Follow TV Tropes


Mall Santa

Go To
"If you're Santa Claus, why are there so many Santa Clauses at other malls?"
Michelle Davies, Family Ties, "Miracle in Columbus"

Or, as English Majors know them: Subordinate Clauses.

Usually occurring during the Christmas-themed episode, a male character gets a job at The Mall (or a department store in older works) as Santa Claus, either for a part-time job or as a last-minute substitute. Hilarity Ensues. We invariably see a series of kids on his lap doing things like questioning his authenticity as the "real" Santa Claus, attempting to pull off his beard, asking for extravagant or impossible gifts, or, in the most crass of Sit Coms, urinating on him out of fear (more refined sitcoms might have the kid simply cry out of fear). A common joke has the Mall Santa promising to deliver an outrageous gift come Christmas, much to the dismay of the kid's parents.

If the character playing the Mall Santa is a cynical Jaded Washout/Deadpan Snarker type, he may comment on the materialistic behavior of the kids or the commercialism of Christmas.

Added points if the Mall Santa is drunk.

The female equivalent is being stuck in a Sexy Santa Dress and/or hideous "helper elf" outfit.

In more outlandish shows with Speculative Fiction or Mundane Fantastic premises, the character may be the real deal after all, or maybe he could be the real deal but the jury is out.

Occasionally one encounters a Jewish mall Santa.


    open/close all folders 

  • The Capital One ad with the inversion of the beard pull trope-the kid on Santa's lap is the kid who's one of the Vikings in the commercial. He has a beard, despite the fact he's too young to, and Santa pulls it, which makes the kid say 'ouch'.
  • A commercial for Cingular Wireless which is a parody of A Christmas Story has a reference to the Santa scene in that film where the boy in pursuit of a cell phone sees him at the store and gets the boot when he says "You'll run the bill up!"

    Comic Books 
  • Archie comics have used this plot in many a Christmas themed storyline.
    • Archie gets this job himself a lot. One year he tried to use it to get present intel from Betty and Veronica, but the girls saw through it and tricked him instead. Another year he learned the True Meaning of Christmas from some special children he met on the job.
    • A one-shot Li'l Jinx featured the titular character pestering a mall santa about a letter she got.
    • One Betty and Veronica double digest cover, in which a teenaged Betty is bothering a mall Santa.
    • Yet another story featured Betty and Veronica as Mall Santas. This isn't counting the times they've just worn a Sexy Santa Dress.
  • Crabgrass: In a december 2021 storyline, Miles is revealed to still believe in Santa, and convinces Kevin to believe again so they can get a video game they want. To ensure Santa knows Kevin is a believer, Kevin gets his mom to bring him and Miles to visit the santa at the mall. However, Kevin immediatly makes it clear to the guy that he knows he's not the real Santa, and even rips his beard off to prove it.
  • Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace (US) has been a Mall Santa at least once. Much to his annoyance, Dennis and his friends have come to see him.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In issue #378 (by Peter David), Rhino (a supervillain) becomes a Mall Santa. He gives this advice to kids: "Give! Give! Give! You want everything handed to you! Why not do what I do? Take stuff! See it? Want it? Take it!"
  • Justice Society of America: Ma Hunkel, the original Red Tornado, spent time each Christmas as a mall Santa. A group of crooks make the mistake of attempting to rob her mall on the Christmas Eve the JSA turn up to recruit her as their housekeeper.
  • Santa Vs. Zombies: The main kids are brought to a mall, and the boy rips the Mall Santa's fake beard off.

    Fan Works 
  • In 25 Days of Curemas, Shintarou Nono sets up a Santa display for Christmas at his department store, and his daughter Hana and her friends bring their baby mascot Hugtan to see him.
  • In one Artemis Fowl fanfiction, Artemis's mother takes a five-year old Artemis Christmas shopping and makes take a picture with one. Artemis bluntly tells the Santa that he knows the man is a fake. The Mall Santa rolls with it, telling Artemis of the Santa Conspiracy.
    Santa: Tell you what kid, it's true. I'm not the real Santa, you think only one man can run this operation? Santa sends his agents out to find out what the kids act and if they're really being naughty or nice.
    Artemis (quietly amazed): So how does he deliver those presents?
    Santa: You think one man could deliver all those presents in one night by himself?
    Artemis: So he doesn't work alone?
    Santa: Nope, he sends his agents to deliver presents all around the world and no one knows the difference.
    • Artemis then resolves to uncover Santa's operations.
  • In The Loud House fanfiction Lincoln's Memories: In "'Tis the Season to Be Loud", the kids go to sit on the lap of a guy in Santa gear at the mall.
  • Metal Gear Santa featured Old Snake dressed up as Santa Claus and Sunny and Otacon dressed up as elves.
  • Time Fixers: Nicktoons of the Future features Danny Fenton playing a mall Santa, which is he explains is a way for him to afford presents for his children.
  • Mary Jane Watson gets a job as one of Santa's helpers in the Christmas display at Macy's Department Store. She feels more than a little silly in her Christmas Elves outfit, but she turns out to actually be pretty good at the job.
    • The next year, Mary Jane plays the main role herself when the men who play Santa aren't available. She dresses up as Mrs. Claus and invites the kids to sit on her lap, explaining that Santa had a bad cold and he didn't want anyone to get sick, so she's filling in for him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Discussed in The Polar Express where the ticket conductor notes that the boy didn't get his photo taken with a department store Santa.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The one in All I Want for Christmas is visited twice, due to Hallie thinking her first wish was phrased wrong.
  • Bad Santa featured a thief working as a Mall Santa in order to rob the stores.
  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie goes to the Department Store to ask Santa for his Red Ryder BB Gun. This Santa is a particularly nasty, arrogant, and impatient one as are his two elves. He becomes just the latest character to mention to Ralphie that "You'll shoot your eye out!" right before he boots him down the slide.
  • In the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, Rowley is seen on a mall Santa's lap, asking for a puppy, a cat, and a gumball machine.
  • Elf: Buddy, who knows the real Santa, is incensed when an impostor shows up at the department store he works in. He accuses the fake of smelling "like beef and cheese!" and gets into a fistfight with him. After that, the store gets a different Santa- who is black.
    • It's funnier than that: the black Mall Santa is the manager of the toy department and Buddy's former boss, implying like hell they had no time to find a replacement.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High has in its brief mention of Christmas a Mall Santa dealing with a wet lap from a child peeing in his pants.
  • In Fred Claus Fred gets harassed by several mall Santas for working on the street with no permit. They give chase of him through the streets and into a shopping mall where Fred eventually takes them out with toys.
  • In Home Alone, Kevin runs to find a Santa in time on Christmas Eve. He finds one getting into his car after quitting time. He quickly puts his beard back on and does his best Jolly Old St. Nick, but Kevin tells him not to bother. He already knows he's not the real Santa, but he knows he does work for him. The Santa just goes with it. Kevin then asks him to relay the message that he wants his family back.
  • Hot Fuzz features a scene of Peter Jackson as Father Christmas stabbing Simon Pegg in the hand.
  • Look Who's Talking Now features Kirstie Alley's character having to work as a department store Santa's Elf. A kid asks her if she's an elf, and she replies that she's actually a Vulcan.
  • Both versions of Miracle on 34th Street supposedly use the real Santa, Kris Kringle, as a department store Santa. In the original, it's Macy's; in the remake, it's Cole's. He's replacing a terrible, drunken Mall Santa, so bonus points there.
  • The European horror/comedy short subjects and the later film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale purport to tell the true story of where the red-suited entities seen in stores at Christmas actually come from. They're actually centuries-old cryptozoological wild men, captured and trained until they can be trusted to hold children on their laps without ripping them apart. That is, unless someone is foolish enough to do one of the things that enrages them... It's revealed in The Movie that these "Santas" are in fact just Santa's little elves. The real Santa is much, much worse. And most definitely Mall Santa material.
  • In The Santa Clause, Scott Calvin assumes that the guy who fell off his roof while dressed like Santa just needs a ride back to the mall. He has no idea...
    • In addition, while looking for Scott after he "abducted" Charlie, the police arrest about a dozen Santas.
  • Santa Who has a scenario where Santa falls from his sleigh and gets amnesia, and during the course of the movie, he ends up as a mall Santa for awhile.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019), there's a recurring extra of a Mall Santa who keeps getting caught in the middle of the fights between Shazam and Dr. Sivana. In the aftermath of the final battle, he ends up hijacking a news report and letting out a Cluster Bleep-Bomb.
  • The crime film The Silent Partner involves a mall Santa who turns out to be a bank robber...and then gets caught up in dueling gambits with a teller at the bank who wants to keep the loot for himself.
  • The 1942 film Life Begins At Eight Thirty begins with the main character, a washed-up alcoholic actor, losing his job as a department store Santa after showing up to work drunk on Christmas Eve.

  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #15 (The Cat Who Went Into the Closet), Qwilleran is drafted into being the Santa Claus of the small town of Pickax. He takes things fairly well, but panics when he learns that he's not done because he's still required to do lap-sitting.
  • The Day Santa Stopped Believing In Harold: Santa himself apparently worked at a mall the previous year, where he was surprised that Harold had had a growth spurt that drastically changed his appearance.
  • In the Dilly The Dinosaur story "Dilly and the Book of Bad Behaviour", Dilly is paranoid about getting into Dino Claus (the dinosaur version of Santa)'s Book of Bad Behaviour, so they go to a mall Santa and have him explicitly tell Dilly that he's not going to be put in the book.
  • Dirty Bertie: In the story "Elf!", Bertie's dad has to be a mall Santa while Bertie has to be a helper elf. He finds the job boring and wants to be a goblin instead.
  • In one of Harlequin's Romance Novels, the pairing are a pair of divorcees - the woman is manager at the store, which is an Old Established Business with an equally old, established rival (the competition between the two is even referenced as being akin to that between Bloomingdale's and Macy's) while the man is (at first appearances) a guy who's one bounced check from being homeless and focused on getting revenge on his Rich Bitch of an ex (who also faked evidence to make him appear to be a Domestic Abuser, effectively conning the judge into giving her full custody of their daughter). The guy is desperate for a job, but wants something seasonal - and she's desperate for a Mall Santa since the one they usually hire is getting on in years. The manager is also frequently roped into babysitting the store owner's grandson - who is also the unofficial vetter for the Mall Santas that are hired. The kid is mentioned as still believing in Santa, but justifies Mall Santas as being like heralds for the real deal - which also neatly explains, to him, why not all Mall Santas are equal: some have the calling and some are just in it for the money.
  • In Hogfather, Death (who's already standing in for the real deal), attempts to replace the Hogfather at an expensive department store. Since he already has the Hogfather's sack, he horrifies the store owner by giving away wonderful presents, thereby heavily eating into the profits. Not to mention Death's failure to perceive certain human conventions regarding appropriate gifts for children. Such as the full-size, completely real broadsword he hands to a little girl, before being hastily convinced that a fully functional weapon might not be the best idea (he just turned the blade to wood). Or a girl wants a real life pony to be in her home... in a second floor apartment. Overall, he gives children toys that they actually want, rather than what their parents consider appropriate for them. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, feeling the barghests, Miranda asks for direction, and is sent to the mall. Where they find that the Mall Santa is actually Father Christmas, who can deal easily with a pack of Hell Hounds/Living Shadows.
  • In Nathan Englander's humourous short story Reb Kringle, Itzik, a devoutly Orthodox Jew, reluctantly takes this job because he and his wife need the money and he already has the requisite long white beard and big belly. Itzik takes in stride the typical annoyances of overly-greedy requests and attempts to remove his beard, but loses it when the child of an interfaith couple admits he'd rather celebrate Hanukkah.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 2 Broke Girls: The two girls get jobs as Santa's Helpers during Christmas in order to make a few extra bucks.
  • According to Jim. Jim gets into a minor car accident at Christmas time. The other guy gives him fake information. Later, Jim recognizes him as the mall Santa. Hilarity Ensues.
  • A.N.T. Farm: Darryl takes a job as Mall Santa to spy on Roxanne and figure out what she got him for Christmas so he can know what to get her, as well as appointing Cameron as his elf. They both end up fired when their cover is blown, and the manager later hires Lexi as the new Santa and Paisely as the elf. While Paisely seems to enjoy the job, Lexi finds her Santa costume to be her worst nightmare.
  • On Are You Being Served?, an episode dealt with the store employees' competition to be the Mall Santa.
  • On Best Friends Whenever, Naldo goes to his new job in the mall as Santa only to be kidnapped and interrogated by Bret and Chet who crazily believe that Santa is up to something not recognizing that it's Naldo. Barry ends up filling in for him when he goes to bring Naldo the gifts he forgot to deliver and the children mistake Barry for Santa.
  • Boston Legal had an episode in the first season where Alan Shore represents a mall Santa who's a Wholesome Crossdresser (not at work) in a court action to keep him from being fired because of it. This ends with Al Sharpton being coming into the courtroom and having no clue what he's doing, and saying "So give the world a black Santa Clause!"
  • The Brady Bunch had a rare aversion of the trope, a kind man who was very patient with the children, even one who asked for a huge list of things and clearly had Santa bewildered. The problem was when Cindy came to him with a selfless but impossible wish he didn't have it in him to tell her it might not happen. (Thankfully, this being the Brady-verse, it did.)
  • Dash & Lily: Lily's "Uncle Sal", a good friend of her grandfather's, works as a Santa at Macy's. He plays a role in one dare.
  • In the Drake & Josh Christmas movie, Drake plays Santa, while his brother Josh plays Santa's sack (of toys). Drake ends up making a promise to a little girl that the two of them spend the rest of the movie keeping.
  • Everybody Hates Chris, Julius plays Santa at the mall for extra money. When the children tell him what they want for Christmas, he makes them cry merely by honestly telling them how expensive the toys/gifts are, how long their parents will have to work for it, and how they might not get what they want.
  • The Flash (2014): The season 2 Christmas Episode "Running to Stand Still" has a dark twist on this trope when The Trickster dresses up as a Mall Santa so he can give the children visiting him a present with a bomb, which he then threatens to detonate if Flash doesn't allow Weather Wizard to beat him in a fight.
  • Frasier:
    • In season 5 Frasier does a stint as Santa for a charity with Roz as his Mrs. Claus. Right before their shift starts Frasier reveals that he accidentally told Roz's mother that she was pregnant, something Roz had been waiting to reveal in person when her mother visited. Roz blows up at him and storms off wailing about how the holiday has been ruined. Frasier is left to explain to the kids why "Mrs. Claus" is so upset.
    • In a later season Roz volunteers as an elf and develops a crush on the Santa Claus she's paired with. At first she assumes she's attracted to the guy playing Santa but when she runs into him at Cafe Nervosa she's put off by the lack of beard and his weedy laugh. Daphne realises that Roz was actually attracted to the Santa persona and immediately starts teasing her about it.
  • Joey gets a job as Santa's Elf in a season one episode of Friends. Apparently he was actually Santa Claus the year before, but this year he lost out to the guy who's sleeping with the store manager. A later season gets Chandler dressed as the man himself (and Monica asks if he can keep the suit for later that night).
  • The cast of Glee encounter a rather Jerkass mall Santa, who promises dim Brittany that he will cure Artie's paralysis.
    • In Season 4, Santana, Kurt and Rachel work as Santa's Helpers. They bring home the mall Santa who proceeds to rob them.
  • In a Christmas Episode of Good Luck Charlie, Teddy tries to have Charlie take her picture with a Santa in Super Adventure Land. However, when Santa leaves for his break when it's Charlie's turn, Teddy attacks him with a snowman head as a bowling ball and is arrested leading to a court.
    • And in the crossover with Jessie, Bob takes Charlie to a mall Santa.
  • In the Christmas Episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie realizes that when he was a child, everyone who came to his house dressed as Santa on Christmas had sex with his mom. A Mall Santa happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Charlie: Did you fuck my mom, Santa Claus?
  • In the first Christmas Episode of Jessie, Ravi's petrified of Santa Claus after being told about him from Zuri and freaks out when he sees a Santa in the mall.
  • Kenan & Kel had Kenan playing the Mall Santa (after the previous one was knocked out by a Spoiled Brat) to earn the last bit of money he needs to buy a mountain bike he'd been saving up for. However, after getting his money he decides use it to buy gifts for two of the kids he met whose mother couldn't afford to buy them herself. The real Santa rewards Kenan for his generosity by delivering the bike under his family's tree.
  • Leverage: A mall Santa comes to the team for help because he was fired and the new mall Santas all seem to be criminals. Elliot ends up playing Santa for a while and is terrible at it, but Parker seems to enjoy her role as a Christmas Elf.
  • In an early MADtv (1995) Christmas Episode, Nicole Sullivan's Vancome Lady character serves as a gatekeeper to one of these. She turns away one kid for being fat, another for being homeless (she isn't), and another for being Jewish, all with her trademark phrase "Tcha, you know what? Uh uh!" She is, of course, fired, but as a parting shot reveals a bit of the mall Santa's indiscretions with her and then tears off his fake beard.
    Vancome Lady: There is no Santa! Oh, Merry Christmas!
  • Thelma Harper takes on the job in the Mama's Family episode "Santa Mama", to fill in for her son Vinton, who lost his voice practicing his "Ho Ho Ho".
  • Married... with Children.
    • Considering that many of the kids' parents were neighbors Al didn't like, he told one kid to tell daddy to stay home when the mailman comes over. He tells a girl who wants a pony that he'll leave one under the tree, but if it's not there by morning, her mother chased it away and killed it...
      • Al dressed as Santa becuase earlier in the episode a new mall was doing a promotion in which a guy dressed as Santa would parachute down into the mall parking lot... only for the Santa to end up slam dunking in the Bundy's back yard. Al dressing up was to get the kids to go away so medical personal could haul away what was left of the "Splattered Santa."
    • Al got a job as a Mall Santa in two other episodes — one on season seven and again near the end of the series' run after two young men replace Al and Griff at the shoe store.
  • Monk, in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa": Monk and Natalie go undercover at a shopping mall trying to locate the person Stottlemeyer suspects tried to kill him. To do so, this involves Monk being disguised as a Mall Santa, with Natalie wearing a wig to pose as his elf. Although the humor revolved around Monk's obsessive compulsive disorder and having to be up close to children.
  • In Merry Christmas Mr. Bean we see Mr. Bean has a habit of annoying mall Santas by pulling their beard off. One of them unfortunately has a real beard...
  • Murphy Brown: Murphy uses her Intrepid Reporter skills to find the absolute best Mall Santa in the DC area for her son's first Christmas photo. Then when she gets there, it's his day off.
  • In the first Christmas Episode of My Two Dads, both Judge Margaret and the coffee shop owner take turns playing Santa. He gives all the kids footballs (being an ex-player himself), and she gives all of them books.
  • In the Naturally, Sadie episode "A Very Sadie Christmas", Hal gets a job as a mall Santa and uses it as an opportunity to scam free stuff, demanding bribes from kids in exchange for promising to grant their Christmas wishes.
  • Nip/Tuck, where a drunken Sean dons the Santa outfit.
  • Roseanne convinces her boss to let her play Santa herself, and the kids fall for it even though she doesn't remotely sound like a man. Jackie plays Mrs. a drill sergeant photographer.
  • In the Christmas Episode of Round the Twist, Cool Old Lady Nell becomes a Mall Santa. It leads to her being attacked by the real Santa.
  • Saturday Night Live
    • An early fake commercial for "Santi-Wrap", a plastic sheet similar to disposable toilet seat covers, featured John Belushi as a slovenly, drunken mall Santa, thereby illustrating why such a product is necessary.
    • A later SNL featured Master Thespian taking the job of mall Santa, seemingly without doing the research and winging it - even working in a hammy death scene.
    • Then there was the Sally Field/Tony, Toni, Tone episode where Chris Farley's motivational speaker character Matt Foley plays a Mall Santa.
  • Kramer in Seinfeld.
  • On Shake it Up, CeCe gets a job in the mall as Santa's Helper after wasting the money for her mother's Christmas present.
  • The Sliders Christmas episode, "Season's Greedings" had Arturo become a mall Santa with Wade and Rembrandt as his elves.
  • Soul Man featured a mall Santa, also. With Rev. Weber's son having a technicolour yawn all over Santa's beard on both years he went to see him.
  • There was an episode of That '70s Show where Red worked as a Mall Santa:
    Little Girl: "I want a pony!"
    Red: "Ponies die."
  • Harry from 3rd Rock from the Sun was a helper for a mall Santa, and mentioned that children over 16 years of age should not sit on Santa's lap. He was also horrified when he saw the mall Santa remove his costume, as Harry had believed he was really Santa.
  • Third Watch's Season 5 episode "The Spirit" had grumpy policeman Sully playing Santa at a toy store.
  • A Christmas Episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), "The Night of the Meek", stars Art Carney as an alcoholic department store Santa who despairs over not being able to help the poor people in his slum neighborhood — but in the spirit of the show, he finds a sack that magically produces presents on demand... then at shows' end he gets his own wish and becomes Santa for real. This episode also showed up in the 1985 revival series, with Richard Mulligan in Art Carney's role and William Atherton as the department store boss.
  • The holiday episode of Welcome Freshmen has Walter going to visit a mall Santa (despite being in high school). When Santa gets Walter to confess to a few transgressions, he realizes that "Santa" is actually his father doing a little moonlighting.
    Walter: Gee... Santa did seem a little fatter this year.
  • Without a Trace: The victim in one episode was a mall Santa. He'd had a confrontation with a slutty woman with a thing for Santas and a brawl with the mall's previous Santa (which the woman found very sexy).
  • The Wonder Years: The fourth-season episode "A Very Cutlip Christmas" sees Kevin go to the mall (to buy Winnie a present) and he recognizes his nemesis, Coach Edward Cutlip, as Santa Claus. Instead of his overbearing, bullying behavior shown in class, Cutlip is shown to be very tender and kind to little children, a point he makes to Kevin when the two visit about their encounter. Kevin sees Coach in a new light and is rewarded with kinder treatment, but it doesn't last. Still, Kevin gets some new insights about Coach: the man he is at school (a pushy, overbearing teacher who tries too hard to get the most out of his students) and the man he is outside the classroom (a deeply insecure man who loves children and truly sees working with youths as his passion).
  • A few have been featured on World's Dumbest.... They tend to be very drunk.

  • The Beach Boys' song "Santa's Beard", from their 1964 Christmas album, is from the perspective of someone taking his 5-year-old brother to see Santa at the mall. The younger brother sits on Santa's lap and pulls his beard off, realizes he's fake, and feels betrayed. Thinking fast, the singer replies that the mall Santa is one of Santa's helpers outside of the North Pole.
  • Fountains of Wayne has a song called "The Man in the Santa Suit" about an unnamed guy doing this. He is not very good at it, but the song is from his POV, so it's pointed out that neither is anyone else.
  • Bob Rivers, a parody artist, did a version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" called "There's Another Santa Claus" that is all about this basic concept.
    There's another Santa Claus there / One at the mall and one in the window / Sitting in a velvet chair / Fat ones, skinny ones, tall ones, short ones / Cheeks so rosy and bright / That Christmas cheer smells a lot like beer / Call Santa Claus a cab tonight.

    News Media 
  • The I Can Has Cheezburger site "Sketchy Santas", which displays odd, awkward and sometimes slightly scary moments with real mall Santas.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Madam & Eve: Thandi ambushes the Mall Santa and forces him to listen to her wish list here.
  • Peanuts:
    • In an often-reprinted strip, Linus tells Lucy that he wished the store Santa a Happy Hanukkah and discussed "Judas Maccabeus and the cleansing of the Temple" with him. "It's not often you find a Santa Claus interested in religion", he says...
    • It also occurred in a later series of strips which involved Sally Brown expressing her concern that Santa could, "have a coronary in some kid's living room", and visiting a department store to tell the Santa there to watch out for his cholesterol and try to, "check for a crease in his ear lobes." She gets chucked out of the place and arrives home to hear news that a department store Santa had a heart attack and had to be rushed to hospital after a little girl caused a disturbance earlier on.
  • Parodied in Pearls Before Swine when Rat and Pig accidentally end up with the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh and take him to the mall dressed as Santa.
    Rat: Go ahead, kid...tell Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh what you want for next Christmas.

     Puppet Shows 
  • In "A Berry Bear Christmas" on Bear in the Big Blue House, the kids were told that Santa Claus was busy, so they got to meet one of his helpers, Santa Hogg, at the Woodland Valley Mall, who was actually just regular character Doc Hogg dressed up.
    Pip and Pop: Doesn't he look familiar?
  • Fraggle Rock: Uncle Matt meets a mall Santa and thinks he's a wish-granting creature because kids tell him what they'd like him to bring them for Christmas.
    Uncle Matt: According to my little friends, this jolly old fellow came out of hiding once a year to make secret dreams come true.


    Video Games 
  • While not in a mall, there's a mission where you have to beat up elves belonging to a man in a Santa costume in the town square in Bully. The hobo Santa could also count.
  • In the Christmas Episode of The Darkside Detective, the Santa at Twin Lakes Mall is abducted and replaced by The Krampus, who proceeds to spread chaos. This being Twin Lakes, it turns out he's the actual, real Santa, not just an old guy in a costume.
  • A random Santa Claus can be seen wondering the streets of Dobuita late in the year in Shenmue. He carries a bell, greets with "Merry Christmas" and everything.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 comic "A Smissmas Story", Scout, Soldier, and Spy all end up being sentenced to community service for blowing up a mall santa training facility. Being Team Fortress, Hilarity Ensues
  • During the Feast of Winter's Veil in World of Warcraft, "Greatfather Winter" can be found in Ironforge and Orgrimmar, with both versions simply being surly actors hired by the goblin cartels commercializing the holidays.
  • A mall Santa appears in Week 5 of Friday Night Funkin', being held at gunpoint by Daddy Dearest and Mommy Mearest as they have a rap battle with Boyfriend. After their songs end, the mall is ravaged and emptied off-screen and the Monster appears wearing the Santa's bloodied hat, implying that he killed him.

     Web Animation 
  • Element Animation: "Christmas With the Villagers'' features a mall Santa who tells a child to "Get in the bag" after the child calls him a fake.

  • Brad from The Class Menagerie was one, and approved of a kid's desire to have a shotgun for Christmas.
  • The Ends has the crazy priest preaching from a mall Santa's chair.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Kevin takes a temp job as a mall Santa to earn the money to buy Kell's family heirlooms from her brother Ralph, who plans to sell them off anyway. He's surprised when ex-wife Angelique, herding her stepchildren from her (failed) second marriage, fails to recognize him. (It's pointed out to him that, with twenty children to keep track of, anyone would be a bit distracted.)
  • Psycho Mantis attempted to get a job as one in The Last Days of FOXHOUND. He bounced when someone got ahold of his employee record (or, rather, complete lack of one). Ocelot, upon learning of it, becomes completely freaked out.
  • Multiplex has the Blogger play the part of a movie theater Santa, in which role he frequently argues with the kids' taste in movies, at odds with the jolly persona he's supposed to maintain. On quite a few occasions he loses the argument.
  • Tycho from Penny Arcade worked as one.
  • In PVP, Skull is accidentally pressganged into being a mall Santa while stoned on a bad orange julius and ends up telling a mother where she can buy the game console Francis had squirreled away for himself.
  • In an early Something*Positive strip, Jason works as a mall Santa. A circle of children's heads demonstrates the inevitable questions posed to him. The final panel is someone asking him what he wants for Christmas, to which he replies, "A vasectomy."
    • On top of this, though, the first girl on his lap mentioned how she'd asked for a kitten the year before, and instead got Tap shoes (metal plates on the heels and toes). Her mother told her to thank Santa for bringing them, and she decided to show them off, leading into a Curse Cut Short. Given just that experience, who can blame Jason for being a bit cynical?
  • In World of Fizz Fergo, already a security guard, was assigned to play Santa at the mall one year.

    Web Original 
  • An AsteroidQuest Christmas Special side-story has Polo and Rokoa in a Buddy Cop Show, currently looking for an important witness in a mall. When he's spotted in Santa's chair, Polo is extremely displeased, because it means that the only way she can talk to the witness without attracting suspicion from nearby crooks will be through making use of her diminutive stature to approach him a a kid.
  • One video created by Buzzfeed is titled "Things Santa Does That Would be Creepy if You Did Them", and one of them is having strangers sit on your lap to negotiate.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: In "Christmas Tree of Might", one of Turles' mooks had this job, and he was particularly nasty about it, dropping a fire truck on one kid's house and killing another because he asked him to get rid of his cancer.
    Krillin: God, you are one of the worst mall Santas ever — right behind those ones that molest kids!
    Slay: So I'm the worst mall Santa?
    Krillin: Oh, come on!
  • There exists a widely-circulated online story of a Mall Santa in Wisconsin who took justice into his own hands by beating the snot out of a child molester after hearing a little girl's wish that "her stepdad would stop touching her at night". It was, however, fake.
  • Improv Everywhere has the "Mall Santa Musical" song about adults' desire to sit on a mall Santa's lap.
  • In Jack Vale Films, one of Jack's "Nonsense" pranks takes place at a mall around Christmas, and a mall Santa joins in when Jack starts babbling about things not working.
  • Tariq dresses up like this to earn some cash in the KateModern episode "Grabbed By The Bells". "You think your life is a mess? I'm a 24-year-old Muslim man dressed as Santa!"
  • The Misadventures of Onipex and Pals had two in the second Christmas episode. One of which molested Jevik as a child.
  • A woman had to pose as Santa. Ponderous Woman
  • The eponymous Tourettes Guy aptly describes his dad as one. Big mistake.
    Danny: Fuck you and every mall Santa that looks like you!
  • Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware has Vin Diesel serving as a Birthday Santa during Tommy's birthday party.
  • The fourth episode of Helluva Boss has a group of Cherubs trying to show an infirm, suicidal supervillain a mall Santa to show the simple joys and purpose that childhood wonderment can provide. Blitzo gives them the counter-argument by revealing "Santa" to be a gross, scabby pedophile in disguise. Chaos ensues.
    Kid: SANTA'S EVIL!

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series had hard-nosed gumshoe Harvey Bullock going undercover as a mall Santa. Let's just say there have been better candidates.
    Kid: "You're not the real Santy Clause!"
    Bullock: "Sure I am. Wanna see my gun?"
    Renee Montaya: (Dope Slaps him).
  • In Beetlejuice, the episode "Keeping Up With the Boneses" sees Beetlejuice forced to work off his credit card debt by becoming a badly-costumed Mall Santa (a pillow he's using as stuffing is visible), with Lydia playing his elf. Beetlejuice, of course, is less than happy about all of this.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In the episode, "Nice-Capades", the Belcher kids harass a man out of a store's massage chair, only to learn that he was a Mall Santa on his break. Worried that he'll tell the real Santa about their bad behavior, Louise schemes with her siblings to put on an ice show to show just how nice they were all year.
    • In "Yachty or Nice", Teddy is playing Santa at the Yacht Club boat parade, handing out presents donated by Yacht Club members. Louise thinks she can get Teddy to give her and her siblings good presents without getting in line, but he’s too nice to do that.
  • The Boondocks episode "A Huey Freeman Christmas" has a subplot where Riley, angry at not having received a Christmas gift he asked for in previous years, physically attacks the local Mall Santa with golf clubs and BB guns. After hiring a security guard for Santa does nothing to deter Riley, Uncle Ruckus is left as the only Woodcrest resident willing to be the Mall Santa, but none of the children who come to the mall are willing to accept a black Santa Claus as real.
  • Clone High: The episode "Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Episode" features a variant with a Mall Snowflake Jake, as it is established in the setting that Christmas and all other religious holidays have been abolished and replaced by a secular winter holiday called Snowflake Day, with a pirate named Snowflake Jake being the Santa Claus equivalent.
  • In "Dan Vs. the Mall Santa", Dan is actually an elf. However, a matter of opinion (plus the fact that the Mall Santa is a Jerkass) causes him and the faux Santa to bicker. In the end, however, Dan ends up getting him fired for beating him up, and takes his place as the Mall Santa.
  • Family Guy: Stewie Griffin once got the short end of the stick with an Asian Santa who rudely turns him away due to Stewie not telling him what he wants fast enough.
  • The Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "A Very Brrr-y Christmas" has Mr. Mufflin work as a Mall Man-Arctica (an ice-themed superhero who also happens to be this universe's Santa Claus) at the Frosty Mart.
  • The Flintstones: "Christmas Flintstone" has Fred get a second job at the mall and eventually becomes a Mall Santa. He loves it, but then he gets approached to stand in for a very real, very sick Santa Claus.
  • Coco from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends gets a job as one in "A Lost Claus", saying she needed the money to pay off her vacation home. When Mac accidentally rips her beard off, she's fired and refuses to speak to Mac for the rest of the day.
  • Skarr from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. He nearly kills Billy, but no one intervenes (except the elves) until his beard comes off. Then, everyone beats him up for not being Santa. They also start a riot and burn the mall to the ground. In his defense, Billy had emptied his bladder on Skarr's lap before he snapped.
  • In Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas, Chief Quimby is disguised as a Mall Santa in one of the series' more memorable extended gags.
  • Zim abducts a mall Santa to gain information about how to use the image of Santa Claus to Take Over the World.
    Zim: Who are these grubby red bearded men who smell of ham AND VOMIT!
  • The Loud House: In "The Whole Picture", one of Lincoln's photos he tries to recreate with Clyde is him sitting on a mall Santa's lap.
  • Dr. Rockzo, the Rock & Roll Clown who does Cocaine, got a job as a Mall Santa after he was given a Get Outof Jail Free Card. Toki, who apparently believes in Santa Claus, ran into him.
    • "That's don'ts makes sense!"
  • In A Pinky and the Brain Christmas, The Brain once tried to take over the World by posing as a Mall Santa. Given his diminutive size, it did not end well.
  • The main six in Recess meet a mall Santa in the Christmas Episode. Though out of frustration, he rips his beard off and asks his assistant if they can get the next mall Santa to cover.
  • In Rocket Power, the gang find an Embarrassing Old Photo of Otto and Reggie sitting on Santa's lap when they were younger, which features Otto crying hysterically. A subplot also features Tito auditioning to play a Mall Santa.
  • In the Rugrats (1991) episode, "The Santa Experience", Angelica cuts in line to see the Mall Santa, and after she tells him the large amount of presents she wants, he tells her he isn't sure he can get them for her. Angelica then rips off his beard and runs through the mall, screaming, "Santa Claus is a fake! Run for your lives!"
  • The Simpsons
    • In the pilot episode, Homer becomes one in order to get the money to buy his family their Christmas presents. Bart finds out it's him when Milhouse dares him to rip off his beard.
    • The much later episode "Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2" featured the title Jack Lemmon figure giving Lisa her wish in his guise as Santa, getting fired over it, and spending the next year sponging off the Simpsons. After the year has passed, Bart is still a ten-year-old fourth grader and Lisa is still eight and in the second grade.
  • In Sonic Christmas Blast, when Dr. Robotnik takes over Santa’s job as "Robotnik Claus", he becomes one of these. Instead of asking children what they want to get for Christmas, he asks them what they want to give him. One little boy does not take this well and calls him out on this, which leads to Robotnik ordering Grounder to take the little boy to his dungeon.


Video Example(s):


Throne of Lies

Buddy discovers that the Gimbel's Santa is not the real Santa that he knows from the North Pole.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / MallSanta

Media sources: