Follow TV Tropes


Film / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Go To
You better watch out.
"The presents! They'll be destroyed! And I care! ...What is the deal?!"
The Grinch

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (or just The Grinch, as it was promoted) is a 2000 Christmas film based upon the book of the same name, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the title character.

The first film adaptation, as well as the first Live-Action Adaptation, of one of Seuss's works, the film finds Carrey cavorting a little more than usual, leaping around all over the place and wearing a green mask. Again. While it follows the original book pretty closely, it features an additional backstory to make the Grinch much more sympathetic. To date, it is the second-highest-grossing Christmas film of all time, next to Home Alone.

A second live-action film based on Dr. Seuss' stories was released in 2003. However, it turned out to be a Franchise Killer, putting the kibosh on any of Seuss's live-action adaptations.


An animated film adaptation by Illumination Entertainment was released to cinemas in November 2018, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as The Grinch.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A-M 
  • Accidental Pervert: The title character at one point winds up flying face-first into the bosom of his childhood crush. Without removing his head from her chest, he greets her with the muffled words, "Hello, Martha."
  • Accidental Rhyme: The Grinch does this a couple of times (to fit the original rhymes by Dr. Seuss) and then gets annoyed at himself because he hates rhyming.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptation Expansion: The movie expands on the Grinch's character, actually creating legitimate motivation for his actions and a reason why he stole Christmas this year as opposed to any previous year, in comparison to the original story where he simply hated Christmas and randomly decided that after 53 years of putting up with it, he would ruin it.
  • Adaptational Badass: Of a sort. The Grinch is a much goofier character, but is an incredibly competent inventor, filling his lair with various contraption made of junk and trash.
    • As a result of the above; his sleigh is rocket powered and capable of flight in this version.
      • Also, the fact that said sleigh would’ve probably taken anyone else days to build, he managed to build it in just a few hours!
    • Likewise Max is less put-upon and more of an equal to the Grinch even being something of a Silent Snarker, fitting since Max has been his only friend and companion for the past 53 years.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Grinch is much more sympathetic than in the book, having become the mean-spirited Jerkass he is as a result of being bullied by the Whos, which also triggered his hatred of Christmas.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Cindy Lou Who was simply an innocent two-year-old girl in the book, but in the film, she's a child prodigy who knows words like "superfluous" and thoroughly read the Book of Who enough to win an argument with the Mayor about it.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Until the ending, the Whos are far less sympathetic than in the book. They're not intentionally mean-spirited (save for Mayor Maywho), but are ultra-commercial and have lost sight of what Christmas really means.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the original book, all of the Whos are small creatures with antennae who look rather cute. In the film, all of the background Whos are regular people with prosthetic noses and buck teeth that make them look rather strange and creepy. They're also given ugly and gaudy outfits to match them being portrayed as more greedy and materialistic.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Applied across the board. The Grinch is much nastier than he was in the book...but then again, so are the Whos, to him through most of his life.
  • Adults Are Useless: For most of the film the smartest characters are an eight-year-old girl and a 53+ year old Grinch.
    • Also notice that in the Grinch's flashback that even the god-damn teacher is laughing at his predicament along with the other kids, instead of, you know, scolding her students to not be so mean-spirited to a specific student. This actually gives another specific reason why he despises the Whos so much.
  • Affably Evil: The Grinch will sometimes display cordiality even while causing havoc toward the Whos.
  • Affectionate Parody: A subversion of sorts. The Grinch starts to realize he's speaking in rhyme at certain points, and goes out of his way to try and prevent it. He does, however, keep going just before his Heel–Face Turn. At the very least, it's in character for him in the beginning.
  • Age Lift: Cindy Lou Who was "no more than two" in the original. Her age isn't specified in the film, but six-year-old Taylor Momsen is obviously not two.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Martha May Whovier has had a crush on the Grinch for years.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Grinch was isolated from his peers (excluding Martha), especially from Augustus. He later snaps and hurls a Christmas tree at them before running off to live alone in Mount Crumpit for the next 53 years.
  • Anti-Villain: Grinch is a Type II, while Max is a Type IV.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Sure, Cindy-Lou was the only Who with a name in the book, but she was only in a very small portion.
    • All of the Whos really.
    • As with the animated special, Max plays a more prominent role.
  • Aside Comment: After failing to scare Cindy Lou Who, the Grinch turns to the audience and says, "Kids today. So desensitized by movies and television."
  • Aside Glance: The Grinch, a few times, looks toward the camera.
  • As You Know: The Mayor "doesn't need to remind" Lou Lou Who that this is the 1000th Whobilation.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Where Are You, Christmas?" by Faith Hill.
  • Bad Santa: The Grinch disguises himself as Santa during his attempt to ruin the Whos' Christmas.
  • Bait-and-Switch:When the Grinch starts wrapping up Cindy Lou he chooses a bright red wrapping paper, during the wrapping of Cindy Lou he tells Max to pick out a bow. A short bit later and we see a properly packaged box and Cindy Lou screaming 'Hello?'. Don't worry, it's not her because if it was there would be no movie.
