On Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls, the guardian angel Clarence is assigned to convince the desparate George Bailey not to end his life. George has spent his entire life giving of himself to his community. He gave up his dream of traveling the world in order to run the modest building and loan company that his father started which keeps the rich skinflint Mr. Potter from owning the whole town. George married his sweetheart Mary and had four children all who love him dearly. On Christmas Eve, George's uncle Billy loses $8000 of his company's money on his way to deposit it, and it is found and stolen by Mr. Potter. The bank examiner discovers the shortage and if George can't find the money he will be jailed, the business will collapse, and Mr. Potter will finally take over the town. George realizes he is worth more dead than alive which brings him to contemplate suicide. But the prayers of the people who love him reach heaven and Clarence is sent to help George as his chance to earn his wings. Clarence shows George just what life would have been like in Bedford Falls without him.