Everything Messed Up About Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer | Page 2 of 3

Yukon Cornelius is actually a terrible prospector

Make no mistake: From the moment he steps on the screen, Yukon Cornelius is a baller. Not only is he quite possibly the only beloved figure in all of Christmas mythology who’s packing a six-shooter on his belt, he also mentions a shopping list of “life-sustaining supplies” that is entirely composed of cornmeal, ham hocks, gunpowder, and guitar strings. That alone makes him one of the most interesting characters in the entire Rankin/Bass canon, up to and including the wizard who battles demons with an ax that shoots laser beams.

That said, Y.C.’s description of himself as “the greatest prospector of the north” probably isn’t accurate. Despite the fact that he claims his land is full of silver and gold, we never actually see him with either, and while he does help Rudolph and Hermey escape from the Bumble, his solution is arguably worse than the problem. The Bumble, at least, is a creature that can feel pain and can presumably be defeated in Combat, but Cornelius’ big idea is to float off on an iceberg with no idea of where he’s going, and — since he hadn’t gotten around to buying the cornmeal and ham hocks just yet — no food to eat along the way. If they hadn’t run smack into the Island of Misfit Toys, there’s a good chance Rudolph would’ve been a red-nosed plate of venison.

The most telling piece of evidence, though, comes from his dogsled. As you may recall from the documentary films of Cuba Gooding Jr., sled dogs tend to be specific breeds, like huskies or Alaskan Malamutes. Team Cornelius, on the other hand, is the most mismatched bunch you could ask for, stocked up with a St. Bernard and a French poodle, among others. Admittedly, there was once a team full of poodles that competed in the Iditarod (they did not do well), but unlike Cornelius, nobody’s ever tried it with Dachshunds.

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A missing scene explains Yukon Cornelius’ weirdest habit

Of all the weird things Yukon Cornelius does — you know, wrestling an abominable snowman, traveling across the tundra with a team of ill-trained dogs, rocking so hard that he has to buy guitar strings as often as he needs cornmeal — the strangest by far is the way that he’ll often toss his pickax up into the air, pick it up, and then start rubbing his tongue on it like he’s a middle schooler practicing for his first French kiss. It is, to say the least, a little concerning, especially since it’s never explained why he’s doing it.

At least, it’s never explained if you watch the special on television every year. If you were watching the original broadcast in 1964, however — or if you’re the kind of person who feels compelled to own Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because you might want to watch it in the middle of August — you know exactly why he’s doing it: He’s looking for a peppermint mine. It’s only revealed at the end, when he actually manages to find a vein of peppermint right outside Santa’s castle, retroactively explaining why viewers have seen him slobbering all over his ax for an hour every December.

Unfortunately for Cornelius and his reputation, the special runs a little longer if you’re making time for commercials, and CBS had to choose between keeping that scene or the scene where Santa Claus actually makes good on his promise to take the Misfit Toys to their new homes. It’s not surprising they decided Santa’s rep was a little more important than the prospector’s, and while the scene is still included on home video versions, it’s been left off every single broadcast since 1965.

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Dolly has depression

For the most part, the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys are pretty self-explanatory, although the fact that a stuffed elephant wound up there just for sporting polka dots leads us to believe there were some pretty harsh kids back in 1965. The one misfit that has always perplexed viewers, though, is Dolly, a doll that seems completely normal in every respect.

In a 2005 interview with the Archive of American Television, producer Arthur Rankin Jr. confirmed what viewers had long suspected. Unlike the train with square wheels or the water pistol that only shoots jelly, Dolly’s problem is neither obvious nor physical. It’s psychological. After being abandoned by the girl who owned her, Dolly developed a severe depression, something that’s only more heartbreaking when you realize she’s still referring to herself as “a Dolly for Sue.” Because an anxiety-ridden Santa and a reindeer consumed by shame just weren’t enough to get the point across, apparently.

Want to twist the knife even further? In the 2014 Island of Misfit Toys graphic novel, it’s revealed that Dolly actually wasn’t abandoned at all — she was lost when Sue moved and taken to the Island where Sue could never, ever find her. It works out, though. Not only does Dolly get taken to a new home by Santa at the end, the graphic novel shows that she hooks up with the ostrich-riding cowboy. Seriously.


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