* AdaptationDisplacement: The Rankin/Bass special is the best remembered adaptation though it wasn't the first. An animated short by [[Creator/MaxAndDaveFleischer Max Fleischer]] was made twenty years earlier.
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: Santa is in fact a big jerk in the original film because he never even "liked" Rudolph (if you can call it that) until he realized that he could exploit his nose. In other words, Santa only cares about Rudolph's ''nose,'' not Rudolph.
** Rather than being an "abusive" parent, it could be argued that Donner, having grown up in that environment, knew the pain and suffering in store for Rudolph and wanted to spare him.
* AccidentalAesop: ''Rudolph's Shiny New Year'' has one about embracing the things that make you unique, but it sort of blurs into "if your physical deformity makes people laugh, let them. Be glad you're making them so happy."
* BrokenBase
** The sequels.
** "We're a Couple of Misfits" vs. "Fame and Fortune".
** Which ending is better? Yukon striking peppermint or the elves delivering the misfit toys? The DVD version [[TakeAThirdOption includes both.]]
** The original 1964 stop-motion Rankin/Bass special vs. the 1998 traditional-animated Goodtimes entertainment film.
*** Plus the 1944 Fleischer Brothers cartoon, which is public domain.
* CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming:
** Baby Rudolph's first words including, "San... ta..." in the 1964 special.
** After spending most of the first half humiliated and mistreated, Hermey and Yukon displaying a TrueCompanions bond with Rudolph by sticking loyally by his side.
** In the 1944 short, an ashamed Rudolph hides his nose under his blanket in front of Santa, only for the latter to sweetly pluck it off again before he makes his fateful request,
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: One has to wonder if viewers thought of Lotso Huggin' Bear while hearing the backstory of The Toy Taker, after ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory3'' came out.
* EarWorm: Several of the songs. Maybe "We're a Couple of Misfits" especially.
** "Silver And Gold", to the point that it's become a holiday standard on its own.
** "A Holly Jolly Christmas".
** We are Santa's elves / Filling Santa's shelves...
** From the 1998 movie, "Remember it Could Always Be Worse".
* EnsembleDarkhorse: The Misfit Doll, whose total screen-time would amount to less than a minute, '''''and''''' remains nameless, has become a fairly popular and iconic character in the special.
** King Moonracer, Also doubles as a OneSceneWonder.
** Also, Slyly the LovableRogue HeroicAlbino arctic fox from the 1998 movie who was voiced by Creator/EricIdle.
** The Toy Taker [[spoiler: aka. Mr Cuddles]] seems to be considered one of the better elements of the 2001 sequel.
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: No one will love you for your uniqueness, unless you're useful to them. Rudolph would still be an outcast and not a celebrity, if his defining trait could serve others no purpose.
* FanonDiscontinuity: The sequel, ''Rudolph's Shiny New Year'', suddenly has a completely different Rudolph puppet, despite starring the same character and taking place immediately after this special.
** Not to mention he's also young again in ''all'' the sequels.
*** Or did he get his antlers trimmed once in a while?
** Fans of both the 2-D 1998 movie and the "originals" will agree that the 3-D ''Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys'' never should have happened. Arguably a song or two and using the original designs the other sequels altered are the only saving graces, if even that.
* FirstInstallmentWins: None of the sequels will ever hold a candle to the original 1964 special. Note however, [[SequelDisplacement it is not the first film of Rudolph altogether]] (that honour goes to the Max Fleischer short, which is received well, but far more obscure).
* FountainOfMemes: Yukon Cornelius. Being a LargeHam and the only adult who isn't a JerkAss helps.
* HellIsThatNoise: Every single time the [[NightmareFuel Bumble]] roars. It has this disturbing echoing quality to it.
** The sound that plays when Rudolph's nose lights up is this to some.
* HilariousInHindsight:
** The villain of ''Misfit Toys'' [[WesternAnimation.ToyStory3 is a teddy bear who turned evil after being abandoned by his owner.]]
** "What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?". Well, there is ''WesternAnimation/FrostyTheSnowman'', of course, but [[Disney/{{Frozen}} later...]]
** In the 1998 film, Creator/KathleenBarr voices the protagonist Rudolph, and Creator/MattHill voices the bully Arrow. A year later, [[WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy Hill voiced Ed and Barr voiced Kevin]], switching their roles.
** The 1964 TV special enjoyed regular annual rotation on NBC before they lost the broadcast rights to CBS in 1972. 44 years later, NBC's parent company [=NBCUniversal=] bought special rights-holder Creator/DreamWorksAnimation, not only making NBC the ''owner'' of the special, but also [[LaserGuidedKarma leading to a possibility of]] [[WhosLaughingNow CBS losing the rights in the future]].
* MemeticMutation: "You eat what you like, and I'll eat what I like!"
** "I'm cute! I'm cute! She said I'm CUTE!"
*** Preferably said as though one has a stuffed nose: "She said I'm CYUUUUUUUUUDE!"
** "WHY WEREN'T YOU AT ELF PRACTICE?"
** "Bumbles BOUNCE!"
** "No! This is MAN'S work!"
* NightmareFuel: The Abominable Snowmonster Of The North (aka The Bumble)! He's mean, he's nasty, and he hates everything to do with Christmas! And dear God, that roar!!!!
** Not to mention when [[spoiler:Hermey plucks out all of his teeth while he and Cornelius save the reindeer]].
*** Rudolph and Hermey caught out in that storm ...
* NightmareRetardant: If you don't find the Bumble to be NightmareFuel, you'll probably see him as a big, white Muppet.
** And of course, once Bumble been touched with the Spirit of Christmas, he becomes the cutest thing ever.
* OlderThanTheyThink: This was not the first classic animated film about [[Disney/{{Dumbo}} a baby animal who was originally ridiculed and shunned for his deformity, but is then loved and accepted once it turns out to have a good use.]]
** Rudolph was a book before it became a song. Likewise, the song was not created for the 1964 special.
* TearJerker:
** Expectedly every featurette of Rudolph follows the original story and song's formula of Rudolph being isolated and bullied for his nose (usually to the point of tears) until Santa employs him. The Rankin-Bass special really ups Rudolph's abuse however.
** The Island of Misfit Toys. The concept of it is surprisingly depressing.
** When Yukon is thought to be dead.
** There's Always Tomorrow.
** From ''The Island of Misfit Toys'', [[spoiler:Mr. Cuddles, after being exposed as the Toy Taker, singing his backstory.]]
** From the 1998 movie, "Show Me the Light".
** The doll's line "I haven't any dreams left to dream."
** Rudolph crying himself to sleep in the 1944 short.
* SequelDisplacement: There were adaptations before the 60s special.
* ValuesDissonance:
** There were a few sexist lines in the original that were cut in later broadcasts. Among them was perhaps the most infamous: "The best thing to do is get the women back to Christmas Town."
** The scene where Donner prohibits Rudolph from playing reindeer games has come under controversy in TheNewTens for promoting a bullying environment.
* UglyCute: The Bumble! You can't deny that underneath all that stop motion fur he's kinda cute.
* TheWoobie:
** Rudolph in next to every interpretation of the character.
** Hermey, and everyone on the Island of Misfit Toys in the Rankin-Bass continuity.
** From ''The Island of Misfit Toys'', we get [[spoiler:the Toy Taker, because he's actually a worn-out teddy bear named Mr. Cuddles, who felt like he was abandoned, but it turns out he wasn't]].