Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

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.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the Trope Namer for:

The Rankin/Bass Christmas Special provides examples of:

Yukon Cornelius: I'm off to get my life-sustaining supplies: cornmeal, gunpowder, hamhocks and guitar strings.

  • 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).
  • Captain Obvious: Yukon Cornelius crying "Land ho!" after their ice floe crashes into the shore.
  • Cloning Blues: The majority of Santa's elves -- most of the males, and all of the females -- seem to be identical copies of each other.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hermey actually gets in a couple good zingers.
  • 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.
  • Fingertip Ore Analysis: Yukon Cornelius routinely sniffs and licks his pickaxe to see what it's just been embedded in.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The elves, and only the elves.
  • Freak-Out: Fireball, at the sight of Rudolph's nose.
  • Gold Fever: Subverted by Yukon Cornelius, who seems to suffer from this (and its cousin, Silver Fever), but as the uncut version reveals, he's actually been looking for peppermint when he finally finds what he's been looking for in the polar snow. (Yeah, yeah, we know, just go with it.)
  • 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" Song: "We Are Santa's Elves".
  • 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 badly 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.
Cornelius: I CHANGED MY MIND!

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!
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The elves.
  • 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....
  • Recut: 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 tells 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.
  • Single Biome Planet: Earth, basically, when one storm can blanket the planet (per the newspapers at the beginning).
  • 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.
  • Spinning Paper: The opening sequence of newspaper headlines over footage of extreme winter weather.
  • 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.
  • Visual Pun: The "Christmas seals" at the beginning.
  • 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:
  1. which actually spends more time discussing the cheesy commercials than reviewing the special