'Child's Play'
Source: United Artists

How Did Serial Killer Charles Lee Ray Become the Infamous Chucky? Here's the Backstory


Oct. 21 2021, Published 1:58 p.m. ET

If you're solely a fan of the 2019 Child's Play remake — you know, the one where the significantly uglier Chucky is an evil AI nightmare — you likely don't know who Charles Lee Ray (CLR) is. In the original Child's Play franchise, which boasts seven movies in total, Good Guys doll Chucky is a vessel for the evil spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif).

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With regards to how and why CLR, aka the Lakeshore Strangler, got his soul locked inside a sought-after children's toy in 1988's Child's Play, well, it's a long story. But fear not fellow horror geeks, we're here to explain infamous antagonist Chucky's wild human-to-doll tale.

'Child's Play'
Source: United Artists
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How old was Charles Lee Ray when he died?

Charles Lee Ray (who looks an awful lot like Tommy Wiseau) was 30 years old when he died during a shoot-out with Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) in 1988. His 30-year-old soul has been possessing the Chucky doll for over three decades now, and there's no stopping him.

Child's Play opened with a wild chase scene, as wanted killer Charles Lee Ray had finally been tracked down by the Chicago police. Charles suffered a bullet wound that ultimately led to his demise, but he was determined to beat the clock and find a way for his soul to continue living (and killing) on Earth. While on the run from Detective Mike, a desperate, bleeding-out CLR shut the lock on a door belonging to a toy store. He ran in without a plan, realizing he was likely about to die.

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Source: United Artists

Hoping to use a soul-transferring technique he learned from voodoo instructor John Bishop (Raymond Oliver), aka Dr. Death, CLR frantically looked around the deserted toy store in search of fresh blood. Time was running out, and Charles Lee Ray had no other choice but to transfer his soul into a plastic toy, more specifically into a redheaded Good Guys doll.

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In an explosive scene embellished with thunder, lightning, and fire, CLR recited a spell while using The Heart of Damballa to put his vile soul into who we now know as Chucky.

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The 'Chucky' series explores more of Charles Lee Ray's origin story.

The Child's Play franchise has revealed snippets from Charles Lee Ray's adulthood, including his tumultuous relationship with sex pot Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) and his obsession with acquaintance Sarah Pierce (Chantal Quesnel). But, as the Chuckyverse expands, so will our knowledge of CLR's childhood.

“Exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origins has been something that the fans have wanted to see, literally for decades now, and one of the reasons I was excited about bringing the franchise into television was because having so much storytelling real estate — eight hours of Chucky — will provide it such a great opportunity for exploring that stuff,” Chucky creator and showrunner Don Mancini stated. With only two episodes to go off of, we've already learned a bit more about CLR's backstory.

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In Episode 2 of Chucky, titled "Give Me Something Good to Eat," the opening scene takes viewers back to Charles' childhood in Hackensack, N.J., circa 1965. A grainy, almost sepia-toned flashback shows little Charles (who dressed as a clown for Halloween), as he dumps out the mountain of candy he collected while trick-or-treating. After rummaging through the pile, he discovers a Granny Smith apple boasting a razor wedged inside. Shockingly, Charles hesitantly takes a bite out of it.

Left with a maimed mouth dripping in blood, Charles smiles, letting viewers know he's always been beyond twisted. It's a chilling scene. Hopefully, more will be revealed about Charles Lee Ray's childhood.

New episodes of Chucky air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Syfy and USA Network.

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