Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of the most influential novels of all time, both in terms of its place in literature and in pop culture in general. Ebeneezer Scrooge is as iconic a Christmastime character as mainstays like Santa Claus and The Grinch, and as long as Hollywood’s been around, studios have been compelled to make new adaptations of his story of redemption.
There’s way too many versions of this story being adapted to TV and film for us to list them all, but here are our picks for the 10 best.
10) Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001)
The most recent entry on this list is a pretty interesting one: it blends live action and animation to make a unique take on the story. It also features no shortage of talent: Simon Callow is great as both the narrator and Scrooge, Nicolas Cage is excellent as Jacob Marley, and even Kate Winslet gets to flex her singing chops as Scrooge’s lost love Belle in “What if?”
9) A Christmas Carol (1938)
While it’s not even close to the first adaptation of this story by Hollywood, this is the one that set the tone for all adaptations to come. Go back and give it a watch sometime; it’s surprisingly modern for a movie that’s nearly 80-years-old.
8) A Christmas Carol (1999)
Do I really need to say anything to sell you this other than “Patrick Stewart is Scrooge?” Fresh off a run of theatrical performances of the story, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard himself is as incredible as he always is, and he’s worth the price of admission alone.
7) Scrooged (1988)
A decidedly more funny and lighthearted take on the story than most you’ll find on this list, Bill Murray’s one of the best Scrooges the world has ever seen. Unless you’re a Dickens purist (and really, if you are, then most of these movies will disappoint you), pop some popcorn and laugh yourself silly along with this classic.
6) Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol (1979)
If there’s a funnier concept than Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, I haven’t heard it. Bugs of course takes center stage as several characters who make it their goal to torment Sam, and the result is a pretty funny ride.
The top five adaptations of A Christmas Carol are up next!
5) Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
Rowan Atkinson is always hilarious, and the concept of a good man being inspired to be a massive jerk after a ghost shows him how his ancestors were all jerks is too good of a concept to not feature on here. As always, Atkinson and his co-stars (which include Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry) are witty, savage, and just funny as hell.
4) A Christmas Carol (1984)
While this made-for-TV movie doesn’t have the absolute greatest production values compared to some of these others, it has something that they don’t: George C. Scott as Scrooge. The man chews the scenery just like he does in movies like Patton, and the results are incredible.
3) Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
It’s probably not a big surprise that Disney tried their own take on the story with the world’s most famous mouse, but what IS surprising is just how heartfelt, somber, and even outright scary their version of the story gets at times. It’s one of the absolute best.
2) A Christmas Carol / Scrooge (1951)
In terms of straightforward adaptations of the original book, you’re never going to find a better version than this absolute classic from 1951. Alastair Sim is the definitive Scrooge, and this movie has kept its status as a classic for over 65 years now.
1) The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
However, if you’re like me and love a version of the story with a little something extra, Kermit the Frog and company’s take on the story is not only the best adaptation, but possibly even the best Christmas movie ever. The production is top-notch, the jokes are hilarious, the Muppets themselves all absolutely shine, and Sir Michael Caine is one of the best Scrooges to ever say “Bah, humbug!”