Servant of the Andalite Filth
Jake the Mighty
Jake the Yeerk Killer
Jake the Ellimist's Tool
The Sanctimonious Killer
Mighty Jake the Yeerk Killer
Jake the Animorph
Big Jake the Yeerk Killer
President of Earth
|Host to||Temrash 114 (formerly)|
|Died||1997 (killed by Esplin 9466; resurrected)
December 25, 1776 (resurrected)
|Family||Steve Berenson (father)
Jean Berenson (mother)
Tom Berenson † (brother)
Rachel † (cousin)
Saddler † (cousin)
Grandpa G † (maternal great-grandfather)
Isaiah Fitzhenry † (maternal great-great-great-granduncle)
Leader of the Animorphs
Military Morphing Professor
United States Department of Defense
|Behind the scenes|
|First appearance||The Invasion|
|Last appearance||The Beginning|
|Portrayer||Shawn Ashmore (TV series)
Mathew Kaminsky (voice, PC game)
Jame Mack (voice, PlayStation game)
- "I'm a sixteen-year-old kid named Jake Berenson, and I am the leader of the Animorphs. In the past it's been hard for me to say that, to take on the title of leader. In the past I've questioned myself. Wondered whether I was right, wondered whether what I did was good, wondered whether I had any right to make life-and-death decisions. I've felt sorry for myself at times. Maybe anyone would, in my spot. But I had to put all that aside now. I had put it all aside. Not because I was suddenly convinced that I deserved the power, was worthy of it. That wasn't it. I knew better than to get too caught up in the myth of Mighty Jake the Yeerk Killer. I had given up soul-searching because I realized now that it was simply too late. Way past too late. The battle had become a war. And I was, for better or worse, the only leader we had."
- ―Jake Berenson
Jake Berenson was the leader of the Animorphs, an author and a morphing professor for the United States Department of Defense. Revered as a global and national hero, he is heralded as the individual responsible for ending the decades-long Andalite-Yeerk War.
When he was younger, Jake was personally close to his older brother, Tom, spending time playing basketball with him and learning all about their grandfather’s war stories together.
One week prior to becoming an Animorph, Jake helped a kid named Tobias by stopping two bullies from picking on him.
Becoming an Animorph
- "We were five kids taking a shortcut home from the mall at night. There was a ship. There was an alien. There was the destructive worm of knowledge: You are not alone. You are not safe. Nothing is what it seems. No one is who they seem to be. The knowledge of betrayal and terror. The awareness of evil. And then, the power. The power made us responsible, see. Without the power the knowledge would have just been a worm of fear eating up our insides. Bad enough. But it was the power that turned fear into obligation, that laid the weight on our unready shoulders. We could become any animal we touched, the Andalite told us. Power enough to win? No. Power enough to fight? Ah, yes. Just enough, little Jake, here is just enough power to imprison you in a cage of duty, to make you fight."
One night, Jake, along with his best friend Marco, his cousin Rachel, her best friend Cassie, and Tobias decided to take a shortcut home from the mall through a construction site.
There, the five of them find a dying alien named Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul and learn all about the Andalite-Yeerk War, including that the Yeerks have already infested a large percentage of humans. To combat the Yeerks, Elfangor gives Jake and the rest of the teenagers Morphing ability. The group is almost caught by Visser Three and a squadron of Hork-Bajir soldiers, but they manage to escape.
After Tom expresses interest in trying to find a group of teenagers who were at the construction site, Marco realizes that Tom is a Controller, much to Jake’s anger. Tom then invites Jake and Marco to a meeting of a local community club called The Sharing, which is holding a meeting with a bonfire on the beach. When the full members go off to a separate meeting, Jake morphs his dog, Homer, to go investigate. In dog morph, he confirms his fears that Tom is a Controller.
From that point on, Jake plans on fighting the Yeerks to one day freeing his brother. Jake is then chosen, albeit not of his own accord, as the leader of the Animorphs.
Becoming a Controller
- "Get out of my head! No! No!"
