Ridiculous Rudolph: A Merry Ranking Of The 10 Craziest Rankin-Bass Holiday Specials

If you’re a person who celebrates Christmas, or simply owns a television, you’re no doubt well-acquainted with the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special. But you may be less familiar with the countless other animated specials that followed in Rudolph’s red, shiny wake. The producers and directors of Rudolph’s first adventure, Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, produced well over a dozen follow-up animated holiday specials, and most of them were brain-breakingly bizarre. The Abominable Snow Monster and the Island of Misfit Toys are just the tip of the insanity iceberg.

So, here’s the top 10 Rankin-Bass holiday specials, ranked not by quality, but by how crazy they are. Hold onto your sugarplums, because things are about to get weird…

10) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The Unembellished Plot
Rudolph is born with a red lightbulb for a nose, which results in a constant stream of abuse from his fellow reindeer. Even Santa himself cruelly casts him aside. Rudolph is all “nuts to this” and runs off with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist, and encounters a wacky prospector, an island of misfit toys and the Abominable Snow Monster himself. After Rudolph defeats said Snow Monster, the other reindeer begrudgingly accept him, and Santa lets Rudolph on his sleigh team once he realizes his nose could be useful. We’re all used to this one, but when you think about it, it’s still pretty odd stuff.

The Defining Moment of Insanity
The water pistol that shoots jelly.

Moral of the Story
Respect is hard-earned if you’re born different.

9) Jack Frost (1979)

The Unembellished Plot
Jack Frost overhears the Suzanne Somers-looking peasant Elisa saying she loves winter/Jack Frost. He takes this to mean Elisa has an actual romantic attraction to him, so he asks Father Winter to turn him into a human so he can mack on her. Unfortunately, Elisa is kidnapped by Kubla Kraus, an evil Cossack who rides a steampunk mechanical horse, lives in a castle full of robot soldiers and has but one friend, a ventriloquist’s dummy named, well, Dummy. After several failed plans, including a scheme involving fooling a groundhog with a magical shadow to extend winter, Jack defeats Kubla then rushes to propose to Elisa, only to discover that she’s decided to marry the hunky Sir Ravenal instead. Jack, clearly done with this whole debacle, shrugs, gives up on being human, and silently watches on as Elisa marries the other guy.

The Defining Moment of Insanity
Kubla Kraus having an animated argument with his dummy over whether he’s worthy of Elisa’s love. That’s some psychologically complex stuff for a kid’s cartoon.