Jacob Marley: Yes, yes, like the Dickens book, and the Bill Murray movie, and every other adaptation nobody asked for.
Okay, so here's the pitch: It's Christmas Eve, and there's this greedy Bad Boss with a beleaguered employee or two. Late at night, said boss is visited by a cadre of phantoms, showing them their own past, present, and future in an effort to make them change their selfish ways-
Whaddaya mean, "It's been done?"
Every television series in the history of the medium that lasts long enough to have an episode aired at Christmas will make use of this boilerplate episode. The hero or heroine of the series lives through his or her own version of Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmastime visitations from A Christmas Carol.
Comparable only to It's a Wonderful Life (which was itself obviously inspired by A Christmas Carol in the first place) as a well-known story which a series adapts to/parodies with its own characters. The original was by Charles Dickens: it was published in 1843. When used in TV shows, characters from the show frequently fill the roles of the ghosts: Marley, who serves to announce that the other ghosts are coming and serves as an illustration of the eventual fate of Scrooge's soul; the Ghost of Christmas Past, who shows the Scrooge character "You weren't always this way" (in which case I Hate Past Me is common); The Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows them "Other people aren't this way"; and the Ghost of Christmas Future ("Yet to Come" in Dickens' original, often portrayed as The Grim Reaper), who shows the character "This is how things will turn out if you stay this way" (which can lead to Future Me Scares Me). Results in the character having a change of heart and turning away from whatever character flaw was being explored.
If they're willing to go the extra mile on the homage to A Christmas Carol, then our protagonist will be a Corrupt Corporate Executive, a Bad Boss, or otherwise in a position of power where he or she is able to make life miserable for those under their thumb. Expect one of these underlings to be a stand-in for Bob Cratchit. Bob Cratchit's counterpart is always a sympathetic character who bears the brunt of whatever bad the protagonist dishes out and takes it exceptionally well. Once we have these two roles filled and established, the audience can then wait with bated breath to find out who is standing in for Tiny Tim. Like the original Tiny Tim, the stand-in might be related to our version of Bob Cratchit, but doesn't have to be. However, you can reasonably expect him or her to be Inspirationally Disadvantaged, poor, or otherwise so needy that he or she is automatically sympathy bait for the audience. Extra points for a full-blown Tiny Tim Template. Whichever way the Tiny Tim is in need, the protagonist is in a position to do something about it, but won't, or else has prevented him or her from receiving assistance, and it will be brought up to remind our Scrooge as well as the audience what a bastard he or she is.
Almost invariably results in An Aesop (see Blackadder's Christmas Carol for an exception). What Aesop is learned can depend, however. In the original Christmas Carol it was Scrooge being forced to confront what he had lost, and what the consequences of his current actions are and would be, that awakened the Christmas Spirit within him. Furthermore, the original had a generally horrible person Aesopped into decency, whereas some adaptations have resulted in a bizarre "You will be merry or else" lesson, where a character who simply doesn't like Christmas is taught the error of their ways. After all, Scrooge hated Christmas... Also look out for adaptations missing the point of the emphasis on Scrooge's grave during the future sequence- the point is not "Shape up or you will die" (so being nice makes you immortal?), but rather "Shape up or, when you die, nobody will mourn you."
In shows with established casts, a character often has to be handed the Conflict Ball to make them abruptly meaner at Christmas, sometimes for no apparent reason; otherwise the Aesop wouldn't make any sense. Alternately, a Jerkass character may learn a holiday lesson only to go right back to their old ways in the next episode. When this results in a Broken Aesop, it can overlap with The Complainer Is Always Wrong.
Usually these are a type of Christmas Episode, although sometimes a variation is employed that has nothing to do with the holiday season. It's also a very popular Fanfiction trope, with most shows having at least one such plot in their Fan Work.
Similar to the Flash Back and Flash Forward, but bound by the specific narrative structure of the Dickens novel. A Sub-Trope of Whole-Plot Reference (so anything less than the plot is merely a Shout-Out). Related to Time Travel, particularly Intangible Time Travel — as well as Pensieve Flashback. Compare Judgement of the Dead, which involves similar supernatural reflection on a character's actions, when they've already died and can't go back. If it's All Just a Dream or a Dream Episode, it's often a Guilt-Induced Nightmare, and nearly always an Opinion-Changing Dream.
Sister Trope to How the Character Stole Christmas, Christmas Every Day, Gift of the Magi Plot, The Parody Before Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Plot.
For actual Christmas carols, see Christmas Songs.
- A Ghostbusters (IDW Comics) comic released in 2010 had the Ghostbusters attempting to catch the three spirits (again) on behalf of a Scrooge analogue. It turned out that the Ghost of Christmas Present possessed the guy to live out a hedonistic lifestyle and the other ghosts were trying to get their coworker back.
- A story collected in the 'Haunted Knight' trade sets the story at Halloween and casts Batman himself in the Scrooge role, his father as Jacob Marley, and Poison Ivy, The Joker, and his own cowl-clad skeleton as the ghosts, to teach him a lesson about not sacrificing his Bruce Wayne life for his Batman life. It's ambiguous whether he was really visited by spirits brought about by a pendant owned by Lucius Fox, or some bad shrimp he ate at a Halloween party gave him nightmares.
- Batman: Noël. Once again, Batman is the Scrooge of the story, having lost his faith in humanity and taking some less-than-moral measures in his fight against crime. A vision of Jason Todd (the second Robin) serves as the "Jacob Marley", while the "ghosts" of the story are Catwoman, Superman and the Joker as Past, Present and Future respectively.
- Batman: Urban Legends #10 had a story where Nightwing is hit with this as he's feeling gloomy after the events of City of Bane, The Joker War, and Fear State. Here the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future are portrayed by Batgirls Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain respectively.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) #6 did a (non-canon) retelling with Robotnik as Scrooge, Rotor as Cratchit, and Sonic as all three ghosts. The spirits almost succeed when they show him the future, where he's grown old and the Freedom Fighters still oppose him, until he sees he wins the final battle (even though he's destroyed everything else, and he ends up getting blown up by a bomb Sonic sent back to him in the present earlier, rendering his victory fruitless and short-lived).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW): Issue 89 does this with Splinter taking the part of Scrooge. The spirit of Shredder in chains acts as Jacob Marley warning him that his increasingly ruthless actions will lead Splinter down the same path he took. Aka acts as Christmas Past showing him good and bad events from his life to show him that "no man is perfect but love is". Toad Baron is Christmas Present, showing Splinter that his absence is causing the turtles and their friends to become isolated and scattered in times of grief and hardship. Finally, Gothano is Christmas Future and shows Splinter that if he doesn't change, he will become just like Shredder (even dressing like him) and murder the turtles allies for not following him, forcing his own sons to kill him. He takes the lesson to heart and is attempting to mend his relationship with his family.
- The original Teen Titans comic did an issue entitled "A Swinging Christmas Carol," involving a stingy junkyard owner, junk smugglers, and a young boy in need of a motorized wheelchair. The Titans work out what's going on halfway through and, entirely undisturbed, take the opportunity to play the ghosts.
- One spoof story from the Richie Rich comics featured "Jackie Jokers the boy comedian" as "Eversneezer Scroogie". In the end, he only "reforms" because the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him that Bob Cratchit borrowed money, started a rival business and drove "Scroogie" out of business, so he ends up a penniless beggar. The final punchline however is that the whole thing was staged by actors using special effects, and hired by Bob Cratchit.
- The Beano once had a Bash Street Kids story where the kids gave this treatment to their grumpy headmaster.
- The main story in She-Hulk: Sensational, a Milestone Celebration one-shot for Shulkie's 30th anniversary was "The She-Hulk Story That's a Riff on a Christmas Carol" by Peter David. In it Jen is visited by the past (Savage She-Hulk) the present (Sensational She-Hulk) and a possible future (Misstro, a Distaff Counterpart to Bruce Banner's Bad Future as Maestro).
- Luke Cage: Hero for Hire had a more cynical take on the tale with "Jingle Bombs", where a villain named Marley tested Luke Cage to see if humanity was worth him not nuking New York. He decided that Luke was all right, but humanity needed to go, and it was only through a robber's unwitting interference that Luke saved the day. The narration box says that while the world has survived, it hasn't changed a bit.
- In the Judge Dredd story "Jingle All the Way" in 2000 AD Prog 2111, the villain of the week, a psychic who is making it Christmas Every Day in one block, tries to distract Dredd with visions of his past (the original Carlos Ezquerra version with the more streamlined uniform and rounded helmet), present (Dredd as he is today, obviously) and future (an old man with a huge beard, apparently forgotten by the system he upheld). Dredd being Dredd, he just says he's faced worse psychic illusions than that.
- DC Comics' House of Mystery (not the Vertigo comic series of the same name) features a horror-themed one with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark as the story's Scrooge and various members of House Of Mystery as the Three Ghosts of Christmas.
- Firefly did a holiday special comic with Jayne seeing the ghosts. River mentions 3 ghosts but doesn’t seem to remember it later. Shepherd Book is the past ghost, Mal is present and Zoe’s daughter Emma is future. And instead of visiting while he’s asleep, they come after a Tap on the Head while he’s off the ship shopping and a few other things.
- A Christmas edition of Viz did this with regular character Sid the Sexist. The Ghost took the form of an attractive woman, leading Sid to annoy her straightaway by trying his blatantly sexist chat-up lines on her. She then took Sid to the past, where as a young boy Sid's idea of Playing House was to leave the girl in the pretend house and go hang out with his mates in a pretend pub (the girl, of course, soon tired of this and went off to play elsewhere). He was then taken to the future and shown his own gravestone, bearing the inscription "DIED A VIRGIN". Being a Viz character, he learned nothing from the experience.
- In a FoxTrot sequence from Dec. 7 to Dec. 19, 1998, Jason has a dream sequence where his family appears as the characters—but with their original personalities. Marcus, as "Jacob Marcusly," gets weighed down with "the cables of the many video game controllers I selfishly clung to in life." The warning he gives "Jasonezer," incidentally, is to not waste his money on a particular brand of joystick. Paige, as the ghost of Christmas Past, is more concerned with herself than Jason (at one point showing him a Christmas before his own birth and crying "See how happy I was?!"). Peter, as ghost of Christmas Present, doesn't know what he should do due to only skimming the Cliffs Notes, and ate the feast associated with the traditional depiction of the spirit, remarking "I had (burp) a light lunch, OK?" Quincy the iguana is an unspeaking ghost of Christmas Future; when he shows Jason his tombstone Jason freaks out because he died the day before the new Star Wars movie came out, and wakes up joyous at the fact that it's a school day. Amusingly, the whole thing is an Acid Reflux Nightmare caused by Andy's tofu chili, which Jason had the misfortune of having for dinner the same night that he had to watch "A Christmas Carol" for school.
- A filler section of Sovisa takes a half subversion-half take that method with Ryn. She immediately resolves to mend her wicked ways upon being confronted with the Marley-esque spirit, and is rebuffed with a "nice try, you're going to get an even longer one for that stunt" comment. When the spirit of the past shows up, and takes her back to where she grew up, she shoots the spirit. As a result, the rest of the story is a trapped in the past style scenario that she returns from in the end because, well yeah.
- The Daft Dimension strip in the December 2019 issue of Doctor Who Magazine has Ebeneezer Davros cruelly making the Daleks work on Christmas. That night he is visited by the Dalek of Christmas Future ... and the mere fact of it being a New Paradigm Dalek makes him determined that this horrific future must be averted at all costs.
- Even Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami gets in on the act, when Soichiro is visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. Christmas Past claims all girls should go out with fanfic writers, Christmas Presents shouts at Soichiro for not getting Dark Guitar Hero and Christmas Future Plot Dumps. Merry Christmas to all.
- This pretty good Mario fanfic, which casts Wario (of course) as Scrooge.
- The Urusei Yatsura fanfic Ataru's Christmas Carol has Ataru, after breaking up with Lum on Christmas Eve, being shown by Belldandy, Skuld and Urd how he caused trouble for his friends at Shinobu's 6th birthday party (and contributed to Mendou's fear of the dark), a miserable Lum who's planning to join a convent in the present, and his future as a fat, lonely otaku while Lum is unhappily married to Inaba's brother. At the end, it's revealed that Lum had been given similar visions when the two go to make up.
- Loosely connected to Ranma ˝ by virtue of being part of a spin-off of an Elsewhere Fic called Boy Scouts ˝, the story Perspectives VII: A Hoelscher Carol has one of the characters, John Hoelscher, visited by three spirits that are actually three different aspects of his own personality. These "spirits" come cosplaying as various anime characters: Ikari Shinji as the past, Kiryuu Touga as the present, and Jinnai Katsuhiko as the future. Before they visit, they are heralded by Jacob Marley, who is doing them a favor. Unlike traditional Scrooge Expies, John is not a miserly character, but he was at the time of this story suffering from psychological problems leading him to become a social outcast, problems that the visiting spirits helped him work through.
- The Wicked fanfiction "Sins of the Father" is an AU where Elphaba (never having Defied Gravity) and Fiyero are dating and Frex has disowned Elphaba for her relationship with him because he disapproves of Fiyero's reputation. Melena takes the role of Jacob Marley, and three spirits visit Frex to make him realize what a horrible father he has been to Elphaba.
- All I Want For Christmas Is You incorporates the emotional intensity of Dickens' original work into Cardcaptor Sakura. While it performs the classic move of this trope by having established characters take on the spectral roles, it has a plot twist with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
- This trope is parodied with Kaiba in the Christmas special of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. The visits only results in Kaiba converting to Judaism and firing his employees after Bakura shows him how horrible the future will be.
- The Star Trek: Voyager fic "A Captain's Carol" sees Q give Janeway a Christmas Carol-esque experience with the aid of Kes, Annika Hansen ('extracted' from Seven) and the Admiral Janeway of "Endgame". Kes in particular shows Janeway examples of what her crew's life would have been like if Voyager had never been sent to the Delta Quadrant, which includes Paris being beaten to death in prison, Chakotay and B'Elanna being killed in a failed raid, and Seven crying a single tear while still a Borg. As for the others, Hansen gives Janeway a taste of what she and Seven could have if they had a relationship, and Admiral Janeway advises Janeway on the need to explore opportunities for happiness rather than just sticking to the rules by glimpsing how she and Chaktoay drifted apart after Seven's death.
- Alternate Reality Dragon Ball Z had a Christmas special following the story's plot, featuring Vegeta as Scrooge, Raditz as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Goku as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Trunks as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and Gohan as Tiny Tim.
