“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has seen its fair share of broadcast edits over its nearly 60-year history, starting as early as its second showing in 1965. In its initial airing, Santa never returned to the Island of Misfit Toys despite promising Rudolph that he would. Confused viewers sent in letters to the network questioning why this crucial moment was never added. The feedback was so overwhelming that a new scene was animated for its 1965 telecast where Santa and his reindeer drop by the island to pick up the toys. It seems all well and good until the section added afterward which sees a tragic end to one of the lovable playthings.
The original ending of “Rudolph” saw an elf dropping presents to the houses below. For the new version, the elf provides the misfit toys with umbrellas and allows them to guide themselves. He does this for all the toys except for a bird, who he simply throws off the sleigh, with the idea being that it could fly itself down.
However, anyone who’s seen the special knows that the entire reason the bird was on the island was because he can’t fly, but swims, as explained in the song “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year.” So yeah, unless our little feathered friend suddenly learned how to fly on his way down, that bird likely fell to its death. From Bumbles to birds, it seems only a select few North Pole residents can proclaim that Christmas is a Holly Jolly occasion in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”