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NOTE: For the original version from the book and TV special, click here. For the 2018 version, click here.
Villain Overview
Those Whos are hard to frazzle, Max. But we did our worst, and that's all that matters.
~ The Grinch.
Of course, they are. That's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what it's always been about! Gifts, gifts, giftsgiftsgiftsgiftsgiftsgifts! You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I'm saying? In your garbage! I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. And the avarice. The avarice never ends! "I want golf clubs!" "I want diamonds!" "I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored with it and sell it to make glue!" Look, I don't wanna make waves, but this whole Christmas season is stupid! Stupid! Stupid! There is, however, one teeny-tiny Christmas tradition that I find quite... meaningful. Mistletoe. Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville!
~ The Grinch's speech to Whoville.

The Grinch is the titular protagonist villain/anti-hero of the 2000 Universal Pictures film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, loosely based on the Dr. Suess book and television special of the same name.

He was portrayed by Jim Carrey, who also played Hank Evans in Me, Myslef & Irene, the Cable Guy in The Cable Guy, the Riddler in Batman Forever, and Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask in The Mask. As a child, he was portrayed by the late Josh Ryan Evans in his final role.

Personality

Similar to his original counterpart, The Grinch is shown to be very grouchy, selfish and wrathful in nature. To that end, he would play harmful pranks on the citizens of Whoville, such as tampering with their mail, making prank calls, and scaring intruders from entering into his lair.

However, the true reason behind his wrath was due to being bullied by other kids for his appearance. As a child, he was an outcast at school and was bullied by his classmates, especially by Augustus Maywho, and that the horrible treatment is what drove him off the edge to become the Christmas-hating person he was ever known. Despite his flaws, the Grinch is somewhat insecure as he thinks of himself nothing but a monster to be hated because of his appearance and nature. However, it was not until the intervention of Cindy Lou Who and the epiphany of the true meaning of Christmas is what made him learn the error of his ways, even willing to return the gifts and decorations that he stole from the Whos.

History

The Grinch arrived in Whoville by mistake when he was a baby and was adopted by two elderly sisters. Although he showed some sadistic tendencies as a child, the Grinch was raised in a nice childhood by the sisters. Despite having a good childhood, the Grinch was an outcast at school and was bullied by classmates (mainly by Augustus May Who) because of his green and hairy appearance. The only classmate to show him any compassion was Martha May Whovier, whom he had a crush on.

One Christmas season when he was eight, the Grinch made a gift for Martha, but he attempted to shave his face after remembering what all the kids said, cutting himself in the process. When everyone saw the Grinch's face covered with shaving tape the next morning, they laughed at him for this. Fed up with mockery,  The Grinch went on a rampage, scaring everyone out of his way as he ran off to live on Mt. Crumpit. Over the years, the Grinch remained in hiding in a huge cave and became a urban legend due to brief sightings, developing a hatred for Christmas and the Whos for their mockery against him, even pulling dangerous and harmful practical jokes on them.

It wasn't until a 6-year-old girl named Cindy Lou Who believes that everyone is missing the point about Christmas by being more concerned about the gifts and festivities. After having a face-to-face encounter with the Grinch at the post office which he saves her from being crushed by a post office machine, Cindy Lou becomes interested in his history. The next day, she asks everyone what they know about him and learns about his tragic past.

Touched by this story, Cindy decides to make the Grinch the main participant of the Whobilation, to the great displeasure of Augustus (who is currently the Mayor of Whoville), who reluctantly agrees after pressure from the townspeople who have been warmed by Cindy Lou's generous spirit. When Cindy Lou goes to Mount Crumpit and offers an invitation to the Grinch, he turns her down. He gradually changes his mind, however, due to the promise of an award, the presence of Martha at the celebration and the chance to upset the Mayor.

Just as the Grinch is enjoying himself and almost won over by attending all of the Whobilation's contests and games, the Mayor gives him an electric shaver as a present, reminding him of his awful humiliation at school. The Mayor even tops it off by asking Martha to marry him, promising her a new car in return. This causes the Grinch to berate the Whos for thinking that Christmas is about gifts that they'll just dispose of later in the hopes of making them too ashamed to celebrate the holiday.

The Grinch then goes on to ruin the party by burning the Christmas tree with a makeshift flamethrower (although his actions prove fruitless as the Whos have a spare tree, which the Grinch sees them erect before he leaves). Returning back to Mt. Crumpit, the Grinch instead concocts a plan to steal all of their presents while they are sleeping. Creating a Santa suit and sleigh with his own dog, Max as a "deer", the Grinch flies around Whoville, stealing all of the Whos' Christmas gifts. He is almost discovered by Cindy Lou, but lies to her in order to get away.

The next day, the Grinch manages to get Max ride the sleigh up into the top of Mt. Crumpit, happily declaring the success of his plan. At that time, the Whos discover the Grinch's scheme and Augustus denounces Cindy Lou as the root of this catastrophic disaster. However, Lou Lou Who (the Whoville postmaster) finally stands up to him by saying that he doesn't care if the Grinch stole away all their presents. Lou then reminds everyone that they still have Christmas spirit and that the true meaning of Christmas is to spend time with your family and friends, and that the Grinch wouldn't have hated Christmas if the Mayor hadn't mocked him in the first place.

With this revelation, all the Whos agreed with Lou and decided to enjoy the holiday without their gifts by singing together. Hoping that the change of mood would inspire the Grinch, Cindy Lou goes to Mt. Crumpit to find him. Upon hearing the Whos joyfully singing, the Grinch became furious over the failure of his plan, but has an epiphany about what Christmas is really about: not material gifts, but spending time with your loved ones, an insight that profoundly touches him and causes his heart to grow to three times its original size.

When the sleigh full of stolen gifts begins to go over the edge of the cliff, the Grinch desperately tries to save them to no avail. However, he spots Cindy Lou wanting to wish him a merry Christmas and is in danger of falling off the cliff with the sleigh, the Grinch finds enough strength to lift the sleigh, the gifts and Cindy Lou to safety.

After a long descent down Mount Crumpit, the Grinch returns to Whoville with Cindy, Max and the gifts. He confesses to the burglary and apologizes for his actions before surrendering to the police, willing to accept his punishment for his crimes. However, the police and the Whos decided to forgive the Grinch as they all learned a lesson about the holiday, even Martha turns down Augustus' proposal and decides that she would rather stay with the Grinch instead which it make the Grinch very happy.

The redeemed Grinch (along with Max) starts a new life with the Whos, commemorating the Christmas feast with them in his cave.

Quotes

Serves them right, those Yuletide-loving sickly-sweet, nog-sucking cheer mongers! I really don't like them. No, I don't. Max! Get my cloak! I've been much too tolerant of these Whovenile delinquents... ...and their innocent, victimless pranks. So, they want to get to know me, do they? They want to spend a little quality time with the Grinch. I guess I could use a little... ...social interaction.
~ The Grinch's introduction.
What's that stench? It's fantastic!
~ The Grinch.
One man's toxic sludge is another man's potpourri.
~ The Grinch.
The nerve of those Whos. Inviting me down there - on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go, my schedule wouldn't allow it! Four o'clock, wallow in self pity; Four-thirty, stare into the abyss; Five o'clock, solve world hunger, tell no one; Five-thirty, jazzercize; Six-thirty, dinner with me - I can't cancel that again; Seven o'clock, wrestle with my self-loathing... I'm booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to nine, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?!
~ The Grinch's personal list.
It's because I'm green isn't it?!
~ Grinch after a taxi cab passes him.
All right, you're a reindeer. Here's your motivation: Your name is Rudolph, you're a freak with a red nose, and no one likes you. Then, one day, Santa picks you and you save Christmas. No, forget that part. We'll improvise... just keep it kind of loosey-goosey. You HATE Christmas! You're gonna steal it. Saving Christmas is a lousy ending, way too commercial. ACTION! [Max knocks the red nose off] BRILLIANT! You reject your own nose because it represents the glitter of commercialism. Why didn't I think of that? Cut, print, check the gate, moving on.
~ The Grinch to Max.
Maybe Christmas... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more.
~ The Grinch's redemption.

Trivia

  • Unlike the book or 1966 and 2018 cartoons where the Grinch is a smart, scheming and manipulative individual, the film shows him to be an entertaining, whimsical, comical and insane person with the scheming qualities.
    • Also, he never mentions '53 years' and instead he mentions 'year after year', making the number of years he put up with Christmas ambiguous.
  • In some ways, the film shows that the mayor is just as much a villain as the Grinch, maybe even worse. It is because of the Mayor's bullying, that caused the Grinch to become cold-hearted, unforgiving and diabolical.
  • The original Grinch was not green. Like everything else in the book, he was black and white with some red and pink splotches. Jim Carrey's Grinch was originally meant to look like this but Ron Howard wanted the film to also be an adaptation of the Chuck Jones cartoon.

See Also

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