"Oh, I don't think I want to do that, Jake. Why would I abandon such an interesting host? So you are the one who has driven Visser Three half-mad with rage. A kid. The midget."
"Midget? How do–"
"You're surprised I know what Tom calls you? Ha ha ha. Oh, the irony really is sweet. Don't you get it, clever Jake? Don't you see what's happened, my little Animorph."
- ―Jake and Temrash 114
Tying him up, the Animorphs hold Temrash in an abandoned shed for three days until he dies of Kandrona starvation. Temrash tries to escape, going through multiple attempts using Jake’s morphs, but he dies inside Jake’s head. As he dies, Jake witnesses his pain and catches a glimpse of a "bloodred eye".
Leader of the Animorphs
- "The others like to act as if I'm in charge. I don't think of myself that way, not really. But you know, whatever. If it makes them feel better to think I'm the leader, fine. It's just that when people treat you like a leader, you start acting like a leader. And like I said, that means making decisions. Even when you're just guessing."
To be added
- "I'm the unofficial leader of the Animorphs. I send us into battle. When things go wrong, when we get hurt or have to run for our lives, that's on me, too. I'm not complaining. Has to be done. You know? Someone has to make the calls. A good leader has to make tough, informed decisions. Recognize his soldiers' special strengths and use them accordingly. Fight to win with the knowledge that he may die trying. But most important, a leader won't ask anyone to do anything he wouldn't do himself."
As the battle with the Yeerks went on, Jake was forced into situations that tested his leadership skills and made him start to make some tough decisions like deciding on how to deal with Tom on one occasion attempting to take out his father and teaming up with Visser Three to escape an underwater civilization.
He even once found himself in an possible future where the Yeerks won the war and has taken a toll on all of the Animorphs, especially Cassie, who became more brutal and calculating than her original pacifist nature.
Losing his Family
- "This was not your fault, Prince Jake. You could not have known what Tom was planning. You could not have stopped him."
"Yeah, Ax. I could have. What's wrong with me? Why didn't I get them out last night? When I need to wait, plan, gather more information, what do I do? Charge in. Go for the surprise. Screw things up permanently. But when I need to charge in, to save the people I love most, I wait. I say, "Go home. Get some rest. Sleep on it." Great plan. I get sleep. My parents get Yeerks."
- ―Ax and Jake
When the Animorphs realize that the Yeerks finally realize that the “Andalite bandits” are actually humans, the Animorphs plan to run away and take their individual families to the hidden Hork-Bajir valley for safety. Although Rachel’s and Cassie’s families are taken to safety, Tom’s Yeerk manages to infest both of his parents beforehand and set up a trap for Jake. Before escaping, Jake morphs into falcon in front of the Yeerks, wanting to show that he has been fighting all along to inspire fear in the Yeerks and hope in his family that he will rescue them.
- "Look, if we lose this battle it's over, you understand me?! If we lose it's over. This is the battle. This is the last stand. We lose and here's what happens: The Yeerk fleet fights the Andalite fleet. If the Yeerks win they'll be free to enslave every living human being and kill the ones they don't want. If the Andalites win there's a very good chance they'll sterilize Earth: kill everything in order to end the Yeerk menace once and for all. So, you don't like me telling you what to do, you don't like your job, you don't like me, period? I don't really care. Before this night is over the casualties will be piled high and some of you standing here right now will be dead and I don't care because we are going to win. Is that clear? We're taking that Pool ship and before this night is over we'll have Visser One right here."
- ―Jake to James and the other Animorphs
Having romantic feelings throughout the series, Jake proposed to Cassie before the final battle against the Yeerks, although she suggests that he ask her again a year after the war ends, unsure of whether Jake can live a normal life post-war, should they survive.
During the final days of the Yeerk War, Tom’s Yeerk gives Jake a deal: allowing Tom’s Yeerk, along with a hundred of other Controllers, to take the Blade Ship and an Escafil device to make war on another species in exchange for giving Jake and the other Animorphs a way to enter the Pool Ship, control it, and defeat the Yeerks once and for all as well as promising the freedom of Jake’s parents and Tom. However, Jake is aware that Tom's Yeerk is planning to betray them and concocts a countermeasure, doing his own version of the plan while secretly ordering Rachel to follow Tom’s Yeerk.
Jake’s plan succeeds and ultimately ends the war with the Yeerks, but not without a cost. Not only were seventeen thousands of Yeerks killed in the Pool Ship’s central pool, but Rachel was forced to kill Tom, shortly before she, herself, is killed.
- "We Animorphs and the newly minted Prince Aximili, with our prisoner, landed Ax's official liaison ship, a sleek Fast-Courier, right in the middle of the Mall in Washington. Not a mall, the Mall, a sort of open green space with the Capitol Building at one end, the Smithsonian Institution and various government buildings on both sides, and the obelisk of the Washington Monument at the far end. We called ahead, not wanting to terrify anyone. There were roughly a thousand cops and twice that many newspeople waiting for us. It was, as Marco said, a "shiver-my-spine moment." A sea of microphones and video cameras and flashbulbs. Ax and Jake, and to a lesser extent Marco and I, gave a sort of brief explanation of what had been happening, and where things stood now. Needless to say, it was kind of a big news day."
To be added
- "Jake was on his way to becoming this icon, this national hero figure. He had that whole tragic-hero thing going on. People knew about him sending his cousin to take out his brother and they ate it up. I am not kidding when I say that some congressperson actually suggested carving his face onto Mount Rushmore. Nothing came of that, fortunately. So, anyway, everyone acted like they wanted Jake to do their show, but Jake wasn't really into that game and the bookers for the shows knew it. Jake did not do good panel. He wouldn't sit there and trade jokes with Dave. There was too much he didn't want to talk about. Jake was still carrying the world on his shoulders, and it showed. [...] Jake carried Tom and Rachel and those seventeen thousand Yeerks around his neck like the Ancient Mariner and his albatross. Being Jake he didn't lose it. He didn't go off and become some kind of drug addict or have some big breakdown or whatever. He was still Jake. But he was a different Jake. Smaller and bigger at the same time, if that makes any sense. He was closed off, inward. He would sound almost like the old Jake sometimes but you just got this sense that he was out of phase with everyone else. Like he was a half step ahead or behind. Of course this just made him into the strong and silent type and he always was a big, good-looking guy, so he got marriage proposals (and other proposals) from girls as young as twelve and women old enough to be his grandmother. No interest. He loved Cassie, of course, but I don't know what happened there. I know when I talk to Cassie I ask her if she's seen him and the answer is always no. The same when I talk to Jake, although he always says he's just about to call her, just about to. Write a book? No thanks. Endorsements? No thanks. Every college on the planet tried to recruit him. No thanks. West Point offered him a gig as an instructor in the Tactical Application of Emerging Technologies and Xeno-Warfare. No thanks. If he'd been old enough he could have run for president as the candidate of Democrats and Republicans both. Jake was the biggest hero the world had ever seen because he was a hero for all humans, not one nation. He had saved the lives and freedom of the entire human race. I mean, he could have snapped his fingers and had anything he wanted. The problem was, he didn't want anything. Except for Tobias to come back. For Rachel and Tom to be alive. For the chance to unlive one fateful moment when he gave the order that doomed seventeen thousand defenseless Yeerks."
After the war, Jake is idolized as a national hero and is coveted by various colleges, brand deals and government institutions, although Jake refuses, become withdrawn and depressed, living with his parents, who are now freed, and visiting Rachel's memorial at night, sitting there for hours and hoping for Tobias to show up. Additionally, he and Cassie are no longer together.
Trial of Visser One
- "Your honor, this witness should himself be under indictment as a war criminal. If the alleged war crimes of the Yeerk military officer, Visser One, are to be tried in this court, it must be in the pursuit of impartial justice. Truly impartial justice cannot be applied only against one side in a conflict. If my client is to be tried for his actions in the human-Yeerk war, then so must the actions of this witness. With all due respect to this court, this witness is a mass murderer. A war criminal."
