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Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Nixon

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Santa Claus: No, sirree! We're going out the good old-fashioned way...
Joel: "Guns a-blazin'!"
Santa Claus: ...with my reindeer! Prancer and Dancer and Donder and Blixen and Vixen and Nixon and, uh...
Tom Servo: Eheh, yes, what's in the pipe, Santa?
Santa Claus: Oh consarnit, I get those names mixed up. But the kids know their names!
Crow: Yeah, cuz they're sober.

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donnernote  and Blitzennote , and of course you recall the most famous reindeer of all. This trope is about those who don't.

A Christmas Trope that pops up in a number of situations. Maybe someone is Subbing for Santa or maybe they're just a Mall Santa. Maybe they're even the real but confused Santa. Maybe they're being tested on their Christmas knowlege. Or maybe they're improvising a story. Whatever the circumstances, there's one aspect of Santa Claus lore that they're being tripped up by.

They don't know the reindeer's names, or at least not a couple of them. So when asked to recite them, they make something up on the spot. Sometimes they get it close only to accidentally name-drop former US President Richard Nixon instead of Vixen or Blitzen. Sometimes they're way off and don't get any of them right, and were closer to guessing the members of a different group in pop culture.

Because the names of Santa's reindeer are popularized by the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, see also The Parody Before Christmas for works that parody the poem more broadly, including non-accidental or non-reindeer variants of the reindeer roll call.

Subtrope of Accidental Misnaming. Not to be confused with All of the Other Reindeer.


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    Audio Plays 
  • A Stan Freberg sketch has a Beatnik reading "A Visit from St. Nicholas" to his nephew, and when he comes to the names of the reindeer, he got Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer right, but called the next one Merlin, and the next three Gina, Lola and Brigida before his nephew stopped and corrected him.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Disney Ducks Comic Universe story, the Beagle Boys have kidnapped Santa's reindeer and hold them for ransom. In one scene they try to fly with them, and one of them says "Giddyup, Rudolph! Giddyup, the other one in the front row! Giddyup, George... Or whatever your name was. Giddyup, everyone else!". When the ducks later rescue the reindeer, Huey, Dewey, and Louie get all their names right.
  • The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special has Lobo take a shot at fulfilling Santa's obligations of delivering Christmas presents after he kills Santa Claus. He doesn't bother getting any of the reindeer's names right and calls a few of them "Fragger", "Bastich" and "Scuzzball".

    Films — Animated 
  • In Arthur Christmas, Grandsanta remembers the names of Dasher, Dancer, and Prancer, but thinks Vixen's name is Bambi, Comet's name is John, and can't remember the rest of their names at all, referring to Cupid as "you there with the white ear" and the rest simply as "you".
  • Played with early on in Twice Upon a Time. When Big Bad Synonamess Botch has his many vulture minions kidnap the dream-delivering Fig-Men, it's revealed that some of the vultures' names are either those of Santa's reindeer and/or parodies thereof. The names shown on the kidnapping scoreboard are Rudy, Dasher, Prancer, Vomit, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dondernote , Blintzen, and Dennis.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anna and the Apocalypse: John names "Firebolt" in his half-remembered list of Santa's reindeer. He doesn't get all eight names right (plus Rudolph) until moments before he becomes a zombie.
  • Desk Set: Zig-Zagged.
    • During their last day of work before Christmas, the reference department at the Federal Broadcasting Corporation where the main characters work gets multiple calls asking for the names of Santa's reindeer note , indicating that multiple people at the company cannot remember the names and need to fact check to avoid this trope.
    • When consulting engineer Richard Sumner is in the department by himself and picks up one of these calls, he responds to the reindeer question like this:
      Sumner: Uh, uh, let me see, now, there's Dopey, Sneezy, Grouchy, Happy, Sleepy, uh, Rudolph and Blitzen. [beat] You're welcome.
  • Ernest Saves Christmas: It's a Running Gag that Ernest can't remember Blitzen's name in particular. While giving an old man (who is Santa Claus but Ernest doesn't know that yet) a ride, Ernest claims to have memorized the names of all the reindeer, "even Donder and Blister." "That's Blitzen." At the climax, Ernest was trying a few terms to get the sleigh to take off, while the cops are arriving. The Christmas elves primed him by naming the first two reindeer, and Ernest managed to continue to in sequence. He fumbles with Blitzen, naming Squeaky, Squish, Dopey, Grumpy, Blister, before the elves give the correct name of Blitzen. Right before the end of the movie, while prepping the sleigh for the new Santa's big flight, Ernest lists off the names of the reindeer, but stalls when getting to Blitzen, which prompts everyone else to say Blitzen's name to remind Ernest.
  • In Jingle All the Way, the KQRS radio station holds a contest to name all eight of Santa's reindeer, and the first caller to give the correct answer will win a gift certificate for a Turbo Man action figure. While Howard Langston does know the answer and races to the radio station to say it (with Myron Larabee trying to stop him along the way), another caller answers "Randy", "Jermaine", and "Tito", which, as the DJ points out, isn't even close.
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: During a TV interview, Santa Claus dismisses the rumor that he's using a rocket-powered sleigh this year, then bungles the names of his reindeer immediately after.
    Santa Claus: No, sirree! We're going out the good old-fashioned way, with my reindeer! Prancer and Dancer and Donder and Blixen and Vixen and Nixon and, uh... [indecipherable muttering] Oh consarnit, I get those names mixed up. But the kids know their names!
  • In the opening scene of Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Kris Kringel notices mistakes with the reindeer in a shop's Christmas decoration which he then points out to the decorator. Apparently, the positions of Cupid and Blitzen are mixed up and Dasher is on the left instead of the right-hand side.

