Tommy Jarvis is usually considered Jason Voorhees' nemesis, but the Friday the 13th films repeatedly teased him following in Jason's footsteps. In many long-running horror franchises, the villain ends up with an arch adversary, someone who stands in the way of their evil goals more than once. For A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, there's Nancy Thompson. For Halloween's Michael Myers, there's Laurie Strode. And for Friday the 13th's Jason, the best candidate for that position is Tommy Jarvis.
Tommy made his Friday the 13th debut in the fourth film, subtitled The Final Chapter. At that point, Jason was still depicted as a human killer, albeit an incredibly strong and resilient one. That ended when young Tommy Jarvis (played by Corey Feldman) hacked Mr. Voorhees to death with his own machete. Of course, The Final Chapter made money, so Friday the 13th: A New Beginning released the following year. An older Tommy (John Shepherd) appears, and tangles with a Jason copycat. The real Jason was resurrected for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, and did battle as a zombie with a new adult Tommy, played by Return of the Living Dead's Thom Matthews.
Tommy would never be part of another Friday the 13th film, although he was included in the recent Friday the 13th video game. On several occasions though, the franchise teased him as a possible successor to Jason, which certainly would've made things complicated.
Friday the 13th Parts 4&5 Teased Tommy Jarvis Turning Evil
While a small child like Feldman's Tommy Jarvis certainly wasn't a physical match for Jason, the diminutive character memorably defeated the hulking brute in The Final Chapter by using psychological tactics, shaving his head and confusing Jason by looking like the slasher as a child. This distracted Jason long enough for Tommy to kill him in violent fashion, and the film memorably ended with Tommy staring coldly at the camera.
A New Beginning reveals that Tommy has spent the years since killing Jason in various mental institutions, which makes sense, as hacking a serial killer to death isn't a recommended childhood activity. Several moments in Friday the 13th Part 5 push the idea that Tommy might have mentally cracked, and is committing the Jason-style murders that are eventually attributed to angry paramedic Roy Burns. However, the end of the film sees Tommy, wearing a hockey mask, rise up behind fellow survivor Pam with a knife.
Friday the 13th Part 6 Retconned Tommy Jarvis Losing His Mind
As anyone who's seen Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives will recall, that sequel opted to completely ignore Part 5, including the ending setup for Tommy effectively becoming the new Jason. The Tommy Jarvis seen in Part 6 acts fairly normal, although the local police do suspect him of being crazy when he comes in raving about Jason's resurrection. Still, this Tommy is nothing like the socially awkward prior versions, and quickly shifts into heroic mode, ultimately trapping Jason at the bottom of Crystal Lake. There's actually a pretty logical explanation for Part 6 ignoring Part 5 though, and it's all about the money. A New Beginning's box office took a steep dive from The Final Chapter, leading producers to scramble and bring back the real Jason. With the real Jason back killing people, who needs a replacement?