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Western Animation / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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I wouldn't touch you with a...thirty-nine-and-a-half foot po-o-o-le!

"You're a mean one, Mister Grinch!
You really are a heeeel!
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 peeeel!"

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 ditty "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". Closely following the plot of the original book, it was originally broadcast on CBS on December 18, 1966, and over the years it has come to be regarded as one of the all-time classic Christmas specials, with later adaptations of the work incorporating elements of it to varying degrees. In particular, this is the special that first gave the Grinch the green fur that has appeared in every ensuing adaptation (the book has black-and-white illustrations with red detailing, so the character didn't have a set color until this point), not to mention the now-well-known songs "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas".

This special also has its own animated continuations: Halloween Is Grinch Night and the crossover The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat. Notably, the Grinch's redemption does not stick if you go by these follow-ups, as both choose to portray him as a Card-Carrying Villain.

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 Attractiveness: Well, adaptational cuteness, to be more exact, in the case of Cindy Lou-Who. In the original book, while she wasn't ugly, she looked very much like a typical Who, and only had little strands to indicate hair. In the animated short, however, she would gain a much cuter and more humanoid appearance, as well as blonde hair.note  Notably, the animated short's depiction of her would be used as the basis of most future renditions of her, even replacing her original design in projects that otherwise feature the original Seuss designs.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: The Grinch was always a bitter, grouchy character bent on ruining Christmas for the Whos in the book, but the special puts heavy emphasis on the Grinch's wickedness. He's shown to be openly abusive to his dog Max, venting his anger on his canine friend and then forcing him to help make a Santa outfit and steal Christmas decorations. His raids on the houses are shown in more detail, with vandalization added alongside theft, and he's so petty that he even takes the last crumb too small for a mouse after the book narration mentions it was the only food left in the house.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: The Grinch of the books (and most other adaptations) is basically a furrier, more mischievous looking version of the Whos. Chuck Jones's redesign is much more disheveled and sinister-looking – and lacks Seuss's trademark overbite – which separates him greatly from their cutesy aesthetics. He also has a habit of pulling huge psychotic smirks, which the Grinch of the book barely did.
  • Adaptational Villainy: To go with the Grinch's Adaptational Jerkass behavior, the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" makes it clear that the Grinch isn't simply a grouchy old creature who happens to hate Christmas, but a Card-Carrying Villain who enjoys all the cruel-hearted things said about him.
  • 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.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The special follows the book quite closely, but because it's a cartoon, it throws in a lot of cartoonish antics that weren't present in the original book, such as the wacky sled ride down the mountain, which 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."
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: After lying to Cindy Lou, the Grinch pats her on the head before sending her back to bed.
  • 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.
  • Body Pocket: When The Grinch first appears, he is leaning against his cave with his hands down pockets on his body, as if he were wearing a coat.
  • Building Swing: During the montage showing the Grinch stealing from the rest of the Whos, he's shown swinging from one house to the next.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: When the Grinch reaches the bottom of the chimney in the first house, his yellow-pupiled eyes are seen staring out of the fireplace.
  • 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.
  • The Comedy Drop: After they pull a loop-de-loop, Max is clinging to the Grinch's head. The Grinch shimmies Max off of him, the nonchalantly pitches him off the front end of the sleigh to continue pulling it.
  • Death Glare: The Grinch has a habit of fixing Max with threatening scowls when the latter is goofing off.
  • "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.
  • Evil Is Petty: 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 enduring this for years, decades even.
  • Exorcist Head: It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
  • Eyebrow Waggle: The Grinch gives one to the viewer as he steals the roast beast from the icebox.
  • Eye Color Change: When the Grinch turns good at the end his eyes change from red to blue.
  • Food End: The special ends with the reformed Grinch having Christmas dinner with the Whos, as he passes out the roast beast to everyone.
  • Foreshadowing: The Who Christmas carol includes the line, "Christmas day is in our grasp / So long as we have hands to clasp." This is an early sign that the Grinch’s plan to stop Christmas by taking away the presents, food, and decorations will fail.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Although the Grinch was depicted with the evil eyes a few more times after his Heel–Face Turn. Colorists are often blamed for this 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.
  • Innocent Awkward Question: When the Grinch, dressed as Santa Claus, enters a house to steal the Christmas paraphernalia, a toddler named Cindy Lou thinks he's actually Santa and asks why he's taking the family's Christmas tree. The Grinch squirms and bites his nails for a few moments before lying that he's taking it to fix a faulty light on the tree.
  • Insult to Rocks: From You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch — "given the choice between the two of you, I'd take the seasick crocodile!"
  • 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.
  • Mischievous Body Language: When he devizes his plan to stop Christmas disguised as Santa, the Grinch breaks into his iconic Cheshire Cat Grin that goes on and on.
  • 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.
  • Person as Verb: When the Grinch comes down the chimney for the first time, the narrator uses "grinch" as a verb, which apparently just means "to talk like the Grinch":
    The Grinch: These stockings...
    The Narrator: He grinched.
    The Grinch: Are the first things to go!
  • Pet the Dog: After Max spent the entire special putting up with the Grinch's abuse, in the end, Cindy Lou rewards him by giving him the first slice of roast beast that the Grinch carved.
  • 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.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The singer in You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch says the Grinch has all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, implying this trope. And then he says he prefers the crocodile!
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Max, especially when next to the Grinch, is a really endearing creature. Cindy Lou Who, as well, especially compared to other Whos.
  • Right Makes Might: After realizing the True Meaning of Christmas, the Grinch's strength rises by a factor of ten (plus two.)
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Some of the Whos’ toys and musical instruments show shades of this.
  • 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.
  • Scary Teeth: When you see them, the Grinch's teeth are crooked Tombstone Teeth, though his arguably scariest smile shows no teeth at all.
  • 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: In-Universe, the Grinch ties a single trimmed antler 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.
  • Twinkle in the Eye: Just after the Grinch's heart triples in size, his eyes have little twinkles in them before rescuing the sleigh.
  • 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 She Smiles: The Grinch smiles a pleasant smile after changing his ways.
  • Whip of Dominance: The Grinch forces his dog Max to drive the sleigh to Whoville by hitting him with the whip, illustrating his cruelty, as a non-Jerkass dog sledder only uses the whip crack for commands, not to actually hit the dogs.
  • 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".

Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer,
Cheer to all Whos, far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp,
So long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be,
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas, while we stand,
Heart to heart and hand in hand.


The Grinch

MatPat diagnoses The Grinch as suffering from misophonia; having an acute sensitivity to specific noises that cause anger and anxiety.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / DiagnosedByTheAudience

Media sources: