Homer: Well, okay, let's go. Who's Tiny Tim?
The hero is down on his luck. Maybe he needs money. Maybe he needs to be able to cure his little sister of her mysterious illness. Maybe he wants to be reunited with a long-lost relative.
To make things even crueler, it's that time of year, the time when he should be happy and enjoying the holidays with everyone else.
But hey, it's Christmas, right? Something has to go through.
Basically, a Christmas Miracle is when some highly unlikely stroke of good fortune comes to the characters in the time where they need it most, simply through the magic of Christmas. May be implied to be an actual miracle, and character implied not to be entirely human.
- Red Ears: Hilariously subverted in a comic where a distraught young woman is about to jump off a bridge after a rain of misery that day, but then Santa Claus shows up and promises that when she returns home, her house is no longer burned down, she has her old job back, and her boyfriend (who ran off with her best friend) is waiting for her. He asks for a blowjob, and she returns the favor. After asking her how old she is, he walks off while muttering "27? Aren't you too old to believe in fairytales?".
- Tokyo Godfathers starts with three homeless people finding an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and deciding to try and find the parents. It ends with the baby returned to its grateful parents, the three main characters reuniting with their estranged families and in possession of a winning lotto ticket. The movie also makes none too subtle implications that at least one of the events was an actual miracle.
- It's a Wonderful Life, and all the variations thereof.
- In Jingle All the Way, the dad walks through fire and hell to get his son a Turbo Man action figure. But little did he know that he somehow would end up in a Turbo Man rubber suit complete with jetpack. His son thinks this is more than enough.
- In the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, Susan tells Santa that what she really wants is a house, a father, and a brother. By Christmas morning, her mother has remarried, they've moved to a beautiful house, and Mom is quite possibly pregnant. The trope is averted slightly, in that she doesn't tell Santa these things with the expectation that he'll provide them (because at that point, she isn't completely sure he is who he says he is).
- Hallie in All I Want for Christmas wanted one, even though she and her brother made the miracle happen themselves.
- Francie and Neely in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn also devise a Christmas miracle, including a scheme to obtain a huge tree for free — by having it thrown at them.
- Conquest of Space (1955). The first expedition to Mars has the water tanks rupture during a crash-landing, which means no baths for a year in order to preserve their supply until the planetary alignment is right for them to return to Earth. On Christmas Day everyone is suffering from Cabin Fever as a result, until it starts snowing, providing all the water they need.
- Parodied in Die Hard: Theo, the hacker/tech guy, tells Big Bad Hans Gruber that while he can get through the first six locks on the vault, the seventh one can't be cut locally. Hans tells him, "Relax...It's Christmas, the time for miracles." Later, the Feds cuts power to the building and the safe's Fail Open protocol opens the vault automatically. Gruber then tells him, "You asked for a miracle, I give you the F.B.I."
- "The Elves and the Cobbler", by The Brothers Grimm.
- Parodied in Hogfather where Death saves Christmas. Also, the many side-plots deal with the theme, like a king taking a hearty Hogswatch meal to a peasant only to have the peasant shocked because he already had prepared some and would have to throw it away, because the food brought to him wouldn't preserve. But Death did save the Little Match Girl to play it straight.
- In the book Christmas's legends by Georges Lenôtre, Branche d'or ("Golden branch") is a novel Based on a True Story. In France in December 1795 (and during the The French Revolution), a bunch of republicans soldiers capture a "chouan" or royalist resistant, nicknamed Golden branch. They make no mystery that the guy will be executed by the very next day...Except it's Christmas night, as bells ringing at midnight reminds them. The soldiers begin to feel nostalgic, and to tell to each other their Christmas childhood's memories. When asked if he have a family, Golden branch burst into tears, and embarrassed soldiers finally let him go.
- On the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Amends", it snows in Sunnydale, California after a forecast of sunny with temperatures in the high 70s Fahrenheit. Why? Because Buffy was trying to convince Angel not to kill himself by sunlight, and they needed a Christmas Miracle to save him from death-by-sunlight. This on a show with Devil, but No God. Of course, years later it's revealed a prime candidate for who saved him was Jasmine whose motives were hardly purely benevolent. Or maybe her motives were a bit too benevolent...
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was no stranger to sappy episodes, but interestingly enough averted this trope in "Season of Miracles", where the Reverend is blinded right before Christmas, the entire town prays for his recovery, Brian tells everyone to believe in miracles... and the Reverend stays blind. Yeah, they manage to get a moral in about accepting your fate, but still.
- Touched by an Angel Christmas episodes sometimes had these. The first, Season One's "Fear Not!", was actually retitled A Christmas Miracle when it was adapted into a picture book, and its aftermath was examined in Season Two's "The Feather".
- On The Brady Bunch, Cindy asks a department store Santa Claus to restore Carol's voice, so that she can sing the Christmas solo in church. Mike is disturbed by the fact that she received the man's promise that it would happen, but sure enough, Carol is able to sing on Christmas morning. This is recalled years later in the reunion special A Very Brady Christmas, and the family sings that same carol while waiting for Mike to escape from a building on the verge of collapse. It Makes Sense in Context...sort of.
- In Glee, Britney asked Santa to make Artie walk. Not wanting to ruin her continued belief in Santa, the Glee clubbers ask Bieste to impersonate Santa and break the news to her that such a thing wasn't possible. In end, however,Bieste secretly gave Britney a pair of robotic leg braces that help Artie to walk for brief periods. The Glee club had no idea, and assumed it was a true Christmas miracle.
- While Doctor Who Christmas specials tend to result in death, one way or another, the 2011 one "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardobe" gave a rare Everybody Lives by saving the father who "died" at the beginning.
- This trope also turns up in "Twice Upon a Time", the Twelfth Doctor's final episode: The Doctor moves the moment of the Captain's standoff with a German soldier in the trenches of World War I a few hours ahead...so that it can be interrupted by the real life, human miracle of the legendary Christmas Truce, saving both men's lives. Also counts as an Everybody Lives situation aside from the metaphorical deaths of the Doctors when each regenerates.
- Subverted by the Modern Family fourth-season Christmas episode "The Old Man and the Tree". When Cameron hears that no gifts are available for the attendees at the Christmas event for the needy that he inadvertently took Lilly to, he grabs the ones that Mitchell has bought for Pepper's "The 12 Gays of Christmas" party the couple plan to attend that evening. They are spectacularly ill-suited to the occasion.
- In The Nanny, all the smallest child Gracie wanted for Christmas was for all of her family to be together (her father had to work out of town.) Through a convoluted series of events, her father accidentally sits on a delicate glass vase, and the family does end up all together for Christmas... in the hospital. Christmas Miracle meets Jackass Genie.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Miracle" has a version of one. In the episode, people in San Francisco are drawn to a monastery's fountain after a mysterious picture of it and the message DRINK is found on their doors. They obey the message, and any physical ailments they have are cured. This includes Stottlemeyer's bad back, to the point that he joins the monastery. Monk and Natalie get him back, explaining that the Killer Of The Week was a pharmacist who couldn't risk the fountain being excavated during renovation. Everyone would've found out he killed his business partner nine years earlier because he buried the body on the renovation site. His solution? Fabricate a miracle by writing phony prescriptions.
- Kamen Rider Wizard had an episode titled, appropriately enough, "The Miracle of Christmas". In it, the Victim of the Week is an orphan who anonymously leaves Christmas presents at his old orphanage as an apology for being a wild child. Naturally, the villains destroy his presents in an attempt to drive him over the Despair Event Horizon. Wizard dives into the man's Underworld and defeats the Monster of the Week...then turns around and sees Santa Claus. Santa gives Wizard a magic ring which fixes the destroyed presents, letting the man continue his annual gift-giving, only for him to get caught by the orphanage's owner and reconciling with him.
- Any of the "happy" subplots of a typical ER Christmas Episode had an air of this, particularly one where a blind guy regained his sight after Benton touched him.
- This is the implication of the Narmy song (and TV movie it inspired) "The Christmas Shoes".
- From folklore, there's Saint Nicholas throwing the bag of gold into the stockings of three poor girls, who otherwise would have had to turn to The Oldest Profession to support their families. (Which would almost have certainly been a death sentence for them, whether it was by syphilis, a belligerent client, or being executed for prostitution.)
- In ef - a fairy tale of the two., Yu and Yuko finally meet at the church on Christmas Day. The twist is that exactly a decade ago, Yuko died from being hit by a car — but then, she remained in the mortal realm until she could fulfill her mission as an angel and spend her last night with Yu.
- This happens in the Tom and Jerry Christmas Special (an adaptation of The Nutcracker) when a mysterious magic (possibly caused by Santa Claus, who shows up later as "The Toymaker") grants Jerry's wish of participating in a (real) version of the story. Too bad the magic "couldn't tell friend from foe" and brought Tom (and several other alleycats) along as well...
- The "Christmas Truce" from the first World War must surely qualify — in the middle of the most blood-soaked, hopeless and futile conflict imaginable, both sides started decorating their hellish, rat-infested trenches with candles and Christmas trees. Soon after, both sides started singing Christmas carols, and eventually the artillery stopped and soldiers that only the previous day were trying to kill each other crossed the lines and exchanged gifts with their opponents! Of course, the generals (safe and sound, far from the nightmare of the front) were pissed about this to say the least, and issued orders to ensure that the trenches would be intentionally bombarded harder next year... They were shelled, alright — in specific times and places so the other guys could stay clear of the attack! This heavily implies that they were aware that the war would still be going on by the next Christmas.
- Averted for Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife, Elena, when the government protestors took to the streets to denounce Ceauceascu's re-election for another five-year term as leader of the Romanian Communist Party. The Ceaucescus were tried on December 25 by Romania's provisional National Salvation Front government, for charges including illegal gathering of wealth and genocide, and executed by firing squad on Christmas Day.
- In the 2016 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns had been going the entire season without any wins or ties. Until their second-to-last game against the then-San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve (also their last home game of the season). During the last seconds of the game, the Chargers were behind 20-17 and attempting a field goal to force the game into overtime. Instead, they ended up missing it, and the Browns averted a winless season in 2016.