Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Go To
♫ I wouldn't touch you with a...thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole! ♫

"You're a mean one, Mister Grinch!
You really are a heel!
You're as cuddly as a cactus!
You're as charming as an eel!
Mister Griii-INCH!
You're a bad banana with a
Greasy black peel!"

An animated Christmas Special based upon Dr. Seuss' book of the same name. It was directed by Chuck Jones, with Boris Karloff providing the voice of both the eponymous Grinch and the narrator, June Foray voicing Cindy Lou Who, and Thurl Ravenscroft performing the classic tune "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". The special, which follows the plot of the original book closely, was originally broadcast on CBS on December 18, 1966, and since then has come to be regarded as one of the all-time classic TV Christmas specials, and later adaptations of the work incorporate elements of it to varying degrees. In particular, this is the adaptation that gave the Grinch the green fur that has stuck in every single adaptation (the book has black-and-white illustrations with red detailing, so he didn't have a set color until this point) since, along with the songs "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas".


This special has its own continuations: Halloween Is Grinch Night and the crossover The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat.

Includes examples of:

  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: The Grinch turns his head around when the Narrator says it "wasn't screwed on just right".
  • Adaptational Ugliness: The Grinch of the books (and most other adaptations) is basically a furrier, more mischievous looking version of the Whos. Jones' redesign is much more dishevelled and sinister-looking — and lacks Seuss' trademark overbite — separating him greatly from their cutesy aesthetics. He also has a habit of pulling huge psychotic smirks, which the book Grinch barely did.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: His fur was white in the book; it becomes green for the first time here. This change was kept by Seuss in all later renditions of the character.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adaptation Expansion: The special follows the book quite closely, but because it's a cartoon, a lot of cartoonish antics are thrown in that weren't present in the original book, such as the wacky sled ride down the mountain that has definite shades of a "Wile E. Coyote Acme invention gone wrong", as well as the scene where the Grinch "gains the strength of ten Grinches plus two."
  • Ascended Extra: Max has a more prominent role than in the original book.
  • Aside Glance: Due to Chuck Jones being the director, Mr. Grinch does this several times. Though it could also be explained away by saying the Grinch is a tad insane. Max the dog also does it a few times.
  • Baby Talk: At one point in the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", the singer calls the Grinch "a nasty-wasty skunk".
  • Bad Santa: The Grinch's plan has him disguise himself as Santa while stealing the Whos' presents and decorations.
  • Basso Profundo: Abundant in "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", sung by none other than Thurl Ravenscroft.
  • Body Pocket: When The Grinch first appears, he is leaning against his cave with his hands down pockets on his body as if he was wearing a coat.
  • Canis Latinicus: The Whos' "Welcome Christmas" song, with its Latinish-sounding lyrics.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Grinch was one of these before his Heel–Face Turn, to the point that you can easily picture "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" being sung from his point of view as Evil Gloating.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: The Grinch's face breaks into such a suspicious smile when he first hits on his scheme to impersonate Santa that it approaches a full-on Slasher Smile.
  • The Chew Toy: Something hilariously terrible is always happening to poor Max.
  • Chimney Entry: There is a cutaway view of a Whoville chimney with the Grinch attempting to descend it. His progress is problematic at first, but as his Whoville heists continue, it's clear the Grinch has gotten the hang of it.
  • Christmas Carolers: The one thing the Grinch hates most of all is when all the Whos down in Whoville gather together, and start caroling around the Christmas tree.
  • Death Glare: The Grinch has a habit of fixing Max with threatening scowls when the latter is goofing off.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Grinch's only motivation for ruining the holiday is being disturbed by the noises of the Christmas celebration. Though it's possible he's been isolated and hating this for years, decades even.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Grinch got his 'wonderful, awful idea' when he saw Max wearing a Santa Claus beard of snow.
  • "Everybody Helps Out" Denouement: The special faithfully adapts the ending of the book of the same name, where all the Whos in Whoville come together after having their gifts stolen to enjoy the holiday in each other's company.
  • Excited Show Title!: Like the book, the title is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, with the exclamation point.
  • Eye Color Change: When the Grinch turns good at the end his eyes change from red to blue.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Although the Grinch was depicted with the evil eyes a few more times after his Heel–Face Turn. Colorists can be blamed for that mistake.
  • Green and Mean: The Grinch is probably the most popular example of this trope.
  • Grim Up North: The Grinch lives "just north of Whoville", and his lair is pretty icy (although that may just be because it's winter and most of the way up the 10,000 foot tall Mt. Crumpit.)
  • The Grinch: The title character starts out despising Christmas. He is the trope namer after all.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Currently provides the Trope Image! The Grinch has a you-really-are-a-heel-face turn at the end when he decides to become a good guy after realizing the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Hidden Depths: The Grinch is good at sewing, as noted by his Santa Claus outfit.
  • Logo Joke: The special was produced by MGM Television, and the studio's Vanity Plate is spoofed with The Cat in the Hat standing in for Leo the Lion.
  • Match Cut: Done several times in the sequence where the Grinch talks about the Whos’ Christmas. For example, the scene dissolves from a close-up of the Grinch’s eyes to a pair of doors that some Who children go through. And in the end, Cindy Lou’s strawberry becomes one of the Grinch‘s pupils.
  • Matryoshka Object: One waiter serves another waiter, and so on, until Cindy Lou Who gets a strawberry.
  • Narrator: Boris Karloff narrates the special.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Max the Dog, though the Grinch himself isn't exactly human either.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Despite the title, the Grinch never steals Christmas (despite his best efforts).
  • Oh, Crap!: The Grinch's Heel–Face Turn is harshly interrupted when he realizes the presents he stole are about to fall off the mountain top.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Max gives a great one, along with a friendly wave, as he unexpectedly winds up face-to-face with the Grinch after a loop-de-loop during their descent down to Whoville.
  • Over-the-Top Christmas Decorations: The Whos at the beginning of the movie had a song about extravagant Christmas display:
    "Trim every blesséd needle on the blesséd Christmas tree."
    "Christmas come tomorrow. Trim you, trim me!"
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: This ugly cave creature puts on a red coat and Santa hat. Boom! He automatically looks "just like Saint Nick." The only person who actually sees him is a two-year-old girl.
  • Plummet Perspective: An ornament falls off the steep cliff.
  • Psychotic Smirk: The Grinch gets the idea of ruining Christmas, with his enormous evil grin taking just under ten seconds to spread across his whole face while glaring directly at the viewers.
    Narrator: And then, he got an idea. An awful idea! The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!
  • Rapid-Fire Nail Biting: When he's discovered by Cindy Lou, the Grinch briefly panics and bites his nails before coming up with a lie to tell her.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Grinch himself is a rotten guy with red eyes. After his Heel–Face Turn his eyes turn blue.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Max, especially when next to the Grinch, is a really endearing creature.
  • Right Makes Might: After realizing the True Meaning of Christmas, the Grinch's strength rises by a factor of ten (plus two.)
  • Saving Christmas: Inverted; in fact, the inversion of this trope is essentially the whole premise of the story. However, it's then played straight when the Grinch ends up Saving Christmas at the end.
    • Also Deconstructed, as the ending reveals that Christmas was never in danger to begin with.
  • Security Cling: Max clings tightly to the Grinch mid-way through their sled ride down to Whoville.
  • Shrunken Organ: The Grinch's heart is shown to be two sizes too small.
  • Slasher Smile: When the Grinch had a wonderful, awful idea, he has a creepy grin.
  • Slippery as an Eel: According to the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", the Grinch is actually "cuddly as a cactus and charming as an eel."
  • Slurpasaur: The Grinch ties a single trimmed tree branch to Max's head with string to dress the dog up as a "reindeer".
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The Villain song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is the epitome of this trope, especially with the line, "Your soul is an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, all mangled up in tangled-up knots".
  • The Strength of Ten Men: Er, ten grinches, or rather, ten-plus-two, after realizing the True Meaning of Christmas.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Grinch, up until the end.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". An interesting case, as the Grinch's initial personality would easily have made it a straight-up Villain Song had he sung it himself (which he does in the live-action adaptation).
  • When He Smiles: The Grinch smiles a pleasant smile after changing his ways.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The Grinch will steal from children, but he softens up when accidentally waking up Cindy Lou. He lies that he's taking the tree back to "Santa's workshop" and gives her an Affectionate Gesture to the Head, as well as a glass of water. It foreshadows him returning the presents.
  • You Monster!: One verse of You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch begins, "You're a monster, Mr. Grinch".


Mr Grinch

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheVillainSucksSong

Media sources: