Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Go To

The 2000 film and 2018 film have their own pages.

The original book:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Everyone knows the Grinch hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season. Now please don’t ask why, because nobody quite knows the reason. Is it because he was a Jerkass whose heart was two sizes too small and hated seeing the Whos having a good time? Is it because he hates how commercialized it is? Or is there a deeper reason for his dislike of the season? While the original book and the '60s animated special suggest that it's the former two, both of the theatrical films go for the latter route, with both the live action film and the CGI animated film revealing that his hatred comes from being bullied and/or rejected as a child. Some have suggested that he never hated Christmas itself, but rather, his hatred of the holiday was a scapegoat for his true source of hatred, the Whos.
  • Angst? What Angst?: While it's meant to be deliberate, it's not hard to agree with the Grinch as to how the Whos can still be cheerful and lively despite having been robbed by him the night prior, which is normally a very unpleasant, if not traumatic experience. The live action movie does attempt to address this by showing that the Whos were upset about their gifts being stolen, until Cindy reminds them of the True Meaning of Christmas. Even if you don't accept the movie as canon, the Grinch doesn't see how the Whos acted before they started singing, or why they were singing, so it's open to Alternate Character Interpretation whether the angst happened out of sight.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Cindy-Lou Who only appears once in the original book and in a couple of scenes in the '60s TV special and was far from a prominent character in either one (and has not appeared again in any of the later stories featuring the Grinch), but her adorable appearance (particularly in the animated special), her innocent personality, and her encounter with the Grinch quickly made her a very popular character amongst readers. It is likely because of her popularity that she would gain a far larger role in both of the film adaptations. She would even get her own book dedicated to her in 2018.
  • Fanon: Though it's deliberately kept ambiguous about whether or not any of Dr. Seuss' works (that are not direct sequels) are connected, it is widely theorized that the Whoville in this book is the same Whoville that appears in Horton Hears a Who!. This is helped by the 2000s live action adaptation, which reveals that Whoville, like in Horton Hears a Who, is a Mouse World that can't been seen by normal eyes (though unlike in Horton, where it was a speck of dust, Whoville in the film is located on a snowflake). It is also helped by the 2008 animated adaptation of Horton Hears A Who!, which features a group of characters that look eerily similar to the Grinch, green fur and all.
  • It Was His Sled: The Grinch doesn't steal Christmas, has a Heel–Face Turn, and ends up Saving Christmas instead. The proliferation of messaging surrounding merchandise and promotion of that harkens to the "Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more" moral makes it easy to deduce that this is how the story will end even if you've never read it before.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Grinch is a grumpy, bitter creature that hates Christmas—especially all the noise the Whos make—so much that he decides to steal it from the entire town of Whoville. After crafting a Santa Claus disguise for himself and a reindeer disguise for his dog Max, he enters the Whos' houses one by one while they are asleep and steals their gifts, food, and decorations. When the young Cindy-Lou Who catches the Grinch stealing her family's Christmas tree, he quickly makes up a lie to fool her. After stealing all of Christmas from the Whos, he finds that they can still enjoy Christmas even without them, which makes him see the error of his ways and return the stolen gifts and decorations.

The 1966 animated special:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Dr. Seuss was initially hesitant about making this special, remembering how badly his attempt to venture into film turned out and feared television would produce similar results. Instead, it became one of the most acclaimed Christmas Specials of all time.
  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation: While the special hasn't displaced the book, there are numerous aspects of the special that are now seen as imperative to the story:
    • We challenge anyone to read the book to themself and not hear Boris Karloff narrating it. There exists two record productions of the story, one narrated by Zero Mostel (made before the cartoon special), and one by Walter Matthau (made after the special), and both sound particularly jarring to hear.
    • The Grinch's green coloring was an invention of the special — a somewhat necessary one, as Seuss' original illustrations were in black and white with red accents (at the time the book was published, color printing was still rather limited). Green has been the Grinch's color ever since, to the point where even merchandise drawn in Seuss' original style will often fill him with green just because.
    • The stage adaptation and both feature-film adaptations made sure to include "Welcome Christmas" and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch," songs that were obviously written for the TV special, simply because audiences would have felt something was missing had they been excluded.
  • Awesome Music: "The Villain Sucks" Song is a classic, and is easily the most famous part of the special.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Again, Boris Karloff is the voice of the Grinch, to which every successor in the role is compared.
  • Crack Ship: Due to Thurl Ravenscroft voicing Tony the Tiger and singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", a crack theory suggested that Tony the Tiger and the Grinch had a really messy breakup, leading Tony to write "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" as a spiteful, vitriolic Break-Up Song. The ship gained even more steam after a popular and surprisingly well-written fanfic depicting the rekindling of their relationship.
  • First Installment Wins: Far more universally beloved than any of the adaptations that followed.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The line "he even took their last can of Who Hash." Hash is the name of a dish consisting of chopped meat, potatoes, and fried onions. This was common knowledge back in 1966, but nowadays the word "hash" is more commonly associated with being a slang term for marijuana, making the line a shocking but funny surprise to modern viewers.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Grinch is as mean and scheming as his original counterpart. Tired of all the noise the Whos make on Christmas, The Grinch decides to steal it, disguising himself as Santa Claus and his dog Max as a reindeer to haul the sleigh he will use to arrive at Whoville. There, The Grinch steals all the decorations, presents, and food in all the houses without waking anyone other than the little girl Cindy Lou Who, for whom he crafts a lie to send her back to bed. Once having finished, The Grinch takes the sleigh with everything stolen to the top of Mount Crumpit to throw it into the abyss, until he discovers that the Whos are still able to celebrate Christmas even without all their stuff, understanding that Christmas means more than that. The Grinch realizes the wrongness of his actions and, with Max, saves the sleigh from falling, returning everything back to the Whos to celebrate Christmas with them.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The famous "The Villain Sucks" Song is commonly rewritten to be about a hated character or real life person (usually a politician).
    • The Grinch's grin as he gets the "wonderful awful idea" of stealing Christmas.
  • Misaimed Fandom: It's become sort of a meme among social media users to criticize the famous song for being unbelievably harsh on the titular character, even though it's implied that the Grinch is a Card-Carrying Villain who probably enjoys all the insults the song throws at him.note 
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • The Grinch in general has a penchant for making various Nightmare Faces, most famously the Slasher Smile that just keeps going and going and going when he gets his "wonderful awful idea."
    • There's also the slow, sinister grin he makes at the sleeping kids before he steals their candy canes. Totally not a euphemism for anything. *cough* (it was even edited out of broadcasts for a time).
    • The Grinch's unsettling Count Orlok-esque wall shadow which all but consumes Cindy Lou Who as he's lying to her.
  • Older Than They Think: With Chuck Jones directing, this seems like a first-ever pairing of a visionary mind most known for Looney Tunes and the works of Dr. Seuss. However, the first Animated Adaptation of one of Seuss's books was actually a Merrie Melodies short of Horton Hatches the Egg. That short leans more heavily on the Looney Tunes side than the Seuss side of tone, somewhat in contrast to the Grinch special.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Maddox is thoroughly convinced the Whos are the worst neighbors in the multiverse and that the Grinch should be a sympathetic character for putting up with it for 53 years straight. Seuss himself actually said he sympathized a lot with the Grinch, having to deal with an increasingly merchandise-heavy Christmas season from his hilltop home in La Jolla. MatPat also sympathizes with the Grinch; between the Grinch's hatred for the noise the Whos make during the season, how weird-looking the instruments the Whos play are, and the fact Whoville is situated in a caldera land formation, which is prone to making echos, MatPat diagnosed the Grinch with misophonia, a condition MatPat's wife Stephanie also suffers of that makes repetitive noises unbearable... In other words, the Whos were Mind Raping the Grinch every Christmas, making it no wonder the Grinch hates the season. (Silver lining is that misophonia was designed almost half a century after the book was released, so at least the Whos have the excuse of not knowing what they were doing, but there still is the argument of being horrible neighbors towards the Grinch.)
  • Signature Scene: The Grinch making his Slasher Smile when he has a "wonderful awful idea".

Stage Musical

  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Grinch infiltrates the Whoville shopping mall to get the supplies that he needs for his schemes. When nearly busted, he lies that he's from "Who-ston" and awkwardly tries to smile.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Patrick Page of Hadestown fame recorded and starred in the first Broadway staging of this show. He uses his Hades voice for the Grinch, fittingly enough.
    • The original Old Globe production featured a nine-year-old Vanessa Hudgens as Cindy Lou Who.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Patrick Page has a deep bass voice and a menacing presence when he gets into character even when listening to the 2006 official Broadway recording. Matthew Morrison in contrast is a tenor, and thus had to adjust his voice for the NBC televised version.