  • Bathos: The Grinch violently freaking out at his party when the Mayor ruins his one moment of triumph by cruelly presenting him with an insulting gift is legitimately upsetting because he's such a sympathetic character, but it's also hilarious when he totally destroys the party in the most ridiculous, cartoonish, and petty manner possible by setting the tree on fire with a flamethrower and angrily driving away through the chaos on a ridiculously tiny car.
  • Balloon Belly: The Grinch gets a large belly when the Whovians stuff him with food at the Whobilation.
  • Batman Gambit: Unlike the book and the cartoon, the Grinch's plan hinging on Christmas being ruined by him stealing the presents actually holds merit as the Whovians truly are that materialistic. And it works....initially anyway.
  • Beast and Beauty: The Grinch and Martha May Whovier are respectively a hairy humanoid and an attractive woman.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Obviously averted with the title character, but you'll notice how Cindy Lou and Martha May are the only Whos not done up in creepy-looking Uncanny Valley Makeup.
  • Berserk Button: The Grinch actually starts to enjoy being involved in the Christmas celebrations... until he opens his gift to find an electric razor, a bad joke that triggers his deep-seated childhood rage, increased when Augustus proposes to Martha right in front of him.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Grinch may be over-the-top hammy, but goes on an absolute rampage when Augustus pulls that cruel joke on him. He also isn't afraid to call out the Whos on their selfishness in his famous "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Big Bad: Mayor Augustus May Who, when contrasted with the Grinch's eventual Heel–Face Turn.
  • Big "NO!": The Grinch yells "No" after reaching the top of Mount Crumpit to rescue his sleigh.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...:
    • The Grinch does this in reverse to the Whos, sending unpleasant mail to random destinations in the post office: "Jury duty! Jury duty! Jury duty! Blackmail! Pink slip! Chain letter! Eviction notice! Jury duty!"
    • He flips through the town phone book at random, loudly voicing his displeasure with each name he reads. "Hate, hate, hatehatehatehate, double-hate, LOATHE ENTIRELY!!"
  • Black Comedy Burst: The implication that the Grinch may have killed someone to steal his outfit, given that we never see the yodeler ever again.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The Grinch. "Look, I don't want to make waves, but..."
    • Also Mayor Augustus: "Martha was my girlfriend..."
    • Plus the whole thing the Grinch tells to Cindy Lou Who about the Christmas tree having a defective light.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After the Grinch fails to scare off Cindy Lou Who.
    Grinch: "Kids today; so desensitized by movies and television."
    Grinch: (about Cindy Lou Who) "Nice kid; baaad judge of character."
  • Break the Cutie: After enduring abuse in his childhood, it's little wonder that the Grinch was turned from a nice person to a reclusive jerk.
    Mayor: "I'm hurt, Lou. I'm hurt, and I don't hurt easily. But you and your family. I'm so… dissapointed. Can we just get back to Christmas... the way it should be: Grinch-less! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!"
    Cindy: "(heartbroken) I just wanted everyone to be together for Christmas."
  • Breath Weapon: While wandering Whoville incognito, The Grinch knocks out a pushy hat salesman with his foul breath.
  • Brick Joke: After he finishes pranking the Whos, he goes back to his lair and states that his heart size has gone "Down a size and a half!", meaning it's three and a half sizes too small. Near the end, his heart grows three sizes, leaving it still a half size too small. It explains his remaining Jerkass tendencies. And Martha May Whovier wouldn't have it any other way.
    The Grinch: Who wants the gizzard!?
    Who: I do!
    The Grinch: Too late! That'll be mine...
  • Broken Aesop: Subverted. The backstory presented in the film makes it clear that the Grinch's hatred of the Whos' way of celebrating Christmas is perfectly justified, yet the end is still presented as him needing to learn a lesson. On the other hand, as it was exposed in the bit of him disguised as Santa Claus with Cindy Lou, the Grinch believed in Christmas being about presents (and VENGEANCE!!!) because he learned that from the Whos. Thus, both the Grinch AND the Whos needed to learn a lesson about what Christmas' true meaning was; and it is ultimately Cindy Lou and her father who make sure that happened, first to Whoville and then to the Grinch.
  • Broken Bird: The Grinch was mocked at by his classmates and most of Whoville and his life was a miserable one to say the least.
  • Broken Echo: The Grinch gets into an argument with his echo and ends it by saying "I'm an idiot." His echo responds with "You're an idiot." Twice.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Even as a child, the Grinch was quite strong. Him being ridiculed and mocked by the Whos for his attempt to give a gift to a young Martha some 53 years in the past was what finally made him snap, and he utterly trashes the class' Christmas tree in response.
  • Butt Biter: Max does this to the Grinch in the post office when he's about to leave, refusing to let him leave without saving Cindy:
    Grinch: Stop it, Max! Get that out of your mouth! You have no idea where it's been!
