Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

Donner is one of Santa Claus' reindeer, originally named in the poem The Night Before Christmas (though in the original text, his name was spelled Donder). His name is also the German word for "Thunder", and in ancient pagan times, the similarly derived "Donar" was the name in German lands for the Aesir deity Thor.


Prominent appearances

In the following specials, Donner makes a prominent appearance in the story and/or has a speaking part.

Picture Production Voice actor Year Notes
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Paul Kligman 1964 Donner plays a prominent role in this Rankin/Bass special, in which he is Santa's lead reindeer and also the title character's father. While teaching Rudolph the art of being Santa's reindeer and surviving in the world, Donner finds his glowing nose a shock and attempts to disguise it by covering it with a fake one made of dirt. When this ultimately fails, Donner receives some harsh scolding from Santa and is disappointed in Rudolph. After Rudolph runs away, Donner, feeling ashamed of how he treated him, goes looking for him, eventually being joined by his wife and Rudolph's girlfriend, Clarice. They get captured by the Abominable Snowmonster of the North, but Rudolph comes to their rescue. Later, after Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh on Christmas Eve, Donner expresses how proud he is of him.
Rudolph In Traditional Animation
Rudolph's Shiny New Year N/A 1976 As this is a sequel to the 1964 Rankin/Bass special, this version of Donner is the same one from that special. He makes a brief cameo in the flashback to Rudolph's birth, though he has dark brown fur rather than the light brown fur he had in the first special.
Donner in Christmas in July
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July Don Messick 1979 Like in Rudolph's Shiny New Year, the Donner from the original special briefly appears in the flashback to Rudolph's birth at the beginning of the film.
No Screenshot Santa Claus: The Movie 1985
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie Matt Hill 1998 Unlike the 1964 special, Donner is not Rudolph's father in this film (that role instead goes to Blitzen).
Robbie the Reindeer series Jane Horrocks (original UK version);
Britney Spears (US redub)
1999-2007 In this trilogy, Donner is a young female reindeer who falls in love with Rudolph's son, Robbie, who later reciprocates and starts a relationship with her, eventually marrying her in the third film, Close Encounters of the Herd Kind. Unlike the other members of Santa's team, she doesn't pull his sleigh; instead, she serves as support crew and doing things such as physio, cooking, and washing up for the reindeer. Close Encounters of the Herd Kind reveals that she has a sister named Emmy who works for a secret government agency that monitors alien activity on Earth.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys 2001 As this is a sequel to the 1964 Rankin/Bass special, this version of Donner is the same version from it. But unlike the first film, his role is only minor and he has a slightly different appearance.
Donner Richard Cox 2001 Donner serves as the protagonist of this special.
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas Jeff Bennett 2004 Donner is a comedian, but the other reindeer don't seem to like his jokes.
No Screenshot The Flight Before Christmas Michael Iwannek 2008
Donner-Madagascar Merry Madagascar Jim Cummings 2009 Like in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Donner is the leader of Santa's reindeer team. He and Cupid are the only reindeer to have substantial parts, and he insists that the Penguins' claims of Santa originally living at the South Pole are false. His name is not mentioned in the actual special (even the credits only list him as "Lead reindeer"), but he is confirmed to be Donner in the "Santa Claus is Coming to Madagascar" music video.
No Screenshot Back at the Barnyard: "It's an Udderful Life" John DiMaggio 2009 Alongside Blitzen, Donner is a college friend of Otis'.
No Screenshot Doctor Who: "Last Christmas" 2014 Donner, along with Rudolph and Blitzen, appears in this special.
Elliot the Littlest Reindeer John Cleese 2018 In this film, Donner has a son named DJ.
No Screenshot Glisten and the Merry Mission Billy Ray Cyrus 2023

Minor appearances

In the following specials, Donner is named onscreen, but only has a minor/silent role and/or is indistinguishable from the other reindeer.

Santa's team DasherDancerPrancerVixenCometCupidDonnerBlitzenRudolph (Rankin/Bass version)
Others AnnabelleArrowBarnabyBlizzardBlizzBuckyClarice (her father) • DartDelphiFireballFredFrostGargoff • Gift Givers of the Grove (AliceAuroraBori) • Gobie (His friendsGrandfather) • GrandpaGrandsanta's Pet ReindeerHollyJonniLeaderLenniLightningMitziMrs. DonnerMrs. PrancerNicNikoOld JingleOliveOonaPrancyPinkyRennyRobbieRogerRustySagaSanta Claus's Reindeer's Great-Great-GrandchildrenScratcherSchnitzelSparkleStrikerSvenTapirThrasherTobiasZoey (Her father and mother)