The first film in the series, The Santa Clause (1994) is sort of a modern take on the Scrooge story but with a twist. Cynical businessman Scott Calvin is divorced and bitter, his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) doesn't want him to have much contact with his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), and he's more concerned with the company's bottom line than with Christmas spirit. One fateful Christmas Eve, he startles a man who he believes is a burglar on his roof. The man falls off into the snow of their front yard, then vanishes, leaving his clothing behind. Scott, guilted into trying to be a better father, puts on the guy's red Santa coat — and this results in him and his son being magically transported to the North Pole, where he discovers that he must now take on the role of Santa. Being a cynic, he blows this off and returns to his life. But before he knows it, the naughty and nice list arrives for him to check twice. Scott finds himself craving cocoa with marshmallows and Christmas cookies. He puts on weight at an alarming rate despite workouts. He finds his hair whitening and a beard that grows back in five seconds, rather than a shadow at five o'clock. His ex thinks he's crazy and tries to have him arrested. The elves must spring him from jail and get him back to the North Pole in time for the midnight ride.
The second is The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause (2002) in which Scott discovers that in order to keep being Santa, the fine print in the magical contract that gives him his Christmas powers requires him to find a wife. So he has only until Christmas to find a Mrs. Claus. He gets a watch with a magical indicator on it that tells him how much Christmas magic he has left; if it runs out, he can't get back to the North Pole. In order to keep the elves in the dark about the problem, a toy Santa is created to take his place. When it goes wrong, the elves try to keep a lid on it so Scott can find a lady. He finds one in Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell), but when he confesses, she kicks him out, believing he's being a Jerkass. But of course it all ends well.
The third, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), features a North Pole visit from Carol's parents for Christmas. Mrs. Claus is about to have a baby, and Santa must contend with jealous Jack Frost. Played by Martin Short, the harbinger of winter is jealous that Santa gets all the winter attention, and decides to exploit the escape clause of the Santa Clause in order to steal the job from Scott Calvin. Scott is returned to his life before, without Carol, but is made aware of what's gone wrong and has to set it all right before Christmas Eve.
This movie series provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming:
- The toy Santa in the second film doesn't get Bernard's name right.
- Neither did Scott in the first one. While trying to remember it, he scans Bernard's body for a nametag, and not finding one, gets stumped (after reading off Judy the waitress's nametag).
- Adult Fear: Scott and Charlie disappear with no trace around Thanksgiving to work at the North Pole with no warning to Laura or Neil but also no malice or intent to hurt them. But his mother spends an entire month worrying about him and only hears from him on the phone and while he does sound happy, the police cannot get a trace on his location and have no leads to his whereabouts.
- Scott is also concerned about Charlie's behavior after they go to the North Pole. Everybody believes that Charlie is becoming an escapist due to the time he spends with Scott. To prevent losing custody over his son, Scott tries to find a way to keep Charlie quiet about him being Santa.
- Actor Allusion:
Scott: Well I hope you're happy, Comet. I hope you're happy. But most importantly, I hope the guy that lives here IS A TAILOR!
- While fighting the toy Santa in mid-air at the of the second movie, the real Santa is told "You are a sad, strange, little man."
- In the first movie Scott repeatedly grunts "Oh no!"
- Also in the first movie, when Scott is first touring the North Pole he picks up a tool belt and holds it to his waist.
- In the first film, when Scott reluctantly agrees to put on Santa's clothes, there's a Stealth Pun where he says the name of his character's last name on Home Improvement:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Even magical Christmas elves can't always get it right. In the sequel, the Elves make a toy Santa but it doesn't work out as planned. See below.
- All Myths Are True: Every Santa myth is the truth. Mother Nature is a real person. So is the Tooth Fairy. And Jack Frost. Among others.
- Mind you, the myths here are mostly those familiar to Americans. There are very few references to the European version of the character.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Interestingly enough, Bernard the Head Elf. Doesn't help he's played by the very Jewish David Krumholtz.
- Amicable Exes: Scott and Laura eventually become friendly.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: The Council of Legendary Figures.
- Ascended Extra: Bernard was only in a few scenes in the first movie, but was a main character in the second.
- Audible Gleam: Charlie sacrifices a tooth to summon the Tooth Fairy so he can get Carol to the North Pole. When Santa's powers return, so does Charlie's tooth, with a visible sparkle that you can also hear.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: The Tooth Fairy wants a better name, so Scott jokes "The Molinator" (after the molars).
- Bad Santa: Scott takes the elves up on making a toy subsitute Santa so he can go search for a wife in the second film, but toy Santa takes a turn for the dictatorial.
- Balloon Belly: Comet, after eating a bunch of candy.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: Played with, in that the trope is selectively applied.
- Big Eater: Scott becomes this after assuming the role of Santa.
- Big "NO!": Jack Frost in the third film, when Scott foils him. First when Scott is able to invoke the Escape Clause, then when he realizes Scott has prevented him from altering the timeline again as Scott's past self becomes Santa like in the first movie.
- Book Ends: The third film begins and ends with Carol being rushed to the hospital. The beginning is a false alarm, but the ending has Carol finally giving birth.
- Bowdlerise: The televised version of the first film ends the doctor's office scene early, because the doctor uses his stethoscope, and the camera shows Scott's bare chest.
- Brick Joke:
- In the beginning of the film the first Santa dies after falling off Scott's roof. Later in the film it seems Scott himself has developed a minor phobia of falling off roofs.
- On one of his first visits, Scott sarcastically tells a little girl that he is lactose intolerant after she tells him to have the milk and cookies. A year later, he visits the same girl and she has put out soy milk for him.
- Also in the first movie, Judy is the name of waitress who serves Scott and Charlie at Denny's. When Scott first arrives at Santa's workshop, the elf who gives him monogrammed pajamas also goes by Judy.
- But Now I Must Go: Scott leaves Charlie forever, because a lot of kids are counting on him, and he couldn't let down, he had a lot of work to do, so Charlie let him go, even if it meant that he would miss him.
- But Thou Must!: Whoever puts on the coat becomes Santa Claus. Once the coat goes on, their old life is effectively over, whether they like it or not.
- Scott Calvin, mostly in the first film.
- Neil could also be but only from Scott constantly mocking him.
- Canada, Eh?: The third film, the North Pole is dressed up to look like Canada. The kids even say, "Welcome to Canada. Eehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." And hilariously enough, Martin Short (Jack's actor) is from Canada.
- Cassandra Truth: Scott confesses to Carol that he really is Santa Claus. She becomes angry with him, thinking he's mocking her hesitant confession about how much she loves Christmas. Charlie later attempts to vouch for his father, doing his first good deed since the previous christmas in that film, only for her to think the same for him.
- Cavalier Consumption: Scott spends a board meeting taking his time scooping a sundae dish clean, all to the tune of Think!.
- Christmas Elves: The trilogy features child-like elves who are Really 700 Years Old. (Bernard, Santa's second-in-command, is noticeably taller and played by a teenager.) After meeting them in his "dream," Scott objects to the more "dwarf-like" interpretation of Christmas elves that his advertising company was going to use in a commercial.
- Chekhov's Pen: At the alternate timeline in the third film, Curtis shows Scott a pen with voice recording capabilities. Scott uses this pen to trick Jack into saying the escape clause to stop being Santa Claus.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bernard is absent in the third film, and it's never explained why.note
- Consummate Liar: Ties into Scott's cynicism and bitterness in the first film.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: What they did to Toy Santa after shrinking him. The only problem is he tries to teach the other Toy santas to dance properly.
- Cool Old Guy: Bernard when he's not working is very jovial and fun. He looks like a teenager or young adult, but he's really very old even by elf standards.
- Crystal Ball: The magic snowglobe in the third film may qualify.
- The Cynic: Both Scott and Neil to a degree in the beginning, they both get better.
- Carol in the second movie. Thanks to Scott, she eventually gets better.
- Deadpan Snarker: Scott Calvin is easily the snarkiest character in the whole series.
- Also Bernard.
- Charlie has his moments of this as well.
- Defcon Five: Averted by the North Pole's "Elfcon" system, of all things, which acts as a means of helping keep the workshop from being discovered.
- Defrosting Ice Queen:
- Carol in the second movie. Turns out she was an ice queen because being warm-hearted had gotten her hurt in the past.
- A more literal example with Jack Frost at the end of the third film, thanks to Lucy.
- Demoted to Extra: Charlie appeared only very briefly in the third film.
- Description Cut: When Scott pulls into a Denny's.Scott: Everybody likes Denny's! It's an American institution!
(Cut to restaurant full of Japanese men)
- Disappeared Dad: Scott always loved Charlie, but the first movie demonstrates how much more focused with business he was. Becoming Santa obviously helps him get his priorities in order. However, in an irony, Scott still falls into this by the second movie - though now because of the workload over caring for all the children of the world.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Toy Santa is unfamiliar with the concept of proportion of any kind—as far as he's concerned, if a kid does anything bad at all, all year, (s)he counts as naughty. Curtis and Bernard try to convince him this is too simplistic of an argument, but of course he doesn't listen.
- Domestic Appliance Disaster: Scott Calvin burn the Christmas turkey to the ashes and have to take his son to a dinner. Turn out he's not the only dad to have to do that.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Elves use one as a gag in the first film. Also, when the police go over their plan to trap Santa, one of the landmarks they list is the donut shop.
- Dork in a Sweater: Neil wears goofy sweaters, one of which Bernard thinks was made at the North Pole.
- Empty Piles of Clothing: The only thing left of Santa after he vanishes is his Santa Suit.
- First Father Wins: Played With; Scott is able to patch up his relationship with Charlie without Neil, the stepdad, having to be screwed over or vilified.
- Invoked in the third movie. In a world where Jack Frost became Santa, Neil tried to be a father to Charlie while Scott was busy at the office. Charlie regardless preferred the absent Scott, which put pressure on Neil's relationship with Laura.
- Foreshadowing: In the beginning of the second movie, Scott/Santa remarks that his pants feel looser before he finds out about the whole Mrs. Clause/Desantafication ordeal.
- Fourth Date Marriage: The plot of the second movie is that Scott/Santa has to find a "Mrs. Claus" in one month or lose his powers.
- From the Mouths of Babes: Neil's influence on Charlie in the first film backfires when Charlie declares that Neil is denying his inner child.
Lucy: You can't stay mad at (Uncle Scott) forever, Charlie. He's your daddy, and you love him.
- From the second film:
- Gasshole: Comet: When first meeting him in the first film, after Scott Calvin warns Charlie that the Reindeer might have "Key Lyme Disease", Comet ends up breaking wind.
- Also, Scott himself ends up getting this during the first stages of his transformation into Santa (when he is getting up out of bed, you can distinctly hear a farting sound).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Subverted. A scene ended up deleted specifically because of complaints relating to a phone number. See Executive Meddling.
Charlie: Whoa, Dad! You're flying!Scott Calvin: It's okay, I'm used to it. I lived through the '60s.
- Though this harmless little line was left in:
- Gilligan Cut: When told he has to convince the other elves that the Toy Santa is the real one, Bernard insists "I'm not gonna lie to all the elves!" Cut to Bernard telling him how much better "Santa" looks now to the other elves.
- Grumpy Old Man: Bernard when he's working is very impatient and serious. He looks like a teenager or young adult, but he's really very old even by elf standards.
- Hey, You!: Scott keeps misnaming Bernard, and Bernard only addresses Scott as Santa.
- Hidden Depths: In the first film there are several scenes that show that underneath his cynicism Scott really is a good man at heart who deserves the role of Santa. Most of them are centered around his son, but there's a brief line of dialogue where he tells Charlie that he tried making things like the magic snowglobe when he first started working with toys, but no one bought them, with a definite note of sadness in his voice.
- Homemade Sweater from Hell: One of the prospective women Scott dates is a Christmas freak with a sweater like this. Neil also wears these in the original, and is mocked for it by Scott.
- Who is hilariously forced to wear one himself on his first date because it's the only thing that fits him.
- Also the sweater Scott wears when he visits Neil and Laura's house after the custody hearing is far worse than anything Neil wore in the entire trilogy.
- Honorary Uncle: Scott for Lucy. It's another sign that Scott made peace with the Millers after the first film.
- How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: Neil tries this with Charlie, pointing out that it’s not logical for one man to deliver toys to all the children of the world in one night. Charlie, having been on a Christmas delivery, has a number of counterarguments, such as pointing out that a lot of children don’t celebrate Christmas.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: When the tooth fairy thinks he's caught, he grunts "bicuspids!"
- Hide Your Otherness: Scott keeps shaving and dying his hair (he didn't want to look like Santa), only to have the beard grow back immediately, and the hair to go back to white.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Santa's bag is functionally empty until one reaches a qualifying house, at which time it produces the requested gift.
- I Have Many Names: When arrested in the first movie, Scott delays his interrogation significantly by supplying a different name for Saint Nicholas each time he is asked for his name. And then Topo Gigio.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: Bernard giving Charlie the snow globe in the first film.
- Ironic Echo: "Who said ['I wish I had never been Santa at all']? Rudolph? Rudolph's....mama?"
- Inconvenient Summons: At the end of the movie, Charlie summons Scott mere minutes after they part.
- "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music: As Scott eats, his co-workers just watch while this plays.
- Neil is a watered-down one in the first movie, portraying his logical psychology as a bad thing when it means you shouldn't believe in magic and wonder.
- Scott Calvin is in the first movie up until he transforms into Santa Claus, basically because of his arrogant and cynical disposition.
- To a small extent, Laura is because of how she tries to argue with Scott in the beginning which would make sense on what lead to their divorce on her part, while with Scott it would most likely be over his arrogant cynicism and negligence.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite how much of a jerkass he is at the beginning, it is clear Scott loves his son Charlie and would do anything for him, which is proven when he puts on Santa Claus's suit and delivers the toys just to make him happy.
- Jump Cut: From Career Day in Charlie's class to the ensuing parent conference with his principal.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: The reason for Charlie acting out (and getting on the naughty list) in the second film, due to the stress of not being able to tell anyone the truth about what his dad really does, even though he considers it the greatest job in the world.
- Kick the Dog: Jack Frost does this several times in the third film. Aside from freezing Lucy's parents and exploiting the North Pole when he becomes Santa, there's this unforgettable quote:Santa!Jack Frost: Remember, kids. How much your parents love you depend on how much money they spend on your present!
- Klingon Promotion: Scott first got the Santa job by accidentally killing his predecessor.
- Large Ham: Martin Short as Jack Frost.
- Robot Santa in 2 is also much hammier than regular Santa.
- Leaving Food for Santa: Early in his tenure as Santa, when he's still refusing to get into the spirit of it, Scott doesn't touch the food. When a small child catches him not drinking the milk she's left out, he tells her it's because he's lactose intolerant. This becomes a Brick Joke when he returns to the house at the end of the film, and finds that she's remembered and left him a glass of soy milk instead.
- Legacy Character: The previous Santa dies or retires and the next person to don the suit gets the job. Apparently most Santas are lost through rooftop falls, as that's the first thing that Bernard (correctly) assumed happened to the previous Santa when he meets Scott.
- Let the Past Burn: When Laura finds out that Scott really is Santa, she burns the documents from the child custody ruling, effectively rescinding it.
- Let There Be Snow:
- Happens near the end of the first film, when a crowd is watching Santa leave. Next, there's a Match Cut to the snow globe when Charlie uses it.
- A variation in the second film. Their town isn't in a warm climate, but Scott uses some of his dwindling Christmas magic to make this happen while he's courting Carol.
- Lighter and Softer: The first film is rated PG and the next two are both G. Although the first was just barely a PG, this trope is still present in that both sequels have a more child-friendly tone.
- Marquee Alter Ego: Tim Allen spends a significant chunk of all three movies as Scott and reverts back to Santa in time for the Happy Ending.
- Men Can't Keep House: During the Denny's scene in the first film, there's a whole section of the restaurant filled with single dads who screwed up Christmas Eve dinner and are trying to make up for it.
- Mrs. Claus: The second film is about Scott having to get a wife.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: In order to set a good example for Charlie, Scott pushes himself to be kind to Neil at the end of the first movie, referring to him as part of their family.
- Never Land: The elves are ancient but look mostly like preteen children.
- My Card: Neil gives his to Scott when the Santa issue reaches a fever pitch.
- Nice Guy: Scott after he gets rid of his jerkass qualities and accepts being the new Santa Claus.
- Not Me This Time: Variation: When Bernard reveals that Charlie's on the naughty list, Santa/Scott initially thinks that he's referring to Charlie Sheen, and remarks that he thought he straightened out. Abby then reveals that they weren't referring to Sheen, but to his son, Charlie Calvin.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Inverted in the first film; when people refer to Neil as a doctor, Scott sarcastically replies "He's not a doctor, he's a psychiatrist."
- Obvious Pregnancy: Carol in the third movie.
- One Steve Limit: Averted by Judy the waitress and Judy the elf. After the first night at the North Pole, Scott concludes Charlie is remembering the waitress as an elf. One of the puppets in Scott's room is Judy, also.
- Only Sane Man: Bernard in the second movie is the only person in the know who thinks toy Santa is a bad idea. Scott realizes how unconvincing it looks but tells Bernard to convince the other elves it's him anyway, and when he does he sounds so sure of himself. Unfortunately, he admits that maybe Curtis was right that it was a good idea right before toy Santa goes completely bonkers.
- Painting the Medium: The first movie's poster and everything based on it have the text of the titular clause printed along the edges, just as it is with Santa's business card in the film.
- Some white sparks change the title from print to cursive, then linger on the e in Clause.
- Parent with New Paramour: Scott has to get married in the Santa Clause 2 to fulfill the conditions of the Mrs. Clause. He falls in love with Carol... who also happens to be Charlie's hated principal. When Charlie first finds out they're dating, he's devastated, but later decides that his father's happiness is more important and tries to convince Carol to believe in Scott.
- Parental Bonus: When Scott's son appears on the Naughty List.Bernard: It's... Charlie.Scott: Sheen? I thought he straightened out.
- Peking Duck Christmas: Subverted - after Scott burns the Christmas Eve turkey, he tries to make use of this trope by taking his son to a Japanese restaurant. It's closed, so he takes him to a Denny's instead, which is filled with Japanese businessmen and fellow fathers who burned the turkey.
- Phone Word: The movie got in a little bit of trouble when Scott sarcastically identifies a phone number on a piece of paper as 1-800-SPANK-ME, which turned out to be an actual phone sex hotline.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "We're your worst nightmare. Elves. With. Attitude."
- Product Placement: Used very effectively. Both Laura and Neil talk about toys they wanted as children that convinced them Santa wasn't real, both actual toys: Mystery Date was what Laura wanted, and an Oscar Meyer weenie whistle was what Neil wanted. Scott finally delivers them at the end of the first movie.
- The second film features it in the sequence where Scott delivers the school staff all their favorite toys from childhood including Toss Across and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.
- In Part 2, when Carol tells Scott that it would be difficult for the Secret Santa to find said toys, he sarcastically name-drops eBay.
- Protector Behind Bars: In 2, Curtis has to go warn Santa that Toy Santa has gone off the deep end in Bernard's place because Bernard has been placed under house arrest. Scott is incredulous about this news.
- Pun-Based Title: Blatantly spelled out in the first movie:Bernard: ...So when you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa Clause.
Scott: The Santa Claus? Oh, you mean the guy who fell off my roof.
Bernard: No no, not Santa Claus the person, Santa Clause the clause.
Bernard: (sigh) Look, you're a business man, right?
Bernard: Okay, a clause as in the last line of a contract.
Bernard: You got the card??
Curtis: Santa, there's a clause.
- And again in the second film:
Scott: That would be me.
Curtis: No, I mean there's another Santa clause.
Scott: Curtis, in case you haven't noticed - this time of year, the malls are filled with other "Santa Clauses".
Curtis: Yes, but there's another Santa clause. There was a first clause, but also a second clause.
Puppets: Get on with it!
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: See Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Lucy is a champion at this. She comes by it honestly, as her parents, Neil and Laura, demonstrate.
- Purely Aesthetic Era: Though many of the elves dress in very old-fashioned clothing, the elves also take full advantage of the latest technological advancements, and they appear more technologically advanced in some areas than humans.
- Put on a Bus: Bernard doesn't appear at all in the third movie (due to David Krumholtz having contractual obligations). Curtis (the Assistant Head Elf from the second movie) takes his place as the Head Elf.
- Putting on the Reich: Robo-Santa in part 2.
- Quizzical Tilt: Charlie does one when he sees an elf for the first time and has no idea what said elf is doing. He doesn't realize that he and his father are being let into Santa's Workshop.
- Race Against the Clock: Scott has to get married before midnight on Christmas Eve, or he’ll stop being Santa forever.
- Rapid Hair Growth: Once the main character is destined to become the new Santa, his beard grows at an unbelievable rate.
- Read the Fine Print: "The Santa Clause: In putting on the suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all rights to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus in perpetuity until such time that wearer becomes unable to do so by either accident or design."
- Really 700 Years Old: The elves are very old but all look like adorable children who happen to have pointed ears. Bernard resembles a teenager or young adult and is older than a millennium according to some of 2's behind the scenes material. An elf who Scott runs into when he first arrives at the North Pole says that he has pointy shoes older than Scott after he was called a kid by Scott. When Judy made Scott a cup of hot cocoa, she says it took her 1,200 years to get the recipe just right.
- Rewatch Bonus: At the start of the first movie a few of the children looking through the store window are elves.
- Running Gag: Neil's ugly sweaters in the first movie. Finally culminates when Bernard greatly admires one and wonders if it was produced by the elves.
- The Sandman: In the second and third films, Sandman (Michael Dorn) is a respected member of the Council of Legendary Figures, along with Santa, Father Time, Mother Nature, Jack Frost, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
- Santa Claus: Natch.
- Santa's Existence Clause: Scott pretends to believe in Santa for Charlie's sake, to the point of trying to explain how the reindeer fly, only to discover it is real.
- Saving Christmas: What Scott ends up doing in each movie, with the help of elves and his family.
- Second Episode Morning: Scott tries desperately to dismiss his first night in the North Pole as a dream, and hide the Santification process.
- Secret Keeper: Charlie and his mother and her new psychologist husband, and later their daughter Lucy. They all know Scott is Santa but can't tell anyone. Charlie takes this particularly hard for a while.
- Shoot the Messenger: From an elf in the second movie after bringing Santa the naughty and nice list.
- Shout-Out: In part 2 — a robo-Santa who views everyone as naughty and intends to punish them accordingly?
- Lucy has a Kim Possible picture in her room.
- Scott mentioning the Disney Channel makes the first film much easier to market and air on related networks.
- When Scott Calvin has a smorgasboard of food before a meeting at the toy company that he works at while his coworkers wait for him to finish eating, the theme tune of Jeopardy! is playing in the background.
- Scott's confrontation with Toy Santa results in Toy Santa exclaiming, "You are a sad, strange little man." Doubles as an Actor Allusion.
- It's probably unintentional, but the name of Scott and Carol's newborn child is Buddy Claus.
- The English-accented elf in charge of the North Pole's technical department is called Quentin, probably in reference to Q.
- The alternate present in the third movie is a mix of the two different presents shown in both Back to the Future Part 2 and It's a Wonderful Life, with it being bleaker, there's a corrupt tyrant that changed the past the main character has to confront to change things back, and every one of the main characters having a worse life in that timeline than the main one.
- Shovel Strike: When the Escape Clause is invoked, Jack uses Scott's snow shovel to hit the latter in the face before he puts on Santa's coat. It's lampshaded by Scott, who says:Scott: You hit me with a shovel! [cue an Oh, Crap! as Jack puts on Santa's coat]
- Shown Their Work: When Scott and Charlie finish their first run, the sun has already begun to rise. When they land at the North Pole, it's dark. Why? It's polar night! Compare to almost every other Santa film, where the North Pole has "normal" day and night cycles.
- Lucy is almost seven, the age at which experts believe children gain the ability to tell right from wrong, and, by extension, the ability to keep a secret. In the first film, Charlie is the same age, so his being along for the ride is a big deal.
- Significant Monogram: Scott Calvin.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Scott and Laura engage in this at the beginning of the film. Justified since they went through an apparently nasty divorce.
- Someone Has to Do It: The world needs Santa, so there must always be one.
- Spotting the Thread: Toy Santa would look just like Santa... if his face and hair weren't obviously made of inorganic material. Bernard tries to cover this by saying Santa had some work done and is sensitive about it.
- Steam Never Dies: Steam trains show up all over the place at the North Pole.
- Subbing for Santa: Drives the entire plot of the movie.
- Suddenly Voiced: In the first movie Comet is a normal reindeer who has the ability of flight like the rest of Santa's (the only sounds he makes are growls and grunts). In the sequels, he is somehow able to speak with a voice reminiscent of Scooby-Doo.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Carol in the second movie.
- Surprise Santa Encounter: Lucy finds out that Uncle Scott really is Santa Claus and gets in on being a Secret Keeper.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Abby in the second film, for Judy in the first film.
- Take You Aside Talk: In the first film, these situations set up discussions about the effects of Scott's becoming Santa Claus; in the later two films, Scott is usually about to receive bad news.
- Taking the Kids: Scott's wife in the first film thinks Scott is an unfit father, and that, once the Santa stuff begins happening, he's crazy.
- Tempting Fate: In 2, Bernard remains unconvinced that Toy Santa can be an effective replacement for Scott, much to Curtis's annoyance. Eventually, Curtis convinces him to admit nothing would go wrong... immediately before Toy Santa goes off the rails.
- Theme Initials: Pointed out by Charlie with regards to Scott Calvin/Santa Claus.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Scott gradually takes on Santa's traits and kind demeanor. Compare when he visits the little girl's house in the first movie as his normal jerky self, then later as Santa.
- Time Travel: Jack Frost uses this to go back to the first film's events and get the coat from the previous Santa before Scott can. However, you would think that Jack Frost would have to put on the whole suit in order for the Santa magic to take effect on him like it did Scott, and because that is what the Santa card said. So, in spite of Scott in the sequels mistakenly making references to the card saying that whoever put on the coat would be subject to the duties of Santa Claus instead of saying suit like everyone else did in the first movie, Jack Frost was still able to pull off stealing the position in the alternate universe by just putting on the coat instead of the whole suit. However, though, he then returns to the present and turns Christmas into a commercialized parody of itself.
- Thankfully, this is undone when Scott invokes the Escape Clause again, and is able to keep Frost pinned down long enough for his past self to put on the coat and restore the original timeline, much to Frost's chagrin.
- Title Drop: See the quote at Pun-Based Title.
- Took A Level In Bad Ass: Charlie in the second film; puberty can do wonders for a guy.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Scott after he becomes the new Santa Claus.
- Also Laura and Neil after they realize Scott is really Santa Claus.
- Two-Timer Date: Scott has to spend most of December looking after Charlie and trying to find a wife. The problem is that's exactly when he has to be at the North Pole doing his Santa duties. They create Toy Santa to get around this.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Toy Santa in the second film becomes a Literal Genie dictatorial monster who nearly ruins Christmas when he decides no children are good enough to get presents so they should all get coal. Jack Frost steals the Santa position via Time Travel in the third film.
- Understatement: In the first film, as soon as he is done shaving off his Santa beard and dying his hair dark, only for the beard to immediately grow back and his hair to turn white again, Scott exclaims, "I'm in big trouble, mm-hmm."
- Visible to Believers: In the Workshop, Judy the elf states this to Scott, adding, "kids don't need to see this place to know that it's there. They just... know."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: In the second film Scott still pokes fun at Neil but makes it clear he's still a good friend.
- Wacky Cravings And a Diet Coke: Side effects of the Santafication process.
- Wedding Day: Albeit rushed. It was done at 11:50 on Christmas Eve, on account of the...
- Wedding Deadline: Santa has to be officially married before Christmas Eve turns Christmas Day at midnight or he'll lose his powers and there will be no Santa. Very surprising, considering the efforts the elves make to to ensure that there is always a Santa.
- Weirdness Censor: When you think about it, the fact that almost no adults believe in Santa is more than a little ridiculous in the face of a bunch of mysterious presents (including rather conspicuous items, like a freaking kayak) showing up en masse in everyone's houses on Christmas morning.
- What Are You in For?: Again, the Denny's scene. The waitress asks if Scott and Charlie are part of the corporate group which is seated in the front room of the restaurant, then seats them among other people who are in the same situation as they are.
- Wonderful Life: In the third film, Scott realizes that without his becoming Santa, his entire family ends up a bunch of greedy cynics.
- Wrote the Book: The third movie has:Lucy: Okay, okay, chill!Jack Frost: I invented chill!
- Yes, Virginia: The original film has elements of this. Scott Calvin pretends to believe in Santa for Charlie's sake, but once Santa actually shows up, he desperately tries to find a more plausible explanation for what's going on, breaking the ruse. Later, Charlie's mother and step-father get to discover for themselves that Santa is real.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: When the current Santa becomes unable to fulfill their duties "by accident or design", the first person to put on the suit afterward becomes the new Santa. Over the course of the trilogy, this happens twice, both times when someone (Scott or Jack Frost) startles the current Santa, causing him to fall off a roof to his death.