Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

The Grinch as he appeared in the original book.

This article is about the character. For the 2018 movie or The Snoops episode of the same name, see The Grinch (2018 movie) or The Grinch (Snoops).

I must stop this whole thing! Why, for 53 years I've put up with it now.
I must stop Christmas from coming... But how?

— The Grinch right before he gets his awful idea

The Grinch is a popular cartoon character created by Dr. Seuss for his 1957 children's book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! As the book's villainous protagonist, he is also the main character in the 1966 animated TV adaptation (produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Chuck Jones), the 2000 live-action adaptation (released by Universal Studios and directed by Ron Howard), and the 2018 animated movie adaptation (directed by Pete Candeland).

In 1977, Seuss responded to fan requests for more Grinch tales by writing Halloween Is Grinch Night, a Halloween special that aired on CBS. Like its predecessor, the sequel was recognized at the Emmy awards. In 1982, Marvel Productions green-lit The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, which was also produced by Dr. Seuss, under his real name, Ted Geisel. This third special, which pitted the Grinch against fellow Seuss character the Cat in the Hat, garnered two Emmy awards. The Grinch later became a recurring character on the TV series The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, where he often schemed to ruin the fun of the citizens of Seussville and the rest of the Wubbulous World.

The Grinch is considered a Christmas standard, and has often been parodied or featured outside the Dr. Seuss brand frequently around the holiday season. The character is referenced by the media often in instances where a holiday display is ruined by vandals, or holiday burglaries are committed. Outside Christmas, the term "Grinch" is synonymous with "grouch". In 2002, the Grinch was voted #5 in TV Guide's Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters, making him the only character created for a Christmas story on the list.


The Grinch is an unpleasant, surly, cold, grumpy, selfish, venomously cranky, "Who-hating" grouch with a wicked temper, sour attitude, depressed judgment, and a heart about two sizes too small (until the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, where he becomes whole-hearted and loving), and is always out to ruin something. He comes down to Whoville only on holidays, which we see in two of the three TV specials, which are holiday-based. However, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, he is opposed to the holiday (Christmas), and comes down to sabotage, whereas in Halloween is Grinch Night!, he comes down to waltz around for Halloween night, which in Whoville is called "Grinch Night". This signals all the Whos to annually lock down their homes. He is best described by the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.

The Grinch's only friend is his pet dog, Max, a big-eyed pooch who is loyal to his master despite the Grinch treating Max like a nuisance. Max is also an unwitting accomplice in the Grinch's plots. The Grinch forces him to masquerade as a "reindeer" by attaching a crooked horn on him and making Max pull the sleigh with all the Whos' Christmas trappings inside.



The Grinch has a bulbous stomach, lengthy feet and fingers, grimy yellow teeth and is covered in green hair. His fingers and feet look longer due to the long portions of hair coming off of them. He has large, sinister black eyebrows, and deep lines on his forehead. His mouth lines are subtle when he is in a neutral mood, yet very stretched when he is happy. He has a pair of brooding, deep-set, ovoid eyes with red irises and yellow sclera, which become more round and feature blue irises and white sclera when he reforms. Another physical characteristic noted to change after the Grinch learns the true meaning of Christmas is his face, which in addition to the line softening mentioned above, becomes somewhat heart-shaped as he smiles broadly. He also has a thinking smile which is sweet until the idea is fully revealed with an evil smile. A long neck is prominent, with layers of green fur coming down it. He seems to have pockets in the fur of his large stomach, as he rests his hands inside this area. With regard to posture, he is loose and can bend easily. He often walks in stealth-mode when around Whos.

Movie portrayals

The Grinch as he appears in the 2000 live-action adaptation.

After Seuss's death, a 2000 live-action feature film adaptation was produced. Directed by Ron Howard, the film featured Jim Carrey in the titular role and was a major financial success. Although a box-office hit, the film received mostly negative reviews, comparing it unfavorably to the book and the television special. In recent years, though, the movie has become a cult classic, mainly due to Carrey's over-the-top and memorable performance.

The movie fleshes out the Grinch's story by showing the Grinch as a youngster, explaining his origins and giving him a reason for hating Christmas. The movie also vastly expands and ages forward the character of Cindy Lou Who, whose efforts to bring the Grinch back into the Whoville community meet with decidedly mixed results. The Grinch sometimes finds himself, despite his best efforts and to his horror, falling into Seussian rhyme. He also tries to get rid of his bad childhood memories by clubbing himself with a hammer (his version of sedative) and reads random names from a phone book and yells that he hates them. He acts rather off-kilter, such as pretending to be an Olympic diver when going down the first chimney, hiking the roast beast like a football, and trying to scare Cindy Lou by making himself look like a psycho, which doesn't faze her, leading him to complain that media is desensitizing modern youth.

The Grinch as he appears in the 2018 CGI adaptation.

Another feature film adaptation, this time a CGI-animated film produced by Illumination Entertainment (which had also produced the previous Seuss-based movie, 2012's The Lorax), was released in November 2018, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the Grinch. Like the 2000 version, this film provides a sympathetic backstory to the Grinch; in this case, he was a lonely, unadopted orphan who lived in an orphanage that never celebrated Christmas. A notable difference from previous adaptations is that, prior to his Christmas Eve heist, the Grinch only comes down to Whoville whenever he needs to get food; perhaps because of this, the Whos do not seem to fear him as much as they did in Halloween is Grinch Night! or the 2000 film.

Appearances in other Christmas media

  • A blue-colored parody version of the Grinch, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, appears at the beginning of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special".
  • The Grinch made a background cameo in the FoxTrot strip published on December 20, 1996, as part of a storyline in which Paige dreams about visiting the Land of Animated TV Christmas Specials.
  • A 1998 commercial for Hallmark Gold Crown had the Grinch taking the stolen gifts to be hidden at a Hallmark store.
  • The Grinch appeared in a flashback on Family Guy in the episode "A Hero Sits Next Door", in which Joe Swanson says that he broke his legs trying to stop the Grinch from robbing an orphanage on Christmas Eve. However, a later episode, "Joe's Revenge", reveals that Joe was actually shot by a drug dealer and had made up his story about battling the Grinch.
  • The Simpsons episode "Kill Gil, Volumes I & II" features a parody character called the Grumple who appears in an ice show that the Simpson family is watching. Homer gets in a fight with the Grumple, who repeatedly tries to attack him again later in the episode. They eventually stop fighting and Homer allows the Grumple and his family to visit the Simpsons for Christmas at the end.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "Merry Wishmas", Timmy Turner finds a Wishmas-themed version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas playing on TV.

Mentions in other Christmas specials

  • In the Johnny Bravo episode "Twas the Night", when Johnny asks why Rudolph isn't guiding Santa's sleigh, it is then shown that Rudolph is busy fighting off some enemy soldiers, one of whom says "You heard the Grinch! Don't let that reindeer escape!"
  • In the Recess episode "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave", when Mikey Blumberg becomes completely discouraged about the existence of Santa and decides to drop out of the school's holiday play, Gretchen Grundler remarks "Now I know how the Grinch must have felt."
  • In The Simpsons episode "Skinner's Sense of Snow", Principal Skinner tells the students, "We're gonna watch my favorite movie, about a Grinchy little character who tries to steal Christmas." Unfortunately for the kids, he's actually referring to The Christmas That Almost Wasn't But Then Was. Later, when Skinner won't let the students leave the school because they're snowed in, Milhouse remarks "Skinner's the real Grinch!"

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