Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: 47 Differences Between The TV Special and Script

It is time once again to examine a film script and reveal the differences between paper and screen. So far in this series, I’ve covered National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, A Christmas Story, and Home Alone. I thought I’d take a different approach this time around. Instead of tackling a film script, I thought I’d switch to TV and look at one of the most beloved Christmas specials of all time. In honor of the recent passing of Jules Bass, let’s take a look at the 1964 Rankin/Bass TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph has always been a TV special that I’ve looked forward to watching every Christmas season. Even as a member of Gen X, my peers and I still waited with anticipation every year to watch those stop motion characters tell the story of the most famous reindeer. Network television was where we watched Christmas specials and if we missed them, we had to wait a whole year until the next airing! That’s what really made these holiday programs “special” until VCRs came along and gave us more viewing opportunities.

Watching Rudolph over the course of nearly 4 decades now, I’ve pretty much got the entire special memorized. My whole family watches and sings along, even making up our own lyrics. We spout random quotes at each other, some of which I find myself saying during the course of each year. It truly remains a time-honored tradition that few specials can match.

The script I found online is a 90-page screenplay dated October 28, 1963 which was preserved in a book showcasing the history of the Rankin/Bass specials. Romeo Muller was the writer of the screenplay which included the original title sponsor GE as part of “The General Electric Fantasy Hour.” The book indicates that Rankin and Bass were nervous over how the Rudolph special would be received. It proved to be a smash hit from its first airing, receiving a 55 share in the Neilsen ratings (meaning 55% of households viewing television at the time were tuned in.) Rudolph continued to pull huge ratings over the years with the 1995 airing receiving a 65 share! This a perfect example of what we now refer to as “appointment television” meaning people made sure they did not miss this annual viewing.

In all, I’ve compiled at least 47 differences between the TV special and the script. Here they are for your enjoyment in chronological order:

Headline News

At the beginning of the special, we see some wintery live-action scenes in black and white as newspaper headlines shuffle across the screen. The first headline “Cold Wave in 12th Day” and last headline “Foul Weather May Postpone Christmas” are identical to the script. It’s the headlines in the middle that are different. “Fourteen More Inches of Snow Reported” was changed to “We’re frozen.” “Airports Closed Down” was changed to “Ice Peril Warning.” “All Transportation Disrupted” was changed to “Tough Going! Salvation Army Digging Us Out.”

Kids React

After the final headline “Foul Weather May Postpone Christmas,” the script calls for some dialogue of kids reacting. Voices yell “Postpone Christmas? Aww noooo! No toys this year? It can’t be! Santa won’t let it happen! He just won’t!”

Welcome to “Christmasville”

Before Sam the snowman shuffles onto screen, the script gives us a quick glimpse of a “wonderfully fanciful, wintery landscape.” We are introduced to the town with a sign stuck in a snow drift that reads: “Welcome to Christmasville” with Santa Claus’ signature underneath. Of course, the town is referred to as “Christmastown” in the special.

Mueller paints a picture of everything being made of half ice/snow and half of bright colorful Christmas boxes and wrappings. Igloos are decorated with colorful ribbons and homes look like “great, Christmas packages turned into domiciles. Christmas candy dots the snowy terrain as sea shells might dot the ocean.” We also get a first glimpse of Santa’s castle, “made of twinkling, jewel-like ice blocks.” We also see some animals at play like polar bears and seals along with whales jumping out of the water. Eskimos walk past carrying Christmas cards.

Sam’s Bow Tie

The script specifically notes that Sam’s bow tie is made of holly. However, that distinction did not happed for whatever reason.

Sam Gets Sarcastic

After remembering the awful experience of the Christmas that almost wasn’t, Sam dialogue is a little different in the script. He first tells us that missing Christmas “shouldn’t happen to your worst enemy, let alone the whole world.” After he tells us his name, his sarcastic line “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a talking snowman before?” was initially “So I’m a talking snowman…sue me.”

Sam Has Feet!

In the TV special, Sam waddles his way through Christmas Tree Forest after his introduction. His journey in the script isn’t very graceful. As he strolls along, he trips over a small “Christmas Tree Forest” sign and “a piece of his foot breaks off into powdery snow.” Snowmen have feet? Nonetheless, he pats some fresh snow back onto his leg and he’s good as new.

Pete the Polar Bear

As Sam continues through the Christmas Tree forest, he stumbles onto a polar bear dressed as a woodsman. The bear is chopping down one of the trees as Sam tells him “Hi, Pete.” Pete acknowledges as Sam questions “Where’s that off to?” Pete replies “Santa’s marked it for a little girl named Dina.” Sam tells him “Glad to hear it” and waves goodbye.

Christmas Seals At Work

In the TV special, Sam shows us some Christmas seals playing with packages. In the script, the seals are holding paint brushes in their mouths and actually painting stripes on the packages. We also see some completed packages that are hung up to dry somehow. Sam adds “Yeah, we all keep pretty busy up here.”

Hustle and Bustle at Santa’s Castle

In the TV special, we first meet the Clauses at the dinner table with Mrs. Claus encouraging Santa to eat. In the script, Sam directs us into the castle and we first see a “great beehive of activity.” Toys and packages are stacked everywhere. Loud machine noises are heard and elves are running amuck.

Skinny Santa

Watching the TV special each year, I have never noticed much of a difference between the “skinny” Santa at the table and his other appearances throughout the film. However, the script specifically notes that the Santa at the table is a “bit of a disappointment” when we first see him, visibly thinner than expected and just picking at his food.

Gus the Stork

Missing from the TV special is another animal character that has a small part in the script. Right after Sam ensures everyone that Mrs. Claus will have him plenty fattened up for his journey, a stork flies overhead. He’s dressed in a mail carrier’s uniform with a heavy sack of letters. He swoops down and lands next to Sam. After they say their hellos, Sam asks “More Christmas orders from the kids?” motioning toward the sack of letters. Gus the Stork tells him “Yes, from all parts of the world. ‘Dear Santa…please bring me this. Please bring me that.’ Gus sighs and flaps his wings to take off and then says “Well, can’t dawdle. Be seein’ ya!”

Ice Block Sittin’

As Sam starts to tell the story of Rudolph, he first tells the audience to “pull up an ice block and lend an ear.” In the special, we see him scoot an ice block next to himself. In the script, it says he actually sits down on it. Guess that’s easier if Sam has actual feet!

No ‘Rudolph’? Denied.

The script details Sam’s opening lines of the “Rudolph, the Rednosed Reindeer” song but notes that the opening title montage was not supposed to include it in the overture medley. However, the TV special does play an up-tempo version of “Rudolph” first instead of saving it for the ending like the script suggested.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

In the script, Sam begins the story with a scene during springtime. He is sweating and fanning himself with a sheet of ice as he tells us the thermometer got up to twenty below. Sam the Stork swoops in with a bundle and lands next to him again. Sam asks “Christmas orders?! At this time of year?” Gus tells him “Nah…got a routine delivery for Mr. and Mrs. Donner. Ya’ know…Santa’s lead reindeer?” The bundle moves and Sam tells Gus not to be late as he flies off. This scene is omitted from the TV special as Sam ushers the audience directly into the Donner’s cave.

Donner’s Song

The script suggests a song by Donner when he learns he’s a father. Blitzen is actually with him in the cave, anticipating the delivery of his fawn. Blitzen calms him as Donner paces back and forth. A seal wearing a nurse’s cap greets them both and proclaims “It’s a buck!” Donner is overjoyed, jumps in the air and announces he is the father of a bouncing buck. He bursts into song “My Boy – My Buck” and other bucks join him. Donner passes out carrots like cigars and the bucks munch happily on them as they sing their congratulations.

Rudolph the Great

In the TV special, Donner announces they’ll call the little buck “Rudolph.” The script adds more detail, that Rudolph is named after “Rudolph the Great…the ancient king of the Reindeer.” Donner continues “Because that’s what my boy’s gonna be. The bravest, biggest, bestest, buckiest, buck ever born! And one of these days, he’ll be racing right alongside me…pulling Santa’s sleigh.”

Rudolph Takes His First Step

During Rudolph’s big shiny reveal, the script says he takes his first steps. It distracts Donner for a minute from his blinking beak but as soon as he flashes his nose again, Donner announces “the darn thing will keep us awake nights!”


After Santa sees Rudolph’s nose, Donner tells him that he’ll grow out of it. The script goes a step further with Santa’s response, telling Donner it would “disqualify” him from being on his sleigh team. Then instead of Santa’s “Jingle, Jingle Jingle” song, the script suggest a different song about the qualifications of being a Christmas reindeer. The song would explain that pulling a sleigh full of toys is the highest job a reindeer can earn and “only the best and most perfect can make the grade.”

After the song, Santa tells Rudolph sorry but assures the Donners that he’ll be a wonderful son. There is an awkward pause and Santa makes up an excuse to leave stating “I’ve got to skedaddle. Little slowdown at the candy cane works. Ran out of stripes.” As Santa leaves, Donner gets the idea to hide Rudolph’s nose and no one except Santa will know. “He’s the best secret keeper in the world. I mean he never lets children know what they’re going to get until Christmas morning.”

“My Boy – My Buck” Returns

The script suggests a reprise of the earlier song “My Boy – My Buck” after Donner gives Rudolph his new nose and tells him “there are big things in store for you.” New lyrics to the song tell all about the things Donner will teach him and Rudolph joins him in singing from time to time by repeating Donner’s words in his “piping voice.”

Donner Predicts the Future

In the TV special, Donner and Rudolph frolic about and then duck for cover as the Abominable Snow Monster of the North makes his first appearance. Sam continues his narration as the bucks reappear and Rudolph plays in his large footprint. The script adds one paragraph of dialogue from Donner as they emerge. He predicts “Someday, son…we’ll be rid of that Abominable Snow Monster. Then Christmasville will be safe for good!” I guess that turns out to be half true, keeping the town safe with a “reformed Bumble.”

Elf Foreman Mocks Hermey with a Song

The script has a song idea after Hermey tells the elf foreman he doesn’t like to make toys. After all the elves spread the word about Hermey’s revelation, the foreman busts into song about how elves are supposed to love to make toys and “there are no two ways about it.” The other elves eventually join in, “mocking Hermey.” Nothing says Christmas like putting someone down to music. Glad this idea was scrapped.

Elf Conference

After Hermey reveals his aspirations to become a dentist, the script has the elf foreman calling for a huddle with the other elves. They whisper to each other about Hermey saying “He’s a disgrace to Elfdom. What if the other Christmasville folks find out? Our reputation will be ruined!” The foreman then breaks up the huddle saying he’ll handle it. Then he proceeds to put Hermey in his place like in the special, telling him to get back to work and finish the job.

Donner’s Guilt Trip

If Donner’s speech to Rudolph about self respect wasn’t enough, the script furthers his mood to the young buck. Rudolph tells him in his fake nose voice “I veel ra-dig-alous!” (I feel ridiculous) and Donner responds with a guilt trip. “No arguments! What a way to talk to your poor father…after he’s gone to all this trouble and expense.” I guess fake noses aren’t cheap.

Rudolph Has a Cold

When Rudolph meets Fireball for the first time in the script, he questions the way Rudolph talks. Fireball asks him if he has a cold and Rudolph nods his head to say yes. Rudolph then is confused when Fireball tells him “bet mine’s bigger than yours.” “Your nose?” Rudolph asks. Fireball replies “Who’s talking about noses? I mean the old super-structure. Antlers! Got ya bumps yet?” The young bucks take a minute to compare their bumps and then head off to the reindeer games.

Showing Off for the Dames

In the TV special, Fireball tells Rudolph that the reindeer games are a good way to show of in front of the does. In the script, Fireball refers to the does as “dames.” This confuses Rudolph who hasn’t heard the term before. He asks Fireball “What are Dames?” Fireball replies, “Like ya’ mother. Only not quite… and better.”

Skipper the Coach

Comet is the coach at the reindeer games in the TV special. The script notes that his name is Skipper. However, I did notice one correction in the script above a line of dialogue that crosses out Skipper’s name and pencils in Comet.

Butting Practice

In the TV special, Comet tells the yearlings that the first game they will be playing is called “Take Off.” In the script, they instead do “butting practice” which is more of a football like game with two teams of yearlings squaring off like rams butting heads. The does act as cheerleaders shouting “Crash that line! Crash that line!” in unison. Skipper (Comet) then calls for a rest period and that’s when Rudolph meets Clarice.

Rudolph the Walking Lighthouse

After the big reveal of Rudolph’s true nose, Clarice tries to encourage Rudolph to ignore his nonconformity. The script adds more words of confidence that aren’t in the TV special. She tells him he could light the way for her and “think about how safe she’d feel. She could see the Abominable Snow
Monster a mile off.” She continues, “Look at all the good you could do for the world. Why Rudolph, you’re a walking lighthouse. That’s what you are!” I guess that’s a compliment?

Rudolph Serenades Clarice

In the TV special, Clarice serenades Rudolph with the “There’s Always Tomorrow” song when Rudolph begins to wish. In the script, the roles are reversed. The “walking lighthouse” compliment motivates a “deliriously happy” Rudolph to sing what the script calls an “I’ve got a girl type song” with Clarice joining in for a “real, cute boy-girl number.” The script adds “Maybe even a little hind-legged hoofing can be thrown in.” I guess the censors thought that was too much.

Don’t Mess with Clarice’s Father

After the song, Clarice’s father makes his entrance and forbids her from being seen with the red-nosed reindeer. In the TV special, Rudolph wanders off and then immediately runs into Hermey. But in the script, Rudolph tries to defend himself. He interjects first with just “But…” with Clarice’s father responding “I have nothing more to say!!” Rudolph again speaks up “Now, see here, sir…” and Clarice’s father loses it. He angrily and easily lifts Rudolph off the ground with his antlers and tosses him into a bank of snow. He then tells Rudolph “That, young man, will teach you to talk back to me.” As he leaves, an ornament falls off a nearby tree and hits Rudolph on the head.

Yukon Cornelius Takes Aim

The first encounter with Yukon Cornelius is a little different in the script. As he mushes his sleigh, he notices Rudolph and Hermie in the snow bank. He pulls them both out with one in each hand, holding them high in the air and then dropping them to the ground. He calls them “Varmints” and “Strange Critters of the North” and draws two pistols from his belt asking them “What are you doing on my claim? I’ll blast you to kingdom come! I’ll blow you to kingdom gone!”

Rudolph and Hermie shudder as Yukon screams “Take that! Oh scourge of the North!” and pulls the trigger on one of the pistols. It shoots a cork like a pop gun. He continues, “I got ya trembling hah? Now take this!” He pulls the trigger on the other pistol and with a blast of smoke, a small pellet rolls out of the barrel and lands on the ground. He tells them, “Well die…blast it! Ya been shot!” When they don’t react, Yukon suddenly sobs and tells the duo he wishes he could afford real bullets.

The Poorest Millionaire

In the TV special, Yukon Cornelius introduces himself as the “Greatest Prospector of the North.” In the script, he instead proclaims himself as the “Poorest Millionaire of the North” and “the last of the forty niners.”

Tango for Gold

After Yukon Cornelius proclaims his love for gold and silver in the TV special, Sam performs the “Silver and Gold” song with help from his woodland creature friends. However, the script suggested a different song idea featuring Yukon – a tango to be specific. Lyrics suggested were “I lust for gold, I thirst for gold” and Yukon would not only sing it now but at any point the gold or silver subject came up in the TV special. The script also suggested “bizarre choreography in which he stomps the snow and pounds the ground with his fists.”

Milk-Bone Dinner

The script notes the finishing line of Yukon Cornelius’ song would be “starving for gold” which would lead into his current situation and him telling his friends “But right now I’d just settle for a plate of soup. I ain’t ett nothing but dog biscuits since Tuesday a week ago.” Rudolph questions his diet and Yukon explains about his sled team, “They throw me a bone once and awhile. It’s share and share alike with Yukon Cornelius!”

Later, when the group escapes from the Abominable Snow Monster on the iceberg, Yukon expresses his hunger again. One of the sled dogs gives him a biscuit and he munches on it.


After Yukon Cornelius takes his turn pulling the sled (in the script he actually states as such repeating his “share and share alike” line) the Abominable Snow Monster gives chase. Instead of first using the “turn and burn” approach like in the special, Yukon actually taunts the beast in the script. He shouts at the monster “Scatt now!! G’wan before I turn ya into Bumbleburgers!!” He remembers that Bumbles don’t understand plain English and that’s when they decide to run. Later, when they escape on the iceberg, Yukon taunts him again saying “Naaaah! Naaaah! Can’t catch us!”

Snow Sirens in the Fog

In the TV special, the group quickly makes it through the fog aboard the iceberg, but the script calls for an eerie scene before they run aground on the Island of Misfit Toys. After bickering over whether the fog is as thick as peanut butter or pea soup, they hear an “eerie, wind-like humming of women’s voices” with an echo effect. Hermey inquires about the sound and Yukon Cornelius immediately recognizes them as the Snow Sirens, “beautiful mermaids made of blue snow and ice.” Our first glimpse shows them combing their silver hair as they beckon to the group. Yukon trembling, he tells Rudolph and Hermey to hold his eyes because if he gets a glimpse of them, he’ll be overcome and they will run aground.

The duo obliges and they drift past the mermaids. Once they are safe, Yukon explains that they are the “bane of existence for a sailor like me.” Hermey corrects him, “You said you were a prospector.” Yukon responds, “the only difference is a little bit of water.”

The Island of ‘Lost’ Toys

In the TV special, the iceberg runs aground without the group knowing where they are. In the script, Yukon Cornelius remembers that the Snow Sirens guard the passage of the “Island of Lost Toys.” Rudolph tells him that he’s never heard of the place. “Course not!! If everybody knew about it, the toys wouldn’t be lost!!”, Yukon explains. And not only does Yukon know the island, he calls King Moonracer by name as he flies over head. The sentry Charlie-in-the-Box is the one that introduces him in the TV special.

Castle in the Clouds

King Moonracer’s castle is shown high atop an icy mountain in the TV special. However,tThe script notes that the castle floats atop a golden cloud. Hermey asks Charlie-in-the-Box how they are supposed to get up there and he answers with “Simple.” Charlie whistles and three kites appear. As they swoop closer, we see their happy faces and Charlie tells them to grab their tails as they go by.

As the kites drop them off and fly away, Cornelius uses his axe to dig through the golden cloud but determines there is no gold. They enter the King’s court, but before Moonracer recites the “Come closer” line we hear in the TV special, he greets the trio with a large lion roar. It frightens them at first, but he ensures “Do not be afraid. That was merely my greeting.” Yukon Cornelius pipes up “Oh, well if that’s the case…” and let’s out a roar of his own followed by “…to you, too!”

I Have Spoken

In the TV special, the trio request to stay on the island among the misfits, but King Moonracer rejects their plea because the island is for toys alone and allows them only to spend the night. This scene goes down much differently in the script. Hermey asks Moonracer if they can spend the night. He agrees and tells them they can stay as long as they wish. The king then sees Rudolph’s nose. “I can’t help that, Your Majesty,” Rudolph tells him. Moonracer responds, “I’m sure you cannot, little fellow, but it strikes me as a bad omen.”

Yukon tries to make light of the situation and tells the king, “That’s right, your honor. It’s a bad omen! Good old fashioned bad omens are few and far between. Why, it’s just pure good luck that you found this bad omen!” Moonracer is confused but before anything else is said, the sound of the Abominable Snow Monster is heard in the distance. The king jumps recognizing the sound as Yukon tells him he was right on their tails when they arrived. “I knew it,” the king says. He turns to Rudolph, “You bring the Abominable Show Monster upon us! I am sorry, Reindeer…but you must leave our island in the morning. The others may stay.” Yukon and Hermey object but the king roars “I have spoken! Off the island by dawn!”

Donner Dies

WOW. I was not expecting this at all. There is a real serious turn in the script after the big snow storm hits and Rudolph sets out alone to find his family. In the TV special, he finds them all inside the cave of the Abominable Snow Monster. In the script, however, Rudolph first finds his father first who is “lying in the snow, half buried, injured and seemingly near death.” Donner recognizes his son. “Rudolph? Why your a great big feller…just like I always knew you would be.” Rudolph asks what happened. Donner explains, “The Snow Monster, son. I fought him off the best I could. But he captured your mother and Clarice. I warned them not to come out after you.” Rudolph tells father that he needs to get him back home but “It’s…too…late…son. Try…and…save…the…does…” Donner falls back in the snow and is gone. Rudolph laments “Oh Poppa…Poppa…I brought his on you!”

Heavy stuff for a Christmas special.

Sled Dogs…Attack!

Yukon Cornelius and Hermey come to aid Rudolph and his family against the Bumble. Hermey lures him outside with his pig noises and Yukon dumps the snow above the cave entrance onto his head. After the Bumble is disoriented, the script tells that Yukon calls his sled dogs to “Sick him!” The dogs aren’t sure what to do and Yukon demonstrates “That means go like this” as he begins biting his own arm. The dogs then attack Yukon, jumping on him and biting his arm.

Yukon tries to redirect the dogs to the Snow Monster as Hermey approaches to do his dental work. The dogs then mistakenly attack Hermey with Yukon quickly shewing them away. Yukon then enters the cave to greet Rudolph and his family. As he does, the dogs attack him one more time with Yukon yelling, “The fight’s over, for crying out loud!”

No Cliffhanger

In the TV special, we watch Yukon Cornelius and his sled dogs go over the cliff with the Abominable Snow Monster. The drama is carried over until Christmas eve when Yukon arrives at Santa’s castle with the reformed Bumble. In the script when Yukon and the “Mighty Humble Bumble” have it out, the dogs come to their senses and pounce on the monster. The toothless giant turns and runs into the blizzard with the mutts hanging off him. They all cheer and Yukon turns to Hermey and says “When they build a Dentists’ Hall of Fame, you’ll be statue number one!”

Clarice’s Father Apologizes

Following up the scene in the script where Clarice’s father is angered by Rudolph, there is a bookend scene at Santa’s castle. Her father apologizes to Rudolph for the way he acted, but instead of resolving the situation, Rudolph “bitterly” responds, “Doesn’t do much good now, does it?” Clarice’s father responds, “I’ll always miss Donner, my boy. He was one of my best friends.”

Whew, more heavy stuff.

But Wait, He’s Alive!

Yukon saves the day! His big entrance from the storm that’s “not fit for man nor beast” plays out different in the script with the Donner story line. Yukon walks in with Donner draped over his shoulders… ALIVE!… and announces “here’s the man” (referring to himself) and here’s the beast!” (referring to Donner.) This means Donner replaces the reformed Bumble in the script and we never get to see the monster’s good side like we do in the TV special.

After the big surprise, Donner tells everyone that Yukon found him just in time. OK, wow. Now I see why this side of the story wasn’t used in the TV special. I’ve got too many questions now. Why did Rudolph leave Donner in the first place if there was a chance he was still alive? Why didn’t Rudolph try to go back with Yukon to look for him? How did Yukon know where to look?

Hermey Chips In

After being outcast as an elf, Hermey takes it all in stride. When everyone comes to their senses that it is still Christmas eve and final preparations need to be made, one glowing detail is left out of the TV special. Four little words of Sam’s narration are in the script that speak volumes about Hermey’s character. “The Elves all go back to work. Even Hermey pitched in.”

Rudolph Replaces His Father

In the script, the scene when Santa comes to his senses about the benefits of Rudolph’s nose does not happen at his castle shortly after the reunion with Yukon like in the TV special. Instead, once Santa finds out about the bad weather coupled with the fact that Donner is on the mend, he decides Christmas will have to be canceled. Mrs. Claus suggests he pay Donner a visit. At the Donner’s cave, Rudolph still insists he needs to leave the town after Donner is well because “the others will never take to a red nose.” Santa arrives and the scene plays out like in the TV special with Santa offering Rudolph not only a job but “to take your old man’s place tonight as lead reindeer.”

Misfit Toys Forever

One last thing that surprised me was this early script did not include Santa’s trip back to the Island of Lost (or Misfit) Toys. Watching the scene back now on the TV special, it does feel shoehorned in without knowing why the misfit toys have now changed into something that little boys and girls want. Was it because Rudolph and Hermey were now accepted? Did word of that spread all of the world to change the heart of kids? Maybe I’m trying to be too logical now as an adult instead of just being happy for the misfit toys to get off the island like I was as a kid.

Then again, not including the misfit toy scene means that also negates that weird end-credit scene where the elf gives all the misfit toys an umbrella and they float off of Santa’s sleigh. So the misfit toys are good enough for kids to play with now but not good enough to get a proper delivery from Santa?

What I did find out after quick search online (thanks to a Behind the Scenes video on YouTube) was that the misfit toy ending actually was shoehorned in following an outpouring of letters after the TV special’s initial viewing. Thousands of people wrote it to complain that Santa’s return trip to the island didn’t happened as promised so those scenes were added to the TV special the following year.


Another fun journey comparing film and script has come to end. I am so glad I took this journey to reveal new story lines, scenes, and characters that I’ve would’ve never imagined. The major difference that stood out to me was Donner’s storyline which, while redemptive, would have added quite a bit of weight to Rudolph’s motivation at the end of the story.

The misfit toys ending gives an interesting history to the special that I never knew before writing this article. Overall, I believe it was the right thing to do but it still raises questions in my mind.

I also enjoyed the little tidbits added to the characters back story like Rudolph being named after a historic reindeer, Yukon being the last forty niner, and Hermey putting aside his differences to help his fellow elves during crunch time.

I hope you enjoyed this journey with me! Leave your thoughts on the differences that impacted you in the comments. And if you want more script comparisons, check out my articles on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, A Christmas Story, and Home Alone.

About Jason Gross 557 Articles
'80s Kid, '90s Grad, and '00s Dad. I've been writing and podcasting about 1980s pop culture since 2011 at my website. I collect vinyl, cassingles, '80s comics, Batman memorabilia, and all things Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.


  1. Love these features you’ve done comparing the script to what actual made it to screen. Thanks for taking the time to put them together!

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