troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesMain
Quotes

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Yet Another Christmas Carol
Clockwise from top left: Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Angry Video Game Nerd's 2007 holiday special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, and The Muppet Christmas Carol

Penumbra: Sister! Tonight you will be visited by three spirits...
Wonderella: God, why? I've seen this episode like fifty times! Christ, even Blossom did one of these!

Every television series in the history of the world that lasts long enough to have an episode aired at Christmas will make use of this boilerplate episode. The hero or heroine of the series lives through his or her own version of Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmastime visitations from A Christmas Carol.

Comparable only to It's a Wonderful Life as a well-known story which a series adapts to/parodies with its own characters. The original was by Charles Dickens: it was published in 1843. When used in TV shows, characters from the show frequently fill the roles of the ghosts: Marley, who serves to announce that the other ghosts are coming and serve as an illustration of the eventual fate of Scrooge's soul; the Ghost of Christmas Past, who shows the Scrooge character "You weren't always this way"; The Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows them "Other people aren't this way"; and the Ghost of Christmas Future ("Yet to Come" in Dickens' original, often portrayed as The Grim Reaper), who shows the character "Look how things will turn out if you stay this way." Results in the character having a change of heart and turning away from whatever character flaw was being explored.

If they're willing to go the extra mile on the homage to A Christmas Carol, then our protagonist will be a Corrupt Corporate Executive, a Bad Boss, or otherwise in a position of power where he or she is able to make life miserable for those under their thumb. Expect one of these underlings to be a stand-in for Bob Cratchit. Bob Cratchit's counterpart is always a sympathetic character who bears the brunt of whatever bad the protagonist dishes out and takes it exceptionally well. Once we have these two roles filled and established, the audience can then wait with bated breath to find out who is standing in for Tiny Tim. Like the original Tiny Tim, the stand-in might be related to our version of Bob Cratchit, but doesn't have to be. However, you can reasonably expect him or her to be Inspirationally Disadvantaged, poor, or otherwise so needy that he or she is automatically sympathy bait for the audience. Whichever way the Tiny Tim is in need, the protagonist is in a position to do something about it, but won't, or else has prevented him or her from receiving assistance, and it will be brought up to remind our Scrooge as well as the audience what a bastard he or she is.

Almost invariably (see Blackadder's Christmas Carol for an exception) results in An Aesop. What Aesop is learned can depend, however. In the original Christmas Carol it was Scrooge being forced to confront what he had lost, and what the consequences of his current actions are and would be, that awakened the Christmas Spirit within him. Furthermore, the original had a generally horrible person Aesopped into decency, whereas some adaptations have resulted in a bizarre "You will be merry or else" lesson, where a character who simply doesn't like Christmas is taught the error of their ways. After all, Scrooge hated Christmas...

In shows with established casts, a character often has to be handed the Conflict Ball to make them abruptly meaner at Christmas, sometimes for no apparent reason; otherwise the Aesop wouldn't make any sense. Alternately, a Jerkass character may learn a holiday lesson only to go right back to their old ways in the next episode. When this results in a Broken Aesop, it can overlap with The Complainer Is Always Wrong.

Usually these are a type of Christmas Episode, although sometimes a variation is employed that has nothing to do with the holiday season. It's also a very popular Fanfiction trope, with most shows having at least one such plot in their Fan Work.

Similar to the Flash Back and Flash Forward, but bound by the specific narrative structure of the Dickens novel. A Sub-Trope of Whole Plot Reference (so anything less than the plot is merely a Shout-Out). Related to Time Travel, particularly Intangible Time Travel — as well as Pensieve Flashback. Compare How the Character Stole Christmas and It's a Wonderful Plot.

For actual Christmas carols, see Christmas Songs.


    open/close all folders 

As plot:

    Comicbooks 
  • A comic released in 2010 had the Ghostbusters attempting to catch the three spirits (again). In the end, it turned out that the Ghost of Christmas Future possessed the guy because he was rich and the other ghosts were trying to get their friend/coworker/whatever back.
  • A Batman story, collected in the 'Haunted Knight' trade, sets the story at Halloween and casts Batman himself in the Scrooge role.
    • Batman: Noel. Once again, Batman is the Scrooge of the story, having lost his faith in humanity and taking some less-than-moral measures in his fight against crime. A vision of Jason Todd (the second Robin) serves as the "Jacob Marley", while the "ghosts" of the story are Catwoman, Superman and The Joker as Past, Present and Future respectively.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog #6 did a (non-canon) retelling with Robotnik as Scrooge, Rotor as Cratchit, and Sonic as all three ghosts. The spirits almost succeed when they show him the future, where he's grown old and the Freedom Fighters still oppose him, until he sees he wins the final battle (even though he's destroyed everything else, and he ends up getting blown up by a bomb Sonic sent back to him in the present earlier, rendering his victory fruitless and short-lived).
  • The original Teen Titans comic did an issue entitled "A Swinging Christmas Carol," involving a stingy junkyard owner, junk smugglers, and a young boy in need of a motorized wheelchair. The Titans work out what's going on halfway through and, entirely undisturbed, take the opportunity to play the ghosts.
  • One spoof story from the Richie Rich comics featured "Jackie Jokers the boy comedian" as "Eversneezer Scroogie". In the end, he only "reforms" because the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him that Bob Cratchit borrowed money, started a rival business and drove "Scroogie" out of business, so he ends up a penniless beggar. The final punchline however is that the whole thing was staged by actors using special effects, and hired by Bob Cratchit.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Even Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami gets in on the act, when Soichiro is visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. Christmas Past claims all girls should go out with fanfic writers, Christmas Presents shouts at Soichiro for not getting Dark Guitar Hero and Christmas Future Plot Dumps. Merry Christmas to all.
  • An Excellent Christmas Carol features Ashens in one of these, with the subversion that it's a Dying Dream... maybe.
  • This pretty good Mario fanfic, which casts Wario (of course) as Scrooge.
  • The Urusei Yatsura fanfic Ataru's Christmas Carol has Ataru, after breaking up with Lum on Christmas Eve, being shown by Belldandy, Skuld and Urd how he caused trouble for his friends at Shinobu's 6th birthday party (and contributed to Mendou's fear of the dark), a miserable Lum who's planning to join a convent in the present, and his future as a fat, lonely otaku while Lum is unhappily married to Inaba's brother. At the end, it's revealed that Lum had been given similar visions when the two go to make up.
  • Loosely connected to Ranma ˝ by virtue of being part of a spin-off of an Elsewhere Fic called Boy Scouts ˝, the story Perspectives VII: A Hoelscher Carol has one of the characters, John Hoelscher, visited by three spirits that are actually three different aspects of his own personality. These "spirits" come cosplaying as various anime characters: Ikari Shinji as the past, Kiryuu Touga as the present, and Jinnai Katsuhiko as the future. Before they visit, they are heralded by Jacob Marley, who is doing them a favor. Unlike traditional Scrooge expies, John is not a miserly character, but he was at the time of this story suffering from psychological problems leading him to become a social outcast, problems that the visiting spirits helped him work through.

