10 Best ‘A Christmas Carol’ TV And Movie Adaptations

The new Christmas movie, Spirited, starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds, is a musical rendition of A Christmas Carol. This is a modern and comical take on the classic tale, switching up the storyline to focus strongly on the spirits as opposed to Ebenezer Scrooge.

There have been dozens of film and television renditions of Charles Dickens’s novella, A Christmas Carol. Some of them are close to the source material, while others attempt to twist the original tale into something fresh. Read on as our readers share their opinions on what are the best adaptations of this classic.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Stream On Disney+

A absolute classic. Fans of this Christmas classic love the Muppets’ ability to adapt this tale in a fun way while honoring the original story. Viewers also praise Michael Cain’s portrayal of Scrooge and “it takes a special actor who can be both calm and collected and still ham it up with the freaking Muppets at the same time.”

This is a favorite adaptation of this old tale because of the way the Muppets can entertain the audience while still representing the themes of the original. The movie also succeeds in using thought-provoking quotes from the classic story to pay homage to Dickens’ tale.

A Christmas Carol (1999)

Available To Stream On DirectTV

Though there are many adaptations that are close to the original story, this A Christmas Carol is considered the most accurate in terms of staying close to the themes and characters. Despite being just a made-for-television adaptation, this film is many viewers’ favorite take on the classic.

“As much as I love many of the other adaptations this is the one I enjoy most.” These viewers thought Patrick Stewart did a phenomenal job as Scrooge and his performance made this faithful adaptation all the more enjoyable.

A Christmas Carol (1984)

Stream On Prime Video

This is one of the most faithful adaptations of Scrooge’s story. He is visited by the three spirits known by the names in Dickens’ novel and when Ebenezer becomes a changed man, he does the three notable good deeds as he did in the original tale.

One aspect of this faithful adaptation most praised by viewers is how George C. Scott played the role of Ebenezer. “Movie is pretty good” and then added, “but he plays Scrooge to perfection.” While there are many adaptations that follow Dickens’ source material, this film is a favorite because of Scott’s spot-on portrayal of the main character.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Stream On Disney+

This classic Disney adaptation highlights the main themes in the original but uses iconic Mickey Mouse characters throughout. This animated film shockingly stays pretty faithful to the original storyline, while making the dark themes a little more palatable for younger viewers.

This is the adaptation I grew up watching and still finds the film to be a “fantastic piece of animation.” This version might not be the closest to Dickens’ tale, but it’s perfect to introduce young viewers to the classic story. That’s also why so many adults enjoy this version and watch it during the holiday season.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

Stream On Plex TV

This 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is the best black-and-white Christmas movie. This older film adaptation of the classic is another one that stays pretty close to the source material, following the storyline and ending nearly to Dickens’ exact details.

What makes this version stick out to fans is another phenomenal actor nailing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. “1951 Alistair Sim Version is by far the best of the version out there as his turn from mean to jolly is most believable.” To truly capture this iconic tale, viewers need to believe the Scrooge character and how he goes through his transformation.

A Christmas Carol (2009)

Stream On Disney+

This is one of the darkest A Christmas Carol adaptations, which appropriately captures the despicable nature of Scrooge at the beginning of the story and portrays the ghosts as truly ominous presences. This dark depiction makes the merry ending all the more impactful.

While this version has a lot of controversies, many viewers think the emotions portrayed by Scrooge are truly compelling. “The part of the movie where he visits his past when he was a young child in a boarding school, that was truly profound for me.” These moving scenes resonated with viewers and helps them understand the character as more than just a grumpy old man.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)

(Currently Not Available To Stream)

This isn’t a full-length movie, but a TV special that captured this classic story in a unique way. Instead of making Ebenezer a greedy, mean man, this story starts off with him being one of the nicest men in London. As a twist, he ends up becoming a bitter and bad guy because he thinks they have the most fun.

“Nice little ‘twist’ on the story (going from good to bad, because he sees how ‘bad’ can earn you money).” This isn’t the option for those looking for a faithful adaptation, but it’s an interesting watch for viewers who like a comical, different take on the well-known tale.

Scrooged (1988)

Stream On Prime Video

Scrooged is a modern twist on this story, starring Bill Murray as a television president that is cruel to his workers and forces them to work during the holiday season. However, it honors the original story by having him encounter three ghosts and then change his ways.

This is another adaptation in which viewers think the actor nailed the role. “Just a wonderful job from Bill Murray.” Murray does an excellent job of creating a grumpy, traditional Scrooge but with an added sense of humor that fits his quirky demeanor in other films.

Scrooge (1970)

Stream On Plex TV

This is another adaptation that stays close to the source material but adds to the excitement by it being a musical. The musical numbers in this version capture the character’s throughout the story, especially the three ghosts, who each have a song unique to their particular purpose.

“I found Albert Finney’s take on Scrooge to be much more believable as a man who was supposed to be coming to the end of his life.” Even with the musical aspect of this rendition, viewers still found Finney’s Scrooge to be realistic based on his current point in life.

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)

Stream On Peacock

This rendition was a short television special that also has a musical quality. This Mr. Magoo special follows the character as he plays the role of Scrooge. The Mr. Magoo version captures the original storyline but in a more concise, quicker way than a film adaptation does.

While music isn’t often included in this classic tale, viewers loved this short special’s entertaining songs “I’m surprised it has not been staged on Broadway, the songs are that good.” This version succeeds in honoring Dickens while also creating something fresh and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

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Stevie Flavio
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