Movies & TV Shows

The 10 Best Christmas Movie Characters

It’s the holiday season and A Christmas Story Christmas has been released, thus seeing the return of several memorable Christmas movie characters, including the beloved now-adult Ralphie Parker from the original A Christmas Story holiday classic. The sign of a good character is that they make viewers want to watch their movies each season, year after year.

It shows that these Christmas characters, as well as the stories, are timeless. Characters like Ralphie are funny, heartwarming, charming, or overcome some kind of challenge throughout the course of the movie to help elevate certain films to not only classics of the holiday season but classic movies, in general.


The Conductor – The Polar Express (2004)

The conductor standing beside the train in The Polar Express (2004)

As a whole, part of what makes The Polar Express such a memorable experience is the lack of forced exposition. Everything is told from the point of view of the nameless Hero Boy, so the viewers only learn and experience what he does. So, the enigmatic train conductor of the Polar Express ends up being this fascinating character.

He’s never given a name, but he clearly has a history with the train, and despite being wound up tightly, the Conductor still helps bring out the childlike wonder of the train. Tom Hanks delivers an underrated performance here that is not only entertaining but teaches kids several morals on the journey to the North Pole.

Arthur – Arthur Christmas (2011)

Arthur in his mailroom office in Arthur Christmas (2011)

While the entire Claus family is enjoyable in some way in Arthur Christmas, it’s the titular character who truly understands and embraces the spirit of the holiday. Where the other Clauses care either about ego or reliving glory days, Arthur just wanted to see a little girl get the present she asked for and deserves.

It makes Arthur such an endearing character that he’s willing to trot the globe and endure many hazards for the happiness of a child. By the end, Arthur not only provides a likable character with plenty of good laughs, but he also ends up being the one and only choice to inherit the mantle of Santa because he’s the only one that earned it.

Scott Calvin – The Santa Clause Franchise (1994 – 2022)

Split image of Scott Calvin at different stages as Santa in The Santa Clause (1994)

One of the most famous portrayals of Santa Claus is Scott Calvin, one of Tim Allen’s most iconic roles, the toy manufacturer who becomes chosen as the new official Santa Claus. The Santa Clause franchise began as Scott went from a selfish businessman to a jolly hero of Christmas who put the needs of others before himself.

He continued to be a charming character who finds love in The Santa Clause 2: The Escape Clause. Tim Allen’s natural sarcastic humor mixed with the wonder of Santa makes for an iconic character that is getting a proper send-off with Disney+’s The Santa Clauses.

Ebenezer Scrooge – A Christmas Carol (Various)

Split image of Ebenezer Scrooge in various versions of A Christmas Carol

There have been so many versions of A Christmas Carol with multiple actors portraying the greedy Ebenezer Scrooge in unique ways. Alastair Sim portrayed the character in 1958, one of the earliest takes, then Albert Finney, Michael Caine, and even Jim Carrey took on the role.

The character of Ebenezer is a prime example of a redemption story that shows that, despite Scrooge’s cold past as a villain, he was able to have a change of heart. Charles Dickens was quite ahead of his time, as he showcased that not everyone is irredeemable and when Scrooge becomes the bouncy, jolly old man with a big heart, it’s impossible to not join him in the Christmas spirit.

The Grinch – How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Grinch looking down at Whoville from Mount Crumpet in How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

While Boris Karloff and Benedict Cumberbatch deserve recognition, Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the Grinch has become a classic, and part of that is due to Ron Howard’s direction. This version of the Grinch was far more relatable in his despisal of the holiday due to his surprisingly tragic past with the Whos of Whoville.

Jim Carrey, with his elastic face, body, and endless ability to improvise lines, also make his version of the Grinch enjoyable with hilarious quotes that remain memes to this day. Carrey also showcases his acting ability here, especially when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes, and he chooses to save Christmas as well as give his dog a much-deserved hug.

John McClane – Die Hard Franchise (1988 – 2013)

John McClane crawling in the vents in Die Hard

Since the first two Die Hard movies take place at Christmastime and the holiday is a large theme, John McClane of the Die Hard franchise is definitely a hero of the holiday season. Except instead of trying to save Christmas, he’s pulled in unexpectedly to stop a group of terrorists in one of the most iconic action films ever made. This helps in making John different from nearly all Christmas characters out there.

John McClane is a regular NYPD cop with plenty of charisma, sassy quips, one-liners, and determination. The average Joe quality of John McClane makes him feel more grounded and human since he does get hurt and has to fight to save the day. And while the debate never seems to end around the status of Die Hard as a Christmas movie, it’s undoubtedly a favorite must-watch around the holiday season.

Jack Skellington – The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Jack Skellington holding a snowflake in The Nightmare Before Christmas

In a way, Jack in The Nightmare Before Christmas can be seen as a villain since he essentially steals Christmas from Santa Claus. However, Jack has no malice or ill-intent in mind when he does — all he wants is to provide a Christmas himself because he has grown bored with his own life. He looks scary, but like most Tim Burton characters, he actually has a good heart.

Many can surely relate to being stuck in a routine and just wanting to break away to something new. So, there is a desire to root for Jack Skellington because he genuinely tries his best to deliver a good Christmas, even if he’s going about it the wrong way. It’s impossible to dislike him, especially when he learns his lesson and reclaims his title as the Pumpkin King.

Ralphie Parker – A Christmas Story (1983)

Ralphie Parker grinning on the slide in A Christmas Story

Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story is meant to be a regular kid in a regular neighborhood. At one point, in many people’s lives, they were also like Ralphie in wanting that perfect Christmas gift and trying everything in their power to get it. Part of what makes Ralphie so iconic is the inner monologue of his adult self that showcases his childhood innocent and naive nature.

Everything in A Christmas Story is from Ralphie’s perspective, and it captures his childlike innocence as well as his naive selfishness, even down to his sillier overactive imagination. Both adults and kids can enjoy Ralphie because they have been in his shoes across all times of the year, not just during the holidays.

Kevin McAllister – Home Alone Franchise (1990 – 1991)

Kevin McCallister aiming his BB gun at camera in Home Alone (1990)

Kevin McAllister and his plethora of famous quotes in Home Alone are a representation of childhood that many kids and adults can relate to. Many families get into squabbles and even heated arguments that lead to the wrong words being said, and kids wishing that they had no parents or families.

Kevin stands out because he represents that childhood fantasy without coming off as unlikeable. While it can be fun to be alone at first, Kevin teaches the lesson of not taking families and what they have for granted. As a bonus, Kevin is a charming and likable character, which helps make Home Alone so good to watch since most of the movie and its sequel is just about him.

Harry & Marv – Home Alone Movies (1990 – 1991)

Harry and Marv in a truck surrounded by fish in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

As much as Kevin McAllister is a pivotal part of the first two Home Alone movies, the villain duo is just as important. Harry and Marv are the epitomai of lowlife thugs. They aren’t smart, but they have a chemistry that is undeniably enjoyable, with plenty of memorable quotes. And even though they are the villains of the story, people love to hate them because of their charm.

However, their best aspect is that Harry and Marv bring some genuine slapstick humor thanks to their hilarious reactions and injuries from the shockingly dangerous traps set up by Kevin. In a way, they became the Three Stooges of the 1990s, as well as iconic Christmas villains.

MORE: 10 Funniest Traps In Home Alone (1990) Ranked

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