Western Animation: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
is a song and popular Christmas story about Santa Claus's ninth and lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light, powerful enough to illuminate the team's path through inclement weather.
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms including a popular song, a Rankin/Bass television special
(done in Stop Motion
animation) in 1964, and a feature film by GoodTimes Entertainment in 1998. Rudolph was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. Although the story and song have not passed into public domain, they have established themselves as folklore (as evidenced by the development of local variations and parodies such as "Deadeye the Lonesome Cowboy," collected in the field by Simon J. Bronner and included in American Children's Folklore).
Johnny Marks decided to adapt May's story into a song, which through the years has been recorded by many artists (most notably by Gene Autry in 1949), and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.
The lyric "All of the other reindeer" can be misheard as the Mondegreen
"Olive, the other reindeer", and has given rise to another fictional character, Olive
. Similarly, the lyric "and they shouted out with glee" has evolved into a tongue-in-cheek misinterpretation itself, "and they shouted out, 'With glee!'" — prompting singers to shout "With glee!" in response to the line. (This can clearly be heard on at least one recording of a live performance of the song aired during the 2009 season.)
The song in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono
, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the Finland's folklore as Joulupukki's, the Finnish Santa's, lead reindeer. However, in Finland, Santa's reindeer do not fly. Mike Eheman made the newest version of the song with the actual flying reindeer so Santa can land on rooftops.
Apropos of nothing, the song can be sung
to the Hawaii Five-O
theme music.Trope Namer
for All of the Other Reindeer
The Rankin/Bass Christmas Special provides examples of:
- Abusive Parent: Some of the things Rudolph's father says and does are seriously close to the border of emotional abuse. Although considering the time when the creators were growing up and when the movie was released, it was probably wasn't intended to come off as abusive and was meant to be a typical father-son relationship. Men being hard on their sons was considered the norm, whether it was fair or not, and could still be considered reasonably well-adjusted. To be fair though, the narrator does state that Donner felt pretty bad about the way he treated Rudolph when Rudolph runs off.
- Adorkable: Rudolph acts this way.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Trope Namer.
- Ambiguously Gay: Some have thought this about Hermey.
- Animated Adaptation: The Rankin-Bass special, or course. However, many years before the famous stop-motion special, the Jam Handy animation studio made a short subject adaptation of the cartoon in 1944, directed by none other than Max Fleischer. The song was not written yet during its original run, but a 1948 re-release of it dubbed in the song over the opening.
- Award Bait Song: There's Always Tomorrow.
- Badass: Yukon Cornelius, and Hermey, too, for going out of their way in defeating the Bumble (although they didn't really defeat him).
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Abominable Snowmonster
- Christmas Elves
- Christmas Special
- Cursed with Awesome: In the eyes of some viewers — and offscreen, in-universe children — some of the misfit toys fall under this.
- Rudolph himself. He's considered a freak, but his nose has its uses.
- Deadpan Snarker: Queen Camilla, the Queen Hippo of Castaway Cove in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, sums it up in this exchange:
Hermie: [[As Rudolph is considering plastic surgery to get a normal nose]] But, what if there's another foggy Christmas Eve?
Camilla: Santa can't afford headlights?
- Depraved Dentist: Hermey is a rare heroic example. In the climax, he rips out the Bumble's teeth with pliers.
- Defeat Means Friendship: The Abominable Snowmonster.
- Disney Death: Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snowmonster both survive the fall, because Bumbles are bouncy.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Subverted: Yukon appears to fall off a cliff while wrestling the Abominable Snowmonster, but they both survive. See Disney Death.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Sam the Snowman. Apparently, his only raison d'etre besides telling the audience the story is to sing and perform on the guitar songs that are only tangentially related to the plot.
- Hand Wave: How do Rudolph and especially Hermey survive a night in the open at the North Pole before Yukon Cornelius finds them? "Somehow", that's how.
- Haven't You Seen X Before?: "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?"
- Heel-Face Turn: Boss Elf finally realizes that Hermey's dentistry dream really does have potential after hearing how he pulled the Abominable Snowmonster's teeth and lets Hermey open shop as dentist, with the first appointments set for as early as the week after Christmas. (Ironically, Boss Elf is the first one who needs an appointment, it seems.) The Abominable Snowmonster itself makes the turn after Yukon outwits it with Hermey's help.