  • Callousness Towards Emergency: When Cindy Lou falls into the machinery at the post office, the Grinch is largely unconcerned and intends to leave... but when Max refuses to let him do so, he gives in and saves Cindy.
  • Canine Companion: The Grinch's pet dog, Max, was his only friend for years.
  • Canon Foreigner: A few new characters are added into the story, including Mayor Augustus Maywho, his plucky assistant Whobris, and Martha May Whovier.
  • Casting Gag: In the Latin American Spanish dub, Mario Castañeda voices the Grinch, as he usually does with Jim Carrey roles. Meanwhile, Gerardo Reyero voices Augustus May Who. This isn't the first time these two actors were pit as rivals, as they voiced Goku and Freeza before in Dragon Ball Z, respectively.
  • Cats Are Mean: A white Persian cat attacks the Grinch as payback for sucking it up with a giant vacuum.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the original special, the Grinch's unhygienic traits were only brought up in the lyrics of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", with the Grinch himself living as a reclusive hermit. In the movie, there are many scenes where the Grinch eats garbage and wallows in his own filth, explaining why he would choose such lyrics to describe himself when singing the song in this version.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Besides the mountain of junk outside of his cave which he builds his rocket sleigh from, the vacuum hose which he uses to suck up all the presents and the antlers he ties on Max for his role as reindeer in his "reverse-Santa gambit" are both seen early in the film when the Grinch returns home from playing a variety of harmful pranks in Whoville.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: When the Grinch gets his awful idea, he has a disturbingly large grin.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Jim Carrey takes it a little too far when he eats a wine bottle.
  • Christmas Carolers: The one thing the Grinch hates most of all is when all the Whos down in Whoville gather together, and start caroling around the Christmas tree. There's a song on the subject by Ben Folds called "Lonely Christmas Eve".
  • Cobweb of Disuse: The Grinch's mailbox at the Whoville Post Office is covered in it.
    Lou Lou Who: (to Cindy) Take a look at his mailbox, sweetie. Not a single Christmas card, in or out. Ever!
  • Crapsaccharine World: A light example. While Whoville seems like a festive, friendly place at first, the Grinch — and Cindy Lou — feel that the Whos are very materialistic about Christmas. Not to mention how The Grinch was treated when he was a kid.
  • Cue the Sun: Arrives right after the Grinch's heart grows three sizes.
  • Curtains Match the Windows: The Grinch has green eyes and green hair.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Grinch is the most sarcastic character in the film. “Are you having a holly, jolly Christmas?” to Max when he catches his dog dancing to Christmas music. “It’s not a dress. It’s a kilt!” when he tries to get ready for the Whoville Christmas Pageant.
  • Delayed Safety Feature: During the montage in which the Grinch assembles his rocket sled for the titular scheme, he crash-tests the sled's safety features at one point. After an incredibly gruesome crash that the Grinch survives because he's Made of Iron, he stumbles out of the wreck and groans out that the sled's airbag is "a little slow", and it is right then that the airbag goes off.
  • Delivery Stork: No actual storks, but baby Whos evidently drift down from the sky in "pumbercellas", bassinets equipped with momentum-slowing umbrellas.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Mayor Augustus Maywho doesn't start out this way, but after after his past as a schoolyard bully is revealed, his sadistic traits become considerably noticeable, especially during the Who-bilation, where he sees to it that the Grinch has an absolutely horrible time there.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Subverted with the Grinch who didn't win Martha over as a child.
  • Disproportionate Celebration: The Grinch, almost never seen being happy over anything up until that point, cheers and engages in copious Unsportsmanlike Gloating after beating a bunch of Who children in a sack race.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • After enduring enough of his bullying in school, the Grinch destroys his gift, his presents, and hurls a tree at the classmates while saying that he hates Christmas.
    • After the Mayor cruelly gives the Grinch his electric shaver to remind him of his harassing as a kid, the Grinch retaliates against him by shaving his hair with the electric shaver as revenge for teasing him.
    The Grinch: "Uh oh. Somebody's FABULOUS!"
  • Easily Forgiven: While more cynical towards the Grinch in this interpretation, you have to give credit that the Whos are willing to give him a chance twice over after completely destroying the festivities (then again, he did bring the stuff he stole back):
    The Grinch: I am the Grinch that stole Christmas... and I'm sorry. *beat* Aren't you going to cuff me? Put me in a chokehold? Blind me with pepper spray?
    Mayor Augustus Maywho: You heard him, Officer. He admitted it. I'd go with the pepper spray.
    Officer Wholihan: Yes, I heard him all right. He said he was sorry.
  • Enfant Terrible: Yes, it was the brutal taunting he received from his classmates that turned the Grinch into a full-fledged villain, but he always had sadistic traits going all the way back to his youth, especially in regards to Christmas. Examples include eating a Santa plate as a baby and drawing a picture of Santa falling off his sleigh to his death as a boy. Also, during his construction of the angel in an attempt to impress Martha and get into the Christmas spirit, he shows no regard or concern for the valuable family items he is building it from, such as the expensive silverware or family heirloam (though, he was doing a good deed at the same time by going out of his way to make a gift for Martha).
  • Enormous Engagement Ring: The ring offered to Martha May Whovier by Mayor Augustus Maywho is visibly large. It's also hideously gaudy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While the Grinch is not above destroying anything Christmas related, he avoids running women pushing children on the stroller even if the end result ends with his (stolen) car exploding. In addition, just after his massive rampage on Whoville, he crashes the car he stole, notices it's going to explode, and yells out that it is going to do so. Granted, there wasn't any Who's around, but he still yelled it out, just in case they were. So the Grinch, Pre Heel–Face Turn, is not above causing massive mayhem and destruction, but he doesn't want to see them killed or hurt.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Parodied. At one point the Grinch rides on a tiny - not as in child-size, as in skateboard-sized - car that does not move particularly fast, and yet when he busts the gas tank and runs it explodes like an oil tanker.
  • Evil Is Hammy: "Evil" is probably pushing it, but good god! Jim Carrey practically eats the entire movie and then drops it out the other end wrapped up with a little Christmas bow.
  • Evil Overlooker: As seen in the poster above, the Grinch can be seen with a menacing look on his face above Whoville.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Grinch eats a lot of garbage. For instance, he's seen eating a glass bottle at one point and is later seen eating an old banana peel during the performance of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". There's also the scene where he took a bite out of a Santa plate when he was a baby.
  • Faceplant: The Grinch tries a Diving Save to grab the sleigh when it starts to slip, only to fall short and land face-first in the snow behind it.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Cindy Lou doesn't recognize the Grinch while he's stealing her family's tree, despite him putting his head through the tree and talking to her at one point.
  • Face Realization: The Grinch, once his heart has grown three sizes and he sees the stolen presents about to fall off Mount Crumpit.
    The Grinch: Oh, no! The sleigh! The presents! They'll be destroyed! And I care! ...What is the deal?!
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Mayor is prejudiced against the Grinch.
    • The Grinch hilariously thinks this when he is passed up on the road.
    The Grinch: It's because I'm green, isn't it?
    • Cindy's father exhibits more subtle racism at the beginning of the movie.
    Lou Lou Who: Actually, not a Who. He's more of a...
    Cindy Lou Who: A what?
    Lou Lou Who: Exactly, honey. And he's a What who...doesn't like Christmas.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mayor Augustus Maywho's politeness hides a sinister personality.
  • Flashback: The Grinch's entire backstory, told by several folks that Cindy interviews, including the two old ladies who raised him, the Mayor, and Martha.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Grinch is given one that previous versions lacked. He hates Christmas because of unpleasant memories involving the Whos picking on him when he was a kid.
  • Funbag Airbag: The Grinch at one point has his face land into Martha May Whovier's breasts. Coupled with Crash-Into Hello.
  • Funny Answering Machine: "If you utter so much as one syllable, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH! If you'd like to fax me, press the star key."
  • G-Rated Sex: The "baby Whos from the sky" method of reproduction. Could be interpreted as a fib, since the people explaining the Grinch's back story are telling it to a girl too young to know what sex is...but it's also shown in a flashback, and the rest of the sequence makes it clear that the flashback is what really happened, while the people telling the story in the present are lying about certain parts to make themselves look better. Unlike most versions of the trope, the "sex" part is also strongly emphasized, as seen when the father Who asks his wife why their baby looks just like her boss.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Grinch was able to make a VTOL rocket-powered, flying sleigh out of junk and trash.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Not nearly as many as the second live action film adaptation of a Seuss work, but still some rather noticeable examples:
    • The flashback to the baby Grinch being delivered appears to take place at a key party. It could also be a drunk driving joke, which is equally inappropriate.
    • "Hey, honey! Our baby's here! ...He looks just like your boss."
    • The Grinch cleavage-diving May — and she likes it.
    • "Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!"
    • The Mayor kissing Max's rear.
    • In a blink it and you miss it bit of dialogue, when the old ladies dress the Grinch up in his Holiday attire, he says, "Don't touch me there!"
    • During his angry monologue to the Whos, the Grinch explicitly says "I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas ties" he gets.
    • In the extended version, Nogoff, a part of the Whobilation where the Grinch has to guzzle a load of egg nog, which is suspiciously reminiscent of challenges where people are dared to chug down an entire alcoholic beverage in one sitting.
    • Late in the movie, the Grinch along with Cindy Lou, as they ride down to Whoville to bring everyone's presents back, says this line:
    Grinch: The sun is bright, and the powder's bitchin'!
    • A mild, blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment: While choosing a Whobilation outfit, The Grinch rips off his 'not a dress', and he's wearing a lace garter around his thigh.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Grinch was shown to be strong enough to lift an entire Christmas tree as a child and is also shown to be quite cunning in the mischief he plans.
