Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Muppet Christmas Carol

Go To
Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

"If being mean's a way of life you practice and rehearse
Then all that work is paying off, 'cause Scrooge is getting worse.
Every day, in every way, Scrooge is getting worse!"

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol as performed by The Muppets. Directed by Brian Henson in his directorial debut, it is the first feature length Muppet production since the deaths of original Muppet performers Jim Henson (Kermit, Rowlf, Waldorf, etc.) and Richard Hunt (Scooter, Beaker, Statler, etc.). Released in 1992, it's the first of several Muppet films that adapts a famous story with the Muppets acting both as themselves and as characters from them, as well as the first one to be produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It stars Michael Caine as Scrooge. Oh, it's also a musical.

The film largely follows the story of the book with the typical Muppet humor thrown in. The film was praised for using specially created Muppets to portray the ghosts instead of established Muppets, in order to keep true to Dickens's descriptions. Remarkably, it's actually one of the most faithful Christmas Carol adaptations, with most of the dialogue intact and the omniscient narration quoted in large chunks by the character of Dickens himself — it's just that it's spoken by Muppets.


The film is also the first time Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat appeared as a double act. Gonzo plays Charles Dickens and acts as the narrator, while Rizzo is, well... Rizzo.

The film was followed up with Muppet Treasure Island in 1996, which also had humans playing vital roles while the Muppets played supporting characters. In a holiday context, this was followed by NBC's It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (effectively Muppet It's A Wonderful Life) in 2002, Kermit's narration of 1995's Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree notwithstanding.

A newly restored extended cut of the film with the deleted song “When Love is Gone” is set to stream on Disney+ starting during the holiday season of 2022.


This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Mrs. Cratchit keeps mixing up her daughters Bettina and Belinda.
  • Accidental Truth: The old women at the beginning mention that Scrooge is a person who is lonely and sad, only to say shortly after that "Nah!". They turn out to be right anyway.
  • Actor Allusion: Several, regarding the Muppet actors:
    • Sam the Eagle, as a gaffe, says his Catchphrase "It is the American Way" when telling Young Ebenezer he is to join a business upon graduation. Ebenezer gives him a confused look and Gonzo has to hushedly inform Sam that they're in England, whereupon Sam amends his catchphrase to "It is the British way."
    • Jacob and Robert Marley, during Fozziwig's Christmas party, has them sitting in a VIP balcony for some reason while heckling Fozziwig. Guess who the Marley brothers are portrayed by (and Fozziwig, for that matter)?
    • Gonzo retains his attraction to chickens, introducing one he and Rizzo somehow pickup while being dragged through the woods as Louise, and getting Distracted by the Sexy when Camilla walks by at Fozziwig's.
    • In the musical number after Scrooge's change of heart, the ensemble passes a shop called Micklewhite's. Scrooge is played by Michael Caine, whose real name is Maurice Micklewhite.
    • Another storefront bears the names "Statler and Waldorf," after the two old cranks who routinely heckle the Muppet performances (and who appear in the film as the Marley brothers).
    • Another one says "Duncan & Kenworthy, Booksellers", after Duncan Kenworthy, the film's producer.
    • Emily Cratchit calls Bob "Cratchy" in the same way that Miss Piggy calls Kermit "Kermy".
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Fred, Scrooge's nephew, is a shade nastier and more sarcastic in this adaptation than others. His speech about the importance of Christmas sounds genuinely angry, and during the game of Yes and No at his party, he seems to take delight in describing his uncle as a cruel, beastly animal. The source material and other adaptations tend to make the game more of a lighthearted joke, especially because afterward, Fred reassures the guests that he loves Scrooge anyway and raises a toast to him, with Ebenezer himself finding the description Actually Pretty Funny. Here, though, Fred just laughs at his own cleverness, and Scrooge is genuinely distraught at his nephew's callousness, begging Christmas Present to take him away from the party ("No more...I wish to see no more").
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Ghost of Christmas Present lacks the children Ignorance and Want and is more passive-aggressive than outright ashamed of Scrooge for his callousness.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Michael Caine's Scrooge is given a level of Comedic Sociopathy in the first part of the movie — throwing a lendee out of his offices, literally, for asking for an extension on his loan with a stone-cold expression, declaring his intent to serve eviction notices on Christmas Day (and when Bob points this out, snarking that he may gift-wrap them), loudly threatening to fire his bookkeepers for asking for coal for the fire and then chuckling at them performing an about-face to placate him, destroying the Christmas wreath his nephew leaves for him and pelting a child beggar (played by Bunny Bean) with it just for singing a Christmas carol outside his door and asking for a penny for it. It works in the context of the film's inclusion of Muppet-style jokes but is a departure from the book, where Scrooge is more about passive-aggressive grumpiness and misery rather than physical violence and outright meanness.
    • Statler and Waldorf are usually a pair of elderly hecklers that enjoy taking witty potshots at almost everything around them and then laughing about it. Grumpy, but Played for Laughs and largely harmless. Here, they portray the greedy and cruel Jacob Marley (split into two characters, Jacob Marley and Robert Marley, for the purpose of this film). The scene where they warn Scrooge is one of the darkest in the movie. They talk about their misdeeds when they were alive (they apparently evicted an orphanage when they could not pay the rent), and are implied to be in Hell or some sort of deeply unpleasant afterlife. Even their trademark chuckle only helps to make the scene darker, since they're really not in the mood for laughing and sadly interrupt themselves whenever they do it.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Scrooge's younger sister Fan (Fred's mother) from the original novel does not appear or even get mentioned here. The novel mentions that she died giving birth to Fred, so it's possible that she was removed because death by childbirth is a topic that's very unlikely to be touched on in a Muppet movie.
    • In the novella after Marley's visit, Scrooge looks out the window, and sees many ghosts in the street, burdened by chains, lockboxes, and even a safe, all labouring under the weight and in misery, and recognises some of them as former business partners. For an adaptation that sticks mostly to the original story, this scene is cut (possibly out of a feeling that two Marleys, both in chains and with the lockboxes present in the musical number, still gets the idea across).
    • The children Ignorance and Want—who Christmas Present shows Scrooge in the book—do not appear here.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • In the original story, and in most other adaptations, Scrooge grumbles about giving Cratchit a paid day off for Christmas, but relents. In this version, Cratchit argues that all their potential clients would be closed for the day as well, so being open on Christmas would just mean sitting around wasting coal, and it makes a classic Scrooge line ("it's a poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every December the 25th...") work even better. note 
    • Played for Laughs with the Fozziwig Christmas party scene. Exactly what Fezziwig did for a living is not described in the book (though one presumes he was a moneylender, since he taught Scrooge). Fozziwig makes rubber chickens. Which apparently involves actual chickens. The movie also posits that young Ebeneezer's job at The Fozziwig Co. was as an accountant (who was a bit concerned about Fozziwig's spending habits).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Mr. Fezziwig is named "Fozziwig" in this version. Clearly, they couldn't resist the pun.
    • The eldest Cratchit daughter Martha gets swapped with Bettina, an identical twin for Belinda.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Mrs. Cratchit, of course, becomes a Violently Protective Wife, due to being played by Miss Piggy. Not that it's a very big change, given that, even in the original story, Mrs. Cratchit demonstrates the most hostility of anyone in her family towards her husband's miserly and unkind employer.
    • Fred's wife becomes a bit more of a Genki Girl than she is in the novel.
    • Christmas Present is much jollier and continually laughs. In part this is due to the exclusion of Ignorance and Want. In part, it's simply a contrast to other adaptations (in which Christmas Present tends to be impatient with tutoring Scrooge in Christmas).
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Nose: Rizzo gives Gonzo a kiss on the nose to defuse the situation when Gonzo is annoyed at him.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: A Muppet-ised musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
  • Always Identical Twins: The Cratchits' daughters, Belinda and Bettina, are so indistinguishable that even their mother can't tell them apart.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Christmas Past is portrayed as a child, voiced by a girl, and given nothing to indicate whether it's male or female.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Being a Muppet movie, finding anything accurate would need its own page.
    • The film depicts Scrooge and his employees using quill pens, even though by 1843, they were practically extinct; steel pens had been the standard since the 1820s. One can only presume Scrooge was too stingy to buy them. (Possibly a case of The Coconut Effect, given that quill pens also show up in other adaptations.)
    • The rats singing "Island in the Sun".
    • Animal and Rowlf playing a drum kit and a normal piano at Fozziwig's party.
    • During the "Marley and Marley" musical number, when Statler and Waldorf bring up when they evicted an entire orphanage, leaving the orphans to freeze outside, Waldorf adds, "With their little frostbitten teddy bears!" Teddy bears didn't exist until the 1900s. note 
    • In the beginning, Gonzo/Dickens and Rizzo are selling apples, including McIntosh apples. The McIntosh apple was was first sold in 1835, but by a farmer in what's now the Canadian province of Ontario. It's possible that some could have made their way to London by the 1840s, but unlikely given that they weren't sold commercially until the 1870s.
    • A relatively minor example, as it doesn't occur in-story: during the "Scrooge" musical number, a harpsichord can be heard playing in the background. This is inaccurate for the time period, as the harpsichord was more popular in the Baroque era (c. 1600-1750), but the film takes place during the Romantic era of music (c. 1780-1910), by which time the piano note  had practically replaced the harpsichord as the standard keyboard instrument.note 
    • Rizzo's jelly beans aren't as anachronistic as you may think. Jelly beans were first invented in 1861, so they did exist in Victorian times even if not in the 1840s specifically. Granted, they were probably not available outside the United States until sometime in the 20th century. Strictly speaking, Rizzo isn't part of the Victorian setting, anyway.
    • The caroler at whom Scrooge throws a wreath sings "Good King Wenceslas", the lyrics of which were written in 1853, 10 years after the story's 1843 setting.
  • And Starring:
    • The opening credit roll ends with "and Michael Caine as Scrooge".
    • In the "real" credit roll at the end of the film listing the Muppet Performers: "and Frank Oz, with David Rudman, Louise Gold, Mike Quinn, Karen Prell, Rob Tygner."
  • Animal Motifs:
    • The quartet of businessmen discussing Scrooge's death are pigs, symbolizing gluttony.
    • Old Joe is a spider.
    • The Undertaker is a carrion bird.
  • Animated Actors: As per usual for a Muppet production, but a notable instance is when Sam the Eagle forgets where his character is supposed to be from, and Gonzo, who until this point has acted just as a narrator unseen by the other characters save Rizzo, has to bring him aside to correct him on it, even directly calling him "Sam" rather than by any sort of character name (though the schoolmaster Sam plays isn't directly named in-story). Rizzo also points out that Gonzo is only pretending to be Charles Dickens.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: During the Cratchit family dinner:
    Mrs. Cratchit: I suppose that on the blessed day of Christmas, one must drink to the health of, uh, Mr. Scrooge, even though he is odious...
    Daughters: Mm-hmm.
    Mrs. Cratchit: ...stingy...
    Daughters: Mm-hmm.
    Mrs. Cratchit: ...wicked...
    Daughters: Mm-hmm.
    Mrs. Cratchit: ...and unfeeling...
    Daughters: Mm-hmm.
    Mrs. Cratchit ...and badly dressed!
    [daughters gasp]
  • Big Eater:
    • Rizzo, constantly searching for or noticing food during the narration.
    • The gentlemen pigs seen a couple of times throughout the town always seem to steer their topic toward lunch, even after evidently just finishing breakfast.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Animal yells "Quiet!" to assist Fozziwig in getting everyone to quiet down for the office Christmas party.
  • Big Word Shout: The Marley Brothers shout "Change!" as the screen fades to black at the end of their number.
  • Book Ends:
    • The film starts with a panning shot coming down from the sky over London and ends with a similar shot moving back up to it.
    • At the start of the film the inhabitants sing "Scrooge", a "The Villain Sucks" Song about how Scrooge is a horrible person that none of them like. In the end, Scrooge himself sings "With a Thankful Heart", a song about his change of heart and how he will work to improve the lives of his fellow man instead of making them miserable.
    • In a rare moment a particular scenario starts and ends in the same place, namely the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. In the film, Scrooge's encounter with the ghost starts and ends in the same cemetery. Scrooge even lampshades this. "Must we return to this place?"
  • Break Up Song: Belle sings the song "When Love is Gone" as she breaks up with Ebenezer.
  • Butt-Monkey: Rizzo can barely go one scene without some type of misfortune befalling him, such as him being used by Gonzo to clean the dusty window, jumping into the snow when Gonzo is supposed to catch him, getting his tail set on fire, getting frozen, etc.
  • Call-Back:
    • As in the original story, The Ghost of Christmas Present throws "If they are to die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population" back in Scrooge's face.
    • During the opening song, a mouse Muppet in the wall begs Scrooge for some cheese. In the "Thankful Heart" number, Scrooge gifts her a block of cheese.
    • In Christmas Present, Emily Cratchit is introduced hunching over the stove because she's secretly eating chestnuts. In Christmas Yet to Come, she is in the same position, but crying instead.
  • The Cameo: Various minor characters appear as extras in the crowd scenes:
    • As well as the various extras who are recognisable Muppets characters, several are from Fraggle Rock. Sprocket appears briefly at the start and joins the crowd at the end. Murray, Mudwell, and Begoony play a family, peering through a window in the street scenes. Brool (in a dress, with a female puppeteer) and Wander Mcmooch are guests at Fred and Clara's party. Aretha sings during the songs "Scrooge" and "It Feels Like Christmas". The small Inkspot creatures can be seen in several places.
    • The Snowman from A Muppet Family Christmas is seen briefly during the Ghost of Christmas Present's song, while the Turkey from the same film can be seen in the opening as a generic turkey.
  • Canon Foreigner: The character of Jacob Marley is given a brother named Robert, strictly for the purposes of being able to put Statler and Waldorf in the roles (as well as a Stealth Pun). It works.
    • Scrooge has several bookkeepers, rather than just Bob Cratchit as his only member of staff as in the book and other adaptations.
  • Celebrity Paradox: An in-movie example. Gonzo insists he's Charles Dickens, and Rizzo insists otherwise. Eventually, Rizzo just rolls with it.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: "Bless Us All" marks the part where the movie becomes incredibly dark and tragic.
  • Character as Himself: "...and Rizzo the Rat as Himself."
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: When Scrooge arrives at the Cratchits' home on Christmas Day, he acts as though he forgot he gave Bob the day off and that he is about to fire him. Mrs. Cratchit starts to tell Scrooge off until Scrooge announces he is actually raising Bob's salary. Merry Christmas!
  • Christmas Carolers:
    • Bean Bunny comes to the counting house singing "Good King Wenceslas" and meekly asking for a penny, only to have Scrooge rudely slam the door in his face, then throw a wreath at him. Later, as evening falls, he's seen huddled in a pile of trash, pulling newspapers around him, cold and miserable and alone.
    • As Christmas Present is showing him, they pass a small choir composed of babies. One of them accidentally hit the other on the face.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gonzo, of course, in this film narrating as Charles Dickens.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Gonzo: I know the story of A Christmas Carol like the back of my hand!
    Rizzo: Prove it!
    Gonzo: All right. [averts his eyes and holds his hand out] Um, there's a little mole on my thumb and a scar on my wrist from when I fell off my bicycle—
    Rizzo: [shaking his head] No, no, no, don't tell us your hand, tell us the story!
    • Later in the film Gonzo annoyingly tells Rizzo he is such an idiot. Rizzo who is oblivious he could have just fitted through the bars in the first place instead of jumping from the top has no idea why Gonzo called him that.
  • Cover Version: Martina McBride's rendition of "When Love Is Gone" is heard in the ending credits.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: As with all adaptations of A Christmas Carol, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. It takes the form of a huge, terrifying, grim reaper, but is just as benevolent as the other spirits.
  • Darker and Edgier: The movie follows the book very closely, and can be seen as very dark for a Muppet movie. The emotion is often put before the laughter, Gonzo and Rizzo provide more than half of the comic relief, and the part with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is both scary and sad—and Gonzo and Rizzo bail on that sequence out of fear of the Ghost, saying they'll be Back for the Finale. The Marley scene is one of the biggest Played for Drama scenes in the franchise, even though they are portrayed by Statler and Waldorf.
  • Decomposite Character: Jacob Marley is split into two Marley brothers, since Statler and Waldorf both fit the role of a cruel, greedy curmudgeon like a glove, and you simply can't have one without the other. Though like in the book, only Jacob (Statler) appears as Scrooge's door knocker; Waldorf doesn't appear as Robert until the visitation.
  • Dedication: The film is dedicated to Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, both of whom died shortly before production.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Rizzo, as is his wont. Much of the verbal humor comes from his snarky comments and Gonzo's subsequent reactions.
    • All the Muppets give snarky comments about Scrooge during his song of the same name such as "If they give a prize for being mean, the winner would be him," and "And all the hard work is paying off because Scrooge is getting worse."
    • Scrooge himself gets a few in, naturally with a large dose of Black Comedy.
      Scrooge: Let us deal with the eviction notices for tomorrow.
      Cratchit: But sir, tomorrow is Christmas!
      Scrooge: Very well. You may giftwrap them.
    • Fred has a few good lines as well, mostly at his uncle's expense.
      Scrooge: I do not make merry at Christmas-
      Fred: That is true.
      Scrooge: And I cannot afford to make idle people merry.
      Fred: That is certainly not true.
      Scrooge: [Annoyed] Don't you have somewhere to be, my dear nephew?
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • While most of the characters they once performed are given new puppeteers and voices here, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and Janice are reduced to non-speaking cameos and Scooter is completely absent.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In "Marley and Marley", the brothers refer to themselves as "avarice and greed" both of which are the same thing.
  • Disneyfication: Subverted. While this starts out being lighthearted, when Scrooge appears, it's clear it's not really pulling that many punches. Many Dickens fans believe this to be one of the better adaptations, mostly due to the inclusion of Gonzo as Dickens himself, which amounts to Gonzo providing narration straight out of the book. Much of the dialogue in the movie (as well as some of the lyrics) is simply lifted directly from the book as well, albeit with the standard Muppet humor added here and there.
  • Drone of Dread: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is introduced with a set of notes in a-minor on the tuba and cello.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Sort of with Jacob and Robert Marley. Both laugh after mentioning the time they evicted orphans but suddenly groan, implying they just realised they have both forgotten that was one of the reasons they are fettered.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The introductory shot of London.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Scrooge, he's back-lit so all we see is an ominous silhouette, the sinister music starts up, and Rizzo shivers and asks "Say, is it getting cold around here?"
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The penguins' Christmas skating party, during Bob Cratchit's first song.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Throughout "Scrooge", Scrooge is mainly shown in long shots and in darkness, with his face never clearly visible until the end of the song.
  • Fake Food: At Fred's Christmas party, Rizzo helps himself to the fruit on the table. When Gonzo tells him its made of wax, he just comments he was wondering about the texture.
  • The Film of the Book: Lampshaded in the end, as noted in the trope's last word quote below.
  • Flanderization: Somewhat on Scrooge, who is portrayed as having been a stodgy workaholic since childhood. This is possibly because his sister was cut out of the story, and he's still shown as being a lonely boy.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Attentive viewers will notice that the amount of chains wrapped around the Marley brothers' necks and bodies actually gradually increases throughout the song. By the end, they're both almost completely wrapped up, and Statler is visibly choking on them and the song actually stops briefly so that Statler can free himself enough to speak.
  • Friendless Background: With Fan being left out, this is Scrooge's backstory in his childhood. He does mention having a best friend called Edmund though.
  • Fun Personified: The Ghost of Christmas Present is disarmingly nice to Scrooge and has a bad memory because he's always living in the present. This ghost is actually able to break through Scrooge's barriers and Scrooge becomes increasingly fond of him since The Ghost of Christmas Present is assigned the role of showing Scrooge the good side of Christmas and the well-being of others.
  • Funny Background Event: As is typical with Muppets.
  • Gender Equals Breed: All of Kermit and Piggy's children are frog boys and pig girls. (This is one of the films which led to the trope's creation.)
  • Ghost Song: "Marley and Marley", sung by the Marley brothers' ghosts.
  • Gift Shake: In the ending, when Scrooge delivers gifts to his elderly former mentors, Fozziwig shakes his while holding it to his hearing horn so that he can hear it properly.
  • The Glomp: Scrooge when visiting Fred and Clara. He hands them presents, hugs them both, and then walks out.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Zigzagged with the Ghosts of Christmas—they're helping Scrooge change his ways, but while Christmas Present is a genuinely nice guy (albeit with a few moments of using Scrooge's own words against him), the other two use Brutal Honesty and Tough Love to get their message across. Christmas Yet to Come is mute and unyielding, while the Ghost of Christmas Past forces Scrooge to watch the unhappiest moments of his youth, and when Scrooge tearfully begs her to stop...
    Scrooge: Spirit, I wish to see no more. Why do you delight in tormenting me?
    Christmas Past: I told you—these are the shadows of things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The Ghost of Christmas Present begins to vanish into nothingness, much to the devastation of Scrooge who pleads him to stay. The Ghost though remains jolly and upbeat right to the very last bitter second, perhaps offering some hopeful optimism to Scrooge as the two are forced to part ways.
  • Greek Chorus: Gonzo and Rizzo, who often provides commentary not only on the story events but on the narration itself.
    Gonzo: The Marleys were dead, to begin with.
    Rizzo: Uh, wha— Pardon me?!
    Gonzo: That's how the story begins, Rizzo: "The Marleys were dead, to begin with"!
    Rizzo: Oh.
    Gonzo: "As dead as a doornail."
    Rizzo: It's a good beginning. It's creepy and kinda — hoo hoo! — spooky.
  • Happily Married: Scrooge's nephew Fred and his wife Clara, as well as the Cratchits.
  • Harmless Freezing: Rizzo briefly becomes a ratcicle after being thrown into a bucket of ice water to put out a fire on his clothes.
  • Harsher in Hindsightinvoked: An intentional in-universe example. The choir of elderly lady Muppets saying that Scrooge must be lonely and sad, then changing their minds when he ignores them, is Played for Laughs. Then we discover his backstory, showing they were right.
  • Hated by All: "The Villain Sucks" Song at the beginning showcases how widely despised Scrooge is, with upper and lower class people alike singing their dislike of him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Scrooge at the end, just like in the book.
  • Hitler Cam: Scrooge's introductory shot, appropriately.
  • "I Am" Song: "Marley and Marley" is one of these. If you want to get technical, call it a "We Were Song."
  • If You Can Read This:
    • A sign in London says "Statler and Waldorf".
    • Another sign says "Micklewhite's" — Michael Caine's birth name.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The Marleys treat Scrooge's "more gravy than grave" line as one.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: An interesting addition to the story, Tiny Tim has a persistent cough during his scenes, undercutting every happy moment with a sense of concern from the Cratchits. His coughing is also what prompts Scrooge to ask if he'll live.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: In-universe. When seeing Tiny Tim for the first time, Scrooge says "a remarkable child."
  • Insult to Rocks: The Marley brothers tell Scrooge to "leave comedy to the bears, Ebenezer." Considering that there's probably no one whose comedy they hate more than Fozzie, that's quite an insult on their part.
  • Interactive Narrator: Gonzo, although Rizzo doesn't quite buy it... until Gonzo starts getting everything right.
    Rizzo: (buried upside down in the snow after Fred comes knocking) You're very good at that, "Mr. Dickens"!
    • That said, most of the time Gonzo and Rizzo are completely unacknowledged by the characters in the story, save for one moment when Gonzo has to pull Sam the Eagle aside in a brief moment where the two "break character" to correct him on something — and one moment at the very end of the movie, where a joyful Scrooge wishes the two a merry Christmas.
    • There's also the bit where Gonzo is too slow to follow Scrooge into his house and gets hit in the face by his front door. He ends up having to narrate the next part from Scrooge's front step (with an audibly mashed nose).
  • Interspecies Romance: Implied by the very blended Cratchit family, headed by Bob (Kermit) and Emily (Miss Piggy).
  • Ironic Echo: As in the book, when told by the charity workers that many would rather die than go to prisons or workhouses for aid, Scrooge responds that then they should die and decrease the surplus population. Later, when told Tiny Tim will die without assistance, the Ghost of Christmas Present uses this against him.
    Ghost of Christmas Present: But then if he's going to die, then he'd better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
    Scrooge: [Mortified] Oh, Spirit...
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Variation, with the offended parties being someone other than the person being insulted. See Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: This is Scrooge's first hint of the Crachits' Bad Future.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In "Scrooge", some Muppets begging for alms lampshade the possibility that Scrooge is merely putting up a nasty facade...and abruptly dismiss the idea when he passes without giving them anything. Ironically, they are proven right by Scrooge’s Heel–Face Turn by the end.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Not only does he look more than a little like the Grim Reaper, Gonzo and Rizzo promptly hightail it out of the movie until Scrooge wakes back up.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Par for the course for a Muppets movie.
  • Large and in Charge: Scrooge, being human, towers over his less-than-three-foot-tall underlings, and the entire Muppet cast. Used to good effect in the opening number, where he wades through a sea of knee-high Muppets singing about how oppressive he is.
    • The "size equals power" vibe is done to subtly brilliant effect in "Marley and Marley". Although Statler and Waldorf aren't much taller than most of the others, this is a rare portrayal of the two where they're standing at their full heights rather than sitting down in the balcony box. Additionally, they're shot mostly in closeups, making them look larger and whenever they're in the frame with Scrooge, they're floating slightly above him, looking down, which quite effectively communicates how much they intimidate him.
    • Size is used to make a point with the three ghosts, with each one progressively increasing in size and strength as they also increase in power. Christmas Past is a child-sized, ethereal fairy-like creature, Christmas Present is a human-sized, Santa Claus-like Muppet portrayed by a person in a costume, and Christmas Future is a horrifying eight-foot-tall Grim Reaper.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Ghost of Christmas Present.
    • Scrooge gets some moments of this himself, especially when screaming at the rat bookkeepers about firing them all.
  • Last Disrespects: While not actually showing the funeral, three pigs say they'll only go to Scrooge's funeral "if lunch is provided". (Incidentally, this is straight out of the book.)
  • Lighter and Softer: This version of Ghost of Christmas Present is kinder than the book version or those from other adaptations. This movie also Adapted Out the children Ignorance and Want, who appear with the Ghost of Christmas Present right before he leaves Scrooge.
  • Made Myself Sad: Scrooge is visited by the Marley brothers, a.k.a. Statler and Waldorf. They openly admit that, in life, they were selfish and heartless bankers, and they even reminisce about evicting an entire orphanage in the middle of winter. This makes them break out into their trademark laugh, which almost immediately degenerates into a shudder, and they move on to warn Scrooge to repent from the mistakes they made.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings:
    • When Gonzo asks Rizzo if he was ever a lonely child, Rizzo replies, "I had 1,274 brothers and sisters!"
    • The Ghost of Christmas Present had more than 1,800 brothers, each of them representing a year of Christmas.
  • Match Cut:
    • The movie uses several of these very well to put Scrooge back in his room following a ghost visit; probably the most famous one is his sitting on the bridge following the "When Love Is Gone" sequence, in which he sits on the railing of the small bridge, and the entire scene dissolves back to his bedchamber, with Scrooge sitting on his bed, having seemingly not moved an inch, reinforcing the book's question of just how real it all is.
    • It's used a second time during the Christmas Yet to Come sequence, where Scrooge grabs the ghost's robe and buries his face in it, only to fall into his bed clutching his beds curtains.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: During the song "It feels Like Christmas", it is ambiguous whenever the characters can really see the Ghost of Christmas Present, particularly as him and Scrooge are supposed to be invisible. In the final bridge, Christmas Present is standing the middle of a town square loudly singing, with everyone gathered around him (and some Muppets looking directly at him). Likewise at the end of the film we hear the voice of the same spirit despite the fact he supposedly 'died'.
  • Medium Awareness: Gonzo and Rizzo, of course, but at one point, Gonzo has to step out of his narrator's role to remind Sam the Eagle that he's not American, but British in this production.
  • Midword Rhyme: "Marley and Marley" rhymes "greed" with "needy", "black" with "shackles", and in a verse cut from the film, "part" with "heartless". Since it happens at the same point in every verse, it was probably done to be stylish.
  • Mood-Swinger: An iconic Scrooge trait pulled off to perfection by Michael Caine.
    Scrooge: [talking to the Marley brother ghosts in an almost pleading tone] Please, Jacob, Robert, don't criticize me... [switches to a vindictive snarl mid-sentence while pointing at them angrily] You were always criticizing me!
  • Mood Whiplash: Big time, much like the novella it's based on. The movie very faithfully follows the elements of the original story that are much Darker and Edgier than the usual Muppet fare. An especially chilling moment comes in the middle of "Marley and Marley", a very catchy Villain Song where Statler and Waldorf let out their signature "DOHOHOHO" laugh... only to be cut-off in mid-breath by the chains around their necks strangling them.
  • Monochrome Apparition: Marley and Marley are pale blue.
  • Morality Pet: Though they don't meet until the end of the film, Tiny Tim more or less becomes this for Scrooge when The Ghost Of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the Cratchit house on Christmas day. Scrooge is moved by Tim's heart and positive attitude even in the face of an illness that could end up killing him. Later on, when the Ghost Of Christmas Yet to Come shows what will happen to Tim if Scrooge doesn't change, he can only utter this line:
    Scrooge: No... not Tiny Tim...
  • Muppet: Logically.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • During "Marley and Marley", the brothers recount an event where they evicted an orphanage and seeing all the kids standing in the freezing cold. They initially laugh at the memory before shuddering at their cruel actions.
    • There's an indication with present-Scrooge during "When Love is Gone" where he seems to regret pursuing money over marrying Belle.
    • The realization that his underpaying Bob led to Tiny Tim's death (because he couldn't afford the medicine to cure the boy's illness) was one of the last points in Scrooge's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • Mrs. Cratchit gets Emily as a first name for this film.
    • Fred's unnamed wife is Clara here.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted all over the place, as is Muppet tradition, particularly in the Christmas Yet to Come scenes.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • In general, part of the reason for the movie's initially poor run was this phenomenon; the trailers were cut like typical kid's movie/"Muppet movie" trailers of the time, and did an absolutely rotten job of conveying elements like the book-accurate dialogue, the elaborate and gorgeous set design, the very somber middle of the film, and the excellent music, all of which would later define the movie in the zeitgeist and make it far more popular. This is one such example. (Note that at one point it opts to use music from Beetlejuice, of all movies, instead of the film's score.)
    • Some trailers and promos that feature Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past flying would be followed by a clip of Bob (Kermit) seeing a shooting star, implying he saw his boss flying in the sky. In the actual film as shot, cut, and released, the "Bob looks up at the sky" sequence is the coda to Bob's own "One More Sleep Till Christmas" musical number.
  • No Fourth Wall: Characters will routinely drop character and speak directly to the viewer during the film. Of course, this is only standard procedure for The Muppets (and it's usually just Gonzo and Rizzo doing this).
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite being ostensibly English, the established Muppet characters speak with their normal American accents (a fact Lampshaded when Eagle Sam has to be corrected on his Catchphrase referencing "the American Way"). Characters played by normal humans, as well as Muppets created specifically for the production, have appropriate English accents.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bean Bunny is standing on Scrooge's doorstep singing a carol, but when he looks up and sees who's standing in the doorway he trails off.
    • Scrooge when Jacob Marley transforms into a doorknob and yells his name, followed by Gonzo and Rizzo when they're thrown off their carriage.
    • Scrooge again when he sees the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appear before him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • You know the story has reached one of its biggest tearjerkers (Tiny Tim's death in the Future Christmas) when Miss Piggy, who has maintained her sassy personality in the story, is actually crying.
    • Given that Gonzo is such a Fearless Fool, you know that things are really going to take a dark turn when he and Rizzo see the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come and Gonzo agrees with Rizzo that they should leave Scrooge on his own until the scary part has finished!
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: This movie's version of the Ghost of Christmas Past, much like the original story. It's... possibly a girl. We think. Maybe. At the very least, it's voiced by a woman. As the spiritual manifestation of a concept, it may not really have one at all.
  • Parental Bonus: Loads (it is a Muppet movie, after all), such as the Stealth Pun below, or the following exchange:
    Rizzo: This is scary stuff! Shouldn't we be worried about the kids in the audience?
    Gonzo: It's OK; this is culture!
  • Perplexing Plurals: The mice in "Scrooge":
    Mice: It's even worse for mouses!
    (two verses later)
    Mice: No cheeses for us meeces!
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Rizzo the Rat, as a Fourth-Wall Observer.
  • Pop-Star Composer: As with The Muppet Movie, Paul Williams wrote the film's songs.
  • Red Live Lobster: A group of muppet lobsters are visible from time to time among the background characters. They are bright red, like a cooked lobster, rather than being the proper color for a live lobster.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the novel, Mrs. Fezziwig is Fezziwig's wife. Here, she's replaced by Fozziwig's mother, played by Emily Bear from A Muppet Family Christmas.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The three Ghosts of Christmas represent three individual ages, which in turn reflect the part of Scrooge's life they're exploring. Christmas Past is a child, Christmas Present is a middle-aged man (who gradually grows older over the course of the day), and Christmas Yet to Come is a walking corpse.
  • Running Gag: Gonzo and Rizzo always seem to be in front of a window that needs opening...
  • Say My Name: Jacob yells, "Scrooge!" when his face appears on the door knocker, shocking Scrooge. Gonzo and Rizzo's horse gets spooked also and they're thrown off the carriage.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: From the soundtrack version of "Marley and Marley", as the brothers announce their departure:
    The news we've shared has got you scared
    We're glad that we got through
    So make amends and make some friends
    The future's up to you!
  • Scenery Porn: Everything you'd expect from a screen adaptation of "A Christmas Carol".
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Gonzo and Rizzo vanish from the scene after the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows up, not returning until after Scrooge wakes up in his own bed and the story is almost over. It's both lampshaded and justified, in that they point out that they're leaving because they're scared of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. As this is the point where Cerebus Syndrome kicks in for the original and all adaptations of the story, Gonzo's address to the audience is probably included so the kiddies won't be too scared.
    Gonzo: You're on your own folks. We'll meet you at the finale.
  • Shout-Out: To another Dickens novel Oliver Twist.
    Mouse: Please, Sir, I want some cheese.
  • Shown Their Work: As the Yet Another Christmas Carol page points out, this film uses dialogue from the original novel, which is more than most A Christmas Carol adaptations can say. The ghosts are also closer to Dickens' descriptions; the choice not to use established Muppets for the ghosts vastly improves the film.
    • Of note is the fact that while the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come are Muppets, strictly speaking, they were custom-built Muppets just for this film (although Christmas Present would go on to be used in other projects under different names) and are some of the largest Muppets ever built. Christmas Present is about as tall as Scrooge (usually), and Christmas Yet To Come is a towering eight feet tall. Christmas Past, meanwhile, is more of a CGI-esque effect to cleave closer to the book's strange, ethereal description of the being, and looks more like the elfin protagonists from The Dark Crystal.
    • The songs have lyrics lifted out of Dickens, too. The phrase "captive, bound, and double-ironed" shows up in "Marley and Marley", which is something Jacob Marley says in the book.
    • The costuming work is also surprisingly accurate to the 1840s, and could put many serious historical dramas to shame. Even the muppet characters wearing period appropriate styles with layers and bright colored fabric.
  • Sizeshifter: The Ghost of Christmas Present initially appears as a giant who has to crane his head to fit into Scrooge's spacious rooms... while sitting down. When it comes time for them to leave the house, he shrinks to a more human-like frame.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: It's all but implied that Fezziwig has since passed on since Scrooge worked for him, and several adaptations have even directly stated it. In this version, an elder Fezziwig, or Fozziwig as he's referred to here, is shown to be still alive in the present when Scrooge visits him during the ending.
  • Stealth Pun: They split the role of Jacob Marley in two so both Statler and Waldorf could play it. So now we have Robert Marley (think about it, mon).
    • When they arrive at Scrooge's school, there is a shelf of busts of famous writers, Aristotle, Dante, Moliere, Shakespeare, all in Muppet form. Then we see Gonzo sitting in an empty spot, the Muppet form of Charles Dickens.
    • In the book, but not the movie, they have Old Joe tell Mrs. Dilber, the laundress, and the mortician to "Come into his parlor". In the film, they have Old Joe as a spider and Mrs. Dilber as a fly.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Gonzo and Rizzo respectively. Yes, Gonzo of all people ends up being the sane one who frequently gets exasperated by the latter's antics.
    Gonzo: You are such an idiot.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Scrooge does this twice to his bookkeepers at the beginning. Interestingly, they are the only ones that he yells at in the whole movie.
    • When his bookkeepers ask if they can put some more coal into the stove:
      "How would the bookkeepers like to be suddenly... UNEMPLOYED?!"note 
    • And again when his bookkeepers applaud Fred for his speech about Christmas:
      "And how does one celebrate Christmas ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE?!"
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come walk through one of these to go into the future.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Rizzo: [on a window ledge] Are you sure it's okay to be up here?
    Gonzo: Scrooge is saved! What could happen?
    [Scrooge flings open the window, throwing them to the ground]
  • Theme Twin Naming: Belinda and Bettina.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Rizzo, landing in the past.
    Rizzo: Safe at last.
    Cat: Meow.
    Rizzo: [Looks at the cat, then turns back to the camera and shakes his head] No.
  • Those Two Guys:
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Gonzo's weird tendencies are given a nod when Rizzo takes a tumble into the Cratchit household.
    Rizzo: [blowing on his feet] I fell down a chimney and landed on a flaming hot goose!
    Gonzo: [dejected] You have all the fun!
  • Tranquil Fury: Scrooge in the first part of the film, especially in his Establishing Character Moment with Mr. Applegate. Scrooge doesn't say a word as Mr. Applegate pleads for mercy, he just picks him up and tosses him out the door.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "When Love Is Gone" midway through becomes "The Love We Found" at the end.
  • Uncanny Valley: The Ghost of Christmas Past. The effect of a human-like puppet operated in a water tank and added in via green-screen is eerie. Scrooge is both entranced and scared, since she is meant to be a physical representation of his past and innocence.
  • Undisclosed Funds: When the reformed Scrooge decides to make a donation to the charity Bunsen & Beaker are collecting for, he whispers the amount in their ears. Their reactions show that it's a large amount, but the potential issues of specifying a number are avoided.
  • Villain Song: "Marley & Marley" comes the closest to this, since it's sung by "bad" characters, but it's done as a warning to Scrooge.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Scrooge," where all of the townsfolk of London sing about how heartless Scrooge is. "Marley & Marley" as well, even though it is the villainous Marley brothers who are singing it.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Well, Wife in this instance, but of course Mrs. Cratchett, by virtue of being played by Miss Piggy. When it sounds like Scrooge is going to fire her husband, Emily jumps in to defend Bob.
  • Walking Wasteland: In the first part of the film, Scrooge seems to make the environment colder wherever he goes.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: After hitching a ride on the Spirit of Christmas Past and getting dragged through an entire forest, Gonzo almost immediately says that he'd love to go through that again. Naturally, Rizzo disagrees.
  • We All Live in America: Lampshaded below:
    Sam the Eagle: Mm, you will love business. It is the AMERICAN WAY!
    (Young Ebenezer looks extremely confused)
    Gonzo: Ack! Uh, Sam... (whispers in Sam's ear)
    Sam the Eagle: Oh... It is the BRITISH WAY!
    Gonzo: Good. (thumbs up)
    Young Ebenezer: Yes, Headmaster.
    Sam the Eagle: Hmm. (looks around, confused)
  • We Are as Mayflies: The Ghost of Christmas Present is born, lives, ages, and (it's implied) passes away in twenty-four hours. note 
  • Weirdness Censor: How visible Gonzo and Rizzo are varies. Scrooge doesn't notice them when Christmas Past opens his window (nor does he feel the grappling hook Gonzo attaches to his robe), but does see them to say "Merry Christmas" at the end.
  • What an Idiot!: Invoked directly by Gonzo as an In-Universe example: Rizzo was panicking about climbing up a gate and then having to jump down from the top of the gate. After a crash landing on the ground, Rizzo... squeezes through the bars to get back to the other side to retrieve jellybeans, meaning he'd never really needed to climb the gate in the first place!
    Gonzo: You are such an idiot.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: When Scrooge is redeemed, Gonzo and Rizzo think they're off the hook as slapstick victims. It happens one last time as they are knocked off Scrooge's windowsill.
  • Why Are We Whispering?: Rizzo the Rat does this. Gonzo explains it's for dramatic emphasis.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Behind the scenes, director Brian Henson was originally opposed about doing another Christmas Carol... but once they worked out that Scrooge and the Ghosts would not be played by regular Muppets, they decided to move forward.
  • You Just Told Me: How Scrooge knows the Ghost of Christmas Present took him to the Cratchits'.
    Scrooge: You're a little absent-minded, spirit.
    Ghost of Christmas Present: No, I'm a LARGE absent-minded spirit!

Rizzo: Wow, what a great story, Mr. Dickens!
Gonzo: Oh, thanks. You think that's good, you should read the book.


Video Example(s):


When Love is Gone & Found

The Muppet Christmas Carol ends with Scrooge reprising a song of love lost, but now using to celebrate the love found.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TriumphantReprise

Media sources: