Hermey the Misfit Elf (now named Hermey the Elf, D.D.S) is one of Santa Claus' elves, and the deuteragonist in the 1964 television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and its 2001 sequel Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. Unlike other elves, he does not enjoy making toys, and instead prefers to pursue a career in dentistry, and is teased by other elves because of this, much like how Rudolph is teased for having a glowing red nose. He is the only elf in the special with white eyes with black pupils, a smaller nose, and round ears.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Hermey's revelation that he hates to make toys and would rather be a dentist instead makes him a social outcast among the other elves in Christmas Town and puts him at odds with the Boss Elf. Quitting his job as a toymaking elf after being threatened with the loss of his job for poor performance and for not "fitting in," Hermey decides to run away from Santa's Workshop. He soon meets the titular reindeer, Rudolph, in a snow drift and the two decide to run away together, barely escaping a run-in with The Abominable Snowmonster of the North, whom Hermey believes is attracted to Rudolph's nose.
They soon meet Yukon Cornelius, an eccentric arctic prospector who invites the runaways to join him on his search for silver and gold. The two outcasts and Yukon quickly find themselves pursued by the Abominable Snowmonster. An escape from the Snowmonster on an ice floe brings the travelers to the Island of Misfit Toys, a sanctuary for defective and unwanted toys ruled by King Moonracer, a winged lion.
That night, as Hermey and Yukon fall fast asleep, Rudolph leaves them behind, fearing that as long as the Snowmonster sees his nose, no one is safe. After he leaves them, though, Hermey and Yukon go on a search to find Rudolph. Upon arriving in Christmastown, Sam the Snowman informs them about Rudolph's plight against the Snowmonster and they rush to the Snowmonster's cave to save him and his family.
When the misfits return home, the other citizens of Christmastown, including Santa Claus himself, realize how harsh they had been to them. Rudolph and Hermey are welcomed back to Christmastown, and Hermey finally gets permission from his former boss to open a dentist's office at the North Pole the week following Christmas.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys
Hermey oddly did not reappear nor was ever mentioned in the official Rankin/Bass sequels Rudolph's Shiny New Year or Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, but he did return for the 2001 computer-animated feature Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys. In Misfit Toys, which seems to take place the year after the events of the first special, Hermey has already set up shop in what he calls "the Toothmobile". Apparently, Hermey has also attended a dental school owned by the Tooth Fairy, whom he is revealed to have a crush on.
Hermey remains a close friend and confidant to Rudolph, whom he invites to travel with him in the Toothmobile (which is capable of turning into a boat) to the Island of Misfit Toys, where he is scheduled to give King Moonracer a root canal. On their way home, Rudolph and Hermey are caught in a terrible snowstorm, and the Toothmobile is destroyed. They seek shelter at the nearby palace of Queen Camilla, a flamboyant and stylish hippo. There, Rudolph is offered a nose job, and Hermey advises him not to go through with it. Also, Hermey tells Queen Camilla that he would like a date with the Tooth Fairy.
When Rudolph and Hermey return to Christmastown, they learn that someone has stolen all the toys from Santa's warehouse. Hermey helps everyone search the warehouse for clues. There, he runs into the Boss Elf, who is angry at Hermey after being left "one elf short" at Santa's workshop (apparently forgetting that he allowed Hermey to open a dentist's office at the end of the first special). Hermey smartly retorts that the Foreman had better be nice to him, since he is the only dentist in Christmastown and the Foreman may need his help one day.
Later, Hermey helps Rudolph, Clarice, and Yukon Cornelius try to capture the Toy Taker, who has been stealing toys not only from Santa, but from places all over the world, in a blimp. Rudolph and friends disguise themselves as toys and wait at the Island of Misfit Toys with hopes of being "stolen", so they can confront the Toy Taker in the blimp; however, Hermey arrives dressed up as a tooth instead of a toy (a "misfit molar", as he suggests). It is Hermey that steers (and nearly crashes) the blimp while Rudolph, Clarice, and Yukon Cornelius chase the Toy Taker. Hermey proceeds to accompany his friends to the peppermint mine, where they finally succeed in capturing the Toy Taker.
At the end of the movie, a limousine pulls up outside. It is the Tooth Fairy, who has arrived to take Hermey on a date.
- Over the years, Hermey's name has often been mistakenly called "Herbie" by fans and sometimes even on merchandise.
- Hermey's lack of pointed ears has led some fans to have suggested he might actually be human, explaining why he doesn't feel comfortable in his elf duties.
- In Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, one of Rankin/Bass's official Rudolph sequels of which Hermey is not a part, Rudolph sings their duet "We're a Couple of Misfits", but with Frosty in place of Hermey.
- Hermey made a cameo appearance in a 2010 episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. He appears in a stop-motion dream sequence where he attempts to get character Frank Reynolds in the holiday spirit.
- Hermey made a cameo appearance in the newspaper comic strip FoxTrot, during a 1996 storyline where Paige dreams of visiting the Land of Animated TV Christmas Specials. He appeared again in a later FoxTrot strip where Peter is watching a TV special based on a concept suggested by Jason, titled Rudolph's Lord of the Rings Christmas.
- Over the years, many fans of the film have come to see Hermey as an LGBTQ+ icon.