Freddy is introduced in A Nightmare on Elm Street as a child killer from a fictitious Ohio town, Springwood, who is eventually captured, but is let off due to a technicality (the search warrant wasn't signed in the right place). He is hunted down by a mob of angry parents and cornered in a boiler room where he used to take his victims. The mob douses the building with gasoline and sets it on fire, burning Krueger alive. While his body dies, his spirit lives on in the dreams of a group of teenagers living in his old neighborhood, whom he preys on by entering their dreams and killing them, and fueled by the town's residents' memories and fear of him. He is apparently destroyed at the end of the film by protagonist Nancy Thompson, but the last scene reveals that he has survived. He goes on to antagonize the teenage protagonists of the next five films in the series.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, more of Freddy's backstory is revealed by the mysterious nun who repeatedly appears to Dr. Gordon. Freddy's mother, Amanda Krueger, was a nurse at the asylum featured in the film. At the time she worked there, a largely abandoned, run-down wing of the asylum was used to lock up entire hordes of the most insane criminals all at once. When Amanda was young, she was accidentally locked into the room with the criminals over a holiday weekend. They managed to keep her hidden for days, raping her repeatedly. When she was finally discovered, she was barely alive and was pregnant with the future Freddy Krueger. Later, in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, it is revealed that the children Freddy killed when still alive were the children of people who had wronged him since childhood (owing to his reputation of being the son of one hundred maniacs). Krueger also has a daughter, Katherine, who seeks to end her father's horrific legacy once and for all.
After a hiatus following the release of The Final Nightmare, Krueger was brought back in Wes Craven's New Nightmare by Wes Craven, who had not worked on the film series since the third film, Dream Warriors. Robert Englund, who portrayed Krueger throughout the film series and its television spin-off, also took the role as a fictional version of himself in New Nightmare; it is implied that Englund was stalked by his character, who is an ancient demonic entity that took on the form of Wes Craven's creation, and has come to life from the film franchise's fictitious world. Englund describes to his former co-star and friend Heather Langenkamp that this embodiment of Freddy is darker and more evil than as portrayed by him in the films; he struggles to keep his sanity intact from Krueger's torments, and goes into hiding with his family. Krueger aims to stop another film of the franchise from being made, eliminating the films' crew members including Langenkamp's husband Chase Porter after stealing a prototype bladed glove from him, and causes nightmares and makes threatening phone calls to producer Robert Shaye. The entity also haunts Wes Craven's dreams, to the point that he sees future events related to Krueger's actions and then writes them down as a movie script. Krueger sees Langenkamp as his primary foe, because her character Nancy Thompson was the first to defeat him. Krueger's attempts to cross over to reality cause a series of earthquakes throughout Los Angeles County, including the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Langenkamp, with helps from her son Dylan, succeeds in defeating the entity and apparently destroys him; however, Krueger's creator reveals that it is again imprisoned to the fictitious world.
In 2003, Freddy battled fellow horror icon Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film series in the theatrical release Freddy vs. Jason, a film which officially resurrected both characters from their respective deaths and subsequently sent them to Hell. The ending of the film is left ambiguous as to whether or not Freddy is actually dead; despite being decapitated, as a head he looks back and winks at the viewers. A sequel featuring Ash Williams from The Evil Dead franchise was planned, but never materialized onscreen. It was later turned into Dynamite Entertainment's comic book series Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash.
In the 2010 remake of the original film, Krueger's background story is that he was a groundskeeper who lived in the maintenance room at Badham Preschool. Seemingly nice at first, it is later suggested that Krueger was a child molester, who sexually abused the teenage protagonists of the film when they were young children. When their parents found out, they trapped him in a boiler room at an industrial park and set it on fire, killing him. The discovery of his crimes had ruined the preschool and led to its closure. As a spirit, he takes his revenge on the teenagers by haunting their dreams for alerting their parents, and also has an obsession with Nancy Holbrook. Krueger is powered by his preys' memories and emotions after they are starting to remember their torturous past with him. His bladed glove was made out of discarded pieces of his gardening tools.
Robert Englund continued his role as Krueger on October 9, 1988, in the television anthology series, Freddy's Nightmares. The show was hosted by Freddy, who did not take direct part in most of the episodes, but he did show up occasionally to influence the plot of particular episodes. Further, a consistent theme in each episode was characters having disturbing dreams. The series ran for two seasons, 44 episodes, ending March 10, 1990. Although most of the episodes did not feature Freddy taking a major role in the plot, the pilot episode, "No More, Mr. Nice Guy", depicts the events of his trial, and his subsequent death at the hands of the parents of Elm Street after his acquittal. In "No More, Mr. Nice Guy", though Freddy's case seems open and shut, a mistrial is declared based on the arresting officer, Lt. Tim Blocker, not reading Krueger his Miranda rights, which is different from the original Nightmare that stated he was released because someone forgot to sign a search warrant in the right place. The episode also reveals that Krueger used an ice cream van to lure children close enough so that he could kidnap and kill them. After the town's parents burn Freddy to death he returns to haunt Blocker in his dreams. Freddy gets his revenge when Blocker is put to sleep at the dentist's office, and Freddy shows up and kills him. The episode "Sister's Keeper" was a "sequel" to this episode, even though it was the seventh episode of the series. The episode follows Krueger as he terrorizes the Blocker twins, the identical twin daughters of Lt. Tim Blocker, and frames one sister for the other's murder. Season two's "It's My Party And You'll Die If I Want You To" featured Freddy attacking a high school prom date who stood him up twenty years earlier. He got his revenge with his desire being fulfilled in the process.
The character returned to television in an episode of The Goldbergs titled "Mister Knifey-Hands" with Englund reprising his role in a cameo.
Freddy's first video game appearance was in the Nintendo Entertainment System's 1989 game A Nightmare on Elm Street. The game was published by LJN Toys and developed by Rare.
A second game for the Commodore 64 and DOS-based computers was also released in 1989 released by Monarch Software and developed by Westwood Associates.
Freddy Krueger appeared as a downloadable playable character for Mortal Kombat (2011), with Robert Englund reprising his role. He has become the second non-Mortal Kombat character to appear in the game with the other being Kratos from the God of War series (who was an exclusive character for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions, while Freddy was available across all versions of the game). The game depicts Krueger as a malevolent spirit inhabiting the Dream Realm who attacks Shao Kahn for "stealing" the souls of his potential victims. During the fight, he is pulled into the game's fictional depiction of the real world. The injured Krueger arms himself with two razor claws to continue to battle Kahn. Upon defeating him, Krueger is sent back to the Dream Realm by Nightwolf, where he continues to haunt the dreams of his human prey. In an interview with PlayStation.Blog, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon cited the character's violent nature and iconic status as reasoning for the inclusion in the game, "Over the years, we’ve certainly had a number of conversations about guest characters. At one point, we had a conversation about having a group — imagine Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We never got a grip on how we would do it, whether they’d be DLC characters or what. We also wanted to introduce a character who was unexpected. This DLC thing opens the doors to realizing these ideas." Krueger went on to become playable in the mobile edition of the game's sequel, Mortal Kombat X, alongside Jason from Friday the 13th.
In October 2017, Krueger was released as a downloadable playable character in the seventh chapter of the asymmetric survival horror game Dead by Daylight, alongside Quentin Smith. The events of the chapter are set immediately following Nancy Holbrook's escape from Krueger, after which he targets Quentin Smith as revenge for aiding her. Invading Smith's dreams, he forces him to go to the Badham Preschool, where the two are unwittingly taken to the universe of Dead by Daylight by an unseen force.
Six Flags Fright Fest
At Six Flags St Louis' Fright Fest event (then known as Fright Nights), Krueger was the main character for the event's first year in 1988. He reappeared in his own haunted house, Freddy's Nightmare: The Haunted House on Elm Street, for the following two years.
Halloween Horror Nights
Freddy Krueger appeared alongside Jason Voorhees and Leatherface as minor icons during Halloween Horror Nights 17 and again with Jason during Halloween Horror Nights 25 at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. In 2016, Freddy Krueger returned to Halloween Horror Nights, along with Jason, in Hollywood.