Twisted Christmas

A Darker and Edgier version of Christmas in a work, for added irony.

Christmas being the biggest celebration of love, family, and happiness, it can further increase a single character's personal misery if he experiences totally opposite emotions.

In extreme cases, this can mean death, torture, rape, and more death. In shows with more everyday themes, it might be loneliness, failed relationships, and depression.

Soap operas in particular have a reputation for making every Christmas this trope. For that, see Soapland Christmas.

Snow Means Death is a frequently used motif in such settings. Bad Santa and An Ass-Kicking Christmas are more humorous/badass takes on the concept. The Christmas section of Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday has some of the most brutal examples.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In ef - a fairy tale of the two., first the earthquake on Christmas, that killed hundreds of people in the town, including the families of Yuu and Yuuko. Then, years later, Yuuko got raped by her stepbrother on a christmas night for the first time. And then, more years later, she died in a car crash on a third Christmas.
  • In Angel Beats!! it was implied that Otonashi's sister died on Christmas Eve.
  • In 7 Seeds, the final events of the Ryugu Shelter, meaning Maria locking herself and the other infected Arcia X people into a freezer to prevent them from spreading, as well as Saruwatari and Mark committing suicide took place on Christmas.
  • In Toradora!, Taiga and Minori, both in love with Ryuuji, pushed him away from themselves wanting him to be happy with the other girl Cue to upbeat christmas song.
  • The Apocalypse Virus was unleashed on Tokyo on December 24, 2029 in Guilty Crown. The event came to be known as "Lost Christmas."
  • The dramatic climax of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's plays during Christmas Eve, starting with a Break the Cutie scene that brings forth a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Barnaby returns from a fun outing where he went ice-skating with his family's trusted housekeeper, opens the door to the drawing room of their home...and happens upon the dead bodies of both his parents, a burning Christmas tree, and the murderer himself. The house ends up a pile of smouldering rubble while Barnaby himself ends up with his memories of the murderer's true identity wiped from his mind, thus allowing the perpetrator to pose as his Parental Substitute and mentor for the next 20 years.
  • In Psycho-Pass, Makishima Shougo murders Akane's friend Yuki on December 24, 2112.

  • Yes, Batman gets his own folder. Christmas is NEVER a happy time for Batman. Not only is it an emotional time for him since the loss of his parents, but supervillains LOVE to stir up crap during Christmas time(especially guys like The Joker, Mister Freeze and the Calendar Man). Here's a few examples of Batman stories set in Christmas time, both in comics and other media:
    • The Long Halloween: Both The Joker on a crime spree and the Holiday killer are active during Christmas in this story.
      • Two years later we have the same thing, except replace Joker with Scarecrow and the Holiday Killer with the Hangman. And the energy Bruce devotes in trying to stop both in turn heavily strains his relationship with Selina Kyle when he winds up standing her up on Christmas Eve.
    • Batman: Noel
    • The Holiday Special of The Batman Adventures, a Mister Freeze story.
    • Detective Comics #826, in which Tim Drake ends up accidentally driving around Christmastime Gotham with The Joker.
    • Legends Of the Dark Knight #79
    • A Slaying Song Tonight in the anthology book Batman: Black & White
    • The very second episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Christmas With the Joker, and the later episode Holiday Knights.
    • Batman Returns opens with Penguin being dumped in the river on Christmas. The film's present day is set during Christmas time as well.
    • The Christmas episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold reveals that Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered on Christmas, while Bruce was sulking over not getting the toy he wanted.
      • ...though a later episode then Retcons that to show that he perked up a moment later so that he could have a last happy family moment before his parents were murdered. Wait, is that better?
    • Batman: Arkham Origins is set during Christmas in Batman's second year as a crimefighter. There are 8 assassins in town, he's dealing with 2 mob bosses, the hopelessly corrupt police force want him dead, the Mad Hatter makes his first appearance, Anarky wants to destroy the city, there are two prison riots, and the Joker is behind it all For the Evulz. This Christmas is downright brutal.
  • Parodied/subverted in one well-known short story. Superman chooses to spend that Christmas giving presents to poor children and helping out around the community. Batman catches him as he's leaving and tells him off, stating that Supes time would be better spent making sure supervillains don't cause problems. Superman hesitantly agrees and heads back to the Fortress Of Solitude, only to decide to at least drop off the presents he already picked up. He opens the door to the family's house and finds Batman in Santa Claus garb, having lied to Superman in order to give out presents and take the credit for himself. Cue Superman decking Batman in front of several terrified children.

  • The Warrior Christmas Special features The Ultimate Warrior doing several unspeakable things to Santa. WARNING: Not for the faint of heart.
  • An issue of the Flash has his arch-enemy Abra Kadabra manipulating things so Wally has a particularly sour Christmas where he's forced to spend the day chasing after some drug peddlers, and by the end of it he winds up getting sued.

  • The movie Gremlins is an example (the events happen at Christmas), and contains another one—one of the main characters tells how her father died on Christmas, trying to go down the chimney in a Santa suit. "And that's how I learned there was no Santa Claus."
    • The MAD magazine satire of the movie adds another twist to this unfortunate fate: all the warranties of the gifts he was carrying had expired.
  • Legion happens in the days before and after Christmas.
  • The climax of Edward Scissorhands takes place on the night of a Christmas party.
  • The first Die Hard film took place on Christmas Eve, while the sequel is set at the beginning of Christmas week.
  • Lethal Weapon starts off at the beginning of the Christmas Season and a suicide.
  • Scrooged.

  • Surely one of the most famous examples would be A Christmas Carol. A big part of the reason for Scrooge's hatred and resentment of Christmas is that his father often left him at school for the Christmas holidays, where he had to spend the festive season by himself.
  • In John Corey Whaley's novel Where Things Come Back, Benton Sage commits his suicide on Christmas.
  • In Magnificat the Remillard Dynasty attempt to magically torture their father in order to remove his split personality on Christmas Day, as since he won't be expecting it it will be easier to get him into the room.

     Live Action TV 
  • Smallville has two Christmas episodes, Lexmas and Gemini. Guess how they turned out.
    • In Lexmas, it started out fine with we seeing Lex's perfect future, then let's just say Lex thinks money and power are the only things that could help him hold on to that, triggering his Start of Darkness.
      • The episode actually starts with Lex being critically injured by a gunshot.
    • In Gemini, Chloe and Jimmy are trapped in an elevator with a bomb, complete with Soundtrack Dissonance. Clark saves them, of course. Only that it is not Clark, but Bizarro, who only wants Chloe alive so she could help him track down Brainiac to defeat Clark.
  • Doctor Who has its yearly Christmas episodes, that often are fairly dark. Voyage of the Damned comes to mind most readily.
  • One Mash Christmas, BJ insisted on keeping a critically wounded soldier alive so the soldier's children wouldn't remember Christmas as "the day Daddy died." Despite their efforts he died with roughly 35 minutes left to go - so Hawkeye moved the hands of the clock and said, "Look at that, it's not Christmas anymore."
  • On The West Wing, Josh Lyman suffers a complete mental breakdown on Christmas, to the point that the constant cheery Christmas carols flooding the hallways of the White House trigger severe traumatic flashbacks to his recent shooting.
  • The first Scrubs Christmas Episode starts off like this, but then goes Away in a Manger. Still worth mentioning just for the song that plays as Turk's Christmas Spirit gradually gets worn away:
    On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
    Twelve beaten children,
    Eleven drive-by shootings,
    Ten frozen homeless,
    Nine amputations,
    Eight burn victims,
    Seven strangled shoppers,
    Six random knifings,
    Five suicides,
    Four beaten wives,
    Three ODs,
    Two shattered skulls,
    And a drunk who drove into a tree.
    • Anyone working in a hospital emergency room will tell you that this is Truth in Television, sadly.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Mortal Coil" (which in real life aired one week before Christmas), the crew is preparing to celebrate the Talaxian equivalent Prixin, when Neelix is killed in a shuttle accident. Seven of Nine revives him, but Neelix has no memory of experiencing the afterlife which all his life he has believed in, and later has a dream that says all his beliefs are a lie and there's no point in living. As Neelix is almost driven to suicide, Chakotay convinces him that the dream might have simply been Neelix's own fears being reflected back to him and it is not meant to be taken as the truth.
  • An episode of Perfect Strangers had Mr. Gorpley being a royal Jerk Ass to everyone at Larry and Balki's Christmas party, until everyone (save the resident Mypiat that invited him) had enough and wanted him gone. This prompted Gorpley to snarkly (then emotionally) reveal that many of his personal tragedies happened at Christmas time.
  • In a recent (December 2010) episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, Stoic Woobie Kenzie reveals to a suspect, and her coworkers, that she was engaged to a man named Jack who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder following a tour of duty in the Middle East. Though she tried her hardest to help him readjust to civilian life, she woke up on Christmas morning and found that he had left her in the night; six years later, she still has no idea where he is.
  • The Cold Case episode Sabotage opens around Christmas, and depicts a department store being bombed as Wham!'s "Last Christmas" plays.
  • In Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, the "birth" of the series' Big Bad, Messiah, occurred on Christmas Day 13 years prior to the beginning of the series.
  • The How I Met Your Mother episode "Symphony of Illumination" features Robin having a pregnancy scare and then finding out that she is infertile, while imagining how she might have, at some point in the future, told the story of how she met their father (whose heart in canon she had just broken). Possibly the single most depressing example in history that didn't involve someone dying (and also subtly subverts Away in a Manger.)
  • Six Feet Under opens with family patriarch Nate Fisher Sr. dying in a car crash while trying to make it to Christmas dinner. Things spin out of control from there.
    Ruth: Your father's dead, and my roast is ruined.
  • The 1-hour Christmas movie for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has the gang go through this in spades: Charlie discovers that his mom is a whore, Mac learned that all his Christmas gifts were stolen from other families, and Dennis and Dee go through hell every year since Frank intentionally buys the gifts they want for himself and intentionally ruins them just to harass them. Things suddenly look up near the end when Frank actually undergoes a genuine Heel-Face Turn and actually does try to give the gang a good Christmas, making it look like for the first time they'll receive a happy ending... and then the Cruel Twist Ending sets in since it's no way this series is ever going to allow that.
  • Adrian Monk's wife was murdered during the Christmas season. By the time the sixth season rolls around and it marks ten years since her death, he's very bitter about the holiday. Specifically in the Christmas episodes themselves, the series has this thanks to operating on a Victim of the Week basis, but the one that hits the hardest is probably the first where an officer is murdered during a Christmas party at the San Francisco police station... oh, and did I mention that he's a family man who had just gotten back together with his wife?
  • In the Hannibal episode Œuf we see the Frist household alight with holiday cheer: Christmas decorations on the walls, Christmas tree in the corner, Christmas carols blaring from the stereo, the corpses of the Frists— mother, father, daughter, and son strewn around the room and another son who had been abducted from his family earlier, trained to kill them, then killed when he couldn't carry it out burned to charcoal in the fireplace.
  • An episode of Bones had a man dressed as Santa robbing a bank shortly before Christmas. The team doesn't seem too put off by it until they find out he was just a victim in someone else's robbery ploy, and Angela even jokes that she won't let Santa ruin Christmas.
    • An earlier episode had Hodgins accidentally exposing the team to a potential biohazard, meaning they all had to stay in isolation during Christmas, getting only a few minutes to see their families through glass. This episode revealed that Brennan, beyond just being an atheist, doesn't celebrate Christmas because her parents went missing shortly before the holiday and her brother Russ had gone out of his way to give her as normal a Christmas as possible- accidentally tricking her into thinking they'd come home.
  • A Christmas episode of Castle revealed that Beckett always works on Christmas because she sees it as her duty to keep watch. Her mother was killed in early January, but their Christmas decorations were still up, and when she and her father put them away "it felt like [they] put that box away forever." She does end up deciding that it's time to make new Christmas traditions and gets someone to cover her shift so she can spend the holiday with Castle and his family.
  • Season 2 of Danger 5 takes place entirely around Christmas, and is much darker and weirder than the first season.

  • Sufjan Stevens' song "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever", which is quite a Tear Jerker.
    • Followed several years later by "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)"
  • The blink-182 song "I Won't Be Home for Christmas" is about a cynical man who hates being nice to people he can't stand. Over the course of the song he attacks a group of carollers with a baseball bat and being arrested. The cherry on top is the line:
    "Even though we didn't have a tree, Christmas came a night early because a guy named Bubba unwrapped my package."
  • Billy Idol's song "Yellin' at the Xmas Tree"
  • "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" surely qualifies, since the lyrics specifically mention that this unfortunate incident happened on Christmas Eve.
  • In 2006, Twisted Sister released an album called "A Twisted Christmas," which consisted entirely of traditional Christmas carols through the lens of Heavy Metal.
  • This is the entire premise of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's third Christmas album, "The Lost Christmas Eve." The story of the album is about a man who has despised Christmas ever since his beloved wife died in childbirth on Christmas Eve; he gave his mute son up for adoption and turned his back on the entire holiday. Naturally, events transpire to make him rethink his position.
  • The Trope Namer may be Bob Rivers, a Seattle-based DJ who is famous for his black-humored Christmas parody albums named Twisted Christmas.
  • The Arrogant Worms have an album called Christmas Turkey, which is loaded with similarly dark-humored mayhem.
  • Karine Polwart's "Strange News" is about a real-life example when her cousin died on Christmas Day.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic did a couple of black-comedy Christmas songs: "Christmas At Ground Zero" in which nuclear war breaks out at Christmastime and "The Night Santa Went Crazy" in which Santa Claus goes Ax-Crazy and starts killing everybody at the North Pole workshop.

     Video Games 
  • The fourth case of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game.
  • The Hollijolli Village invasion in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. The music is a twisted version of Christmas music to drive the point home.
  • The festive time themed Metro Square stage from the 2012 Twisted Metal game. During the pre-stage dialogues in Sweet Tooth's story mode for this level, Calypso invokes this trope with: "Do you like the holidays Sweet Tooth? I do. I, I love to see the people so happy. So excited. Because when they die violently, they're so surprised. Am I right? No one expects to die on Christmas"
  • The mission Suffer with Me in Black Ops II occurs shortly before Christmas. Hudson dies, Alex Mason may also die, Woods is crippled, and David Mason is traumatized.

     Web Original 
  • Rhino's Christmas in The Damn Few.
  • Her being both The Scrooge and The Grinch, The Nostalgia Chick's already dark comedy goes Nightmare Fuel around Christmas time.
  • David Firth's original cartoon short made for Charlie Booker's Screenwipe Christmas Special was considered so violent offensive that he had to air another video instead. The short involved a crazed man digging up dead bodies to feed to his family. He shoots his wife and son when they are against this idea. He then beats his wife's body with a large log and saws through her head, among other things...
    "Saws are too difficult to use. BE EASIER TO USE!"

     Western Animation 
  • The legendary "Woodland Critter Christmas" episode of South Park.
  • In an American Dad! Christmas Episode, Stan mentions the so-called "Christmas Rapist" (though due to Political Correctness Gone Mad he's been renamed "the Holiday Rapist").
  • Doug's Christmas Story, where after accidentally biting Beebe Bluff and injuring her leg, Porkchop is sent to trial and is almost put to sleep. The Wham Episode of the series.
  • Five words, Road to the North Pole.
  • The (intended) first season finale of Moral Orel, ironically titled "The Best Christmas Ever" is about Orel's parents deciding to separate after Clay confronted Bloberta with the (completely true) accusation that Shapey wasn't his son. Ultimately they don't. This was the show's first hint of its Cerebus Syndrome. The ending is Orel waiting for God to grant a Christmas Miracle (with two minutes left) while looking up at the sky. It's implied nothing happens.
    • A year later was slightly better for Orel, in which he found a true father figure in Coach Daniel Stopframe, but he still had to deal with the fact that his father is an abusive jerk and that he'll be limping for the rest of his life because of his father's neglect. (Then again, those facts are true because Orel had a Twisted Easter weekend where his father shoots him and then was too drunk to get Orel medical treatment for an entire day, so it evens out.) It's arguably worse for Clay; he finally comes to terms with his bisexuality and confesses his love for Daniel, only for Daniel, who by this point also knows how abusive Clay is, to reject him, potentially ruining his marriage to Bloberta in the process. Ultimately, it doesn't end up spoiling Christmas for Orel, as he's seen in the Distant Finale celebrating it with his childhood sweetheart Christina, his son, and his newborn daughter.
  • The Bad Future shown to Grouchy in The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol is that all his fellow Smurfs will be captured by Gargamel on Christmas Day.

     Real Life 
  • The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004.
  • The Cyclone Tracy hit the Australian city of Darwin around 10pm on Christmas Eve, 1974, and dissipated on Boxing Day.
  • The storm Lothar that ravaged Europe on December 26th, 1999.
  • Ronald Simmons's killing spree, which lasted from December 22nd to the 28th.
  • On a more personal scale, the Christmas period is well known as a period of peak demand for Suicide Prevention hotlines. This is actually an Urban Legend; on average they don't increase at all and in some places they actually go down, mostly because people either don't care about Christmas, or Christmas happens to be the one time they do spend time with their families and loved ones. In fact January has an increase in suicide rates, seemingly because the holiday season ended (in which case, whatever they were suicidal about was put on hold and they were cheered up, only for it to return with a vengeance as the holiday ended). Suicide rates are actually highest during late Spring and early Summer.
  • It happens. It's not uncommon to hear stories about fires on Christmas (either due to putting old, possibly frayed, electric lights on a dead, dry tree, or the rise in deep-frying turkeys having bad consequences). Barring that, holidays can be a ridiculously stressful time. Women have frequently gone into labor during Christmas (while not twisted, birth is a stressful thing even at the best of times) and there's probably been at least one heart attack on that day. Add to that the fact that, in a lot of areas, Christmas is a damp, snowy, or icy holiday, and accidents aren't uncommon as well.
  • The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut (which claimed the lives of, among others, 20 grade-schoolers) ruined Christmas 2012 for the families of the victims, if not the entire town when it took place on December 14. USA Today ran a story noting that there were people who took down their decorations, finding them inappropriate.
  • It was Christmas Eve 2002 when Scott Peterson called his mother-in-law to tell her that her daughter Laci was missing. 4 months later, what was left of Laci and the baby she was carrying washed up on a beach, and Scott was arrested, tried, and convicted of murder and now resides in death row in a California prison. Even if Scott had been innocent, one can reasonably assume that Christmas has been a very sad occasion for her family ever since.
  • This trope was scarily taken Up to Eleven by Canadian serial killers Karla Homolka and her then-husband, Paul Bernardo. Not only did they end up ruining Christmas 1990, as well as every subsequent Christmas for Karla's own family by their role in her kid sister, Tammy's, death, note , but they also ruined every Father's Day beyond 1991 for the family of their second victim, Leslie Mahaffy, and every Easter since 1992 for the family of their final victim, Kristen French.