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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a song and popular Christmas story about Santa Claus's ninth and lead reindeer who possesses an unusually red-colored nose that gives off its own light, powerful enough to illuminate the team's path through inclement weather.

The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, L.P. and has been sold in numerous forms including a popular song, a Rankin/Bass television special (done in Stop Motion animation) in 1964, and a feature film by GoodTimes Entertainment in 1998. Rudolph was created by Robert L. May in 1939 as part of his employment with Montgomery Ward. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, L.P. Although the story and song have not passed into public domain, they have established themselves as folklore (as evidenced by the development of local variations and parodies such as "Deadeye the Lonesome Cowboy," collected in the field by Simon J. Bronner and included in American Children's Folklore).

Johnny Marks decided to adapt May's story into a song, which through the years has been recorded by many artists (most notably by Gene Autry in 1949), and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.

The lyric "All of the other reindeer" can be misheard as the Mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer", and has given rise to another fictional character, Olive. Similarly, the lyric "and they shouted out with glee" has evolved into a tongue-in-cheek misinterpretation itself, "and they shouted out, 'With glee!'" -- prompting singers to shout "With glee!" in response to the line. (This can clearly be heard on at least one recording of a live performance of the song aired during the 2009 season.)

The song in its Finnish translation, Petteri Punakuono, has led to Rudolph's general acceptance in the Finland's folklore as Joulupukki's, the Finnish Santa's, lead reindeer. However, in Finland, Santa's reindeer do not fly. Mike Eheman made the newest version of the song with the actual flying reindeer so Santa can land on rooftops.

Apropos of nothing, the song can be sung to the Hawaii Five-O theme music.

Trope Namer for All of the Other Reindeer.

The Rankin/Bass Christmas Special provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Some of the things Rudolph's father says and does is seriously close to the border of emotional abuse.
    • Although considering the time when the creators were growing up and when the movie was released, it was probably wasn't intended to come off as abusive and was meant to be a typical father-son relationship. Men being hard on their sons was considered the norm, whether it was fair or not, and could still be considered reasonably well adjusted.
      • To be fair, though the narrator does state that Donner felt pretty bad about the way he treated Rudolph when Rudolph runs off.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Trope namer.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Some have thought this about Hermey.
  • Animated Adaptation: The Rankin-Bass special, or course. However, many years before the famous stop-motion special, Columbia Cartoons made a short subject adaptation of the cartoon in the late 1940s, directed by none other than Dave Fleischer.
  • Badass: Yukon Cornelius, and Hermey, too, for going out of their way in defeating the Bumble (although they didn't really defeat him).
  • Broken Aesop / Fridge Horror: The only reason Rudolph is accepted by anyone is because his deformity can be put to good use; however, it may have served as an inspiration to other deformed people in Real Life to put their own deformities to good use (for example, by participating in a Boston Marathon for the disabled, surfing with only one arm, composing music without even being able to hear it, or playing the piano without even being able to see the keys--and let's not even go into how many geniuses are or may have been autistic).
  • Christmas Elves
  • Christmas Special
  • Cursed with Awesome: In the eyes of some viewers -- and off-screen, in-universe children -- some of the misfit toys fall under this. Some don't seem particularly cursed at all -- the jelly-shooting water gun would be a candy store hit. (And let us not forget that some enterprising company has actually made and marketed real-world versions of most of the toys.)
    • Rudolph himself. He's considered a freak, but his nose has its uses.
  • Depraved Dentist: Hermey is a rare heroic example. In the climax, he rips out the Bumble's teeth with pliers.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The Abominable Snowmonster, of course.
  • Disney Death: Yukon Cornelius
  • Hand Wave: How do Rudolph and especially Hermey survive a night in the open at the North Pole before Yukon Cornelius finds them? "Somehow", that's how.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?: "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?"
  • Heel Face Turn: Boss Elf finally realizes that Hermey's dentistry dream really does have potential after hearing how he pulled the Abominable Snowmonster's teeth and lets Hermey open shop as dentist, with the first appointments set for as early as the week after Christmas. The Abominable Snowmonster itself makes the turn after Yukon outwits it with Hermey's help.
  • I Am What I Am: Rudolph's nose.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Burl Ives' Sam, again.
  • "I Want" Song: "Fame and Fortune" before it was changed back to "We're a Couple of Misfits" fits the bill, also the first half-minute of "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year".
  • Jerkass: While All of the Other Reindeer naturally qualify, Santa Claus himself is actually quite abrasive in this edition, first tersely dismissing the elves' song, and storming out, and later, after Rudolph's nose is made public, he not only doesn't stop the other reindeer from ridiculing him, but actually treats Rudolph just as bad as they do.
    • He even tells Donner he should be ashamed for his son's uncontrollable, uncurable physical abnormality.
      • They all have a Heel Realization upon hearing Rudolph and Hermey's story about their travels and realizing their abnormalities can be put to good use after all (even Donner admits he had always known Rudolph's red nose could be useful later on).
  • Large Ham: Yukon Cornelius

 Cornelius: SILVEEERRR!

Hermie: But I thought you wanted gold.


 Hermey: Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh?

Rudolph: You wouldn't mind my... red nose?

Hermey: Not if you don't mind me being a dentist.

Rudolph: It's a deal!

  • Matryoshka Object: One of the Misfit Toys is a clown nesting doll, whose smallest doll contains a wind-up mouse.
  • Money Song: Burl Ives' song "Silver and Gold" sorta straddles the line.
  • Mrs. Claus: Who admonished Santa for not eating enough, and that kids wouldn't want a skinny Santa.
  • Narrator: Sam the Snowman.
  • Older Than They Look: It's implied that Santa's elves are this.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Hermey very literally is!
  • Product Placement: The special was originally commissioned and sponsored by GE, which was selling new smaller Christmas Tree lights -- that looked very much like Rudolph's nose....
  • Re Cut: More times than some might expect for a 50-minute TV movie.
    • The original 1964 broadcast differs from later versions through Rudolph's and Hermy's performance of "We're a Couple of Misfits," Donner expressing pride in his son guiding Santa's sleigh, Yukon Cornelius striking peppermint, and elves dropping presents from the sleigh during the end credits.
    • Beginning in 1965, "We're a Couple of Misfits" was replaced with "Fame and Fortune," and "We Are Santa's Elves" lost an instrumental scene with physical humor, to make room for commercials. Also, at the request of viewers, a new scene featured Santa collecting the Misfit Toys from the island and a new credits sequence showed elves delivering them to unseen households. As a result, Donner and Yukon Cornelius's witnessing Santa's flight was removed. The Other Wiki says this is the same version sold on VHS.
    • Platypus Comix's review of a 1979 broadcast [1] reveals a version which cuts all of "We Are Santa's Elves," as well as a brief moment when Donner asks his wife to Stay in the Kitchen. (The author claims every other version he's seen contains the latter moment, suggesting it was reinstated during the mid-1980s.)
    • In 1998, CBS came to the rescue and restored "We're a Couple of Misfits" and "We Are Santa's Elves" to the special, but still included the scenes of the Misfit Toys becoming presents. Due to the retaining of those scenes, the special still does not include the original ending or end credits sequence.
    • Beginning in 2005, Rudolph got screwed by CBS, when they decided to make room for commercials by cutting the "We Are Santa's Elves" instrumental and Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' scenes of the ending again, and also syncing a shortened "We're a Couple of Misfits" to the animation of "Fame and Fortune." They also time-compress the show slightly.
    • Most DVDs, and also the Blu-Ray, feature the cut that most closely matches the original broadcast. It includes "We're a Couple of Misfits" and the uncut "We Are Santa's Elves," and also places Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' final scenes right before the scenes of the Misfit Toys becoming presents. However, it does not include the original end credits sequence, and DVDs produced from 2005-2006 are inexplicably missing Donner's and Yukon Cornelius' final scenes.
  • Prospector: Yukon Cornelius.
  • Santa Claus: Probably as assholish a depiction as you can get without breaching the guidelines of children's programming.
  • Saving Christmas: Santa thinks they might have to cancel Christmas due to the fog -- that is, before he sees Rudolph's nose.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Clarice, somewhat.
  • Sneaky Departure: Rudolph feels he's endangering the others because his nose attracts the Abominable Snowmonster, so he leaves them in the middle of the night.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Santa is fluent in Rabbit.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: When Donner's wife asks if she can help look for Rudolph, he responds, "No. This is man's work." Joined by Clarice, she follows up, though, and It Gets Worse for both of them when they get captured by the Abominable Snowmonster.
  • Stop Motion: A classic example.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Clarice. Red bow and huge eyelashes!
    • Elves have this too.
  • Titled After the Song: Most Rankin/Bass Christmas shows would fall under this trope, though it's sort of justified in how they're usually retellings of the song's lyrics.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Clarice catches Rudolph under it during "Holly Jolly Christmas" towards the end.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Several times.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Rudolph and his father's relationship can be summed up this way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Santa Claus. Although not the protagonist of the story, he is meant to be the personification of Christmas and the person everyone at the North Pole happily works for. Remains an insufferable dick for most of the special. Never apologizes for making hateful remarks and is never called out on it either.
  • Woodland Creatures: Used in "There's Always Tomorrow".
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: A squirrel chucks a gold nugget away after discovering it's inedible.

The GoodTimes Entertainment film provides examples of:

  • American Accents: Slyly has a bizarre way of speaking, perhaps intended to be an exaggerated New York accent.
  • Award Bait Song: Show Me The Light. In the film it was performed by the composer and his wife. During the credits.... Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Stormella operates under this logic.
  • Christmas Elves: Obviously
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The character's name is Slyly. It doesn't get more blatant than that.
  • Expy: Zoey to Clarice and Arrow to Fireball. Arrow only looks like Fireball, and appears to be based on Fireball's attitude on Rudolph after he learned about his nose. Zoey was actually going to be called Clarice but couldn't due to copyright reasons.
  • Gentle Giant: Leonard the polar bear.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: In one of those examples that's not obvious until pointed out, Slyly is voiced by Eric Idle. More noticeable is Whoopi Goldberg as Stormella, and John Goodman as Santa. At least he's nicer than the other time he played Santa.
  • Jerkass: Arrow.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the Rankin/Bass special. Santa and Rudolph's parents, while still troubled by his nose, are much more fair towards him.
  • The Movie: Inverted. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie is a re-imagining of the song. The sequel however is an unofficial sequel to the famous Christmas special.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Let's face it, Eric Idle can't hold onto a Brooklyn accent long enough.
  • Running Gag: A strange one, in which Slyly keeps stealing Rudolph's teddy bear to snuggle with while he sleeps. Rudolph just gives it to him for Christmas at the end.
  • Speech Impediment: Leonard tends to stutter.
  • Theme Naming: Boone and Doggle.
  • Those Two Guys: Boone and Doggle the elves.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Happens in this adaption also between Rudolph and Zoey, though much earlier in the film.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Reflected in this adaptation from the Rankin/Bass special.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Stormella


  1. which actually spends more time discussing the cheesy commercials than reviewing the special
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