Christmas brings us the biggest onslaught of holiday-themed movies, books, songs, TV episodes, toys, etc…No holiday even comes close. That means there are thousands of fun characters out in the Christmas themed universe. We thought it would be great to pick 20 of our favorites from all areas of the pop culture spectrum. Most of our picks come from the side characters with a main character here and there, kind of like a Christmas rogues gallery. We would love to hear some of yours in the comments, who did we miss?
I wish I could have stayed away from Rankin-Bass but they have the craziest of all the characters. I was able to avoid Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and the Frosty cartoons so I have that going for me. I am thinking next year we write a list using only female characters (which these shows do not do justice to) or strictly performances from various Christmas Carol films (there are enough).
- Jingle and Jangle (The Year Without a Santa Claus) – Two elves for one and tasked with finding out if people still believe in Santa Claus, they get into trouble, almost die and almost kill a reindeer. My favorite incompetent elves.
- Winter Warlock (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) – Without a doubt the Christmas villain that scared me the most. I was bummed that he gets redeemed.
- Alastair Sim (Scrooge/A Christmas Carol) – My all-time favorite Scrooge, Reginald Owen, and Albert Finney are great but Sim is the king.
- King Moonracer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) – He is one bad-ass king, like Ezekiel in The Walking Dead but I don’t understand his not allowing non-toy misfits to live with toy misfits, kind of a dick move.
- Nestor (Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey) – This donkey has a tough upbringing and still succeeds, got to love his perseverance.
- Boss Elf (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) – This head elf with bad teeth, cares about Elf practice a little too much but is one hell of a leader.
- Fred Astaire (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) – Big Astaire fan and out of all the “stars” they got for these specials he is the best. He even comes back for more in The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town.
- Alec Baldwin (Saturday Night Live) – Baldwin is in two of my all-time favorite SNL Christmas sketches, Schweddy Balls and the Elf spin on Glengarry Glen Ross, I still laugh today.
- Albert Mouse (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) – The kid mouse who likes to use “big” words is a Santa non-believer and spoils it for the rest. He works his tail off to fix things though – got to love that.
- Ghost of Christmas Present (Scrooge) – Kenneth More’s Ghost of Christmas Present from 1970’s musical Scrooge is number one in Christmas ghosts. He gets Scrooge drunk and craps on him too.
Bonus: Frank Costanza (Seinfeld) – Technically not Christmas but you can’t overlook Festivus and Frank Costanza is the Santa of that holiday.
MG: Good list- you took a few I was thinking of, but that’s bound to happen. I always thought it was King “Moonraiser”, not that either moniker makes a lot of sense. Baldwin spoofing himself in the Elf Glengarry Glen Ross is a great sketch that I never tire of. The Winter Warlock was pretty scary as a kid – Rankin/Bass never shied away from making menacing villains.
So when DJ sent me a message saying “you can start your Christmas fantasy draft” I thought that was an inspired bit of pop culture mash-up. Rankin/Bass characters always come to mind first, but there are so many other Christmas-specific icons throughout pop culture – even in classic ads through the years. Here’s my all-star line-up:
- Clarice (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – She had a beautiful singing voice – “there’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true…”, but she was a brave, independent doe too.
- The Miser Brothers (The Year Without a Santa Claus) – I loved these competitive brothers long before they became a cult favorite sometime in the 1990s. How much psychedelics were the creative team at Rankin/Bass doing in the ’60s and early ’70s? Hey, the results were great.
- Snoopy (A Charlie Brown Christmas) – I love when he gets caught booing Charlie Brown at the play. I have a tree ornament of his doghouse with the Christmas decorations on it.
- Ghost of Christmas Future (A Christmas Carol) – As scary as any monster from Halloween, and a great example of a character communicating without saying any words.
- Jovie (Elf) – Zooey Deschanel doesn’t get enough credit for creating a nuanced character that could have easily been a soured-on-Christmas stereotype and/or a rote love-interest. Her character is the heart of this film.
- Dominick The Donkey (song) – Yep, I can see many being irritated by this song, but I have 50% Italian heritage, so I have to represent. It’s a creative story for a Christmas song.
- The Mouse King (The Nutcracker) – I was always fascinated by the choice of a mouse with a sword as a villain in this tale. Did you know in the original 1816 German story the Mouse King had seven heads?
- Max (The Grinch) – Max provides both comic relief and a cute, gentle presence – without which the pre-redeemed Grinch may have been a little too mean to first-time readers.
- Yukon Cornelius (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) – Obsessed with silver & gold and brandishing a sidearm, he’s a character Republicans and the NRA can love – until he shows compassion & forgiveness to the Abominable.
- “The Old Man” (A Christmas Story) – I’m not part of the cult that loves this film, but I do enjoy Ralphie’s father, always referred to as “The Old Man”, and his everyday struggles with flat tires, broken furnaces, and leg-lamp arguments.
Bonus: Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas) – I haven’t yet had a desire to watch this movie again, but this character has become iconic, and I’ll get on board with any Halloween/Christmas mash-up.
DJ: My regret is not finding enough female characters, kudos to you for finding two. I agree 100% on Jovie. It’s a surprisingly good character. We both had donkeys on our list but that song I just can’t. Christmas Future is pretty damn scary too, nothing like showing you to your death. I almost picked “The Dancers” from Peanuts, because that scene is so iconic and most aren’t main characters. I love Yukon, I would watch a live-action origin story right now.