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Film / Spirited (2022)

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This isn't your great great great great great great grandparents' Christmas Carol (give or take).
Do people really change? I mean, real, lasting, positive change. I sure hope so, because we are in the business of change.
The Ghost of Christmas Present

Spirited is a 2022 musical fantasy Christmas comedy film and the latest in the long and hallowed tradition of adaptations of Charles Dickens' timeless classic A Christmas Carol. It is directed by Sean Anders (Daddy's Home, Instant Family), written by Anders and John Morris, features music by Pasek And Paul, and produced by and starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.

For centuries the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani), Present (Ferrell), and Yet-To-Come (Voice of Tracy Morgan) have worked hard every Christmas to take some of the worst people on Earth, show them the error of their ways, and let their subsequent goodness ripple out into the world and make it a better place. However, the team faces their greatest challenge ever when Present proposes haunting a "unredeemable" PR man by the name of Clint Briggs (Reynolds). While Present is determined to save his soul, the wily and fast-talking Briggs soon turns the tables on Present, forcing him to reckon with his past and future. Also cast are Aimee Carrero, Patrick Page, P. J. Byrne and Octavia Spencer.

The film had a limited theatrical release on November 11, 2022 before streaming on Apple TV+ on November 18.

Not to be confused with the television series of the same name.

Previews: Teaser Trailer, Main Trailer

Spirited includes examples of the following:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: In Clint's Christmas Future, there are high tech, crystal-etched tombstones. Indeed there's nary a traditional tombstone in sight.
  • Abusive Parents: Clint's mother was an alcoholic, who found it easier to buy a dog dish to make little Clint think he was getting a dog for Christmas, then pretend the dog ran away because Clint left the door open, than to actually just get Clint the dog.
  • Accidental Misnaming: The Ghost of Christmas Present struggles to remember Tiny Tim's name. He goes through "Little Larry", "Micro Mike", "Super-Small Steve", and "Itsy Witsy Isaac", much to Clint's frustration.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • One of the guests at Clint's party is dressed as Buddy the Elf, another Christmas character portrayed by Will Ferrell (Present). Present says he looks stupid.
    • One of the lyrics sung by Present in "Ripple" (the song which plays over the credits) is "let's put on our big boy pants," alluding to a line spoken by Lord Business.
    • The coat for Clint's half-hearted Santa Claus costume looks more than a little like the red aviator jacket worn by Wade Wilson (also played by Ryan Reynolds).
  • Adaptational Villainy: Ebenezer Scrooge, in regards to the Cratchits at least. Instead of simply being a harsh boss to Bob, here he closed down the mill and told the boy, who used to work at the mill, that he intended to buy their house for a pittance once it was foreclosed upon.
  • Afterlife Welcome: When Clint dies in front of all the Christmas spirits, his sister Carrie formally welcomes him to the afterlife with a hug.
  • An Aesop:
    • Everyone, even the very worst of us, has some decency inside them and can be redeemed, but that doesn't mean that everyone can be redeemed using the same methods.
    • Personal improvement doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a daily decision to consciously be better than the day before.
  • The Atoner: Present refuses to retire because he still carries lingering guilt from his actions in life as Scrooge and still feels a need to atone for them.
  • At Least I Admit It: Clint is a giant piece of work, but he never once tries to downplay or conceal that from anyone, even his own siblings. Even when Present thinks he's redeemed when he tries to prevent Josh's suicide, Clint maintains that this doesn't actually mean he's suddenly a good person and reminds him that he's been consistent about that fact for the entire night.
  • Babies Ever After: The epilogue reveals that Present and Kimberly got married and have two children.
  • Back from the Dead: Present has the option of a "retirement" package involving a Sephora gift card, a gold watch, and the opportunity to be returned to life. With Clint's convincing, he takes his package in the third act.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The very evil Ebenezer Scrooge is a hideously wrinkled scarecrow of a man with pale skin that's mottled by hideous warts and gnarly British Teeth. Meanwhile, his redeemed ghostly self, Present, is more clean and healthy-looking (though also carrying Will Ferrell's trademark goofiness).
