While they won't let it get in the way of the plot too much, they will give a nod to it in some anime episode plots.
The Surprise Santa Encounter goes like this. The characters are running around doing whatever...and then suddenly, Santa Claus! Right there!
...no, actually, it was someone else (often one of the main characters) wearing a Santa disguise for no particular reason. We now return to the plot.
- Tuxedo Kamen did this in the Sailor Moon S movie, after which he spouts a speech that's nonsensical even for him.
- Washuu in Magical Girl Pretty Sammy.
- One of the Gennai clones in Digimon Adventure 02 shows up on a sunny beach in Australia. He was dressed as Santa.
- The arc did take place around Christmas, though. Keep in mind that it's summer in Australia when it's winter in the northern hemisphere.
- The characters of Pokémon actually did meet Santa in one episode and helped save Christmas from Team Rocket.
- Because this special was made during Generation I, Stantler (a reindeer Pokemon) hadn't been introduced yet, so Santa's sleigh was pulled by a lone Ponyta (a horse Pokemon). Later specials saw him using Stantler instead.
- Ai Yori Aoshi: Kaoru spent Christmas with a real Santa (who, aside from being one of — apparently — several Santas, inexplicably looks like Aoi) in the prequel first episode of its second season, Ai Yori Aoshi: Enishi.
- And then there's the overload of Itsudatte My Santa!, where a character named Santa, born on the 24th and hating Christmas, meets Santa Mai, a Santa-in-training. Of course, in this version, the magic of Christmas apparently includes a Magical Girl transformation to a blonde with a rack and a caboose not found on any train set...
- In School Rumble, Harima, dressed as a Santa for a part-time job, appears out of nowhere to help some of the cast when they get stuck in the floor (and goes unrecognized).
- An imaginary Santa appears from time to time to Hayate the Combat Butler, representing his morals and work ethic. When Hayate decides to stop being such a nice guy, though...
- The Strawberry Marshmallow girls dress up as Santa and his reindeer (with Miu as Santa, naturally), to deliver a copy of Harry Potter to Matsuri...who still believes in Santa.
- In the OAV of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Yasuna dresses up as Santa, complete with flying reindeer magic supplied by Jan-puu, to give Hazumu and Tomari a Christmas-themed "wedding."
- In Kaitou Saint Tail, the Santa is Saint Tail in disguise.
- ...or a pet lizard (ep 12).
- A brief cartoon at the end of the first volume of Death Note has a costumed Light ask Ryuk what he wants for Christmas. Apparently, a 39,800 yen television for one of his plans is worth the price, but an Advance SP for Ryuk is too expensive.
Light: Since when do shinigami celebrate the birth of Christ?Ryuk: Winter in the human world sure is cold...Light: You bet it is...
- This naturally led to fan edits where Light kills Santa with the Death Note.
- Or parodies where he takes over the role of Santa, with Ryuk saying "I wanna be a reindeer."
- During one episode of Azumanga Daioh, the girls discuss whether or not Chiyo (a ten-year-old) still believes in Santa. Her answer is that she already knows "Santa" is her dad. Cut to Sakaki's imagination, as Chiyo-Dad (a giant, flat orange cat) pops up in a Santa hat: "Merry Chrismasu!"
- Finland dresses up as Santa in Axis Powers Hetalia for the Christmas Episode.
- In the opening sequence of Baccano! Miria Harvent is robbing a candy store disguised as Santa.
- Gintama has five characters become all dress up as Santa and visit the same house at the same time. Hilarity Ensues.
- You're Under Arrest! has an episode where a burglar goes around dressed as Santa.
- In the final episode of the Magician's Academy anime, the absent principal of the school is revealed to be Santa Claus.
- The Big O had a Christmas episode of sorts, in which a mad scientist dressed as Santa Claus genetically engineers a giant Christmas tree with attack tentacles... because of reasons.
- Taken literally in Sword Art Online, where in Kirito goes to fight a field boss called Nicholas the Renegade, which looks like extremely tall, axe wielding Santa Claus, he even spawns by jumping off a reindeer sleigh.
- In GoGo Sentai Boukenger, Akashi/Bouken Red randomly runs into Santa Claus...who happens to be a ditzy teenage girl in a miniskirt who provides the monster of the week, the Golem.
- Subverted in the recent series, Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger; the Gokaigers meet a seemingly ordinary street Santa while doing their shopping, right before the episode's plot kicks off. While this Santa isn't actually the real deal, he does provide a special present to the Gokaigers at the end of the episode: the Battle Fever J Ultimate Power (since "Santa" is actually Battle Kenya).
- In the Christmas Episode of Kamen Rider Wizard, Santa inexplicably appears in the Victim of the Week's Mental World and gives Wizard a gift. Wizard then takes it back to the real world and finds it's a Ring of Power (much like the ones he uses on a regular basis) which basically creates a Christmas Miracle before vanishing. He wonders if he perhaps ran into the real Santa, as all of this is incredibly fantastic even by his standards.
- In case 4 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix and Maya run into a man in a Santa costume at Gourd Lake Park, who turns out to be Wright's friend Larry Butz (introduced in case 1).
- The initial antagonist of Advance Wars dressed up like Santa in the Japanese version of the game, but they never made a joke about it. In the English version, however, he dresses like a general should...but everyone calls him Santa Claus.
- In the Hideo Kojima video game Snatcher, the main character runs into a police informant disguised as Santa.
- Not quite an encounter, but in the game .hack//Quarantine there is a field on the Omega Server where you can see Santa flying through the air in his sleigh.
- Occasionally, you can see Santa flying in the background in Mortal Kombat 9. If you get a double flawless victory then, you get a secret battle. No, not with Santa Claus, with Classic Reptile.
- Santa appears twice in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter as a secret encounter in the snowy mountain village level. Shooting him causes him to drop power-ups.
- He also appears a third time in the same level, stuck in a chimney. Shooting him with a rocket launcher frees him and triggers another secret.
- In Secret of Mana, the Frost Gigas, a major boss in the game, is revealed after you defeat him to be Santa Claus, who turned into a monster because little children stopped believing in him. Seriously...well, that and he was being affected by tainted magic.
- In Shenmue, once it gets around Christmas somebody in a Santa outfit starts wandering the streets. They're usually drunk off their ass at night.
- Santa appears as a pedestrian on Twisted Metal 2's Antarctica stage.
- Western Ur-Example: In Tex Avery's Who Killed Who? the detective sees a door marked "Do Not Open Until Xmas". Scoffing, he opens it, and runs smack into a very irritated Santa.
Santa: Listen doc, can't you read? (bops detective on head)
- OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: There's a "Mr. Claus" who strongly resembles Santa and serves as the principal at K.O. and Dendy's school. Principal Claus first appears in "The So-Bad-ical" and also shows up in the Thanksgiving Episode "Super Black Friday".