upper waypoint

A Definitive Ranking of Christmas Movie Animals, from Naughty to Nice

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Grumpy Cat, the angriest kitty you’ve ever loved, makes her acting debut this Saturday in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. (But why bother telling you? You've either had the date circled on your calendar for weeks or are learning about its existence right now.) With this Lifetime movie, Grumpy Cat joins an impressive list of animals that have been featured in Christmas-based entertainment over the years.

In honor of her big premiere, we’ve ranked the best of the holiday animals on a lovability scale from Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of A Christmas Carol to Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol. (In keeping with the theme of the list, Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed by Donald Duck.)

 Bad Scrooge

Mean Scrooge

Stripe, Gremlins (which totally counts as a Christmas movie)


StripeStripe is basically pure evil in scaly bipedal form. He tied up the family dog with Christmas lights! Oh, and he murdered a lot of people and traumatized a whole generation of children who were far too young for the movie and to this day cringe a little when "Do You Hear What I Hear?" starts to play.

The Abominable Snow Monster, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Sure, he plans to devour Rudolph’s entire family, but Abominable Snow Monsters gotta eat, you know? In the end, he loses his teeth and presumably embarks on a life of vegetarianism, which is kind of a downer for a mythical carnivorous ice beast.

That jerk reindeer, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Grandma 1

How dare he? Grandma was a saint! In addition, the reported number of incriminating hoof prints discovered at the scene might lead you to believe that this was something more than a "tragic accident."

The Bumpus' dogs from A Christmas Story

In their defense, what hound dogs aren’t going to seek out that sweet, sweet turkey without sparing a single thought for the loss of turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey gravy and even turkey hash?

Snoopy, A Charlie Brown Christmas


Yep, Snoopy’s closer to the bad Scrooge than the good Scrooge on this list, but there’s a valid reason for that: He’s kind of the villain in this beloved holiday special. Whose tacky doghouse wins first prize in the decorating contest? And whose overall decorating scheme comes to represent everything his owner hates about the hollow commercialism of the season? Man’s best friend, indeed. Thankfully, Snoopy gets a redemption arc when he helps turn Charlie Brown’s sad tree into something beautiful using decorations pilfered from his own display.

Rudolph, Rudolph the Red Nosed-Reindeer

Rudolph seems like a decent-enough reindeer, and he can’t help the color and luminosity of his nose. It’s nice to see him prevail at the end of the song/movie, saving the day and triumphantly leading Santa’s team. But isn’t there a small part of you that hears this story and thinks back to your own early teenage days when you were either the bully or the bullied? Rudolph, despite his moxie and eventual happy ending, brings back some unpleasant junior high memories.  Sorry, Rudy.

The squirrel, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Never has mass hysteria been more accurately depicted on screen than the Griswold clan’s flight from the squirrel living in their Christmas tree. It starts with a funny squeaky sound and ends with people fainting, mothers getting knocked to the ground, Julia Louis-Dreyfus surviving a mauling, and an important warning about the high cholesterol in squirrels. Let this be a reminder to always buy your Christmas tree from an approved vendor.

Paws, The Search for Santa Paw

Santa Paws

Paws is a fine canine who’s good to orphans, loyal to his owner, and exemplary in every way. In fact, he’d be closer to good Scrooge if the movie’s casting director, who clearly hates children, hadn’t picked a Santa who looks like he enjoys a healthy glug of Wild Turkey in his morning eggnog, if you know what I mean.

Mice wearing tiny antlers, Scrooged

They're mice. Wearing tiny antlers. Mice wearing tiny antlers!

Zeus, The Dog Who Saved Christmas


Where would Christmas movies be without orphaned children and animals at the pound? Not only must Zeus overcome losing his bark and protecting his home from burglars, Culkin-style, but he does so while being voiced by Mario Lopez and out-acting co-star Dean Cain.

Zero, The Nightmare Before Christmas


Jack Skellington’s ghostly pal is part Rudolph, part childhood nightmare, and all loyal companion. With those credentials, he’s obviously the best choice to lead Jack’s team of skeleton reindeer as they fly his coffin-sleigh in his semi-hostile takeover of Christmas.

Emmet Otter, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

The star of Jim Henson’s 1977 Gift of the Magi-esque Christmas special, Emmet is a dirt-poor resident of Frogtown Hollow who hopes to win money in a talent show so he can buy his mother a Christmas gift. Emmet is the quintessential downtrodden yet plucky holiday hero who’s a charming mix of optimism and naïveté. (And a puppeteering marvel, too.) Plus, he plays a mean washtub.

Max, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


No Christmas animal is more sweet-natured or ill-treated than the Grinch’s poor dog. There's Max, frantically working the foot pedal of the ancient sewing machine. Max, slumping under the weight of the antler tied to his head. Max, straining to haul that overloaded sled as the Grinch loots Whoville. Max does what his master asks of him and is finally, finally rewarded with love, praise and a slice of roast beast. May we all have such happy endings.

 Happy Scrooge

Happy Scrooge

The question, then, is where Grumpy Cat will fit into this list of Christmas creatures. The plot outline on IMDB fits several of the circumstances outlined above:

  • unadopted in a mall pet store
  • meets a precocious child
  • talks to said child
  • rescues said child
  • learns meaning of Christmas
  • voiced by Aubrey Plaza (which, OK, is not in any of the descriptions above — but it should be)


Will the movie be good? Who knows! Will it be entertaining in some fashion? Most certainly! After you watch it, hit the comments to weigh in on whether you think Grumpy Cat belongs on the old Scrooge or the new Scrooge side of the list.

lower waypoint
next waypoint