[[caption-width-right:300:"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God"]]
->''"Drummer boy, you may not believe me, but this... is the luckiest day... of your... life!'''
--> -- Ben Haramed (José Ferrer), ''The Little Drummer Boy''

''The Little Drummer Boy'' was a [[Creator/RankinBassProductions Rankin/Bass]] StopMotion puppet animated (called "Animagic") ChristmasSpecial first aired in 1968.

The script is by Rankin-Bass's favorite writer, Romeo Muller; the music follows the favored R-B formula, starting with a classic Christmas tune and adding original songs by Maury Laws and co-producer Jules Bass. A touch of distinction is added by the choral work being performed by the Vienna Boys Choir.

A television sequel entitled ''The Little Drummer Boy: Book II'' was produced in 1976, also narrated by Greer Garson, but this time featuring Zero Mostel as the voice of Brutus.

This story has inspired several imitations and variations; for example one Puerto Rican TV ChristmasSpecial was about a little boy who wanted to visit the Nativity to ask Baby Jesus to cure his dying father (in the apparent belief that [[EternalRecurrence the event repeats itself every year]]). A ChristmasMiracle happens, of course. Similarly, the Spanish Christmas song ''Burrito Sabanero'' is about a boy riding a burro to reach the Nativity.

''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' did a remake of this special in 2011.
!!This ChristmasSpecial provides examples of:
* AdaptationExpansion: The original song just has a poor boy visiting the baby Jesus, having no gift to give him, playing his drum for him instead, and the baby smiling at him. All the other details found in the special (the boy's name being Aaron, his parents' murder and his resulting misanthropy, the details of how he arrives at the manger, all the other characters' roles, etc.) are new.
* AnachronismStew: Though set in first century Judaea, the kings wear costumes more suggestive of [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissance 15th century]] European paintings of the Adoration of the Magi.
** With perhaps a bit of MisplacedWildlife, it's pretty much impossible that a first century Israeli boy would have ever heard of an alligator, which only exist in the new world and China. A crocodile would have made more sense.
* AssInALionSkin: During the song "Why Can't the Animals Smile?," Baba the lamb pretends to be a lion, a frog, and a hog; Joshua the camel pretends to be an alligator and an elephant; and Samson the donkey pretends to be a caribou.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: The show begins with Greer Garson reading from the beginning of the second chapter of [[Literature/TheBible Luke]], with further readings from the infancy narratives throughout, ending with Matthew 5, 8.
** Slightly subverted in the fact that the Bible itself contains no mention of anyone remotely resembling The Little Drummer Boy; It started as a song in 1949, based loosely off a French legend only two centuries older than that.
* ChristmasSpecial
* DarkerAndEdgier: Rankin Bass took some guts in making this most darkest stop-motion animated special. Aaron's parents get murdered by bandits, Aaron becomes bitter and full of hatred for other people, and the villains all [[KarmaHoudini get away scot free.]]
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Aaron was once a happy farm boy, but bandits attacked his village, set it on fire and killed his parents, resulting in him escaping with three of the animals. From that day forth, he promised to hate all humans for what happened, and kept that promise since.
* EveryoneHasStandards: Ben Haramad may be a hopelessly inept showman, but he knows good acting when he sees it, and when Aaron can't keep up his facade to the human audience any longer and ends up causing a riot, Ben Haramad is rather irritated with him.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: The main character's father being scene stabbed to death on screen, and his mother being burnt alive.
* FreudianExcuse: The reason Aaron hates people is because bandits murdered his parents and destroyed their home.
* FriendToAllLivingThings: Aaron is friend to all living things -- except humans.
* HeelFaceTurn: Aaron, who realizes when the Child smiles at him that his hatred for humanity has been wrong.
* HumansAreBastards: What Aaron is convinced of, after his family is murdered by bandits.
* KarmaHoudini: The two bandits who rob then murder Aaron's parents go unpunished for their crime.
** Ben Haramed kidnaps a child, forces him to work against his will, sells a camel that doesn't belong to him... and ends up getting quite well paid for his efforts.
** The tax collectors in the sequel are not punished for burning Aaron's drum.
* KubrickStare: Aaron gives one at the end of the flashback of losing his parents, as he vows to hate all humans after what happened.
* LargeHam: Zero Mostel in Book II, but then, what did you expect?
* MoneySong: In Book Two.
* {{Narrator}}: Miss Creator/GreerGarson was cast as Our Storyteller.
* NonHumanSidekick: Joshua the Camel, Samson the Donkey, and Baba the Lamb.
* NotGoodWithPeople: Aaron's a misanthrope, but he gets along fine with animals.
* [[ThePowerOfRock The Power of Music]]: How Aaron taught his animals to dance.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Aaron's parents in the 2011 ''WesternAnimation/VeggieTales'' remake.
* StarOfBethlehem: How Aaron knows where to find Joshua.
* StepfordSmiler: Ben Haramed would rather Aaron be this than someone who doesn't smile, period.
-->'''Ben Haramed''': You stubborn little fool! Then wear a ''painted'' one.
* SurroundedByIdiots: The members of Ben Haramed's show caravan are all completely inept.
* VillainSong: Ben Haramed has "When the Goose is Hanging High."
** The previously listed MoneySong also counts.