Jayce Talis from Arcane: Comprehensive Character Guide
In the Netflix show Arcane, Jayce Talis plays one of the most pivotal roles in Season 1. He invents Hextech, catapults Piltover into a global power, and makes many of the governing decisions that brings about Silco's rise to power. In this complete character overview of Jayce from Arcane, we will dive deep into all of his decisions, pivotal storyline moments, and hidden easter eggs. Let's begin!
Warning: This article contains significant spoilers about Jayce and other characters in Arcane. If you have not already watched Arcane, a League of Legends story, you should definitely check it out on Netflix before continuing.
Interesting Jayce Quote from Arcane
“We need leadership focused on the future, not the past.”
Pivotal Storyline Moments from Jayce in Arcane
Jayce Talis came from a noble house of Piltover, but a lower one. His family rose to prominence as toolmakers. Jayce’s father manufactured hammers to quarry stone, and their ancestor invented a collapsible pocket wrench.
At a Young Age, Jayce Sees the Beauty and Power of Magic Being Used for Good
As a child, Jayce was traveling across snowy terrain with his mother, Ximena, when her strength failed her. It seemed that they would both die of exposure. Suddenly, a stranger with glowing blue eyes appeared. He used a combination of runes and a hex crystal to magically transport Jayce and his mother to a warm, safe location. The mysterious stranger (likely Ryze from League of Legends) gave the crystal to Jayce and disappeared.
This encounter planted a dream in Jayce: to advance technology through magic. His initial vision encompassed peaceful, life-improving applications, but later, his dream turned to violent ends. Jayce spent most of his story arc in Arcane pursuing this dream.
As a young man, Jayce’s show of ambition won the support of wealthy patrons, the Kirammans, one of whom was a Council Woman. Jayce studied at Piltover Academy while covertly experimenting with hex crystals.
Attention Is Brought to Jacye’s Hextech Research in Arcane
One day, a group of young thieves (Vi, Powder, Claggor, and Mylo) disturbed Jayce’s workspace, causing an explosion. Although they didn’t know it at the time, this explosion would entangle Jayce’s fate with the young orphans’.
The explosion called the Academy’s attention to Jayce’s covert activities and dangerous materials. The Piltover Council took him into custody for endangering the citizens of Piltover.
Before his trial, a kindly professor, Councilor Heimerdinger, visited Jayce in his holding cell. Heimerdinger, who already favored Jayce in Arcane, advised the younger man. “Magic is a force of nature. Science cannot control it.”
He advised Jayce to own his mistakes before the council, admit his work was dangerous, and speak nothing of magic. Heimerdinger believed that by doing so, Jayce could escape serious punishment.
Jayce’s Trial before the Piltover Council
At Jayce’s trial, Jayce initially followed Heimerdinger’s advice and downplayed his work. He claimed the materials were more dangerous than he understood, made no justifications, and apologized for endangering the citizens.
While Councilors Kiramman and Heimerdinger seemed ready to accept this, the ambitious Councilor Medarda prodded Jayce, trying to get him to say more. She mocked his work and his capabilities. She called him “a boy meddling with things he doesn’t understand.”
Jayce lost his composure and pushed back, revealing the true nature of his work. When the councilors heard that Jayce was attempting to create magic, their reactions were extremely negative, except for Medarda. Councilors Bolbok, Shoola, and Heimerdinger equated magic with inevitable genocide. Bolbok moved to have Jayce banished from Piltover.
It looked like this motion would carry when Ximena Talis threw herself upon the court's mercy, arguing that her son was not in his right mind. She called his work an “impossible dream” and begged the councilors to allow him to come home and live under her care.
This infantilizing proposition offended Jayce as a twenty-four-year-old man, but it seemed better than exile. The Council granted him this mercy, expelling him from Piltover Academy and remanding him to the care of his mother.
Jayce and Viktor Began to Work Together in Secret in Arcane
Jayce berated his mother at home, ungrateful that she saved him from banishment. He resented her for not believing in his dream. He went to his patrons, the Kirammans, for support but found that he was no longer welcome in their presence. His best friend at this point in Arcane, the young Caitlyn Kiramman, was no longer allowed to see him either.
In despair, Jayce climbed to a deadly height and considered throwing himself down. He was interrupted by Viktor, Heimerdinger’s research assistant. When Viktor in Arcane heard Jayce’s dream at the trial, he’d been inspired. Viktor told Jayce to believe in himself, contrasting their two positions. “Nobody’s ever believed in me, [a] poor cripple from the Undercity. I was an outsider from the moment I set foot in Piltover. I didn’t have the benefits of a patron or a name. I simply believed in myself. When you’re going to change the world, don’t ask for permission.” Viktor’s words encouraged Jayce to keep chasing his dream.
Working together in secret and with Councilor Medarda’s subterfuge to hide them, Viktor and Jayce returned to Academy grounds, where Jayce was forbidden to walk. They figured out how to stabilize Jayce’s hex crystals.
Heimerdinger and other university officials came upon them just as they had used the crystals to levitate themselves and the contents of their workspace. Jayce, who had been in despair mere hours before, was full of wonder and joy. He named his new technology Hextech.
Jayce Invented the Hex Gates in Arcane that Made Piltover Prosper
About seven years passed, and Piltover changed significantly due to Hextech. The upper city became even more privileged and wealthy, thanks to the Hex Gates, which could transport vehicles across great distances near instantaneously. This made Piltover the world’s shipping lane, a lucrative position. This great leap forward did not enrich the citizens of the Undercity, who dwelled in worse squalor than ever.
Jayce became a poster child for Piltover’s progress, with his likeness appearing on flyers, airships, and even kitsch. He recaptured the approval of his patrons and was publicly claimed by Councilor Kiramman as “our most famous protégé.”
At first, Jayce seemed to cope well with fame. The praise and belief of others buoyed him, but it didn’t make him vainglorious. However, the attention of Piltover’s powers would soon cause Jayce to lose sight of his dream. He became a catspaw to personalities stronger than his own, being influenced and manipulated towards several conflicting goals.
Jayce’s role as catspaw began when two powerful Councilors had different visions for the latest Hextech advancement: the hex gemstones. Unlike the original crystals, these gemstones were highly stable, portable, and could be used to power mobile devices. Jayce proudly called the gemstones “a way to bring Hextech into the life of the common man.”
Jayce Begins to Feat What Would Happen if Hextech Were Misused
Councilor Heimerdinger disapproved of the invention, saying the gemstones were too dangerous to be released to the public in their current form. The long-lived professor loftily suggested releasing them later, perhaps beyond Viktor’s lifespan. Councilor Medarda, on the other hand, wished to release the gemstones as soon as possible. She had spoken with wealthy investors and hoped to enrich herself further via Jayce and Viktor’s creations.
Conflicted and confused, Jayce decided not to reveal the hex gemstones until a later date. However, his work was released prematurely by no act of his own. The same burglar who had detonated his last workspace, Jinx, committed a terrorist attack upon Piltover. She stole not only his research notes but also one of the precious gemstones.
The theft sent the Council into an uproar. They feared that Zaunite terrorists would use the gemstone to create powerful weapons to attack Piltover. At a council meeting, they ranted that the Undercity had become uncontrollable. Jayce, motioning for Viktor to keep his seat, accepted full responsibility for the gemstone’s theft.
He recommended that all Hextech operations be suspended until the situation was resolved. His guilt over the lost lives had caused him to put his dream on hold. Councilor Heimerdinger approved of Jayce’s willingness to sacrifice his life’s work for the city's safety. In contrast, the corrupt Councilors could put their greed aside and would not consider closing the lucrative Hex Gates.
Councilor Medarda’s Cunning Manipulations were Too Much for Jayce in Arcane
Councilor Medarda masterfully tempted Jayce with a lofty position, one contingent on the continued operation of Hextech. She moved for Jayce to be elevated to the Council. His purview would be the guardianship of Hextech, protecting both the citizens’ lives and their investments.
This would rocket house Talis to greater importance and allow Jayce to continue chasing his dream. When the Council approved the motion, the temptation was too great for Jayce to overcome. His selfless desire to suspend Hextech was forgotten, and he became consumed by the task Medarda set for him.
Jayce Tries to Use His Elevated Position for Good
Soon after, Jayce’s friendship with Caitlyn Kiramman in Arcane was strained. Caitlyn had lost her job as an enforcer after the recent terrorist attack due to her parents’ protective maneuvering. Jayce offered Caitlyn a job as his personal security, but she rejected it as unwelcome pity.
She explained to him her theory: a single kingpin was controlling the crime in the Undercity, and he was connected to the latest terrorist attack. Jayce thoughtlessly mimicked the people who doubted his dream by openly Caitlyn’s ability to prove her theory.
In his new role as Councilor, Jayce discovered evidence of smuggling into Piltover. Loose borders raised the chances of a gemstone weapon entering the city. He told Marcus, the corrupt sheriff who was neck-deep in the smuggling scheme, to tighten down security between Piltover and the outside world.
When some among Piltover’s elite suggested weaponizing the remaining gemstones against the Undercity in a preemptive move, Jayce was at first vehemently against it. He stood with Viktor, who argued, “Absolutely not. Hextech is meant to improve lives, not take them.”
Medarda Easily manipulates Jayce in Arcane to Permit Corrupt Behavior
When the tightened security interfered with Councilor Medarda’s enterprises, she warned Jayce that by halting smuggling, he had made himself the common enemy of powerful Piltovers. Using genteelisms such as “favors between friends,” Medarda explained that most of the Council members and their powerful friends relied on smuggling to amass wealth, trade favors, and treat themselves to forbidden goods.
The newly ascended House Talis is more vulnerable than ever, and with the attention of the powerful, it could be destroyed. After menacing him with that stick, Medarda quickly tempted him with the carrot. She appealed to his greatest character flaw: his wounded confidence. Jayce always hated when people doubted him and his dream. Medarda presented the success of House Talis, even by corruption, as an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
Jayce quickly buckled under this pressure and participated in corruption. He offered Councilors and other powerful Piltovers “a chance to partner with Hextech,” a euphemism for, “Pay me, and I’ll overlook your smuggling.” This was in direct opposition to Jayce’s goal to control the HexGates and thereby prevent the next terrorist attack.
Jayce also pursued a physical relationship with Medarda at this time. Jayce was guilelessly interested in her, while she kept him at arm’s length. Behind his back, she spoke of him as a mere “investment.”
Doing Wrong in an Attempt to Do Good
Jayce’s new responsibilities, romance, and corruption took him away from his work, dream, and Viktor. He hardly noticed as Viktor’s condition deteriorated rapidly. It was only when Viktor was hospitalized that Jayce realized the direness of the situation. Soon after learning of Viktor’s impending death, Jayce went to Councilor Medarda for comfort. She responded lukewarmly, asking “Why are you here?”
Jayce began to place hope in the Hex Core, Viktor’s latest advancement of Hextech. This invention could manipulate organic matter. Jayce hoped that the Hex Core could be used to cure Viktor’s disease. However, when the Hex Core was revealed to Heimerdinger, he condemned the partners’ work in stronger terms than ever. He threatened to destroy the Hex Core, with or without their cooperation. Jayce began to see Heimerdinger as a threat.
Jayce embraced corruption when he used his position on the Council to oust Heimerdinger. His goal was to protect Viktor and his work. However, Jayce insincerely used the poor condition of the Undercity as evidence against his old professor, mimicking the way Councilor Medarda often used true statements to misrepresent the full truth. This was a decision he came to regret.
Jayce’s quest to protect Piltover continued as Sherrif Marcus gave him false evidence. The corrupt sheriff hid Silco’s responsibility for the attack by claiming one of Jinx’s bombs was found in the hands of the Firelights. They are an Undercity gang focused on disrupting the Shimmer market.
Isolated Jayce from Arcane Begins to Treat Viktor and Other Zaunites without Equal Consideration
To prevent a weaponized gemstone from being used by Zaun against Piltover, Jayce ordered a blockade on the bridge that connected the two cities. Unbeknownst to him, Viktor, a native Zaunite, was on the lower side of the bridge at the time. He needed Jayce to escort him back into Piltover. Jayce berated Viktor and insulted him by calling Zaunites “dangerous.”
This conversation led Viktor to conceal his true reason for visiting the Undercity: an attempt to cure his condition. Jayce did not check in with Viktor for some time after this and missed essential events in his friend’s life.
Not long after, a battle broke out on the bridge. It seemed at first this battle was between the Piltover forces manning the blockade and Undercity forces attempting to cross it. When Jayce saw the fight's aftermath, he vomited in horror and guilt.
He reconsidered weaponizing Hextech. In this, he was influenced by Councilor Medarda’s mother, Ambessa Medarda. This warlike woman invited Jayce to an uncomfortable meeting, wherein she flaunted her nakedness and her power over men.
Ambessa Medarda urged Jayce to look to her for guidance in matters of war, calling his leadership “impotent” without her. She encourages him to bring Piltover into open warfare with Zaun. Councilor Medarda was displeased with her mother exerting influence over her favorite catspaw, so much so that it pushed her away from her original position and towards peace.
Shortly after Jayce’s meeting with Ambessa Medarda, the Council met to discuss the crisis between Piltover and Zaun. Caitlyn Kiramman attended the meeting with Vi, one of the burglars who destroyed Jayce’s home seven years ago.
The two women revealed what they had learned about Silco’s acts of terrorism and his desire to make Zaun an independent nation. Jayce spoke in favor of violent retaliation. Councilor Medarda, for once the voice of reason, cautioned Jayce and the other councilors against violence. Upon hearing the council’s intent to negotiate with Silco, Vi stormed out.
Vi Convinces Jayce to Take a Strong-Armed Approach to Deal with Zaun’s “Criminals”
Later that very night, Vi approached Jayce and suggested they team up against Silco. He seemed to be the only one at the council meeting who, like her, wanted to use force. Vi proposed destabilizing Silco’s organization by destroying his Shimmer manufacturing sites, causing the Shimmer addicts to turn against their dealer. Jayce accepted Vi’s suggestion, and they made an unlikely alliance.
Jayce, Vi, and some Piltover enforcers arrived at an Undercity Shimmer manufacturing facility wielding Hextech-powered mining gear. Shimmer-mad chem guards protected the facility’s equipment. The chem guards drew incredible strength from the drug. However, hammer-wielding Jayce and gauntlet-wielding Vi put them down with their superior weapons.
Jayce killed many people in the struggle, including a child. This was the son of Renni, one of Silco’s higher-ranking associates. Jayce came to realize there were many children in the facility, perhaps kept there as forced labor.
War Proves Unpalatable for Jayce in Arcane
After getting a taste of war, Jayce found it to be too bitter. He quarreled with Vi, saying he did not want to be a part of “this,” meaning “dead trencher kids.” Vi argued that Jayce had always been part of it, he just chose not to see it before.
Jayce demanded the return of the Hextech- powered gauntlets, but Vi refused. Jayce did not force the issue, thereby allowing the number of gemstones controlled by the Undercity to triple. Jayce left the battlefield to pursue a diplomatic solution.
Soon after that, Jayce met with Silco himself. Silco came with a list of demands: free trade routes, blanket amnesty, unrestricted access to the Hex Gates, and most importantly, Zaun sovereignty. Silco made such bold requests because he sensed Jayce’s unwillingness to fight.
Jayce said that his unwillingness to fight didn’t come from weakness. After his battle in the Shimmer manufacturing facility, he realized that a war between Piltover and Zaun would be a one-sided slaughter. “I’m trying to save you from annihilation.” He met Silco’s list of demands with a list of his own: to discontinue the production of Shimmer, to return the gemstone, and surrender Jinx to the Piltover authorities for punishment. Silco objected to the last request, but Jayce left the meeting believing they had agreed.
A Vote for Peace with a Tragic Ending
Jayce returned to the Council with a new attitude. “With respect, I don’t give a shit what any of you think of me anymore.” This stood in stark contrast to the years he spent trying to win over the belief of others, being easily influenced and manipulated by them.
Reunited with his faithful friend, Viktor, Jayce allowed Viktor to deliver the surprising news: that they had brokered a peace with Silco dependent upon Zaunite independence. The Council was outraged, as Jayce had vastly overstepped his authority. The exploitation of Zaun produced wealth for Piltover and the Council, but that gravy train was grinding to a halt.
The influential Councilor Medarda accepted Jayce’s proposal for peace. She and Jayce shared a look of triumph before a missile struck their meeting. Whether the Councilors survive or their plans for peace perseveres remains unclear.
Discussion and Analysis of Jayce’s Character in Arcane
Jayce’s dream: “My father put hammers in the hands of the people, and they built this magnificent city. Imagine the wonders they could create if we put magic in their hands.”
Jayce is one of the most dynamic characters in Arcane. This is not surprising, given how impressionable he is! Jayce swings from purity, to corruption, and back again.
Jayce has some qualities expected of a leader. His good looks and charm make him likable. He has high energy and a vision for the future. However, even when thrust into a position of power, he spends most of his arc being influenced and controlled by more powerful personalities than his own. He is highly impressionable and easy to maneuver.
The main lever used to manipulate Jayce is his desire for other people to believe in him and his dream. Spending so many years pursuing an “impossible dream” and enduring others’ doubts, particularly his mother’s, has left Jayce with a chip on his shoulder. Feeling like no one believed in his dream nearly drove him to suicide. It was Viktor’s belief in him that bolstered him and allowed him to continue moving forward. Like Tinkerbell, Jayce needed at least one believer.
Jayce is Redeemed Right Before the Close of Arcane’s Season 1
Jayce seems to overcome this character flaw in the final episode of Arcane Season 1. Jayce has resolved on a course of action, and he greets the council with a brash, “I don’t give a shit what any of you think of me anymore.” Jayce’s course of action is no longer driven by the manipulation of the Medardas or his need for approval. Instead, it is determined by firsthand experience and his personal conscience.
The scene also shows how Jayce has reunited with at least one part of his dream, which was to improve the lives of ordinary people. In Arcane, Jayce is separated from his dream throughout much of his story arc. He is overwhelmed and distracted by new responsibilities, romance, and corruption. These distractions take him away not only from work but from his true friend and believer, Viktor. Jayce’s relationship with Viktor comes to symbolize his relationship with his dream. When Jayce is ready to throw off the manipulations of others, he embraces Viktor once again. He stands before the council, proudly calling Viktor his partner and giving Viktor the honor of presenting the disruptive and exciting news.
Jayce and Viktor’s Friendship in Arcane
Jayce’s friendship with Viktor explores Jayce’s softer side. As described in the essay,” The culture which produced Arcane is experiencing a dearth of intimate male friendships. While men crave friendships with emotional nuance, depth, discretion, and tenderness, they often lose such friendships when adolescent fears rear their heads. A fear of appearing girly, immature, or gay if they have close relationships with other males causes many friendships to falter. So it is refreshing to see positive examples of intimate male friendship represented in media.
The lens of friendship reveals both Jayce’s good qualities and his failures. Jayce is affectionate, often sharing small touches with Viktor. Although Viktor always refuses, he offers Viktor a place in the limelight beside him. Jayce feels deeply, as seen when he learns of Viktor’s impending death. He is protective, such as when he shielded Viktor from blame for the theft of the hex gemstone and when he removed Heimerdinger as a threat to Viktor’s chance at recovery.
Their friendship sometimes functions as an alliance, such as when they disagree or bounce ideas off each other in private but present a united front in public. Yet, Jayce sometimes falls short as a friend. At his most paranoid, he thoughtlessly insults Viktor’s Zaunite origins.
At his most distracted, he neglects Viktor, to the point where he hardly notices his friend’s rapid decline in health. This causes Viktor to retreat form Jayce at this point in Arcane’s storyline, concealing his dangerous experiments with the Hex Core, his attempts at self-transmutation, or the tragic death of his lab assistant.
Jayce’s Tropes in The Show
The first trope played out in this character is “golden boy.” Jayce can be slightly egotistical and optimistic, yet his research is incredibly successful. He is the face of Hextech and garners all the praise and accolades for every discovery and new invention.
Several tropes play out in Jayce’s fall from grace, such as “face-heel turn,” and “deal with the devil.” Jayce is tempted by a “snake in the garden,” Councilor Medarda. She tempts him once with a council seat and again by protecting House Talis.
Both times, Jayce fails to resist. He becomes corrupt, allowing the wealthy Piltovers to evade his security and continue smuggling at the expense of the city’s safety. Jayce becomes more comfortable with the indulgent comforts of high society and is seen engaging in more pretentious body language, such as preening in front of a mirror and keeping his distance from a dangerous experiment he would once have eagerly observed. He fully embraced corruption and the methods of his manipulators when he betrayed Councilor Heimerdinger, forcing him off the council.
Interesting Cinematic Moments for Jacye in Arcane
- The phrase “speak of the devil [and he shall appear]” is uttered right before Jayce enters the room. A fire is interposed between him and the viewer’s POV, giving him a satanic appearance.
- Jayce’s role in Arcane is symbolic in the show as a light of the future is presented rather literally. At the beginning of his story arc, especially when he feels hopeful, he is framed by light. As Jayce’s character in Arcane becomes more corrupt, he is crafted in darkness.
- Jayce and Viktor both have bright yellow eyes. This may be a nod to them sharing the same figurative “vision.”
Images Courtesy of Riot Games and Netflix.