- The Danny Phantom fanfic Christmas Ghosts sees Clockwork force Danny and his adversaries Youngblood and Vlad to act as the ghosts of Christmas Past (Youngblood), Present (Danny) and Future (Vlad) respectively for Bonnie Rockwaller (Kim Possible), Red X (Teen Titans), Vicky (The Fairly OddParents!) and Valerie Grey (Danny Phantom) after they accidentally injured the traditional ghosts as collateral damage in their latest fight. After looking at the characters' tragic pasts and lonely presents, Vlad shows each their current futures; Bonnie is a drug-addicted model being abused by her manager (and a girl she would have been Secret Santa for in the present as part of a school initiative committed suicide because nobody reached out to her), Red-X dies and his long-lost sister is killed by criminals as 'payback' for his own actions, Vicky is homeless on the streets because she never applied herself to anything while relying on fear, and Valerie is so consumed by her fixation on ghost-hunting that she has no social life and hasn't even acknowledged that her father died a few months before the scene shown to her. After Danny and Vlad return to the human world, Clockwork shows Youngblood the results of their intervention; Bonnie begins trying to reach out to her family and gives the orphan girl her old teddy for emotional support, Red-X makes contact with his sister and begins a silent career as an anti-hero figure, Vicky starts apologising to others for her past treatment of them, and Valerie decides to give more attention to maintaining her social life rather than focusing on hunting.
- This Pound Puppies (2010) fanfic has the main Pound Puppies playing a trick on McLeash as he turns into a Scrooge on Christmas Eve against Olaf with Squirt playing a Jacob Marley type of character, Strudel playing the Ghost of Christmas Past, Niblet playing the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Lucky and Cookie performing a Totem Pole Trench as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
- In a PAW Patrol fanfic, Mayor Humdinger becomes a Scrooge when he steals toy donations from Adventure Bay. The PAW Patrol pay him a visit on Christmas Eve pulling off this shenanigan. Chase runs projections, Ryder plays the role of Himdinger’s late brother (the Jacob Marley character), Skye plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, Rubble plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the rest of the pups perform a Totem Pole Trench and play the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come with Marshall on top and Everest on the bottom.
- The Steven Universe fanfic Literally Every Christmas With This S*** sees Lars get visited by Steven pretending to be Christmas Past (who gets flour all over his bedsheets), Peedee as Christmas Present (who bluntly tells him he's "still a little bitch"), and — after he angrily throws them out of his house and falls asleep — Garnet as Christmas Future, who casually tells him he's going to become a zombie space captain before departing with a thumbs up.
And Lars learned absolutely nothing that Christmas.
- In Humbug Snape is visited by Lily, Hagrid and Sirius after deciding he isn't good enough for Harry and pretending their relationship was just a fling. He changes his tune when the future vision shows an increasingly-bitter Harry poisoning himself after Snape's death so they can be together the way they weren't in life.
- The Kim Possible'' fic "It's a Wonderful Christmas Carol" opens with Kim and Ron having an argument after a mission on Christmas Eve where Kim declares in a moment of frustration that she wishes she'd never met Ron. While Ron is feeling hurt and witnesses a world where he was never born, Kim is subsequently taken through her past, present and future by spirits resembling the Tweebs, Monique and Shego respectively. The future presented shows Ron join the army to try and become a more capable ally for Kim, but as they reaffirm their feelings for each other through writing letters, Ron is killed in Iraq, and when Kim sees her family in the future, she overhears her future self shooting herself in the head.
- In Hellmouth Christmas Carol Buffy and Angel are visited by Kendra and Doyle respectively (around the time of early Season 6/season 3 in a world where Connor doesn't exist) to show them what Buffy's current bitter attitude towards Angel and Angel's faltering attempts to "move on" with Cordelia will result in; Buffy is a hard-edged warrior who basically lives only to slay, while Cordelia, Angel and Spike have actually grown fat because Cordelia is more focused on indulging her material pleasures and the vampires can't be bothered with putting in any real effort any more. This vision of the future culminates in Buffy staking Spike before she takes part in a final battle that ends with her death because Angel wasn't there to help her fulfill a prophecy, and Angel subsequently stakes himself once he learns of her death, while Cordelia can only complain that his absence will make it harder for the team to do their job and get paid. However, as an additional touch, after witnessing the Christmas Present vision, when Buffy starts to protest that Angel has never really sacrificed anything serious for her sake even after she defied most of her friends to save him, Kendra bends the rules to give Buffy an accelerated look at the events of Thanksgiving two years ago (as depicted in "I Will Remember You"), demonstrating that Angel has made sacrifices for her in turn.
- In Christmas Spirits Snape finds a spell to summon the spirits and he and Harry sic them on Dumbledore.
- A Chris-Mas Carol is a Total Drama take on this trope, with Chris as Scrooge, Dawn as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Owen as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Duncan as the Ghost of Christmas Future. In the end, Chris goes back on his word to change after getting flung into the outhouse by Scott and the whole thing was revealed to be a prank by the ghosts, the other castmates, Chef and the interns in hopes of getting him to lighten up.
- In A Christmas Vow Lily shows Snape a past Christmas, several alternate-universe Christmases and a future Christmas where Harry killed himself after chewing Snape out for breaking his promise to look after any children she had.
- in A Foolishly Foolish Christmas Carol, Franziska plays the role of Scrooge. The ghosts are Mia (Past), Gant (Present), and Kristoph (Future). The author even managed to find someone to fill the role of the charity worker (Constance Courte), and there are two Tiny Tims.
- In It's a Wonderful Christmas, Carole, Brittas, who plays the role of Scrooge in the fanfic, is visited by the three spirits when he refuses to close the centre early over Chirstmas Eve. It does take a bit of a different turn; the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present fail to redeem Brittas and they have to send in a Canon Foreigner (the Ghost of Alternative Christmases) to try to redeem Brittas. Even then, he is unable to fix him and they resolve to just knock him out over the holidays to salvage what they can of the future.
- An Andromeda Valentine has Rommie what her continued attitude toward Harper will lead to. A different holiday, as one can guess from the title.
- There is a Star Wars Legends fic called A Christmas Carol where Luke, who's been slipping from the proper path, is visited by three spirits, Palpatine included.
- In A Miraculous Christmas Carol, Gabriel as Hawk Moth akumatizes his nephew Félix after denying him and his sister-in-law Amélie a place to stay when they are layover in Paris on Christmas Eve. As Christmas Spirit, Félix traps Gabriel in his own Christmas Carol, with Amélie as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Nathalie as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Chat Noir as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
- The third All Dogs Go to Heaven movie has this invoked by Charlie. Seeing that Carface is the only one close enough to Belladonna to stop her, he decides to "scare the Dickens" out of Carface. Using magic provided by Anabelle, he, Itchy, and Sasha turn into the three ghosts (Itchy as Ghost of Christmas Past, Sasha as Ghost of Christmas Present, and Charlie himself as Ghost of Christmas Future) and give Carface a scare.
- The Man Who Invented Christmas has this in a roundabout way, as Dickens writing A Christmas Carol helps him reconnect with his family and friends in a manner similar to Scrooge.
- A Dennis The Menace Christmas casts good ol' Mr. Wilson (Robert Wagner) as Scrooge, but reduces the three ghosts to a single "Angel of Christmas Past, Present, and Future."
- Played rather straight in the short story Bah, Humbug!, where the main character, Nate Jerome, falls asleep at work and is visited by his neighbor, who shows him visions of Christmas in his childhood, which makes him decide to stop working so hard.
- Loren D. Estleman wrote a Sherlock Holmes pastiche titled "The Adventure of the Three Ghosts", in which the now adult Tiny Tim (who has become a Scrooge-like banker himself) comes to visit Holmes because his sleep is being plagued by visions of ghosts. It turns out to be his wife and his chief clerk Gaslighting him in an attempt to get him to change his ways. It is strongly implied that what happened to Scrooge had been Bob Cratchit doing the same thing.
- The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids did a very direct take-off on the classic plot as A Copper-Colored Christmas Carol, casting Philatel-426 in the Scrooge role. It poked fun at the trope without being a parody of it, notably including lines which implies that the same three Ghosts of Christmas, being interdimensional travellers, have already gone through this exact plot multiple times.
Ghost of Christmas Past: "To your past I must take you, Ebenezer!"
Philatel: "…Who is Ebenezer?"
The Ghost of Christmas Past takes out a notepad, mildly puzzled.
Ghost of Christmas Past: "“Are – are you not named Ebenezer Scrooge? (…) Ah. Sorry. It’s just – most of them are named Ebenezer, you know. Not that we haven’t had others, of course, it’s just a tad unusual."
- The Ghosts of Fear Street book Fright Christmas, as well as R. L. Stine's Young Scrooge. The tagline for the former is, "This Christmas Carol Will Scare The Dickens Out Of You!".
- The Ranger Rick magazine had a story, later adapted into a comic, that took an unusual spin on this trope. The story opens with Rick deciding to give up on being an environmental activist since nothing he and his friends do seems to make any difference and going home to sulk; he falls asleep reading the Trope Namer and has an Opinion-Changing Dream that works in the following stages. Stage 1: a pristinely white ghost shows him a forest with lush vegetation, crystal clear water and various animals, including the long-extinct Passenger Pigeon; the ghost is then named as "The Ghost of the Clean, Green Past". Stage 2: a ghost who's pure black and wearing chains made of assorted kinds of trash shows him the same area in present day, now utterly ruined by human waste and carelessness; Rick bitterly calls him "The Ghost of the Polluted Present" and restates that it's pointless to try to change things. And then Stage 3 kicks in with a ghost who, while not as pristine as the first, is a soft white with hints of green and shows Rick the area cleaned up by human action; Rick realizes that this ghost represents the Hopeful Future and awakens revitalized in his environmental protection actions.
- One of the stories in the book A Very Muppet Christmas is actually titled "Yet Another Christmas Carol" (the book being published six years after the most famous Muppet version) with Statler as Scrooge, Scooter as Fred, and the Swedish Chef, Miss Piggy and Gonzo as the ghosts. (Kermit, Waldorf and Fozzie reprise their roles from the film.)
- Adventures in Wonderland did one with "Bah, Hamburger," where Tweedle Dum learned the importance of healthy nutrition through the Spirits of Nutrition Past, Present, and Future.
- Alice (1976): In "Mel's Christmas Carol", Mel fires the waitresses after they refuse to work until midnight on Christmas Eve. He's visited by the ghost of his (never before or again mentioned) Brooklyn business partner, Jake Farley, who is chained to a number of kitchen utensils. Jake warns Mel that if he's been bad enough in life to, among other things, end up chained to an Amana side-by-side refrigerator when he dies.
- Babylon 5 episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari" has the eponymous Londo falling into a coma after a heart attack. Unconscious he sees Delenn who explains more or less what he needs to do Marley-like, he then sees Sheridan with whom he talks about his past, he sees Vir who talks about the present and the most difficult part for him is confronting his future which he clearly fears and is represented by an angry G'Kar.
- Bad Girls had this format for its final episode, which was set over Christmas. The ghost of the recently deceased Natalie Buxton returned to Larkhall to teach Sylvia Hollamby the error of her ways by taking her through her past, present and not-so-pleasant future. By the end of the episode (and therefore, the series), Sylvia had finally turned over a new leaf, after 8 whole seasons of being a ruthless bitch.
- Blackadder presented a Christmas special based on Dickens' original story — the twist being that the main character, Ebenezer Blackadder, started out as the nicest man in England and, following an inadvertent tour through his ancestral history and future, was inspired by the exploits of his namesakes (as well as a not very pleasant vision of what his descendants will become if he remains nice) to become a ruthless bastard instead. However this leads to a Pyrrhic Victory.
- The Boy Meets World episode "A Very Topanga Christmas" features a dream sequence involving just the Christmas Future part of the story. In it, Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Cory what life will be like if he doesn't reconcile with Topanga.
- Catherine Tate's Christmas 2009 special was "Nan's Christmas Carol", where the foul-mouthed and cantankerous Nan is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve after turfing her annoying relatives the Cratchits out onto the street.
- Celebrity Juice does this for their 2012 Christmas special, with Keith Lemon serving as the Scrooge, with the 'past' element also comes a Clip Show.
- The Catalan sports comedy show Crackovia had a Christmas Carol-like story featuring Real Madrid chairman Florentino Pérez in the role of Scrooge, by caring only about money and driving away anyone who celebrated Christmas by giving them money. In his sleep, he's visited by José Mourinho, Josep Guardiola and Josep Pedrerol as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come, to teach him that only caring about money would bring Real Madrid to its doom. Mourinho shows Florentino how he bribed schoolmates when he was young; Guardiola brings him to F.C. Barcelona's Christmas party to show him that Barcelona's success comes from how close everyone is to each other and not because of how much money they earn (which Florentino interprets that Barcelona's success comes from investing in youth); Pedrerol finally shows him that spending too much money would put Real Madrid down to regional leagues. Florentino realizes there's an aesop: that he needs to make better investments.
- A Different World does this with (big surprise) Whitley. Freddie is unable to go home to Arizona for Christmas, and all of her other friends have plans, so she asks Whitley if she could spend the holiday break with her. Whitley is very nasty towards Freddie and tells her no. Cue the ghosts. Marley is her mother. Christmas Past (Mr. Gaines) shows Whitley that she was a child who was given everything except her parents' attention. Christmas Present (Walter) shows her how mean she really is to everyone. Christmas Future (Jaleesa) shows her that she is dead and that everyone is in attendance for her funeral. Most notably, Dwayne and Freddie are happily married with 6 kids. The ghost explains to Whitley that when she refused to let Freddie go home with her, Dwayne took her home with him and they fell in love soon after. Dwayne gives the eulogy and explains that he cared about Whitley, but she died alone because she pushed everyone away with her horrible attitude. In the end, it appears that she's learned her lesson and tells Freddie that she's welcome at her house, but it's really because she does not want Freddie around Dwayne.
- A rare non-holiday example. Over the course of a three part episode of Doctor Doctor Mike is wrongly sued for malpractice and is convinced by all his partners to settle instead of fight. Guilt, - and mention of "A Christmas Carol" - cause him to revisit his past, present, and future in a dream.
- Doctor Who:
- Producer John Nathan-Turner once explained that the plan for season 23, the "Trial of a Time Lord" season, was to reflect the series itself being on trial for its past behavior (too violent, too pantomime, too much humor, not enough humor, etc.) and its current crabby, unlikable version of the lead by having the Doctor go through a Christmas Carol analog and experience visions of his past, present, and future during which his ultimate fate would be determined according to his own choices.
- The 2005 episode "The Unquiet Dead" does a mild version of this with Dickens himself, with the Ninth Doctor and Rose as the visitors from the future who cause him to reconsider his Grumpy Old Man attitude; it's not a Whole-Plot Reference, but there are several Shout Outs.
[three years later, in the Agatha Christie episode]
Donna: Agatha Christie didn't walk around surrounded by murders, not really! I mean, that's like meeting Charles Dickens and he's surrounded by ghosts. At Christmas.
The Doctor: Well...
- Invoked in the 2010 Christmas Special (unsurprisingly called "A Christmas Carol"), with the Doctor deliberately engineering one for a Scrooge figure called Kazran Sardwick (played by Michael Gambon). The Doctor is the ghost of Christmas past, Amy, via hologram, is the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future is... Kazran himself, to his younger self. Also, there is a crashing starship. And a flying shark. IN SPACE. Super lampshaded. It's heavily implied that as Dickens' biggest fan, the Doctor jumped at the opportunity when he saw it.
The Doctor: So, that ship needs to land. But it can't land unless a very bad man suddenly decides to turn nice just in time for Christmas Day.
Amy: Doctor, I can't hear you. What is that? Is that singing?
The Doctor: It's a Christmas carol.
