The movie's protagonist, a young reindeer whose glowing red nose makes him the subject of ridicule. Despite this, he dreams of becoming one of Santa's Flyers.
- All of the Other Reindeer: As per tradition, Rudolph is basically an outcast among his peers for much of his early life because the other reindeer think he's a freak of nature.
- Character Development: Rudolph grows up to have extremely poor self-esteem as a result of being bullied and ostracized ever since he was a fawn. Throughout the film, he feels tormented by how different he is from other reindeer, but during the last act, he finally starts to gain confidence and value the strength his glowing red nose has as a beacon of light.
- Cursed With Awesome: Rudolph's red nose makes it extremely difficult for him to have a normal social life or gain respect from his peers, but as he gradually discovers throughout the movie, it's also incredible useful if he ever wants to shine a light in the dark and help out his friends.
- Heroic BSoD: After getting the (mistaken) idea that his dad is ashamed of him, Rudolph runs away from home. Into miles and miles of arctic wilderness.
- Hero Worship: His dad is Blitzen, so naturally Rudolph admires the Flyers a great deal.
- Homeschooled Kids: Implied. After his first day at school, in which everyone in his class (except for Zoey and their teacher) publicly mocks him, he runs out sobbing and it's never shown if he returned. Every interaction with his peers after that is during public festivals or sporting events.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Despite his parents' best efforts to help him and give him a normal upbringing, Rudolph has a good amount of self-loathing seeded inside of him because of all the teasing and mockery he's been on the receiving end of growing up. For much of the movie, Rudolph wants nothing more than to just be a regular buck with a normal life, but he steadily grows out of this mindset as he starts to value his own strengths more and treasure the bonds he has with the people who truly care about him - to the point where he passes up a chance to make that wish for normality come true in favor of making sure Stormella is no longer a threat to the citizens of the North Pole.
- Inexplicably Awesome: It's never explained why his nose glows, though the fairies say there have been others like him.
- Informed Deformity: Like in the Rankin/Bass special, the insane level of mockery and shunning Rudolph gets - as a child - simply for having a glowing red nose is pretty disproportionate, to say the least.
- Karmic Jackpot: After being bullied and ostracized by other reindeer ever since he was a kid, Rudolph goes on to be personally recruited by Santa Claus himself to save Christmas for all the kids around the globe, makes the North Pole a safer place for everyone by wishing for Stormella to have a HeelFace Turn, has a Relationship Upgrade with the girl of his dreams, and becomes famous around the North Pole for his heroic deeds.
- Nice Guy: Despite the issues with self-loathing that he struggles with, Rudolph is generally a kind, friendly, selfless and polite person who will put his own life at risk to rescue his friends, Save the Villain despite the danger she just put him and his friends in, and pass up a one-in-a-lifetime chance to finally be a normal buck in favor of making the North Pole a safer place for everyone around.
- Power Incontinence: During times of high emotion, his light brightens. He can't even turn it off at will, initially.
- Save the Villain: In a testament to Rudolph's kind heart, he chooses to save Stormella's life during the climax, despite the fact that she just threatened to freeze him and all his friends only a minute before.
- Situational Sociability: Away from the tight-knit society of the North Pole, he is much more willing to open up. This is because most Pole inhabitants are either part of Rudolph's problems or people he desperately wants to impress.
- Took a Level in Badass: Since the situation calls for it, Rudolph steadily becomes more courageous, heroic and assertive during the latter half of the movie, firing back directly at his bully Arrow, confronting Stormella in her lair to save Zoey, and braving the witch's storm with the rest of Santa's team to save Christmas.
- Tuft of Head Fur: He has a huge tuft of fur that makes him look adorkable and youthful.
- Vocal Dissonance: Rudolph's singing voice is a lot deeper and more mature than his speaking voice, due to Rudolph having two different voice actors as a teenager.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Reflected in this adaptation from the Rankin/Bass special - Rudolph wants to live up to his father's heroic legacy as a member of Santa's sleigh team and make his dad proud him - with a spin on it. Rudolph generally has a better relationship with Blitzen in this film than his 1960's counterpart had with Donner in the Rankin/Bass special. After the Reindeer Games, Rudolph overhears his father say "That nose of his was an accident", and in response, he runs away. However, he 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. By the climax of the film, Rudolph discovers he never needed to make his father proud of him or gain his approval because Blitzen already had plenty of pride in his son.
Rudolph's mother and father.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Blitzen. Sort of. In the Rankin-Bass special, Rudolph's father was Donner not Blitzen, and Donner insisted that Rudolph cover up his nose so Santa wouldn't object to him. But in this movie, Blitzen is Rudolph's father and Donner his uncle, and Blitzen refuses to be ashamed of his son even threatening to fight the next buck who makes fun of Rudolph's nose.
- Good Parents: Mitzi is fiercely proud of Rudolph and doesn't care about his nose. Blitzen is initially hesitant, but after Mitzi scolds him, "Embarrassed by your own son?", Blitzen also becomes fiercely proud of Rudolph, even willing to argue with the referee of the sleigh race on Rudolph's behalf.
- Happily Married: Mitzi and Blitzen may argue, but they clearly love and respect each other.
- Mama Bear: When Blitzen's first impulse is to hide his newborn son (in particular Rudolph's red nose) from some other stags, Mitzi immediately shuts that down by angrily hissing "Are you embarrassed by your own son?!" in his ear, making it clear that she's perfectly willing to chew out her mate if it means protecting her little boy from being hurt.
- Morality Pet: Mitzi convinces Blitzen to not worry so much about what his friends will think of Rudolph.
- Papa Wolf: While he never does, Blitzen threatens to lock antlers with the next buck who makes a crack about Rudolph's nose.
- So Proud of You: Blitzen tells Rudolph this after he becomes a Flyer.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Unfortunately, Blitzen standing up to the referee backfires due to a poor wording choice: he tells the referee, "that nose of his was an accident". He meant that Rudolph couldn't control when his nose glows so Rudolph had no actual intention of blinding Arrow, but when Rudolph overhears this, he thinks it means his father thinks he's an accident, so Rudolph runs away.
Rudolph's love interest. Her disastrous attempt to find him and subsequent imprisonment by Stormella form the movie's dramatic climax.
- Determinator: After searching miles of empty snow, she trespasses on Stormella's property just because Rudolph might be there.
- Expy: Of Clarice from the Rankin/Bass Christmas Special. She was supposed to be Clarice, but the rights couldn't be given.
- Flat Character: It can be argued that she's mainly around to serve as Rudolph's kindhearted love interest who happens to be the only reindeer outside of his parents that doesn't make fun of him.
- It's All My Fault: She chooses to cross Stormella's bridge to find Rudolph, despite knowing the risks. When Stormella captures her and uses her as an opportunity to unleash her curse onto the North Pole, Zoe blames herself several times.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Zoey's plan to find Rudolph after he runs off alone into the wilderness amounts to doing basically the same thing as he did. It doesn't work out.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Zoey breaks up with Arrow by explaining that Rudolph actually has the qualities necessary to be a flyer, unlike Arrow, and Arrow is shallow on top of that if he can't see Rudolph's positive qualities just because Rudolph has a red nose.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Single doe in this case, but Zoey falls in love with Rudolph because of Rudolph's positive qualities.
- Token Good Teammate: She basically exists to show that not all the reindeer Rudolph's age are bullies.
- What Does She See in Him?: In Arrow. He eventually goes too far, so she breaks up with him.
A reindeer Rudolph's age who bullies him because of his red nose. The other reindeer make fun of Rudolph as well, but Arrow is Rudolph's primary antagonist until Stormella's plan goes into motion. He is the son of Cupid, making him Rudolph's cousin.
- Batman Gambit: During the sleigh race, Arrow tells Rudolph a lie about Zoey, that Zoey only likes Rudolph because she feels sorry for him. Rudolph knows this isn't true, but Arrow talking about Zoey that way causes Rudolph's nose to glow in anger and blind Arrow, resulting in Rudolph's disqualification and Arrow winning by default.
- The Bully: Designated to be Rudolph's main tormenter and most open critic; he's quick to mock Rudolph's nose and is jealously possessive over Zoey.
- Expy: Possibly one for Fireball, a yearling buck from the Rankin-Bass special who was Rudolph's friend-turned-bully after he learns about his nose.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Arrow is jealous of Rudolph because despite Arrow and Zoey dating, Zoey is developing feelings for Rudolph. As a child he interrupts a mistletoe-kiss between Zoey and Rudolph, and when they're older he attempts to remove the competition by getting Rudolph disqualified. But this just results in Zoey breaking up with him instead.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He successfully gets Rudolph removed from the sleigh competition, but because Zoey saw the underhanded way he did it, Zoey breaks up with him. Also, while the referee didn't see that Rudolph's nose only glowed due to Arrow's provocation, Santa himself did, and of course Santa never does pick Arrow to be on his team.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He bullies Rudolph for the majority of the film, but in the end he reforms and becomes Rudolph's friend and sings the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" song along with the other villagers (perhaps for feeling guilty for cheating in the Sleigh Race).
- Karma Houdini: A minor example; the referee never finds out that Rudolph's nose only blinded Arrow because Arrow provoked him, so Arrow gets away with it and is declared the winner. However, Arrow does face other consequences: his then-girlfriend Zoey breaks up with him over it, and ultimately he never does get to be on Santa Claus's sleigh team.
- What Does She See in Him?: On both the receiving and giving end. On the receiving end, the movie never makes it clear why Arrow and Zoey are dating to begin with. On the giving end, Arrow can't understand how Zoey could possibly like Rudolph, because after all, "he has a red nose!" Zoey's response is to call Arrow "shallow" and refuse to be his doe-friend anymore.
Santa and his elves
The Big Man himself! The one who delivers all the presents on Christmas Eve to the good little boys and girls of the world.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: In the Rankin-Bass Special, Santa was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold towards Rudolph, making mean comments toward his nose and not doing anything to stop the bullying but eventually apologizing to Rudolph. Here Santa is a good man who wraps a scarf around Rudolph to warm him and comforts him when Rudolph is hurt from his classmates' bullying.
- Benevolent Boss: He protects Boon and Doggle from Stormella's wrath, and although he demotes them for destroying her ice garden, he gives them a second chance.
- Santa Claus: Obviously
A pair of elves who deliver mail. They accidentally destroy Stormella's garden in a snowmobile accident.
- Butterfly of Doom: In response to their "vandalism", Stormella forbids anyone from going on her property, which leads to Zoey getting imprisoned, which leads to the heroes confronting Stormella, which means that Christmas is almost cancelled (because none of the reindeer at the Pole can navigate the blizzard surrounding it). Boon and Doggle knew the consequences of their actions would be bad, just not how bad.
- Nice Guy: After they lose a race, Doggle apologizes to Rudolph even though the loss wasn't his fault. He just wants to make Rudolph feel better.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After crashing their snowmobile into Stormella's garden, they flee. This makes them even look more suspicious to her.
- Those Two Guys: They're more or less interchangeable and mostly exist to deliver exposition.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Boon and Doggle accidentally wreck Stormella's ice garden, and then flee the scene. Then, when Santa Claus won't allow Stormella to punish them (because Stormella strongly implied the punishment would be lethal), Stormella responds by plotting to ruin Christmas with a huge storm. So Santa was almost unable to make his sleigh deliveries all because Boon and Doggle weren't careful with their snowmobile.
An ice queen who controls the only way over Grand Chasm. She closes her bridge to the public and threatens to create a blizzard should anyone cross it in retaliation of Santa refusing to turn over Boon and Doggle into her custody for destroying her ice garden.
- Affably Evil: She straddles between this and Faux Affably Evil. She loves her penguin butler and her wolves, and despite her hatred of Santa, was willing to let him and his helpers use her bridge. It was only after the elves destroyed her ice sculpture garden that she became openly hostile to them. She also has enough honor to abide by the code of the North Pole and grant Rudolph a wish for saving her.
- Benevolent Boss: To Ridley, her penguin butler. Not once is she ever cruel or abusive towards him (at most she told Ridley to stop laughing and keep driving, but even then, it was tame and Ridley did not take offense)and even shares her plans with him. After turning herself nice, she calls Ridley cute and covers his face in kisses. On Christmas Day, she wishes him Merry Christmas and hugs him.
- Card-Carrying Villain: She takes being called an evil old witch as a compliment.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Rudolph wishes that Stormella was nice. Since according to North Pole rules, she has to grant him a wish for saving her life, Stormella magically makes herself nice. She's still dressed in white and can create ice, but her personality is much nicer.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She loves her wolves.
- Even Evil Has Standards: She hates Santa, threatens to kill two elves for destroying her ice sculptures, creates a storm to bury the North Pole just because someone crossed her bridge, and imprisons Zoey, Rudolph, and Leonard for corssing her bridge, but she immediately lets Rudolph and his friends go for saving her life. She even grants Rudolph a wish for his deed according to the rules of the North Pole.
- Fat Bitch: She's rather portly, and she's the villain. After her HeelFace Brainwashing, she becomes more of an overweight but merry and kind woman.
- Faux Affably Evil: While she does have traits of being genuinely Affably Evil, she also has traits of this. She is quite mean to her captives, and makes sure to remind Zoey that her decision to cause a snowstorm that threatens the North Pole is all Zoey's fault.
- The Good Queen: Prior to her HeelFace Brainwashing, she was only this to her own subjects and no one else. Afterwards, she's this to everyone.
- HeelFace Brainwashing: Inflicts this on herself after Rudolph wishes she would be nicer.
- Ice Queen: Both literally and metaphorically. She is a queen dressed in white who can summon snowstorms and create ice with her wand, and her heart is as cold and black as black ice who sings her hatred of Santa Claus and wants to kill Boon and Doggle for destroying her ice garden.
- Sassy Black Woman: Has the voice and mannerisms of one. Not surprising given she's voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.
- Villain Song: "I hate Santa Claus".
- Winter Royal Lady: See Ice Queen above.
- Witch with a Capital "B": Zoe angrily slams her as being an evil old witch during the climax, and Stormella simply takes the insult as a compliment.
Queen Stormella's penguin butler.
Other North Pole Inhabitants
An Arctic fox who lives in a cave outside the North Pole. He becomes a close friend of Rudolph.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: His attempt to attack Rudolph ends badly. It helped that Rudolph was about four times Slyly's size.
- Hypocrite: He claims that "love is for suckers", in the same breath as he empathizes with Rudolph because of that 'fact'.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He cheats people less out of malice than the genuine belief he can't trust anyone to help him. After befriending Rudolph and Leonard, he gradually gets better.
- Nerves of Steel: Slyly remains calm even while pickpocketing Stormella, a sorceress who could easily crush him.
- Unmanly Secret: He steals a stuffed toy of Rudolph's so he can cuddle it while sleeping. Rudolph later gives him one of his own as a Christmas present.
A polar bear who also lives in a cave outside the North Pole. He becomes a close friend of Rudolph and Slyly.
- Bears Are Bad News: Subverted. When Rudolph and Slyly (along with us the audience) first meet Leonard, he is growling at them threateningly (to be fair, Rudolph and Slyly were trespassing in his home.However, later he turns out to be a nice guy.
- Nice Guy: Even though Rudolph and Slyly nearly tricked him out of his cave, he gives them food and shelter after a simple apology from Rudolph. He even helps Rudolph rescue Zoey after just meeting him.
Aurora, Sparkle, Glitter, and Twinkle are the Sprites of the Northern Lights who light up the North Pole nights. They act as a Greek chorus for the movie and teach Rudolph how to light up his nose.
- Greek Chorus: They sing to the audience an introduction to each new scene.
- The Leader: When they are not singing in unison, Aurora sings solo while the others act as backup dancers. In addition Aurora is the one who does most of the talking when the sprites warn Rudolph that Zoey's in danger and teach him how to use his nose.
- Light Is Good: They believe strongly in this. They say that Rudolph's power reflects the light in his heart, and that only a few creatures are "lucky" enough to have their emotions reflected physically.
- Meaningful Name: Each of their names relates to light in some way.
- Our Fairies Are Different: Tiny, rare, and colour-themed. Aurora is red. Sparkle is blue, Glitter is purple, and Twinkle is gold.
- Token Minority: Sparkle is the only black sprite. The rest are white.