  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Even the Ur-Example is not immune from confusion about the reindeers' names. The original printing identified the final two reindeer as "Dunder and Blixem" (Dutch in English spelling for "Thunder and Lightning"). The first anthologized printing, however, corrected them to "Donder and Blixen", supposedly to make it closer to the German spelling of the same words (and perhaps to improve the rhyme with "Vixen"). Clement Moore adopted the second spelling in the later anthology published under his own name. Even more confusingly, the closely related actual German words for thunder and lightning are "Donner" and "Blitzen," leading to those reindeers' names being changed even more in some later editions.
  • In the children's book The Forgetful Bears Help Santa, the Forgetful Bears can't remember the names of the reindeer, which gets them into trouble when they have to drive the sleigh. The names they use by mistake include Grumpy, Sneezy, Dopey and Bashful, Batman and Robin, and Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and Alice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • For the Christmas Episode of ALF, the titular alien is trying to memorize their names. He gets it 50% right: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
    Lynn: No, it's Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...
    ALF: Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
    Brian: No, those are ducks.
    ALF: Then how do they pull the sleigh?
  • In the first Christmas Episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, "The Ball", Robert and Frank show up at Ray's house as Santa and attempt to convince Ally that the other is an imposter.
    Robert: I bet you can't even name the reindeer.
    Frank: Oh! Uh, Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen. Uh, those are the main ones. We rotate 'em so they wear evenly. Uh, Cupid. Ajax. And Lefty!
  • On the first Christmas Episode of Married... with Children, Al, dressed as Santa, after getting Dancer and Prancer right, misnames the reindeer as Donald, Goofy, and shortly after, Dondi, Dumbo and Silver.
  • An 1965 Muppet skit, originally staged for Kraft Music Hall, opens with a group of reindeer coming out and giving a roll call. As they recite their names, Blitzen jokingly chimes in "...and Ringo!".
    • When the skit was reprised for The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968, the gag was changed to "...and Rumpelstiltskin!".
  • Saturday Night Live: One of the Game Show Goofballs sketches had a contestant get twelve chances to guess the name of the shiny-nosed reindeer who pulls Santa's sleigh. She doesn't name any actual reindeer names; some of her guesses include "Dippy-Doppy," "the fat one," and "Adolf."

  • Brave Combo's version of "Must Be Santa" (later covered by Bob Dylan) starts listing Santa's reindeer but ends up mixing them with US presidents.
    Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
    Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon,
    Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen,
    Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton
  • Duck Dynasty has a tie-in Christmas album. On one track, Si proceeds to completely mangle the names of the reindeer before Sadie corrects him and launches into a cover of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
    Si: You know Dancing and Dancy and Prancy and Trixie and Cosmic and Cupid — Wait, isn't that that little love fairy? — And Donna and Brittany.
    Sadie: Uncle Si, there's no reindeer named Brittany.
    Si: But do you remember the most famous redneck of all?
    Sadie: Uncle Si, reindeer, not redneck. Let me show you how it goes, Jack.
  • Ray Stevens, in his song "Santa Claus is Watching You":
    On Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen and Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen and... Bruce?... and Marvin...

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • The comedy pair Cheech & Chong have a warped version of the origin of Santa Claus that has him call out his reindeers [sic] as "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Chewie, on Tiago." This is the closest Cheech Marin comes to established canon; all other particulars bend toward Urban Legend or a stoner's wet dream.

    Western Animation 
  • The Animaniacs episode "Twas the Day Before Christmas" has the portly and dimwitted Ralph The Security Guard cast as a local Santa. Lacking reindeer in Los Angeles, they make do with pigeons instead, including the Goodfeathers trio, leading to the following comedic roll-call:
    Ralph: Duhhh... now Bobby, now Squit, now Pesto, now Vixen, on Comet! On Cupid! On Richard M. Nixon!
  • The Cuphead Show!: In "A Very Devil Christmas", The Devil is forced into the role of Santa Claus with the only way of turning back to his former self being to successfully deliver presents to everyone on the nice list. Rule 1 of being Santa is reciting the reindeer roll call, which he didn't get right when the time to begin the delivery arrives.
    The Devil: On Sleazy, on Stinky, on Larry and Fatso! ... Were any of those right? (Henchman shakes his head)
  • Danny Phantom: In "The Fright Before Christmas", when the Ghost Writer transforms Santa's reindeer into ghostly versions of themselves, we hear him calling them by Malicious Misnaming:
    Ghost Writer: On Spooky, on Specter, on Death Hoof, on Thrasher! On Maimer, on Vicious, Blood Antlers, and Slasher!
  • Fred Flintstone also went through this, but was stopped halfway through by Barney, who knew the names.
    Fred: On Jumper, on, uh... Thunder, on Bouncer, and uh... Plunder!
  • How Murray Saved Christmas: This happens thrice while Murray was filling in for Santa after an accident with a jack-in-the-box resulted in Santa going bananas. The reindeer were quite disappointed with his first attempt but didn't seem to mind his third.
    Murray (the first time): On Dumbo and Jumbo and Mason and Dixon. On Cosmo and Kramer and Richard M. Nixon.
    Edison Elf: That wasn't even close.
    Murray (the second time): There's Bambi and Rambo and Dopey and Doc, Scotty and Sulu, Uhura and Spock.
    Murray (the third time): On Lipstick and Dipstick, on Pixie and Dixie. On Kamden and Norton and Alice and Trixie!
  • Johnny Bravo: In "'Twas The Night", Johnny mistakes Santa Claus for a burglar and injures his arm, so he has to deliver the presents himself. When he and the sleigh shoot off into the night, he doesn't get any of the reindeers' names right.
    Johnny: On Yeltzin, on Nixon, on Stinky, on Rose, on... hey, where's that freak with the big glowing nose?
  • The Simpsons: In "Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire", Homer attempts to recite the reindeer in Santa School, which brings out the Trope Namer.
    Homer: Um... Dasher... Dancer... Prancer... Nixon... Comet... Cupid... Donna Dixon?
    Instructor: Sit down, Simpson.
  • What A Cartoon! Show: In George and Junior's Christmas Spectacular, the eponymous duo are tasked with delivering a Christmas present on Santa Claus' behalf as punishment for delivering the letter asking for it just after Santa left the North Pole. Since Santa is using his regular sleigh and team, they're stuck with the sleigh equivalent of The Alleged Car and dopey-looking "reindeer", which include Tweeker, Dunder, Blunder, Tea Boy, Putrid, and Randolph the Blue-nosed Mule.
  • Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too: Pooh dresses up as Santa Claus when delivering homemade presents to his friends, believing the real Santa Claus can't provide them due to their letter for him not being delivered. He leaves Rabbit's house while saying "On Donner, on Blitzen, on Armchair, and everyone else!" When confronted by Rabbit, Tigger, and Eeyore, Rabbit challenges him to fly, and Pooh announces "On Lawn Chair, on Badminton, up up and away!"

    Real Life 
  • One popular Christmas t-shirt trend replaces some of the reindeer names with alcohol names (usually after Vixen). There are multiple variations on this, depending on the shirt creator's favorite types of alcohol:
    Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Vodka, Moscato, Tequila, Blitzen