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  • Accidental Aesop: Rudolph's Shiny Year has one about embracing the things that make you unique, but it sort of blurs into "if your physical deformity makes people laugh, let them. Be glad you're making them so happy."
  • Adaptation Displacement: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in a book in 1939 nearly three decades before the special aired.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Santa is in fact a big jerk because he never even "liked" Rudolph (if you can call it that) until he realized that he could exploit his nose. In other words, Santa only cares about Rudolph's nose, not Rudolph.
  • Broken Base: The sequels.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: The head elf yelling at Hermey:

 Head Elf: Now listen, we have dolls that cry, talk, walk, blink and run a temperature. We don't need any chewing dolls!

    • Even funnier in retrospect, since chewing dolls did in fact come out during the 1980s.
  • Ear Worm: Several of the songs. Maybe "We're a Couple of Misfits" especially.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The Misfit Doll, whose total screen-time would amount to less than a minute, and remains nameless, has become a fairly popular and iconic character in the special.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • The sequel, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, suddenly has a completely different Rudolph puppet, despite starring the same character and taking place immediately after this special. Not to mention he's also young again in all the sequels.
    • Fans of both the 2-D 1998 movie and the "originals" will agree that the 3-D Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys never should have happened.
  • First Installment Wins: None of the sequels will ever hold a candle to original 1964 special. In fact, it's often considered the best work to come out of Rankin/Bass Productions.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Memetic Mutation: "You eat what you like, and I'll eat what I like!"
    • "I'm cute! I'm cute! She said I'm CUTE!"
      • Preferably said as though one has a stuffed nose: "She said I'm CYUUUUUUUUUDE!"
  • Nightmare Retardant: The Bumble. May have been Nightmare Fuel, but then his face was shown.
  • Tear Jerker: The Island of Misfit Toys. The concept of it is surprisingly depressing.
    • When Yukon is thought to be dead.
    • From The Island of Misfit Toys, Mr. Cuddles, after being exposed as the Toy Taker, singing his backstory.
  • The Woobie: Rudolph, Hermey, and everyone on the Island of Misfit Toys.
    • From The Island of Misfit Toys, we get the Toy Taker, because he's actually a worn-out teddy bear named Mr. Cuddles, who felt like he was abandoned, but it turns out he wasn't.
  • Ugly Cute: The Bumble! You can't deny that underneath all that stop motion fur he's kinda cute.
  • Values Dissonance: The special has come under a lot scrutiny in The New Tens for plot elements that were perfectly fine in The Fifties and The Sixties.
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