- ―Visser One's Lawyer
Jake, along with Marco, Cassie, and Ax, are called to testify against Visser One. During Jake's testimony, Esplin's lawyer dubs Jake a war criminal for his actions during the war, which bothers Jake. The other three Animorphs knock Jake unconscious and dump him into the ocean, forcing Jake to morph into dolphin, hoping that the dolphin's natural joy would override Jake's depression, although it fails. As Jake rages, he explains that being branded a war criminal bothers him, and reveals that he relished flushing the 17,000 Yeerks into space, which, while understandable to Marco and Ax, causes Cassie to become further distant with him.
- "I needed a job. I needed to do something useful. And I was the reigning expert on using animal morphs for infiltration, surveillance, and combat. They called me Professor. A joke, obviously, I still hadn't formally graduated from high school. But they had to call me something, these amazingly fit, smart, disciplined men and women, some of whom were twice my age. Classes were terribly Top Secret, naturally. The "school" was a squat cinder block building in a forgotten corner of the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps base. Way out in the California desert. Nothing around. I lived in Santa Barbara, now. After the trial of Visser One, and endless nagging from Marco (and his agent and manager and assorted Hollywood friends), I finally wrote a book. It was an autobiography, of course. I hated doing it. But it was a way for me to tell people more about Rachel and Tobias, the Forgotten Animorphs, as people called them. The book made way more money than I needed. I bought a house for my folks and finally moved out on my own. Tom was gone. My hanging around my parents' house till I was thirty wasn't going to bring him back. Marco lived half a mile from me, in a house about seven times bigger than mine. We'd started hanging out again. And after awhile he'd given up arranging dates for me with whatever starlet happened to be willing. The Defense Department was my official employer and they flew me in a private military jet from Santa Barbara to Twenty-nine every day of class. Flew me back in the evening. I would sit there pretending to work on lesson plans, stare out the window at the sun setting over the Pacific, and watch the birds below. I had seen red-tailed hawks at times. But there was no way to know. [...] My ride was waiting outside the building. They drove me back and forth in a Humvee with all kinds of security — a courtesy befitting my status as an official hero. I had been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a similarly exalted medal from pretty much every nation on Earth. Some before the trial, some more afterward. If I'd suffered anything tangible from having the title of "war criminal" applied to me, I never noticed it. And I'd gotten so I almost didn't notice the security that followed me everywhere since I'd become terrorist target number one."
Realizing it was time to move on with his life, that none of his action wouldn’t bring back Tom or Rachel, Jake got a job for the Department of Defense, working as a morphing professor. He also wrote his own biography about the Yeerk War, telling people more about Rachel and Tobias. Using the money from those sales, he bought a house for his parents and moved to a house closer to Marco, where they started hanging out again.
A New Mission
- "Look, for better or worse, this is what I do. This is what I am, not what you are."
"I'm still pretty good in a fight."
"Pretty good? Cassie, you're a one-woman army. But you're the soldier who has fought her war and moved on. That's good. It's not me, though. Come on, Cassie, we both know this is a lifeline for me."
- ―Jake and Cassie
Jake developed a personality similar to Rachel by this point, becoming reckless, ruthless and enjoying war and the subsequent violence, a trait noticed by both Cassie and Marco. When Jake discovers that Ax has been kidnapped, Jake relishes the idea of entering another war, citing it as a lifeline for him, with Cassie surprised that she did not notice how much Jake's demeanor resembles Rachel's. After more than six months captaining the Rachel, a state-of-the-art Yeerk ship named by Tobias, Jake encounters a Blade ship—one containing the last fugitives from the Yeerk empire. Ax's captor, a monstrous being of unknown origin known only as "The One", makes its unsettling appearance through a communication channel between the Blade ship and the Rachel. Undaunted, Jake gives his final order, instructing the pilot to power up their engines and ram the larger ship.
- "He was a good guy, my dad. Not just because he was my dad. Because he was a good person. Because he did his work as well as he knew how and wasn't a jerk to the people around him. That doesn't make you a saint or anything, but I guess when I think about it, that's what I hope I'll do when I’m older: treat my family right, do my job well, not be a jerk to the people I meet. Maybe that's not a huge, ambitious goal, but it would be enough for me. I've done the hero thing. You can have the hero thing. Me, I wanted a day when all I'd have to do was be a decent human being."
At the beginning of the Animorphs series, Tobias announces to the team that he thinks that Jake should be their leader. The other Animorphs quickly agree, and Jake reluctantly accepts the position. Few would disagree that he is naturally fit for the job, as he is brave, responsible, cool under pressure, and able to take charge during a crisis. He is described by his cousin Rachel as a person who can give orders without sounding overly bossy. At first, Jake doesn't view himself as a leader, and thus isn't willing to accept the role, but when he learns that his older brother Tom is a Controller, his desire to save his brother serves as the fuel to his unyielding determination in his fight against the Yeerks.
In the first book, Jake is the only character with pre-existing ties to each of the other Animorphs; Rachel is his cousin; there was a mutual attraction between him and Cassie; Marco is his best friend; Tobias was rescued by him from bullies sometime before the series began and had a mild case of hero-worship towards Jake. While Ax didn't appear until the fourth volume, The Message, Ax quickly accepts Jake as his "Prince" ("Prince" being a rank in the Andalite military hierarchy) and is deeply loyal to him. Jake's status as Ax's Prince led to a recurring joke between them:
One of Jake's more harrowing experiences occurs when he is infested by a Yeerk, Temrash 114. Fortunately Ax realizes something was wrong (because Jake's face momentarily twists into an expression of disgust when he sees Ax), and the Animorphs tie Jake up for three days until Temrash dies of Kandrona starvation. Jake gets his first glimpse of Crayak when Temrash died. He is also left with partial memory imprints of Temrash and his former hosts: a Gedd, a Hork-Bajir, and his brother Tom (who is now host to another Yeerk).
As the leader of the small band of guerrilla warriors, his leadership, his choices and mistakes, and the responsibility he assumes are recurring themes in the Animorphs series. Despite his best efforts, Jake never attains his main goal for joining the fight: saving his brother from Yeerk infestation. After he fails to save Tom from the Yeerks, he is left emotionally damaged and unable to lead. Before the final battle, Cassie manages to lift him out of it, but her success is short-lived. Eventually, Jake's personality becomes very much like his cousin Rachel's, to the point where he employs ruthless and reckless decisions and smiles amidst the carnage, unable to live without a war, with the similarity noted by both Cassie and Marco.
Relationships with the other Animorphs
Jake and Marco had been best friends for years before the war, and generally maintained a close relationship throughout the series, despite several tests of their friendship. Towards the end of the war, Jake and Marco's friendship suffers. In the post-war period, Marco is concerned for his friend and makes a plan with Cassie to try to get through to him.
- "You know I love you."
"I love you, too, Jake."
"I guess if we win, if we survive, maybe we should, you know, get married and all. I mean, eventually. I know we're young, but man, we've been through enough that it should count for a few extra years, shouldn't it? [...] Look, Cassie, when this is over I'll be done with it forever. I'll go back to school, get an education, go to basketball games, get a driver's license, go to college, figure out what it is I really want to do. And be with you. You and me."
- ―Jake and Cassie
Jake and Cassie were attracted to each other ever since the start of the series, and their relationship kept growing as the series progressed. They end up kissing in The Attack, and admit the depth of their feelings for each other. After they kiss, Rachel remarks, "It's about time.". However, they grow apart towards the end of the series due to Jake's depression and his distrust of Cassie after she allows Tom to escape with the Escafil device. They make up before the very end of the series, and Jake even asks Cassie to marry him in The Answer, but she declines, saying she wpuld marry him "a year after this is all over." At the time, Cassie correctly suspected that Jake had been changed by the war, and after it's over, he becomes too entrenched in depression and guilt to be able to pursue a romantic relationship.
Despite being cousins, Jake and Rachel weren't particularly close until they became Animorphs, with both of them eventually loving the other. As the series progressed, Jake became worried about Rachel's violent nature, and Rachel occasionally found herself wishing to challenge Jake's leadership, despite respecting him as her leader. Overall though, the two got along very well and were mostly on the same side of arguments. After Rachel's death, Jake mourned her passing deeply, often visiting her grave late at night and spending hours there in silence. He eventually came to adopt Rachel's demeanor, craving war and employing reckless tactics.
- "Tobias is one of us. A friend. More than a friend. He's risked his life for me many times."
Before Jake became an Animorph, he helped Tobias escape from bullies, and because of this, Tobias looks up to Jake and has a deep respect for him, almost never questioning his decisions. But after the end of the series, Tobias is unable to forgive Jake for his part in Rachel's death, although they make amends, Tobias realizing he cannot muster the rage he believes he should harbor towards Jake and putting aside feelings of animosity in order to save Ax.
Ax deeply respects Jake, and calls him his "prince." This is a running joke between the two, as Jake is biologically younger than Ax, and holds no real rank. However, Ax does respect Jake's position as leader, and at times, Jake uses his "rank" to overrule Ax's objections. While Jake keeps a certain distance from Ax, as he is Ax's commander, there is a strong bond between the two. Jake is protective of Ax, believing him to be a soldier under his command, and therefore Jake's responsibility (when Ax is kidnapped in the final book, Jake describes him as "one of mine").
To be added
Television Show Morphs
|Golden Retriever (Homer)||My Name is Jake, Part 1|
|Iguana||On the Run|
|Horse (off-screen)||The Leader, Part 1|
|Human (Tom)||Face Off, Part 2|
|Mouse||My Name is Erek|
|White-headed Capuchin||Changes, Part 1|
|Gecko||Changes, Part 2|
|Hawk (off-screen)||The Front|
Jake has a total of 15 morphs in the TV show.
Books narrated by Jake
- The Invasion
- The Capture
- The Andalite's Gift
- The Forgotten
- The Warning
- In the Time of Dinosaurs
- The Departure
- The Threat
- The Attack
- Elfangor's Secret
- The Conspiracy
- The Mutation
- Back to Before
- The Familiar
- The Resistance
- The Answer
- The Beginning
- Jake's real WAA username is close to being Bball24. It is a reference to his best basketball game, where he scored 24 points.
- In The Answer, Jake finally breaks the "I can't tell you my last name or where I live" tradition, and reveals that his last name is Berenson and that the Animorphs have been fighting the Yeerks in California for a total of 3 years. Marco reveals that Jake is 16, meaning that the Animorphs began the war at the age of 13.
- In the original idea for the series, Jake's name was going to be Matt and he was going to have a little brother named Joseph.
- Jake narrates a small portion of Cassie's book (The Departure) because Cassie was stuck in a chrysalis in butterfly morph.
- Jake has the most books in the series. He gets a part in narrating 17 books in total.
- A running gag between him and Ax involves Ax calling him "Prince," and him objecting to the title. Amusingly inverted in the beginning in Elfangor's Secret, where he objects to Ax calling him "Prince" to instead demand he be called "Supreme Leader."
- In the Anibase, K.A. Applegate had this to say about a very memorable scene in The Attack:
- "The Jake and Cassie kiss was not only something Ani-Fans had wanted for a long time, it was our small homage to the first interracial kiss on TV, the famous Captain Kirk, Lieutenant Uhura moment. That long-ago kiss ignited a storm of angry response. For us, we always got lots of fan mail, and not a single letter that we ever saw complained about the kiss between a black character and a white character. Mostly what readers said was, 'It's about time!'"
|Animorphs||Jake | Rachel | Tobias | Cassie | Marco | Ax | David|
|Auxiliary Animorphs||James | Collette | Timmy | Kelly | Craig | Erica | Julio | Liam | Tricia | Jessie | Judy | Ray|