  • Good Parents: While Cindy's parents are just as commercialized and competitive as the other Whos, they are still loving parents throughout the movie, and are the first ones to realize the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Grim Up North: The Grinch lives "just north of Whoville", and his lair is pretty icy (although that may just be because it's winter.)
  • The Grinch: The Grinch, obviously. He hates Christmas due to childhood bullying.
  • Has Two Mommies: The Grinch was raised by two women who lived in the same house. Whether they were friends, relatives or life partners is unknown.
  • Hate Sink: Augustus fulfills this role, bullying the Grinch when they were kids, continuing to bully him when they're adults, and attempting to have the Grinch arrested after his Heel–Face Turn. It's clear that the audience is supposed to despise him.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Cindy Lou's interview of Martha May opens with Martha May flatly denying ever having had a crush on the Grinch, to which a confused Cindy replies, "I didn't ask you that."
  • Hide Your Otherness: As a child, the Grinch tries to shave off his green hair after being teased about it. It doesn't work very well, as the kids instead make fun of how badly he cut himself while shaving.
  • Hollywood Glass Cutter: During the presents-stealing montage, the Grinch cuts an enormous hole in a plate-glass window with his sharp fingertips. And instead of using a suction cup device to remove the cut-out piece, he sucks on the glass with his mouth.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: The Grinch clutches his chest in pain when his heart grows three sizes.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: The Grinch's family force a sweater with lights reading "I heart X-mas" on him when he's named Cheermeister. He rips it off gleefully when he decides to go on a rampage instead.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Cindy Lou manages to be easily deceived by the Grinch even while being absolutely right about her belief that he isn't a monster. This is lampshaded by the Grinch when he says of her, "Nice kid, baaaad judge of character."
  • Huge Rider, Tiny Mount: The car that the Grinch steals and rides on - not in, on - is barely big enough for him to fit a shoe inside, so he just rides around on top.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Not entirely, but the Whos (especially Cindy) receive almost as much emphasis and screentime as the Grinch.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The Grinch during the Who Pudding Cookoff:
    Old Who: This is not pudding.
    Grinch: [does a Spit Take] What is it!?
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Cindy Lou interviews Martha May Whovier about the Grinch:
    Martha May: Did I have a crush on the Grinch? [chuckles] Of course not.
    Cindy Lou: I didn't ask you that.
    Martha May [slightly embarrassed]: Oh... right.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Grinch, whilst throwing letters, doesn't miss any of the sorting shelves he throws at.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Cindy Lou Who. She's the only one not affected by the commercialism of Whoville's Christmas and the only one who is willing to give the Grinch a chance.
  • Interactive Narrator: The Grinch shushes the narrator when he's sneaking into the Whos' houses to steal their presents. After a brief pause, the narrator continues, but whispers the rest of his lines.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Eventually The Grinch (over 53 years old) and Cindy Lou (a little girl) become close friends.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: After his heart grew three sizes, The Grinch cries like this in warmth and remorse after learning the true meaning of Christmas near the end of the movie.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Grinch, at first, is completely rude and takes great joy in causing havoc toward the Whos.
    • Mayor Augustus Maywho, whose childhood bullying of the Grinch is why he's the way he is today and continues being an asshole to the Grinch to this day.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Grinch calls out the Whos for being so greedy and demanding on Christmas. Even though he hates Christmas, he makes sure to point out what he sees in them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Grinch, after discovering the meaning of Christmas. He's still kind of a jerkass, but he's considerably more affable. His heart is still a half-size too small, and Martha probably wouldn't have it any other way. Even before. His to-do list included solving world hunger. And then not telling anyone, because he's the Grinch, not a good guy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Unlike the Grinch, Mayor Augustus Maywho never seems to have redeemability in him and is actually less friendly than the Grinch, even before the Grinch's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Kick the Dog: When the Grinch is finally having the time of his life at the Whobilation, Augustus, for no good reason, gives the Grinch a razor solely to remind him of his cruel childhood. Thankfully, the Grinch gets his payback.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Grinch pulls this off twice.
    • When the kids (save for Martha) cruelly mock him over his face cut, the Grinch throws their Christmas tree at them and scares them off.
    • After Mayor Augustus' malicious joke, the Grinch shaves his head with the same razor he used to tease him with.
  • Kids Are Cruel: When the Grinch was a child, Augustus and most of his classmates mock him for his looks, which led to his Start of Darkness.
  • Large Ham: Jim Carrey really packs on the ham as the Grinch.
    • "Hello, little girl... HOW DARE YOU ENTER THE GRRRRRINCH'S LAIAH!!!! THE IMPUDENCE!! THE AU-DACITY! THE AHN-MIDDEHGATED GULL!!! You called down the thunder now, get rrready for the BOOOM!!! Gaze into the face of fe-ahhh!"
    • "DOUBT?! Another unmistakable sign of the heebie-jeebies! NOW! YOU'RE! DOOOOOMMMED!"
    • You can see Taylor Momsen (Cindy Lou) genuinely giggling through some of his hamminess.
  • Late to the Punchline: In the climax, Martha May Whovier rejects Mayor Augustus' marriage proposal, saying she's in love with someone else. The Grinch looks around at the assembled crows wondering who it is, before realizing it's him.
  • Laughably Evil: The Grinch, obviously! Even as he's committing malicious acts, it's just so hard not to laugh our butts off. His hamminess certainly helps.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: "It's not a dress! It's a kilt, sicko!"
  • Licensed Game: The Grinch for Playstation and Dreamcast was a video game adaptation of this movie.
  • Literal Ass Kissing:
    • The Grinch holds a piece of mistletoe over his ass. "Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!"
    • Also when The Grinch is stealing the presents and gets to the mayor, he presents Max's ass to him while he sleeps and dreams off kissing Martha May Whovier. Max is very clearly NOT happy afterwards.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: A live-action film based on Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  • Lost in Imitation: The book was black-and-white with occasional red for emphasis. It was the animated version that made the Grinch green.
  • Love Makes You Evil: The Grinch's backstory. He had a crush on a girl, but was rejected (mostly because of Augustus).
  • Love Triangle: The Grinch and Mayor Augustus Maywho are both attracted to Martha May Whovier.
  • Made of Explodium: The tiny car that the Grinch steals. When he crashes it, it goes off like a gasoline tanker thanks to the gas leaking.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • Augustus and his classmates when the Grinch hurls a Christmas tree at them.
    • The Whos when the Grinch causes chaos in the Whobilation.
    • Towards the end of the film, the Whos are similarly shocked when they realize that the Grinch stole Christmas and later when the Grinch can't stop the sleigh after returning to Whoville.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Grinch realizes that he went too far in his scheme to ruin the Whos' Christmas after his heart grows three sizes.
  • Mood Whiplash:
  • Morality Pet: A literal version! Max the dog doesn't let the Grinch leave the Post Office without saving Cindy Lou.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: While not actually involving literal murder, Augustus Maywho tries to get rid of the Grinch and the Grinch takes extra care in ruining Maywho's life when terrorizing the Whos.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Max the Dog seems to be this, following the Grinch faithfully whether his intentions are good or bad. Almost like a... well, a dog.
  • Mythology Gag: The opening shot depicting Whoville as being inside a snowflake is a shout out to Horton Hears a Who!, where Whoville is located in a similarly microscopic speck of dust.
    • Many designs (including but not limited to the clouds over Whoville) are based on swirls and spirals, echoing design elements in the original book.
    • The fake monster head that the Grinch uses to scare off intruders is based on his original book design, made to look much more terrifying.

    Tropes N-Z 
  • Narrator: Anthony Hopkins narrates the film.
  • Never My Fault: Augustus Maywho blames Cindy Lou for the Grinch stealing Christmas since she was the one who insisted on having him be their Cheermeister in the first place, despite the fact that it was his intentionally torturous treatment of the Grinch during the entire celebration and incredibly mean-spirited Kick the Dog moment with the razor during the finale that drove the Grinch over the edge.
  • Nice Girl: Martha May Whovier is clearly the nicest out of all the adult Whos, being the one person besides the Grinch's moms and Cindy Lou to actually care about the Grinch. Even back when they were kids Martha May thought kindly of him, and was heartbroken when she saw her classmates and teacher mock the Grinch so horribly he went on a rampage. She's also the only one who understood the Grinch became what he is because of how others treated him, instead of being evil for no reason.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: The the Grinch (Roguish) and Mayor Augustus May Who (Noble) vying for Martha May Whovier, the third member of the love triangle. In this case, the roguish is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, whilst the noble male is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Max the Dog to the Grinch, though the Grinch himself isn't exactly human.
  • Noodle Incident: Mayor Maywho somehow had his tonsils removed twice. We never find out how or why.
  • Novelization: There is one thanks to the Adaptation Expansion, and (unusually for this trope) the bulk of it is told from the Grinch's first-person POV! He even notes at the start that the reader probably knows the basics of his story from a book they were read as a very small child.
  • Official Couple: The Grinch and Martha May Whovier become an item by the film's end.
  • Officer O'Hara: Officer Wholihan is an Irish-accented cop.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Cindy's brothers when they get scared out of the Grinch's home in Mount Crumpit.
    • Cindy when she encounters the Grinch for the first time.
    • The Grinch himself is shocked when Cindy sees him attempting to steal her Christmas tree. He has another one when when he discovers that he accidentally sucked up a cat in his sleigh. Seconds later, he has yet another one when another Persian cat attacks him from one of the Whos' cupboards. Then, he has a fourth one when he realizes that his sleigh has ran out of fuel.
    • Augustus when Wholihan's car pulls his bed out of his house.
    • The Grinch when he realizes that the sleigh is about to fall off Mount Crumpit.
  • Oh, the Humanity!: The Grinch shouts this when the Whos run from him after he ruins the Whobilation.
  • Old Windbag: Mayor Maywho. Martha actually goes cross-eyed at the thought of hearing his tonsil story again.
  • Opposites Attract Revenge: The Grinch's girlfriend Martha almost marries Augustus Maywho, who bullied the Grinch as a child.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Parodied with the Grinch running from the gas leak explosion of a car he wrecked the size of a skateboard.
  • Over-the-Top Christmas Decorations: This live action movie turned the scene from animated film Up to Eleven by giving the Whos a device like a belt-fed machine gun to shoot decorations at their houses.
  • Packed Heroine: Cindy Lou Who ends up wrapped in wrapping paper early in the film.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Cindy Lou's father, despite being a timid man, stands up for her when the Mayor blames her for the Grinch's thievery. In fact, he's the one who makes those in Whoville realize the true meaning of Christmas.
    • Also, despite being visibly scared, he steps in front of a crashing sleigh to stop it because his daughter's on board.
    • The Grinch may not be related to Cindy Lou, but he still pulls this trope off at the end of the film when he realizes she's on top of his sleigh while trying to keep it from sliding down Mt. Crumpit and crashing.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • This ugly cave creature puts on a red coat and Santa hat. Boom! He automatically looks "just like Saint Nick." Partially justified as a way of keeping people from noticing him from a distance (i.e. "a figure on the roof tops in a Santa's hat on Christmas eve must be Santa!") When Cindy Lou approaches him, he tries to keep the tree between them to help keep her from seeing him properly.
    • Also, when pranking and causing mischief around Whoville earlier in the film, the Grinch dons a brown hooded robe and a creepy grinning rubber mask to pass himself off as a Who. The mask isn't Latex Perfection quality, and his green furry hands and feet are still visible.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • During the Grinch's childhood, in one scene the sisters can be seen collecting keys in a bowl, which could either be an alcohol reference or a sex joke.
    • Also shortly before that, when the Grinch and the other Who babies are arriving via stork, one new Who father asks his wife why their new son looks like her boss.
  • Parental Obliviousness:
    • Lou and Betty Lou Who. They never seem to question where Cindy Lou is when she's out looking for the Grinch.
    • Also applies to Cindy Lou's older brothers, Stu and Drew, whose warnings about running into the Grinch at the beginning of the film are ignored as well.
  • Parent Service: Martha May Whovier in the film's present time is clearly there to provide fanservice for older audiences.
  • Parodies of Fire: The theme from Chariots of Fire plays as the Grinch participates in a potato-sack race.
  • Parrot Expo-WHAT?: When the Grinch is first told about the Holiday Whobilation. "Holiday Whobeewhatee?"
  • Pet the Dog: The first thing the Grinch does after his Heel–Face Turn is hug Max...and then throws him off when he milks it.
    Grinch: One step at a time!!!
  • The Pig Pen: The Grinch. His breath is so foul that it knocks a Who out cold, and when he removes his socks after returning from a pranking spree in Whoville, they start moving away.
  • Poke the Poodle: The Grinch starts terrorizing the Whos… by rearranging their mail and giving them some unwanted mail (mostly Jury Duty).
  • Prank Call: The Grinch is seen prank calling a random Who with the "Is your refrigerator running?" gag.
  • Precision F-Strike: The Grinch says a swear near the end of the film.
    Grinch: Are you kidding? The sun is bright and the powder's bitchin'.
  • Punny Name: The Mayor's yes-Who assistant is named "Whobris", a pun on "hubris".
  • Pyro Maniac: The Grinch, burning down the Whos' Christmas tree.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat: After Cindy Lou nominates the Grinch to be the Holiday Cheermeister, both she and the Mayor take turns quoting from the Book of Who to argue their positions. The Mayor tries to BS his way out halfway through, and Cindy still wins.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After being reminded by the Mayor of one particularly cruel prank he suffered as a child, the Grinch delivers this at the Whobilation, calling out the Whos for their conspicuous consumption and Chewing the Scenery all the way.
    Grinch: Of course, [gifts] are. That's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what it's always been about! Gifts, gifts, giftsgiftsgiftsgiftsgiftsgifts! You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I'm saying? In your garbage! I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. And the avarice. The avarice never ends! "I want golf clubs!" "I want diamonds!" "I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored with it and sell it to make glue!" Look, I don't wanna make waves, but this whole Christmas season is stupid! Stupid! Stupid! There is, however, one teeny-tiny Christmas tradition that I find quite... meaningful. Mistletoe. Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Officer Wholihan refuses the Mayor's request to arrest the Grinch at the end since the latter brought everything he stole from the Whos back and apologized for what he did.
  • Sad Clown: The Grinch is adapted into one. Despite being far goofier in this film, his humorous attacks on the people of Whoville are sourced by the unrelenting rage from the miserable childhood they gave him.
  • Saving Christmas:
    • Inverted; in fact, the inversion of this trope is the premise of the story. Then it's played straight when the Grinch Saves Christmas from himself at the end.
    • In a sense, his stealing of Christmas is what ended up saving it for the Whos, as it helped them to realize what was truly important about Christmas.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Mayor Augustus Maywho, and he hasn't changed a bit from when he bullied the Grinch as a kid.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrunken Organ: The Grinch's heart. Starts as two sizes too small before going down "a size and a half". It grows three sizes, meaning it is still a half size too small. It shows.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Just while the mayor blames Cindy for letting the Grinch ruin Christmas, her father says "If she's not [glad], then I am. I'm glad he took the presents." Then he proceeds to smack an awesome lesson onto him and the citizens, saying that gifts and contests weren't all that defines Christmas.
  • Spiritual Successor: 2003's live-action film of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, from the same production company and with Mike Myers as the Cat. Incidentally, guess who voiced Horton in Blue Sky Studios' Horton Hears a Who! in 2008?
  • Start of Darkness: Bullied as a child for his appearance, he was humiliated in front of the girl he had crush on. You can barely blame the guy for living as a recluse and hating Christmas.
  • Stepford Snarker: The Grinch uses his dry wit to cope with his poor self-esteem, and he's well aware of it. The best example of this is him claiming he couldn't go to the Whobilation because his schedule was too full of him wallowing in self-pity.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Lou Lou Who: "Let's see, we've got a munkle for your uncle, a fant for your aunt, and a fandpa for your Cousin Leon."
  • Super Strength: The Grinch can lift heavy objects with ease. Increases in dire situations.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One that wasn't even asked.
    Martha: Did I have a crush on the Grinch? (Awkward chuckle) Of course, not.
    Cindy: I- I didn't ask you that.
    Martha: Oh. Right.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Played with. Unlike in the original story, the Whos actually were upset, and the festivities halted, by the Grinch stealing the presents, but they have a change of heart after realizing how shallow they've been and start celebrating without them, and this causes the Grinch to have his own change of heart about Christmas. However, when the presents start falling off the mountain like in the story and he can't pull the sleigh back from the edge, he actually considers just letting them drop since, after all, he's just learned that they aren't necessary for Christmas. But then it turns out Cindy Lou Who snuck aboard the sleigh to keep the Grinch from spending Christmas alone, and with her life on the line as well, the Grinch finds the strength to save her, and the presents in the process.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Cindy Lou feels sympathetic toward the Grinch, especially after discovering his Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Parodied with the inexplicably exploding toy car the Grinch rides on and wrecks at one point.
  • Tablecloth Yank: Done successfully by the Grinch on a table full of fragile objects... only for him to turn around immediately after leaving the scene, come back, and smash everything off the table himself. And for good measure, he also knocks the table over.
  • Tears of Remorse: The Grinch cries after seeing the sunrise towards the end of the film.
  • That Poor Cat: During the Grinch's present-stealing plan in Whoville, he inadvertently sucks up a cat into the sleigh and gets attacked for it. Then, he ends up encountering another one in a different house's cupboard.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Josh Ryan Evans plays 8-year-old Grinch, Landry Allbright plays 8-year-old Martha May Whovier, and Ben Bookbinder plays 8-year-old Augustus Maywho.
  • Together in Death: The Grinch comforts Cindy Lou as they plummet seemingly to their deaths so that they won't cry together on Christmas.
  • Traumatic Haircut: After Augustus gives the Grinch an electric razor to remind him of the humiliating shaving incident in his childhood, the Grinch uses it to shave Augustus' hair.
  • True Blue Femininity: Martha May Whovier wears blue.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The Grinch at the start of the movie is a jerk with some of the film's humor derived from how mean and crafty he is. By the end though he's become a much better person.
  • Unknown Rival: Martha May Whovier to Cindy Lou Who's mother Betty.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The Mayor attempts to paint Cindy Lou Who as this for being the reason their Christmas stuff was stolen.
  • Up to Eleven: Inverted in the beginning as the Grinch's heart is two sizes smaller than what a normal one should be. And then shrinks another size and a half. And then grows three sizes, but unlike the book, this still leaves it a bit on the small side.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The Grinch used to be a nice boy until he gets ridiculed by Augustus and his classmates after using an electric shaver that was given to him.
  • V8 Engine Noises: While all Who cars seem to have tiny engines with, like, one cylinder, the small car the Grinch hijacks from a couple of small Whos sounds like it has a V8 under the hood (or grows one as soon as he guns the engine).
  • Villain Protagonist: The Grinch, up until the end, since he likes to cause trouble for the Whos and attempts to ruin Christmas by stealing their presents and decorations.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Grinch loses it when he realizes that his plan to ruin Christmas has been foiled thanks to the Whos.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". The stage and movie versions give it to the Grinch, making it a tongue-in-cheek Villain Song (though that actually always the intention, but Boris Karloff couldn't sing by his own admission).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to that yodeler the Grinch stole his clothes from?
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Cindy Lou Who is incredibly mature for her age, especially compared to the adult characters. She even out-argues the Mayor in Who law.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Grinch may have been an antisocial recluse, but it's hard not to feel bad for him after seeing how the other Whos treated him when he was a child.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: