Jess Aarons
Jesse Oliver Aarons, Jr. is a fictional character in the book Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. He is based on her son. He is played by Julian Coutts in the 1985 film and by Josh Hutcherson in the 2007 film.


Aliases : King of Terabithia

Gender : Male

Occupation : Student

Title : "King"

Family : Jack and Mary Aarons (parents), Brenda and Ellie (older sisters), Maybelle and Joyce (younger sisters)

Significant other(s) : Leslie Burke (Best friend) / (Love interest)

Real life inspirationEdit

Debbie Elliott reports that "Katherine Paterson was inspired to write Bridge to Terabithia after her son's childhood best friend was struck and killed by lightning." In the novel and film adaptations, Jesse Aarons represents her son. He is the middle child.

Fictional biographyEdit

Jesse is an artistic boy who is fearful of doing courageous things. Jesse was extremely depressed before Leslie Burke, with whom he jointly created the fictional kingdom of Terabithia, comes into his life. He is a very good runner and only lost to Leslie in the school race. But through Terabithia, Leslie gave him courage.

Afterwards, he finds out his one and only best friend, Leslie, drowned trying to enter Terabithia alone when he went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. with his teacher, whom he had a crush on. When he accepts Leslie's death, he lets go of his frustration. Jesse soon realizes Leslie has made him strong and courageous through Terabithia. After making peace with Leslie's death he makes his younger sister, May Belle, the new queen (in the film version, a princess) since the queen, Leslie, had died.

1977 bookEdit

It comes to being Christmas time, and Jesse gets Leslie a puppy. Leslie gives Jesse his present: an art set. Jesse is shocked but loves the present.

Jesse has an unspoken infatuation with his music teacher, Miss Edmunds, which is the reason why Jesse does not invite Leslie to the museum with him and Miss Edmunds.

2007 filmEdit


After hearing that Jesse loves drawing, Leslie gives him an art set for his birthday. He says, "This must have cost a fortune ..." In return, Leslie tells him, "Well, I can take it back and get a cheaper one if you want." Later, to show his appreciation, Jesse gives Leslie a dog she names "Prince Terrien, Troll Hunter Extraordinaire".

Like the book, the film revolves around the dramatic focus of Jesse's relationship with Leslie Burke (played by AnnaSophia Robb) he also has a crush on Miss Edmunds (played by Zooey Deschanel). Leslie's crush on Jesse is hinted in several scenes, such as her reaction to the gift of Prince Terrien by hugging him. He also falls in love with her the last time he was with her. During her funeral, Leslie's father reveals to Jesse that Leslie loved him, and that he was the best friend she ever had. He then also realized how much he cared for her and that he really did love her which then Jesse blames himself for letting her die and not inviting her to go to the museum with him he decided to let his anger out on others which everyone tried making him forget but only brought him more frustration. He then accepts Leslie's death and builds the bridge of Terabithia of which he made his sister May Belle the new princess.


Regarding the performance, Bill Warren notes that the "kid actors are exceptionally good, particularly Josh Hutcherson..." Chris Barsanti writes that Hutcherson portrays Aarons "with sullen inattention..."