Christmas bells are ringing!
Caroling, caroling through the snow
Christmas bells are ringing!"
Ah, Christmas time! When the trees are trimmed, presents are wrapped, and people form troupes and go around singing Christmas Songs. It's just one of the ways to establish that it's that time of the year again.
Carolers are often used in works to establish the season and help create the environment. But they differ from other such things, Christmas trees, lights, wreaths and holly and mistletoe, in that carolers are actual characters and thus are able to interact with each other and/or with others, and at times can even affect the plot of the story.
If participating, the characters may be the ones arranging it or at least willingly joining in, or they may be pressed into it and dragged along, in which case they will either do everything they can to ruin the experience for everyone else, or will gradually come to enjoy themselves. If listening they may pause to appreciate the singing, perhaps dropping some cash if the carolers have a donation box or they may simply ignore them or even yell at or chase them off, which is common for The Grinch or the Scrooge.
The carolers themselves can be anything from a family or group of friends who get together and go sing to people, to a full choir singing on the street corners or in the city parks in seasonal costume, often styled after nineteenth century England or early twentieth century America. While they are often shown in small choirs, this is not necessary; it may only be a single person going around singing to friends and neighbors (singing talent optional).
In a fantasy setting, carols for a Christmas Equivalent could also count.
- In an ad for Verizon wireless, a young man hears singing outside his house, and when he opens his door, he finds a small group of people caroling to him, in the middle of summer:
We wish you a red hot deal today
We wish you a red hot deal today
We wish you a red hot deal todaaaay...
And an awesome new phone (awe-some new phooooooone)!
- This '80s ad for Kroger supermarkets.
- This 2015 commercial for Old Navy, featuring Portlandia's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.
- The gag in the Addams Family movie mentioned below is taken from one of Charles Addams' original cartoons in The New Yorker.
- This activity has been mentioned (and seen) quite a few times in the Christmas comics for Garfield, with Jon often participating in it. However, given that Jon's a terrible singer, the experience usually doesn't turn out to well for him —
- While out caroling with Liz (who's a much better singer), Jon had his scarf wrapped around his mouth.
- Similar to the above-example, when Jon got back home from caroling, he had duct-tape wrapped around his mouth.
- Another year when he got back home from caroling, Jon reveals to his cat that he got a ticket from the police for disturbing the "heavenly" peace.
- Jon and Liz go out caroling with Garfield and Odie, and are doing some vocal warm-ups, but Jon, of course is terrible...so Liz and the pets wrap his scarf around his mouth to keep him from singing.
- The Santa Clause has a group of them singing "Carol of the Bells" near the beginning as Scott is rushing home to meet his ex-wife and son.
- Mr. Krueger's Christmas: At one point the eponymous Mr. Krueger invites some carolers down to his apartment. They later invite him to come and join them.
- Christmas with the Kranks has the Krank family being bothered by, among other things, carolers who come by every night.
- Elf: When Buddy first meets Jovie and has trouble reaching her, he tries to lift her spirit by telling her, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Later in the movie, when she learns Santa's sleigh has lost its power source because nobody has Christmas spirit, she remembers Buddy's words of wisdom, and tries to boost everyone's spirit by leading a round of spontaneous Christmas caroling, singing, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town".
- MouseHunt: While Ernie and Lars wander the streets at night, both of them with nowhere to go, cynical Ernie belittles Lars for not looking at the big picture, though Lars says it's Christmas, and instead of dwelling on what they don't have, they should be thankful for what they do have... all the while carolers are singing, "I'll Be Home for Christmas", until the brothers give them an Aside Glance, prompting them to leave.
- During Christmas time in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ghostly carolers are seen roaming the Hogwarts halls, singing a rather eerie song.
- The first The Addams Family movie opens with the family preparing to drop boiling oil on some carolers at their front door.
- Played with in Love Actually. A character uses a recording of carol singing so he can spend a couple of minutes using cue cards to let another know how he feels and gain closure for himself on the situation.
- Christmas carolers appear near the end of Bridget Jones' Diary. Bridget is single and spending Christmas Eve with her father. They are completely out of the mood and she just yells at them to bugger off.
- In Gremlins, Asshole Victim Mrs. Deagle hears caroling at her door, much to her anger. When she walks out to scare the carolers away, she freaks out upon seeing its actually a bunch of gremlins. In a way, it's a good thing she does stop as she was about to throw a pitcher of water at them.
- Many versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol have Scrooge yelling, or worse, at carolers who make the mistake of bothering him. The original book has him chasing off a caroler without even opening the door.
- Some stage versions have him yelling at a group singing outside his window.
- Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol starts with a group of kids caroling, but when they come to Scrooge and Marley's, Scrooge kicks their donation cup right out of their hand. All but one of them run off, with the last staring at him before walking away sadly.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol has a particularly heart-wrenching one: 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. Other scenes include a caroling group of female characters singing a line of "Scrooge" and Bobby Benson's Baby Band as "the street-corner choir" in "It Feels Like Christmas".
- A Christmas Carol (1984) goes from carolers straight to Marley's eerie voice.
- The Dark Is Rising series novel The Dark is Rising. Will and several other members of his family go Christmas caroling throughout the village where they live. This leads to a major confrontation with the Dark in which Will acquires one of the six Signs.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: 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. This is carried over into the animated adaptation as well as the live-action film adaptation, the latter of which includes a song on the subject by Ben Folds called, "Lonely Christmas Eve".
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: As part of the Yule Ball, the Hogwarts suits of armor are enchanted to sing Christmas Carols, but they only seem to know half of the words. Peeves the Poltergeist took to hiding in them and making up his own versions to fill the gaps.
- The Hogswatch Wassailers in Hogfather are a You Mean "Xmas" version of the trope. The Lemony Narrator says that if you could lift the scene up, there'd be an interesting assortment of chocolates or biscuits underneath. Since the Discworld runs on parody and deconstruction, the wassailers get interrupted by Foul Ole Ron and his beggar buddies, who are caroling horribly off-key and generally making noise in the hopes that someone will offer them a "Begone" Bribe.
- The Wind in the Willows: Some fieldmice sing carols for Ratty and Mole when the duo spend Christmas at the latter's underground house.
- In one Jeeves and Wooster story, Bertie comments that not being dragged out to sing carols is one of his criteria for choosing which country house at which to spend his Christmas holidays.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "The Magic Christmas Tree". When the Conklins, Mr. Boynton and Walter Denton pay Miss Brooks a visit on Christmas Eve, they regale her with a rendition of "Deck the Halls". Miss Brooks places her hand over Walter's mouth midway through, to stop his off-key adolescent squeaking.
- An episode of Workaholics opens with the guys going caroling while drunk. While it sets up the Christmas Episode, it quickly becomes apparent its a Fictional Holiday, as they guys are celebrating Half Christmas. (The show being set in California, the weather was no indicator of the season).
- One Christmas Episode of Lois & Clark had the two of them sharing a quiet moment together when a troupe starts singing "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" outside Lois' window.
- At one point in "The Ho, Ho, Ho Job" on Leverage, Parker suggests they all go caroling.
- During many a Christmas season The Late Show with David Letterman brings on a group of carolers to sing the "Top Ten Least Favorite Christmas Carols" (which are traditional Christmas carols reworded to reflect currint political satire topics).
- In one Christmas episode of Just Shoot Me!, Nina gets caught int he elevator with some carolers, so she threatens them with a fake gun to get them to shut up.
- In an episode of Life a group of carolers are startled and horrifed when Charlie hits a suspect dressed as one of Santa's elves with a fruitcake.
- Seen at a Christmas party on Veronica Mars.
- Dinosaurs had a Christmas-esque holiday called Refrigerator Day which included carols, which were basically re-worded versions of the real ones, and were also seen being used in advertisements, which Robbie felt cheapened the holiday.
- A few times in Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- In Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Joel and the bots sing Crow's original Christmas carol, "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas". Later, at the end of the episode, they sing an actual Christmas carol with slightly different lyrics: "Angels we have heard are high / softly sipping old champagne..."
- In Parts: The Clonus Horror, Crow and Tom Servo get the two varieties of wassailing confused. They go house-to-house (or rather, to Mike, since no one else lives on the Satellite of Love) and sing Christmas carols with new lyrics promising severe penalties to anyone who doesn't immediately give them wassail. They themselves have no idea what wassail actually is. Much to their disappointment, Mike finds some canned wassail, and it tastes "skunky".
- In The Christmas That Almost Wasn't Jonah invites the bots to sing carols with him. Except that Jonah chooses Good King Wenceslas "the one Carol no one knows the lyrics too".
- Santa punches an obnoxious caroler at one point in Modern Family.
- How I Met Your Mother: To explain their sudden appearance on someone's doorstep on one occasion, Ted says he and the others are carolers and sing "Silent Night".
- On My Name Is Earl, Earl mentions that before the list Joy, Randy, and Donny would pose as these so he could go in and steal all the presents under the tree. It was their way of "Christmas Shopping."
- They sing the Bragging Theme Tune of Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Later after learning it's better to be evil, Ebenezer Blackadder listens politely to the Enormous Orphans serenading him then slams the door in their face.
- Picket Fences: If you're in Rome, Wisconsin and it's Christmas, you'll most likely be serenaded by 'The Wambaugh Multicultural Singers'.
- The Box Of Delights: The cathedral choir show up and sing carols outside Kay's house in the first episode. Apart from helping establish the atmosphere, their leader sets up some plot points by inviting Kay and his friends to a couple of diocesan Christmas events that will be important later.
- Community: "Regional Holiday Music" opens with the Glee Club performing in caroler regalia, to the study group's annoyance.
Shirley: I'm afraid to go into the study room. So many top hats!
- Mr. Bean grows dissatisfied with nothing but war movies on TV during Christmas Eve night, but when a group of caroling kids come to his flat, he decides to sit and watch them. After tiring he closes the door on them without offering candy.
- Discussed in the Doctor Who Christmas episode "The Husbands of River Song" — the lengthy opening tracking shot closes with a reveal of a sign on the front of the TARDIS: "Carol singers will be criticised". The Twelfth Doctor only deigns to help out someone who knocks on its door when he's assured that there won't be any singing.
- "Caroling, Caroling", as quoted up top.
- The traditional carol "Here We Come A-Wassailing" (or "Here We Come A-Caroling") is about this.
- "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers has singing Christmas carols as pain #12.
- Sesame Street: In the Elmo's World special, "Happy Holidays", Elmo is repeatedly visited by a quartet of carolers who keep singing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" - they have lovely singing voices, but screeching and irritating speaking voices.
- In A Muppet Family Christmas, the Sesame Street characters go out caroling together, and wind up at the house where the cast of the Muppet Show are staying for Christmas.
- A Funny or Die video has Brittany Snow as the world's most annoying Christmas caroler.
- The Homestar Runner short "That Time Of Year" has Strong Bad defacing a cutesy children's book about Decemberween. He turns a page depicting holiday carolers into a bunch of rowdy drunks.
Original: The Martins sing festive songs for the neighbors.
Strong Bad: The martinis have gone straight to their heads. The neighbors will probably call the cops.
- Doofenshmirtz in Phineas And Ferb Christmas Vacation gets so annoyed with some carolers that he actually starts trying to destroy Christmas.
- In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Rabbit hears someone singing at his door and thinks they're carolers, but it's actually the vegetable eating bugs, trying to get into his kitchen.
- The Simpsons: In "Grift of the Magi" Bart and Lisa do this in order to battle an evil corporation. Kid First Industries releases a new toy, Funzo, that is programmed to destroy all other toys kids get for Christmas. Lisa and Bart go from door to door singing carols as a way of distracting the families while Homer steals the toys (dressed as Santa Claus, of course).
- In the animated version of A Wish for Wings That Work, a group of carolers appear frequently, one of which looks suspiciously like a certain rock and roll singer.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas ends with the gang outside standing around a Christmas tree and singing carols together.
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown plays with this, as Linus sits in the pumpkin patch, awaiting the arrival of The Great Pumpkin, Lucy and the others drop by to see if he's still waiting out there, to which he asks them if they came to sing "pumpkin carols" with him.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Fa La La La Ed", Ed brings the spirit of Christmas to the cul-de-sac, despite it being the middle of July. At one point, Eddy decides to use Ed's gimmick to his advantage by scamming other kids out of change by Ed, Edd, and himself caroling door-to-door, allowing him to buy them a large bag full of jawbreakers.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Give us cash, or we'll never stop singing
- One of the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments on Animaniacs:
Good Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors.
Bad Idea: Singing Christmas carols to your neighbors... on the Fourth of July. [said carolers are blown up with a huge firecracker]
- Strawberry Shortcake runs into some while shopping for presents in "Berry Merry Christmas".
- Jollyday carolers are the first to get their joy stolen by the Glooms in The 7D episode "Jollybells."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Hearth's Warming Tale", we see ponies gathered in the streets to sing Hearth's Warming Eve songs, both in present Ponyville (with Octavia Melody as conductor) and inside A Hearth's Warming Tale's Victorian setting.
- The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol begins with Papa Smurf and a few Smurfs going through the village singing "Deck The Halls".
- Stores, malls and other public places will sometimes have carolers stationed in or around them during the holiday season.