In 2003, Elf established itself as a memorable Christmas classic. As the years went on, it has since solidified its legacy as a must-see during the holiday season. Even with its competitors; Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, starring Jim Carrey; The Polar Express, starring Tom Hanks; and Home Alone, starring Macaulay Culkin, Elf has proven to be an irreplaceable Christmas comedy for one and all. After passing through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gumdrops, and walking through the Lincoln Tunnel, you can expect to find some colorful characters, some of which are more likable than others. Let’s take a look at the Elf characters ranked by likability.
Portrayed by Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister, AKA Peter Dinklage, Miles Finch is a best-selling children’s book author and a business associate of Walter Hobbs. In regards to Elf, Finch is given very little screen time. However, his actions certainly rank him low on the likability list.
When Miles Finch attends a corporate meeting hosted by Walter Hobbs, he meets Buddy the Elf. When Buddy lays eyes on Finch, his short stature resonates with Buddy as being comparable to the physique of an elf. Therefore, Buddy mislabels Finch, a dwarf human, as one of Santa’s elves. Given the offensive nature of the comment, Finch attacks Buddy. Needless to say, Buddy provoked the incident, but such unnecessary roughness against a confused and innocent man makes him one of the least likable characters in Elf.
The Godfather alum, James Caan, portrays Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s biological father. Walter is a neglectful workaholic who often prioritizes business before pleasure. As such, his family feels a strong sense of rejection. When Walter meets Buddy, he instantly dissociates himself with the chance of being Buddy’s actual father.
For Walter’s mistreatment of Buddy at the beginning of the film, he ranks as the second-lowest in terms of likability. However, not all bad things can be said about Walter, who redeems himself in the final act and learns to appreciate his family.
Wanda appears very briefly in Elf and when he does, he acts extremely self-assertive and grouchy towards Buddy’s personal redecoration of Gimbel’s. Even with Gimbel’s receiving a much-needed makeover that attracts plentiful customers, Wanda still finds fault in Buddy’s good deeds. Besides that, Wanda treats Jovie with very little respect. As such, he’s one of the least likable Elf characters ranked.
7. Santa Claus
It might seem blasphemous to rank Santa Claus as low as seventh, but there are compelling reasons for this decision. Portrayed by Ed Asner, Santa Claus appears briefly in the opening and closing acts of Elf. In the beginning, he finds Buddy hiding in his sleigh. However, despite the knowledge that Buddy was Walter’s child, Santa gave Buddy to Papa Elf to be raised as an elf. Santa knowingly keeps Buddy from his father and takes away Buddy’s entire childhood with his real family.
On the other hand, Santa does aid in changing Walter Hobbs for the better by making him believe. Santa and Buddy cooperatively lift the spirits of New Yorkers, including Walter, to restore the Christmas spirit. Besides, Santa Claus could never be all that bad.
Walter Hobbs’ wife, Michael’s mother, and Buddy’s stepmother, Emily Hobbs is portrayed by Mary Steenburgen. Like several other characters, Emily receives a limited amount of screen time. However, she makes a lasting impression as a devoted mother and wife. Upon Buddy’s arrival, Emily exhibits the opposite reaction to Walter, who would sooner make Buddy homeless than accept that they might be related.
When Buddy becomes part of the Hobbs family, Emily tries her best to accommodate his needs and entertain his child-like wonder. From candy-infused spaghetti to snowflake cut-outs, Emily stays incredibly patient as Buddy finds his feet in reality. Truthfully, the only reason that Emily ranks so lowly is that other characters steal the top spots. Otherwise, Emily is a considerably likable Elf character.
5. Papa Elf
Elf’s pint-sized narrator, Papa Elf, is portrayed by Bob Newhart. When Buddy is discovered in Santa’s sleigh, Papa Elf volunteers to raise him as a paternal guardian.
Papa Elf is one of the first characters to appear and also one of the last. Like the others who came before him, Papa Elf features in snippets and primarily provides his voiceover for the storytelling aspect. Papa Elf would never hurt a fly, plus, he was kind enough to raise Buddy. As such, he clocks in as one of the most likable Elf characters ranked.
Michael is Buddy’s half-brother. He is the only child of Walter and Emily, whereas Buddy was conceived by Walter and his ex-girlfriend, Susan Wells. When Michael meets Buddy, he understandably feels replaced. Mainly, because Buddy unintentionally consumes even more of Walter’s time and attention.
Eventually, Michael and Buddy develop a bond. As such, Michael starts to see Buddy as his flesh and blood. Michael is kind-hearted, thoughtful, and sees the good in everything. It can be hard to dislike someone that always gives and never expects to receive.
In Elf, Amy Sedaris portrays Deb, Walter Hobbs’ secretary. Like the others, Deb was initially alarmed to see a grown man dressed as an elf and living out a fairytale. However, after she had met Buddy several times, Deb started to warm up to him. When Buddy visits the office, Deb provides refreshments for him and Walter.
When Walter disowned Buddy, Deb was extremely unhappy with the harsh decision. After that, Deb began to appreciate Buddy’s gentle nature. For her good deeds and understanding, Deb lands herself in third place for likability.
As expected, Zooey Deschanel’s Jovie competes for the top spot. When Buddy first sees Jovie, he develops a crush on her, but Jovie initially acts dismissive. She hides beneath a blanket of insecurities, especially with regards to her singing. When Buddy eavesdrops on Jovie singing in the shower, his flurry of compliments inspires her and after a successful date, she falls in love with him.
As the film progresses, Jovie changes her attitude towards Buddy and chooses to take his advice to better herself and find happiness. During Elf’s conclusion, Jovie overcame her fears by starting a citywide choir of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” and thereby lifting the Christmas spirits of all New York. As such, she ultimately saves Christmas through this selfless act.
Given his reputation as a feel-good character, it should come as little surprise that Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf is the most likable. As anyone who watches Elf will wholeheartedly agree, Buddy is the standout favorite. He makes his presence known in every scene and his goofy antics are too entertaining to be anything other than enjoyable.
Buddy makes it clear that Christmas never ends when you grow up and adults can still be filled with as much wonder and joy as children when the holidays come around. Furthermore, Buddy cherishes the true meaning of Christmas. He radiates positivity, always looks on the bright side, and never allows a bad day to get him down. As such, he ranks as the top spot for Elf characters ranked.