- And Jerkass Santa? Chalk it up to Laser-Guided Karma hitting him in the form of the Big Snow (he was apparently more of an ass than usual that year, whereas in the previous year he came across as more reasonable when visiting Donner) and teaching him a rather valuable lesson.
- I Am What I Am: Rudolph's nose.
- Informed Flaw: One notorious point of contention is that the doll on the Island of Misfit Toys doesn't seem to have anything wrong with her. Word of God is that she's depressed.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Burl Ives' Sam, again.
- "I Want" Song: "Fame and Fortune" before it was changed back to "We're a Couple of Misfits" fits the bill, also the first half-minute of "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year".
- Jerkass: While All of the Other Reindeer naturally qualify, Santa Claus himself is actually quite abrasive in this edition, first tersely dismissing the elves' song, and storming out, and later, after Rudolph's nose is made public, he not only doesn't stop the other reindeer from ridiculing him, but actually treats Rudolph just as bad as they do. Clarice is an exception though. Not only does she not ridicule him, but she also compliments him, and even becomes his girlfriend in the end.
- He even tells Donner he should be ashamed for his son's uncontrollable, uncurable physical abnormality.
- Santa's remark to Donner might have meant he should be ashamed of hiding Rudolph's nose.
- They all have a Heel Realization upon hearing Rudolph and Hermey's story about their travels and realizing their abnormalities can be put to good use after all (even Donner admits he had always known Rudolph's red nose could be useful later on).
- The head elf is a hardass, and initially refuses to let Hermie be a dentist. He eventually relents and allows him to open a Dentist office after Christmas.
- Karma Houdini: All of the adults around Rudolph treat him in a way that borders emotional abuse. They never get called out or face any consequences, his Informed Deformity just turns out to be useful and they accept him.
- Large Ham: Yukon Cornelius
Hermie: But I thought you wanted gold.
Cornelius: I CHANGED MY MIND!
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Big Snow is hinted to have been caused by Santa's unusually jerkish behavior over the past year; earlier in the special he came across as a bit more reasonable, whereas the next year he's shown to be putting down the elves' premiere performance of "We Are Santa's Elves" (and the elves decide that Hermey is to blame for not being there to back the tenor section) and chewing out Donner for his part in deliberately hiding Rudolph's nose. That's right, the man who puts coal in the stockings of naughty children was being naughty himself that year, and just after he voided his Karma Houdini Warranty by coming to Rudolph for help when Donner goes missing, the Big Snow hit and almost caused Christmas to be cancelled. At the very least, it taught Santa a valuable lesson in humility and tolerance.
- Lonely Together: Rudolph and Hermey most certainly.
Hey, what do you say we both be independent together
, huh? Rudolph:
You wouldn't mind my... red nose? Hermey:
Not if you don't mind me being a dentist. Rudolph:
It's a deal!
- Living Toys: The Misfit Toys. Well, sort of. Apparently, the idea is, they are like this because they're neglected and unwanted, which is why they qualify for this Trope. (The special suggests that all toys are Level 2 on the Sliding Scale of Living Toys.)
- Matryoshka Object: One of the Misfit Toys is a clown nesting doll, whose smallest doll contains a wind-up mouse.
- Mean Boss: Hermey's unnamed Boss Elf, although he warms up at the end.
- Money Song: Burl Ives' song "Silver and Gold" sorta straddles the line.
- Mrs. Claus: Who admonished Santa for not eating enough, and that kids wouldn't want a skinny Santa.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Donner deeply regrets how he treated Rudolph after his son runs away.
- Narrator: Sam the Snowman.
- No Indoor Voice: Yukon Cornelius. "LAAAAAAAAAAAND HOOOOOOOOOO!"
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Abominable Snow Monster is a terrifying presence in the first half of the special when he exists only as a frightening roar while a giant pair of legs go striding by, and the scene becomes very dark. Once we see the whole creature, he's not that scary any more.
- Older Than They Look: It's implied that Santa's elves are this.
- Older Than They Think: In-universe, with the story of Nestor the donkey.
- Our Elves Are Different: Hermey very literally is!
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: The stuttering, sinking toy boat on the Island of Misfit Toys. "Or a b-b-b-boat that can't sta-sta-a, float!"
- Product Placement: The special was originally commissioned and sponsored by GE, which was selling new smaller Christmas Tree lights — that looked very much like Rudolph's nose....
- Prospector: Yukon Cornelius.
- Reality Ensues: Somewhat. Rudolph was born with a special ability. How did the other reindeer initially react? By laughing at him because he was different.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: King Moonracer. Though he only permits toys to be permanent residents of the Island of Misfit Toys (or, as Yukon Cornelius puts it, "Even among misfits, you're misfits!"), he does allow the protagonists to stay the night and requests that when they get back to Christmas Town, they ask Santa to come pick up the toys and search for a home for each of them.
- Re Cut: More times than some might expect for a 50-minute TV movie.
- The original 1964 broadcast differs from later versions through Rudolph's and Hermy's performance of "We're a Couple of Misfits," Donner expressing pride in his son guiding Santa's sleigh, Yukon Cornelius striking peppermint, and elves dropping presents from the sleigh during the end credits.
- Beginning in 1965, "We're a Couple of Misfits" was replaced with "Fame and Fortune," and "We Are Santa's Elves" lost an instrumental scene with physical humor, to make room for commercials. Also, at the request of viewers, a new scene featured Santa collecting the Misfit Toys from the island and a new credits sequence showed elves delivering them to unseen households. As a result, Donner and Yukon Cornelius's witnessing Santa's flight was removed. This is the same version sold on VHS.
- Platypus Comix's review of a 1979 broadcast note reveals a version which cuts all of "We Are Santa's Elves," as well as a brief moment when Donner asks his wife to Stay in the Kitchen. (The author claims every other version he's seen contains the latter moment, suggesting it was reinstated during the mid-1980s.)
- In 1998, CBS came to the rescue and restored "We're a Couple of Misfits" and "We Are Santa's Elves" to the special, but still included the scenes of the Misfit Toys becoming presents. Due to the retaining of those scenes, the special still does not include the original ending or end credits sequence.
- Beginning in 2005, Rudolph got screwed by CBS when they decided to make room for commercials by cutting the "We Are Santa's Elves" instrumental and Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' scenes of the ending again, and also syncing a shortened "We're a Couple of Misfits" to the animation of "Fame and Fortune." They also time-compress the show slightly.
- Most DVDs, and also the Blu-Ray, feature the cut that most closely matches the original broadcast. It includes "We're a Couple of Misfits" and the uncut "We Are Santa's Elves," and also places Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' final scenes right before the scenes of the Misfit Toys becoming presents. However, it does not include the original end credits sequence, and DVDs produced from 2005-2006 are inexplicably missing Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' final scenes.
- Some airings cut out "There's Always Tomorrow".
- Santa Claus: Probably as assholish a depiction as you can get without breaching the guidelines of children's programming.
- Saving Christmas: Santa thinks they might have to cancel Christmas due to the fog — that is, before he sees Rudolph's nose.
- Sneaky Departure: Rudolph feels he's endangering the others because his nose attracts the Abominable Snowmonster, so he leaves them in the middle of the night.
- Society Marches On: In 1964, the squirt gun from the Island of Misfit Toys was a misfit because it squirted jelly rather than water. Now it's a misfit because it's a toy gun that looks like a real gun, which is no longer legal or acceptable.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Hermey, Hermie, or Herbie?
- Stay in the Kitchen: When Donner's wife asks if she can help look for Rudolph, he responds, "No. This is man's work." Joined by Clarice, she follows up, though, and it gets worse for both of them when they get captured by the Abominable Snowmonster. However, this is more of a subversion, as Donner feels genuinely responsible for his son running away, so he believes he should be the one to look for him.
- Stop Motion: A classic example.
- Tap on the Head: Yukon Cornelius does this to the Abominable Snowman to allow Hermey to extract all his teeth.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Clarice. Red bow and huge eyelashes!
- Through a Face Full of Fur: Rudolph blushes after Clarice compliments him.
- Titled After the Song: Most Rankin/Bass Christmas shows would fall under this trope, though it's sort of justified in how they're usually retellings of the song's lyrics.
- Under The Mistletoe: Clarice catches Rudolph under it during "Holly Jolly Christmas" towards the end.
- Waxing Lyrical: Several times.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Rudolph and his father's relationship can be summed up this way.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the original 1964 presentation of the special, the Misfit Toys are never seen again after Rudolph leaves their island. Viewer complaints about this led to the first Re Cut; see above.
- Woodland Creatures: Used in "There's Always Tomorrow".
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: A squirrel chucks a gold nugget away after discovering it's inedible.
The GoodTimes Entertainment film provides examples of: