"Oh, did you have to? 'No turning back'? That's almost as bad as 'nothing could possibly go wrong' or 'this is going to be the best Christmas Walford's ever had'."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. Sometimes this doesn't just affect one person but everyone. British Soap operas in particular have a reputation for making Christmas a time of death, divorce, infidelity and violence, which explains why some of them have their own sections below. At least one person will end up dying, getting knocked down, or crying all alone on the happiest day of the year and almost always with a carol or jolly Christmas song over these images just to hammer it home. Maybe somebody's house will go down in flames. Maybe somebody's Genre Blind enough to actually get married. That's the Spirit of Christmas for you. In general, Foils, Keets and other comic relief characters can rest well knowing that they're not likely to die and will get to celebrate Christmas as it should be, but there's still a chance of them getting traumatised in time for Christmas dinner. Or during Christmas dinner. In Doylist terms, this isn't necessarily done just to be depressing and cynical for the sake of it. Wildly idealised versions of Christmas in media are notorious for creating inferiority complexes in people who aren't surrounded by blissfully happy families and mountains of food and gifts. Having to be hospitable to relatives you secretly hate, graciously receiving presents you neither need nor want, and the certain knowledge you'll be eating dried-up leftover turkey until Easter won't seem quite so bad by the closing credits. 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. Crappy Holidays is a downplayed version; characters aren't in any danger, but aren't having any fun either. See also Anti-Christmas Song, Did I Mention It's Christmas? and Do They Know It's Christmas Time?.
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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.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, "Christmas Eve": Hayate watches as her entire adopted family gets murdered right before her eyes and so is overwhelmed by the power of the Book of Darkness. The Power of Friendship later prevails happily, but still.
- World War III breaks out from Christmas to New Year's Eve in Future War 198X after A Nuclear Error on Christmas Eve.
- The eleventh episode of the anime series of Devilman Lady takes place on Christmas and it is just as dark and bitter as the rest of the series.
- Toradora!'s Christmas arc includes scenes like a depressed Taiga curled up in her room sobbing, and ends with Ryuuji finally confessing to Minori only for her to bluntly reject him. It marks the point at which the show shifts from "funny romantic comedy" to "Wangsty romantic drama".
- Sword Art Online has the episode "Red-Nosed Reindeer", which culminates in Kirito breaking down over Sachi's pre-recorded message after having let Sachi and his other comrades die at the hands of high-level monsters.
- 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, Yet Another Christmas Carol, where Bruce is dealing with the Joker.
- 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.
- Batman: The Animated Series for the Game Boy sees the third level take place during Christmas, right as Poison Ivy takes a pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent hostage while Batman gets tangled up with Catwoman when he crosses her path during a robbery.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Long Halloween: Both The Joker on a crime spree and the Holiday killer are active during Christmas in this story.
- 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.
- Eugenesis is an insanely dark story, where the plot just happens to start just before Christmas Day. A massive amount of death and carnage occur on the actual day, and the story continues on in increasingly bleakness right through to the new year.
- 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.
- Scrooged, which is a modern take of A Christmas Carol. Frank's resentment of Christmas (and love of television) came as a result of his disinterested parents, especially his father who regarded anyone who didn't work (including his underage son) as lazy. To make things even more bleak, years later around Christmas Frank ended up choosing his career over the love of his life, which left him jaded until the Ghosts came.
- It wasn't much better for Elliot Loudermilk, who was fired on the spot for questioning Frank, had his wife leave him because of it, got robbed of both his money and his booze, and ended up buying a shotgun to shoot Frank with in revenge. It works out for him in the end. Frank (by now a reformed man) rehires him in a better position and enlists his help in performing a Hostile Show Takeover.
- At the beginning of An American Tail, the Mousekewitzes spend Hanukkah 1885 watching their village being destroyed in a pogrom by Cossack cats.
- In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the well-meaning citizens of Halloweentown volunteer their services at Christmastime, but since their idea of a fun holiday varies wildly from Santa and his helpers, the end result involves a skeletal impostor Santa, toys that frighten children, tentacled Christmas wreaths, and a giant, tree-eating snake.
- First Blood involves Rambo coming home from Vietnam looking for a friend, only to find that he died of Agent Orange following the war. When Rambo tries to go to a diner, Sheriff Will Teasle drives him away but Rambo tries to go back to town, only to be arrested. Rambo eventually snaps while at prison, and goes on a one-man war against Teasle and the police. In the end, after Rambo severely wounds Teasle in a gunfight, Rambo is confronted by his former commander Col. Trautman and he is told to surrender. Rambo breaks down and cries as he tells Trautman about what happened in Vietnam and when he returned home, before surrendering to Trautman and put into state custody while Teasle is carried to the hospital. All of this happened on Christmas.
- 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.
- The Crowner John Mysteries: Crowner's Quest starts with John being called away from a Christmas party being thrown by his to investigate an apparent suicide. So John spends Christmas Eve examining the body an elderly priest hanging a stinking privy.This leads into a very bad Christmas and New Year for John.
- Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections is an entire novel of this.
Live-Action TV - Coronation Street
Coronation Street does its best to keep up with EastEnders
- 1986: Martin Platt and Jenny Bradley get into a car accident. They both recover, but they cover up what happened because Jenny was driving underage to the end of the road when the accident happened.
- Hilda Odgen lampshades this trope:"There's always summat goes wrong Christmas and New Year, isn't there?"
- 2004: Steve McDonald breaks up with his wife, Karen, after she led him to believe that he killed the daughter he had with Tracy Barlow (for backstory, Karen had suffered a miscarriage just one week earlier and with her long-running feud with Tracy, she wanted her to know what it's like to lose a child.) What made Steve so angry to the point of divorcing her is that she had no consideration for his own feelings and his belief that he lost both his children in a matter of days.
- 2005: Mike Baldwin is in the final stages of his Alzheimer's Disease and is found by his grandson, Jaime, crying in the rain on a random person's doorstep as he was unable to find his way home.
- 2008: On Christmas Eve, Tony Gordon strangles Jed Stone at Underworld after he tries to blackmail him about Liam Connor's murder. He shoves the body in to a box while the staff have their Christmas Party. He comes on Christmas Day to find that he was just unconscious and offers him the best bribe of all (a free flat in Wigan!) to keep his silence.
- 2009: Secret lovers Kevin and Molly prepare to run away from their prospective partners Sally and Tyrone. The plan is quickly aborted when Sally reveals that she has cancer and Kevin backtracks to support his wife in this difficult time.
- 2010: Twice. For the programme's 50th anniversary special shortly before Christmas, Molly informs Tyrone that her baby isn't his and that she's been living a lie, Charlotte attacks John with a hammer and is killed by her own weapon, a gas explosion destroys a section of the bridge and buries various people, and a tram dives off the bridge and takes half the Street with it. All in one night.
- For the actual Christmas storyline, the main drama was about the return of Tracy Barlow after being in prison for murder.
- 2012: Nick Tilsley's wedding falls apart when Leanne starts to drift towards old flame Peter Barlow. Also, David and Kylie Platt's relationship is on the rocks, which leads to Nick and Kylie getting drunk and having a one night stand. Kylie ends up pregnant and things get worse from there.
Live-Action TV - Doctor Who
Especially during the Russell T Davies era, 21st-century Doctor Who's soap influences extended to the Christmas episode.
- "The Christmas Invasion" (2005, set in 2006): The Tenth Doctor's first adventure had him spending most of the day going through regenerative sickness, almost being killed by a Christmas tree, and then had his triumphant moment getting rid of the aliens spoiled by Torchwood shooting the alien ship down. And he has a huge falling out with his friend Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, which ends with him getting her sacked, destroying "Britain's Golden Age".
- "The Runaway Bride" (2006, set in 2007): He had to face an ancient menace called the Racnoss whose offspring wished to gorge on life across the cosmos. Their web-shaped ship was mistaken for a giant decorative Christmas star by Londoners until it started zapping the city with bolts of electricity. This adventure immediately follows the loss of one of the Doctor's dearest companions and features an especially dark moment for him in which he kills a ton of alien babies and almost lets himself die along with them. Oh, and the Thames is drained.
- "Voyage of the Damned" (2007, set in 2008): He vows to save everyone on the Starship Titanic and fails — in part because the good characters consider saving him a higher priority. Among the casualties is the woman he'd wanted for his next companion. At least he managed to keep that ship from crashing into the Earth. Beautifully lampshaded as everyone in London knows nasty things have been happening for the past two Christmases, so, this year, practically nobody's in central London for the nasty things to happen.
- "The Next Doctor" (2008, set in 1851): The Cybermen escaped from the void and ended up in a past era, which the Doctor happens to be visiting. On the other hand that meant GIANT CYBERMAN ROBOT RAMPAGING THOUGH TOKY— ER, VICTORIAN LONDON!
- "The End of Time" (Christmas 2009/New Year's Day 2010, set Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day 2009): The Master comes back from the dead-ish and transforms every single human being but two into copies of himself while the Time Lords hatch a plan to escape from the Time War. Both villainous sides eventually fail, and the Doctor's regeneration isn't even directly caused by either of them.
- "A Christmas Carol" (Christmas 2010, set some time in the 44th century): Christmas was brought by a galaxy-class cruise liner crashing with Rory and Amy aboard, and the Doctor having to find a way to save them and everyone else aboard. Along the way he was able to save the soul of the old man Kazran who controls the planet's upper atmosphere, but through some very morally grey use of time-travel, and Kazran was forced to see the love of his life die.
- "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" (Christmas 2011, set in World War II and the year 5345) has the Doctor — alone without Amy or Rory, who believe him dead — meet up with a woman who's husband has just be killed, and she hasn't informed her two children yet. And then the four find themselves in a forest of sentient trees about to be wiped out with no chance of escape. Subverted, since Everyone Lives - the widow saves the trees, taking their souls through the time vortex to live amongst the stars, and in the process accidently saves her husband's life. She then convinces the Doctor to go to Amy and Rory, reveal he is alive, and he joins the pair for Christmas dinner. Seriously, the end of this episode is pure Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- "The Snowmen" (Christmas 2012, set in 1892): This episode is set immediately after the loss of two of the Doctor's dearest companions, and so the Doctor is too broken to initially do anything about living killer snow and their bitter human accomplice threatening to wipe out mankind. By the time he is convinced to get over it, his prospective new companion Clara falls to her death... but not before uttering the exact same Famous Last Words as Oswin Oswald the Dalek; that, and finding out that her full name was Clara Oswin Oswald after the facts, makes him realize there's something truly odd about Clara that has to be investigated.
- "The Time of the Doctor" (Christmas 2013, set in 2013 and millenia into the future in Trenzalore) was the Eleventh Doctor's "regeneration" episode, so it was bound to turn on the waterworks, without even the threat of the Time War re-erupting, the Doctor's despair at having Gallifrey so close and yet unreachable in a parallel pocket dimension, and Clara's simmering emotions for the Doctor surfacing.
- "Last Christmas" (Christmas 2014, set in 2014) deals with the very depressing fallout between the Doctor and Clara due to the events of the Season 8 finale, but was nonetheless a successful attempt to bring them back together as partners by Santa Claus, even if there was a Red Herring.note
- "The Husbands of River Song" (Christmas 2015, set in the year 5343) aired after the final departure of Clara Oswald, which left the Twelfth Doctor traumatized, heartbroken, and even with a dose of limited amnesia — which is then subverted gloriously by being a quite-merry romp with River Song, at least until it was established that this pretty much leads into her foregone death in her debut story, "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead" . The kicker is that sure, it was their last night together...but it lasted twenty-four years! The episode ends on the title card "And they lived happily ever after".
Live-Action TV - EastEnders
EastEnders is the single most notorious work for this.
- Christmas Day 1986: Dennis "Dirty Den" Watts hands divorce papers to his shocked wife, Angie. About 30.15 million people watched. The population of the United Kingdom at the time was about 57 million. The Trope Maker episode.
- 1998: Grant gets arrested for attempted murder. His wife then gets run over during the New Year's Day special.
- 2001: Trevor abuses Little Mo, forcing her face first into a pot of boiling gravy. He'd also raped her a couple episodes prior to that. The New Year's Eve special sees her bludgeon him with an iron.
- 2002: Jamie Mitchell gets injured after being run-over by a joy-riding Martin. While he initially recovers just enough to declare his everlasting love to Sonia, put a ring on her finger, and kiss, he quickly and dramatically decompensates when Sonia's lips are still on his. All interposed with scenes of another couple's marriage. Manly Mitchell tears follow.
- 2005: Averted this year. Alfie Moon leaves to travel the world, still having failed to reconcile with his estranged wife Kat. However, when a depressed and drunken Kat staggered out of the pub that evening, Alfie was waiting to take her with him. This was followed by the rest of the square's residents coming out for a merry Christmas Day snowball fight. Of course a week later, Dennis Rickman was stabbed to death moments before he and pregnant wife Sharon were due to leave Walford to start a new life.
- 2006: Pauline Fowler fell out with her son and daughter-in-law, whose relationship she had broken up by pretending to have brain cancer, then died suddenly in the square.
- 2007: Bradley Branning discovered that his father had been having an affair with his new wife Stacey.
- 2008: Sean Slater learned he was not the father of his new wife Roxy's baby when he found paternity test results in his homemade Christmas cracker! He proceeded to drive Roxy and the baby onto a frozen lake, which of course collapsed. They all survived, but Sean was forced to flee.
- 2009: Archie Mitchell is murdered in the Queen Vic, sparking another endless "whodunnit" storyline.
- 2010: The murderer of Archie Mitchell last Christmas is revealed to the Square to be Stacey Branning - not her husband Bradley, who was blamed after his death. Evil Janine Butcher stabs herself and frames Stacey, who then flees the country with baby Lily.
- 2011: The Domestic Violence storyline between Zainab and Yusef reaches a climax culminating in Yusef setting fire to the B&B in an effort to kill Masood. Zainab tricked Yusef into thinking his daughter was still inside, leading to both he and (to Zainab's horror) her son Tamwar running back inside. Yusef died, and Tamwar suffered horrific burns.
- 2012: Derek Branning dies of a heart attack following his family throwing him out, fed up of his domineering, violent and corrupt attitude toward them. Just when Max and Tanya look to be finally returning to happiness, Max's secret wife that he engaged with during his absence turns up looking for him setting things spiraling down out of control for Max. Kat arrives just in time to see Alfie and Roxy come together, leaving her rejected.
- 2013: Janine Butcher is arrested for on suspicion for the murder of Michael Moon, following her attempt to escape which results in David Wicks nearly being run over by her. Alfie and Kat are ejected from the Queen Vic after Phil sells the pub ... to Shirley's brother, Mick, unaware of their relation. Carl White is killed by Ronnie Mitchell after she is threatened once too much.
- 2014: The Beales are grief-stricken after the recently murdered Lucy's jewellery box is wrapped up and left as a sinister "present" under their tree. Mick can take no more and smashes up the Queen Vic after finding out within the space of one day that his "sister" Shirley is really his mother, his dying "parents" are his grandparents, and Dean (who is his brother, not his nephew as he thought) raped Linda.
- 2015: The Mitchells and Beales' dinner goes awry as it is thought that Bobby has once again striked, apparently killing off Sharon's son Dennis. Before then, Dennis revealed to Bobby that he killed Lucy, when he was believed it wasn't his fault. Phil's excessive alcohol consumption causes him to have cirrhosis in the liver. Shabnam finds out that her husband Kush is the father of her best friend Stacey's newborn baby. Fatboy is an unintentional victim in a clash between Ronnie and Vincent. Shirley dismisses Dean over his attempted rape on Roxy, forcing her to try and drown her own son. When Linda gets involved, Dean admits he raped Linda. During New Year's Day, Dean takes revenge to try and drown Shirley in the canal right next to where Mick and Linda's wedding is located. Mick risks his life jumping in the water trying to stop Dean.
- 2016: The Christmas Day episode is actually broadly positive! But over the next week, Lee Carter came close to killing himself before changing his mind at the last minute, and on New Year's Day Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell both drowned in a drunken swimming pool accident hours after Ronnie's wedding.
Live-Action TV - Emmerdale
You thought that Emmerdale would be a gentle soap about country folk?
- New Year's Eve 1993: A plane crashes, half the cast dies, and the village is showered with hundreds of dead bodies. Even cheerier than usual! Special points for being inspired by the real-world Lockerbie terrorist attack, which really did happen just before Christmas.
- 2003: A storm hits Emmerdale village, Tricia is crushed when The Woolpack is struck by lighting and collapses, Ashley and Louise crash off a bridge to avoid a fallen tree. Tricia later died.
- 2006: Tom King is murdered.
- 2010: Chastity Dingle has a wedding on Christmas Day at which she jilts and humilates fiancee Carl due to knowing about his affair with Eve. She also lies about being pregnant.
Live-Action TV - Hollyoaks
Hollyoaks is the UK's best-known "youth" soap, but is just as bad as the others.
- Christmas 2004: Dan Hunter gets out of jail after being framed for the serial murders committed by his brother-in-law. He reunites with his lost love, gives her what turned out to be an engagement ring - then gets blown up in a rally car accident moments later.
- 2008: Louise is murdered by Warren on their wedding day after he discovered her plans to shoot him dead because he'd murdered her previous husband.
- 2009: An episode aired at Christmas was set six months into the future, revealing that Calvin Valentine is murdered on HIS wedding day in May 2010 as he renews his vows to Carmel. Back in the present day, Zoe is knifed by Lydia on New Year's Eve after Lydia admits to being responsible for Sarah's death. The show had planned a Christmas storyline which would reveal that two characters had killed a child and were now living under police protection with new identities, but producers announced the plot had been axed due to outcry over the similarities with the real life case of James Bulger.
- 2014: Having found out that Sinead's baby cannot possibly be his because he is infertile, Tony exposes her cheating and humiliates her at a Christmas dinner with friends. Meanwhile, Sienna is holding Dodger prisoner in a basement after kidnapping him so they could have a "perfect family Christmas". At Ste and John Paul's wedding reception, Sinead publicly announces that Ste is the father of her baby, putting the marriage in serious jeopardy before it's begun. She then runs out crying into the snow and is hit by Sienna's car. Later at New Year, Joe Roscoe finds out that Lindsey and Freddie have been having an affair behind his back for months, and throws them both out. He later ends up punching Rick during an argument. Rick is taken to hospital where he is found not to be seriously injured - then he falls victim to a serial killer within the hospital.
- 2015: Reenie McQueen goes back to jail, leaving behind her daughters, one of whom will now have to testify in court against her abuser alone. Simone Loveday is forced to tell her children that she has lost the baby she was carrying. John Paul tries for a reconciliation with his ex-husband but is rejected in favour of Harry. Cameron Campbell tries to blow up his ex Leela in her new house, and when his brother Lockie threatens to report him, Cameron kidnaps Lockie. Meanwhile Lockie's estranged wife Porsche leaves town heartbroken when he fails to meet her as he promised. Leela finally gives her husband Ziggy her blessing to be with her sister - but then he dies from injuries he sustained in the explosion.
Live Action TV - Miscellaneous
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- * The West Wing did these quite frequently in its early days, frequently using its Christmas episodes to tackle personal tragedies head-on—producing some of its most effective Tearjerkers in the process. Season 1's "In Excelcis Deo", for example, revolves around Toby organizing a military funeral for a homeless Korean War veteran, Season 2's "Noël" is about Josh reluctantly seeing a therapist for help in coping with PTSD after he 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, and Season 3's "Bartlet for America" is a flashback episode involving Leo's alcoholism and Bartlet's multiple sclerosis.
- 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.
- In the first part of the Alien Nackle 2-parter in Return of Ultraman, two of Hideki Goh's closest friends are murdered by Nackle Agents and Jack suffers a painful defeat at the hands of the main alien and his pet Kaiju Black King, before being dragged off by two Nackle ships for execution on the alien planet. All of this happened on Christmas Eve.
- In the House episode "Merry Little Christmas", House refuses a deal (two month rehabilitation instead of jail) and subsequently detoxes, overdoses on pills and is left in a pool of his own vomit as Wilson leaves in disgust. He then attempts to take the deal but it's been removed since.
- On The O.C., Ryan's memories of Christmas aren't exactly happy, and after a series of bad things inevitably happens he declares that "if there's cops and crying, well then it must be Christmas!"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Amends". Angel gets psychologically tortured by Satan into recognising his essentially evil nature, and is prevented from suicide only by divine(?) intervention.
- The X-Files first Christmas episode (actually a two-parter) falls victim to this in the worst kind of way. The episode starts with Scully spending the holidays with her brother and his wife in San Diego. They're expecting a baby and are very exciting, unknowingly digging the proverbial knife deeper for Scully, who has just found out that she is unable to conceive. A mysterious phone call leads Scully to a murder mystery, in which the parents of a sick 3-year-old die in quick succession. The little girl looks an awful lot like Scully's sister, Melissa, who had been killed two seasons before. So, Scully has some DNA tests run. While they run, Scully tries to adopt the orphaned Emily, but is denied. When the tests come back and reveal that Emily is actually Scully's daughter, things get worse. The little girl has an incurable form of anemia, which would be bad enough except when taken to the hospital, an entire conspiracy involving surrogate mothers taken from the local nursing home and alien hybrids is discovered after Emily's blood burns an ER doctor. On top of that, Emily has a growth that's shutting down her body systematically. The final scene is her funeral, which happens just after Scully's sister-in-law gives birth to Scully's nephew. Quite possibly one of the most depressing Christmas episodes.
- Their only other Christmas episode also has depressing themes, though is markedly less Tear Jerker and more comedic. The episode's premise is a lover's murder/suicide pact, which two ghosts are trying to get Mulder and Scully to re-enact.
- In Space: Above and Beyond, Cooper Hawkes, an InVitro who until he joined the Marines, had been homeless with no family, described Christmas as being the one time of the year when he was even lonelier than usual. Meanwhile, the squad spends Christmas in a crippled transport drifting in space, with no means of calling for help or getting homenote
- Downton Abbey's series 3 Christmas special ended with Matthew Crawley being killed off in a car accident, just after Mary had given birth to his son.
- The Christmas episodes of Frasier feature some of the most vicious fights in the entire series.
- The Veronica Mars episode "An Echolls Family Christmas" has a light-hearted A-plot involving stolen poker winnings, but the B-plot see Keith investigating death threats against Aaron Echolls. They turn out to be genuine, and he's stabbed by a spurned lover at his family's Christmas party - he survives, but the fallout and scandal breaks up his marriage and drives his wife Lynn to suicide two episodes later.
- Topped in season 2's Christmas episode, One Angry Veronica. The tape of Aaron having sex with Lilly is stolen from the Neptune sheriff's department and destroyed, which ends up helping him escape conviction later in the season. Leo is forced to resign (having revealed in the same episode that he's under severe financial strain looking after his disabled sister). And having survived the season-opening bus crash, Meg dies in hospital from a blood clot, leaving her newborn baby in the hands of her abusive, fanatical parents.
- Babylon 5 ended up with this due to the gimmick of each season covering exactly one calendar year in show chronology, and its desire for big end-of-season cliffhangers.
- First season: The President of the Earth Alliance is assassinated by a fascist conspiracy, Mollari begins to seriously fall into evil, Delenn enters a cocoon, and Garibaldi is shot in the back by a treacherous underling.
- Second season: The Earth Alliance continues to descend into fascism and appeases the Centauri, Sheridan gets into trouble with the government by attacking a Centauri ship to defend a fugitive Narn one, the Centauri try to kill Sheridan, and the Vorlons and Shadows are outed in public.
- Third season: Sheridan launches a suicidal attack on the Shadow capital city, and Garibaldi is abducted by an unknown force.
- Fourth season: Nothing much happens, but if J. Michael Straczynski had got confirmation of a fifth season early enough that he didn't have to potentially wrap up the story, the season would have ended with a Christmas Episode consisting entirely of Sheridan being tortured and ending with it continuing indefinitely.
- In the BBC mockumentary The Day Britain Stopped, Britain as a whole undergoes a transport paralysis with massive gridlocks across the country in 20 December 2003 - which was a couple of years later than the first airing of this production. Unlike what you may think about traffic jams, this proved to be much more than just a minor annoyance: traffic jams were stretched for tens of kilometers, motorists were stranded for hours and some even had to stay at emergency shelters overnight, and the fallout resulted in at least two tragedies:
- One mother have lost her daughter in an accident on a motorway. The ambulance took 1 hour to reach the scene, and did not make it to the hospital in time (paramedics ran out of blood transfusion on the way).
- The air traffic control just outside of Heathrow Airport suffered from lack of staff members due to them being stuck in traffic. One of the operators, having done shifts for at least 8 hours, made an error (probably in fatigue), which resulted in two plane colliding into each other and crashing into a residential district in London. At least 80+ people died, including a family who had to walk along the motorway to Heathrow just so that they could get to their plane in time for their vacation.
- On General Hospital, as local mobster Sonny, his lawyer Alexis, his errand boy Zander, and Zander's girlfriend Emily left the police station (they'd just posted bail for a wrongly accused Zander), they were attacked by gunment. Sonny and Zander ended up injured as they simultaneously moved to protect Alexis and Emily.
- Averted on offbeat British soap Night and Day. Since the show progressed at a slower pace than real life and therefore hadn’t actually reached Christmas by real-time December 2001, it used the episodes that aired over that period to explore the events of the previous Christmas in Thornton Street, through the power of flashback. A refreshing change from the usual festive soap misery, which also provided an opportunity to bring more depth to many of the characters and storylines.
- Kamen Rider Ex-Aid's Christmas episode features the debut of Genm's Dangerous Zombie form, which he then uses to kill Kiriya, with the latter's death being the show's first major Tear Jerker.
- 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.
- 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 Call of Duty: Black Ops II occurs shortly before Christmas. Hudson dies, Alex Mason may also die, Woods is crippled, and David Mason is traumatized.
- Both of Kyle Hyde's adventures in Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Last Window involve Christmas time. The first game involves a quick plot detour to help Melissa celebrate the Christmas she missed. The second games plays it a little more with Kyle dealing with his misgivings about the holiday, due to his father being murdered around that time when he was a kid.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place on Christmas. This is the game where Snake has to kill his best friend and estranged father in utterly cruel and unusual ways (Throwing the former into a mine field after beating him with his bare fists and the latter by setting him on fire) and ends up becoming a PTSD-ridden, alcoholic mess isolated on Alaska for six years before Metal Gear Solid rolled around.
- Divine Gate has Blue Christmas, which was a massacre that occurred just two days before the holiday, and left 666 people dead, with a girl named Ruri being the Sole Survivor.
- The fourth case of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game features a murder happening in the middle of a lake in the foggy night between December 24 and 25. Phoenix takes the case and discovers that another murder happened 15 years ago in December 28.
- 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!"
- Demo Reel gives us this gem from The Blair Witch Hangover:
Quinn: My God this is depressing. And I'm Irish! I'm going to have to put on Angela's Ashes just so I can remember what it's like to laugh again.
- 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.
- The Adventure Time two-part Christmas Episode "Holly Jolly Secrets" was an utter downer that revealed a major character's incredibly sad and grim back-story, and fully established the show's Cerebus Syndrome.
- Only four days before Christmas 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 crashed in the small Scottish town of Lockerbie after a bomb detonated in the cargo hold, killing all 259 on board and 11 people on the ground.
- 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.
- The Penlee lifeboat disaster, in which a merchant ship and the RNLI search-and-rescue boat sent to take her crew off were both wrecked with the loss of all hands.
- Jason Wingreen, the first voice actor of Boba Fett passed away on 25th December, 2015.
- Ronald Simmons's killing spree, which lasted from December 22nd to the 28th.
- 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.
- In the early hours of Christmas Eve, 1910, Hawes Junction station on the Settle to Carlisle line was a hive of activity. Several locomotives that were used to assist trains on the steep climbs were due to head back, two of them northbound. However, the signalman forgot about them, and likely had trouble seeing them with the driving rain. He cleared the line for an overnight express to Glasgow, and the two locomotives, on the same line, set off. The express, with clear signals, passed the station and caught up to them a mile further on. The front two coaches were crushed, and the gas lighting caught fire. Twelve passengers died.
- In the Sendling Christmas Massacre of 1705, almost three thousand Bavarian rebels tried to storm the city of Munich while it was occupied by Austrian troops, only to be betrayed, surrounded, forced to surrender, and massacred in the same night. Still widely known as the Sendlinger Mordweihnacht (Sendling Murder Christmas).