The holidays usually bring out the best in people, but every so often you witness the worst. That woman who had a tantrum in the checkout line? The parents fighting over the last toy on the shelf? In most cases, it’s nothing a steaming cup of cocoa can’t fix. But once in a while, you just might encounter a misanthrope of epic proportions. Someone who kills the holiday buzz, ruins the magic, and curdles the eggnog—a real-life Grinch. Literature has shown us that Grinches have always been around, but we still shouldn’t let them ruin your holiday cheer. (That’s exactly what they want for Christmas.) Here are some Grinches to watch out for.
The Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss)
The one, the only, the original holiday villain himself: the Grinch. His name has become synonymous with all the grouches who make the holidays less merry. It takes an evil soul to put so much time and effort into destroying the happiness of an entire community of people. (Or Whos.)
Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)
We might call misers and meanies “Scrooges,” but this cold-hearted character actually grows into a generous, kind old man by the end of Dickens’ novel. Bumping into four ghosts in the course of one night seems to have a positive effect on old Ebenezer. By the end of the book, his catchphrase, “Bah, humbug!” is as much a part of Christmas tradition as Santa’s “Ho ho ho!”
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis)
This list just got a little bit grim with the inclusion of the ultimate hater, Patrick Bateman. At once schmoozy, pompous, and uncouth, Bateman is the worst Christmas party guest ever. He forces his girlfriend to ditch her own party before the hired “elves” sing carols, drags her to club called Chernobyl to indulge in some “expensive Christmas frost,” and gets into a drug-addled altercation in the restroom stall. Oh, right, and he’s also a sadistic serial killer.
The Dursleys (The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling)
This pair is guilty of doubling up on Grinchyness to make the holidays horrible throughout Harry Potter’s childhood. In Harry’s pre-Hogwarts years, he receives a box of dog biscuits at Christmas. In later years, he receives a toothpick, a fifty-pence piece, and a single tissue from his aunt and uncle. Leave it to the Dursleys to turn the generous tradition of gift-giving into a passive-aggressive way of saying, we hate you.
Aunt Alexandra and Francis Hancock (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
Nothing ruins Christmas like racist relatives, something Scout Finch knows all too well. Scout’s strict, snobbish Aunt Alexandra finds fault with Scout’s tomboyishness at every opportunity, and her spoiled tattletale of a grandson, Francis Hancock, is even worse. When visiting the family for Christmas at Finch’s Landing, Francis insults Atticus with a bigoted slur. Scout fights back, but their Uncle Jack catches them. Francis lies his way out of it, and it’s Scout that gets an undeserved spanking. If you think kids can’t be miserable little Grinches, Francis Hancock will make you think again.
Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger)
We all know angsty teenagers can be the biggest killjoys, and that’s never been more true than with Holden Caulfield. Kicked out of his boarding school just before Christmas break, Holden heads to New York City and spends the holiday season wallowing in disillusion. He means well, and okay, he’s not a bad guy, but he could really suck the joy out of your holiday festivities.
The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)
This ice queen curses Narnia so that it’s always winter but never Christmas. That’s about the Grinchiest thing one can do as the tyrannical ruler of a magical land. This villainess also lures in children with Turkish delights and makes them betray their siblings, which goes against two of the most important aspects of the holidays: family and love. Thanks for the Turkish delights, though!
The Murderer (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie)
What kind of person murders someone at Christmas time, in a house full of his family members? We won’t spoil it by telling you who the culprit is, but when you find out you’ll agree he or she is an awfully gruesome Grinch for sure. Everyone’s in an uproar because they’re stuck in a house with a murderer, and it really puts a damper on the seasonal festivities. Don’t people know the holidays are a terrible time for homicide?
Which of these Grinchy characters is THE WORST?