Papa Elf is one of the supporting characters from Elf, Buddy's adoptive father and the narrator of the film. He is played by Bob Newhart.
Papa Elf is the head caretaker elf of the North Pole as he is much older than the other elves. He is kind, caring, wise and fatherly as he becomes Buddy's adoptive father. Papa Elf can be shown to fidget his legs a little bit when Buddy (who is twice as tall as the elves) sits on his lap, but he doesn't mind, nonetheless. He shows great sympathy for his son to make Buddy feel like he was one of the elves and when he overheard that was human whilst working, he shows Buddy his true origins, but Papa Elf is still viewed as the caring adoptive father by Buddy.
Role in the film
Papa Elf is the narrator of the whole film. He explains how elves do different jobs: making shoes with the old cobbler sleeping, baking cookies in a tree (and notes it is dangerous in the dry season) and making toys in Santa's workshop. Papa Elf notes that gnomes and trolls were called in to help, but only the gnomes kept belching after drinking too much and the trolls ending up urinating as the result of not being toilet-trained. Papa Elf then starts the whole story of Buddy's life.
When the baby is discovering in Santa's sack of toys, Papa Elf volunteers to adopt him. As Buddy grows up in the North Pole and taller than the elves. Papa Elf appoints his adopted son to be his apprentice and shows him Santa's Sleigh and the installed jet engine "Kringle 3000, 500 Reindeer-Power" as the result of many people down south showing their disbelief in Santa.
After Buddy overhears Ming Ming and Foom Foom discussing his humanity, he runs back to Papa Elf's cottage and hides in the toilet stall. Papa Elf then comforts Buddy whilst his gigantic son sits on his small lap. Papa Elf reveals Buddy's true origins where he was born to Susan Wells who fell in love with Walter Hobbs - who was never told of Buddy's existence - and Susan died after putting her son up for adoption. Papa Elf shows Buddy the New York City snow-globe of where his biological father works.
That night in Santa's workshop, Santa gives Buddy some advice upon entering New York City, before Santa reveals Walter is on the naughty list. Papa Elf gives Buddy the snow-globe before wishing good luck on his journey to the big city.
After Buddy sets off and arrives in New York City, Papa Elf is only mentioned throughout the film. Until he appears again at the end of the film, narrating that Walter has started his own publishing company with the first best-selling book titled "Elf", written and illustrated by Buddy himself, based on the account of Buddy's adventures. He gets a visit from Buddy with his wife Jovie and their newborn baby called Susie (named after Buddy's deceased biological mother). Buddy then sits on Papa Elf's lap as he looks at his granddaughter.