  • Benevolent Boss: Jacob Marley is this for the spirits. While he can be firm, he is also understanding and tries to maintain good relationships with the ghosts and their support staff.
  • Berserk Button: This movie's example of Parenthetical Swearing but Played for Laughs. When a taxi driver says "Good afternoon" to Clint and Present as they exit the taxi, Present almost pulls the driver out of his car before Clint stops him.
  • Beyond Redemption: Present is initially denied the chance to haunt Clint because his dogmatic cynicism has him labeled as "Unredeemable". Marley is convinced by Present to let the haunting go ahead anyway because of the good someone like Clint could do and they've managed to change an unredeemable in the past. As it turns out, Present was that very unredeemable, Ebenezer Scrooge, and his interest in trying to change Clint ties in with his own insecurities that he might not have fully changed himself.
  • Big Good: Jacob Marley runs the whole bureaucracy for the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet To Come. While he doesn't always see eye to eye with Present and can be obstructive towards his methods at times, he is ultimately trying to run a program to redeem some bitter souls, and is otherwise a nice man.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: There are a couple of ghost that speak different languages other than English, but everyone there can understand each other perfectly, shown most explicitly in the beginning when Marley is being informed by a young woman speaking Japanese of a perp waking up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Clint dies after pushing Present out of the way from an oncoming bus and only mere moments after he reconciles with Owen and Wren. However, he is reunited with Carrie in the afterlife and becomes the new Ghost of Christmas Present, is in a relationship with Past, and has a chance to live out the rest of his mortal lifespan once he’s eligible for retirement. He also uses his new position to add more holidays to the roster so the Spirits can redeem several perps per year instead of just one, creating more ripples of goodness in the world. Also, he is able to visit Present, Kimberly and their kids in the mortal realm, and it's implied he also visits Owen and Wren regularly.
  • Black Comedy: When Clint gets hit by the bus and is launched into the back of the truck, he asks why nobody is doing CPR. Jacob Marley comments that there is no opening left to do the CPR with.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The final shot of the movie is of the entire cast and crew (including the band) gathered together to wish the viewer a "good afternoon", with the camera operator sliding in front of the camera just before it cuts to black.
  • Brick Joke: Near the beginning of the movie, one of the new recruits asks about having his browser history deleted. During the credits, it comes up again when another recruit notices some of the dancers twerking.
  • The Cameo: Judi Dench makes a brief appearance in Victorian London during the "Good Afternoon" number, much to Clint's and Present's surprise. Oliver Twist, another Dickens character, also appears during the number.
  • The Charmer: The biggest problem the ghosts face when trying to haunt Clint is that he's ridiculously charming and can turn the haunt against them easily. It makes the haunt go off the rails basically immediately when he manages to seduce Past before it even begins, meaning Present has to step in to her role for the night.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The song "Good Afternoon" is the Victorian equivalent.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Clint's company specializes in distributing misinformation on the internet on behalf of his clients, which include everything from Christmas unions to senators. Part of the reason why Marley agrees to the haunting is that if Clint could be redeemed, the amount of good his company could do would be incredible.
  • Curse Cut Short: The trailer ends just in time to cut off Clint's "Holy shit" over Present's inability to remember Tiny Tim's name.
    • The movie does as well, interrupting it with the elevator they are riding arriving at the top floor.
    • This also happens in "Present's Lament", where Marley interrupts Present before he says he's "full of shit."
      Marley: Hey, come on now, potty mouth.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As per usual, Ryan Reynolds plays another snarky character, in the form of Clint Briggs.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The movie reexamines the classic Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol and plays with the theme of redemption. Redemption isn't so easy to achieve so instantly as anyone can face a backlash in life..but if you do a little good each and every day, you are on the right track to truly become the better version of you.
  • Dem Bones: The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come has long skeletal hands as usual.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: The name of the terminal illness that Carrie dies from is never revealed.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Clint's old boss tries to chew him out for fabricating a scandal that will ruin someone's life just to get a leg up for their client. Clint responds that all he did was bait the public with a fake scandal, which the boss points out is not a meaningful difference.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Past has a clear infatuation with Clint. When it comes time for her to haunt him, he manages to charm and seduce her. Following the sex, she refuses to return to haunt him, citing the potential awkwardness, forcing Present to take over her shift.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Wren goes to Clint for help with her school election, he treats it like he would a genuine senatorial race and, among other things, encourages her to tank her own grades so that she seems more relatable and to post a video of Josh calling homeless people gross, even though Josh is just a kid who already deleted the video anyway. It's ironically one of the few times that he's genuinely trying to help for no personal gain, but when it's filtered through his relentless cynicism, it just makes Wren feel even worse.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The bad future where Wren does end up posting the video of Josh leads to him getting bullied, which results in his suicide.
    • Present, after becoming human and thinking he failed to redeem Clint, throws himself in front of a bus to return himself to the World of Spirits. Clint pushes him out of the way at the cost of his own life.
  • Embarrassing Browser History: One of the newly deceased recruits asks if there is someone who deletes their Internet history when they die. There isn't.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Clint, having been hired by a union of Christmas tree sellers, walks onstage and admits that his presence is so expensive that he's probably bankrupting them; within five minutes, he has a room full of people who hate his guts cheering for his plan to essentially ignite a culture war to sell Christmas trees, with the pitch being so persuasive that even the ghosts start clapping. It establishes everything about him in one song: Clint is an immoral dick who will do anything for profit, but he's devilishly charismatic and, best and worst of all, he's really good at his job.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Owen goes to Clint for help with Wren's student council election, but he's surprised and disgusted when Clint recommends posting a video of Josh complaining about homeless people being gross, pointing out that the kid would've only been in sixth grade at the time and that it was two years ago.
    • It's heavily implied that Clint doesn't like overly racist people, as when his haunting begins, he complains that the spirits are wasting their time on him instead of trying to redeem racists or murderers. Though at the time, Clint didn’t know that the ghosts don’t bother with actual unredeemables.
    • Kimberly ultimately can't bring herself to harm a kid's reputation, so she talks Wren into not posting the video about Josh before Present and Clint show up to do the same thing. The incident is also the push Kimberly needs to finally quit the PR firm after having had so many reservations about destroying peoples' reputations for a living in the past.
    • Clint is horrified when Yet-To-Come shows him that if Wren does post the video, Josh will die by suicide in the future. He immediately tries to leave the haunting to prevent this future from coming to be, only failing because Yet-To-Come insists on finishing the script before sending him back. Once Clint is back in the mortal realm, he hurries along with Present to the ice rink where Wren and Owen are to stop the video's upload. After finding out that Kimberly already nipped the whole situation in the bud, he's beyond relieved. Interestingly enough, this trope is then deconstructed, as unlike with Kimberly, Clint is not fully redeemed yet, as it's outright noted that saving a kid from committing suicide due to his own selfish and greedy actions is the bare minimum Clint could have done, and he's self-aware enough to realize this as well.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: As the climactic dance of "Do a Little Good" starts winding down, Clint very noticeably walks right back in front of the bus about to hit him, and it hits and kills him the moment the song ends.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: As in other versions of the story...sort of. There aren't any bells in Clint's apartment, so the ghosts have to use various bits of furniture.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Wren goes to Clint for help with her student election, Owen mentions that he promised to help her in any way she needed, which makes him avert his eyes for a brief moment. We later learn that Carrie wanted Clint to take and raise Wren himself, but he passed the buck to Owen instead, and he's still clearly feeling guilty for this in the present day.
    • Present reveals early on that he died before indoor plumbing was invented, worries about screwing up a new life like the last time, takes a meaningful pause in front of a statue of a man with a top hat and cane, and mentions one of his hypothetical kids being named "Robert"note , all clues that point to him being Scrooge.
    • During his initial confrontation with Marley, Clint thinks it's ridiculous that the ghosts are bothering him when they could be going after people he considers much worse, like murderers. Later on, Yet-To-Come revealing to Clint that Josh will be Driven to Suicide if Wren follows Clint's advice and posts the video (which makes Clint responsible for a kid’s death in that future) is one of the major incentives for his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Midway through the movie, when Present reveals he was Scrooge when he was alive, he admits he died three weeks after his redemption, which is why he’s dedicated his afterlife to helping mortals get the second chance he didn’t have a chance to use while alive. Clint's redemption is solidified when he shoves the newly-mortal Present out of the way of a bus, dying and becoming the new Ghost of Christmas Present in the process, allowing him to do the good he didn’t have a chance to perform in his mortal life.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Karen is hit in the head by a ball she threw, once the frozen time effect wears off. Later, when experiencing his own frozen time, Clint spends a lot of time dancing in front of the bus that is still very prominent in the background of every shot.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the room full of statues of those who have been redeemed, there is Dolly Parton... and a dog. Whatever grievous sins the dog had committed, and how they redeemed said dog, are all intentionally left unexplained.
  • Freudian Excuse: Much of Clint's immorality comes from the emotional abuse heaped on him by his mother. He outright says her treatment of him was the greatest gift she could have given him because it gave him the cynical mindset to be the wealthy corporate executive he is in the present.
  • Funny Background Event: During "Do A Little Good", the bus in the background cycles through the song's lyrics as they happen, even including a pair of clapping hands during the clapping section.
  • Genre Savvy: Clint is fully aware of A Christmas Carol and Scrooged and says as much. This gives him an edge over some of the other perps the ghosts have faced over the years and turns what should be a routine haunt into a massive pain in the ass.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Clint's redemption is cemented when he saves Present from being hit by a bus. Despite a Time Stands Still musical number, he does not make it. Marley even grimly points out that the sacrifice wouldn't have meant much if it didn't have any consequences.
  • Hope Spot: After Clint gets hit by the bus and is knocked into the back of a pickup truck, he can be seen pulling himself out, apparently no worse for wear. Then both he and we see the remains of his limp body are still there, telling us that he has, in fact, died.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Clint is a firm believer in this; this is why he's labeled as unredeemable by Marley and why he refuses to play ball with the spirits' attempts to redeem him. He eventually changes his mind after his experiences.
  • Hypocritical Humor: As Clint sings about how the people he's talking to are bringing back "decency", he rudely grabs someone by the face and shoves them offstage.
  • Informed Obscenity: Apparently when the Ghost of Christmas Present was alive, the innocuous phrase "good afternoon" was an unspeakably obscene insult, to the point that he's immediately ready to fight when someone in the modern day says it innocently.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Inverted. In a flashback, Clint correctly predicts that one day, everyone will have Twitter on their phones.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Naturally for a Christmas Carol movie. Jacob Marley himself dons the classic tattered clothes and long chains for the initial meetings with perps.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When the first musical number starts up.
    Recruit Guy 1: Why are they singing?
    Margo: Oh, because this is a musical.
    Recruit Guy 2: What is?
    Margo: All of this, the afterlife.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's still an absolute asshole, but while Clint is manipulative and sleazy, he also genuinely enjoys helping out people he personally knows. He also doesn't think he deserves the title of "redeemed" after just saving a child, pointing out that not letting a child commit suicide is such a low bar that he hasn't actually earned anything yet. By the end of the night, however, he's fully come around and become the new Ghost of Christmas Present.
  • Logical Weakness: Clint's incredible skill with manipulating people depends on establishing a rapport with them, either by being friendly or by needling them until they give something away, then digging into what makes them tick so he can use it to manipulate them. The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come is faceless and utterly silent, giving him nothing to work with and by consequence being the only ghost he isn't able to manipulate over the course of the film (though him being so unbelievably pissed at Clint already probably didn't help).
