Follow TV Tropes


Characters / A Christmas Carol

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    Humans in the "Christmas Present" era 

Ebenezer Scrooge

  • 0% Approval Rating: It's established from the very beginning of the story that Scrooge is universally despised by everyone in London, to the extent that in his Bad Future, not one person mourns his death or has anything nice to say about him. Indeed, one businessman remarks "Old Scratch has got his own at last". "Old Scratch" is a euphemism for the Devil — he is unashamedly saying that he's sure Scrooge has gone down to Hell.
  • Abusive Parents: Well, abusive uncle to his nephew Fred. In his Bad Future, it's implied that Fred didn't mourn him when he diednote . Sadly it is implied that he became exactly like his neglectful and cruel father who sent him on a boarding school to get rid of him even when everyone else was one vacation.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Took his nephew's jokes about him at his Christmas party surprisingly well.
  • Bad Boss: Towards all of his employees, especially Cratchit. Until the end, of course.
  • Break the Haughty: The whole story does this to him.
  • Can't Believe I Said That: A non-comedic version. Early on, he says that the poor should just die off. When the Ghost of Christmas Present repeats this statement to him, after showing Scrooge how the Cratchits are spending Christmas, he's utterly mortified.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Part of the reason he hates Christmas so much.
  • Dying Alone: The threat of this is what ultimately leads him to change his ways.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He never wanted Tiny Tim to die, and is disgusted at Old Joe's behavior even before he learns that it's his corpse the guy was pawning.
    • Although he complains bitterly at having to pay Cratchit for his Christmas holiday, Scrooge makes no attempt to refuse either the day off or the money, even though he expects Bob to be there all the earlier the next day for the sake of his unearned half a crown.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Seeing how many of Scrooge's unpleasant memories happened at Christmas time, as shown in the Christmas Past sequence, it's little wonder he's so down on the holiday.
    • It's implied he spurns his nephew because the lad reminds him of his dead sister.
  • The Gadfly: He has a moment of this near the end of the story, when he yells at Bob Cratchit for being late, only to segue into offering him a raise and wishing him a merry Christmas.
  • Greed: One of his fatal flaws.
  • Grumpy Old Man: He has turned into this due to his Freudian Excuse and Greed.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The entire story is meant to give him one.
  • Jerkass Realization: Is horrified when the Ghost of Christmas Present throws his callous comments about the poor back in his face.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: What his character ultimately boils down to. There is almost no Jerkiness to him after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Kick the Dog: Frequently does this, especially to Cratchit.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: In some adaptations this is half the reason why he is so cold to his nephew Fred. The other half is because Fred so closely resembles Fan in looks and personality. Some adaptations also give this as the reason why his own father neglected him.
  • My Greatest Failure: Giving up Belle, the only woman he truly loved, for his love of money.

Bob Cratchit

  • Good Parents: He adores his children and the feeling is mutual.
  • Happily Married: Loves his wife.
  • Nice Guy: A kind, caring family man. He doesn't even hold anything against his boss!

Tiny Tim

  • Adult Fear: A little boy with an illness that has not only crippled him, but is slowly killing him. In the future where Scrooge never redeemed himself, poor Tim doesn't get the medical help he needs and dies very young.
  • Ill Boy: One of the most well known examples.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: His illness is never explained, though. One theory is polio, due to having to use a crutch to walk; other popular theories are tuberculosis, rickets, or renal tubular acidosis.
  • Nice Guy: Tiny Tim is an incredibly sweet, kind-hearted, grateful, and even selfless little boy.

Nephew Fred

  • Happily Married: Seems to be a theme with the folks in Scrooge's life.
  • Nice Guy: Though he's not against taking a jab at his uncle when he's not around to scold him for it. Fortunately, the trip with the Present Ghost shows that Scrooge has a good sense of humor. Fred is otherwise a kind and charismatic man who absolutely loves Christmas and everything about it.
  • Perpetual Smiler: People are shocked to learn that such a cheerful guy is Scrooge's nephew.

Portly Gentlemen

  • Good Samaritan: Their main character trait is being charitable gentlemen.
  • Those Two Guys: There's two of them and they only partially affect the plot.

Mrs. Dilber

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the Mr. Magoo version, right down to leading Old Joe, the Undertaker and the Laundress in a hilarious Villain Song.
  • Demoted to Extra: In most adaptations, she's almost certain to show up in the Christmas Future scenes, but they'll rarely mention that she's Scrooge's housekeeper.
  • No Sympathy: A rare sympathetic example. In Scrooge's Bad Future, she shows no remorse in pawning her boss's belongings after he dies. Given what Scrooge was like before his redemption, can you really blame her?
  • Servile Snarker: Very frequently portrayed as one for Scrooge.