    Literature 
  • Played rather straight in the short story Bah, Humbug!, where the main character, Nate Jerome, falls asleep at work and is visited by his neighbor, who shows him visions of Christmas in his childhood, which makes him decide to stop working so hard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A rare non-Holiday example. Over the course of a three part episode of Doctor Doctor Mike is wrongly sued for malpractice and is convinced by all his partners to settle instead of fight. Guilt, - and mention of "A Christmas Carol" - cause him to revisit his past, present, and future in a dream.
  • Probably the freshest take on this ever done by a TV series was the first season Christmas episode of Popular. Funny, and surprising because it came out of left field, it was unique in that it played more as a tragedy exposing the not-so-happy past of the series's lead villain. Of course, by the very next ep, this turns into Flowers for Algernon Syndrome as she goes right back to her evil ways with all lessons forgotten.
  • Roseanne had the title character deciding to give up on Halloween pranks — and being visited by the ghosts of Halloween past, Halloween Present, and Halloween Future. They show that if she gives up the pranks, she'll turn into her mother (literally).
  • Sam and Al staged a Christmas Carol-themed intervention for an obnoxious millionaire in the Quantum Leap episode "A Little Miracle," aided by the fact that the target's brain structure was coincidentally close enough to Sam's that he could see and hear Al's projected image, allowing him to pass himself off as a "ghost" of Christmas Future.
  • Blackadder presented a Christmas special based on Dickens' original story - the twist being that the main character, Ebeneezer Blackadder, started out as the nicest man in England and, following an inadvertent tour through his ancestral history and future, was inspired by the exploits of his namesakes (as well as a not very pleasant vision of what his descendants will become if he remains nice) to become a ruthless bastard instead. However this leads to Pyrrhic Villainy.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess put a pre-Christian Spin on the story with "A Solstice Carol."
  • The original The Odd Couple TV series included an episode called "Scrooge Gets an Oscar" in which Felix and the rest of the gang try to persuade Oscar to play Scrooge in their charity performance of the story, because he'd be perfect for the role.
  • The fifth season of Sanford and Son featured an episode "Ebenezer Scrooge" which included the exchange:
    Lamont: You are Scrooge. This is just like that story, Christmas Carol.
    Fred: What the Dickens are you talking about?
  • On Highway To Heaven, Jonathan and Mark reform a crooked used-car dealer in an episode called "Another Song for Christmas."
  • In the Northern Exposure episode "Shofar, So Good," Dr. Fleischman was visited by the Ghost of Yom Kippur Past, Present, and Future (only one ghost, his childhood rabbi, but different costumes for each). Lots of Lampshade Hanging, including Fleischman sarcastically asking who's playing Tiny Tim.
  • The British series Hustle had a non-mystical version, focusing on their mark receiving Amnesiac Dissonance, and reforming as a result, making the protagonists uncomfortable with conning him. This was a Christmas Episode, and like Dickens' original story, evoked sympathy for the hard-hearted businessman character by explaining how he had become this way.
  • Subverted in the Smallville episode "Lexmas," which deals only with the future. The ghost in this version is the apparent ghost of his mother and Luthor sees a future where he's given up on ambition and lives a happy life with Lana. The lesson that he takes from this is that he should be ruthless, because in this good future Lana dies in childbirth, because Lex, having rejected his evil father, can't get help from him that might save her. On a larger scale, he declares that this doesn't just apply to Lana dying in childbirth, but also to everything in his life. He declares that he wants more money and more power, saying that "See, once you have those two things, you can secure everything else." Thus, Lex's status as the antithesis to Superman begins. As a result of this deliberately dark ending and the way it sets up Superman lore, this episode was probably one of the few Christmas Carol remakes that can actually be called epic.
    • The episode "Homecoming" also can be seen as A Christmas Carol variation, with a reformed Brainiac (now calling himself Brainiac 5 and an active member of Legion of Super-Heroes) showing Clark his past, present, and future in order to help him deal with his own personal demons and become the hero he's destined to be. Unlike most versions of A Christmas Carol, Clark's future is positive; he embraces the identity of Superman, is a successful reporter for the Planet and has Lois as a partner, confidante and lover. Also, his vision isn't a dream; his future self even recalls his past self's arrival in the future and gets him to rescue Lois while he himself prevents a nuclear reactor from melting down.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati had a mostly-serious episode where Mr. Carlson fell asleep and was visited by three "ghosts" (played by other characters). He was eventually shown the future of miserliness: A bleakly clean automated radio station whose only employee was Herb the sales manager. As for him... "I don't want to know what happens to me. ...I'm dead, aren't I? No, I don't want to know."
    • Played mostly-serious, yet lampshaded at the beginning when Marley (Played by Gordon Jump in old age make-up) first appears and Carlson says, "Wait, this isn't another of those 'Christmas Carol' things is it?"
    • Could very well be the most un-Scrooge-like character to ever get this treatment. Mr. Carlson is not so much a miser as he's afraid of his mother, who owns the station, and wants her approval. She once fired a station manager for giving bonuses.
  • This trope is used in the Christmas episode of the second season of Family Ties, when Alex P. Keaton views the holiday season as "a silly sentimental farce" - and only has money on his mind. After he goes to bed, The Ghost of Christmas Past appears as his youngest sister, Jennifer. She takes Alex back in time by ten years, and shows him how much he used to love Christmas. Then The Ghost of Christmas Future appears to him as his older younger sister, Mallory. She takes Alex forward in time by thirty years, and shows him how the Keaton family have fallen on hard times - and became extremely poor. Alex did end up becoming rich, but is also fat and balding. While Alex is horrified by his balding head, he is also stunned and horrified by how callous his older self became. When he wakes up, he goes out to buy presents for his family - but he couldn't buy very many presents. It's interesting to note that this episode has some parallels to Back to the Future, which Michael J. Fox would star in a year and a half later - in particular, Part II, which was filmed after the conclusion of the Family Ties series. In that movie, Marty McFly's girlfriend witnesses Marty's life - also thirty years in the future, and Marty has also aged badly and turned into a crotchety old man.
  • Fame: Ken Swofford's final appearance as Vice Principal Morloch found the VP being haunted by the three ghosts.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man episode "A Bionic Christmas Carol."
  • The Nickelodeon sketch comedy Roundhouse spoofed this in its Christmas episode with the Ghosts of Christmas Specials, who had to quickly lead the teen protagonist through the usual setup due to a scheduled Saved by the Bell appearance later.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, The 2008 Christmas Eve episode of UK soap Eastenders had a slightly subtle Christmas Carol. Ian Beale played the part of Scrooge, with various other cast playing the roles of past, present, and future. While the episode played out with the usual 'realism' of the soap, the various 'spirits' made pretty rapid stage exits the moment Ian's back was turned at the end of the scene to clue in any viewers who may have been a bit slow on the uptake.
  • Done in Holby City's 2008 Christmas episode, with Maria being visited by the three spirits.
  • Radio Active had an episode in which the students plan to use this to convince Ms. Atoll not to give them homework over the holidays. She survives their rather pathetic versions of the ghosts' visits - including a past in which she was black - only to wake and realize it was all a dream. When the students show up to start their plot she immediately takes back the assignments so she doesn't have to go through it again.
  • Catherine Tate's Christmas 2009 special was "Nan's Christmas Carol," where the foul-mouthed and cantankerous Nan is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve after turfing her annoying relatives the Cratchits out onto the street.
  • A Different World does this with (big surprise) Whitley. Freddie is unable to go home to Arizona for Christmas, and all of her other friends have plans, so she asks Whitley if she could spend the holiday break with her. Whitley is very nasty towards Freddie and tells her no. Cue the ghosts. Marley is her mother. Christmas Past (Mr. Gaines) shows Whitley that she was a child who was given everything except her parents' attention. Christmas Present (Walter) shows her how mean she really is to everyone. Christmas Future (Jaleesa) shows her that she is dead and that everyone is in attendance for her funeral. Most notably, Dwayne and Freddie are happily married with 6 kids. The ghost explains to Whitley that when she refused to let Freddie go home with her, Dwayne took her home with him and they fell in love soon after. Dwayne gives the eulogy and explains that he cared about Whitley, but she died alone because she pushed everyone away with her horrible attitude. In the end, it appears that she's learned her lesson and tells Freddie that she's welcome at her house, but it's really because she does not want Freddie around Dwayne.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Invoked in the 2010 Christmas Special (unsurprisingly called A Christmas Carol), with the Doctor deliberately engineering one for a Scrooge figure called Kazran (played by Michael Gambon). The Doctor is the ghost of Christmas past, Amy, via hologram, is the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future is... Kazran himself, to his younger self. Also, there is a crashing starship. And a flying shark. IN SPACE. Super lampshaded. It's heavily implied that as Dickens' biggest fan, the Doctor jumped at the opportunity when he saw it.
      Doctor: It's impossible! I've got to get a very bad man to suddenly decide to just turn nice in time for Christmas day.
      Amy: Doctor, I can't hear you. What is that? Is it singing?
      Doctor: It's a Christmas carol.
      Amy: A what?
      Doctor: A Christmas carol.
      Amy: What?
      Doctor: [realizing] It's A Christmas Carol!
    • The 2005 episode "The Unquiet Dead" does a mild version of this with Dickens himself, with the Doctor and Rose as the visitors from the future who cause him to reconsider his Grumpy Old Man attitude; it's not a Whole Plot Reference, but there are several Shout Outs.
      Donna, three years later in the Agatha Christie episode: Agatha Christie didn't walk around surrounded by murders, not really! I mean, that's like meeting Charles Dickens and he's surrounded by ghosts. At Christmas.
      The Doctor: Well...
  • The Suite Life on Deck had London as Scrooge in a Christmas special called, "A London Christmas Carol." It featured London's talking mirror as not only the Marley but the one to show her the Past, Present, and Future. She learns less to stop hating Christmas and more to stop being so selfish about it (she's probably wealthy enough to buy a small country, but refused to spend a cent even on her closest friends).
  • An episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, had the titular character shunning the holiday, but not because she's being Scrooge-like. Instead, she's lonely spending her first Christmas away from her family and depressed over the recent death of a patient, named Marley. A character who died early in the series comes to serve as all three Ghosts. In contrast to other adaptations, the vision of the future is quite happy, showing her married with children and grandchildren, though she is left in the dark about who her husband will be. She recovers in time to celebrate the holiday and assist a young woman in giving birth—in a stable, of course.
  • The Boy Meets World episode "A Very Topanga Christmas" features a dream sequence involving just the Christmas Future part of the story. In it, Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Cory what life will be like if he doesn't reconcile with Topanga.
  • Bad Girls had this format for it's final ever episode, which was set over Christmas. The ghost of the recently deceased Natalie Buxton returned to Larkhall to teach Sylvia Hollamby the error of her ways by taking her through her past, present and not-so-pleasant future. By the end of the episode (and therefore, the series), Sylvia had finally turned over a new leaf, after 8 whole series of being a ruthless bitch.
  • Perhaps one of the earliest televised versions comes from an episode of The Paul Winchell Show from the early 1950s, where Paul and his dummy Jerry Mahoney experience trips to both Christmas Past & Christmas Future. The Future glimpse is a vintage example of early science-fiction visions, with metallic space suits and the like.
  • Mike And Angelo had an episode where they go back in time and do this to a boy's father who doesn't treat him nicely.
  • Celebrity Juice does this for their 2012 Christmas special, with Keith Lemon serving as the Scrooge, with the 'past' element also comes a Clip Show.
  • The ITV charity show Text Santa did A Coronation Street Christmas Carol in 2012.
  • A Special Sesame Street Christmas in 1978 had Oscar as Scrooge, a host of celebrity guests as the ghosts, and a kitten called Tiny Tim. (Not to be confused with A Christmas Eve on Sesame Street from the same year, which was the proper Sesame Street Christmas show. This one exists because CBS offered CTW a load of money if they could borrow their sets, actors and one Muppeteer.)
    • Nearly 20 years later in 2006 there was a direct-to-DVD story called A Sesame Street Christmas Carol. This also had Oscar as Scrooge, with CGI-Muppets as the ghosts (including a revamped version of S.A.M. the robot as the Ghost of Christmas Future).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In FoxTrot, Jason has a dream sequence where his family appears as the Christmas ghosts — but with their original obnoxious personalities. For instance, Peter, as ghost of Christmas Present, who doesn't know what he should do due to only skimming the Cliffs Notes, and ate the feast associated with the traditional depiction of the spirit, remarking "I had (burp) a light lunch, OK?" Paige, as the ghost of Christmas Past, is more concerned with herself than Jason (at one point showing him a Christmas before his own birth and crying "See how happy I was?!"). Marcus, as "Jacob Marcusly," gets weighed down with "the cables of the many video game controllers I selfishly clung to in life." The warning he gives "Jasonezer," incidentally, is to not waste his money on a particular brand of joystick. Quincy the iguana is an unspeaking ghost of Chirstmas future; when he shows Jason his (inevitable) tombstone Jason freaks out because "I died the day before the newest version of X-box came out!" Naturally he doesn't learn a thing.
  • A filler section of Sovisa takes a half subversion-half take that method with Ryn. She immediately resolves to mend her wicked ways upon being confronted with the Marley-esque spirit, and is rebuffed with a "nice try, you're going to get an even longer one for that stunt" comment. When the spirit of the past shows up, and takes her back to where she grew up, she shoots the spirit. As a result, the rest of the story is a trapped in the past style scenario that she returns from in the end because, well yeah.
  • The Beano once had a Bash Street Kids story where the kids gave this treatment to their grumpy headmaster.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince McMahon as Scrooge
  • Way back in 1985, the WWF did a Christmas Carol sketch with Roddy Piper as Scrooge.

    Radio 
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't A Christmas Carol; not only is it the core of the story but most of the show's games are in it too. Curmudgeonly chairman Humphrey Lyttleton takes on the role of curmudgeonly music shop owner Ebenezer Scrumph, his put-upon pianist Colin Sell becomes Colin Crotchet, and the three regular panelists are the Ghosts of Christmas Pissed (Barry) Christmas Present (Graeme) and Queen Boudicca (Yet To Come was delayed "due to unforeseen circumstances," and it was an excuse for Tim to yet again reprise the role of Lady Constance from I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again). Other parts were played by the semi regulars including Jeremy Hardy as Marley ("What you are about to hear will curdle your blood and chill the very marrow in your bones." "You're not going to sing, are you?"). At the end, faced with a future in which Nicholas Parsons chairs Clue, Scrumph becomes a cheerful, joyous figure with a song in his heart ... making him totally unsuitable to be the Clue chairman until they get him to snap out of it.
  • Adventures in Odyssey did this on KYDS Radio where they presented a play called "A Thanksgiving Carol" where Christmas was replaced with Thanksgiving. The Scrooge character however was visited by only one ghost due to "cutbacks."

    Theater 
  • The stage show/podcast Thrilling Adventure Hour had a variation of the story in which the ghosts get the address wrong and spend the whole night bothering an innocent couple.

    Videogames 
  • There was a very much obscure Mario version starring Wario as Scrooge and various Nintendo characters as the ghosts that came with the German Club Mrio magazine, which was called Warios Weihnachtsmärchen (Wario's Christmas Tale).
  • Everquest runs a holiday quest called "McScroogle," where a misery old gnome will pay your character to possess his body and go through the revelations for him. Apparently, the ghosts come for him every year and he pays someone to live the night for him every time. They then leave him alone until next Christmas and he can be as big a jerk as he wants without worrying about his conscience.
  • Runescape's 2009 Christmas Event had the player character take the role of the ghosts.

    Webcomics 
  • As is And Shine Heaven Now, Iscariot flavored. Enrico Maxwell is Scrooge, original character Lisa the Angel is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Past,Helios is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Death of the Endless is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Future. And Enrico learns the wrong lesson when he discovers what his Future is like. Instead of realizing that should he lead a crusade against England, he would be consigning himself and others to an early grave, all he sees is Iscariot and Hellsing on friendly terms in the future and believes he's on the right path to prevent that by leading the crusade.
  • Brawl in the Family did a Super Mario Bros. version for the 2009 holiday season with the Mushroom Kingdom Carol. In it, the part of Scrooge is played by Mario who, after finally driving Bowser away from Mushroom Kingdom for good, was convinced by Wario (who is here as Marley) to assemble a financial society, effectively retiring from heroics. However, years later, Bowser Jr. (on behalf of his dad) comes back with a vengeance to take over the Mushroom Kingdom and, not being in his prime physical condition anymore, Mario fails to save now-Queen Peach, leading him to become an embittered old codger with "a wrench up h-", as Daisy puts it, and allow the Kingdom to sink into misery and degradation, with Bowser's Toadies collecting extorsive taxes from the citizens (and even kidnapping their relatives should they fail to pay!). Luigi's role in here is that of Bob Cratchitt, living in poverty without receiving a shred of compassion from his brother. And to top it off, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are represented by Princess Rosalina, Kirby and Shadow Mario, respectively.
  • Parodied in the webcomic Dragon Tails, where the strict, hard-arse Enigma gets the Scrooge treatment. Unfortunately, the ghosts all fail horribly, such as the past ghost trying to remind Enigma of when he put his family's feelings first (failing to realize that Enigma was heavily sarcastic in the scene), the present ghost showing Enigma his cruelty towards Norman (and then laughing along at Norman's torment), and the future ghost showing Enigma his funeral (which turns out being his birthday party).
  • In Kevin & Kell, Lindesfarne gets access to her estranged mother's computer (formerly hers) and does "Application of Christmas Past|Present|Future" to convince Angelique to return home from Aruba to spend Christmas with the children she adopted as a result of her second marriage (Lindesfarne was adopted by Angelique and her first husband, Kevin).
  • Sluggy Freelance did a parody of this, where it happened to psychotic rabbit Bun-bun, who wound up killing the ghosts and trying to blow up Santa's workshop.
  • Parodied in Bug Martini with the week long "A Christmas Cacophony"

    Web Originals 
  • This trope is wonderfully parodied with Kaiba in the Christmas special of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. The visits only results in Kaiba converting to Judaism and firing his employees after Bakura shows him how horrible the future will be.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd did a take on this as a christmas special: Disillusioned with Christmas because of all the terrible games he's had to put himself through, the Nerd receives visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future (played by Screwattack regulars Stuttering Craig, Handsome Tom and Dracula from the Castlevania games) to show him the good times he had in his childhood with the early Nintendo systems, as well as his future where he reviews Wii games as an old, bearded man. In the end, the Nerd decides to only play good games, a decision that didn't last very long.
  • Alternate Reality Dragon Ball Z had a Christmas special following the story's plot, featuring Vegeta as Scrooge, Raditz as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Goku as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Trunks as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and Gohan as Tiny Tim.
  • Noob had this for its only Christmas episode ever. The one getting the three ghost treatment was Player Killer Dark Avenger pre-Villain Decay.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Real Ghostbusters episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot," the Ghostbusters are unwittingly sent back into time, where they "save" Ebenezer Scrooge from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. When they return to their own time to find Christmas has been ruined, Egon has to free the ghosts while the other Ghostbusters go back in time and try to fill in for the captured spirits.
    • Take this Truth in Television moment with a grain of salt, but there is some truth to this plot. At the time of writing, Christmas was a dying holiday and it wasn't crazy to know someone who held Scrooge's opinions. Many scholars today believe that if it hadn't been for A Christmas Carol, Christmas might not be the big deal it is today. So it's likely the Ghostbusters were playing at a little known holiday fact.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series had a Double Subversion, where Sabrina tried to give the treatment to Gem Stone after getting sick of her selfish views on Christmas. The plan fails when Gem points out that even though everyone hates her and she'll eventually die alone, at least she'll be rich and popular. Sabrina then tries just going over to Gem's home and giving her a present. Gem brushes her off, but then later realizes this is the nicest thing anyone has done for her on Christmas, so she spends the day at the Spellmans' home.
  • Stroker and Hoop's Christmas episode centers around Stroker being visited by the three spirits. The Ghost of Christmas Past is his deceased former partner, and all three dead folks turn out to be involved in a shady time-traveling lottery-numbers scam. They try to murder Santa as a cover up. (It's a weird show).
  • The Simpsons parodies the trope by having Homer change channels on the TV and come across a number of such episodes, including Mr. Magoo, Family Matters, and a Star Trek adaptation where the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Scotty how fat he's going to become.
    • There was also the time when a ghost (Marley) appears before Mr Burns. He sucks it with a hand vacuum cleaner.
    • Also, in "Grift of the Magi," Mr Burns is visited by three ghosts on Christmas and decides to fund the elementary school. The gag is that it happens completely offscreen, and is only mentioned briefly during a montage in which we hear about various cliched Christmas plotlines which supporting characters experienced that year. ("And Moe, having been shown what the world would be like if he'd never been born, took his head out of the oven and replaced it with a plump Christmas goose.")
    • A later episode features a segment which parodies The Muppet Show. Mr Burns mentions being visited by three spirits on Christmas prompting Grandpa and Jasper (standing in for Statler and Waldorf) to say "I wish this show would be visited by three new writers!"
  • In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Christmas Special, there's a five minute scene in which Bloo tries to run a Christmas Carol scam on Mr. Herriman, so that he'll get more than "just one gift." He has a distorted recollection of the story; notably, he plays Herriman's old partner as Bob Marley (instead of Jacob), complete with Jamaican accent and dreadlocks; as well as playing the Ghost of a Christmas Present. Mr. Herriman, despite knowing the story better than Bloo, actually manages to get the "ghost's" message wrong and cancels Christmas instead. Hilariously, during the closing credits after Christmas has been saved, Herriman prays to the ghosts to spare him, and that he will try to cancel Christmas next year. To be fair, it wasn't entirely Herriman's fault; the way Bloo worded his message could have been taken either way. He said "not one present," which could be mistaken as meaning "not even one present." Let's not forget that Bloo's Ghost of Christmas Future is a robot. Mac lampshades the ridiculousness of this when he hears the story.
    Mac: It doesn't make sense, robots and presents were not alive to begin with so- wait a minute.. you were the ghosts.
  • Pepper Ann features a twist on this story, in which the titular character is shown the true meaning of Valentine's Day. It plays out mostly the same as the original story, though the Ghost of Valentine's Day Future, rather than showing nobody caring about her death, shows her as an immortal robot CEO "with a heart of steel" who has banned all displays of love or affection, which fazes her as much as you would think...
  • The Jetsons did one with Mr. Spacely as Scrooge, George Jetson as Bob Cratchit, a dying Astro as Tiny Tim and robots as the ghosts (With the Ghost of Christmas Present being a package to make the pun). Mr. Spacely was even given a deceased business partner named Jacob Marsley. Mr. Spacely only decided to make nice out of self-interest, however. You see, since Astro had become ill from choking on a Spacely Sprocket, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come showed Mr. Spacely a future where the Jetsons had successfully sued him and gotten all his money. Of course, that's the only thing the Jetsons could sue him for. The origin of the plot was lampshaded when George, complaining about Spacely, commented that Scrooge was nice in comparison and that Spacely would end up scaring the ghosts away.
  • Inverted in Peter Pan & the Pirates. Captain Hook gets the treatment, and is suitably appalled at what the future holds: When he dies, he's entirely forgotten; even Peter doesn't remember him. So, Hook resolves to change his ways: He'll be even worse, and drive himself so firmly into Peter's head that he'll never be forgotten. (Of course, if you ever read the original play or the novel, you'll know that doesn't work. Sorry, Hook!)
  • A variation on the theme appears in the Christmas episode of Back to the Future: The Animated Series, where Doc and family, plus Marty, travel back to 19th century England during Christmastime to escape some nasty summer heat. One of the B plots of the episode features Ebiffneezer Tannen, who forecloses on the owners of a toy shop the main characters met in the beginning and sends them to debtors' prison. Clara, who was in the shop at the time and refused Ebiffneezer's advances, is sent too. Marty, attempting to break Clara out, is told Ebiffneezer is a real "Scrooge," which inspires him to pull the Ghost act on the Tannen. Ebiffneezer is a hard sell, though — even after seeing stuff that "would make the Terminator cry," he refuses to change. It's only through Marty dropping and accidentally activating a projection movie system that he was watching on his hoverboard at the beginning of the episode that Ebiffneezer is inspired to change — the Tannen is terrified by the Godzilla movie and swears to be good. The episode may be unique in having the lesson also not STICK — Ebiffneezer reverts near-immediately to his nasty self once he sees Marty at the end and realizes he's not a ghost. There's an amusing bit of lampshading when Marty first appears as the ghost — Ebiffneezer asks him if he's "Past, Present, or Future," and Marty, being a time traveler, admits to being all three.
  • The 2008 version of George of the Jungle inverts this when George is introduced to his first Christmas ever and likes it so much he tries to make every day Christmas. The three ghosts (or goats, when George misunderstands the word) then attempt to show George how horrible his life will be unless he stops celebrating Christmas. Additionally, since it was George's first Christmas, the "Goat" of Christmas Past is forced to make up a past Christmas from scratch.
  • Parodied in Kappa Mikey, where Ozu is visted by the three ghosts. However, when the Ghost of Christmas Past sees how horrible Ozu's past Christmas was, he and the Ghost of Christmas Present decides to help Ozu destroy Christmas. They are set straight by the Ghost of Christmas Future.
  • Done with Thanksgiving in My Gym Partner's a Monkey, where the three ghosts try to convince Adam to hate Thanksgiving, and spectacularly fail to get their message across.
    • Also used (among other Christmas plots) in the "Animus" special.
  • An episode of Arthur had one for Prunella, on the night after her birthday party, although only with two ghosts, the Ghost of Presents Past and the less-helpful Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow.
    • The Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow returns in a later episode to give Arthur a similar dream, in his other job as the Ghost of Bicycles Never Ridden.
  • Beavis And Butthead
    • Beavis has a dream where he manages the Burger joint rather than screwing around in the back. He lives alone, abuses his employees, and watches porn alone at home. Naturally, he thinks this is phenomenal, until he is visited by the three spirits (Butt-Head being his Marley), and sees his future tombstone: "Here lies Beavis. He never scored." And you know how in most of these, the ghosts are people the character knows, but doesn't notice? Yeah, that doesn't happen here:
      I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past.
      What are you talking about, Anderson?
      Dammit, boy, I already told you. I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past.
    • Beavis's Heel-Face Turn is wonderfully averted at the end, also. His final take on what he learned:
      "Hey, Butt-Head, check it out. I just had this cool dream about the future, and you know what? The future is like, um, it's pretty cool! It's gonna be all right. 'Cause, like, I'm gonna be your boss, and I'm gonna have a VCR, and some porn!...Working on Christmas Eve is cool!"
  • The Venture Bros. Christmas special begins with Doc Venture as Scrooge at his grave in Christmas Future - he wakes up and is so overjoyed his heart grows three sizes...his nose glows red - he can fly!...he cries out 'Merry Christmas!' like George Bailey to the folks below...then he wakes up again. The rest of the show is at his sleazy Christmas party until the end where he wakes up yet again.
    Oh thank God... I thought I'd turned into a complete *censor bleep*.
  • Appears in Bravestarr of all places, in the episode "Tex's Terrible Night," where we are given insight into villain Tex Hex. Since Status Quo Is God, it doesn't accomplish much...
    • To be fair, the ep in question never has Tex reform, merely relent in a scheme that would have hurt the woman he once loved. Add to that, Bravestarr himself lampshades in the end-lesson segment that, while Tex did something good today, the audience shouldn't expect it again.
  • Dora and Swiper of Dora the Explorer have a Christmas Carol experience in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure when Santa places Swiper on his naughty list. Instead of being visited by ghosts, Swiper and Dora use time-traveling cloaks to travel to the past, present, and future and see how they and the other characters fare.
  • In an episode of Avenger Penguins, the titular penguins take on the role of the three ghosts to thwart villain Caractacus P Doom's plot to ruin Christmas by turning off the city's power. Doom ends up putting an end to the plan when he sees continuing with it will mean the Earth being sucked into a black hole, but doesn't really change for the better beyond that.
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series had "A Christmas Cruella" with guess-who as the Scrooge character. After firing Anita for wanting Christmas off, Cruella gets knocked out and has a Dream Sequence. In it she is visited first by Horace and Jasper as Marley, then by Cadpig as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Rolly as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Spot in a robe as the Ghost of Christmas Future, who only speaks in clucks (except for her one aside: "You know, I had a great song and dance number here. They cut it!"). Lucky, his leg sprained from a recent accident, fills in for Tiny Tim, and Anita's sudden unemployment explains why the Dearlys can't have a nice Christmas. It works pretty well actually, even if Cruella is back to her mean old self by the next episode.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (1995) got in on the act, with the episode "Who Scrooged McRude?" The ghost of Christmas Past and Jacob Marley were squeezed into one, who showed a few of the pets the past Christmases of Angus McRude, a Scotsman who got a hold of the pet shop's lease and evicted them on Christmas Eve. When he finally notices his mistake, he simply says "I'll have to try again next year," and disappears, so the pets take it upon themselves to give Angus a change of heart and keep their shop. Which they achieve by reuniting him with his beloved toy dump truck that they saw in the past.
  • An episode of Animaniacs had Thaddeus Plot in the Scrooge role and the Warners as the ghosts each with their own theme song.
  • The third All Dogs Go to Heaven movie has this invoked by Charlie. Seeing that Carface is the only one close enough to Belladonna to stop her, he decides to "scare the Dickens" out of Carface. Using magic provided by Anabelle, he, Itchy, and Sasha turn into the three ghosts (Itchy as Ghost of Christmas Past, Sasha as Ghost of Christmas Present, and Charlie himself as Ghost of Christmas Future) and give Carface a scare.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has a non-Holiday version of the story in the episode "Power Trip". When Rocko's boss at the comic book store had put Rocko temporarily in charge. Rocko had to follow two instructions: hire an assistant to help him (Rocko hired Filburt); and never press the green button. Rocko pressed it and became a greedy boss who kept bossing Filburt around, friendship be damned. The superhero of the comic book Rocko kept ordering Filburt to sell showed up to remind Rocko of how Rocko and Filburt used to be friends. Then he showed Rocko what the future will be if he doesn't repent. Rocko saw himself in the future mistreating a customer the same way Rocko's boss did at the beginning of the episode. Rocko and Filburt restored their friendship. However, when Rocko's boss returned, he ordered Rocko to fire Filburt since Rocko would be the only needed employee again. Rocko refused to fire Filburt, so his boss fired the both of them.
  • The Mutant League Christmas Episode "Strike" is pretty much the same as A Christmas Carol, but with no ghosts.
  • Looney Tunes did 2 christmas specials of this nature. Daffy was Scrooge in one and Yosemite Sam was in the other.
  • The Smurfs recently has one combining the styles of the live-action movie's CGI animation and traditional 2D animation. Interestingly, the Bad Future involves EVERYONE DEAD!
  • Johnny Test did a episode like this. But it was based on Earth Day rather than Christmas.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic presents a non-holiday version where Rarity's sister Sweetie Belle destroys a key part of her fashion ensemble out of spite and jealousy. Princess Luna, who has the power to enter dreams, shows Sweetie Belle visions of the past to show that Rarity does not intentionally outshine her, the present to show that the sisters are more alike than they realize, and the future to reveal the consequences of Sweetie's actions.

Famous remakes and re-imaginings:

    Films — Animated 
  • Perhaps the most famous example is Mickey's Christmas Carol, though this is more a direct adaptation using the Disney character designs and voices than an adaptation of the story to the Disney characters. (It helps that they already had a Scrooge in Scrooge McDuck).
  • But it's not the first; that prize goes to Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which predates the tradition of bringing in most of the core cast of the original work; only Mr. Magoo himself is recognizable. It has the wrapper story that Magoo is in a production of A Christmas Carol on Broadway, and the special is a musical.
    • Some older fans of UPA animation are aware that Gerald McBoing-Boing is playing the role of Tiny Tim. A comic book adaptation of the special reveals that Gerald is lip-synching Tim's lines, because, of course, Gerald doesn't speak words...
  • Barbie does her own Gender Flipped version of A Christmas Carol for a Direct-To-DVD movie. This time the Scrooge who gets the ghostly visits is a bossy Victorian theater owner/diva named Eden Starling.
  • Robert Zemeckis' 2009 animated version is a straightforward telling done in Motion Capture with Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three ghosts of Christmas and Gary Oldman as Marley, Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim. This one reimagines the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future: Past is a floating candlestick, basically, and Future is a shadow. It is a very faithful adaptation; the most notable deviations are the liberties with the Ghost's designs and the chase scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come.
  • Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Special is a 2006 animated special starring the Looney Tunes. Granted, the story takes place in modern times instead of the traditional Victorian setting, but it follows the same formula with Daffy in the role of Scrooge who makes Bah, Humduck! his catchphrase for the special.
    • The Looney Tunes had previously done a short that riffed on the story with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Porky Pig as Cratchit, and Bugs Bunny dressing up as a ghost to scare Sam straight. Much looser an adaptation than even most of the other works on this page, as there's only one ghost, he's a fake, he spends much of the cartoon simply spooking Sam with loud noises and ice cold bathtubs, and in the end gets him to change his ways by simply threatening him with a trip "Down There." Of course, it's a seven minute short, adapting the whole story would probably have been impossible. In Bugs Bunnys Looney Christmas Tales, Yosemite stated he was just acting and that he's still greedy and then started to get back everything he donated.
  • There was a CGI-animated, direct-to-DVD adaptation which made the characters talking animals. Disneyfication abounds in this version, to the point where Tiny Tim doesn't die in the Christmas Future segment.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol. Like the Disney version above, this was a semi-straight adaptation of the book rather than a use of its plot on an extant character. Surprisingly, while many of the book's characters were played by established Muppets, the three spirits were original character designs in line with Dickens's descriptions.note  The dialogue is closer to the book than many a "straight" film version, too — someone did the research.
  • Of note is the tv movie An American Christmas Carol starring Henry (the Fonz) Winkler as a depression-era Scrooge named Benedict Slade.
  • Scrooged is a modern cinematic retelling, with Ebeneezer Scrooge the greedy banker replaced by Bill Murray as a morally bankrupt TV executive.
  • A Diva's Christmas Carol is a made-for-TV modern retelling on VH-1 with Vanessa Williams as pop singer Ebony (Scrooge), Chilli from TLC as Marly, Kathy Griffin as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and John Taylor from Duran Duran as Present. Amusingly, the Ghost of Christmas Future is an episode of Behind The Music.
  • Karroll's Christmas, a made-for-TV movie, puts a spin on the story by having the ghosts visit the wrong house due to a clerical error. Their main target was supposed to be the protagonist's Scrooge-like neighbor. Instead they proceed to show the protagonist the neighbor's past, present, and future; afterward the protagonist proceeds to try to change his neighbor for the better himself. It works.
  • A TV movie in 2000 set the story in modern day inner Britain, and featured Ross Kemp as 'Eddie Scrooge'. One of the most noticeable additions to the story it gave was the "Groundhog Day" Loop Scrooge goes through after each spectral visitation.
    • Another interesting change was that two out of three ghosts were people Eddie knew - the Ghost of Christmas Past was his dead father, the Ghost of Christmas Present was Jacob Marley himself. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come wasn't someone Eddie knew because the "ghost" was someone not even born yet - he's the son Eddie could have if he reforms.
  • Another Gender Flip version: Ebbie, an '90s made-for-TV movie that re-imagines Scrooge as a selfish and grasping modern-day businesswoman, played by Susan Lucci. This one should get special notice because of a Relationship Writing Fumble — our protagonist has better chemistry with Marley than with her lost past love.
  • Ebeneezer is another resetting, starring Jack Palance as a crooked and crotchety saloon owner/gunslinger on the Canadian prairies. This Scrooge does have Christmas dinner—with his friend the madam of the local whorehouse. Marley is his old business partner, Christmas Past is a First Nations woman, Christmas Present a Mountie, and Christmas Future is Ebeneezer's (long-dead) father. Instead of Nephew Fred, there is a young rancher Ebeneezer cheats out of his land and "Marley's" daughter.
  • The Gender Flip TV movie Ms. Scrooge features Cicely Tyson as "Ebenita Scrooge."
  • Hallmark Channel had one called A Carol Christmas in which Tori Spelling plays a selfish trash talk show host. Gary Coleman plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. William Shatner played Ghost of Christmas Present with the Star Trek beaming and everything.
    • They also made a more direct adaptation, starring Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.

    Literature 
  • The short story "Solitary as an Oyster" by Mur Lafferty has a real life Scrooge being visited by the crew of a Ghost Hunters type show, with each crew member getting visited by one of the ghosts. It turns out the positive effect of the ghost's visit really only works if you get all three.

    Theatre 
  • Inspecting Carol is a play about a group of bungling actors attempting (and failing) to put on a successful production of A Christmas Carol.

    Webcomics 
  • A online comic from Antarctic Press artist Rod Espinosa did the gender flipped version, with Scrooge being a woman and running a dress shop. The rest of the story plays out as the original through. Can be read here.

    Music 
  • In 1960, beatnik poet/humorist/monologist Lord Buckley retold the whole story in hipster slang. Listen to it here.

Variations:

    Comicbooks 
  • In a Marvel Comics Presents Christmas issue, the three ghosts end up incorrectly trying to convert the Fantastic Four's mailman, Willie Lumpkin. An address screw-up caused them to think they were targeting J. Jonah Jameson.
  • The Chick Tracts have a version in "Humbug", although only Marley makes an appearance, not the three ghosts (the entire experience lasts three panels), and Scrooge doesn't just take a level in kindness; he also becomes a Christian.

    Fan Fiction 
  • While there are a large number of Sherlock Holmes fanfics that follow this trope, the stand out is The Christmas Guest by Mary le Bow. The setting is Christmas Eve. Holmes is cast as the Scrooge and Watson attempts to cheer him up with a guest from the medical field. The guest ask Holmes to guess who he is. Holmes, saying that his deduction skills are not a parlor trick and should be taken seriously, is soon coaxed by Watson to perform his skill. Holmes deduces the entirety of the man's life except his name. This includes a hard childhood, a generous sponsor, a kindness towards children, and a loving wife. The doctor says it was his godfather who changed his life by aiding him in education and hospital visits though not before his godfather was converted following his claim that he could see see dead people. Following the deduction, the man leaves for Christmas Eve dinner with his family. As he leaves, it is revealed the doctor is a grown Tiny Tim, now Dr. Cratchit. With this story, Holmes is converted and prepares for a quick Christmas dinner.

    Films — Animated 
  • Springtime with Roo casts Rabbit as Scrooge and uses Easter instead of Christmas, but otherwise runs pretty much true to type. Easter Future (or Spring Cleaning Day, at any rate) depicts a Hundred Acre Wood which is quiet, orderly and tidy, just as Rabbit wanted... and inhabited only by Rabbit, as all the other animals have given up on him and moved away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • ABC Family's Christmas Cupid takes a very loose adaptation of this, involing Christina Millan as Sloane Spencer, the Scrooge Stand-in, a shallow publicist who must organize a premiere of a movie starring a spoiled actress played by Ashley Benson who suddenly dies and takes on the Jakob Marley role. She must teach Sloane the errors of her ways in order for her to get into heaven, by visiting Sloane's past present and future.
  • The Hallmark Channel's "Karrol's Christmas", in which the three ghosts supposedly visit the wrong guy.
  • Rod Serling penned Carol for Another Christmas in 1964, which used the structure to plea for world peace (it was created to foster support for the U.N.).
  • The TV movie A Valentine Carol is a romantic comedy version.
  • The 2008 film An American Carol has a Michael Moore stand-in as the Scrooge character, who wants to abolish the Fourth of July; the spirits (JFK, Patton, George Washington, and an Angel of Death) reinstill patriotism in him.
  • Adaptation by Connie Willis opens with a book store clerk ranting about how there's hundreds of Christmas Carol adaptations and not one with half the magic of the original, and takes the three spirits in a different direction: despite a feint toward the standard Scrooge plot, it turns out that their mission on this occasion is to restore seasonal hope and joy to a man for whom the approach of Christmas is a dreaded reminder of what he's lost.
  • Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past is a variation on this, where the ghosts (even though at least one isn't, actually, dead) show the main character his romantic past, present, and future in order to make him give up his womanizing ways.
  • The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, which is included in the three-disc Blu-Ray bundle of The Smurfs, has Grouchy being visited by the Smurfs of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
  • Hallmark Channel has a 2012 movie called It's Christmas, Carol! about a mean publishing company executive named Carol. The only ghost is her old mentor Marly who takes Carol to see Christmas Past, Present, and two versions of Christmas Future one is the traditional scene where Carol is dead and no one cares while the second is where Carol is happily married to the love of her life and they have children and grandchildren. Also, the Tiny Tim in this version is her assistant Tina who requests a transfer to another city so she can be with her fiance. Carol refuses and Marly tells her that Tina will become a lonely, bitter workaholic unless Carol changes her mind.
  • In a Lifetime Movie of the Week If You Believe, Susan Stone receives a visit from her past self to show her that she should not give up on happiness. If you happen to miss the reference throughout the film, you cannot be mistaken when Susan calls her brother Bob to apologize and introduces herself as: "It's your sister the Scrooge."

    Literature 
  • Hating Valentine's Day is a romantic comedy version.
  • The Christmas Edition of Sweet Valley Twins, in which Jessica has been pulling numerous selfish stunts, most recently, sabotaging a celebrity lunch that her twin sister ELIZABETH was meant to have in order to garner said celebrity's support for a charity (Jessica could care less about the charity, she just wants to meet a celebrity). So she's not shunning Christmas, but is instead, completely focused on her own happiness and no one else's. While there's no Marley character, three ghosts are present. Christmas Past—shows how Jessica used to love sharing her toys and clothes with her sister. Christmas Present—shows how Jessica has become selfish and estranged from her sister. Christmas Future, who in true Dickens style, is a ghostly, shrouded figure—fast forwards to a teenage Jessica and Elizabeth. Jessica is unpopular and loathed by nearly everyone because of her cruelty and selfishness. Of course, she wakes up determined to change for the better.
  • SFWA writer P. Andrew Miller's short story, "The Dude who Did in Dickens," is about a time-traveler so sick of Christmas Carol remakes that he goes back in time to kill Dickens before the story is written. Unfortunately, this just makes matters worse.
  • Elizabeth Hand's novella "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol" is full of sweet nostalgia for the almost-forgotten kids' show host Sandy Becker, especially the Christmas Carol parody he used to do (Christmas Past), and for Joey Ramone (Christmas Present). (There is a movement to re-create "Sandy's Christmas Carol" by Flexitoons' Craig Marin, Sandy's protege.)
  • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer short story had a snobbish Dickensian Watcher visited by a prehistoric Slayer and the most recently deceased Slayer to encourage him to be more understanding of his current charge. He dismisses them because one's black and the other's French, only for the Ghost of Slayers Future to be Buffy herself. Before long he's prepared to agree to anything, if she'll just stop torturing the English language.
  • In The Stockings Were Hung, The Shadow once visited an old miser who'd embezzled funds from the rightful owner of a business, and stole the business from him on Christmas Eve. Lamont didn't do much, simply asked him what he was going to do with his money when he died. The businessman immediately had a Heel-Face Turn, and made things right.
  • Gets a blink-and-you-miss-it nod at the end of the first Artemis Fowl book: after Artemis decides to give up half of the gold he has won if Holly will heal his sick mother, his newly-healed mother reminds him that it is Christmas morning. This, taken with the magically-extended night that has just ended, suggests that the entire story has been a Christmas Carol of sorts for Artemis.
  • A children's book, Hanukkah, Schmannukah! uses the basic storyline to show a Jewish guy named Scroogemacher (oy) the error of his ways. Interestingly, the three ghosts can be read as Orthodox Judaism (Hanukkah Past shows the history of the holiday), Conservative Judaism (Hanukkah Present looks at Scroogemacher's workers in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City), and Reform Judaism (Hanukkah Future is a black woman, and shows how even interfaith families can observe the traditions).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Dukes of Hazzard had the cousins try to pull the ghost scam on Boss Hogg, but it falls apart in a major way. Turns out Roscoe gave Boss a copy of the book as his gift. Reading it while alone on Christmas Eve, Boss has a change of heart—for that episode, anyway.
  • Although not set at Christmas, the "Trial of a Time Lord" season of Doctor Who is based on the narrative of the Christmas Carol story, with each individual story in the season framed as being 'past', 'present' (or, at least, the adventure he'd been involved in just before being taken out of time for his trial) and 'future' being presented as evidence in the Doctor's trial by the Time Lords. It also showed the Doctor being given a glimpse of an evil future self in the form of the Valeyard.

    Radio 
  • BBC Radio Four's More Or Less, the program about numbers in the news, had "A More Or Less Christmas Carol," in which Scrooge is a banker who is visited by three spirits who show him the origin of the credit crunch, the current situation, and the possibility of it happening again. Confronted with the hatred currently held to bankers, and the prospect of his own bank going under, Scrooge resolves to take steps that will ensure his future is one where people love and respect his profession: "Bob, we're moving to Switzerland!"

    Theatre 

    Videogames 

    Webcomics 
  • In Sexy Losers, in the Chafed Dickens storyline (NSFW) "ghosts" (sometimes images of people who're alive) visit compulsive masturbator Mike and try to show him the error of his ways. It ends with him Comically Missing the Point they're trying to make. It doesn't really help that the situations they take him to are situations which are even more likely to inspire him to... well...
  • Similarly, Least I Could Do had a storyline where three spirits show Rayne his past, present, and future while he was in self-doubt...in order to bring him to the conclusion that he wasn't living his life badly, and that things would turn out just fine for him.
  • PHD had "A Winter Break Carol" with Professor Smith instead of Scrooge. He doesn't get the Aesop though.
  • In Multiplex, the staff tries to pull Jason out of his love funk by setting up an elaborate Christmas Carol set up one evening just before Christmas. He's not buying into it, and when he walks out in the middle, Kurt is visibly upset that his "Ghost of Girlfriends Present" costume wasn't fully appreciated. He was dressed as a giant hand.

    Web Originals 
  • Parodied on Atop the Fourth Wall's 2009 Christmas episode. When the ghost of Marley appears, Linkara shoots at him and points out that there's no need to do a Christmas Carol episode, since he already loves Christmas (and comic books), but Marley says the Spirits are already booked. They show up periodically throughout the review, but he quickly dismisses them. For extra fun, the spirits are played by Lewis' actual family members: Marley is his brother Graham while Past and Present are his mother and father respectively.
    • Made better that the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is actually an Early-Bird Cameo of Mechakara.
    • In 2012, Harvey Finevoice gets his own visits from three completely different Ghosts: (The Nostalgia Critic, the actual Ghost of Christmas present, and Future!Linkara). Being Dangerously Genre Savvy, Harvey is understandably pissed off. Though the backstory-revealing episodes are set at Christmas, the lesson is not for Harvey to regain holiday spirit or to stop being a jerk or to trust others. It's that he needs to accept that Linkara is not and never will be his dead son, and that he needs to say goodbye and let the past go. Interestingly, there is no Bad Future. It's the present that's dark.
  • Bob of Weebl & Bob gives his advice on how to deal with this sort of thing.
  • Strange inversion in The Nostalgia Critic: His Babes in Toyland review centers around the Critic stopping the Ghost of Christmas Future from turning the episode into a Christmas Carol parody, since he happens to love Christmas already. At the end he reluctantly agrees to do the Grinch parody instead, for the next episode, based on how much he hates the movie instead of Christmas.
  • In "The Ghost of Christmas Possible" by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw, Scrooge bails after Marley's visit and hires a psychic investigator to take his place until the three visitations are over. The story also introduces a fourth Ghost, who has the power to show visions of Christmases that might have been had things been otherwise (his name is Clarence).
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged parodied this at the end of their Christmas Tree Of Might special. "Vegeta... Ghost Nappa appears Tonight you will visited by three ghosts. And they're all me." two more Ghost Nappa's appear.
  • An International Moron Patrol/IMP XS/Voluptuous Victorious Villains crossover called "An IMP Crossmas" featured an interesting take: The IMP's arch-nemesis Santa Claus teamed up with a memory-consuming demon called Memories' Oblivion and recruited the VVV into an army of Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Yet To Come to take out both the IMP and the IMP XS (the IMP's successors by 5 years). While cutting in line at Disney Land while in their "Christmas" past, the team leaders Roger and Jake discover Santa's lair, and when the other heroes force the VVV to lead them to Santa's secret HQ, an all-out brawl ensues. However, a paradox causes the universe to explode after numerous plot-holes were exposed, revealing the whole incident to be simply a nightmare of IMP XS member FD.
  • In this Walfas flash Reimu gets visited by the ghosts of christmas (Well, one ghost and a half. And a kappa) so that she stops setting people on fire. Much to Parsees dismay.
  • Joe Loves Crappy Movies presents a good suggestion on how to change things up a little in the name of a fresher take on the story.
  • Akuma TH had the Christmas Special "A Christmas Batol." Fluke visits Kari on Christmas with his Soul Edge shard tagging along note  and gets rejected. He remarks to Soul Edge in passing that Kari's behavior reminded him of Scrooge, and then explains the plot of A Christmas Carol to Soul Edge. Soul Edge decides he likes the idea and modifies it a bit, visiting Kari's house in the middle of the night to force her into three battles representing the Past, Present, and Future; if she loses a battle, he takes her body. Kari ultimately does learn a lesson, sort of: Her last opponent tells her that curbing her overwhelming desire to become stronger and taking a break from training once in awhile will also help make her strong. So she resolves to gain a social life. For the sake of becoming stronger.
  • Metamor City had "A Lightbringer Carol'' where resident Knight Templar Janus Starchild is ordered to take Yule off (so his vendetta with Santa Claus doesn't embarrass the lightbringers again) and is visited by the ghost of his father, now chained to his magic sword thanks to his single-minded devotion to his duty in life. And has three spirits teach Janus to lighten up a little, and maybe acknowledge his assistant Candace's feelings for him. The spirit of Raven hin'Elric acts as the ghost of solstice past, the ghost of solstice present takes the form of Callie Linder, and the ghost of solstice future appears as a faceless servant of Nocturna but is actually Klepnos wearing her robe. It turns out that his immortal ancestor Mirai and a couple of fallen gods arranged the whole thing.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History has Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge, which starts out like a standard rap battle until Trump shows his chest and chains, revealing himself to be merely the Jacob Marley figure and doesn't stick around for the rebuttal. J.P. Morgan and Kanye West represent Christmas Past and Present, with a more traditional yet fully-voiced Yet To Come.

    Western Animation 
  • VeggieTales had "An Easter Carol," a sequel to their Christmas show "The Star of Christmas." It took the framework of the Christmas Carol and used it as a way to teach the real story of Easter, with an angel named Hope replacing all the ghosts.
  • The Flintstones featured in the mid-90s Christmas special A Flintstones Christmas Carol the cast putting on for a community theater production a prehistoric version of "A Christmas Carol," with Fred playing "E-bone-ezer Scrooge" (and the play accordingly set in a Stone Age version of 19th century England). Despite the Neolithic trappings, the version of Dickens' story here was done quite faithfully to the original. Wilma occasionally replaced cast members who caught the "Bedrock Bug".
    • This one actually went double duty - as the story went on and Scrooge learned his lessons, Fred had to learn the hard way that his family is more important than anything else, after he gets lost in the role and he starts eyeing an actress he was starring with.
  • The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future" starts out as a Christmas Carol parody, with the eponymous time-traveling cybernetic spectre showing Carl a Christmas Day from his childhood, before the memory is interrupted by a robot war (which he doesn't remember because back then it was only a prophecy). And that's when shit gets weird.
  • In the original Pound Puppies episode, "Happy Howladays", Katrina has the pound closed on Christmas Eve, leaving the Pound Puppies out on the street. so with the help of Zasu the Fairy Dogmother, Cooler and the gang enter Katrina's dreams and try to show here the error of her ways by making her see things from their point of view. Katrina dismisses the whole thing (except the part of turning the pound into a luxury resort for cats) when she wakes up! other people in town help out though.
  • American Dad! started as a basic "As Plot" example when Stan freaked out over the secularization of Christmas, only for the Ghost of Christmas Past to show up and bring him back to the 70's. However, at this point he bolts to go assassinate Jane Fonda, which he believes will erase the liberalism that led to his problems, and the Ghost, named Michelle, has to team up with Francine to find him. It gets even weirder from there. (Still ends with An Aesop, though.)
  • Stoked! has a variation in "The Reefinator" where Broseph attempts to give up sandwiches and is visited by the three ghosts of sandwiches past.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, Lola tries to put on a play version, but Cloud Cuckoolander that she is, completely ignores the original story and instead makes it about a woman named Carol who is in reality Santa Claus' daughter. Everyone involved in the play agrees that it sucks.

    Unsorted 
  • "Yuletide Karaoke" by Peter T Garrett, a Twenty Minutes into the Future tale in which media mogul E. Ben Aesir, formerly known as DJ SCRU-J, plots the domination of Yuletide commerce with the aid of his three ghost writers (a woman in a white dress who does historical novels, a woman in a low-cut green dress who does soaps, and a man in a black hoodie who does scifi), before being taught a lesson by the Virtual Ghost of his old DJing partner MC MARL-O.


Yes VirginiaChristmas TropesYou Mean Xmas
Where No Parody Has Gone BeforeShout-Outs IndexAlice Allusion
Sesame StreetChristmas SpecialThe Muppets
'The Yellow M" Shout-OutStock ParodiesYou Can't Handle The Parody
Where No Parody Has Gone BeforeWhole Plot Reference    
Video GamesImageSource/InternetStuart Ashen
Universal-Adaptor CastImageSource/Live-Action FilmsMuppet Treasure Island
The ScroogeImageSource/Animated FilmsMulan
Mr. MagooImageSource/Western AnimationThe Mummy

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
145477
6