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Saving Christmas

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At this rate, you won't be seen until at least December 26th!
"This is the heartwarming true story of how the weed delivery guy saved Christmas."

Rather than the typical sort of Christmas Special or Christmas Episode, many series (primarily action cartoons) feature some sort of plot in which the protagonists must "save" Christmas (or their local equivalent) in some manner. Flavors of this plot, which can be mixed and matched with each other, include:

  • Santa's Been Kidnapped! — The heroes must rescue Santa Claus; usually they gain friends along the way and teach the villain the True Meaning of Christmas!
  • Sabotaging Saint NickSome villain tries to sabotage Santa's operation (either by trashing his workshop or by abducting Santa), and it's up to the good guys to fix things. Said villain usually repents by the end, having learned the True Meaning of Christmas.
    • Taking Over Christmas — The villain wants to be the guy the kids write to for presents, or perhaps just the source of said presents, which would leave Santa out in the cold so to speak. Don't think this villain has an altruistic motive — they usually intend to profit from the venture and thus discourage the True Meaning of Christmas by encouraging others to focus on getting, not giving.
    • Fake Ultimate Santa — Someone's replaced good ol' Kris Kringle, and he's not so jolly. May overlap with the Bad Santa, except that the heroes have to get the original back.
    • An Anti-Hero Christmas — In this variation, a character or group of characters decide that they're going to try to make it to the North Pole so they can either take Christmas for themselves or alter it in some way for their own benefit, only to find that there's bigger problems to solve. Alternatively, they may end up visiting the North Pole, causing problems along the way, only to realise the true meaning of Christmas and fix everything just in time, much to the applause of their friends.
  • Santa's Sick! — Santa is otherwise indisposed, and the heroes must try as best they can to substitute him. Can they measure up and lead the sleigh? An extreme take on this is that Santa is DEAD — such as in The Santa Clause.
  • Santa's Origin — Who was Santa before he became, well, Santa? These stories tell not just how, but why Santa took up the mantle, and the obstacles he overcame. While there is an actual historical figure behind Santa Claus folklore, Saint Nicholas, Santa origin stories are usually original, secular works that might incorporate traditional folklore to explain such figures as the elves.
    • Legacy Character Santa — The job and title of Santa Claus is passed down over the ages — and it's time to pass the torch. It can be either a family member or a deserving stranger, but expect some drama in the process, with the future of Christmas at stake. If it's a stranger, they will nigh-inevitably be an adult who no longer believes in Santa and thus will need a lot of convincing.
  • Visit the North Pole — A child character(s) doesn't believe in Santa, or wants to make sure he gets their letter. They travel through an (thankfully) imaginary and short distance to the North Pole. They may even get to ride the sleigh!
    • A variation that's seldom seen these days (aside from works explicitly aimed at Christian audiences) has characters visiting The Nativity of Jesus (or a suspiciously similar incident) instead, either by living in that era or travelling through time. This is usually a means to renew their dying faith or a way to get a Christmas Miracle.
  • Santa Needs Children's Faith — The unobtanium fueling Santa/his sleigh/the North Pole in general runs on children's faith in him, and it's running dangerously low! Santa has to bring the spirit of Christmas into the hearts of children.
    • Santa's Test Of Character — The heroes encounter a nice old man/suspicious character/crazy bum. He seems somewhat like Santa and/or repeatedly claims he is Santa. He eventually leaves and the truth is revealed that he wasn't Santa. Or was he?
    • The Naughty and Nice Lists — Santa is disgruntled with humanity's naughtiness — especially greed and/or disbelief — and considers giving up on them and the holiday. The heroes have to convince him that Rousseau Was Right.
  • Personal Santa — The most mundane version, common in Sitcoms, involves financial problems or a minor disaster ruining the holiday celebrations on a personal or local level. Luckily, if the characters show the True Spirit of Christmas, Santa (or a plausibly deniable representative thereof, see Secret Test of Character) will give everyone a special gift. Maybe not what they wanted, but what they need or deserve.
  • Santa's Cousin, Twice Removed — Take one of the above stories, but make the protagonist Mrs. Claus, an elf, a reindeer, his brother, son, daughter, (deep breath) or accountant. They usually start by having a crisis of faith (not in Santa, but their own utility), and then a situation arises where they have to step up and help Santa a la Rudolph.
    • The Elf Who Tried Too Hard — An elf, Mrs. Claus, etc. knows their abilities but feels unappreciated if not unwanted by Santa (whether they actually are varies). To prove their worthiness to Santa and the world they set out to improve Christmas in some way but ends up, sometimes with the "help" of a villain who sees an opportunity to cause trouble, causing a holiday-threatening crisis that they and/or Santa need to fix.
    • How The Anti-Grinch Spoiled Christmas — A third party wishes to have a beautiful Christmas or provide it to everybody; unfortunately their zeal, bumbling, and whichever methods they choose all assist in bringing disaster. Subbing for Santa by force is an occasional application of this trope, although something as dumb as injuring Santa with their Over The Top Christmas Decorations or wronging someone with their stupidity (which tosses them and those they love into the Naughty list head-first) is much more common.
  • Everyone's Naughty — A person gets jealous of other people being Nice and not them, so they trick Santa into thinking everyone's Naughty. The hero must prove to him that those people are nice.
  • The Apocalypse with Bad Timing — The local area, or even the entire world, is in danger of being hit by an asteroid, consumed by an Apocalypse How, destroyed or taken over by some super villain, etc... and to add insult to injury, it just so happens to be Christmastime! Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday after all. The heroes, possibly with Santa and his helpers assisting, have to save the day, and by extension save Christmas.

Sometimes the Mall Santa will be called in to help. Be careful though, because Bad Santa might take his place. Luckily Badass Santa will come to save the day!

Extra points if, on realizing the predicament, someone remarks, "Christmas is going to be canceled!"

Compare An Asskicking Christmas (for when "messing with Christmas" and "saving Christmas" both involve the gratuitous application of firepower). See also Subbing for Santa if saving Christmas means literally walking a mile in Santa's shoes.

For the Kirk Cameron Mockumentary of the same name, which isn't really an example, see here.


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  • In this commercial for Energizer batteries, when none of the trees have any presents under them, the Energizer Bunny travels to the North Pole to wake up Santa with his loud drumming so he can deliver the presents, since Santa’s alarm clock is powered by the ever-unreliable Supervolt battery.
  • In 2017, 21 years after M&M's famous "They do exist" commercial, a follow-up was made, where after making Santa faint, Yellow feels emotional guilt and decides it's up to him to save Christmas by delivering the presents. He tries his best, but ends up accidentally giving the presents to the wrong people. Santa is awakened the next morning by his advisors, who inform him of this. Yellow worries that he messed things up as usual, but upon seeing people give each other their presents, Red says "Actually, Buddy, I think you made it even better.", since Yellow's act brought them together.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Kyouran Kazoku Nikki had its Christmas-saving episode done in its usual wacky fashion. Though Kyouka did shoot Santa down with a bazooka first, so it's her fault that it needed to be saved to begin with...
  • Magician's Academy had a Personal Santa and a Secret Test of Character scenario. The episode involved finding a toy Takuto wanted as a kid through a Chain of Deals, culminating in a high speed explosive car chase.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey starts out with Zero getting lost in Christmas Town, then becomes this type of plot when Santa offers to let Zero light the star on the tree and a jealous reindeer tries to sabotage him and through doing so, ends up setting the banquet hall/toy factory on fire.
  • The first season Ojamajo Doremi had one of these aired as a Christmas special.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: The episode "Holiday Hi-Jynx" has the characters going to return Santa's lost Jynx to the North Pole. The Team Rocket trio follows them and tries to steal all of Santa's presents because Jessie wants to get back at Santa for stealing her dolly. This turns out to be a misunderstanding; Santa's Jynx took the broken doll to be fixed and couldn't bring it back because Jessie no longer lived in the same place.
  • Powerpuff Girls Z: In "All Ken Wants for Christmas", Mojo Jojo kidnaps Santa and all his helpers, so the Powerpuff Girls have to rescue them. Santa and his helpers are behind schedule because of the kidnapping, so the girls help deliver the presents.

    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of DC Comics Presents from the early 80's, Superman teamed up with Santa Claus to stop The Toyman from controlling children with his toys on Christmas Eve. It all turned out to be All Just a Dream... or was it?
  • The third issue of the black-and-white 64-page version of Howard the Duck had Howard save Christmas from being taken over by an anthropomorphic lightbulb named Greedy Killerwhatt.
  • One Looney Tunes comic had Santa break his leg at Daffy's house, forcing him and a visiting Bugs to take over.
  • Decades later, Plastic Man tells a story to his sidekick's nephew how Santa saved the Justice League from the demon Neron by giving Neron woolen socks and itchy underwear for Christmas. Given that Plas is a habitual liar who rarely takes things seriously, this was presumably a tall tale.
  • Sensation Comics: In issue 38 the Wonder Woman feature Di goes to a tenament to deliver presents to all the children living there after a boy tells her he and his sister didn't get any presents last year. While there she speaks with the boy's mother and learns his uncle is a criminal, who in a petty fit of rage broke the two toys she'd saved up for all year to give to her children and Wondy replaces the presents and takes down the uncle and everyone else involved in his racket. At the end she gives the message that "Santa Claus is the spirit of love! Santa uses many forms—mothers, fathers, loving people everywhere so he can appear all over the world on Christmas eve!"
  • The Norwegian comic book Truls og Trine Redder Julen (Truls and Trine Saves Christmas follows the conventions of this trope to a T. Christmas is ruined because someone stole Santa's sack of gifts? Check. The thief is a gruff monster (in this case, a troll with a Freudian Excuse)? Check. The monster reforms when innocent children show him a little bit of kindness? Check.
  • In Zombies Christmas Carol, thanks to a Zombie Apocalypse he himself caused, if Scrooge doesn't shape up, mankind and its Christmases are doomed. The Ghost of Christmas Present laments what should be happening on the holiday, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is now the Ghost of Christmases That Will Never Come, represented as Scrooge himself.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Downplayed on Arthur Christmas when a clerical error ensures that one kid won't get a present from Santa, forcing the titular character to race to deliver it to her (seeing the happiness of every single kid as incredibly precious, contrary to the incredibly-efficient-yet-kind-of-unknowingly-heartless industrialization that his brother Steve has brought to Santa's operation). Played with when misunderstandings end up causing a chain of events that nearly trigger a shut-down on the Pole (the "elf who tried too hard" variation) and outright parodied when the same misunderstandings have NORAD believing that Arthur is an alien invader and try to get him shot out of the sky (and they call this quote verbatim when the military believes it succeeded).
  • The Bears Who Saved Christmas revolves around a family getting stranded into an abandoned cottage during a blizzard while on their way to grandma's for Christmas, and the two children are worried about Santa Claus not being able to find them and bestow Christmas upon them. That very night, the children's teddy bears come to life and try to save Christmas by getting a perfect Christmas tree for the family.
  • In "Christmas: Impossible" from Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Huey, Dewey and Louie decide to go to the North Pole to try and write their names on the nice list, only to accidentally cause a huge mess at Santa's workshop. Deciding to redeem themselves, the trio help the elves put everything back together in record time, and write Scrooge's name onto the list instead of theirs, saving Christmas and finally leading Santa to place them on the nice list too.
  • The My Friends Tigger & Pooh film Pooh's Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is about the Super Sleuths (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and series-exclusive character Darby) and most of the rest of the cast going on a quest to bring Holly the reindeer back to the North Pole after she finds Santa's magic sack of toys, which he dropped while flying over the Hundred Acre Wood.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas plays the Sabotaging Saint Nick plot straight, but with a subversion of the hero's role in the plot. Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween and the protagonist, takes over Christmas by kidnapping Santa Claus (though he wasn't malicious; he told his henchmen to keep Santa comfortable but they didn't comply), just because he's looking for a change of pace, but botches the big night. He then has to save Santa from his (Jack's) own badly-monitored henchmen.
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer. One of Santa's reindeer is injured and can't make the Christmas run. Santa gets on the television and pleads for "all of the other reindeer" that can fly to come and try to replace him. A dog named Olive mishears him and is convinced that she's actually a reindeer, so she strikes out for the North Pole to try and save Christmas. Matt Groening executive produced and Michael Stipe shows up for a musical number. Olive is an interesting case because it has two varieties of the Saving Christmas plot. In addition to the injured reindeer, there's a disgruntled postman trying to "cancel" Christmas because of both the extra work the Christmas season creates for the post office and his own long-standing personal grudge against Santa.
  • Pixi Post & the Gift Bringers, which is fittingly titled Pixi Saves Christmas in the English dub, is a Taking Over Christmas plot where the Big Bad seeks to remove not only Santa but all of the other mythological figures who fulfill his role in other parts of the world, by using a device to turn them into advertisements and becoming the one and only holiday genie. The heroine is a snarky IT specialist elf who uncovers his plot while trying to uncover what happened to his first victim.
  • Rise of the Guardians has a rare variant where the gang has to save Easter. Of course, Santa and other folklore spirits have tagged along, and the existence of all of them (including Christmas) is at risk.
    Santa: Bunny is right. For once, as much as I hate to admit it, my friend, Easter IS more important than Christmas.
  • In Santa Claus and the Magic Drum, a mysterious, poltergeist-like force starts sabotaging Santa's workshop shortly before Christmas, and Santa and his helpers (who are more like gnomes than elves in this case since the film is Finnish) must figure out what's going on. Things take a turn for the worse when Santa catches a bad cold when pursuing the man behind the magical attacks, and it looks like he won't recover in time to work on Christmas.
  • The premise of The Star as described in previews: "On November 17, one donkey, three camels, a dancing bird, and one pygmy gerboa are teaming up to save the first Christmas."
  • The Trolls and the Christmas Express featured a band of trolls who had infiltrated the North Pole in an attempt to sabotage Christmas because... reasons. They're fairly successful, even managing to crash the sleigh, but when Santa decides to use the titular Christmas Express to deliver presents instead, the trolls are convinced to do a temporary Heel–Face Turn to help extend the track when they're told trolls had always been an integral and recognized part of the holiday.
    Elf: Troll, the ancient yuletime carol...
  • Welcome Back Pinocchio: The Coachman, alongside the Cat, the Fox and his two new henchmen Robot and Harlequin, decide to kidnap Santa Claus in order to use his sleigh and costume to commit frauds and turn his elves into their servants. Why? To show that they're evil. Pinocchio gets caught into one of the aforemented frauds, turns back into a puppet and later on decides to go to the North Pole to save Santa after discovering the whole truth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A Country Christmas two children must help the public believe in Santa Claus again or he'll vanish forever.
  • In the last third of Elf, the engine on Santa's sleigh falls out, and Buddy and his family must make Manhattan believe in Santa — without a sighting — in order to re-power the sleigh. To make things more complicated, the New York Central Park Rangersnote  are riding towards Santa's crash site like the Nazgûl to make damned sure Santa gets the slammer… or the wrong end of their batons.
  • Ernest Saves Christmas was probably the first film to use the Legacy Character Santa plot. Cab driver Ernest is helping the current Santa contact his successor, a doubtful children's performer. At one point Santa ends up in jail and Ernest has to break him out; the latter's worried what will happen to Santa locked in a cell with a bunch of hardened criminals. Ironic Echo Cut to Santa leading the hardened criminals in singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas". Also contains one of the most badass lines ever said by Santa:
    Santa Claus: The name... is Santa Claus.
  • The "Jewsploitation" film The Hebrew Hammer centers around a plot by Santa's betraying son, played by Andy Dick. He assassinates his father, becomes Santa, and launches a worldwide campaign to eliminate all other December holidays. Only "The Hammer" can save Channukah.
  • A unique take on Santa's Origin story is the 2007 Finnish film Joulutarina (Christmas Storynot that one! — in English), which posits that Santa was once Nikolas, an orphaned boy of Lapland (which, in much European lore, is where Santa lives rather than the North Pole) whose affection for the families of his village who took turns raising him to adolescence is manifested with him leaving hand-carved toys to their kids. As he turns the heart of a grouchy hermit woodcutter and slowly expands his mission to surrounding villages, elements such as helpers and reindeer are slowly brought in. Notably has no fantasy elements until the very last scene, when on what looks to be his very last run due to old age, he Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence, making his dream of the gift-giving tradition lasting forever a reality.
  • A particularly horrible (in a good way) portrayal is in The Proposition, when Morris and Martha Stanley's Christmas dinner is beset by outlaw Arthur Burns and Side Kick Sam Stote, who have come to rape and murder. Arthur's brother Charlie arrives just in time to save Christmas.
  • Let's not forget the notorious kids' movie Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, in which Santa's sleigh gets stuck in the sand on a Florida beach, leaving him alone (the reindeer have scarpered back to the North Pole, hilariously), disconsolate, and visibly sweaty in his Santa suit. He calls a bunch of nearby kids to save him so his presents can be delivered, and, after failing to dislodge the sleigh themselves, they draft a number of local animals to help (including a gorilla). In the end, the kids recruit a malformed creature called the Ice Cream Bunny, who arrives triumphantly in a fire engine to save Christmas after all. (All of this is actually a framing device for a totally different film — either an adaptation of "Thumbelina" or "Jack and the Beanstalk", depending on the print — via the excuse of Santa letting the kids rest from their labors on his behalf so he can tell them a story.)
  • Santa Baby: Jenny McCarthy (yeah, that Jenny McCarthy) is Santa's daughter and has to take over the family business when dad is sick.
  • In Santa Buddies, because of the lack of joy in the air, Santa's reindeer become out of sorts (Comet sneezes, while Cupid and Dancer start behaving out of character) and Santa's technology becomes unreliable. Santa's dog, Santa Paws, his son Puppy Paws, and Puppy Paws's friends, have to spread joy to save the day.
  • The Santa Clause features Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a divorced man who must become the new Santa when the old one is killed falling off the roof of his house. It's a slight variant: He has an entire year to transform.
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is one of the earlier examples of Santa's Been Kidnapped! — the titular Martians want him to bring happiness to their malaise-stricken kids. How will he and two innocent human kids caught up in the plot get back to Earth in time for Christmas?
  • Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) was made by the producers of the original run of live-action Superman films and critics noted its similar structure: it first presents Santa's Backstory, then moves on to what was then The Present Day as a Corrupt Corporate Executive solely interested in making money off of the holiday draws upon the talents of a well-meaning but naive elf who ran away from the North Pole to prove himself. While Santa does get upstaged for one Christmas, the story ends with things put to rights for the future. Thus it counts as Santa's Origin Story and Taking Over Christmas, is probably the first use of The Elf Who Tried Too Hard (hence the name), and for bonus points works The Sleigh Is Broke! into the climax (which takes place a few weeks after Christmas; two reindeer have come down with the flu, making Santa's race to rescue the elf and a homeless boy harder).
  • In The Santa Trap a girl captures Santa to prove he exists, but ends up getting him sent to jail.

  • Another children's book, Cops And Robbers by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, has the robbers stealing presents from homes on Christmas Eve. Luckily the good old cops are onto them.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Hogfather, the titular Hogfather (the Discworld equivalent of Santa Claus) is assassinated (for want of a better word, since the Hogfather is a sort of immortal quasi-deity), and Death is the one to stand in for him. Meanwhile, Death's granddaughter Susan (it's a long story) tries to find out what happened to the Hogfather and fix things. This being Discworld, it gives a philosophical reason why the celebration needs to be saved, goes over some of the origin myths behind it, and visits several other classic Christmas tales in a very tongue-in-cheek way.
  • An early example is J. R. R. Tolkien's The Father Christmas Letters, written as "replies" to his children's letters to Father Christmas in the 1920s and '30s. In the early letters a running theme is that Father Christmas' assistant the North Polar Bear (Karhu) keeps accidentally screwing up Christmas at the last moment (e.g. by 'snapping the North Pole'), and everything is only put right again through hard work. In later letters, matters evolve to make the NPB more of a heroic figure, and he helps fight off invasions of goblins that supposedly parallel the real-life events of World War II (and may have been an attempt by Tolkien to provide reasons for his children why the war was making Christmas grimmer than usual).
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is an inversion - the Grinch is out to *wreck* Christmas and fails, despite his plan working perfectly, because the Whos show that Christmas isn’t something that can be stolen and thus isn’t in need of saving. Even returning all the stuff he stole doesn’t save Christmas, it saves himself. Of course, the approach became so iconic that it codified an entire subtrope.
  • In How Murray Saved Christmas by Mike Reiss & David Catrow, deli owner Murray reluctantly fills in when a Jack-in-the-Boxer knocks Santa out cold.
  • Another origin story is Frank L. Baum's The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, which has had several Animated Adaptations.
  • The children's book The Polar Express (and later The Film of the Book) features the Visit The North Pole variety.
  • Rainbow Magic has had several Christmas-based special books over the years, and they all follow the same structure: Jack Frost steals the three items used by (insert Christmas-themed fairy here) in order to ruin the holidays for some petty reason, the fairies contact Rachel and Kirsty to help them get the items back, the girls do that and save Christmas, and Santa gets mentioned and/or makes a brief appearance.
  • Deconstructed in G. K. Chesterton's short story "The Shop Of Ghosts." The narrator encounters Father Christmas in an old toy shop and sees that he appears to be very sickly and dying. Suddenly the narrator is joined by the ghosts of Charles Dickens, then Sir Richard Steele, then progressively more ancient figures, all of whom observe that Father Christmas always seemed to be dying in their times as well. Dickens finally figures out the truth: Father Christmas has always been dying but will never die.
  • In SantaKid, Christmas is placed under threat when a Corrupt Corporate Executive barges in and purchases it, with even Santa losing the Christmas spirit as a result. Luckily, Santa's child manages to save the day by subbing in for him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Christmas Episode of All That included a sketch in which Superdude rescues Santa from Milkman.
  • Amazing Stories did the Santa's in the Slammer! plot with "Santa '85". Actor Douglas Seale went on to play Santa again in Ernest Saves Christmas (see Films — Live-Action above), which also has a Santa-in-jail stretch.
  • A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All plays with this trope by having Stephen trapped in his mountain cabin by a bear. He laments:
    I've got to get to my studio to do my Christmas special! That's where Santa brings my presents every year! If I don't, then Christmas won't come! ...for me!
  • Danger Force: "Down Goes Santa" deals with Chapa accidenatally downing Santa's sleigh, allowing for Santa's evil brother Krampus to try to kill the Christmas spirit by making sure no one cares about the holiday anymore.
  • An episode of Early Edition had the "Secret Test of Character" plot.
  • In Jim Henson's The Great Santa Claus Switch, the evil magician Cosmo Scam decides to kidnap Santa, take his place, and use his annual Christmas sleigh ride as a way to burglarize every home in the world. It's up to one of Santa's elves named Fred to stop him.
  • Very few series that are a so-called Julekalender do not feature this type of plot to some degree. Some are more subtle than others, though. In some series, the characters will directly state that they have to save Christmas from day one, while others may only feature "saving an aspect of Christmas" as a side-plot. The exception, however, is most "Voksenjulekalendere" ("Grown-Up's Christmas Calendars") that take place at Christmas and has several Christmas elements, but essentially are episodic comedy series that often parody something entirely non-Christmas-related.
  • The fourth episode of The Librarians 2014, "...And Santa's Midnight Run" has the Serpent Brotherhood kidnap Santa and the Librarians have to rescue him. And then ensure he's at the North Pole in time to convert all the goodwill he's collected over the year into hope ("The Gift").
  • The 1984 TV movie The Night They Saved Christmas combines a visit to the Pole with the sabotage plot. The sabotage is unintentional on the part of oil prospectors who are dynamiting the nearby area and don't know/believe Santa and the gang exist, so the family of a company employee is brought to "North Pole City" so they can understand the problem and prevent the city from being destroyed — but then they can't convince anyone else of what they've seen. The day is saved through unconventional means: Santa mentions at one point that a seemingly dry well will produce oil soon, news they relay to the employee. When that comes to pass, he realizes that his family spoke the truth and an aide manages to stop the dynamiting with seconds to spare. Only after this do he and the others get definitive confirmation that Santa's real.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch more or less had to save Christmas once a year. In one instance, she accidentally injures an old friend of her aunts', who turns out to be a clean-shaven Santa, having shed his winter pounds, and must fill in for him. In another, a magical remote control erases Christmas from existence, and she must engender enough Christmas spirit to restore it before time runs out. Santa is again a key factor in this one.
  • Saturday Night Live did a Santa Is Sick! parody Christmas special, "The Night Hannukah Harry Saved Christmas".
  • The straight-to-video Sesame Street film Elmo Saves Christmas is actually a double-subversion, because the initial saving happens in the first twenty minutes; the rest involves Elmo's wish — for it to be Christmas Every Day — almost destroying Christmas again, but luckily he is shown in a Wonderful Life style series of Flash Forwards how things would pan out in the long run, and he ultimately saves Christmas again by taking back his wish.
    • Elmo saves Christmas again in Elmo's Christmas Countdown, when a clerical error at the North Pole puts Oscar in charge of making Christmas happen, and naturally he decides not to.
  • Completely averted in "A Very Supernatural Christmas." Sam and Dean think at first that they're fighting a creature called "The Anti-Claus," like Black Peter, who punishes naughty people. In one scene, Sam points out how Christmas is just a bunch of pagan rituals smashed together with a Christian excuse for celebration, much to Dean's dismay. It turns out that they're up against a (married) couple of elderly Stepford Smiling pagan gods, whom they kill with Christmas tree branches. They saved innocent lives and maimed and mangled Christmas traditions while they were at it, but Christmas itself was never actually in danger.

  • Hinatazaka46's Christmas concerts in 2019 and 2020 have a loosely-connected storyline about saving the Christmas Town in the World in the Sky.
  • Relient K's song "Santa Claus Is Thumbing to Town" subverts this by setting up a scenario where Christmas clearly needs saving, desperately... and then it just ends.
  • Songdrops: In "Skunkles the Christmas Skunk", Santa's sleigh gets stuck, but a Smelly Skunk named Skunkles saves the day by spraying the reindeer so that they'll get a rush of adrenaline and pull him out.
  • Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas box set includes a comic strip by Tom Eaton, "It Was the Worst Christmas Ever!", in which Santa is suffering from winter depression, and Sufjan is called in to cheer him up with music. And completely fails. Just when it looks like Santa's depression will force everyone to cancel Christmas, Sufjan hits on the solution of feeding chocolate to Santa until he gets hopped up on sugar and caffeine.
  • Many of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's albums have a Saving Christmas theme, but it's on a much more personal level than other examples.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield parodies this regularly with specials Garfield is watching, in which crazy characters such as "Bartholomew the Centipede" save Christmas.
  • In the last weekday strip of Steve Roper And Mike Nomad, Mike saves an old bearded guy from a mugging. The victim isn't identified, but this was printed around December 24, 2004...
  • One storyline from Gene Deitch's Terr'ble Thompson (a short-lived fifties strip) featured Thompson trying to convince Santa Claus that kids still believe in him.

  • One of Stan Freberg's Dragnet parodies involved Joe Friday taking a Scrooge-esque character named Grudge to the North Pole, to demonstrate to Grudge that Santa is real (despite there being no law that says one must believe in Santa). Once Grudge believes, he gets all the presents that were piling up for him during his time of non-belief.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played with in the Christmas content series of posts of Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, where Christmas' spirit is under attack... by Christmas. It is eventually revealed that the Big Bad of this scenario hated Christmas so much that she had to create an ironic end for it: Either it never comes to the adventure's setting, and it stays a tragedy, or the wooden people that live in there die because it comes. In either case, its spirit becomes corrupted and turned against itself. The adventure even gives out rules for destroying Christmas if the players want to.
  • Subverted in an exceedingly horrible way in the Risus adventure A Kringle In Time, in which the only way to save Christmas is to kill Santa. Seven times. ...and that's not even mentioning the Cranulon Replacement Baby Jesus, or the one that's actually a cleverly-disguised time bomb.
  • The Spirit of the Century spin-off Spirit of the Season also makes this its central theme, with an entire Rogues Gallery of baddies to threaten it.

  • The 7th Tsukiuta stage play, Cyber-Dive Connection: The main characters have to Save Santa, who's been kidnapped by the Digital World, which grew more powerful than the Fairy World because children believe in technology more than in fairies nowadays (Santa is considered a fairy in the Tsukipro verse, apparently). So, they rescue Santa... in sexy Cyber Goth costumes. And then they sing Christmas songs.

    Video Games 
  • Frostval in the world of Lore is in constant need of saving by the various heroes of AdventureQuest, DragonFable, AdventureQuest Worlds and others.
  • In the Alone in the Dark Gaiden Game Jack in the Dark, you play as Grace Saunders — a young girl who would be important in the then-upcoming Alone in the Dark 2 — and have to rescue Santa Claus from a Living Toy version of the Big Bad of Alone in the Dark 2.
  • In Amateur Surgeon: Christmas Edition, Alan goes to save Christmas after he utterly annihilated it by colliding his private jet with Santa and then crashing it into the North Pole. Once in ground, Alan sets about treating the people who were injured by the crash.
  • Animal Crossing: Both the New Leaf and New Horizons Toy Day events have elements of this trope. In the former, Jingle simply doesn't want to deliver presents and asks the player to take his place instead; in the latter, he realizes that he's run out of festive wrapping paper and asks the player to make more for him so he can wrap everything, then asks them to deliver presents.
  • The Christmas Episode of The Darkside Detective: Santa is kidnapped and replaced by a malicious impostor, and after that's all sorted out, Santa discovers his sleigh has been clamped by a traffic cop with no Christmas spirit, and McQueen has to help him solve that problem too. Also, a little girl learns the true meaning of Christmas after Santa gives her the gift she always wanted (a chainsaw). Awww.
  • Daze Before Christmas is an obscure Platformer game where the player assumes the role of a chibi-Santa out to save Christmas by collecting assorted presents stolen by an evil mouse.
  • In EverQuest, there are a number of quests to save Santug Claugg, the red suited ogre who gives out presents on Frostfell.
  • The plot of Happyland Adventures: X-mas Edition is that Santa's helpers have all disappeared, and the player is tasked with finding them in time for Christmas Day.
  • Heroes of the Seasons: The premise of the game is that Utania Village needs to hire mercenaries to protect them during Christmas Eve, due to Gobi's anti-Christmas coalition declaring war on them.
  • In How the Grinch Saved Christmas, a Licensed Game of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the player must match the presents together before the sun rises on Christmas morning, so that the Grinch can deliver them before the Who's wake up.
  • In the Halloween Town world of Kingdom Hearts II, Sora, Donald, and Goofy have to help Jack save Santa from a resurrected Oogie Boogie, and later stop a robot who is stealing all of Santa's presents.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has done this, to varying extents of actually saving the holiday, with its special Crimbo events. Since 2005 Crimbo has needed saving from a workers' strike, a takeover by the Queen of Halloween, assimilation by the Crimborg, radiation-induced mutations, the Penguin Mafia, bland and inoffensive corporate culture, a candy trade embargo, a Humongous Mecha, heavily-armed bears, rebellious robots, a turf war between commie reindeer and hippie elves, Uncle Crimbo's inner demons, joy-sucking evil mimes, and more.
  • Plague Inc. has the Christmas scenario "Santa's Little Helper", where the world has become sad and miserable since fun and happiness is outlawed and it's up to the Neurax Worm (with the default name of XMA-3) to bring happiness back to the world the only way it knows: by infecting everyone on earth and brainwashing them into being happy. If you invest in the right abilities, you can bring Santa and Rudolph out of retirement so they can start delivering presents again, causing happiness levels to skyrocket.
  • This is the entire point of the Saints Row IV DLC, How The Saints Save Christmas. For good measure, it even includes your character as The Grinch of the story.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Episode 1 of Sam and Max Beyond Time And Space, "Ice Station Santa", has the duo go to the North Pole to stop a plot that may jeopardize Christmas as well as the world.
    Sam: We should be going, Christmas isn't going to save itself.
    Max: Yeah, not like that snobby self-sufficient Saint Patrick's Day.
  • Snail Bob 6: Winter Story has Bob on a quest to rescue Snail Santa from an evil rabbit.
  • StarCraft has the bonus mission 'Operation Claws'. In it the Zergrinch kidnaps Santa, and the entire mission is based around rescuing him.

    Web Animation 
  • A variation in Clock Suckers where the main characters have to keep Santa and Mrs. Claus' marriage from falling apart. Mrs. Claus goes on to have sex with the Grinch, but Santa kills him with a baseball bat and they go back together.
  • Subverted in "The First Holiday Film Sequel Written Entirely by Bots".note  Santa Claus sends a message that he has been kidnapped by Christmas Ghouls, so Carol and Human 27 go to save him. However, it turns out Santa's not really been kidnapped, he just wanted to remind the two of them of the meaning of Christmas. The ghouls were elves in disguise. This meant that Santa wasn't around to deliver presents on time, but Mrs. Claus did it in his stead, though Santa still got all the credit and wasn't fired for not doing his job.
  • The Hellsing Ultimate Abridged Christmas special has Alucard killing Santa when he visits the Hellsing Manor. It seems like an accident at first, but Integra figures out that Alucard planned this moment right after he takes responsibility for Christmas. Alucard demands she let him have his "The Nightmare Before Christmas moment". It ends with Alucard getting bored and wandering off.

    Web Comics 
  • The original webcomic version of Axe Cop features a different saving Christmas story than the television show. This time a race of grinch expies steal all the presents in the universe. Axe Cop has to recover all the presents before Christmas is ruined, only to find out the monsters only stole the presents because Santa never visited their planet and they wanted to have Christmas for once. Axe Cop returns the stolen presents, but also gives each of the Xmas monsters their own present, each of which is a bomb. Enough in total to blow up their entire planet.
  • Invoked, mocked, and parodied in Breakpoint City. Two times.
  • This non-canon DMFA storyline invokes and parodies this type of story.
  • In El Goonish Shive Tedd recounting how he saved Christmas is presented as an Orphaned Punchline.
  • Evil, Inc.: Spoofed several ways. Lightning Lady has to do this after Santa gets arrested, and after she says she's saving Christmas, she has to take a number in a line of all the other fictional characters who have done so, (as pictured above).
  • Girl Genius: In the 2020 Christmas side-story the Heterodyne gets called out of town at the last minute and the Revelsmeister has to find someone to sub for her in the local mid-winter festival the Jagerstomp as the kids and tourists are all quite excited for the first Jagerstomp in decades to be done properly with a Heterodyne leading the festivities.
  • This Trope has become a tradition on The Life of Nob T. Mouse when Santa operated on wave-particle duality to arrive at every house at the same time; and something was stealing all the presents.
  • One strip of The Non-Adventures of Wonderella involved Santa getting knocked out, so Jesus saved Christmas.
  • Unusual examples in Sluggy Freelance, with Santa being infected by alien spores and his elves having to prevent him from ruining Christmas by adding same spores to all the presents.
  • Parodied in VG Cats where Krug accidentally boils Santa alive when putting a cauldron to cook under the chimney and announces its his time for him to save Christmas...only to realize how late it was and decides to watch TV instead.

    Web Original 
  • Somewhat subverted in Amateur Surgeon: Christmas Edition when moronic surgeon Alan Probe causes the destruction of Xmas when he collides his private jet with Santa's Sleigh, further crashing into the North Pole. Alan goes to save the holiday by fixing his mistakes with, you guessed is, back alley surgery.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd and Captain S once had to team up to save Christmas while trapped in a video game.
  • Critical Role: "The Night Before Critmas" one-shot involves a group of Santa's elves going on a mission to save him after he is kidnapped on Christmas Eve (in a scenario not dissimilar to The Nightmare Before Christmas).
  • Doctor Steel takes over Christmas (and kills half of Santa's elves) in A Dr. Steel Christmas.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged
    • The Team Four Star crew turned The Tree of Might movie into this. In this version, the heroes had to stop the titular tree from sucking all the Christmas Joy from the earth.
    • Goku spent the majority of the abridged Lord Slug movie believing it was another Christmas special, until Lord Slug set him straight.
    • Plan to Eradicate Christmas has the cast, much to Goku's dismay, save Christmas — and the planet — from Santa Claus.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged did it too. Santa startled Alucard on entering the house and got shot, so Alucard had to take his place. Integra was not happy when she realized Alucard planned it. Seen in full here.
  • Back when the M&Ms official website featured skits starring the M&M characters, one story had Red and Yellow briefly assuming control of Santa's sleigh during his fainting spell (as seen in the TV commercial the story was a follow-up to).
  • Red vs. Blue: Donut tells a story as a distraction, which ends with him concluding that he saved Christmas.
    Caboose: I did not even know the North Pole was in San Fransisco! This changes everything...
    Tucker: Yeah, and I don't think Santa's outfit is a biker's uniform and a codpiece, Donut.
  • Sonic Stopmotion Adventures: Sonic lampshades in Christmas Special how every holiday special is about the heroes saving Santa Claus from a kidnapper. But Tails corrects him they only have to save him because he got corrupted by a chaos emerald.
  • The author of Springhole seems to really hate this trope as they listed it on a list of Christmas Tropes that "need to die".
    "Seriously, people, this one's so overdone and quite frankly... it's just absurd. Especially when "saving Christmas" involves getting Santa back in his sleigh and delivering presents. Think about it - what would happen if Santa disappeared from the face of the planet? It would be exactly like the real world. Really, that's not much to get worked up over. There are other and better ways to generate holiday drama. I suggest you look for them."
  • Matt of Two Best Friends Play say that he and Pat's friend, Woolie, has saved four Christmases and ruined seven.
  • We Are Our Adventuring Avatars: The mercenaries get hired to rescue Santa Karn and Glistmas from the Phyrexians. The Phyrexians plan on transforming him into the Father of Machines, so they can take over Mirrodin.

    Western Animation 
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: The plot of “The Reindeer Hunter” is Ace tracking down Santa Claus’s reindeer after they’re abducted so he can finish making his deliveries.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In the Christmas episode, Jimmy accidentally puts Santa out of commission and has to fill in for him by delivering the presents from his rocket. The warp drive conks out just before he can finish the deliveries, but Santa shows up at the last minute to finish the job.
  • Double subverted in The Amazing World of Gumball's Christmas special. After the Watersons run over a Santa look-alike on Christmas Eve, Gumball, Darwin, and Anais try to restore his memory, to no avail. When Nicole tells three that Santa's not real, they give up on saving Christmas, only for Richard to inadvertently restore the man's memory, who was Santa all along.
  • Axe Cop features an incredibly bizarre take on the "Bad Santa" variant of the story. Bad Santa, Good Santa's Evil Twin, plans to kill God in order to become Jesus. Good Santa gives Axe Cop "The Power of Christmas" (which is an actual transformation magic power-up) to stop Bad Santa. Even stranger, it's not a Christmas episode. The episode aired in August and it appears to be set in the summer. Axe Cop only wants to fight Bad Santa because Bad Santa accidentally killed Axe Cop's parents (he was trying to kill Axe Cop, since as Bad Santa, it's his job to kill kids who are on the nice list).
  • In the Brandy & Mr. Whiskers episode "On Whiskers, on Lola, on Cheryl, on Meryl" Brandy and Whiskers have to take over the gift run after causing Santa's sleigh to crash.
  • A Christmas episode of Ben 10 (yes, it takes place during summer vacation) has a variant: the Tennysons must make and deliver Christmas presents or be trapped in a bizarre time-defying Christmas dimension forever. Grandpa Max dons the beard and drives the sleigh, complete with a suspiciously stinky flying "reindeer".
  • "Western Animation/Blue's Clues and You!":
In the second Christmas special, a preschool version of the Santa’s Been Kidnapped! plot occurs: As Josh and Blue are getting ready to celebrate Christmas Eve, Blitzen informs them that it’s nearly time to depart….but no one can find Santa! Josh and Blue skidoo to the workshop to help and play a game of Blue’s Clues to discover that Santa is still in bed, asleep. They and The Viewer sing to wake him, and get the flight underway.
  • The evident plot of the Bunsen Is a Beast Christmas Episode "Bunsen Saves Christmas", where Bunsen and Mikey have to stop Amanda Killman from ruining the holiday after she takes over the North Pole.
  • Camp Lazlo: Santa's elves work overtime in order to get all the presents made early, and give Santa enough time for a vacation. When a meteor destroys all the presents, Santa decides to cancel Christmas to make time for his vacation, but Lazlo convinces him to take a short vacation at summer camp and return in time to finish the presents. Christmas is saved...right? Nope; Santa doesn't want to leave camp. Laz finally convinces Santa to go home. Saved! Except, while Santa was gone, Lumpus hijacked his home and servants. An epic battle ensues, with Lumpus armed with a walking lawn chair and Santa a tether ball. Lumpus is hit by a meteor at the last second, and Christmas is saved.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door did this in "Operation: NAUGHTY", when the Delightful Children from Down the Lane stole Santa's toy-making equipment and framed the KND for it. Then the whole thing degenerates into a parody/homage of Marvel Comics' Dark Phoenix Saga, with superpowered elves that parody the X-Men, as well as Santa using a Cerebro-like computer that teleports presents (or coal) towards Christmas trees (and which, if used greedily, turns the user into Grinch-like creatures).
  • Denis and Me: In "Santa Who", Denis' recliner accidentally launches Santa Claus head-first into a vat of cookies that Sir Meows-A-Lot made to try and catch him. The end result? Easy Amnesia for Santa. As a result, Denis and Sir Meows-A-Lot have to come along to help Santa finish his Christmas rounds.
  • Ducktales 2017: "How Santa Stole Christmas!" has a Double Subversion as its main plot. Scrooge finds himself being recruited by his old rival Santa to save Christmas when he asks him to take over the delivery of gifts while he's injured. However, Santa isn't injured and was trying to get Scrooge to enjoy Christmas for what it is: the giving and joy of seeing others enjoy it. However, Scrooge being Scrooge, decides to hijack it by trying to turn it into a business by giving everyone a lump of coal with an invoice, not realizing that coal today is meant to be a gag gift for naughty children. Scrooge has a Heel Realization after he encounters a young girl in a rundown house and is once Santa and Scrooge realize each other's feelings, the two recruit the rest of the Duck-McDuck clan to fix Scrooge's mistake.
  • The Earthworm Jim Christmas Episode used the "Santa's been kidnapped" variation. As listed on the quote page, Peter Puppy at one point lampshades the overuse of this trope.
  • The Eek! The Cat episode "It's A Very Merry Eek's-Mas" had Eek and Sharky seek out Santa's help reuniting the latter with his family. As it happens, Elmo tells them that Santa has problems of his own: the reindeer are on strike, the elves are intimidated into not crossing the picket line, Mrs. Claus walks out on him, and he breaks his leg in a banana peel accident. Santa becomes depressed, invoking the sorry state of the world and questioning if anyone even cares about Christmas anymore, but Eek says they can't let the children of the world down. Eek, Sharky, and Elmo finish the toys and set about delivering them (by attaching a giant rocket to the sleigh). Hilarity Ensues, but they actually do manage to save the holiday.
  • The Evil Con Carne episode "Christmas Con Carne" had an animate snowman enlist the help of a green-nosed reindeer named Rupert to stop Hector Con Carne's plan of ruining Christmas by taking control of Santa's body and putting mind control devices in all the toys Santa was going to deliver.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has two instances.
    • The first one is in the episode "Christmas Every Day", where Timmy wishes for Christmas everyday, ending in an overworked Santa, powerless fairies (they give most of their magic to Santa) and peeved mascots of the other holidays. Timmy has to save Santa from the wrathful folk before convincing the other kids to wish for the day after Christmas.
    • In "Merry Wishmas" Timmy ends up replacing Christmas with Wishmas after giving everyone a "one wish coupon", leaving Santa out of business and replaced by Jorgen, Cosmo and Wanda. Now Timmy has to find a way to revive Christmas and get Santa to leave his house.
  • A Family Circus Christmas uses the Personal Santa variant in an unusual way. Little Jeffy wants Santa Claus to bring back his Granddad — who passed away years ago — down from Heaven for Christmas, and having had a Visit the North Pole dream in which he's assured this will happen, has faith he can do it even as his parents try to explain that isn't possible. While everyone else is asleep on Christmas Eve, however, Jeffy is visited by both Santa and Granddad (both of whom are presented as silent, see-through spirits, as per the comic's conventions), the latter of whom guides him to the location of the beautiful Christmas tree topper he fashioned. As the apparent disappearance of it had been an emotional blow to Jeffy's parents because of its personal significance, this recovery effectively saves the holiday for them.
  • In Family Guy:
    • This is how Joe became a wheelchair user in the episode "A Hero Sits Next Door". Yes, it had a certain Dr. Seuss character cameo. Though it's later revealed to be a cover-up story in the episode "Joe's Revenge",
    • Parodied with the Christmas special KISS Saves Santa that Peter wants to watch. The bits we see are all disconnected Noodle Incidents; one danger that KISS must save Santa from is pterodactyls.
    • In the episode "Road to the North Pole", Stewie and Brian attempt to do this, because Santa is exhausted to near-death due to the ever-increasing number of people on Earth and resultant demands for presents. Predictably, they fail catastrophically at taking Santa's place, but in a way they do save Christmas for the next year by convincing everyone in the world to ask for only one present apiece.
    • Peter brings up a Noodle Incident about saving it himself in "Bango Was His Name Oh".
  • The first Christmas episode of The Flintstones had Fred chosen to stand in for a sick Santa. The plot was repeated for a later TV special where Santa is injured at Fred's home, forcing Fred and Barney to complete his deliveries while Santa guides them at Fred's house by radio contact.
  • Inverted by Futurama, where the Planet Express gang tried to deliberately incapacitate the future's evil robotic Santa so everyone could have a normal Christmas Xmas instead.
    • In "A Tale of Two Santas", when the aforementioned Robot Santa is actually incapacitated, the human leads see a chance to do it right and, on the grounds delivering billions of gifts is humanly impossible, convince Bender to be a good Santa. Being a robot dressed as Santa but not as unstoppable, he is eventually stopped and sentenced to death in a case of mistaken identity, but is rescued by Robot Santa, who needs him to "save Xmas" and "join my slaying tonight". (When Fry calls out, "Don't do it! He's evil!", Robot Santa insists "I know he is, but I have no choice!"; they do so and the crew conclude that — they're cut off midway through by an explosion — the "magic of Xmas" is being brought together by fear.)
  • Really, just about any series will have a "Saves Christmas" special these days, where is the name of characters in that series. Case in point, "Billy and Mandy Save Christmas".
    Von Ghoulish: I've always wanted to save Christmas, ever since I was a boy!
    Grim: I always wanted to save Christmas with a vampire sidekick, ever since I was a little boy!
    [cue intentionally cheesy musical number]
  • The Ice Age TV special "A Mammoth Christmas" has Sid, Peaches, Crash, and Eddie heading off to the North Pole to try to get Sid off of Santa's then non-existent naughty list, followed by Manny, Ellie, and Diego to find them. They all end up ruining Santa's work with an avalanche, which gets them on his first ever naughty list, but Manny rallies everyone to fix the mess. Their result turns out to be the origins of Santa's little helpers (mini-sloths rather than elves), his reindeer (one of whom, Prancer, accompanied Sid, Peaches, Crash, and Eddie in their trip), and why he delivers gifts around the world.
  • In "The Worst X-mas Ever" of Invader Zim fame, Dib makes an attempt at this. Not saving Santa, mind you, just Christmas. He fails spectacularly.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Evil Sorcerer Daolon Wong assaults the North Pole workshop and the Chan Clan has to intervene before Wong can bust in and murder Santa. Wong seeks to fatally drain Santa of his magic to increase his power. While the good guys make a rescue attempt, Tohru goes Subbing for Santa.
  • One Johnny Bravo episode had Santa force Johnny to take his place after Johnny mistook him for a burglar and broke his arm. Another one featured Johnny rushing to the North Pole after forgetting to mail off his and his mother's letters to Santa. The second has a Continuity Nod when Johnny tells him how he accidentally hit him last Christmas. Santa claims that he doesn't remember, but he gives him a punch in the face anyway since it sounded like he deserved it.
  • Kim Possible's "A Very Possible Christmas" used a unique twist. Plucky sidekick (and good Jewish boy) Ron sets off to save the world on Christmas Eve, by himself, to give Kim her favorite night of the year with her family. It doesn't go too well, but the Possibles all go to rescue him from a crash landing near the North Pole, and spend Christmas together after all.
  • The Little Drummer Boy is probably the best known of the "Visiting The Nativity" variations.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "A Christmas Carol", Lola attempts to restore the town's Christmas spirit after a heatwave hits town by staging a production of A Christmas Carol, while Foghorn Leghorn attempts to save Christmas by installing a giant fan at the North Pole in order to make it snow.
  • Merry Madagascar begins when Santa and his sleigh crash-land on the island, giving the jolly gentleman a case of amnesia. So it falls to Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria — along with the ever-inventive Penguins — to deliver the presents and save Christmas.
  • Men in Black: The Series: A gang of aliens kidnaps Santa and his elves. It turns out that the elves are aliens, and Santa... well, some entities are outside even MiB's jurisdiction. Zed regards the jolly old elf as highly as a king.
  • After eighty years, Mickey Mouse finally got around to saving a direct-to-video episode of a preschool show (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa).
    • The standalone stop-motion special Mickey Saves Christmas is a lower-stakes example: Due to an accident involving Mickey's decorated cabin, Santa's sleigh crashes and the bag of gifts for the residents of Hot Dog Hills is lost. Since the elves have already been dismissed for the holiday, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto head to the North Pole to create a replacement set of gifts for Santa to deliver, while Santa and Mrs. Claus try to track down a stray reindeer who makes a beeline for the cabin.
  • The Moo Family Holiday Hoedown focused on the eponymous cow family helping Santa Cow's top sleigh pilot Chuck Steaker repair Santa's turbo sleigh in order to save Christmas.
  • Numberjacks: Downplayed in "Counting Down to Christmas", where the Numberjacks must prevent the Meanies from spoiling the Christmas of one little girl (known as Agent 20).
  • Phineas and Ferb had Doofensmirtz use a device to make it so everyone in Danville was deemed naughty on Santa's list. Not only do the kids go out to prove everyone wrong and eventually fill in for him, but it turns out the whole thing was planned by Santa so everyone's wishes came true. In a hilarious subversion, Doofensmirtz is completely ambivalent to Christmas ("I have an intense, burning indifference!") In fact, he probably would have left it alone (going against all tradition) if he hadn't gotten a perfectly good plan as a gift (from Santa) and a bunch of carolers hadn't barged into his house and refused to leave until they got figgy pudding. (For those who are wondering, Doofensmirtz also got his wish, which was to hate Christmas.) Heck, at the end, Santa explains that the main reason he caused it all to happen was that Phineas said his greatest wish was to be like him, so Santa gave him that very chance.
  • The Powerpuff Girls, "Twas The Fight Before Christmas": Princess rewrites Santa's "naughty" and "nice" lists to make it look like she's been the only nice child this year, getting her the superpowers she's always wanted while the other kids of Townsville get coal, and the Powerpuff Girls rush to inform Santa of the mistake.
  • A bit of a variation occurs in The Real Ghostbusters episode "X-Mas Marks The Spot" where the Ghostbusters go back in time into the events of A Christmas Carol and accidentally capture the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future before they can reform Ebeneezer Scrooge. Upon return, the present has been changed to a very grim place. This forces some of them to go back and take the spirits' place for Scrooge, while other members go into their ghost containment unit to rescue the Spirits.
  • Regular Show has a good one in which Mordecai, Rigby and the others must destroy a gift able to grant anyone their hearts desire. However, it was created with black magic and brought out the worst in people. All while having a badass Santa give it to them when he was wounded and saving them from the elf who made said gift.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The pilot, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," concerns Homer's attempts to earn enough money for Christmas presents after his Christmas bonus is cut from the budget and Marge's savings are spent removing a tattoo from Bart.
    • In "Grift of the Magi", Homer reviews his Christmas record in a series of Noodle Incidents:
      Homer: Let's see, that's three Christmases I've saved, versus eight I ruined... two were kind of a draw.
    • In "Bobby, It's Cold Outside", everyone is having their Christmas package deliveries stolen off of their front porches, so Bart teams up with Sideshow Bob to find the culprit (after initially suspecting him of being the culprit).
  • The Smurfs (1981) episode "Baby's First Christmas" involved the Smurfs working to save Christmas after their Santa Expy Mr. Nicholas had his heart poisoned by hate when Chlorhydris the evil witch kissed him under mistletoe that was used with an evil spell.
  • Sonic Christmas Blast, the last episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, had Sonic and Tails racing to save Santa and Christmas from Dr. Robotnik, who had kidnapped the jolly old elf and had convinced Mobius to give HIM presents.
  • The South Park episode "Red Sleigh Down" had the boys and Jesus rescuing Santa after he had been shot down over Iraq.
  • In one episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, after Ghost Planet exploded, fades to black. A line of text then appears, saying "Later... at camp", and then cuts to to Space Ghost, surrounded by a group of (live-action) children, and says: "And so that kids is the story of how I saved Christmas". He then yells at them to get back to work. Then the episode ends.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • The episode "Christmas Who?" has SpongeBob getting everyone hyped up into believing they'll get presents from Santa Claus on Christmas Day, except for Squidward who angrily does not want to get into the holiday cheer. But then Santa's a no-show, and everyone is mad that Santa never delivered them the presents that SpongeBob promised them. Squidward is at first quick to rub salt on SpongeBob's wounds, before the heartbroken sponge gives him a present that turns out to be a wooden clarinet that can play miniature versions of Squidward, Squidward has a change of heart and the present is enough to make Squidward dress up as Santa Claus and fulfill the promised presents (albeit by stripping down his house to do so).
    • The special Its A Sponge Bob Christmas has Plankton getting SpongeBob to distribute fruitcake laced with jerktonium, an element that causes people to become highly irritable, so that everyone else in Bikini Bottom ends up on the naughty list while he looks nice by comparison and gets the Krabby Patty formula from Santa. It works until he's exposed for building a robot SpongeBob to make the real one look bad.
  • The Stroker and Hoop Christmas episode combined the first two variations on this type with a subverted Yet Another Christmas Carol set-up. Talking car Carr was the Santa substitute, and Stroker saved Santa's life by exploiting the Time Travel powers of the three spirits.
  • Both Christmas Episodes of the Super Mario Bros. cartoons did this. In the first one, "Koopa Klaus", Bowser attempts to ruin Christmas with a plan that involves kidnapping and impersonating Santa. (DiC recycled this plot for Christmas specials spun off from Inspector Gadget and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.) In the later one, "The Night Before Cave Christmas", Mario inspires the Christmas spirit to the cave-people in order to get them to be nicer to each other, and then has to save Christmas for them when Bowser decides to steal all the toys.
  • "A Trash Truck Christmas" from Trash Truck is about the main character Hank volunteering for Trash Truck to fill in after Santa's sleigh crashes due to being too overloaded with toys.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series had a truly bizarre episode: "Have a Very Morlock X-Mas", where Storm, Wolverine, and Jubilee encounter some rampaging Morlocks while they're Christmas shopping—and then discover that the Morlocks just wanted medicine because one of them was deathly ill. So Storm and Wolverine rush off to get the medicine, and Jubilee tells the ill Morlock girl that, yes, she believes in Christmas miracles.

    Real Life 
  • The villagers of Ukivok (King Island, Alaska) were forced one mid-twentieth-century winter to haul their boats over the perilous mountain range bisecting the island when the freezing ocean threatened their ability to receive needed winter supplies from a delivery liner at the usual location. The true story was adapted to a children's book and, later, a musical, moving the date forward several weeks to Christmas Eve in order to more strongly invoke this trope.
  • The NBA managed to end their 2011 lockout just in time to start the season on Christmas Day, keeping several "Christmas Day game" traditions intact.
  • Older Than Radio: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was written at a time when Christmas was going out of fashion as a holiday all over. Many scholars believe that this showed Christmas in a new light, and many people returned to the holiday, allowing it to become the juggernaut that it is today. This is particularly true in America (especially New England), where Christmas had long been seen as some silly European holiday that did not fit in with the American work ethic, and in the United Kingdom, where the impact of the English Civil War was still being felt by the 1800's - Christmas was banned outright by Cromwell during the interregnum.
    • It can also be argued that the royal House of Hanover and its allies also played a major role in popularising Christmas again. Unlike in the United Kingdom where Christmas had been suppressed, Germany never let go of its love for the holiday, and many German traditions were brought in by the House of Hanover after they became the holders of the British Throne.
  • The theme of the 2020 Myer Melbourne Christmas Windows is "Christmas is Uncancelled", since the COVID-19 Pandemic, and in particular an outbreak in the state of Victoria, led to genuine fears that people would be unable to celebrate Christmas (and in fact the Myer Christmas Windows themselves were announced as being cancelled in September). Thankfully, the state managed to not only get the outbreak under control, but eliminate community transmission of the virus, allowing celebrations in a somewhat normal manner.
  • Subverted in Bethlehem - the birthplace of Christ - in 2023, where most traditional Christmas festivities were cancelled in the wake of the Israel-Gaza war, as it was seen as inappropriate to celebrate Christ's birth in the face of the brutal suffering of other children in the region.