  • Manipulative Bastard: Clint Briggs. His PR company specializes in creating controversies to benefit his clients. He is introduced at a convention for Christmas tree growers, where he explains that to boost their sales, they need to portray the decision to buy an artificial tree as a "War on Christmas" issue. He uses his manipulative abilities several times over the course of the film in an effort to get out of his own haunting... and he nearly succeeds.
    Present: They're literally eating out of his hand!
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Obnoxious Entitled Housewife who the spirits redeem at the beginning of the movie is named "Karen," a name which had become shorthand for entitled upper-middle class white women on the Internet during the latter half of The New '10s.
    • Downplayed, but Clint's first name rhymes with "flint", a hard stone used in various cultures as a source of stonework and sharpened stone weapons, evoking how Clint has a sharp edge to himself along with being a Jerkass who finds it hard to empathize with other people.
  • Meta Sequel: As Jacob Marley explains the situation to him, Clint interrupts his song to ask if he means like in the original Christmas Carol story, while also bringing up the Bill Murray movie. It's also revealed midway through the movie that Present was actually once Ebenezer Scrooge, having spent the centuries after his redemption helping others the same way he was helped.
  • Mood Whiplash: Clint has just saved Present from being hit by a bus. Time freezes and Present and the other ghosts declare Clint has reached his redemption. They all sing a happy musical number. Then time unfreezes and Clint gets launched by the bus into the back of a truck, killing him instantly. Clint seemingly gets up, but then finds himself staring at his own dead body, while Present watches in distress and Marley somberly declares his sacrifice wouldn't be worth much if it had no consequences.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Not long after Present starts singing "Ripples", Jacob Marley agrees to his proposal on the condition that he end the song immediately.
  • Musical Number Annoyance: Downplayed. Marley is more than okay having a big extravagant musical number whenever the spirits successfully change a person, but he doesn't see the need for people to break into songs all the time. He even stops Present's "Ripples" song before he can finish the intro.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The afterlife is a diegetic example - an onboarding liaison for new recruits to the spirits' organization tells the recently deceased team member that the afterlife is basically one big musical and the spirits are all aware of their numbers. The living, meanwhile, operate on Alternate Universe rules: Clint's first musical number is a big flashy performance with elaborate sets and backup dancers that all disappear when he finishes singing. Once Clint's haunting begins, it becomes diegetic for him as well, and he even comments after "Good Afternoon" that he didn't know the choreography and was just following Present - by the end, he's fully part of the musical.
  • My Greatest Failure: Clint's "kicker" memory is Carrie asking him to raise Wren after she dies, only for him to reject it and walk away. It's clear both by his reaction at the time and his reaction in the present day that this moment still haunts him years later and may be the only thing he genuinely regrets.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A dying Carrie asking Clint to look after her daughter Wren, is reminiscent of Fan dying from childbirth, asking her brother Ebenezer to look after her son Fred in Scrooge (1951). In both cases the brother fails to keep his sister’s promise as they become somewhat distant from her child. He shows remorse when he is shown a vision of him with his sister in her final moments and ends up regretting his decision.
    • Kimberly ends up leaving Clint's employment, like her Christmas Carol counterpart Bob Cratchit does at the end of the 2019 adaptation when he leaves Scrooge's employment.
    • A very dark example: In both the film and the story it's based on, a child dies because of the main character's actions in a possible future.
  • Nephewism: Wren is being raised by her Uncle Owen because her mother Carrie died five years prior, with Clint helping support her financially. Carrie initially wanted Clint (who is older than Owen) to be the one to raise her, but he knew he wasn't parent material and passed the buck to Owen. This is one of the few things that Clint genuinely regrets.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: During the "Good Afternoon" number, when Present sings about his "Dickens", Clint tries to stop him, because there's a baby right in front of them. Present sorrowfully apologizes to the baby's mother, but before she leaves, the two shout "Good afternoon" at her anyways, causing the baby to cry.
  • Not So Above It All: For most of the movie Clint does his best not to go along with the ghosts' plans and actively works to subvert them. He flippantly dismisses Marley, seduces Past, and turns everything around on Present until Clint's basically the one in control. But Yet-To-Come scares him enough that he pretty much drops all manipulations, and follows up by being the only one of the ghosts to actually get an emotional reaction out of Clint with the visions he presents.
  • Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: The film opens as the spirits finish haunting their latest perp, a woman named Karen Blanskey whose entitled attitude caused hell for her neighbors. The spirits' actions do help her change for the better and become kinder to her neighbors.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Present makes Clint live through his "kicker" memory - one of, if not the, last times Clint spoke with his dying sister. After the two end up alone, Carrie starts to ask Clint for a favor, and the present Clint gets so worked up that he flees the haunting entirely before we find out what happened. We later see the scene in full and learn that Carrie actually wanted Clint to raise Wren himself, but recognizing that he wasn't parent material, he effectively threw Owen at her and fled the room instead, an action that he clearly regrets dearly in the present day.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Clint faces all of his past experiences with the same wit and devilish charm he always has, but the realization that he's about to relive his last memory of his sister rattles him so severely that he outright flees the haunt entirely.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: According to Present, the phrase "Good Afternoon" was the Victorian London version of "F you".
  • Pet the Dog: Clint is a dick, but he does his best to treat his friends and family right.
    • When Owen and Wren come to him for help with her school's presidential election, Clint pulls out all the stops to help her, trying to give her advice and even using his company's resources for opposition research. It backfires in the absolute worst possible way, but he is genuinely trying to help and is horrified when it goes wrong.
    • Clint makes Present's night hell out of spite for his haunting, but he never especially dislikes Present personally and even tries to help him. He encourages Present to finally retire and live the mortal life he clearly wants, which Present eventually does, and when Marley steps in to criticize Present for how the haunting has gone off-script, Clint defends him by pointing out that while the haunting isn't working, Present himself has been doing good work. He also encourages his relationship with Kimberly out of genuine care for both of them.
    • One of Clint's memories reveals that after he decided to start his own firm, he made sure to grab Kimberly on the way out, saying that he knew she had talent that was being wasted and offering her a good position at the firm out of genuine respect for her and their friendship. When she can't take working for him anymore, he completely understands and lets her leave with no hard feelings.
  • The Power of Friendship: It's ultimately the friendship he forges with Present that drives Clint to finally make his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Product Placement: In-universe. The ghosts have a deal with Sephora to add their stores into flashbacks where they did not exist anyway, and a Sephora gift card is part of the standard retirement package.
  • Psychological Projection: The basis for Present's attempt to convince Clint of his redemption is to show him the life he could have: a wife, children, and a stable home with a white picket fence. Clint immediately points out that he has never once wanted this kind of life and that Present is projecting his own dreams onto Clint. He proves his point by switching the dream so that it's Present and Kimberly living together, and it clearly strikes a nerve for him.
  • Red/Green Contrast: Fittingly for a Christmas movie, the poster juxtaposes Present (the protagonist, wearing a green suit) with Clint (the deuteragonist Present is at odds with, wearing a red suit) in front of matching backgrounds.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Clint is finally redeemed when he saves Present from being hit by a bus. He does not survive. Marley even mentions that the main reason Clint is redeemed is because he died in the process - as he says, if Clint didn't face any consequences for his act, then it wouldn't have any meaning.
  • The Reveal: A doozy of one comes up midway through the movie: when he was alive, Present was considered an "unredeemable" like Clint was… in fact, he was none other than Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
  • Riddle for the Ages: There's never any kind of explanation or theory for why Yet-To-Come loses his voice during a haunting.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Present convinces Marley to let them haunt Clint because if Clint could be redeemed, the good he'd be able to do with his power and resources would be enormous. He ends up being right on the amount of good Clint could do, but it's when he becomes the Ghost of Christmas Present and adds more holidays to the yearly roster that it comes to pass.
  • Running Gag: Every time Clint gets flown back to his couch, he lands on it hard enough to springboard up in the air and crash on the floor behind it.
  • Same Language Dub: The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come is played physically by Loren Woods and voiced by Tracy Morgan.
  • Serious Business: Clint treats Wren's middle school presidential campaign as he would any other political campaign and encourages her to tank her academic career to come off as a woman of the people and paint Josh as an elitist. He also uses his firm's resources to find a damning video from Josh's past that he encourages her to release, even though Owen points out that he would've only been in sixth grade at the time of the video.
  • Setting Update: While there's a flashback to a Victorian setting in the middle of the movie, the rest of it is set in a modern city much like Scrooged.
  • Shipper on Deck: Once Clint catches wind that Present has a crush on Kimberly, he strongly urges the ghost to begin a relationship with her. Despite being a Manipulative Bastard, he has no ulterior motive for this; he genuinely does want to help the ghost.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Owen is dressed as Cousin Eddie during Clint's Christmas party. There are also party goers dressed as Heat Miser, Ralphie in his bunny costume, The Grinch, and Buddy the Elf (who Present says looks stupid).
    • In a past sequence at a mall, there is a Santa meet-and-greet with a slide, much like the one from A Christmas Story.
    • The dog dish Clint unwraps as a child has the name "Sparky" written on it, said unwrapping happening while audio from A Charlie Brown Christmas plays in the background from an old TV. "Sparky" was Charles Schulz's nickname as a kid.
    • Present and Clint are taken on a fast taxi ride by a driver dressed similarly to the Ghost of Christmas Past from Scrooged. Like Scrooged, the Bob Cratchit counterpart is a black woman.
    • Present and Clint dancing in the streets of Victorian London along with its citizens in "Good Afternoon" is reminiscent of the "Thank You Very Much" number from Scrooge (1970). Like "Thank You Very Much", the song is briefly interrupted due to a presence of a baby.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Mr. Ateli, the person the ghosts originally intend to haunt, only gets two lines in the entire movie, but Present's preparations for the haunt lead him to Clint, which kicks off the entire plot of the movie and ends with Present finally retiring and Clint becoming the new Ghost of Christmas Present.
    • Josh, Wren's rival for school President, only appears in two scenes, but the reveal that Wren posting the video will lead to Josh killing himself is the catalyst for Clint's redemption.
  • Social Media Is Bad: Clint takes advantage of social media for his own ends, whether that's instigating a culture war to sell Christmas trees or spreading disinformation online for the benefit of his clients and disparagement of his opponents. Social media and cyberbullying in general are also what leads to Josh's death in the future, as the video Wren posts of him gets him bullied by his peers to the point of suicide.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Lampshaded during the "Good Afternoon" number by Clint, who admits he was only copying Present's dances. Present also admits that he "messed up a bit in the middle".
  • The Stinger: After the credits, there is a scene of Mr. Ateli (the cruel hotel manager the ghosts were gonna haunt before finding Clint), about to berate his employee again… just as his own haunting begins.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Present a.k.a. Ebenezer Scrooge reveals to Clint that he had actually passed away about three and a half weeks after his visit from the spirits. While Clint is surprised it happened so soon, Present reminds him he was an older man who lived in Victorian England, where winters were harsh and medical care was poor. So, in his words, "the leading cause of death was January!"
  • Swapped Roles: At the end of the movie, it's Present who has become mortal and Clint who has become the new Ghost of Christmas Present.
  • Take That!: During his initial confrontation with Marley, Clint questions why the ghosts are bothering him when they could be going after murderers, racists, or "people who do gender reveal parties".
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come quite literally throws Clint out of his own haunting with a vicious "You’ve been Christmas Caroled, bitch!"
  • Time Stands Still: Early in the film, when Karen is redeemed, time freezes so that all the ghosts can come out and congratulate her. This happens again when Clint saves Present from being hit by the bus.
  • Tiny Tim Template: Josh, Wren's competition for school president, is a very interesting Zigzag of this trope. He is portrayed as a pretty nice and moral kid, but there are moments that show he's not a perfect angel like Tim was. He feeds homeless people with his family, but a deleted TikTok he made that Kimberly dug up shows that he found the homeless people gross. This is justified, as he is a kid and he posted this two years ago, meaning he likely would have changed since then, as many characters point out. However in the present, when his dad suggests posting a picture of him helping out the homeless could help him in the election, Josh hesitates, saying he doesn't want to come off like he's in it for the votes. He ends up posting it moments later. This allusion to Tiny Tim is played straight during Clint's vision of Christmas Future, where it shows that if Wren posts the video, Josh will be Driven to Suicide, much to Clint's horror.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Zig-zagged. As Clint and Present become genuine friends, Clint starts encouraging the spirit's worst impulses, which eventually escalates into the number "Good Afternoon" as the two of them parade around town essentially singing "fuck you" at everyone they pass. On the other hand, Clint also encourages him to take the retirement package and have a mortal life out of a genuine desire to see him happy, and he tries to guide Present on modern mortal life after the fact.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer shows Present talking with Clint talking about how he saved Tiny Tim. This is deliberate misdirection to hide that Present is actually Scrooge and he was discussing how his stinginess almost got Tiny Tim killed.
  • Truly Single Parent: Carrie decided that she didn't want to wait to find a man to have a baby, so she went to a sperm bank to become pregnant with the baby who would become Wren. All she knows about the sperm donor is that he in grad school studying marine biology and donated sperm in the first place to get the money to pay for his tuition.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Subverted; as Clint desperately tries to get Wren not to post the video of Josh so as to prevent his suicide, Kimberly gets in the way to tell him that she's finally quitting her job and delays him long enough that it looks like she posted it. After Clint interrupts her budding musical number, however, she reveals that she convinced Wren not to post it herself.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come is as tall, imposing, and spooky as ever, but he's voiced by the goofy and casual Tracy Morgan.
  • The Voiceless: In-Universe; for a reason that no one knows, Yet-To-Come completely loses the ability to speak once a haunting begins, which is why he always uses his signature pointing. Clint convincing Present to retire makes him angry enough that he's able to fight through it for the first time.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Inverted; after Clint tries to stop Wren from uploading the video and thus prevent Josh's future suicide, it's Present who thinks that this fully redeems him, while it's Clint who acknowledges that preventing the suicide of a child, something that literally anyone would do, doesn't suddenly mean he's a good person.
  • Wham Shot: After Clint manages to escape from his haunting into the ghost's realm, Present finds him in the ghosts' briefing room, where he then slams down the file with the large "Unredeemable" on top of it, meaning Clint now knows exactly what the ghosts think of him and is even less likely to cooperate unless Present pulls out his own past for ammunition.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Invoked in-universe when Clint starts doing a cockney accent by Present, who is not impressed.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Obviously this trope is in play, this being a modern adaptation of the book, but it's also in-universe. Not only does the book and all of its adaptations exist in this universe, but the spirits have also been haunting terrible humans every year for about two centuries in order to get them to change for the better, making hundreds of real-life Christmas Carol adaptations. It also turns out that The Ghost of Christmas Present is none other than Ebenezer Scrooge himself. This trope is also lampshaded heavily during an exchange between Clint and Marley.note 
    Clint: You said past, present, future... like A Christmas Carol? The Dickens story, the Bill Murray movie with Bobcat Goldthwait?
    Marley: Yes, yes, like the Dickens book, and the Bill Murray movie, and every other adaptation nobody asked for.
  • You Can See Me?: While observing Clint at work, Present finds himself surprised when his assistant Kimberly is able to see and talk to him, as he and his fellow spirits are supposed to be invisible. Past and Clint later suggest that this was done unconsciously by Present due to his infatuation with Kimberly.

You've been Christmas Carol-ed, bitch!