"A Christmas Cruella" is the eleventh episode of the first season of 101 Dalmatians: The Series. It is a Christmas episode and Disney's fourth adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It was originally broadcast on Disney's One Saturday Morning programming block on ABC on December 20, 1997.
The episode begins on the Dearly Farm, where Nanny is wrapping up the presents. Rolly is busy sniffing them to see what the gifts are but Cadpig insists that he should wait for it would ruin the surprise. She does, however, ask what she got, and Rolly tells her it's a chew toy, same as the year before. Cadpig figures it's the thought that counts. With the presents wrapped, Nanny looks to the tree and feels it is missing something, Spot jumps up to act as the Christmas angel on top of the tree.
Meanwhile at the House of DeVil, Horace and Jasper are busy decorating their tree. They plug it in, but the Cruella Decoration on top begins shooting lasers at the employees and customers, urging them to "Buy, shop, and spend." Upstairs, Cruella is still pushing hard on her employees, wanting to release as much clothing for the Christmas Sales. Whilst Anita insists that everyone has done all their shopping, Cruella figures that there's always one to gouge. Roger arrives with Lucky who recently just got a pine needle stuck in his paw, but Cruella tells Anita to get back to work, despite the fact it's 6:00. When Cruella says Anita will be working Christmas, Roger protests it and after some urging Cruella allows Anita to have Christmas off, by firing her.
On her way out, Cruella knocks the ladder Horace and Jasper are decorating the tree on, causing it to fall on top of her. When Cruella wakes up, Horace and Jasper are gone and Cruella figures they went off too. Afterwards, she snarks on Santa and his elves being the only people who work Christmas Eve and makes a memo to take over the North Pole. As she walks through the entrance, she opens the door in a Santa-dressed fundraiser and takes the money from the bucket to pay for the damage to the door. She then shoos some carolers away from her car before driving back to Villa De Vil (turning some snowmen into snow De Vils as she crashes through them).
When she arrives, her security system asks for a retinal scan. The Camera then wraps itself around her and takes the shape of Horace and Jasper's heads, Cruella knocks the camera out with her purse and concerns whether she is hallucinating from the blow to the head.
She gets dressed for bed, but then Horace and Jasper's ghosts come in, covered in chains, singing on how unless Cruella learn to love and share, she'll wind up like them. The Badduns tell her that she will be visited by three ghosts, and they will show her the way to change.
Later, Cruella gets into bed but the first of the spirits arrive as "the Ghost of Christmas Past" (Cadpig). Cruella comments how she's just a dog, but the ghost explains it as "multi-tasking". The ghost takes Cruella back to her childhood home to see that ever since she was a baby, Cruella wanted a Dalmatian puppy, but all she got was clothing; as a result having her nanny shipped away in a crate. The ghost figures that Cruella wanted a puppy to give her the love that her always-absent parents never gave her. They go further ahead and on another year, young Cruella is disappointed once again. Whilst Cruella claims she was the one who suffered that day, the ghost berates her for not thinking about the innocent children, puppies and snow persons that she took her anger out on. They continue on with Cruella as a teenager and it first seems her parents are actually home for Christmas and have got her a puppy, but it turns out to be cardboard cutouts of them, whilst they're vacationing on the Dalmatian Coast.
This causes young Cruella to snap and become the wicked person that she is today.
Cruella seems to begin crying and when the ghost notices this, Cruella bluffs saying it's the smoke. She asks the Ghosts what they're going to see next, but the Ghost claims her hour is up (despite Cruella protesting it’s only been fifty minutes and wanting the full hour).
Cruella is then visited by "the Ghost of Christmas Present" (Rolly) who is pigging out on Christmas treats. After a couple of hours, Cruella insists they get to what the ghost wants to show. The ghost takes her to the Dearly Farm, which confuses Cruella, since it isn't her Christmas, but the ghost shows that thanks to her, it isn't Christmas for anyone.
Cruella watches how since Anita lost her job, they're unable to pay for any of the gifts that they planned to give for Christmas, along with being unable to afford an operation (let alone a leg brace) to save Lucky's leg, which turned out to have "Pineypawitis".
After Roger snarks how he won't be wishing Cruella a merry Christmas since she would probably charge them for the air they breathe, Cruella makes a memo to buy up Earth's atmosphere and charge user fee. This angers the ghost, who also berates Cruella, telling her that Christmas is about giving and that she needs to think of others. Cruella is puzzled by this concept of "thinking of others" and asks the ghost what it means, but he tells her that his time's up and hopes the next spirit has better luck.
Cruella is then visited by "the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come" (Spot) who shows her that all her possessions are being sold off by Swamp Rat. Cruella asks what happened to her, and the ghost takes her to a pet cemetery, where Cruella sees she is buried there. As she breaks down, the ghost comments how she had a song and dance number for this, but the studio cut it. Cruella then realizes that this is a fate that will befall her unless she changes her ways. She begs the ghost to tell her whether she has a chance to change before she wakes up back at the House of De Vil, realizing that the experience was all a dream caused due to the tree falling on her.
She asks some ice skaters outside what day it is and they tell her it's Christmas. Realizing it's not too late to change her ways, she vows to be the most loving and giving person on Earth.
She tries to wake Horace and Jasper up, claiming they have shopping to do, but they comment that nothing is open on Christmas, except the House of De Vil. Cruella decides to improvise and starts by giving the skaters a photocopier, dropping it from the window into the ice below. She then gives the fundraising Santa a bag full of money (after making sure that it can be deductible) and attempts to sing with the carolers, who are surprised and puzzled to see what she's doing.
Cruella then drives off to the Dearly Farm (turning some snowmen into snow angels as she crashes through them) and she enters saying, "How dare you?"
When Anita asks what they're daring to do, Cruella responds by saying they're celebrating Christmas without her. She starts handing out her gifts (such as a roll of cellophane tape to Nanny and a stapler to Roger, calling him by his proper name) before she gives Anita a desk name plate for "Susan". Cruella, realizing that she grabbed the wrong one, explains she meant to give Anita her own one, for she is giving Anita her job back (throwing in Susan's desk too, for she's firing her tomorrow). She then gives the puppies a bunch of office supplies. Rolly is disappointed that Cruella didn't even give them a cheese log, but Cadpig tells him to think positive about the collating he can do.
Anita thanks Cruella for the gifts, but apologizes for not having a gift for her, since they didn't know she was coming. Cruella assures her that they have given her a Christmas that she has always been wishing for: one with puppies.
She starts to hug one, but as Roger warns her that it's Wizzer, Cruella is peed on. Cruella, a bit annoyed, comments, "God bless us, everyone."
"Orchestrate hostile takeover of North Pole."
"Buy up Earth's atmosphere and charge user fee."
- This is the last half-hour episode of the first season.
- This is the last episode of the series to air in 1997.
- This episode's title card is snow white with spots appearing around it, before melting into the scene; unlike the other episode's title card usually being red or blue, fading to black, and then into the episode.
- This is the only episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series which directly refers to God.
- This is one of two episodes that focuses around a seasonal holiday, the other being "Valentine Daze". However, "Love 'Em and Flea 'Em" does have jack-o'-lanterns, and Easter is mentioned in "Dalmatian Vacation".
- The episode is based upon Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, whose author is mentioned during the episode. The parodies consist of Cruella as Ebenezer Scrooge, Horace and Jasper as Jacob Marley, Cadpig as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Rolly as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Spot as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and Lucky as Tiny Tim.
- This episode has its own VHS release titled just "Christmas" and is paired with the second season episode "Coup DeVil" and is featured on the "Disney Christmas Favorites" UK DVD (making it one of the only two episodes of 101 Dalmatians: The Series to receive an official DVD release to date, along with the series finale Dalmatian Vacation).
- It is also one of the three episodes to get a home media release, the other two being the last episodes mentioned.
- This is the only episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series where Lucky doesn't have any lines of dialogue, though this is because whenever we see him, it is always from Cruella's perspective, and he is always around human beings.
- The Dearlys have a portrait of Santa hanging above their fireplace in this episode.
- In the Ghost of Christmas Past's sequence, teenage Cruella, getting an idea, makes an evil stretched-out grin like the one the Grinch made in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
- The bell on Cadpig's collar, whilst she's the ghost, sometimes isn't shown.
- The company that baby Cruella ships her nanny away in is called "Express Federal". This is referencing the real delivery service, Federal Express.
- Cruella's second nanny bears a close resemblance to Mary Poppins.
- This episode is one of six episodes where Steven is shown to talk instead of his usual grunting noises, the other five being "Two for the Show", "Invasion of the Doggy Snatchers", "The Life You Save, "Walk on the Wild Side", and "Animal House Party".
- One of the gravestones which the ghost accidentally leads Cruella to reads: "Fluffy". A few years later, Fluffy is the name of Cruella's dog in 102 Dalmatians.
- This is one of very few episodes where Cruella is able to understand the Dalmatians, though this is only when she is in her dream (another being "Virtual Lucky", under the logic of video games).
- Amongst the other names in the pet cemetery are: Spike, Wahoo, Boo-Bob, Fang, Snoop, Furball, Milo, and Woof.
- Cruella's security code keypad has twenty-five buttons. Also, the way she enters the code means her code (presuming the top row is 1-5 and the second row is 6-10) is 11, 3, 7, 14, 17.
- Amongst the gifts Cruella gives the Dalmatians are: a pencil, two paper clips, a post-stick note holder, a sharpener, a staple remover, a tissue box (the "Tis You" brand), two electric pencil sharpeners, some chatter dentures, a stamp ink pad, a stapler, cellophane tape, a drawing board, a Smiley cup, a calendar, a desk nameplate and a Rubik's cube.
- Cadpig later claims in "Walk on the Wild Side" that she got a thesaurus for Christmas, despite it being said that she got a chew toy in this episode. Although she could be referring to one of the gifts Cruella got or what she got when she returned the chew toy.