Amy: A what?
The Doctor: A Christmas carol.
The Doctor: [realizing] It's A Christmas Carol!
- An episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman had the titular character shunning the holiday, but not because she's being Scrooge-like. Instead, she's lonely spending her first Christmas away from her family and depressed over the recent death of a patient, named Marley. A character who died early in the series comes to serve as all three Ghosts. In contrast to other adaptations, the vision of the future is quite happy, showing her married with children and grandchildren, though she is left in the dark about who her husband will be. She recovers in time to celebrate the holiday and assist a young woman in giving birth—in a stable, of course.
- Perhaps surprisingly, the 2008 Christmas Eve episode of UK soap Eastenders had a slightly subtle Christmas Carol. Ian Beale played the part of Scrooge, with various other cast playing the roles of past, present, and future. While the episode played out with the usual 'realism' of the soap, the various 'spirits' made pretty rapid stage exits the moment Ian's back was turned at the end of the scene to clue in any viewers who may have been a bit slow on the uptake.
- Fame: Ken Swofford's final appearance as Vice Principal Morloch found the VP being haunted by the three ghosts.
- Used in the Season 2 Christmas episode of Family Ties, with Alex P. Keaton as Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Past and The Ghost of Christmas Future appearing as his sisters Jennifer and Mallory. Alex is horrified upon seeing in thirty years the Keaton family will be destitute while he himself is rich, but also callous, fat, and balding, and upon waking goes to buy presents at 7-Eleven.
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir episode "The Ghost of Christmas Past". For Christmas, the captain gives the Muirs, Martha, and Claymore a dream of when he was alive 100 years ago (they all play parts), loosely based on Scrooge.
- On Highway to Heaven, Jonathan and Mark reform a crooked used-car dealer in an episode called "Another Song for Christmas".
- Done in Holby City's 2008 Christmas episode, with Maria being visited by the three spirits.
- The British series Hustle had a non-mystical version, focusing on their mark receiving Amnesiac Dissonance, and reforming as a result, making the protagonists uncomfortable with conning him. This was a Christmas Episode, and like Dickens' original story, evoked sympathy for the hard-hearted businessman character by explaining how he had become this way.
- Martin had the aptly-named episode "Scrooge", where Martin learned the true meaning of Christmas.
- Mike & Angelo had an episode where they go back in time and do this to a boy's father who doesn't treat him nicely.
- Mr. Belvedere had a Christmas episode set up like this with the titular character playing Scrooge, George playing Jacob Marley, Marsha playing the Ghost of Christmas Past, Wesley playing the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Heather playing the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
- In the Northern Exposure episode "Shofar, So Good", Dr. Fleischman was visited by the Ghost of Yom Kippur Past, Present, and Future (only one ghost, his childhood rabbi, but different costumes for each). Lots of Lampshade Hanging, including Fleischman sarcastically asking who's playing Tiny Tim.
- The original The Odd Couple included an episode called "Scrooge Gets an Oscar" in which Felix and the rest of the gang try to persuade Oscar to play Scrooge in their charity performance of the story, because he'd be perfect for the role.
- Perhaps one of the earliest televised versions comes from an episode of The Paul Winchell Show from the early 1950s, where Paul and his dummy Jerry Mahoney experience trips to both Christmas Past & Christmas Future. The Future glimpse is a vintage example of early science-fiction visions, with metallic space suits and the like.
- The first season Christmas episode of Popular. It played more as a tragedy exposing the not-so-happy past of the series's lead villain. Of course, by the very next episode, this turns into "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome as she goes right back to her evil ways with all lessons forgotten.
- Sam and Al staged a Christmas Carol-themed intervention for an obnoxious millionaire in the Quantum Leap episode "A Little Miracle", aided by the fact that the target's brain structure was coincidentally close enough to Sam's that he could see and hear Al's projected image, allowing him to pass himself off as a "ghost" of Christmas Future; after Sam had done some research to remind the man of his past and get him to face the present consequences of his actions, Al showed the man the future that would result from his current life, where he found himself heavily in debt and committed suicide by jumping off his own building.
- Radio Active had an episode in which the students plan to use this to convince Ms. Atoll not to give them homework over the holidays. She survives their rather pathetic versions of the ghosts' visits - including a past in which she was black - only to wake and realize it was all a dream. When the students show up to start their plot she immediately takes back the assignments so she doesn't have to go through it again.
- Roseanne had the title character deciding to give up on Halloween pranks — and being visited by the ghosts of Halloween past, Halloween Present, and Halloween Future. They show that if she gives up the pranks, she'll turn into her mother (literally).
- The Nickelodeon sketch comedy Roundhouse spoofed this in its Christmas Episode with the Ghosts of Christmas Specials, who had to quickly lead the dad through the usual setup due to a scheduled Saved by the Bell appearance later. The ghosts in question were No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of Bill Cosby, Patrick Swayze and Vanilla Ice ("His career's dead. You could be washed up like him in the future") - the joke being that none of them were dead at the time the episode was made.
- The fifth season of Sanford and Son featured an episode "Ebenezer Scrooge" which included the exchange:
Lamont: You are Scrooge. This is just like that story, Christmas Carol.
Fred: What the Dickens are you talking about?
- Shake it Up has this happen with Cece as Scourge in the episode "Merry Merry It Up". Cece selfishly causes her mother and Jeremy to break up and is overjoyed by this, even denying having anything to do with the breakup in the first place. Rocky plays both Marley and a combination of all three ghosts called "Ghost of Christmas Dance" showing Cece not only the reason behind the breakup but how much Georgea loves Jeremy and how miserable her life would become without him. Cece finally realizes her mistake and makes things right between her mother and Jeremy.
- The Six Million Dollar Man episode "A Bionic Christmas Carol".
- Subverted in the episode "Lexmas," which deals only with the future. The ghost in this version is the apparent ghost of his mother and Luthor sees a future where he's given up on ambition and lives a happy life with Lana. The lesson that he takes from this is that he should be ruthless, because in this good future Lana dies in childbirth, because Lex, having rejected his evil father, can't get help from him that might save her. On a larger scale, he declares that this doesn't just apply to Lana dying in childbirth, but also to everything in his life. He declares that he wants more money and more power, saying that "See, once you have those two things, you can secure everything else." Thus, Lex's status as the antithesis to Superman begins. As a result of this deliberately dark ending and the way it sets up Superman lore, this episode was probably one of the few Christmas Carol remakes that can actually be called epic.
- The episode "Homecoming" also can be seen as A Christmas Carol variation, with a reformed Brainiac (now calling himself Brainiac 5 and an active member of Legion of Super-Heroes) showing Clark his past, present, and future in order to help him deal with his own personal demons and become the hero he's destined to be. Unlike most versions of A Christmas Carol, Clark's future is positive; he embraces the identity of Superman, is a successful reporter for the Planet and has Lois as a partner, confidante and lover. Also, his vision isn't a dream; his future self even recalls his past self's arrival in the future and gets him to rescue Lois while he himself prevents a nuclear reactor from melting down. (The episode got extra points for bringing back the actor who played Bug Boy, Clark's first post-pilot Freak of the Week.)
- The Sooty Heights episode A Christmas Carrot involves Stooy, Sweep, Soo and Scampi pretending they’re ghosts to haunt Richard into not cancelling Christmas at Sooty Heights. They got the idea after Liana explains what the novel is about. It turns out that Richard only wanted to have a private Christmas celebration with the six of them, and not to cancel Christmas altogether. However after the haunting, he felt that he was perhaps being a little selfish so instead planed a big Christmas party for all their friends.
- The Suite Life on Deck had London as Scrooge in a Christmas special called, "A London Christmas Carol." It featured London's talking mirror as not only the Marley but the one to show her the Past, Present, and Future. She learns less to stop hating Christmas and more to stop being so selfish about it (she's probably wealthy enough to buy a small country, but refused to spend a cent even on her closest friends).
- The ITV charity show Text Santa did A Coronation Street Christmas Carol in 2012.
- The Thundermans: The plot of "Winter Thunderland" where the three Christmas spirits (Phoebe the image of all three) show what would happen if Max tried to ruin Christmas for his younger sister Nora.
- WKRP in Cincinnati had a mostly-serious episode where Mr. Carlson fell asleep and was visited by his deceased father and the three ghosts of Christmas. He was eventually shown the future of miserliness: A bleakly clean automated radio station whose only employee was Herb the sales manager, and his own fate unknown.
- In this case, it wasn't so much miserliness as it was fear of his mother, the owner of the station who fired a previous manager for handing out Christmas bonuses. Normally, Carlson is the least Scrooge-like character on the show.
- Xena: Warrior Princess put a pre-Christian Spin on the story with "A Solstice Carol".
- Vince McMahon as Scrooge
- Way back in 1985, the WWF did a Christmas Carol sketch with Roddy Piper as Scrooge. Harsher In Hindsight now that Piper actually is deceased.
- A Special Sesame Street Christmas in 1978 had Oscar as Scrooge, a host of celebrity guests (Anne Murray, Imogene Coca and Dick Smothers to be exact) as the ghosts, and a kitten called Tiny Tim. Not to be confused with Christmas Eve on Sesame Street from the same year, which is considered the "winner" among the two, in part because the former was a Bizarro Episode. As the fansite Toughpigs reports, A Special Sesame Street Christmas evidently came about because producer Bob Banner offered the show's production team a load of money if they could borrow their sets, actors and one Muppeteer (Caroll Spinney) — they might have had no choice but to have just Spinney, since the rest of the Muppeteers were presumably in England filming The Muppet Show at the time.
- Nearly 20 years later in 2006 there was a direct-to-DVD story called A Sesame Street Christmas Carol. This also had Oscar as Scrooge, with CGI-Muppets as the ghosts (including a revamped version of S.A.M. the robot as the Ghost of Christmas Future).
- I'm Sorry I Haven't A Christmas Carol; not only is it the core of the story but most of the show's games are in it too. Curmudgeonly chairman Humphrey Lyttleton takes on the role of curmudgeonly music shop owner Ebenezer Scrumph, his put-upon pianist Colin Sell becomes Colin Crotchet, and the three regular panelists are the Ghosts of Christmas Pissed (Barry) Christmas Present (Graeme) and Queen Boudicca (Yet To Come was delayed "due to unforeseen circumstances," and it was an excuse for Tim to yet again reprise the role of Lady Constance from I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again). Other parts were played by the semi regulars including Jeremy Hardy as Marley ("What you are about to hear will curdle your blood and chill the very marrow in your bones." "You're not going to sing, are you?"). At the end, faced with a future in which Nicholas Parsons chairs Clue, Scrumph becomes a cheerful, joyous figure with a song in his heart ... making him totally unsuitable to be the Clue chairman until they get him to snap out of it.
- John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: The Storyteller Sketch of series 2, episode 2 has him recounting a tale of "Christmas cheer"... about a man called Chris Mascheer, a man who works at a toy company and never has any time for his wife or children. On Christmas Eve he's visited by his best friend who shows him what he'll be like in the future; CEO of the company he worked at, but he's divorced and his children hate him, before he suddenly drops dead of a heart attack. Chris's takeaway? He was still CEO, and that's if he puts in the bare minimum of familial affection at the moment. So he resolves to be a total bastard and get there sooner. At which point his best friend kills him.
- Adventures in Odyssey did this on KYDS Radio where they presented a play called "A Thanksgiving Carol" where Christmas was replaced with Thanksgiving. The Scrooge character however was visited by only one ghost due to "cutbacks."
- NPR's Planet Money episode "In defense of gift giving" has Kenny Malone act as the resident Scrooge because he believes that we should normalize cash as gifts instead of buying presents. Kenny's cohost Jeff Guo sets out on a quest to give Kenny the perfect gift to defend the practice. Along the way they're visited by three economic theories which could justify how we normally give gifts.
- There was a very much obscure Super Mario Bros. version starring Wario as Scrooge and various Nintendo characters as the ghosts that came with the German Club Mario magazine, which was called "Warios Weihnachtsmärchen" ("Wario's Christmas Tale").
- Everquest runs a holiday quest called "McScroogle," where a misery old gnome will pay your character to possess his body and go through the revelations for him. Apparently, the ghosts come for him every year and he pays someone to live the night for him every time. They then leave him alone until next Christmas and he can be as big a jerk as he wants without worrying about his conscience.
- Runescape's 2009 Christmas Event had the player character take the role of the ghosts in an Affectionate Parody of "A Christmas Carol".
- On December 2020, the official Sonic the Hedgehog Youtube released their own take on the tale, with Doctor Eggman as Scrooge, Orbot as Bob Cratchit, Sonic as Jacob Marley, and Knuckles, Tails and Silver as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future respectively. Unfortunately it doesn't work, as Eggman now wants to gather the Chaos Emeralds and destroy the ghosts before they turn him good. And as for the ghosts themselves, turns out the whole thing was a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax from Sonic and friends, one that Orbot joined in on.
- And Shine Heaven Now, Iscariot flavored: Enrico Maxwell is Scrooge, original character Lisa the Angel is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Past,Helios is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Death of the Endless is filling in as the Ghost of Christmas Future. And Enrico learns the wrong lesson when he discovers what his Future is like. Instead of realizing that should he lead a crusade against England, he would be consigning himself and others to an early grave, all he sees is Iscariot and Hellsing on friendly terms in the future and believes he's on the right path to prevent that by leading the crusade. (However, it's possible they wanted him to miss the point to goad him into attacking now instead of a more advantageous time.)
- Brawl in the Family did a Super Mario Bros. version for the 2009 holiday season with the Mushroom Kingdom Carol. In it, the part of Scrooge is played by Mario who, after finally driving Bowser away from Mushroom Kingdom for good, was convinced by Wario (who is here as Marley) to assemble a financial society, effectively retiring from heroics. However, years later, Bowser Jr. (on behalf of his dad) comes back with a vengeance to take over the Mushroom Kingdom and, not being in his prime physical condition anymore, Mario fails to save now-Queen Peach, leading him to become an embittered old codger with "a wrench up h-", as Daisy puts it, and allow the Kingdom to sink into misery and degradation, with Bowser's Toadies collecting exorbitant taxes from the citizens (and even kidnapping their relatives should they fail to pay!). Luigi's role in here is that of Bob Cratchit, living in poverty without receiving a shred of compassion from his brother. And to top it off, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come are represented by Princess Rosalina, Kirby and Shadow Mario, respectively. When Mario sees the error of his ways, he teams up with a herd of Yoshis to get to Bowser Jr, chases him with F.L.U.D.D. and puts him in the lava, and convinces Bowser to let Peach go in exchange for his massive debt being forgiven.
Bowser: Humbug.Rosalina: Well, you heard him. Schedule another appointment.Kirby: I'll go get my food pile...
- Parodied in Dragon Tails, where the strict, hard-arse Enigma gets the Scrooge treatment. Unfortunately, the ghosts all fail horribly, such as the past ghost trying to remind Enigma of when he put his family's feelings first (failing to realize that Enigma was heavily sarcastic in the scene), the present ghost showing Enigma his cruelty towards Norman (and then laughing along at Norman's torment), and the future ghost showing Enigma his funeral (which turns out being his birthday party).
- In Kevin & Kell, Lindesfarne gets access to her estranged mother's computer (formerly hers) and does "Application of Christmas Past|Present|Future" to convince Angelique to return home from Aruba to spend Christmas with the children she adopted as a result of her second marriage (Lindesfarne was adopted by Angelique and her first husband, Kevin).
- Parodied in Bug Martini with the week long "A Christmas Cacophony"
- Nedroid features the three Scrooginald strips, each of which parodies the plot: the people in the Ghost of Christmas Past's Pensieve Flashback can see Reginald, Beartato isn't sad because of Reginald but because of a rampaging reindeer, and the Ghost of Christmas Future presents a post-apocalypse where he attacks the future Reginald as a robot.
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella features it here, thoroughly mocking and lampshading it all. For example, the tombstone that the Ghost of Christmas Future brings Wonderella to is still that of Ebenezer Scrooge.
- Newman did one for it second season Christmas strip. It focuses on Gwen's mother, Lilian, who isn't a big fan of Christmas and is always in a dowry mood when it comes around. Unlike most examples though, she has a good reason. She had a friend that loved the holidays and tried to spread cheer. But when she tried to help a hobo, he turned out to a be a dissent, stabbed her with a knife and she died in Lilian's arms. After going through the usual motions of the present and future parts of the story. She's still not convinced...until she gets a letter from beyond from her dear friend imploring her to let the past go and enjoy her time with her family.
- PHD: One holiday arc features the classic Christmas Carol parody, casting the inattentive advisor Dr. Smith as Scrooge, his own old advisor as Marley, the Ghost of Winter Break Past who shows him his own days as a grad student, the Ghost of Winter Break Present who tries to get him to remember who his current students are, and the Ghost of Winter Break Future who shows him a possible tomorrow where he's relegated to administration duties with no time for research. Smith comes out of it having learned absolutely nothing.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd did a take on this as a Christmas special: Disillusioned with Christmas because of all the terrible games he's had to put himself through, the Nerd receives visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future (the first two played by ScrewAttack regulars Stuttering Craig and Handsome Tom, the last played by Dracula from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest) to show him the good times he had in his childhood with the early Nintendo systems, as well as his future where he reviews Wii games as an old, bearded man and has a fatal heart attack while playing Boogie. In the end, the Nerd decides to change his ways and only play good games from now on. A decision that lasts all of ten seconds as he realizes he actually can't stand playing good games and goes right back to bad ones.
- Noob had this for its only Christmas episode ever. The one getting the three ghost treatment was Player Killer Dark Avenger pre-Villain Decay.
- Louder With Crowder: The 2017 Holidays special featured a recreation of A Christmas Carol, with Steven himself as "Ebenezer YouTube", satirizing the video demonization and censorship wave on the platform that started that year.
- In the Christmas special of El Furibundo Espectador this trope is subverted. A single spirit takes the role of Marley and the spirits of the past, present and future Christmas, according to him because "In this show there is no money for so many actors". His intention is to get Randy, the protagonist, to recover his Christmas spirit but when Randy insists that he loves Christmas and unlike other Christmas specials main characters he is not a grumpy and mean person the spirit gets angry and tells him that in that case he will do the opposite, he's going to make sure Randy hates Christmas. In this way forces him to see and review three horrible Christmas specials, "Barbie in a Christmas carol", "Caillou's holiday movie" and finally "Navidad con los Lunnis" ("Christmas with the Lunnis"). Randy, furious, throws away his Christmas tree and the rest of the decoration. Satisfied, the spirit tells him that he will return next Christmas to help him recover his Christmas spirit, to which Randy responds with a "Bah! Humbug!".
- Oxventure: The Blades campaign has a Christmas Special, in which Lilith and Edvard are hired by Evan "The Geezer" Screws to protect him from three ghosts who are coming on Crimsnight Eve to show him the error of his ways. The familiarity of the plot is lampshaded multiple times, including in a running gag of each ghost mentioning that they have several other misers to get through before the night is over.
- Plonqmas: “A Plonqmas Tale — 2018” invokes this trope, featuring a visit from three irreverent spirits acting as Christmases Past, Present, and Future — the last of whom is an older version of Plonq himself.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series had "A Christmas Cruella" with guess-who as the Scrooge character. After firing Anita for wanting Christmas off, Cruella gets knocked out and has a Dream Sequence. In it she is visited first by Horace and Jasper as Marley, then by Cadpig as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Rolly as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Spot in a robe as the Ghost of Christmas Future, who only speaks in clucks (except for her one aside: "You know, I had a great song and dance number here. They cut it!"). Lucky, his leg sprained from a recent accident, fills in for Tiny Tim, and Anita's sudden unemployment explains why the Dearlys can't have a nice Christmas. It works pretty well actually, even if Cruella is back to her mean old self by the next episode.
- An Adventure Time storybook entitled "A Christmas-tastic Carol" places the Ice King in the role of Scrooge, Marceline as Christmas Past, Lumpy Space Princess as Christmas Present and Finn and Jake as Christmas Future, with B-MO filling in as Tiny Tim.
- An episode of Animaniacs had Thaddeus Plotz in the Scrooge role, and the Warners as the ghosts (Wakko as Christmas Past, Dot as Christmas Present, and Yakko as Christmas Future), each with their own theme song. A variation is made with the Ghost of Christmas Future in that he initially shows up as the typical terrifying Grim Reaper-esque figure — but then he takes off the robe and is revealed to be Yakko, who then goes into an upbeat big band musical number, complete with a light-up stairway and scantily-clad chorus girls.
- An episode of Arthur had one for Prunella, on the night after her birthday party, although only with two ghosts, the Ghost of Presents Past and the less-helpful Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow. The Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow returns in a later episode to give Arthur a similar dream, in his other job as the Ghost of Bicycles Never Ridden.
- Atomic Puppet did this for their Christmas Episode "Hero's Holiday" with AP/Captain Atomic's bitterness about being turned into a sock puppet reaching a breaking point for him and earning him a visit from the mysterious "Hero of Holidays Past, Present, and Future".
AP: I’ve heard this story before. Go find a Scrooge and give me some rest.
- In the Avenger Penguins episode "A Christmas Carol", the titular penguins take on the role of the three ghosts to thwart villain Caractacus P. Doom's plot to ruin Christmas by turning off the city's power, with Rocky pretending to be the Ghost of Christmas Past, Marlon serving as Ghost of Christmas Present, and Bluey being the Ghost of Christmas Future. Doom ends up putting an end to the plan when he sees continuing with it will mean the Earth being sucked into a black hole, but doesn't really change for the better beyond that.
- A variation on the theme appears in the Christmas episode of Back to the Future: The Animated Series, "Dickens of a Christmas", where Doc and family, plus Marty, travel back to 19th century England during Christmastime to escape some nasty summer heat. One of the B plots of the episode features Ebiffneezer Tannen, who forecloses on the owners of a toy shop the main characters met in the beginning and sends them to debtors' prison. Clara, who was in the shop at the time and refused Ebiffneezer's advances, is sent too. Marty, attempting to break Clara out, is told Ebiffneezer is a real "Scrooge," which inspires him to pull the Ghost act on the Tannen. Ebiffneezer is a hard sell, though — even after seeing stuff that "would make the Terminator cry," he refuses to change. It's only through Marty dropping and accidentally activating a projection movie system that he was watching on his hoverboard at the beginning of the episode that Ebiffneezer is inspired to change — the Tannen is terrified by the Godzilla movie and swears to be good. The episode may be unique in having the lesson also not STICK — Ebiffneezer reverts near-immediately to his nasty self once he sees Marty at the end and realizes he's not a ghost. There's an amusing bit of lampshading when Marty first appears as the ghost — Ebiffneezer asks him if he's "Past, Present, or Future," and Marty, being a time traveler, admits to being all three.
- Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!: In "Scroogey Doo", the ghosts not only visit Scrooge as usual but they also visit Velma to make her regret joining the gang. It turns out the ghosts were a hoax pulled by Scrooge's doctor, who wanted to make his hypochondriac patient spend money on Tiny Tim's health. The doctor hypnotized Scrooge and Velma with tricks he learned from someone named Gubmuh Hab. That and a mirror trick induced Scrooge into saying the famous expression "Bah, humbug". The doctor comments that, if not for the meddling kids, Scrooge would have reformed. Scrooge declares he's not changing since he'll never face consequences for his greed.
- Beavis and Butt-Head:
- Beavis has a dream where he manages the Burger joint rather than screwing around in the back. He lives alone, abuses his employees, and watches porn alone at home. Naturally, he thinks this is phenomenal, until he is visited by the three spirits (Butt-Head being his Marley), and sees his future tombstone: "Here lies Beavis. He never scored." And you know how in most of these, the ghosts are people the character knows, but doesn't notice? Yeah, that doesn't happen here:
Anderson: I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Beavis: What are you talking about, Anderson?
Anderson: Dammit, boy, I already told you. I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past.
- Beavis's Heel–Face Turn is wonderfully averted at the end, also. His final take on what he learned:
Beavis: Hey, Butt-Head, check it out. I just had this cool dream about the future, and you know what? The future is like, um, it's pretty cool! It's gonna be all right. 'Cause, like, I'm gonna be your boss, and I'm gonna have a VCR, and some porn! Working on Christmas Eve is cool!
- Beavis has a dream where he manages the Burger joint rather than screwing around in the back. He lives alone, abuses his employees, and watches porn alone at home. Naturally, he thinks this is phenomenal, until he is visited by the three spirits (Butt-Head being his Marley), and sees his future tombstone: "Here lies Beavis. He never scored." And you know how in most of these, the ghosts are people the character knows, but doesn't notice? Yeah, that doesn't happen here:
- Appears in Bravestarr of all places, in the episode "Tex's Terrible Night," where we are given insight into villain Tex Hex. Since Status Quo Is God, it doesn't accomplish much...
- Camp Lakebottom: In "Smells Like the Holidays", McGee pulls a prank that causes Squirt to vow never to fart again and to seal himself inside a smell-proof bubble. That night McGee is visited by Gretchen, who fulfills the role of Jacob Marley's ghost, and then the Ghosts of Farts Past (Rosebud), Present (Armand), and Future (Sawyer).
- Dora and Swiper of Dora the Explorer have a Christmas Carol experience in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure when Santa places Swiper on his naughty list. Instead of being visited by ghosts, Swiper and Dora use time-traveling cloaks to travel to the past, present, and future and see how they and the other characters fare. It features an earlier version of the "tween Dora" from Dora's Explorer Girls and it reveals that almost all of the characters are chronologically the same age. Boots, Sniper, and even the Grumpy Old Troll were babies or toddlers at the same time however age differently.
- In the Family Guy episode "Don't Be A Dickens at Christmas" Peter loses his Christmas spirit and is guided through the plot by the ghost of Patrick Swayze.
- In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Christmas Special, there's a five minute scene in which Bloo tries to run a Christmas Carol scam on Mr. Herriman, so that he'll get more than "just one gift." He has a distorted recollection of the story; notably, he plays Herriman's old partner as Bob Marley (instead of Jacob), complete with Jamaican accent and dreadlocks; as well as playing the Ghost of a Christmas Present. Mr. Herriman, despite knowing the story better than Bloo, actually manages to get the "ghost's" message wrong and cancels Christmas instead. Hilariously, during the closing credits after Christmas has been saved, Herriman prays to the ghosts to spare him, and that he will try to cancel Christmas next year. To be fair, it wasn't entirely Herriman's fault; the way Bloo worded his message could have been taken either way. He said "not one present," which could be mistaken as meaning "not even one present." Let's not forget that Bloo's Ghost of Christmas Future is a robot. Mac lampshades the ridiculousness of this when he hears the story.
Mac: It doesn't make sense, presents and robots were not alive to begin with so- wait a minute.. you were the ghosts!
- The 2007 version of George of the Jungle inverts this when George is introduced to his first Christmas ever and likes it so much he tries to make every day Christmas. The three ghosts (or goats, when George misunderstands the word) then attempt to show George how horrible his life will be unless he stops celebrating Christmas. Additionally, since it was George's first Christmas, the "Goat" of Christmas Past is forced to make up a past Christmas from scratch.
- The Jetsons did one with Mr. Spacely as Scrooge, George Jetson as Bob Cratchit, a dying Astro as Tiny Tim and robots as the ghosts (with the Ghost of Christmas Present being a package to make the pun). Mr. Spacely was even given a deceased business partner named Jacob Marsley. Mr. Spacely only decided to make nice out of self-interest, however. You see, since Astro had become ill from choking on a Spacely Sprocket, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come showed Mr. Spacely a future where the Jetsons had successfully sued him and gotten all his money. Of course, that's the only thing the Jetsons could sue him for. The origin of the plot was lampshaded when George, complaining about Spacely, commented that Scrooge was nice in comparison and that Spacely would end up scaring the ghosts away.
- Johnny Test did an episode like this, but it was based on Earth Day rather than Christmas.
- Parodied in Kappa Mikey, where Ozu is visited by the three ghosts. However, when the Ghost of Christmas Past sees how horrible Ozu's past Christmas was, he and the Ghost of Christmas Present decides to help Ozu destroy Christmas. They are set straight by the Ghost of Christmas Future.
- Littlest Pet Shop (1995) got in on the act, with the episode "Who Scrooged McRude?" The ghost of Christmas Past and Jacob Marley were squeezed into one, who showed a few of the pets the past Christmases of Angus McRude, a Scotsman who got a hold of the pet shop's lease and evicted them on Christmas Eve. When he finally notices his mistake, he simply says "I'll have to try again next year," and disappears, so the pets take it upon themselves to give Angus a change of heart and keep their shop. Which they achieve by reuniting him with his beloved toy dump truck that they saw in the past.
- The Mutant League Christmas Episode "Strike" is pretty much the same as A Christmas Carol, but with no ghosts.
- Done with Thanksgiving in My Gym Partner's a Monkey, where the three ghosts try to convince Adam to hate Thanksgiving, and spectacularly fail to get their message across. Also used (among other Christmas plots) in the "Animas" special.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "A Hearth's Warming Tail" has Twilight Sparkle regaling Starlight Glimmer with her favorite Hearth's Warming story. The plot revolves around a Scrooge-like unicorn mage named Snowfall Frost (portrayed by Starlight) who devises a spell to eliminate the holiday altogether so everypony in Equestria can focus on more practical things (combining some elements from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!). Three spirits of Hearth's Warming Past (Applejack), Presents (Pinkie Pie), and Yet to Come (Princess Luna) show her how much the holiday means to other ponies, and the apocalyptic consequences of her spell, convincing Snowfall to change her mind. Discord was also going to appear as a representation of Marley, but it was cut.
- The Nature Cat Christmas Episode "A Nature Carol" places the titular character in the Scrooge role, Daisy, Squeeks, and Hal as the ghosts of Nature Past, Present, and Yet to Come, and Ronald filling the role for Marley's ghost, along with a mouse family (called the Scratchits) as the Cratchits.
- The New Looney Tunes episode "Burrito Monday" replaces Christmas with a made-up holiday named Burrito Monday, but otherwise a straight (although humorous) retelling of the story, with Elmer Fudd as Scrooge, Bugs as Bob Crachit, Yosemite Sam as Marley, and Porky, Daffy and Marvin the Martian as Past, Present and Future.
- Pepper Ann features a twist on this story, in which the titular character is shown the true meaning of Valentine's Day. It plays out mostly the same as the original story, though the Ghost of Valentine's Day Future, rather than showing nobody caring about her death, shows her as an immortal robot CEO "with a heart of steel" who has banned all displays of love or affection, which fazes her as much as you would think...
- Inverted in Peter Pan & the Pirates. Captain Hook gets the treatment with Wendy as the Past Christmas ghost, Smee as the Present and his scary Ghost Pirate brother as future, and is suitably appalled at what the future holds: When he dies, he's entirely forgotten; even Peter doesn't remember him. So, Hook resolves to change his ways: He'll be even worse, and drive himself so firmly into Peter's head that he'll never be forgotten. (Of course, if you ever read the original play or the novel, you'll know that doesn't work. Sorry, Hook!)
- The Powerpuff Girls (2016) did one with a season two episode, "You're A Good Man, Mojo Jojo" in which after a heist and actually escaping the Powerpuffs, Mojo has a dream version of the story with the Powerpuff Girls acting as Past (Blossom), Present (Bubbles) and Future (Buttercup, who takes it quite literally as a cyborg). He's indifferent to the first two, but the future one does scare him (if only because he'll be overthrown by the puppy orphans he robbed earlier and stuck in a crappy retail job). But ultimately he decides he's better off as a super-villain when, in trying to return the presents he stole, finds that the people of Townsville want him as a villain. Largely due to anticipating him blowing up the city Christmas tree as a yearly tradition.
- In The Real Ghostbusters episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot," the Ghostbusters are unwittingly sent back into time, where they "save" Ebenezer Scrooge from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. When they return to their own time to find Christmas has been ruined, Egon has to free the ghosts while the other Ghostbusters go back in time and try to fill in for the captured spirits. At the end, it's heavily implied that the Spirits planned the whole thing: they share a knowing wink with the audience. Take this Truth in Television moment with a grain of salt, but there is some truth to this plot. At the time of writing, Christmas was a dying holiday and it wasn't crazy to know someone who held Scrooge's opinions. Many scholars today believe that if it hadn't been for A Christmas Carol, Christmas might not be the big deal it is today. So it's likely the Ghostbusters were playing at a little known holiday fact.
- Rocko's Modern Life has a non-Holiday version of the story in the episode "Power Trip". When Rocko's boss at the comic book store had put Rocko temporarily in charge. Rocko had to follow two instructions: hire an assistant to help him (Rocko hired Filburt); and never press the green button. Rocko pressed it and became a greedy boss who kept bossing Filburt around, friendship be damned. The superhero of the comic book Rocko kept ordering Filburt to sell showed up to remind Rocko of how Rocko and Filburt used to be friends. Then he showed Rocko what the future will be if he doesn't repent. Rocko saw himself in the future mistreating a customer the same way Rocko's boss did at the beginning of the episode. Rocko and Filburt restored their friendship. However, when Rocko's boss returned, he ordered Rocko to fire Filburt since Rocko would be the only needed employee again. Rocko refused to fire Filburt, so his boss fired the both of them.
- Sabrina: The Animated Series had a Double Subversion, where Sabrina tried to give the treatment to Gem Stone after getting sick of her selfish views on Christmas. The plan fails when Gem points out that even though everyone hates her and she'll eventually die alone, at least she'll be rich and popular. Sabrina then tries just going over to Gem's home and giving her a present. Gem brushes her off, but then later realizes this is the nicest thing anyone has done for her on Christmas, so she spends the day at the Spellmans' home.
- The Simpsons:
- This trope is parodied by having Homer change channels on the TV and come across a number of such episodes, including Mr. Magoo, Family Matters, and a Star Trek adaptation where the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Scotty how fat he's going to become. Lampshaded by Bart who says that "TV writers have been milking that goat for years."
- There was also the time when a ghost (Marley) appears before Mr Burns. He sucks it with a hand vacuum cleaner.
- Also, in "Grift of the Magi," Mr Burns is visited by three ghosts on Christmas and decides to fund the elementary school. The gag is that it happens completely offscreen, and is only mentioned briefly during a montage in which we hear about various cliched Christmas plotlines which supporting characters experienced that year. ("And Moe, having been shown what the world would be like if he'd never been born, took his head out of the oven and replaced it with a plump Christmas goose.")
- A later episode features a segment which parodies The Muppet Show. Mr Burns mentions being visited by three spirits on Christmas prompting Grandpa and Jasper (standing in for Statler and Waldorf) to say "I wish this show would be visited by three new writers!"
- Stroker and Hoop's Christmas episode centers around Stroker being visited by the three spirits. The Ghost of Christmas Past is his deceased former partner, and all three dead folks turn out to be involved in a shady time-traveling lottery-numbers scam. They try to murder Santa as a cover up. (It's a weird show).
- The Smurfs has the Direct to Video effort, The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol , combining the styles of the live-action movie's CGI animation with traditional 2D animation. Interestingly, the Bad Future involves everyone captured and Grouchy dying.
- Thomas & Friends had a double-length episode from Season 19. Diesel refuses to be helpful during the Christmas season, so Thomas hatches a plan to get him to cooperate. Emily, Salty, Paxton, and Thomas himself pretend to be Marley, and the ghosts of Past, Present and Future respectively.
- The Ultimate Spider-Man (2012) episode "Nightmare on Christmas" has Spidey depressed that New York hates him and his friends have all disappeared off somewhere. Having lost consciousness falling off a roof, he has visions of Christmas Past (a fight with the Enforcers, with an Art Shift to the Sixties series), Christmas Present (the fight with the Shocker that opened the episode, where he tries to do it differently and still gets blamed for everything) and Christmas Future (where giving up being Spider-Man has made him the millionaire owner of Parker Industries, but the Green Goblin rules New York.) It turns out to all be a plot by Nightmare, disguised as his Bad Angel, to prey on his insecurities.
- The Venture Bros. Christmas special begins with Doc Venture as Scrooge at his grave in Christmas Future - he wakes up and is so overjoyed his heart grows three sizes...his nose glows red - he can fly!...he cries out 'Merry Christmas!' like George Bailey to the folks below...then he wakes up again. The rest of the show is at his sleazy Christmas party until the end where he wakes up yet again.
Oh thank God... I thought I'd turned into a complete *censor bleep*.
Famous remakes and re-imaginings:
- Marvel Comics published a miniseries called Zombies Christmas Carol, which reimagined the story happening during a Zombie Apocalypse that Scrooge himself caused through his callousness and the hurt he caused others. The Ghost of Christmas Past is Belle, the Ghost of Christmas Present laments what should be happening on the holiday, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is now the Ghost of Christmases That Will Never Come, represented as Scrooge himself. Scrooge's change of heart and resulting kindness reverts the zombies back and saves the world, but having become a Spirit of Christmas himself, he dies that same night.
- As can be seen here: Adventures of the Silver Bullets features the cast putting on a performance of Dickens' classic novel. Also features Grover Underwood as Charles Dickens a la The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Perhaps the most famous example is Mickey's Christmas Carol, though this is more a direct adaptation using the Disney character designs and voices than an adaptation of the story to the Disney characters. (It helps that they already had a Scrooge in Scrooge McDuck).
- Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was the first animated holiday special, and predates the tradition of bringing in most of the core cast of the original work; only Mr. Magoo himself is recognizable. It has the wrapper story that Magoo is in a production of A Christmas Carol on Broadway, and the special is a musical. Some older fans of UPA animation are aware that Gerald McBoing-Boing is playing the role of Tiny Tim. A comic book adaptation of the special reveals that Gerald is lip-synching Tim's lines, because, of course, Gerald doesn't speak words...
- Barbie does her own Gender Flipped version of A Christmas Carol in Barbie in A Christmas Carol. This time the Scrooge who gets the ghostly visits is a bossy Victorian theater owner/diva named Eden Starling (whose initials just happen to be "E.S."). Interestingly, every major role goes through a Gender Flip—Jacob Marley is instead Eden's vain aunt (bound in mirrors instead of cashboxes) who raised her to shun the holiday, all three Spirits are women of different ages (which makes for a Lighter and Softer Christmas Yet to Come especially), the Tiny Tim character (played by Kellynote ) is a poor orphan girl (complete with crutch!), and pretty much every other role is combined into Eden's assistant Catherine. Also, rather than the Bad Future showing Eden dead, this version depicts her as a broke has-been, while Catherine, originally kind and sweet, has become an Alpha Bitch herself.
- Robert Zemeckis' 2009 animated version is a straightforward telling done in Motion Capture with Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three ghosts of Christmas and Gary Oldman as Marley, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. This one presents the Ghosts of Christmas Past as a floating candlestick and Future as a Living Shadow closer to their book's descriptions. It is a very faithful adaptation, up to the Ghosts' designs, an extended sequence of Scrooge being shrunk, and the chase scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The weird thing is that it's trying to be a comedy at the same time.
- Looney Tunes:
- 1979's Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol was an ultra-condensed adaptation from the half hour Christmas special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales. This riffed on the story with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Porky Pig as Cratchit, Tweety as Tiny Tim, and Bugs Bunny as a Fred Scrooge analogue who dresses up as a ghost to scare Sam straight. Much looser an adaptation than even most of the other works on this page, as there's only one ghost, he's a fake, he spends much of the cartoon simply spooking Sam with loud noises and ice cold bathtubs, and in the end gets him to change his ways by simply threatening him with a trip "down there." Of course, it's an eight-minute short, adapting the whole story would probably have been impossible. In the special's framing sequences, Yosemite states he was just acting and that he's still greedy and then starts to get back everything he donated.
Bugs: I'm going to take you to the man in the red suit.
Yosemite Sam: You mean Santy Claus?
Bugs: No, the OTHER man in the red suit.
- Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas is a 2006 animated straight-to-DVD movie starring the Looney Tunes characters. Granted, the story takes place in modern times (a Walmart-esque department store) instead of the traditional Victorian setting, but it follows the same formula, with Daffy in the role of Scrooge who makes "Bah, Humduck!" his catchphrase for the special. Sylvester is Marley. Granny, Yosemite Sam and the Tasmanian Devil are Past, Present and Yet To Come, Porky Pig is Bob Cratchit again (with his daughter Priscilla as Tiny Tim) and Bugs is sort of Fred as the character who refuses to let Daffy's cynicism get him down.
- 1979's Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol was an ultra-condensed adaptation from the half hour Christmas special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales. This riffed on the story with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Porky Pig as Cratchit, Tweety as Tiny Tim, and Bugs Bunny as a Fred Scrooge analogue who dresses up as a ghost to scare Sam straight. Much looser an adaptation than even most of the other works on this page, as there's only one ghost, he's a fake, he spends much of the cartoon simply spooking Sam with loud noises and ice cold bathtubs, and in the end gets him to change his ways by simply threatening him with a trip "down there." Of course, it's an eight-minute short, adapting the whole story would probably have been impossible. In the special's framing sequences, Yosemite states he was just acting and that he's still greedy and then starts to get back everything he donated.
- BKN's direct-to-DVD adaptation made the characters talking animals. Tiny Tim doesn't die in the Christmas Future segment, but instead grows up to be a complete Jerkass who is exactly like Scrooge in every way, except while Scrooge was swimming in wealth and healthy in his old age, elderly Tiny Tim was broke and permanently crippled, causing Scrooge to not only see what he himself was, but also horrified that this child's innocence and promising future was destroyed because of his own greed.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol. Like the Disney version above, this was a semi-straight adaptation of the book rather than a use of its plot on an extant character. While many of the book's characters are played by established Muppets, the three spirits are original character designs in line with Dickens' descriptions. Originally they were going to use already established Muppets for the Ghosts, as in a Muppet book adaptation, but decided it would detract from the mysterious air they were supposed to have. While Miss Piggy and Gonzo (the first and third spirits) had their roles reassigned, Scooter, who would have played the second spirit ended up not appearing at all.
- The TV movie An American Christmas Carol starred Henry Winkler as a Depression-era Scrooge named Benedict Slade.
- Scrooged is a modern cinematic retelling, with Ebenezer Scrooge the greedy banker replaced by Bill Murray as morally bankrupt TV executive Frank Cross. Cross is also staging a live-action adaptation of the original story, to be broadcast live on Christmas Eve. Much playing around with the original's tropes ensues.
- A Diva's Christmas Carol is a made-for-TV modern retelling on VH-1 with a number of Gender Flips. It stars Vanessa Williams as pop singer Ebony (Scrooge), Chilli from TLC as Ebony's late bandmate Marli Jacobs, Kathy Griffin as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and John Taylor from Duran Duran as Present. Amusingly, the Ghost of Christmas Future is an episode of Behind the Music.
- Karroll's Christmas, a made-for-TV comedy, puts a spin on the story by having the ghosts visit the wrong house due to an apparent clerical error. Their main target was supposed to be Allen Karroll's Scrooge-like neighbor, Zebidiah Rosecog, though Allen also isn't feeling the Christmas spirit. They proceed to show Allen Rosecog's past, present, and future, and he realizes how much he can relate to the man. Afterward Allen proceeds to try to change his neighbor for the better himself. It works, and it's implied the ghosts didn't make a mistake after all.
- A TV movie in 2000 set the story in modern day inner Britain, and featured Ross Kemp as 'Eddie Scrooge'. One of the most noticeable additions to the story it gave was the "Groundhog Day" Loop Scrooge goes through after each spectral visitation. Two out of three ghosts were people Eddie knew - the Ghost of Christmas Past was his dead father, and the Ghost of Christmas Present was also Jacob Marley. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come wasn't someone Eddie knew because the "ghost" was someone not even born yet - he's the son Eddie could have if he reforms.
- The gender flipped '90s made-for-TV movie Ebbie re-imagines Scrooge as a selfish and grasping modern-day businesswoman, played by Susan Lucci, who runs a high end department store with an iron fist. The film is known for its rather awkward chemistry between the three leafs, with Ebbie having far better chemistry with the charismatic Marley than with the bland ex-fiance from her past. This version also borrows heavily from the famous 1951 adaptation Scrooge (1951), with many scenes and lines of dialogue lifted lifted directly from the earlier film; F(r)an now becomes Ebbie's older sister, Ebbie relives seeing her sister die during childbirth, which lead to a strained relationship with her niece over the years. She meets her lost love at a Christmas party, we see her Start of Darkness when she forces her former bosses out through a hostile takeover, and she is present when Marley dies. Ebbie is also forced to witness her own death in the Bad Future (also shown in two other Gender Flip television versions, Ms. Scrooge and A Carol Christmas, as well as the 1998 Wild West retelling Ebenezer (1998).)
- Ebenezer (1998) is another resetting, starring Jack Palance as a crooked and crotchety saloon owner/gunslinger on the Canadian prairies. This Scrooge does have Christmas dinner—with his friend the madam of the local whorehouse. Marley is his old business partner Marlowe, Christmas Past is a First Nations woman, Christmas Present a Mountie, and Christmas Future is Ebenezer's long-dead father. This version adds Sam Benson, a young rancher Ebenezer cheats out of his land before he could wed Marlowe's daughter Erica. The future scenes are expanded to show Scrooge ruthlessly gunning Benson down at high noon and dying while attempting to stop Erica from revealing how he cheated.
- The Gender Flip TV movie Ms. Scrooge features Cicely Tyson as "Ebenita Scrooge." This version features the character's past trauma as watching her father die in a fire, and in an uncommon trope for these remakes, Ebenita is actually made to watch her future self die. But, also unusual for these remakes, it's not her own death that spooks Ebenita into changing her ways, but Tiny Tim's. She could accept her own fate, but not her greed leading to the death of a child.
- Hallmark Channel had one called A Carol Christmas in which Tori Spelling plays a selfish trash talk show host. Gary Coleman plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. William Shatner played the Ghost of Christmas Present with the Star Trek beaming and everything.
- The 2022 musical film Spirited is a contemporary reimagining of the story, much like Scrooged.
- The Glorious Resurrection by Aleksey Khomyakov is a Cultural Translation of A Christmas Carol with the plot set in Russia and centered on Easter instead of Christmas.
- The short story "Solitary as an Oyster" by Mur Lafferty has a real life Scrooge being visited by the crew of a Ghost Hunters type show, with each crew member getting visited by one of the ghosts. It turns out the positive effect of the ghost's visit really only works if you get all three.
- "A Wreath for Marley" by Max Allen Collins reimagines the tale as a '40s noir murder mystery, where the Scrooge stand-in — a corrupt private detective in wartime Chicago — has to solve the murder of his partner by Christmas in order to earn his redemption (and also, in the "Christmas Yet-To-Come", to avoid being framed and sent to the chair for it). The three ghosts in this case are John Dillinger representing the past, the soul of a recently KIA soldier he knows representing the present, and the future yet to come being unexpectedly represented by one Elvis Aaron Presley.
- In 1960, beatnik poet/humorist/monologist Lord Buckley retold the whole story in hipster slang. Listen to it here.
- Majestica's A Christmas Carol tells the Dickens story as a Power Metal Rock Opera, with many of the melodies being medlies of classic Christmas carols.
- Inspecting Carol is a play about a group of bungling actors attempting (and failing) to put on a successful production of A Christmas Carol.
- An online comic from Antarctic Press artist Rod Espinosa did the gender flipped version, with Scrooge being a woman and running a dress shop. The rest of the story plays out as the original through. Can be read here.
- Zsdav Adventures: Zsdav is usually an easy going and cheerful character who gets to play to role of Scrooge in Karácsonyi külön kiadás (Christmas special). Michael Jackson plays to role of the ghost of Christmas past and Darth Maul as the ghost of Christmas present.
- In a Marvel Comics Presents Christmas issue, the three ghosts end up incorrectly trying to convert the Fantastic Four's mailman, Willie Lumpkin. An address screw-up caused them to think they were targeting J. Jonah Jameson.
- The Chick Tracts have a version in "Humbug", although only Marley makes an appearance, not the three ghosts (the entire experience lasts three panels), and Scrooge doesn't just take a level in kindness; he also becomes a Christian.
- Judge Dredd: When Judge Dredd is pursuing an escaped prisoner who just wants to return to his family on Christmas Eve, Dredd bangs his head. What appears to be the ghost of his dead brother Rico appears to berate Dredd's dedication to the law and tries to get him to give the perp a break on that most special of nights. Except Rico is nothing but a concussion-induced hallucination, and it turns out that they locked the man up because he's insane and ate his family.
- A very minor example can be found in Kingdom Come. One background character named by the annotations is called Marley. Although he's only a minuscule background character, one design page shows his costume is made up of chains and bandages covering him from head to toe making him appear to be an homage to Jacob Marley.
- Invader Zim (Oni): The second story in the third Quarterly issue sees Zim put into a Christmas Carol-style simulation to try and teach him the true meaning of "Fistmas". It's all a poorly thought-out plan to somehow Take Over the World on the part of a pair of stupid aliens who don't understand Christmas. In the end, Zim learns nothing and just breaks the simulation in anger.
- While there are a large number of Sherlock Holmes fanfics that follow this trope, the stand out is The Christmas Guest by Mary le Bow. The setting is Christmas Eve. Holmes is cast as the Scrooge and Watson attempts to cheer him up with a guest from the medical field. The guest ask Holmes to guess who he is. Holmes, saying that his deduction skills are not a parlor trick and should be taken seriously, is soon coaxed by Watson to perform his skill. Holmes deduces the entirety of the man's life except his name. This includes a hard childhood, a generous sponsor, a kindness towards children, and a loving wife. The doctor says it was his godfather who changed his life by aiding him in education and hospital visits though not before his godfather was converted following his claim that he could see see dead people. Following the deduction, the man leaves for Christmas Eve dinner with his family. As he leaves, it is revealed the doctor is a grown Tiny Tim, now Dr. Cratchit. With this story, Holmes is converted and prepares for a quick Christmas dinner.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged parodied this at the end of their Christmas Tree Of Might special. Ghost Nappa appears in front of Vegeta and tells him he'll be visited by three ghosts, "and they're all me!"
Vegeta: Goddammit, I hate Christmas.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has it parody with Kaiba visited by Yami, Marik, and Bakura. Kaiba pretty much ignores the first two, but seemingly gives in when Bakura shows him the future of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and gives a speech to all of his employees... before firing all of them.
- Not set at Christmas, but The three ghosts of Oliver Queen has a similar plot. Tommy is Oliver's past (he even lampshades it "I’m the ghost of Christmas past"), and reminds him of why he started his quest, releases him from the Thou Shalt Not Kill vow Oliver made on his grave, and shows him his past relationships to highlight their differences with his one with Felicity (the others supported him at his lowest). Amanda Waller shows him bits of the present and past, explains that his combat skill level has fallen, the real threats to Star City still exist, and he has not been there to support those he loves. Laurel is the future and shows him that if he does not change things, she will be murdered by Damien Darhk (explaining how she can be ghost when the real Laurel is still alive), Diggle will gun down his Evil All Along brother in murderous rage, Oliver will finally die at the hands of Prometheus, and the city will then fall to ruin.
- While it doesn't involve Christmas and only looks at the future, the premise of the Pitch Perfect fic "Welcome to My Nightmare" is basically similar to Christmas Carol; while attending the corporate retreat in Pitch Perfect 2, Chloe and Bella each have a nightmare of what would happen if Becca left during the retreat, which depicts the worst possible future for them both. Chloe's dream sees the Bellas lose the World Championships and thus be disbanded without Beca's support, Chloe is unable to graduate as new requirements mean that she needs to complete one more course to get a degree and she doesn't have the finances to finish it, and ends with Chloe attempting suicide after seeing an interview of a successful Beca laughing at her past with the Bellas and dismissing Chloe as stupid and scared. Beca's dream sees Chloe and Emily reject her on every level, being dismissed by her superiors at the record company as nothing more than a potential back-up singer and given demeaning tasks, learn that Jesse has been cheating on her after he moved to Los Angeles, and then learn that Chloe was in love with her only when Fat Amy reveals that Chloe's moved on and is getting married to someone else. When the two wake up and confront each other about the revelations in their dreams (Beca's internship and Chloe being in love with Beca), Lily makes a comment about how her "dream walking" worked, suggesting she was in some way responsible for their respective dreams and subsequent epiphanies.
- The Friends fic “The One With a Thanksgiving Carol” features Chandler in 1993 (before the events of the series) being visited by three spirits that appear to him as Ross, Joey and Phoebe, Ross depicted with his moustache and afro and Phoebe visibly older than the one Chandler knows. Ross shows Chandler how he turned people away in the past, Joey gives Chandler examples of contemporary Thanksgivings such as the Gellars and Tribbianis, and Phoebe allows Chandler to see both the future where he will ultimately push everyone away (Joey in Los Angeles as an unsuccessful acting coach after the argument over Kathy, Phoebe in Minsk as she ended up with David rather than Mike, Rachel in Paris, Chandler in England, and Ross in Chicago while Monica lives alone and visits her father in assisted living), and the canon future where he becomes a married man with a family (while avoiding showing Chandler who his future wife actually is).
- The Holiday Specials of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines feature each a snippet starring Volkner and Flint, with the latter trying to snap the former out of his holiday funk trying to set up this act. The gag ends up differently every year:
- Year One: Flint shows up along with his Infernape dressed as a Bedsheet Ghost. Volkner doesn't even faze, because Flint's afro and Infernape's tail give them away, and he was expecting it because Flint tries to pull it off every year.
- Year Two: Once again Flint shows up the same way. This time, however, Volner is not depressed anymore. Flint is left having to call Fantina to ask her if she knows of someone they can set up the act for.
- Year Three: The situation is reversed, now it's Flint who's in a funk, and Volkner tries to snap him out of it dressing as a Bedsheet Ghost. Flint is outraged because Volkner's doing the act all wrong, and drags him along to show him how it's done.
- For one of his Dragon Ball What If? videos, MasakoX did "What if Vegeta celebrated Christmas?", but promised that he wouldn't just copy Dickens wholesale the way so many others did. Rather than having Vegeta undergo a complete personality 180 like Scrooge, the story simply tries to explain why he chose to stick around on Earth after Freeza's defeat. Over the course of the story the Ghosts (played by Nappa, Bulma, Goku and even Freeza himself) show Vegeta that he does care about companionship no matter how fiercely he pretends otherwise, and that if he continues being a standoffish loner all he'd get would be an unmarked grave on some remote planet.
- During its third Christmas filler arc, Chaos Effect makes it clear that it will never do a Christmas Carol parody... because Kaiba filed a restraining order against the Christmas Spirits when they tried to put him into such a scenario.
- Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo casts Rabbit as Scrooge and uses Easter instead of Christmas, but otherwise runs pretty much true to type. Easter Future (or Spring Cleaning Day, at any rate) depicts a Hundred Acre Wood which is quiet, orderly and tidy, just as Rabbit wanted... and inhabited only by Rabbit, as all the other animals have given up on him and moved away.
- ABC Family's Christmas Cupid takes a very loose adaptation of this, involving Christina Millan as Sloane Spencer, the Scrooge Stand-in, a shallow publicist who must organize a premiere of a movie starring a spoiled actress played by Ashley Benson who suddenly dies and takes on the Jakob Marley role. She must teach Sloane the errors of her ways in order for her to get into heaven, by visiting Sloane's past present and future.
- Rod Serling penned Carol for Another Christmas in 1964, which used the structure to plea for world peace (it was created to foster support for the U.N.).
- The TV movie A Valentine Carol is a romantic comedy version.
- The 2008 film An American Carol has a Michael Moore stand-in as the Scrooge character, who wants to abolish the Fourth of July; the spirits (JFK, Patton, George Washington, and an Angel of Death) reinstill patriotism in him.
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a variation on this, where the ghosts (even though at least one isn't, actually, dead) show the main character his romantic past, present, and future in order to make him give up his womanizing ways.
- In the film Chasing Christmas, Jack Cameron is the latest subject of the Seasonal Ghosts as he has become bitter ever since he discovered his wife cheating on him at Christmas. The film even elaborates on the ghosts’ specific roles; Past is only aware of Christmases in the past, Present only knows the present with not even the personal memories of her own history, Future is often late for team meetings in their corporate headquarters, and Charles Dickens wrote the original tale based on his own visit from the ghosts. Jack’s experience becomes complicated when Past decides to just live in the past when taking Jack back to 1965, prompting Present to travel back and work with Jack to find Past, as Jack will be erased from existence if Past doesn’t take him home. Since Past can only travel across Jack’s personal history, Jack acknowledges that he was selfish and recognises the need to change after seeing his relationship with his ex-wife from an outside perspective, the crisis concluding with Past being demoted to an elf while Present takes on his role and Jack goes home with a new appreciation of his life.
- The 2022 TV film Christmas Carole looks at corporate executive Carole Mackay, who has made a living selling cheap Christmas items. However, when she plans to sell her company on Christmas Eve, she is visited by the spirit of her deceased mother Jackie, the woman who essentially taught Carole that the ‘winner’ at the end of life is the one with most money. Carole is immediately aware of the original story, linking her mother to Jacob Marley as her first name was Jackie and one of her mother’s later husbands was a man named Marley, but is surprised when she witnesses ‘ghosts’ such as Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise as Christmas Past, Jo Brand as Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come introducing himself as a national treasure of the future. After Carole witnesses the past Christmas where her mother left and the present where her brother and recently-fired assistant are trying to celebrate, she is taken forward to Christmas Future to witness her father’s funeral, where she learns that her father turned down more prosperous jobs to give her and her brother stability in the present, and that her mother never contested custody after leaving in her childhood. Learning that her father is dying in the present, Carole is briefly trapped in the future when she spends too long visiting his memorial service, finding herself buried in her father’s grave before she returns to the present, where she cancels the deal and apologises on live television, re-hiring her assistant, and then going to visit her father.
- Hallmark Channel has a 2012 movie called It's Christmas, Carol! about a mean publishing company executive named Carol. The only ghost is her old mentor Eve who takes Carol to see Christmas Past, Present, and two versions of Christmas Future one is the traditional scene where Carol is dead and no one cares while the second is where Carol is happily married to the love of her life and they have children and grandchildren. Also, the Tiny Tim in this version is her assistant Tina who requests a transfer to another city so she can be with her fiance. Carol refuses and Eve tells her that Tina will become a lonely, bitter workaholic unless Carol changes her mind.
- Click has a strange but still recognizable take on the story, with a magic remote control and the angel of death in place of the traditional spirits. After some wacky hijinx, the remote shows the workaholic Michael the happier past, the not-so-happy present (or close to it), and a Bad Future where his son has learned all the wrong lessons from his example, then he awakens back in the present with a second chance and a newfound appreciation for his family.
- In a Lifetime Movie of the Week If You Believe, Susan Stone receives a visit from her past self to show her that she should not give up on happiness. If you happen to miss the reference throughout the film, you cannot be mistaken when Susan calls her brother Bob to apologize and introduces herself as: "It's your sister the Scrooge."
- It's a Wonderful Life is basically a (modern) inversion of the story. Instead of a Jerkass who learns to be a good man after seeing that people would be either uncaring or outright happier with him gone, it's about a good man who despairs that he hasn't mattered to anyone, and sees just how much of a difference he has made.
- A bizarre little short called Banks: The Money Movers takes the formula, jettisons two ghosts and makes the Aesop about how wonderful banking is. No, really. In this one, Arthur Scrooge (who, other than hoarding his money under a mattress, seems to be a fairly decent chap) is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jack Marley, who warns him he's going to be visited by the Spirit of Banking to keep him from avoiding Marley's fate of roaming the earth as a restless spirit.note Cue the Sprit (a bland looking nebbish in a three-piece banker's suit), who transports him to a bank lobby to show how his life could be improved by banking (including getting to buy a cheap Honda motorbike!) and otherwise explaining financial concepts that Ebenezer could have spouted off flawlessly to the Spirit. In the end Arthur sees the light and the next morning gets his fortune together in a dinkly little bake-sale strongbox to deposit it at a local bank branch. RiffTrax riffed this short a new one in the Christmas season of 2019.
- "Adaptation" by Connie Willis opens with a book store clerk ranting about how there's hundreds of Christmas Carol adaptations and not one with half the magic of the original, and takes the three spirits in a different direction: despite a feint toward the standard Scrooge plot, it turns out that their mission on this occasion is to restore seasonal hope and joy to a man for whom the approach of Christmas is a dreaded reminder of what he's lost.
- Hating Valentine's Day is a romantic comedy version.
- The Christmas Edition of Sweet Valley Twins, in which Jessica has been pulling numerous selfish stunts, most recently, sabotaging a celebrity lunch that her twin sister ELIZABETH was meant to have in order to garner said celebrity's support for a charity (Jessica could care less about the charity, she just wants to meet a celebrity). So she's not shunning Christmas, but is instead, completely focused on her own happiness and no one else's. While there's no Marley character, three ghosts are present. Christmas Past — shows how Jessica used to love sharing her toys and clothes with her sister. Christmas Present — shows how Jessica has become selfish and estranged from her sister. Christmas Future, who in true Dickens style, is a ghostly, shrouded figure—fast forwards to a teenage Jessica and Elizabeth. Jessica is unpopular and loathed by nearly everyone because of her cruelty and selfishness. Of course, she wakes up determined to change for the better.
- SFWA writer P. Andrew Miller's short story, "The Dude who Did in Dickens," is about a time-traveler so sick of Christmas Carol remakes that he goes back in time to kill Dickens before the story is written. Unfortunately, this just makes matters worse.
- Elizabeth Hand's novella "Chip Crockett's Christmas Carol" is full of sweet nostalgia for the almost-forgotten kids' show host Sandy Becker, especially the Christmas Carol parody he used to do (Christmas Past), and for Joey Ramone (Christmas Present). (There is a movement to re-create "Sandy's Christmas Carol" by Flexitoons' Craig Marin, Sandy's protege.)
- A Buffy the Vampire Slayer short story had a snobbish Dickensian Watcher visited by a prehistoric Slayer and the most recently deceased Slayer to encourage him to be more understanding of his current charge. He dismisses them because one's black and the other's French, only for the Ghost of Slayers Future to be Buffy herself. Before long he's prepared to agree to anything, if she'll just stop torturing the English language.
- Gets a blink-and-you-miss-it nod at the end of the first Artemis Fowl book: after Artemis decides to give up half of the gold he has won if Holly will heal his sick mother, his newly-healed mother reminds him that it is Christmas morning. This, taken with the magically-extended night that has just ended, suggests that the entire story has been a Christmas Carol of sorts for Artemis.
- A children's book, Hanukkah, Schmannukah! uses the basic storyline to show a Jewish guy named Scroogemacher (oy) the error of his ways. Interestingly, the three ghosts can be read as Orthodox Judaism (Hanukkah Past shows the history of the holiday), Conservative Judaism (Hanukkah Present looks at Scroogemacher's workers in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City), and Reform Judaism (Hanukkah Future is a black woman, and shows how even interfaith families can observe the traditions).
- "Yuletide Karaoke" by Peter T. Garratt, published in Interzone magazine: a 20 Minutes into the Future tale in which media mogul E. Ben Aesir, formerly known as DJ SCRU-J, plots the domination of Yuletide commerce with the aid of his three ghost writers (a woman in a white dress who does historical novels, a woman in a low-cut green dress who does soaps, and a man in a black hoodie who does scifi), before being taught a lesson by the Virtual Ghost of his old DJing partner MC MARL-O.
- The Afterlife Of Holly Chase follows a teenage girl who resists her ghostly haunting, and upon death is conscripted into the organization that works to redeem Scrooge-like people. Conflict ensues when she begins to fall for one year's Scrooge and goes off-script in order to save him. In the end it turns out her entire death, afterlife, and romance with Ethan was All Just a Dream as part of her redemption, as they never, ever give up on redeeming Scrooges.
- In the novel "Reindeer", the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, there named Diane, is a prominent character. The constant use of the trope in media means more people dismiss what she has to show and so she feels she has to up her game, and Santa Claus dislikes her, as her duties and aesthetic go against his belief that Christmas should be solely merry and joyful.
- A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong plays out mostly with the usual Mischief Theatre cast playing the roles in A Christmas Carol, with behind the scenes mishaps exposing that Chris was deliberately sabotaging his co-stars and planning to abandon them for a big time acting job. But being cast in the role of Scrooge and seeing the future scenes played almost perfectly (beyond the Ghost banging into objects, Dennis having to read his line from a coffin and Derek Jacobi bursting out of Tiny Tim’s coffin) causes him to realise how horribly he’s treated everyone, going through the same Heel–Face Turn as Scrooge.
- Arrow. The episode "Three Ghosts" is a downplayed version. It takes place at Christmas time when Oliver Queen (recovering from an accidental drug overdose) sees hallucinations of three dead people from his past, all manifestations of his guilt. One of them turns out to be Not Quite Dead by the end of the episode, making him the "Yet To Come" version as he's the future Big Bad of the season.
- The Dukes of Hazzard had the cousins try to pull the ghost scam on Boss Hogg, but it falls apart in a major way. Turns out Roscoe gave Boss a copy of the book as his gift. Reading it while alone on Christmas Eve, Boss has a change of heart — for that episode, anyway.
- Although not set at Christmas, the "Trial of a Time Lord" season of Doctor Who is based on the narrative of the Christmas Carol story, with each individual story in the season framed as being 'past', 'present' (or, at least, the adventure he'd been involved in just before being taken out of time for his trial) and 'future' being presented as evidence in the Doctor's trial by the Time Lords. It also showed the Doctor being given a glimpse of an evil future self in the form of the Valeyard.
- Ghosts (UK): The episode “The Ghost of Christmas” has elements of the story. At first Julian dislikes Christmas. However when Mike’s niece stays in his room, he is forced to remember the fact that in life he chose not to be with his family at Christmas and regrets it. By the end, he learns that family is more important than anything else and to enjoy the holiday.
- My Secret Identity use the same plot but with birthdays. In this case with Dr. Jeffcoate hating his birthday and having three ghosts (all played by Jerry O'Connell) taking him to the past, present and future birthdays.
- Also not set at Christmas, the highly-regarded Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Tapestry" originated as a concept called "A Picard Carol." The writers felt that the three-vignettes format didn't tell the story they wanted to tell, and limited their scope to a single incident and its consequences.
- The Series Finale "All Good Things..." was a similarly broad variation. Picard finds himself being shuttled between his past, present, and future for a mysterious purpose as part of a test by the Q Continuum.
- In-Universe example: The cast of Saved by the Bell made a play of A Christmas Carol at the mall where they got holiday jobs. The homeless girl that acted as the Girl of the Week and was never seen again despite moving in with Zack was the Ghost of Christmas Present. Screech was Scrooge, Zack was Cratchit, and Slater was Tiny Tim.
- While taking a break from watching Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Joel, Crow and Tom Servo look through a stack of VHS tapes of Christmas movies. The last three are called The Christmas That Totally Ruled, The Christmas That Wasn't That Bad, and The Christmas That Really Kicked Ass. They're all low-budget affairs about curmudgeonly old men and women learning the true meaning of Christmas.
- A Christmas Episode of Upstart Crow involves William Shakespeare, of all people, being inspired by a mysterious visitor to put on a production suspiciously similar to A Christmas Carol in order to inspire Robert Greene to mend his ways. He ultimately decides not to write it down once it's served his purpose, deciding to allow a future writer who might need some holiday inspiration to have it instead. Besides which, there's not enough confusingly pointless characters, subplots or crossdressing for him.
- Bleak Expectations: One episode has Jacob Reese-Mog mentioning he's often visited by ghosts imploring him to change his way... but he just has his underfootman get rid of them.
- BBC Radio Four's More Or Less, the program about numbers in the news, had "A More Or Less Christmas Carol," in which Scrooge is a banker who is visited by three spirits who show him the origin of the credit crunch, the current situation, and the possibility of it happening again. Confronted with the hatred currently held to bankers, and the prospect of his own bank going under, Scrooge resolves to take steps that will ensure his future is one where people love and respect his profession: "Bob, we're moving to Switzerland!"
- The Shadow: In "The Stockings Were Hung", The Shadow once visited an old miser who'd embezzled funds from the rightful owner of a business, and stole the business from him on Christmas Eve. Lamont didn't do much, simply asked him what he was going to do with his money when he died. The businessman immediately had a Heel–Face Turn, and made things right.
- The play Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol sees Holmes experience a similar visitation while feeling particularly bitter one Christmas, to the extent that he plans to retire.
- Redeemers is a modernization with a Minimalist Cast of Composites about a wealthy financial CEO's employees, one of whom is skeptical of his boss' Literal Change of Heart and ropes his coworkers into playing a series of pranks on the man, ostensibly to see how long his redemption will last and whether it's deserved. He of course won't admit all this to be the petty revenge scheme that it is, and his friends rightfully call him out on it. The playwright later began working for Hartlife NFP, who kindly released an audio adaptation of the play in the Our Fair City podcast feed.
- In 2019, the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh performed a variant of Christmas Carol that relocates the story to Edinburgh, with the result that Greyfriars Bobby plays an important secondary role in the plot, such as Bobby being a friend of Tiny Tim and Auld Jock having died after he was evicted by Scrooge last Christmas Eve.
- In Mega Man's Christmas Carol, the Robot Masters are based on characters from the story (specifically Jacob Marley, the three Spirits of Christmas, the Cratchits, Scrooge himself, Mr. Fezziwig, Fred, Belle, and Ignorance and Want), but the plot is otherwise An Ass-Kicking Christmas.
- In Dino Attack RPG, Greybeard's flashback/dream sequence was heavily inspired by A Christmas Carol, with the storyline drawing from Scrooge's journey into the past and the spirit inspired by the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, the 2006 Crimbo event had you getting help from (Bob) Marley's Ghost, the Ghost of Crimbo Way, Way Past (a caveman), the Ghost of Crimbo Right-About-Now (a disc jockey who's "a real funk soul brother"), and the Ghosts of Crimbo in the Not-Too-Distant Future (Joel Robinson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo) to help save Uncle Crimbo.
- Downplayed in episode 1 of Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space. In order to defeat the demon, Sam and Max must recruit the three spirits of Christmas: Past, Present, and Future by righting the wrongs of their past, present and future. Aside from that (and the fact that Future is mute), the plot of "A Christmas Carol" doesn't factor too heavily into the situation.
- In the gacha game Guardian Tales, there is a short story titled A Christmas "Carol" that props the misanthropic Divine Beast of Harvest Mayreel as the Scrooge, and the idealistic light elemental commander Carol as the three Christmas spirits. It doesn't fully follow the Christmas Carol checklist, as it's more of a homage than a total copy. Mayreel storms off away from her tag-along friend Bari when she kept insisting that they visit their "grandpa", the God of Harvest Kamael, for Christmas. This takes her on a one-night escapade with light elementals that temporarily inhabit snowmen in order to protect Christmas from evil demons coming from another dimension to ruin it, in particular forming an Odd Friendship with Carol, as she does good deeds while reflecting on how insensitive her actions have been towards Bari and Kamael thus far.
- Dorkly Originals presents A Koopsmas Carol, Mario is visited by a Boo, but before the rest can continue, Luigi sucks the ghost up and receives his "day off" as a reward.
Daisy: So Mario gave you the day off? That's great!
Luigi: Yeah, and tomorrow, and the day after that... and the day after that... and day after that... and so on.
- Bob of Weebl & Bob gives his advice on how to deal with this sort of thing in "A Catsmas Carol: Cat Face".
- Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy: Humorously parodied when the Ghost of Christmas Past appears in a house for Scrooge. Only it turns out the house belongs to Ted Nugent, who immediately shoots the ghost and later gives out its remains at a dinner.
- Robotbox And Cactus: "Some Death" has Cactus as a ghost attempting to haunt Robotbox after yet another death, disguised as different cactus ghosts, but only manages to show Robotbox's past before being unable to continue into the door to the future due to Robotbox being asleep the whole time.
- Flork of Cows has three ghosts try to do this to Captain Rich, but he's so self-absorbed and greedy that they just end up giving up.
- In Sexy Losers, in the Chafed Dickens storyline (NSFW) "ghosts" (sometimes images of people who're alive) visit compulsive masturbator Mike and try to show him the error of his ways. It ends with him Comically Missing the Point they're trying to make. It doesn't really help that the situations they take him to are situations which are even more likely to inspire him to well.
- Similarly, Least I Could Do had a storyline where three spirits show Rayne his past, present, and future while he was in self-doubt...in order to bring him to the conclusion that he wasn't living his life badly, and that things would turn out just fine for him.
- PHD had "A Winter Break Carol" with Professor Smith instead of Scrooge. He doesn't get the Aesop though.
- In Multiplex, the staff tries to pull Jason out of his love funk by setting up an elaborate Christmas Carol set up one evening just before Christmas. He's not buying into it, and when he walks out in the middle, Kurt is visibly upset that his "Ghost of Girlfriends Present" costume wasn't fully appreciated. He was dressed as a giant hand.
- Uniju Holiday Theater does this for Halloween instead in Uniju's Horrible Halloween of Horror◊. The titular character is visited by the three ghosts of Halloween that want him to understand the spirit of the holiday better.
- Sluggy Freelance did a parody and subversion of this, where it happened to psychopathic rabbit Bun-bun. He killed all the ghosts (in spite of their protestations that this was impossible because they were already dead), but then it turned out that Santa had only employed them to distract him from trying to kill him when he brought presents to the house. Ghost of Christmas present appeared in a later story, "Holiday Ninjas," although seemingly just so that the story could make a cut from the girls saying that the guys were missing the spirit of Christmas in hiring themselves out as assassins under the name of holiday ninjas — to Riff shooting a blowgun and (indeed) missing the ghost.
- Kevin & Kell: Kell poses as Sheila's Ghost of Christmas Future (the other two aren't present) to show her that should she fail to help her stepdaughter Leona with her wedding, it's going to sour her maid of honor Fiona on marriage so much she'd never marry Rudy...and Kell knows her son well enough that if he doesn't marry Fiona, he'll never marry. When Sheila's still hesitant Kell then threatens to dress up as Sheila (they're identical cousins) and volunteer her against her will. Sheila finally relents.
- Ansem Retort: The Ghost of Christmas Past tries to visit Darth Maul to get him into the spirit of Christmas. Darth Maul's Jewish. He promptly threatens to sue for religious persecution.
- Twistwood Tales: Subverted in "Spooked". The Ghost of Christmas Past appears in an individual’s bedroom but can’t explain why she’s here because the individual can’t stop screaming.
- Atop the Fourth Wall:
- Parodied in the 2009 Christmas episode. When the ghost of Marley appears, Linkara shoots at him and points out that there's no need to do a Christmas Carol episode, since he already loves Christmas (and comic books), but Marley says the Spirits are already booked. They show up periodically throughout the review, but he quickly dismisses them. For extra fun, the spirits are played by Lewis' actual family members: Marley is his father while Past and Present are his mother and brother respectively. Made better that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is actually an Early-Bird Cameo of Mechakara.
- In 2012, Harvey Finevoice gets his own visits from three completely different Ghosts: (The Nostalgia Critic, the actual Ghost of Christmas present, and Future Linkara). Though the backstory-revealing episodes are set at Christmas, the lesson is not for Harvey to regain holiday spirit or to stop being a jerk or to trust others. It's that he needs to accept that Linkara is not and never will be his dead son, and that he needs to say goodbye and let the past go. Interestingly, there is no Bad Future. It's the present that's dark.
- In 2015, on a fake Previously on… for the second part of his Zombies Christmas Carol review, Pollo is given the treatment who lampshades how stupid it is for a robot that has no heart or soul to be going through this.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Shows Pollo his grave.
Pollo: Well that's just stupid.
The Ghost throws his arms up in the air and leaves.
- Parodied again in 2021's episode "Christmas Quickies". Since the first comic Linkara reviewed was a comic adaptation of A Christmas Carol, Viga shows up as a Marley-esque ghost to go through the usual routine... but Linkara's not having any of it and shoots her with his Magic Gun. Viga just decides to bother Quinton Reviews instead, which we get to see in The Stinger.
- Strange inversion in The Nostalgia Critic: His Babes in Toyland review centers around the Critic stopping the Ghost of Christmas Future from turning the episode into a Christmas Carol parody, since he happens to love Christmas already. At the end he reluctantly agrees to do the Grinch parody instead, for the next episode, based on how much he hates the movie instead of Christmas.
- In "The Ghost of Christmas Possible" by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw, Scrooge bails after Marley's visit and hires a psychic investigator to take his place until the three visitations are over. The story also introduces a fourth Ghost, who has the power to show visions of Christmases that might have been had things been otherwise (his name is Clarence).
- An International Moron Patrol/IMP XS/Voluptuous Victorious Villains crossover called "An IMP Crossmas" featured an interesting take: The IMP's arch-nemesis Santa Claus teamed up with a memory-consuming demon called Memories' Oblivion and recruited the VVV into an army of Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Yet To Come to take out both the IMP and the IMP XS (the IMP's successors by 5 years). While cutting in line at Disneyland while in their "Christmas" past, the team leaders Roger and Jake discover Santa's lair, and when the other heroes force the VVV to lead them to Santa's secret HQ, an all-out brawl ensues. However, a paradox causes the universe to explode after numerous plot-holes were exposed, revealing the whole incident to be simply a nightmare of IMP XS member FD.
- In this Walfas flash Reimu gets visited by the ghosts of Christmas (well, one ghost and a half. And a kappa) so that she stops setting people on fire. Much to Parsees dismay.
- Joe Loves Crappy Movies presents a good suggestion on how to change things up a little in the name of a fresher take on the story.
- Akuma TH had the Christmas Special "A Christmas Batol." Fluke visits Kari on Christmas with his Soul Edge shard tagging along note and gets rejected. He remarks to Soul Edge in passing that Kari's behavior reminded him of Scrooge, and then explains the plot of A Christmas Carol to Soul Edge. Soul Edge decides he likes the idea and modifies it a bit, visiting Kari's house in the middle of the night to force her into three battles representing the Past, Present, and Future; if she loses a battle, he takes her body. Kari ultimately does learn a lesson, sort of: Her last opponent tells her that curbing her overwhelming desire to become stronger and taking a break from training once in awhile will also help make her strong. So she resolves to gain a social life. For the sake of becoming stronger.
- Metamor City had "A Lightbringer Carol'' where resident Knight Templar Janus Starchild is ordered to take Yule off (so his vendetta with Santa Claus doesn't embarrass the lightbringers again) and is visited by the ghost of his father, now chained to his magic sword thanks to his single-minded devotion to his duty in life. And has three spirits teach Janus to lighten up a little, and maybe acknowledge his assistant Candace's feelings for him. The spirit of Raven hin'Elric acts as the ghost of solstice past, the ghost of solstice present takes the form of Callie Linder, and the ghost of solstice future appears as a faceless servant of Nocturna but is actually Klepnos wearing her robe. It turns out that his immortal ancestor Mirai and a couple of fallen gods arranged the whole thing.
- Epic Rap Battles of History has Donald Trump vs. Ebenezer Scrooge, which starts out like a standard rap battle until Trump reveals his chest and chains, revealing himself to be merely the Jacob Marley figure, and doesn't stick around for the rebuttal. J.P. Morgan and Kanye West represent Christmas Past and Present, with a more traditional yet fully-voiced Yet To Come.
- Cracked: Parodied in "A Holiday Guide to Scamming Christmas Ghosts" Chris Bucholz (as a rich sociopathic businessman) manages to con the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future for profit.
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Frank and Sadie Doyle get caught up in one, but it's actually not intended for them, it's for the guy who used to live in their penthouse. They get his mail sometimes. The spirits don't believe them, and whisk them off to show them the error of their ways, or rather his ways, but since they aren't actually seeing anything relevant to them, they just filch booze from wherever they are, or in the case of the future, Frank has the Sadie of that time send him a message to get more liquor. A follow-up episode has them actually meet the guy who was supposed to go on that journey (he comes to get his mail), but when the spirits show up, the Doyles get Past and Future into an argument over who Present likes. She likes Future, but Future doesn't think it'll actually work, though he is willing to indulge her for a while.
- Twelve Hundred Ghosts is composed of 400 adaptations of A Christmas Carol woven into a new narrative, many of which are whole-plot references to the story in other mediums.
- "The RiffTrax Yule Log" special periodically riffs on clips from different adaptations of A Christmas Carol, presented in order of the story's events. The 1984 and 1999 versions are among them.
- Voltaire's YouTube show "Gothic Homemaking" has "A Cryptmas Scare-All", which focuses on Voltaire's disillusionment with making the show, due to the sounds of construction interrupting filming and the YouTube algorithm limiting his views. With the exception of his co-host Orville Deadenbacher acting as the Jacob Marley allegory, the three ghosts are all Tim Burton characters. Beetlejuice acts as the Ghost of Gothic Homemaking Past, reminding Voltaire of the show's early days with longer videos and monster guests, telling him to quit due to thinking the show "sucks now". Edward Scissorhands acts as the Ghost of Gothic Homemaking Present, telling him not to listen to Beetlejuice, that it's okay to make mistakes, and the show has given people so many ideas and projects. Jack Skellington acts as the Ghost of Gothic Homemaking Future, in awe with how the lair looks, and he gives Voltaire the motivation to get back to work.
- "The Case of the Silvered Chain" by Leah Moore and John Reppion is a Sherlock Holmes story in which Holmes quickly deduces that Ebenezer Scrooge was the victim of a scam by his nephew, Robert Cratchit
- A Clown Carol The Marley Murder Mystery: An 8 minute & 32 second short that opens with Marley getting backed into an alley and then getting murdered by an unseen assailant. Scrooge is the only person paying his last respects at Marley's grave. Afterwords he walks back to his office, counts his money,harrasses his clerk, gets interrupted by his nephew, the charity collectors, and Christmas Carolers. The short ends right after Scrooge is initially confronted by Marley's ghost. He shakes it off and walks out of his office. The link for it is right here
- American Dad! started as a basic "As Plot" example when Stan freaked out over the secularization of Christmas, only for the Ghost of Christmas Past to show up and bring him back to the 70's. However, at this point he bolts to go assassinate Jane Fonda, which he believes will erase the liberalism that led to his problems, and the Ghost, named Michelle, has to team up with Francine to find him. It gets even weirder from there. (Still ends with An Aesop, though.)
- The Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future" starts out as a Christmas Carol parody, with the eponymous time-traveling cybernetic spectre showing Carl a Christmas Day from his childhood, before the memory is interrupted by a robot war (which he doesn't remember because back then it was only a prophecy). And that's when shit gets weird.
- Arthur had a parody involving the Ghost of Presents Past, who helps one of the characters learn to appreciate the gifts they'd been given. Accompanying them is the Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow, who resembles Binky Barnes dressed as the Ghost of Christmas Future. It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow: Tuna noodle casserole...
- The Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow also appears in a later episode, this time as the Ghost of Bicycles Never Ridden.
- The episode "Ghost for a Day" of Babar has the eponymous elephant king visited by the ghost of the Old King (his predecessor from before the elephants got civilized) teaching him to have fun and relax on a particularly busy week that made him neglect his family.
- This was parodied in the CatDog episode "Meat Dog's Friends", where Dog is visited by the ghosts of a hamburger named Heinz, a chicken taco named Esperanza, and a hot dog named Frank who tell him why it was wrong to eat them. For some reason, CatDog's friend Mervis serves as the equivalent to Jacob Marley.
- An odd variation in DuckTales (2017): the three ghosts were supposed to haunt another Scrooge, but accidentally went to Scrooge McDuck instead, and found him much more fun to hang out with, so every year they go crashing Christmas parties throughout history. Scrooge for his part doesn't actually hate Christmas, he just acts like it so he can get a day by himself to cut loose and relieve some stress. Except Santa Claus. He does hate Santa Claus.
"That churlish chimney chaser is not to be trusted!"
- It turns out Scrooge (and Dewey) does have a lesson to learn: that Christmas is better with family. However, Christmas Past tried to keep him from learning that so he wouldn't stop hanging out with the Ghosts. Though he ends up learning a lesson as well, after Scrooge abandons him in the past as retaliation.
- The Flintstones featured in the mid-90s Christmas special A Flintstones Christmas Carol the cast putting on for a community theater production a prehistoric version of "A Christmas Carol," with Fred playing "E-bone-ezer Scrooge" (and the play accordingly set in a Stone Age version of 19th century England). Despite the Neolithic trappings, the version of Dickens' story here was done quite faithfully to the original. Wilma occasionally replaced cast members who caught the "Bedrock Bug". This one actually went double duty - as the story went on and Scrooge learned his lessons, Fred had to learn the hard way that his family is more important than anything else, after he gets lost in the role and he starts eyeing an actress he was starring with.
- The Ghost and Molly McGee: In the Christmas Episode, Molly is inspired by a showing of A Christmas Carol to try and scare Mr. Davenport into helping fund the Snowflake Festival. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, which gets Molly very depressed.
- In the Guardians of the Galaxy episode "Jingle Bell Rock", when the Guardians claim a bounty on a Bob Cratchit-like figure set by a miserly despot named Neeza on a winter planet (and don't even get the bounty), they decide to stage a ghostly visitation to make him mend his ways. However, it rapidly goes Off the Rails when he turns out to possess anti-ghost weaponry, and by the end of it he hasn't learned anything, but he has been sucked into an extradimensional vortex, leaving Altru and his family in peace.
- Harvey Beaks: The episode "Technoscare" does this with Halloween. Technobear thinks he's too old for trick-or-treating, and the ghosts of Halloween Past, Present, and Future (who happen to resemble Harvey and his friends) try to convince him otherwise.
- Harvey Street Kids parodies this in the episode "The Great Brain Robbery", which isn't even a Christmas special: Melvin eats three special order ice cream treats at once and they give him severe Brain Freeze. In his mind, he meets the Scoop of Back in the Day (Lotta), the Scoop of Right Here, Right Now (Dot), and the Scoop Who's Yet to Come (Audrey), who convince him to be nicer to the Harvey Girls, leading to a We Want Our Jerk Back! plot.
- Towards the end of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, Yoda shows what Finn is going through back on Kashyyyk, as well as examples of Jedi masters and students from several past times, basically becoming the Ghost of Life Day's Past and Present.
- On The Looney Tunes Show, Lola tries to put on a play version, but Cloud Cuckoolander that she is, completely ignores the original story and instead makes it about a woman named Carol who is in reality Santa Claus' daughter. Everyone involved in the play agrees that it sucks.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, in addition to the straight "As Plot" version of "A Hearth's Warming Tail" (see above), also presents a non-holiday version in "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils", where Rarity's sister Sweetie Belle destroys a key part of her fashion ensemble out of spite and jealousy. Princess Luna, who has the power to enter dreams, shows Sweetie Belle visions of the past to show that Rarity does not intentionally outshine her, the present to show that the sisters are more alike than they realize, and the future to reveal the horrific downward spiral Rarity's life would take as a consequence of Sweetie Belle's actions.
- In the original Pound Puppies episode, "Happy Howladays", Katrina has the pound closed on Christmas Eve, leaving the Pound Puppies out on the street. so with the help of Zasu the Fairy Dogmother, Cooler and the gang enter Katrina's dreams and try to show here the error of her ways by making her see things from their point of view. Katrina dismisses the whole thing (except the part of turning the pound into a luxury resort for cats) when she wakes up, but other people in town help out though.
- There was supposed to be a Sealab 2021 episode called "Quinnmas" where three ghosts confront Quinn about his alcoholism. Blackout Past is a ghost who talks slow cause he's paid hourly, Blackout Present is a green monster, and Blackout Yet To Come is a lounge singer skeleton who encourages Quinn not to give up drinking. Blackout Yet To Come wins, and Quinn wakes up from his blackout in a crash that mangled Hesh. However, the writers determined that the episode wasn't very funny, and canned it. A rough version of the episode can be seen on the Season 3 DVD.
- One Shirt Tales story has the Shirt Tales trying to stop "Ebenezer Grunge" from closing Oak Tree Park (the park where the Shirt Tales live) simply because the other boys and girls wouldn't play with him.
- The Simpsons uses a variation in "'Tis the Fifteenth Season". Homer starts out the episode spending all his money on an expensive toy for himself rather than anyone else's Christmas presents...then ends up watching Mr McGrew's Christmas Carol on his TV. The thing is, Homer's never actually heard of A Christmas Carol before, so he gets his epiphany from that; Lisa then points out the whole thing's been done to death, flashing up Christmas Carol parodies of Family Matters and Star Trek.
Homer: I just saw the greatest cartoon of all time! It was about a miser who gets visited by three ghosts on Christmas! And get this! He learns a lesson!
- The Loud House: In "A Flipmas Carol," skinflint Flip tries to swindle customers, leading to the Loud children visiting him as "spirits" to try and mend his ways.
- In the episode "Gargamel Time Trip" of The Smurfs Gargamel uses Father Time's magical hourglass to travel back to his childhood when he saw the Smurfs for the first time to help his younger self capture them on the spot, seeing how he wasted his life and the great expectations his mother had on him. Sadly he still causes a Stable Time Loop by making himself hate the Smurfs.
- Stōked has a variation in "The Reefinator" where Broseph attempts to give up sandwiches and is visited by the three ghosts of sandwiches past.
- Teen Titans Go! parodies the trope with the episode "Black Friday". In it, Starfire is rightfully opposed to the eponymous event because she finds everyone becomes too aggressive in getting the best bargain as they mob stores and elbow each other. She is convinced by the Ghost of Black Fridays Past, Present, and Future, who take appearances after her friends; she's shown how her reticence for aggression ruined her friends' TV watching experience, how Black Friday brings them together in peace, and how paying full price will leave them living on the streets in abject poverty and Cyborg trampled to death without her help.
- VeggieTales had "An Easter Carol," a sequel to their Christmas show "The Star of Christmas." It took the framework of the Christmas Carol and used it as a way to teach the real story of Easter, with an angel named Hope replacing all the ghosts.