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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.
  • 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.
    • 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
    Cornelius: SILVEEERRR!
    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.
    Hermey: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    • Elves have this too.
  • 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:

  • American Accents: Slyly has a bizarre way of speaking, perhaps intended to be an exaggerated New York accent.
  • Award Bait Song: Show Me The Light. In the film it was performed by the composer and his wife. During the credits.... Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Stormella operates under this logic. Until Rudolph uses a "wish" for her to be nice.
  • Batman Gambit: Arrow of all people pulls off one. During a race, Arrow riles Rudolph up by pretending that Zoey only likes Rudolph because she feels sorry for him. Rudolph is aware that it's a lie, but the mere fact that Arrow would badmouth Zoey in that manner makes him so mad that his nose glows and blinds Arrow, causing Arrow to crash and causing Rudolph to win the race...which is considered cheating, so Arrow ends up winning by default since Rudolph is disqualified.
  • Christmas Elves: Obviously.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: Arrow.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The character's name is Slyly. It doesn't get more blatant than that.
  • Exposition Fairy: A literal example with four fairies who sing about the story. They also contribute to the plot; they're the ones who finally inform Rudolph what his nose can really do.
  • Expy: Zoey to Clarice and Arrow to Fireball. Arrow only looks like Fireball, and appears to be based on Fireball's attitude on Rudolph after he learned about his nose. Zoey was actually going to be called Clarice but couldn't due to copyright reasons.
  • Gentle Giant: Leonard the polar bear.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Sort of. After Rudolph saves Stormella from falling to her death, she is bound by the Rules of the North Pole to grant Rudolph a wish, anything he wants. The Friend or Idol decision part comes into play when Stormella has a suggestion of her own: Rudolph could wish for a normal nose, what he's always wanted! Rudolph insists that his wish is: "I want you to be nice."
  • Heroic Albino: Slyly the fox is this mixed with Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • An Ice Person: Stormella, who even has the power to create a massive snowstorm.
  • I Owe You My Life: Stormella eventually owes Rudolph her life after Rudolph saves her from falling off a cliff to her death. And according to the Rules of the North Pole, that means Stormella owes Rudolph a "wish". Rudolph wishes for Stormella to be nice.
  • Jerkass: Arrow.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the Rankin/Bass special. Santa and Rudolph's parents, while still troubled by his nose, are much more accepting towards him. Most of the movie is Sweet Dreams Fuel, especially when one compares it to the first.
    • Reasonable Authority Figure: Actually, the film seems to make a point of having nearly everyone in a powerful position be either this or sympathetically motivated. Let's go down the list:
    • Santa Claus is a responsible, caring boss to his workers. There's a point in the film's beginning where Rudolph is running away from school, in tears because (almost) every child there was bullying him. Santa finds him- this lonely colt who he has no knowledge of- and takes the time to reassure Rudolph, giving him a encouraging pep talk about how every deer and elf is welcome in his village. Later on, when his elves are being bullied by Stormella, he refuses to allow the sorceress to 'punish' (i.e, kill them) any of them, defiantly protecting his employees. (He does demote Boone and Doggle after learning of their crime, but that's understandable given the circumstances.) And in the film's climax, when Rudolph and Zoey's parents realise that their children are missing, he immediately sends out a search party.
    • Rudolph's parents are loving and supportive, and nearly every scene they have is a heartwarming moment.
    • The unnamed referee at the Reindeer Games has good reasons for disqualifying Rudolph from the race he won. The usage of Rudolph's light did cause an accident, and this accident could well have had serious consequences. That Rudolph didn't mean to create it is irrelevant; the other racers could have been badly hurt.
      • Which doesn't explain why he didn't disqualify Arrow for crashing into the other racers at the beginning and causing one elf to have to be carried away on a stretcher. However, since the referee was standing near the finish line, this can easily be justified by the referee simply not having seen Arrow's behavior since he did it at the start of the race.
  • The Movie: Inverted. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie is a re-imagining of the song. The sequel, however, is an unofficial sequel to the famous Christmas special.
  • The Ladys Favor: Before the Reindeer Games begin, Zoey gives Rudolph her heart-shaped locket to wear while racing in them. Unfortunately, she's still dating Arrow at this point, and Arrow sees it while competing against Rudolph and gets pissed. After Rudolph leaves the village, the locket is one of the few things he takes with him.
    Slyly: Who gave that to you?
    Rudolph: Somebody special...I don't want to talk about it.
    Slyly: I don't blame ya, kid. Love is for suckers.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Let's face it, Eric Idle can't hold onto a Brooklyn accent long enough.
  • Running Gag: A strange one, in which Slyly keeps stealing Rudolph's teddy bear to snuggle with while he sleeps. Rudolph just gives it to him for Christmas at the end.
  • Save the Villain: Rudolph saves Stormella near the end of the film.
  • Speech Impediment: Leonard tends to stutter.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Rudolph's voice is noticeably more adult (and male) in "Show Me the Light".
  • Theme Naming: Boone and Doggle.
  • Those Two Guys: Boone and Doggle the elves.
  • Under The Mistletoe: Happens in this adaption also between Rudolph and Zoey, though much earlier in the film.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Boone and Doggle accidentally set off most of the problems in the movie when they accidentally wreck Stormella's ice garden. This prompts her to show up demanding that the two be handed over to her for "justice"; when Santa Claus refuses to give them up, Stormella tries to wreck Christmas as revenge.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Reflected in this adaptation from the Rankin/Bass special. There's also a subversion: Rudolph overhears his father say "That nose of his was an accident", and in response, he runs away. The subversion is that Rudolph heard that sentence out of context: his father was standing up for him to the referee, contesting the decision to disqualify Rudolph for blinding Arrow, since the nose problem isn't Rudolph's fault.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Stormella

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alternative title(s): Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
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