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The Grinch is the main protagonist of the 2018 Illumination animated film, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, based on the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss.

He's a grumpy outcast that seeks to steal and destroy Christmas for all the misery it has caused him.

He's voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch as an adult who also plays Doctor Strange and Classified from Penguins of Madagascar.


The Grinch is grumpy and cruel and likes to bully and antagonize the citizens of Whoville whenever he can. He takes some sadistic pride in his work and sees an artistry and style to being generally mean and nasty.

However, deep down he has a soft spot as he shows to his dog Max and a select few individuals that manage to appeal to it under his rough exterior.


The Past[]

The Grinch spent most of his childhood life in a Whoville orphanage with no one to celebrate Christmas while the Whoville are celebrating Christmas without him and he wasn't adopted either. It was making him so sad and he decided to leave since it was so much pain for him.

So, it's like Daffy's backstory in Bah Humduck; and like in the book, he lived at Mt. Crumpit, questioning the meaning of Christmas for 53 years.

The Present[]

In the town of Whoville, the humanoids called Whos are filled with excitement about celebrating Christmas.

The only one who isn't amused is a cantankerous, green furred creature called The Grinch who has a heart "two sizes too small" and lives as a hermit in a cave on the top of Mount Crumpit just north of Whoville.

The Grinch has a pet dog named Max, and they both only visit Whoville when the Grinch needs to buy food and do bad things.

Meanwhile, a 6-year-old girl name Cindy Lou Who notices that her mother Donna Lou Who is overworked trying to take care of herself and her baby twin brothers, Buster and Bean.

At first, she decides to send a letter to Santa Claus to help her mother, but after encountering the Grinch who sarcastically says that she'll have to talk to Santa face-to-face about it, she then decides to go to the North Pole to talk to Santa, but when Donna tells her that it would take a month to get there and back home, her final decision is to try and trap Santa with the help of her friends.

With Christmas approaching, all the Whoville festivities give the Grinch a flashback, recalling his disjointing childhood spent mostly alone and unwanted in an orphanage.

The Grinch soon decides that he will steal Christmas from Whoville to assuage his distress. He acquires a fat reindeer whom he calls Fred to help him pull a sleigh that he stole from his neighbor, Mr. Bricklebaum.

After a test run, the Grinch discovers that Fred has a family. With a heavy heart, he lets Fred go home with them.

On Christmas Eve, after making a Santa Claus disguise and dozens of gadgets to help him with his plan, the Grinch and Max, who pulls the sleigh in Fred's place, go down to Whoville to steal the decorations and presents.

He soon encounters Cindy after falling into her trap. Her request to help lighten her mother's workload, and her kind advice about listening to the Whos' singing to alleviate his sadness, touches the Grinch's bitter heart. Nevertheless, the Grinch carries on with his mission.

After stealing every Christmas present and decoration, the Grinch and Max head back to Mount Crumpit to dispose of them. The Whos wake up and are shocked to see that the presents and decorations are gone.

At first, Cindy believes that she was to blame, because she 'trapped' Santa, but Donna tells her that Christmas is more than just presents and that Cindy's the best thing that ever happened to her. The Whos join together to sing.

The Grinch and Max hear the singing, rendering the Grinch puzzled to see that they are celebrating Christmas despite his theft.

After heeding Cindy's advice and immersing himself to their singing, his small heart triples in size, causing him to double over in breathless joy and wonder. The sleigh falls off Mount Crumpit, and the Grinch tries to save it.

In the nick of time, Fred and his family come to his aid. After securing the sleigh, the Grinch and Max go to Whoville to return the stolen items. A guilt-ridden and remorseful Grinch admits his crimes to the Whos, and apologizes before returning to his cave.

Feeling sorry for the Grinch, Cindy comes to invite him to celebrate Christmas at her house and he awkwardly attends.

When seated down for dinner, he realizes and confesses that it wasn't really Christmas he hated, but being lonely and his bitterness over being neglected.

Before carving the roast beef, the Grinch offers a toast, "To kindness and love, the things we need most."


  • The Grinch's backstory differs from this film's live-action counterpart, How the Grinch Stole Christmas(2000), in which the Grinch was publicly humiliated in elementary school as a child due to having to shave at his age. This is mostly due to the Whos in general being depicted as more noble and heroic (and thus, closer to how they were depicted in the original book), as opposed to the 2000 movie, that depicted them as more monstrous and villanous.
  • The Grinch is Illumination’s second protagonist to be a villain also, first being Felonious Gru.
  • In the original book as well as the first film adaption, The Grinch could not find a Reindeer to help him with his heist, so he used Max instead. But in this adaption he does successfully find a Reindeer and lets it stay at his house with Max. The Grinch is also joined in his schemes by a reindeer named Fred.
  • For his portrayal as the Grinch, this marks the first time outside the Doctor Strange franchise where Benedict Cumberbatch uses an American accent instead of his regular speaking British accent.
  • The studio originally wanted Benedict Cumberbatch to voice the Grinch using his natural voice, but Benedict felt that, since the rest of the cast is American, the Grinch himself should have an American accent.
  • The Grinch's epiphany to steal Christmas happens on December 21st rather than Christmas Eve. This gives the Grinch more time to develop his gadgets and formulate his plan to rob all of Whoville in one fell swoop. This extra time also allows him to find reindeer to pull his sled, eventually snagging a reindeer named Fred.
  • This Grinch is different than his 1966 and 2000 version:
    • For example, the Grinch is less exaggerated-looking than previous versions with softer facial features that look more like a furry green dog-man than a creepy old goblin, and normal eyes instead of his signature red and yellow pupils.
    • The previous versions establish/imply that the Grinch lives in self-imposed exile away from the Whos. This film shows that the Grinch regularly visits Whoville to buy groceries. Presumably as a result of him coming down to their town often, the Whos don't fear him as much as the Whos in Ron Howard's film or Halloween Is Grinch Night, where the Grinch's impending arrival is a big deal. This is once again a result of the Whos being portrayed more heroically, since it means the Grinch genuinely feels welcome in Whoville and has no grudge towards the Who (his grudge is purely with the celebration of Christmas itself).
    • Considering he's more willing to come out of his cave than previous versions, it makes sense that the Whos are used to him by this point.
    • While he is by no means a nice guy, this version of the Grinch is shown to be significantly kinder to Max than the Chuck Jones or the Ron Howard version. While Max is rather put upon, the Grinch's love and concern for him are never in doubt — and the one time he does manage to deeply hurt Max's feelings, he apologizes and tells him he's a good dog. Again, this is due to the more noble 2018 Whos treating the 2018 Grinch more nicely, which in turns means the 2018 Grinch isn't as embittered as the 2000s version.
    • The Grinch's motivation hew closer to that of the original book as his grudge is with the celebration of Christmas. He has no personal grudge with the Who and recognizes that the Who are nice people.
    • Despite the Grinch's mischievous pranks and rude behavior whenever he heads down to Whoville, the Whos bear no lasting grudge towards him. Even after the Grinch confesses to stealing all of their Christmas stuff, the Whos still welcome him to a Christmas feast which surprises the Grinch, to say the least. However, it is notably more subtle than past incarnations. Instead of being lauded at the gift return, he quietly walks home alone, to be invited later by Cindy-Lou
    • Averted, even though he's portrayed by a British actor like the Karloff Grinch, here he speaks with an American-accent like the Jim Carrey version.
    • Like previous iterations, the Grinch is surprised and confused when he hears the Whos singing and celebrating Christmas despite taking nearly all of their decorations, presents, and food. He, of course, has an epiphany upon this discovery and decides to give back everything he has stolen. He's even more surprised that Cindy-Lou Who invites him to Christmas dinner at her house despite the fact that he stole all of their stuff in an attempt to ruin their Christmas.
    • Similar to his previous incarnations, this Grinch has a massive intellect when it comes to concocting schemes and creating technological marvels...all for the purpose of stealing gifts.
    • During his trip to Whoville for groceries, the Grinch goes out of his way to do mean things to anyone he crosses by. Such as pushing a snowman's head off the body with a carrot, tasting a spicy pickle before spitting it back into the jar and then giving it to an unsuspecting shopper and putting the last chutney jar onto a high shelf in front of the customer who wants it (and then knocking it over for good measure).
    • By the end, the Grinch is able to admit to himself and the Whos that he didn't really hate Christmas itself. He just didn't like being alone.
    • The Grinch falls into Cindy-Lou's trap by ignoring his own rule; avoid temptations.
    • Unlike the previous versions of the tale where the Grinch is full of joy after realizing the meaning of Christmas, here the Grinch is ashamed of himself for ruining the holiday for the Whos. After he brings their stuff back to town, he solemnly apologizes and goes home.
    • While it's a bit hard to figure out because he is a green, furry goblin-like creature, the Grinch utters the "For fifty-three years.." line indicating that he's likely fifty-three at the youngest. But thanks to his Adaptational Attractiveness, he could pass for a young adult. Somewhat justified, as Bricklebaum discovers a bottle of green hair dye amongst the Grinch's groceries early on, implying he's at least going grey.
    • Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch with an American accent, and while he mostly does a fairly good job, sometimes you can hear Cumberbatch's natural British accent showing.
    • Like his live action version, A flashback shows us the Grinch grew up in a orphanage, contributing to his Freudian Excuse.
    • Aside from treating Max fairly well, the Grinch decides to let Fred the reindeer leave to be with his mate and child, despite the fact he needs a reindeer to pull his sled. Fred later returns to save the Grinch from falling off of Mount Crumpit during the climax of the story.
    • Unlike the other two incarnations, the sleigh actually does fall off Mount Crumpit, being a vehicle with thousands of pounds worth of Christmas decorations and presents just leaning on the edge of a cliff. And when the Grinch tries to grapple to the edge, the cliff itself falls.
    • Though the Whos do not hold any grudges against the Grinch for his scheme, they are more stunned than forgiving when the Grinch returns their things, and after he apologizes, he slinks miserably away to his cave. He does not feel good about returning the presents at all, especially because of the real reason why he wanted to steal them in the first place. Also, rather than a grand, town-wide feast taking place, Cindy-Lou later drops by to invite him to a relatively small Christmas dinner at her house, which he attends with an equal mixture of graciousness and deep shyness, especially since he does not come out of his cave that much aside from grocery-shopping. Also, the Grinch was worried about how the Whos' would react to him being there.
    • The only one to refer to our title character as the Grinch is the narrator. Everyone else calls him "Mr. Grinch", and Bricklebaum occasionally calls him "Grinchy". However, during his proper introduction to Cindy-Lou as the end of the movie he says is name his just Grinch.
    • Downplayed, but as in all versions of this story, the Grinch's character arc is similar to that of Ebeneezer Scrooge. So is his backstory in this version, as he grew up lonely in an orphanage where he never got to celebrate Christmas, just like the young Scrooge at his boarding school.
    • Also, he does take a shower, wear a scarf, live a nice cave and exercise by working out unlike his 1966 and 2000 since they both live a messy and dark cave, like to be stinky and fat except his live action counterpart does wear a brown coat with a mask and yodel costume before the Santa suit while the 1966 grinch doesn't wear anything else than just his Santa suit.
    • And he doesn't have a love interest in his own movie unlike his live action counterpart who was in love with Martha May Whovier since childhood. It's unknown why he don't have a love interest since they tried to make it like the original 1966 classic movie too, so that's why.
  • In the trailer, the Grinch is attacked by a cat while he's stealing presents, just like how his live-action counterpart was.
  • This film marks the second time a British actor has voiced the character of the Grinch. The first was with Boris Karloff in the 1966 TV Special of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).
  • It seems to be karmic payback for the Grinch being a curmudgeon that he suffers so much physical abuse in his daily life.
  • Unlike his 1966 and 2000 counterparts, the Grinch puts more effort into looking like Santa and insists on getting into character by eating a whole lot to appear fatter. Despite this however, his stomach is only slightly more prominent than before. The Grinch also had the insight to actually don a white beard, compared to the previous versions of the character who didn’t even bother. That said, he still does little to hide his distinguishing green fur.
  • Similar to his previous incarnations, this Grinch has a massive intellect when it comes to concocting schemes and creating technological marvels....all for the purpose of stealing gifts.
  • Given his larger presence in Whoville compared to previous incarnations, the Grinch has taken on this sort of persona, emphasized by how he revels in doing his misdeeds in style.
  • Even though every single person in existence is aware of how it ends, The Grinch is, per the norm, the Big Bad of his own story.
  • Big Eater: The reason why the Grinch has to go down to Whoville during Christmas season. He initially had stockpiles of food to last him till the start of January but due to his excessive "emotional" eating, he was reduced to a mere bean on a plate by just five days shy of Christmas itself.
  • Like previous iterations, the Grinch is surprised and confused when he hears the Whos singing and celebrating Christmas despite taking nearly all of their decorations, presents and food. He, of course, has an epiphany upon this discovery and decides to give back everything he has stolen. He's even more surprised that Cindy-Lou Who invites him to Christmas dinner at her house despite the fact that he stole all of their stuff in an attempt to ruin their Christmas.
  • The Grinch cannot believe that Christmas isn't a storm of consumerism because when he was a little orphan, no one shared any love or warmth with him.
  • Near the end of the film, the Grinch wears a red and white tie when he's invited over to Cindy-Lou's house for Christmas dinner, a reference to The Cat in the Hat (another Dr. Seuss character) who has the same color pattern hat.
  • This is the first adaption of the Grinch who isn't mean to or mistreats his dog, Max, in any way.