The 6 Silliest Spin-Off Reindeer
When was the last time we had a new Christmas special that stood the test of time? Why is it that only classics like the Rankin Bass movies or A Charlie Brown Christmas are upheld as annual traditions? Maybe because today’s modern entertainment is all substance and no soul, with crappy computer animation substituting actual effort? Nah, that can’t be it.
But it hasn’t stopped people from trying!
There is a never-ending list of treacly, worthless Christmas specials churned out in the past few years. And a startling number of them star spin-offs of Santa’s famous reindeer team. That’s right, spin-offs. Instead of awesome stories about the reindeer we already know and love, most specials give them bastard children or introduce Mary Sue reindeer to suit their own flimsy desires. And seeing as how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is my favorite Christmas special from when I was a kid, I decided to put together a list of the silly spin-off reindeer that populate these silly Christmas specials.
Seriously, Santa’s reindeer were having lots of kids!
6. Leroy the Redneck Reindeer
Does everybody remember the redneck comedy boom of the 90s and early 00s? Of course you do. We were all there. We lived it. Well everything that was anything was given some redneck magic, and that included Santa’s reindeer. ‘Leroy the Redneck Reindeer’ was featured on Joe Diffie’s 1995 album Mr. Christmas. Diffie was known for his novelty songs, and Leroy is pretty novel. The song features all the favorites: pickup trucks, overalls, spitting, line dancing; though the cartoon doesn’t go for the obvious gimmick of actually giving him a glowing red neck. Why’d the redneck craze die out anyway?
5. Blizzard, daughter of Blitzen
Problem #1? It’s live action, and live action reindeer look ridiculous. Problem #2, the titular reindeer, Blizzard, is voiced by Whoopie Goldberg. Even in 2003, that was a weird idea. And Problem #3, this was made in Canada…but I suppose they understand winter and blizzards better than anyone else. Blizzard is the daughter of Blitzen, and her self-titled movie is all about the magical reindeer meeting a friendly human named Katie, who is sad because her family had to move. Blizzard is a magical empathic reindeer, and she breaks the rules of the North Pole, risking expulsion, in order to comfort a random kid who’s sad she had to move? Isn’t that a fate that befalls a million children each year?
For a magical emphatic reindeer with the voice of Whoopie Goldberg, Blizzard is very choosey about who she’s going to help. They didn’t even save Christmas!
4. Niko, illegitimate son of Prancer
Once upon a time, the reindeer Prancer knocked up some cute lady reindeer, then split to go back to the North Pole when she got pregnant. Little Niko grew up hearing all sorts of stories about his famous father in the special The Flight Before Christmas. This is almost exactly like the illegitimate children of rockstars, who knock up cuties in the towns they visit and then move on. And just like those other illegitimate kids, Niko sets out on an adventure to find his famous father, partnered with the usual sappy animal sidekicks (a singing weasel and a flying squirrel).
When he arrives at the North Pole, none of the reindeers cop to being Niko’s father, because Prancer is apparently just the worst. It’s only after Niko learns to fly and saves the North Pole from some evil wolves that Prancer finally comes forward, but by then, Niko has already decided to go back to live with his mom. That’s probably for the best.
3. Robbie, lazy son of Rudolph
Being the most popular and noteworthy of Santa’s reindeer, Rudolph obviously got the most attention. We’ll talk about the rest of his family in a minute, but first there’s Robbie the Reindeer, his fat, lazy son, who nonetheless gets to become one of Santa’s reindeer too. Robbie is the star of three BBC-produced Christmas specials, and has the power of geographical location, allowing him to find the North Pole with ease. Robbie is an underdog who nonetheless manages to score the hottest reindeer babes (Vixen and Donner) while defeating the evil reindeer, Blitzen, in the Reindeer Games.
And that’s just episode 1. Robbie would go on to help a clan of vikings take over a tourist resort and get mixed up with aliens. Because…madness? Who knows! But those are the kinds of adventures you get up to when you’re the son of Rudolph, I guess. So what about the rest of his family?
2. Rusty and Ralph, brothers to Rudolph
This is where it gets kind of depressing. Rusty the Reindeer doesn’t have a special nose and can’t fly in Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn’t Happen, a 2006 TV special. But he’s saddled with the stigma of being the sibling of a famous holiday icon, and he goes to support group meetings with a bunch of other washed-up holiday figures. This gets him nowhere, but apparently he and the other icons manage to still find the meaning of Christmas by helping a random kid get on Santa’s nice list – which is at least more Christmas-related than whatever Blizzard spends her time doing.
Rusty eventually got a job helping Santa with air traffic control, just to be even more depressing.
Ralph, on the other hand, never made it to TV, nor is he part of the Rusty-verse. Ralph, instead, is from the comic strip Over the Hedge, where is is Ralph the Infrared-Nosed Reindeer, a big, fat blob of a thing. His nose glows with infrared heat, making him particularly adept at melting the snow off Santa’s sleigh. Were this the Flintstones world, Ralph would tell us all that, “It’s a living.”
1. Scratcher, the Evil Reindeer
Did you know that Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer has an Avengers-style sequel? Oh yes, those Rankin/Bass people weren’t fooling around. After the success of their first few specials, they brought back all the voice actors and the stop-motion animation in 1979 for Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, a movie that united Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus in a battle against an evil wizard (because of course!).
The movie also provides an origin for Rudolph’s nose, in that it houses the spirit of an ancient fairy wizard, who after defeating the evil Winterbolt, stored the last of her magic in that nose for safe-keeping. When Winterbolt returns to reclaim his power, he finds our heroes…performing in a circus. Yep. Then he hires Scratcher, the evil reindeer, as his henchman. Scratcher is evil because he was almost a member of Santa’s sleigh team, but he got fired when Big Red hired Rudolph instead.
So Scratcher, hellbent on revenge, sneaks into the circus and frames Rudolph for stealing some money. Because cash is always a concern in a magical land of talking, flying reindeer. This causes Rudolph to lose his magic power, since everyone now thinks he’s a bad guy, and it all just snowballs from there. Seriously, it gets really complicated. But eventually Winterbolt is defeated, Scratcher disappears (and is presumably banished to some kind of purgatory) and the day is saved.
Let that be a lesson to any other reindeer thinking of going evil. Don’t do it!