With only a few more days left until Christmas, today we present our list of the 10 greatest Christmas villains of all time. We left out the current crop of horror-Christmas villains in favorite of the classics. Be sure to weigh in on our list on the comments at the bottom of the page as well as our latest song entry in our Advent Playlist!
10 – GRANVILLE SAWYER
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947)
Where’d you graduate from, a correspondence school? You’re fired.R.H. Macy
Not often cited, but oh-so-deserving of an entry on our list of Christmas villains. Coming in at #10 is Dr. Granville Sawyer, the arrogant yet also insecure psychologist enlisted by Macy’s Department Store to test employee’s mental fitness for work. Played with finesse by Porter Hall, Dr. Sawyer is soon picking on Albert, a sweet but socially awkward teen whom Sawyer quickly diagnoses with a multitude of mental deficiencies. Kris Kringle comes to Albert’s defense and finds himself subjected to Sawyer’s wrath when Kringle bops the Doc on the head with his cane, leading to Kringle’s trial to prove he’s the one and only Santa Claus.
9 – SCUT FARKUS
A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
Scut Farkus! What a rotten name! We were trapped. There he stood, between us and the alley. Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So help me, God! Yellow eyes!Ralphie (as an adult)
Most of us all know our own version of this Christmas villain, commonly known as the neighborhood bully. The same type of character shows up in 1997’s “Home Alone” in the form of Kevin’s brother Buzz. In “A Christmas Story”, after several scenes of torment, protagonist Ralphie reaches his limit and tackles Scut to the ground for a beatdown for the ages.
8 – HANS GRUBER
DIE HARD (1988)
Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?Hans Gruber
The debate that rages each year on if “Die Hard” is or is not a Christmas movie aside, Alan Rickman’s portrayal of German terrorist mastermind is as always – riveting. Taking place during a Christmas Eve party in a skyscraper in Los Angeles, the cat and mouse fight between Gruber and Bruce Willis’ John McClane keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat until the very end. Yippie-Ki-Yay…
7 – GREMLINS
Yeah, what kind of rules?Billy Peltzer
You read the title of the film and I bet that music popped into your head…dun-dun-dun-dun-da-da, dun-dun-dun-dun=da-da. This film is a testament to following the rules, in this case, 1) Do not expose to bright light; 2) Do not let them get wet; and of course, the most important rule is 3) Never feed them after midnight. Naturally, Billy fails with most of the rules, causing chaos when Gizmo pops out an army of Gremlins…who trash the town and cause serious damage everywhere.
6 – BURGERMEISTER MEISTERBURGER
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (1970)
I hate toys! And toys hate me! Either they are going or I am going! And I am certainly not going, Grimsley.Burgermeister Meisterburger
Those poor kids from Sombertown…they were in for a rude awakening. First the Burgermeister Meisterburger sends Baby Claus to the orphanage without a second thought (thank goodness for the animals and the Kringles coming to his rescue), then he imprisons anyone caught with toys when he breaks his leg tripping over a toy wooden duck and falling down a flight of stairs. The filmmakers do a good job of explaining some of the myths and origins surrounding Santa and Christmas (you better be good for goodness’ sake, toys in stockings, flying reindeer, etc.). Bonus points for having two villains when Kris stumbles into the Winter Warlock while in exile in the woods.
5 – THE ABOMINABLE SNOW MONSTER
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964)
Don’t let this big blowhard scare you anymore; just walk right past him.Hermey
You could make a case for a plethora of villains in the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Donner first covers Rudolph’s nose so he isn’t “different” and later tells his deer-wife that searching for Rudolph and misfit elf Hermey is “man’s work”, Comet basically teaches all the other young bucks to bully Rudolph when he expels him from flying lessons…even Santa laments the fact that Rudolph will never be able to be on this sleigh team because of his shiny nose.
But while Rudolph and would-be elf dentist Hermey are lost in the cold with Yukon Cornelius on their eventual arrival to the Island of Misfit Toys, they are confronted by the #5 greatest Christmas villain on our list – The Abominable Snow Monster. Next to the Wicked Witch of the West, the “Bumble” was about as scary of a tv monster as you could find at 6 years old. Thankfully, Yukon plots to knock The Abominable out with a boulder and then Hermey removes his teeth, relegating the villain to more or less a North Pole mascot.
4 – PROFESSOR HINKLE
FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (1969)
I must get that hat back! Think nasty, think nasty, think nasty!Professor Hinkle
In the course of 20 minutes or so, Professor Hinkle manages to display his ineptitude with magic, steal his hat back from Frosty, stalk the kids and Frosty the Snowman, extinguish a fire in the cold wilderness that is keeping Karen (the student who put the hat on Frosty initially that brought him to life) warm, and finally lock the door to the greenhouse where Karen and Frosty (briefly) take refuge from the cold, melting Frosty into a puddle of water. resulting in a tearjerking montage of all the fun they had in the prior 15 minutes. It’s only Santa’s threats of no Christmas presents ever again for Hinkle (as well as the whole “Christmas” snow angle) that both redeem the Professor and bring Frosty back to life. Happy Birthday indeed!
3 – THE GRINCH
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (1966)
And when Cindy Lou Who was in bed with her cup, he crupt to the chimney and stuffed the tree up.Narrator
At the beginning of this 1966 television special, you find the Grinch at the top of Mount Crumpit sulking and hating the Whos who live down in the valley in Whoville. Even at a young age, I wondered what the Whos did that made the Grinch hate them so much. With the proliferation of social media in present day, I can understand that he was simply jealous of the idealism the residents of Whoville represented. Like many social media trolls who live to make people unhappy, the Grinch thinks his actions of taking every remnant of Christmas from those in the town would stop Christmas from coming. It’s then that he realizes that the material things associated with the holiday aren’t what makes people happy. It’s the love they have for each other. in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Christmas perhaps means a little bit more”.
2 – EBENEEZER SCROOGE
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938, 1984, 1999)
These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly. There will be no more coal burned in this office today. Is that quite clear, Mr. Cratchit?Ebeneezer Scrooge
George C. Scott so embodied the spirit of Ebeneezer Scrooge that it’s hard for me to see another actor in that role. His utter contempt for Bob Cratchit’s love for his family and Christmas, Scrooge’s ability to sacrifice a life of love for money, and his unshakable attempts to control the destiny set forth by each of the three spirits who visit him is so perfectly acted, you forget you’re watching an actor.
The one thing that keeps this classic Dickens’ character from being the greatest Christmas villain is the fact that in the end he is redeemed. He learns from the lessons the ghosts of past, present and future bestow on him in the course of one Christmas eve. God bless us…everyone.
1 – OLD MAN POTTER
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
You’re worth more dead than alive! Why don’t you go to the riffraff you love so much and ask them to let you have $8,000? You know why? Because they’d run you out of town on a rail. But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do for you, George. Since the state examiner is still here, as a stockholder of the Building and Loan, I’m going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Misappropriation of funds, manipulation, malfeasance…
All right, George, go ahead! You can’t hide in a little town like this!Mr. Potter
Kudos to the writers of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. They created a character in Henry F. Potter (played with finesse by Lionel Barrymore) that is devoid of all goodness and doesn’t apologize for it. He’s simply driven by money and power (sounds like some people in our government these days) and will stop at nothing to interrupt George Bailey’s unwanted success with the Bailey Building & Loan, going to the extreme of trying to hire George at an exorbitant salary to gain control over the town of Bedford Falls. Potter’s calousness eventually pushes George to thoughts of suicide before Jimmy Stewart’s character realizes he truly is the “richest man in town”.
There you have it! Our list of the 10 Greatest Christmas Villains in TV and film. Who did we leave out and who doesn’t deserve a spot on the list? Leave your comments below!