Trisha: Well, I haven't been nice all year for nothing.
Bridget: So your parents never told you that he wasn't real?
Trisha: Oh... they try to tell me every year. But every year, I come back, and look who's here!
Children all over the world believe in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas. However, the majority of children outgrow this belief by their preteens, accepting that Santa is a story told to kids to keep them happy at Christmastime.
Well, not this guy. This character still believes in Santa Claus well past the age children usually outgrow this belief (at least in their mid-to-late teens, some examples even involve grown adults). This is meant to mark them as innocent, childish, or even delusional in some way; it can also bolster existing Manchild/Kiddie Kid or Cloudcuckoolander characterization. They will often get made fun of for this belief, which may or may not lead to them moving past it over the course of the story.
Other times an older person's belief in Santa is treated as an endearing quirk, especially if the true believer is someone you wouldn't expect to be one, like a Grumpy Old Man or a haughty Alpha Bitch. In this case, it could be a sign of Not So Above It All.
Although Santa Claus is the most common figure to get this treatment, it can still apply to other prominent mythical figures of childhood, like the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.
Can overlap with Santa's Existence Clause, where Santa is shown to be Real After All, validating the belief of someone (who may or may not be a child). May come up during a Christmas Episode. Compare Santa Ambiguity where Santa's existence is hinted but never really confirmed.
Obviously Truth in Television, as just as many people in the real world believe in these figures, and for good reason, as there are reported incidents of the acts that are said to occur in regards to these figures still happening even if none of the adults in the home do them.
- Noragami: An extra chapter reveals that Yato, a young and seldom-acknowledged god, still believes in Santa.
- In Love Live!, Maki still believes in Santa Claus. Nico was ready to make fun of her for it until Honoka and Rin stop her so she wouldn't shatter Maki's innocence.
- In Lucky Star, it's revealed that Konata still believes in Santa Claus when Tsukasa asks her when she stopped believing in him. Turns out Konata's father told her that the Christmas presents he gave to Konata every year were from Santa Claus himself.
- Samurai Pizza Cats: In the Japanese version of the Christmas Episode, Polly Esther believes in Santa Claus and is mocked for it by the other characters.
- The Unpopular Mangaka and the Helpful Onryo-san: Ghost girl Onryo-san believes in Santa and writes a letter asking for an autograph from Kiraboshi-sensei. She catches him putting it in her stocking, and to not hurt her feelings, he pretends to be Santa's secret identity.
- Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku: During the Christmas Episode Narumi admits that she kept her belief in Santa well into middle school. Hirotaka (who outgrew Santa relatively early, in kindergarten) comments that it's in line with her sweet and naive personality.
- A variation in the Asterix book "Asterix and Son", where Obelix still believes in the Delivery Stork, thinking that since he's a delivery man, why can't storks deliver babies?
- Amelia Rules! has an issue where Amelia asks her Cool Aunt Tanner if Santa Claus is real or not. Amelia clarifies she wants to know because she has a friend (Pajamaman), who was exceedingly good last year but "didn't get any presents" from Santa (except for clothes and toiletries), so Amelia doesn't understand why. Tanner takes a different approach than most would expect, saying she does believe Santa exists, but her way of putting it is implying Santa is an identity, a form of good will and charity, that people are capable of taking on for themselves to help others. When Amelia receives a gift she knows Pajamaman wanted, she decides to give it to him in secret. Pajamaman only just catches a glimpse of Amelia leaving and believes Santa delivered the gift to him. When Amelia's told by her friends "There really is a Santa Claus," it makes her happier than she's felt in ages.
- In an early Doonesbury, Mike relates to Zonker how he cried when he found out as a child that there was no Santa. He starts to ask Zonker how old he was when he learned, but Zonker interrupts by bawling right then and there.
- Crabgrass: Miles, at age 9, still believes in Santa, proven when he suggests Kevin should ask Santa for a Ninento 16 after Kevin's mom refused. Kevin treats it as a joke first, but soon realizes Miles honestly means it. It kicks off a storyline in which Kevin and Miles discuss the existence of Santa, with Miles claiming that he still believes because as long as he does, Santa will keep bringing him presents.
- In one Beau Peep strip, Beau learns that Manchild Dennis still believes in Santa. Beau finds this hilarious, and tells Mad Pierre, only to realise that Mad Pierre doesn't seem to find it funny at all. Beau then asks Pierre if he'd like to help feed the reindeer, resulting in the only time in the strip's history when the constantly scowling Pierre actualy smiles.
- Luann: If this strip is any indication, Luann still believes in Santa at age 19-20 (there's no kids to placate: it's just her, her parents and her best friend Bernice living in the house.)
- In The Loud House fanfiction Ace Savvy and the Full House Gang: Checkmate, Leni, true to her character, still believes in Santa at 16 and mistakes a bearded guy named Reginald Barnum for Santa.
- Lighting Candles: In the Rise of the Guardians/Big Hero 6 crossover fic:
- Jamie Bennett from the former film, now an old man, still believes in all of the Guardians (including Santa/North) and thus can still see them. Justified a bit, since the Guardians are real in this world and Jamie met them as a kid, but it only takes a little prompting for Jamie to believe in and see new guardian spirit Tadashi as well. This gives Tadashi hope that belief isn't age dependent and he can get his still-living grown-up friends to see him one day.
- College-aged Fred, while initially on the fence about the Guardians, is still a believer in the strange and unusual, which helps him catch onto the supernatural things a bit sooner in the sequel.
- 12 Days of Smashmas: Marth, despite being a young adult, still believes in Santa Claus. In contrast, the much younger Ness is Wise Beyond His Years and does not.
- In Finding Nemo, one bonus feature reveals that despite being fully grown and a biology teacher, Mr. Ray thinks there's an underwater tooth fairy, who has a full-time job collecting sharks' teeth.
- In The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, Sam Whipple is a rather childish man. One of the ways this is shown is that he explicitly still believes in Santa.
- Elf: Buddy is an adult Manchild with a Pollyannaish personality who still believes in Santa, which is played as a weird quirk. The plot of the film involves Buddy trying to get the rest of the adult world to renew their belief in Santa. Justified, as one of Santa's elves is Buddy's adoptive father, so he knows for sure that Santa exists.
- George of Sydney White is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who still believes in Santa, among other details.
- In Violent Night, The vapid and immature actor Morgan Steele expresses shock when another character says that Santa is not real. Given the movie's premise, this is a rare case where he happens to be right.
- The Dresden Files: Harry is revealed early in the series to still believe in Santa. Some books later, Santa actually appears, as one of the most powerful members of the Fae Winter Court. He's also Odin!
- In Little Women, when the March sisters are trying to figure out who provided the lavish Christmas feast they find waiting for them (it was Mr. Laurence), 13-year-old Beth guesses "Santa Claus" and 12-year-old Amy guesses "the fairies." This isn't played for laughs, though –- it just highlights the girls' innocence because the March parents believe in letting children be children as long as possible.
- In the Bert Diaries books, Lill-Erik still believes in the Easter Bunny despite being well into his teens. What's more, he lives in fear of it. Every Easter he refuses to go outside for fear of running into the Easter Bunny in a dark alley.
- In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book Cabin Fever, Greg still believes in Santa despite being in middle school.
- Bones: During Booth and Brennan's wedding in "The Woman In White", as part of her wedding vows Brennan reads a letter she had written a few years earlier for Booth to read in the event of her death. note In the letter she admits that she had suspected that Booth believed in Santa Claus.
- Family Matters: Pops up in "Have Yourself a Very Winslow Christmas." Laura and Eddie are flabbergasted to find Steve still believes wholeheartedly in Santa (they're in their early teens at this point). So Steve challenges them, saying he'll write a letter to Santa and send a copy to the Winslows via registered mail. If on Christmas morning, he gets his wish, they will know Santa exists. Steve gets what he asks Santa for—to spend Christmas with the Winslows.
- In the Friends episode "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS", Phoebe (the kookiest of the titular friends) and Joey get into a debate about whether completely selfless good deeds exist or not, with Joey taking the side of them not existing. While making his point, he mentions "the deal with Santa Claus". Later, Phoebe follows up on that remark to make sure Joey meant that Santa Claus doesn't exist. After getting the confirmation, Phoebe spends a few moments staring wide-eyed into space.
- Ghosts (UK): The Christmas 2021 special shows that Kitty still believes in Santa Claus. Nobody ruins it for her, though Julian comes close.
- Brittany Pierce of Glee is the show's resident ditz, and asks Artie with utmost seriousness what he asked for from Santa during one of the Christmas episodes.
- Leverage The team's resident thief, Parker, still believes in Santa as an adult. From "The Ho, Ho, Ho Job":
Parker: Please. You know how many chimneys Santa has to go down tonight? You only had to go down one.
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: High school beatnik Maynard still believes in Santa Claus.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum", one of the other adult patients still believes in Santa and is instrumental in solving the case.
- Played for laughs in Qi during the Season K Christmas episode, "Kris Kringle". In response to the question "Why is Santa off the Rich List?", Brendan O'Carroll stage-whispers, "He may not be real". The klaxon sounds with the text on the screen reading, "HE'S NOT REAL". Phil Jupitus stands up, faces the screen and drops to his knees, while Stephen Fry assures him, "That got a klaxon so it can't be right!" Phil then runs to Stephen, who gives him a hug.
- Saturday Night Live:
- One sketch centers on a family that never has presents for Christmas because the parents (host Alec Baldwin and Janeane Garofalo) still believe in Santa and expect him to bring them. A police officer (Kevin Nealon) tries explaining the truth, but they think he's crazy and refuse to believe him.
- In one of the Bill Brasky sketches, a barfly claims that Brasky (a middle-aged man who served three tours in Vietnam) still believes in Santa and wants to put him in porno films.
- Arwin from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is already a childish buffoon who still lives with his mother, so it's no surprise when he mistook a banging sound coming from the elevator note for Santa Claus arriving. When he realizes his mistake, he claims he was "pretending for the kids".
- Two and a Half Men: Alan's girlfriend Sandy in "Santa's Village of the Damned" still believes in Santa Claus. Alan is very unsettled by this.
- Jade is one of the haughtier members of the teen cast of Victorious, so revealing she still believes in Santa Claus in her fourth "What I Hate" video makes her more endearing.
- Harold of The Red Green Show is shown in one Christmas episode to be writing a letter to Santa. At this point in the series, Harold has graduated college and is pursuing a career in a corporation. He does mention in his letter that it would be his last and acknowledges the behavior as not quite fitting his age, implying he's beginning to grow out of it.
- A Christmas episode of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show has Phil trying to find somebody to play Santa for his kids on Christmas Eve. His guitarist, Frank Remley, repeatedly assures him that his efforts are unnecessary, since the real Santa is bound to show up.
- In Stan Freberg's "Christmas Dragnet" parody record from 1953, Joe Wednesday and his partner Frank Jones (both of whom believe in Santa) encounter a man named Grudge (who doesn't) and try to convert him.
Wednesday: (narrating) December the 24th, Christmas Eve. They brought in a guy named Grudge. When I heard what they booked him on, my blood ran cold. It was a 4096325-dash-096704: Not believing in Santa Claus.
- In Alluna and Brie, Max, who happens to be a ditzy idiot (if a really good cop), reveals that she still believes that Santa brings presents every Christmas Eve while trapped in a magic lamp over Christmas. When everyone else points out that Santa doesn't exist, Max is devastated. However, the sequel to Max's Big Bust: A Captain Nekorai Tale, which continues this story, reveals that Santa is indeed real, though not quite the same as the legend.
- Yukiho Hagiwara in The Idolmaster is revealed to still believe in Santa at age 16. There is another scene where Chihaya, age 15, is implied to believe in Santa but given the context it's possible she was joking.
- Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: The Page I Write On This Holy Night reveals that The Ingenue Ren Isuzu still believes in Santa Claus despite being 15 years old.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: In the briefing file about NORAD, it is revealed that Big Boss, despite being a badass Super-Soldier, still believes Santa exists and refuses to listen to Huey's reason.
- The Most Popular Girls in School: As shown in episode 38, Trisha (who is a high schooler) still believes in Santa.
Trisha: Well, hey, at least you get to meet Santa, right? I mean, the man himself.Bridget: Wait. You still believe in Santa?Trisha: Well, I haven't been nice all year for nothing.Bridget: So your parents never told you that he wasn't real?Trisha: Oh...they try to tell me every year. But every year, I come back, and look who's here! So who's got egg on their face now?!
- Bob's Burgers: Bob believes that Louise is a little too old to still be believing in Santa Claus at age 9. Little does he know that Gene and Tina, who are 11 and 13 respectively, still believe in Santa as well.
- In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland Jr. still believes in Santa at age 14, much to his father's dismay.
- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: Both Grandma Spankenheimer and her grandson, Jake, believe the big Christmas man is real despite the cynical nature of the rest of the family (the grandpa is implied to believe too, but his senility make it hard to tell). This ends up helping Jake find his grandmother since his letter to Santa the following year asking to find her shows Santa someone in Citiville still believes in him. And coincidentally enough, it allows them to finally put a name to said Grandmother who lost her memory after, well, Santa accidentally ran her over and Santa had to take her to the North Pole to treat her injuries.
- Justice League: When Martian Manhunter spends Christmas with the Kents, he learns that Superman (an otherwise mature superhero) genuinely believes Santa Claus is the one who wraps his presents in lead (so he can't see through them with X-Ray vision). This is an indicator of Clark's down-home wholesomeness as a person. Although, Clark might be justified considering the DC Animated Universe is as much of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink as its comic counterpart.
- In a Martha Speaks episode, somebody phones up Dr. Pablum and Otis Weaselgraft, who have Martha captive, pretending to be Santa. Despite being grown men and Dr. Pablum being a scientist, the two only get suspicious when they realise that they'd be on the Naughty List.
- Paradise PD: Oafish manchild loser Dusty (who is a cop) thinks Santa is real. Turns out he's right.
- In the Recess Christmas special "Yes Mikey, Santa Does Shave," sensitive Gentle Giant Mikey is the only fourth-grader, or at least the only one in his group of friends, who not only still believes in Santa, but still thinks the "Santas" who show up at malls and other public events are the real deal. After he learns the truth about the latter, he loses his belief in Santa altogether and becomes depressed, but in the end it turns out that Santa is Real After All.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Mewni has a Christmas of another name in the form of “Stump Day,” with “The Great Stump” being their version of Santa Clause. Instead of delivering presents, however, the Great Stump will attack anyone who’s naughty. Star still believes that the Great Stump exists, even though many have told her it’s just an old wives tale. At the end of the episode, the Stump actually shows up to Marco’s party, since everyone there was bickering with each other. Thankfully, the Stump only attacks at on Stump Day, so once the clock reaches midnight, it will start to vanish.
- Exaggerated in Trolls: The Beat Goes On!. In the episode "Marshtato Fairy", it's shown that, as a standard for Troll society, every Troll believes in their entire life about the existence of a titular Marshtato Fairy character, who is responsible for the supposed annual Marshtato harvest. The only Troll to have known the truth behind the myth thus far was Branch, but he decided to not tell it in order to avoid ruining the Trolls' life.