Doodle, a short video about a lonely ghost who longs to go trick-or-treating, it’s possible you thought it couldn’t get any more adorable. But, as it turns out, this particular Google Doodle — about an enterprising ghost named Jinx and the band of trick-or-treaters Jinx runs into — is actually a sequel of sorts to last year’s Halloween Doodle.

Last year, Google turned its annual Halloween Doodle into an exciting game about a magical cat named Momo. The inspiration for Momo came from the previous year’s Doodle, which featured a very popular but unnamed cat. When 2016 rolled around, Momo was a full-blown character (based on a real cat named Momo, no less).

The object of the 2016 game was for Momo the cat to defeat a lot of menacing ghosts in the Magic Cat Academy where she was studying wizardry. The game was difficult, but there was something fun about seeing a cat take on all those scary ghosts.

But if last year’s Doodle was about a lone cat battling scary ghosts, that story takes on a new significance in this year’s Doodle — when one of those ghosts, a sweet little critter named Jinx, attempts in vain to go trick-or-treating with Momo and her friends, only to wind up scaring them instead.

As the Doodlers detail on the Doodle’s information page, Jinx went through several iterations before landing in their final form, and the members of the team each contributed ideas for the costumes Jinx tries on in their efforts to find the perfect ghostly disguise.

Of course, for Jinx, all turns out well in the end: they decide to try being, well, themselves, and Momo and her friends decide to accept Jinx and take them trick-or-treating.

Though this story is simple and sweet, it gets even more touching when you realize that it’s a sequel to last year’s Doodle. That means that just as it took bravery for Jinx to overcome their fear and reveal their true ghost form, it took bravery for Momo to overcome her fear of ghosts from last year’s ghost attack, and look past that fear to see a friend in need.

This all might seem quite complex for some art that occurs only one day a year. But the Google Doodle has grown and evolved a great deal over time: Its Halloween iteration has featured numerous guest artists and showcased a design by Wes Craven in 2008. In fact, in 2003, the Doodle was graced with a trick-or-treater who looks a bit familiar.

A kindred spirit of Jinx in 2003.

Needless to say, Jinx would probably love to go trick-or-treating with this fun human. Perhaps they’ll get to in next year’s Halloween Doodle.

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