Mickey Mouse is one of the world's best-known cartoon characters, created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1928 as the Disney cartoon studio's new star, following the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Charles Mintz and Universal Studios. Though his first produced film was the silent short Plane Crazy, Mickey made his theatrical debut in Steamboat Willie, which has the distinction of being the first sound cartoon short. In more recent times, for several decades, Mickey's active animation career became secondary to his more visible role as the face and mascot of the Walt Disney Company. In 2002, he was ranked #19 in TV Guide's Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters.
Appearances in Christmas specials
Classic theatrical shorts
In Mickey's very first Christmas film, Mickey's Orphans, he finds a basket full of orphan kittens on his doorstep. He and his girlfriend Minnie try to make the kittens feel welcome, despite that they prove to be a very big nuisance. Mickey dresses up as Santa Claus for the orphans, with his dog Pluto as a reindeer, but the kittens soon end up destroying all the furniture in his house and taking all the decorations off of his Christmas tree.
In Mickey's next Christmas production, Mickey's Good Deed, he and Pluto are poor street performers. A rich man offers to buy Pluto for his bratty son, but Mickey refuses to sell his dog. However, after taking notice of an even less fortunate family of cats who cannot afford food or toys, Mickey reluctantly agrees to the deal and sells Pluto. He uses the money to buy food and toys for the poor family, which he delivers while dressed as Santa Claus. In the end, after making Christmas happy for the poor cats, Mickey is eventually reunited with Pluto after he escapes from the rich brat.
In Pluto's Christmas Tree, Mickey and Pluto go out to get their Christmas tree. Unbeknownst to Mickey, he ends up bringing home a fir tree that Chip and Dale were hiding in. When Pluto finds them hiding in the tree, he repeatedly tries to point them out to Mickey, but Mickey never notices them. It is only after the tree ends up getting destroyed that Mickey finally does see Chip and Dale, and he decides to let them stay for Christmas.
Mickey's next Christmas cartoon came over thirty years later in Mickey's Christmas Carol, which marked his first appearance in a theatrical cartoon since his last short, The Simple Things. Contrary to the short being promoted as his big-screen comeback, Mickey's role in the special is fairly minor, as he portrays the role of Bob Cratchit, just as he did in An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Performed by The Walt Disney Players, the vinyl record that inspired the special. As Cratchit, Mickey requests that he be allowed have half the day off on Christmas; Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Donald Duck's uncle, Scrooge McDuck) obliges, but says he'll be docked a day's pay. It is also noted that Mickey/Cratchit has been taking care of Scrooge's laundry for him for some time now. The Little Golden Book adaptation includes a scene that does not appear in the actual special, in which Mickey/Cratchit arrives home to greet his family, including his young, ill son Tiny Tim, who is played by Mickey's nephew, Morty Fieldmouse. Later on in the special, the The Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk) shows Scrooge how Mickey/Cratchit and his family are celebrating Christmas. Then, when the Ghost of Christmas Future (Pete) shows Scrooge the bad future in store for him, we see Mickey/Cratchit and his family sadly visiting Morty/Tiny Tim's grave. At the end of the short, the now-reformed Scrooge visits Mickey/Cratchit and his family for Christmas and makes Mickey/Cratchit his new partner.
In the bridging animation produced for the compilation special From All of Us to All of You, Mickey appears, oddly with no dialogue, to provide musical accompaniment as Jiminy Cricket performs the titular song.
In A Magic Kingdom Yuletide Special, Mickey and his friends are celebrating the holidays when their festivities are interrupted by Scrooge McDuck, who, taking a cue from his Christmas Carol namesake, detests Christmas. Mickey and his pals spend the special trying to convince Scrooge to stop being so grouchy and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
In the Disneyland stage show Mickey's Nutcracker and its televised adaptation, Mickey portrays the titular Nutcracker, which is first seen as a present for Minnie from the storyteller. Mickey the Nutcracker later comes to life, as he does at midnight on Christmas Eve every year. After Minnie saves his life from the evil Rat King and his minions, Mickey takes Minnie to his home kingdom, Candyland, where he asks her to be his princess.
Mickey Mouse Works
In the Mickey Mouse Works short "The Nutcracker", Mickey again portrays the role of the Nutcracker. Like in the above-mentioned Disneyland stage show, he is first seen as a present given to Minnie (called Maria in this short). After he comes to life, he and Minnie have a romantic dance which is suddenly cut short by the appearance of the Mouse King, played by a reluctant Donald Duck. Donald the Mouse King kidnaps Minnie/Maria and tries to make her his queen, but Mickey, accompanied by the Magical Snow Fairy (Goofy) comes to her rescue and defeats the Mouse King.
In "Mickey's Mixed Nuts", Mickey eats the last of the nuts that Minnie was planning to use in her famous nut stuffing, so she sends him to the supermarket to pick up another bag. He ends up fighting Chip and Dale for the last bag of nuts at the store. At the end, Mickey manages to purchase the bag of nuts and brings it to Minnie, but while he isn't looking, Chip and Dale switch it with a bag of golf balls.
In "Mickey's Christmas Chaos", Mickey decorates his house for Main Street's annual Christmas decorating contest, in which he competes against his next-door neighbor and rival, Mortimer Mouse. In their attempts to outdo each other's Christmas decorations, Mickey and Mortimer end up blowing up their houses, and in the end, Pluto's doghouse wins first prize in the contest.
House of Mouse
As the host of Disney's House of Mouse, Mickey also starred in the direct-to-video Christmas film spun off from the show, Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. As Mickey entertains the guests at the House of Mouse by showing them some past Christmas cartoons, he spends much of the film trying to help his friend Donald Duck find the Christmas spirit.
Mickey also appeared prominently in both of the show's Christmas episodes. In "Pete's Christmas Caper", he agrees to let Pete play Santa Claus in the club's annual gift exchange. When the gifts go missing, Mickey suspects that Pete is stealing them and goes to confront him. He explains that the presents were actually meant for Pete, because he and the crew had decided to put aside their differences with Pete for Christmas.
In "Clarabelle's Christmas List", when Clarabelle Cow states that she has obtained Santa's naughty-or-nice list, Mickey's friends become worried that they might be considered naughty, and decide to look at the list themselves, but Mickey refuses to take part in their scheme. However, when Clarabelle tells Mickey to hold on to the list for her, he takes a look at the list himself and Clarabelle catches him doing so. After Clarabelle announces that she has now moved everyone's names to the naughty list because they kept trying to steal the list, Mickey initially scolds them for doing so, but then Santa shows up, saying he's been watching Mickey. Mickey, thinking that Santa also saw him peeking at the list earlier, apologizes for that, but Santa clarifies that he was watching Mickey's "Mouse on the Street" interviews.
In Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey stars in the "Gift of the Magi" portion. In the segment, he is working at Pete's Christmas tree lot, where he is trying to earn enough money to buy Minnie's Christmas present - a gold chain for her one heirloom, her watch. But when he suggests a poor family buy a small Christmas tree that he found out back instead of one of Pete's ten-foot Christmas trees, Pete takes away the money he has earned and fires him. Mickey then plays his harmonica for a charity toy drive and is told that his harmonica is worth a lot of money, so he decides to trade his harmonica for the gold chain. However, when he and Minnie exchange their gifts, he finds out that Minnie ended up trading her watch to buy a case for his harmonica, so their gifts are now useless, but the couple is happy anyway since they mean more to each other than their possessions. After the story, Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto join their friends in singing a closing medley of Christmas songs.
Mickey appears in two segments of the sequel, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, which notably marked his first computer-animated film. In the film's first segment, "Belles on Ice", he helps Minnie prepare for an ice-skating competition that she and Daisy Duck are participating in. Mickey is featured more prominently in the film's final segment, "Mickey's Dog-Gone Christmas". There, he is decorating his house for a Christmas party, but Pluto keeps interrupting him and accidentally ruins the decorations. Mickey angrily scolds Pluto for this, which results in Pluto running away and ending up at the North Pole. After cleaning up the mess in his house, Mickey begins to feel guilty about yelling at Pluto, and when he finds that his faithful pal is missing, he goes looking all over Mouseton, putting up posters in the hopes that someone can help him find him, even going to a department store to ask Santa for help. In the end, Santa drops Pluto off at Mickey's house, and as the pair are happily reunited, Mickey's friends arrive for his Christmas party.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
In the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Christmas episode "Mickey Saves Santa", Mickey and his friends get a visit from Mrs. Claus, saying she needs help at the North Pole, as her husband has gotten stuck on Mistletoe Mountain. Mickey and Donald venture into the mountain to rescue Santa.
Mickey had a cameo in the Minnie's Bow-Toons short "Oh, Christmas Tree!", where he is seen caroling with Donald, Goofy, Clarabelle, and Minnie's nieces Millie and Melody. At the end of the short, Minnie and Daisy invite him and the others in to look at their Christmas tree.
Mickey Mouse Shorts
In "Duck the Halls", a special extended episode of Paul Rudish's Mickey Mouse Shorts series (not to be confused with the original theatrical short series), Mickey tells all about how he used to celebrate Christmas with his family to Donald Duck, who has apparently never been able to experience the holiday before because he and his family always have to migrate to Florida during winter. When Donald decides to stay in Disneyville for Christmas that year, Mickey is excited to share his annual Christmas activities with his pal. However, the cold northern weather soon takes a massive toll on Donald's health, and Mickey eventually has to get his friend down to Florida.
Mickey and the Roadster Racers
Mickey's most recent appearance in a Christmas production was in "Happy Hot Diggity Dog Holiday!" and "Happy Holiday Helpers", the two segments that make up the Christmas episode of the Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers.