Jacques Schnee (formerly Gelé) was an antagonist in RWBY and the former CEO of the Schnee Dust Company (SDC), the largest Dust-mining company in Remnant. He was the father of Winter, Weiss, and Whitley Schnee and the husband of Willow Schnee. He was also a councilman from Atlas.
He was first mentioned in the episode "The Stray" and makes a brief non-speaking appearance in "End of the Beginning". He also appeared briefly in the Manga. His first speaking appearance was in "Remembrance". He served as a secondary antagonist in Volume 7.
In "Pomp and Circumstance", he made a deal with Arthur Watts to rig the election for the Council seat. However in "As Above, So Below", after his alliance was exposed to the Atlas Council by his daughter Weiss, he was stripped of his title as Councilman and arrested. He ended up put in a cell next to Watts, Robyn Hill, and Qrow Branwen and later James Ironwood.
Jacques was fair-skinned with white, slicked-back hair. He had a large, thick mustache and cold blue eyes.
He was seen wearing a pure white double-breasted blazer with a red handkerchief in the breast pocket. Underneath, he wore a light-blue dress shirt, vest and a white clip-on tie, printed with the same emblem on his shoes and above his study. He had a silver-colored ring on his right hand.
On the back wall behind his desk is a portrait, depicting a younger self with black hair and a thinner mustache. Another portrait of Jacques with his family, depicting a middle-aged self with black hair with greying on the bottom.
Jacques was a callous, snide, arrogant, vindictive and overbearing man that was described in The World of RWBY: The Official Companion as being power-hungry and petty. He entered a loveless marriage into the Schnee family in order to take control of the Schnee Dust Company. Weiss stated that it was her father's leadership of the company that saw its reputation sullied by unethical practices. He was an authoritarian and controlling father who was on poor terms with both Winter and Weiss, having disinherited Winter after she decided to join Atlas military against his will, and the nature of his marriage drove his wife into alcoholism. When Weiss refused to answer his calls, he cut her off from the family fortune in order to force her to talk to him. A similar situation was said to have occurred between him and Winter upon her enlistment to the military. Jacques was shown to be sarcastic and egotistical, joking with peers that he was repeatedly the good guy when it came to the Faunus situation when in reality he was apathetic.
Jacques also seemed to be a cold and calculating person, more concerned with reputation and wealth than the people close to him, or the ethics of a situation. However, his cold and calculating façade quickly evaporated to reveal his true short temper when someone questioned his authority or criticized him, as shown when he snapped at his wife and openly revealed the true reasons why he married her after she called him out for missing Weiss' birthday dinner, or when he slapped Weiss after she said that the Schnee family legacy was more hers than his. His wife was suggested to have suspected the true motivations of their marriage long before Jacques admitted to them himself. James Ironwood clearly saw through Jacques' attempts to convince him that the Dust embargo he placed would hurt Atlas and should be removed, only for Jacques to accidentally reveal his altruism to be a front when mentioning that the embargo had caused the SDC to lose millions of lien in exports. When alone, Jacques showed his true contempt for Ironwood and anger over having his business ruined by the Dust embargo ordered by the general, presenting himself to the elections for a seat on Atlas council only to put an end to the embargo and restart his business.
Despite Jacques' poor relationship with his daughters, the fact that he personally fetched Weiss after the Battle of Beacon indicated some sense of worry for her safety. However, his actions during "Remembrance" showed him to be more concerned with the SDC and the Schnee name, rather than Weiss herself. His controlling nature was made clear when he forced Weiss to sing at the SDC charity concert with an implied threat of consequences if she refused, and when he restricted Weiss' freedom of movement after the incident at the fundraiser. He also followed through with consequences for refusing his commands, such as when Weiss challenged him in "Punished". When Weiss returned to Atlas, he showed signs of frustration when Weiss refused to return with him and when her teammates defended her, showing that despite everything he still genuinely cared for his daughters to a certain degree. However, his own controlling nature caused him to instead try keeping them under his thumb, due to believing that he and only he knew what was truly best for them.
Jacques had also shown himself to be extremely petty and vindictive, as seen in "Pomp and Circumstance" when he unapologetically brought up his wife's diminishing/worsening emotional stability due to their daughter leaving the family to Weiss in order to get back at her. Knowing full well of how guilty his daughter would feel for causing her mother grief, and showing just how far he would go to get back at someone for defying him.
Later, Jacques' true vulnerable and pathetic side was shown when his plans backfired on him. As seen in "As Above, So Below" where Weiss revealed his true character, amorality, and apathy to others by showing videoed evidence of Jacques agreeing to Arthur Watts' proposal to rig the election in his favor in exchange for his high-level clearance as a councilman to the Atlas Council and General Ironwood. Which showed Jacques' extreme arrogance, shortsightedness and contempt for both the people of Atlas and Ironwood. This revelation completely shattered Jacques' typical arrogant and controlling behavior and reduced him to a pathetic coward. Given his attempts to run away from the other councilmen, deny his involvement, and finally pleading to obtain sympathy from both Ironwood and his own daughters despite all of his malicious actions towards them. Showing that Jacques has no shame or regret at the prospect of having to beg to his enemies to save his own skin when faced with the disastrous backlash of his failed schemes.
After he was arrested, he believed that Whitley would gather his legal team to get him out of prison. However, he never realized that Whitley was in no rush to do this or the fact that the staff at the Schnee Manor had all quit working there, implying that the workers in his company didn't actually care about helping him at all. He also admitted to Robyn Hill in prison that while his hands were "dirty", he would never actually resort to something like murder to get what he wanted.
In "Worthy," it was shown that, despite his prodigious desire to win, Jacques was willing to admit defeat, claiming that he and Ironwood "both lost" due to their actions resulting them in jail. However, this was likely only due to Jacques's desire to comfort himself of his defeat by belittling Ironwood's own failure. After Ironwood escaped his cell, Jacques nervously asked him if he was going to open his as well and was horrified when he realized that Ironwood was going to kill him in the process.
Powers and Abilities
In addition to Jacques' considerable personal wealth, as the President of the Schnee Dust Company, he was a highly influential individual in Remnant. He had connections not only to the upper echelons of high society in Atlas but close connections to the brass of the Atlesian Military, calling Ironwood a longtime friend and "trusted ally". It was also implied that he had some significant influence with the Atlesian Council, undoubtedly more so after being elected as it's newest member. However, after his collaboration with Arthur Watts and scheming nature was exposed to the council, he lost the council's respect and with it practically all his power and influence with the people in Atlas. Following his arrest, all of the workers in his company and the staff at Schnee Manor decided to quit with Jacques losing his PR team as well.
Jacques was physically very weak due to never unlocking his Aura. This was shown when he was very easily restrained by Atlas Soldiers following his arrest and later when the cell he was originally put in was destroyed by Cinder Fall and they restrained him again. After General Ironwood was freed from his own cell, he easily vaporized the Hard-Light Dust cell Jacques was in while he was easily killed by Ironwood.
- Jacques alludes to Jack Frost. For more information on this allusion, as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see Jacques Schnee/Behind the Scenes.
- His first name is the French equivalent of the name James, which originates from Jacob. This name means "someone who grasps at the heels" or "supplanter", which fits him well given his backstory.
- His pre-marriage surname, Gelé, means 'frozen' in French.
- Like the rest of his family, his married surname means "snow" in German.
- Weiss' father was originally intended to appear in the Volume 1 Opening. He can be seen as a mysterious figure in the original storyboards featured as extras on the DVD release of Volume 1.
- It was confirmed Jacques wears a clip-on tie in a tweet.
- A picture of Weiss and her father from "End of the Beginning" was used to promote the Father's Day sales at the Rooster Teeth Store on June 19th, 2016.