    The Ghosts/Spirits 

Jacob Marley

  • And I Must Scream: Forced to carry the burden of his greed for all of eternity and watch all the suffering that he benefited from in life and can never help now.
  • Body Horror: In some versions of the story, Marley's ghost unhinges his jaw when he screams.
  • Chained by Fashion: He's forced to carry the chains of his greed forever.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Although he's already dead, he's forced to wear heavy chains and wander the Earth, forever haunted by the mistakes he made in his life.
  • Greed: Like Scrooge, this was his fatal flaw. Thanks to it, he's forced to endure eternal punishment and never be able to pass on. His visit is his attempt to save Scrooge from the same fate.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: His punishment was bad enough for him to feel this way about his life.
  • Posthumous Character: The novel begins with the narrator taking pains to make it clear to the reader that Marley is indisputably dead.
    "This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate."

Ghost of Christmas Past

  • Alien Geometries: Its body is comprised of this trope.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Hence why it's referred to as an "it". Adaptations usually avert this, usually by portraying it as a woman or sometimes a little girl, but there are others that keep the trope in—the Mr. Magoo version (which also has Past appear after Present for some reason) is a good example, where the ghost is portrayed as a young child with long hair and a tunic, but there's no indication as to whether they're male or female.
  • Creepy Child: In some adaptations, it's portrayed as a ghostly child. It's not always creepy, but more often than not it is.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Embodies Scrooge's.
  • The Faceless: Its description was so incredibly bizarre that Dickens's illustrator didn't even try to draw it.
  • Humanoid Abomination: It's the most...unusual of the three spirits with its form is constantly flickering in and out of view and its visage constantly changing and shifting as it does so. Its entire body seems to operate on Alien Geometries.
  • Light 'em Up: Light is a major theme with this ghost, who actually has a vibrant beam of light emitting from its head.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Some adaptations make the Past Ghost an angelic young woman.
  • Mystical White Hair: It has long, white hair and is a ghost that embodies Scrooge's past.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: It's a ghostly creature whose body comprises of Alien Geometries and whose gender is impossible to determine.
  • Pensieve Flashback: It takes Scrooge and presumably others back to their younger days and gets them to reflect on who they were. Lampshaded when Scrooge finally gets fed up with it when he gets to the more painful memories.
    "I told you, these are the shadows of things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me."
  • The Smurfette Principle: In some adaptations, the Past Ghost is the only woman among the spirits.

Ghost of Christmas Present

  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's the friendliest of the ghosts, but he's also the one who throws Scrooge's unkind words back at him, and exposes him to Ignorance and Want, which is what really begins to rattle Scrooge.
  • Big Eater: Implied with the massive amount of food he's surrounded by when Scrooge first meets him.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: A huge man with a high energy level.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He is "a large absentminded spirit".
  • Fiery Redhead: Has red hair and is among the most festive characters one can imagine.
  • The Hyena: Frequently lets out a hearty laugh. The Muppets adaptation has him go "Ho, ho, ho!" to highlight his already-strong resemblance to another Christmastime character.
  • Killed Off for Real: As the ghost of the present, he only lives as long as the present lasts.
  • Large Ham: A very energetic and loud individual.
  • Nice Guy: A friendly, jovial individual who expresses saintlike patience with Scrooge.
  • Sad Clown: Was easily the most jovial and personable of the spirits, but he's seen some dark stuff.

Ignorance and Want

  • Adapted Out: Frequently, presumably because they're considered "too scary". This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that they were valuable to Scrooge's redemption.
  • Creepy Child: Both of them are silent, wraithlike creatures that cling to the Ghost of Christmas Present.
  • Creepy Twins: Possibly, but it's never elaborated on. Many adaptations that include them seem to invoke this idea by having them look similar to each other, though.
  • Enfant Terrible: Both of them, but Ignorance especially.
  • Fatal Flaw: They each represent the horrible things that can come from ignorance and deprivation.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Present states that they were made by mankind's own selfishness and ignorance.
  • Humans Are Flawed: "Spirit, are they yours?" "They are man's!"
  • Perpetual Poverty: What Want represents. Ignorance represents the unwillingness of others to acknowledge this.

Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

  • Adaptational Species Change: Of sorts—in one version, it's depicted as a mynah bird.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Happens on occasion, due to it being the most menacing of the spirits. Both of the Disney versions are probably the best examples, wherein the spirit straight up tosses Ebeneezer into Hell and in one version laughs mockingly at him as he desperately tries to scramble back up.
  • Black Cloak: In just about every adaptation, it is depicted as wearing a dark cloak.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Terrifying yes, but it exists to teach Scrooge a valuable lesson.
  • The Faceless: Its face is always obscured by its hood, though Scrooge is described as having the unsettling feeling that a pair of eyes are watching him from beneath the hood, suggesting that it does have a face and he just can't see it.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Its sole means of communicating since it never speaks, it just balefully points to whatever it wants Scrooge to see.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Its job is to make Scrooge to realize the error of his ways, but it decidedly does NOT pull its punches doing so.
  • The Grim Reaper: What it looks like. In some versions, this is what it reveals itself to be just before it sends Scrooge plummeting into hell.
  • In the Hood: Has a hood that always covers its face.
  • Living Shadow: In the Zemeckis version, it appears as Scrooge's shadow, symbolizing the fact that it, like the rest of the spirits, is a part of Scrooge himself.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Its very existence is a rather ingenious allegory for how frightening and unknown the future truly is—it has no visible face, never speaks, is shrouded in darkness wherever it goes and most terrifyingly never seems to do anything besides lead Scrooge along and point passively at what he's meant to see.
  • Not So Stoic: It's mostly detached and emotionless while dealing with Scrooge, but its hand is noted to start trembling when he starts begging it to tell him if his future can be changed.
  • Scare 'em Straight: Its purpose is to encourage change with the people it interacts with by showing them who and what their actions could affect in the future.
  • The Silent Bob: It never speaks, but gets its point across regardless.
  • The Speechless: It never talks and may not even be able to talk.

    Humans in the "Christmas Past" era 


  • Cool Big Sis: Scrooge's kind sister. Her death very badly affected him. Averted though since multiple versionsnote  have Fan as much younger.
  • Death by Childbirth: The book never says how she died, but several adaptations reveal that she died after giving birth to Fred. In these adaptations, this is why Scrooge dislikes his nephew.
  • Nice Girl: Fan was a kind-hearted and sweet person.

Mr. Fezziwig

  • Benevolent Boss: To Scrooge and Dick Wilkins, his two apprentices. Scrooge admits he couldn't have worked for a kinder man.
  • Big Fun: And how! He could give Fred's Christmas spirit a run for his money.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: A big guy with a huge amount of energy.
  • Cool Old Guy: Scrooge certainly thought so.
  • Death by Origin Story: Passed away sometime after Scrooge left his service. Considering the fact that Scrooge is an old man it would be a bit unnatural if he didn't.
  • Nice Guy: A jovial, friendly, generous man. Scrooge emphasises to the Spirit that it's not even the money Fezziwig spends on the party so much as the way his good humour makes his employees' lives jollier in many ways.


  • Ascended Extra: Appears in a more prominent role in the 2001 version and gets a backstory (her father was a coachman who drank, and Scrooge met her because she was friends with Fan).
  • Composite Character: In the 2001 version, in which Belle’s role is extended, she is combined with one of the people (unnamed in the book) whom the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows to rejoice at having more time to pay off their debt. Unlike the unnamed woman, though, Belle isn’t willing to rejoice: Canon Foreigner Dr. Lambert tries to get her to dance, but she runs away in tears.
  • Love Interest: Was this for Scrooge. It didn't last because of his greed.
  • Nice Girl: Belle was a beautiful, kind, fair, and modest woman. In an age when ending an engagement was very serious business, she simply accepts that she cannot now make Scrooge happy and releases him from his obligation without disgrace.
  • Related in the Adaptation: While there is no mention of Belle’s family in the book, in some adaptations, such as the 1971 version, she is Fezziwig’s daughter.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: In most adaptations, nothing is ever revealed about her present or future. She just walks out of Scrooge's life and is never seen or heard of ever again. In the original story, the Ghost of Christmas Past shows she is now happily married to someone else, but she still doesn't appear after that.

    Humans in the "Christmas Yet to Come" era 

Old Joe

  • Ascended Extra: Appears in the present time as well in the 2001 adaptation.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The most unambiguously evil character in the story — although still pretty small beer next to the likes of Fagin or Bill Sykes, for a start.
  • Evil Counterpart: Could be seen as "Scrooge but WORSE", being a greedy, selfish old man who will do anything for a profit. Only less harmful in that, being far poorer, he has less potential to actively ruin people's lives, but he is willing to aid and abet petty theft, if no worse.
  • Evil Laugh: He and his cronies love it in the 2001 adaptation.
  • Greed: Pawns Scrooge's belongings after he dies.
  • Karma Houdini: Doesn't get a punishment in most versions; averted in the 2001 version where Scrooge (who employs him) fires him.

Example of: