Is there any story more adapted by other entertainment than Charles Dickens’ beloved novella A Christmas Carol? It’s possible, but go check out TV Tropes’ page for Yet Another Christmas Carol, which lists more than a hundred shows, movies, comics, etc. that retold, adapted, or parodied the story. It’s a classic morality tale that can be applied to almost any character that needs a mental attitude adjustment, whether at Christmas or not — as this list proves.
You might not think a bona fide superhero would ever need to be told not to be a miserly arsehole, but Lee Bermejo’s Batman: Noël is a good reminder that the Dark Knight prefers to injure criminals rather than use his money to combat the reasons people commit crimes. This time, he lurks outside the squalid apartment of an impoverished father, a bagman for the Joker, and his disabled son, waiting for his archenemy to collect some money. Instead, the pneumonia-racked Dark Knight examines his past with Catwoman, gets taken by Superman to peep on various Gotham families preparing for Christmas, and, after falling unconscious, gets tossed in an open grave by the Joker, where he has a vision of how grim things will get if he doesn’t lighten up a little. In the end, Batman gives the bagman a cushy job at Wayne Enterprises and Christmas is saved for two people.
Mattel would never let its leading lady be enough of a humbug to disparage Christmas herself, but found a workaround in the 2008 movie Barbie in A Christmas Carol. In it, Barbie tells an updated version of Dickens’ classic to her little sister Kelly where Barbie plays the Scrooge role, in this case the selfish diva Eden Starling who demands the cast and crew of the show she’s starring in work on Christmas Day. Eden gets all three spirits and a Marley-esque visit from a dead aunt, and discovers if she doesn’t change her tune she will end up friendless, penniless, and houseless. Also, some orphans will go missing. It’s bleak!
3) Judge Dredd
Pity the poor villain of the comic 2000 AD Prog 11, a psychic who uses his powers to make the inhabitants of his block believe it’s Christmas every day. When Dredd rolls around, the criminal sends the Judge visions of his past, present, and lonely future; Dredd absolutely does not perform even the tiniest bit of emotional introspection and instead busts the perp with extreme holiday prejudice.
There are two main segments in 1995’s A Beavis and Butthead Christmas, one parodying “A Christmas Carol” and another parodying the other time-honoured holiday story trope, It’s a Wonderful Life. In the former, Beavis has become a miserly manager at Burger World who gets visited by a deceased Butt-Head and three spirits while trying to watch porn, naturally. He learns no lesson whatsoever.
5) Yosemite Sam
To be fair to Looney Tunes, unlike its distinguished animated competition over at Disney, it doesn’t have a rich tycoon to slot easily into the Ebeneezer Scrooge role. But why Looney Tunes chose Yosemite Sam, a character explicitly tied to the Wild West, rage issues, and gun violence, to star as the character in “Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol” short instead of the more generically nebbish Elmer Fudd is absolutely beyond me. At any rate, all Bugs does is dress like a ghost and tell Sam he’s going to be dragged to hell, so the whole cartoon is pretty half-assed.
Yes, the wizened sensei of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles managed to need a Carol intervention in issue #89 of IDW’s admittedly more grim-dark comic continuity. The ghost of Shredder (yes, really) comes to Splinter to warn him he’s getting too ruthless. So a trio of the animalistic divinities from the Pantheon show Splinter his peaceful past, how his current actions have caused the Turtles to become more fractured in the present, and a future where Splinter is wearing Shredder’s armour and has killed all of the Turtles’ allies, leading his adopted sons to murder their father to stop his reign of tyranny.
7) Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Elvira revels in the macabre, not socioeconomic inequalities. So I was surprised to discover 1) she was the star of DC Comics’ reboot series of House of Mystery back in 1986, and 2) that it had a Christmas special which included Elvira getting so mad that only Christmas carols were on the radio that she received Dickens’ Carol in her dreams. House of Mystery mainstays Cain and Abel serve as the first two spirits, who can only show her that Christmas does indeed suck in both the past and the present. The third spirit, Destiny, shows her that humanity might not have long to live, causing Elvira to realise letting people celebrate Christmas while they’re still around might be a good thing.
“A Christmas Carol” and It’s a Wonderful Life collided in a 2014 episode of Ultimate Spider-Man titled “Nightmare on Christmas.” After defeating the Shocker, Spidey spends a lonely Christmas Eve depressed that everyone in New York hates him. When he gets knocked off a bridge, he wakes up in the past, a tiny Spidey-Angel and Spidey-Devil on his shoulders. Despite more successfully fighting a past battle, and then taken to the present and fighting Shocker again, also more successfully, everyone still hates Spider-Man, so Peter Parker decides to quit web-slinging. The Devil shows him what his future will be, revealing Peter will not only become fabulously rich but solve climate change; unfortunately, the Goblin King rules New York and has killed most of the superheroes. When Spidey passes, the Devil reveals himself to be the villain Nightmare. It all works out in the end.
9) Swiper the Fox
I guess if there’s one character in Dora the Explorer who was going to get Christmas Carol-ed, it would be Dora’s kleptomaniac pal Swiper. When he tries to swipe the star off of the Christmas tree, Santa puts the fox immediately on his naughty list. When Dora begs that he give Swiper another chance, Santa agrees on the condition that they travel to the past, present, and future (using time-travelling capes, naturally) so Swiper can see how harmful committing theft constantly can be to his friends, who will of course abandon him eventually if he does not stop his swiping ways. If you would like to learn more, free to check out this 2,800-word summary of a Dora the Explorer episode that reads like a fever dream.
10) Tiny Tim
Yes! The adorable ragamuffin son of beleaguered Scrooge employee Bob Cratchit himself! In “The Adventure of the Three Ghosts,” a tale in Loren D. Estleman’s Sherlock Holmes anthology The Peril of Sherlock Holmes, it’s revealed that Tiny Tim grew up to take over Scrooge’s business and decided not to give his workers their Christmas bonuses. As a result, he’s hassled by the same ghosts that visited Scrooge and come to Holmes for help. As it turns out, Tim’s disgruntled employees are pretending to be ghosts to terrorize/guilt him into giving out those bonuses… just as, as Sherlock Holmes discovers, Bob Cratchit once did to Ebenezer.
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