How Did The Grinch Get Max? Explained

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The Grinch is probably the most popular Christmas hater of all time and an absolute must-watch on every Christmas movie playlist. There are numerous versions of the mean green ugly Grinch, from the original Dr. Seuss short, the live-action film, and the new animated version. Yet, one thing always remains the same – the Grinch’s pup, Max. But how did the Grinch get Max?

The original Dr. Seuss book or the adaptations never explain how the Grinch got Max. However, in a 1997 episode of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss called The Grinch Meets His Max, we learn that the Grinch couldn’t reach an itch on his back, so Max scratched it for him, and the Grinch adopted him.

It was the Muppet, Wubbulous World version, though. It’s unclear if we may consider it canon, and fans have numerous other theories about Grinch and Max that are much better – and some, much more heartbreaking – than the one presented in the Wubbulous World show. Here’s how the Grinch got Max, explained!

Did the original book give a backstory on Max?

max grinch cute

The original book from Dr. Seuss, titled How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, was first published in 1957 and is essentially identical to the 1966 26-minute animated adaptation that instantly became a Christmas classic. However, neither the book nor the short animated film dive into the origins of the Grinch, let alone his pet dog, Max.

There’s no backstory about how they met and how Max became the Grinch’s pet. All we know is that Max is incredibly loyal to the Grinch for some reason, despite the mean green smelly bean being incredibly abusive towards him sometimes.


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One might argue that the 2000 live-action movie starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch became way more popular than any of the story’s earlier (or later) adaptations. It provided us with an extensive backstory about the Grinch, his childhood, and how he ended up on Mount Crumpit – but it never addressed how and when he got Max – at least not explicitly, but I’ll get to that.

The only version of the Grinch that had the beginning of his connection to Max explained was a TV episode from the mid-90s titled The Grinch Meets His Max. Let’s dive into that one a bit deeper.

The Grinch Meets His Max

max muppet

The Grinch Meets His Max is the title of a TV episode of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, which was sort of an off-shoot of The Muppets, featuring a plethora of Dr. Seuss characters. It was Episode 120 that featured two parts – The Grinch Meets His Max and Halfway Home to Malamaroo, but only the former featured Max and the Grinch.

In the episode, the Grinch had a huge itch on his back that he just couldn’t reach. He tried developing a scratching device but failed – until Max came into the picture. At first, the Grinch was his usual grouchy self, but then he realized Max could help. Max scratched his back, and the Grinch, relieved from his itch, decided to take Max in and adopt him.


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Other theories about the Grinch getting Max

While the Wubbulous World story provides some context about the Grinch and Max getting together, it’s unclear if we can consider it canon. For other versions of the Grinch, there are numerous theories about how he and Max got to live together. Let’s explore the most popular theories.

Max wandered up Mount Crumpit to the Grinch’s lair

This one is, if my opinion, quite improbable. It suggests that Max ran away from Whoville for some reason, or some other place far away, and wandered up Mount Crumpit right to the Grinch’s lair. Seeing he was a misfit just like him, the Grinch then took him in.

While I could see the Grinch taking Max in, seeing he has nobody just like him, I can’t see the part about Max going so far up the mountain as a theory that holds water. There had to be a reason for him to go so far from civilization and any food source.

Perhaps, the reason why he went up the mountain WAS food. After all, the trash from Whoville ends up near the Grinch’s lair. Maybe Max was a hungry stray that saw the opportunity to find some food among the junk, which is where he met the Grinch, and the two somehow bonded. 

I could see that being the case, but the perilous journey up a mountain just to eat trash seems highly unlikely.

The Grinch adopted Max from a shelter

max grinch santa

I saw this theory circulating around the Internet for some reason, although I have no idea where this is coming from. I don’t remember a dog shelter ever being mentioned in Whoville, nor is there any reason the Grinch would decide to go there one day and adopt a pup. That sounds like someone with a big heart – not the Grinch, right?

I mean, the only reason this theory might even exist is that Max is just your regular mutt – the kind of dog that people tend to abandon. Maybe the Grinch was just lonely and decided to visit a shelter to get himself a companion (or a workhorse, perhaps?), and then chose the pup he knew nobody else wanted – just like nobody wanted him.

It’s a totally wild theory, but I had to address it in some way. The next theory is by far the most heartbreaking – and the most plausible if you ask me.

Max was a Christmas gift…

This theory first surfaced on Imgur from a user named Baloo78 – and oh my, it makes so much sense. And, I have to say, it’s incredibly heartbreaking. The theory took a quote from the 2000 Grinch movie, led by Jim Carrey, which would explain not just how the Grinch got Max but also why Max was so loyal to him even though the Grinch was obnoxious and abusive at times.

Maybe, Max was a Christmas gift. Not somebody’s gift to the Grinch, but rather a gift to someone who didn’t want it – or just grew tired of it. There’s a quote in the movie where the Grinch says:

“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s always been about. Gifts, gifts… gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts. You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I’m saying? In your garbage.”

The feels when you realize Max was a Christmas puppy that someone didn’t want anymore

It makes so much sense because it actually happens more often than you might think. People buy their kids puppies for Christmas, and then when the kids lose interest or the puppy gets bigger, they just abandon them like an old toy.

So, perhaps somebody threw Max in the trash – like they usually do with old Christmas gifts in Whoville – and he ended up with the Grinch, who took him in.


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It’s a heartbreaking theory, but it explains so much about the relationship between Max and the Grinch and how they stick together despite their differences. It would also explain why Max stays loyal to the Grinch and reluctantly does what he’s asked to do, even though he sometimes doesn’t want to. 

The Grinch is the only person that wants him, so Max returns the favor with love and loyalty. If I hit you right in your feels right now, I’m happy because the next time you watch the Grinch, you’ll have a huge smile on your face knowing that the Grinch was actually always a kind soul – only with a bad, misunderstood temper.

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