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Western Animation / The Story of Santa Claus

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The other Christmas Special that explains the origin of Santa Claus. Produced by Film Roman and broadcasted on CBS in 1996, it continues to air annually on that network. It stars Edward Asner as Nicholas "Santa" Claus (seven years before Elf) with Jim Cummings as Santa's singing voice. Betty White as Mrs. Claus (a role which she would reprise two years later in The Noddy Shop: Anything Can Happen At Christmas and then again in Prep and Landing: Operation: Secret Santa) and Tim Curry as the elf wizard Nostros. It was directed by Toby Bluth, brother of Don.

The special starts off with Nicholas and Gretchen Claus running a toy shop in old-timey Europe. Selfless to a fault, Nicholas "gives away more toys than he sells." It turns out this is not a solid business strategy, and the debt-ridden Clauses are evicted by their greedy landlord. Left with little more than the clothes on their backs, the Clauses decide to give their remaining toys to the children at the Angel's Island Orphanage, which was where Nicholas grew up, but their ship is overtaken by a storm. They are miraculously transported to the North Pole, where they encounter a magical community of elves. The ones with names are Nostros, his clumsy son Clement, and the Insufferable Genius elf girl Aurora. After Nicholas saves Clement's life, he's given one wish. Nicholas wishes that he could give a toy to every child in the world. Nostros is aghast. Even with the elves' magic, this wish is "impossible!" But Nicholas gradually wins the elves over to his dream.

The special contains the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Time Period: An opening title reads, "Europe, a long time ago." When exactly is "a long time ago?" Late enough for accurate world maps, but still before the Industrial Revolution, apparently. The fashions worn by the human characters are vaguely Victorian.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Nostros at the end.
  • Christmas Elves: In this version, the elves live at the North Pole before the Clauses get there.
  • Cranky Landlord: Mr. Minch, who evicts Santa and Mrs. Claus due to Santa's debt, which results from giving away more toys than he sells. He even takes Gretchen's wedding ring to settle the debt. When Santa shows up on Christmas and gives Minch a present, Minch has a change of heart and gives the ring back.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Nostros tries (and continuously fails) to stop Clement from getting involved with the Clauses' operation.
  • Gossipy Hens: Near the beginning, some are seen gossiping about the Clauses, providing us with Exposition. Mrs. Claus actually calls them, "nosy old hens."
  • "I Want" Song: "To Give Every Child in the World a Toy" is sung by Nicholas at the very beginning.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: A large part of the reason why the Clauses are so dedicated to making children happy is because they never had children of their own, and it seemingly wasn't due to lack of trying.
  • The Magic Goes Away: According to Nostros, if Nicholas' wish fails, all the elves will lose their magic permanently. It almost happens, but once Nicholas and the elves return to the North Pole, they regain their magic, and Nostros grants Nicholas and Gretchen "honorary selfhood", making them immortal.
  • Never Had Toys: The elf children don't know what toys are until Nicholas shows them because they don't have any.
  • Off the Chart: The Clauses' debt goes right off the chart in their ledger book.
  • Only Six Faces: Nostros, Clement, and Aurora are practically the only elves with a unique character design. For everyone else, there is one design for elf boys, one design for elf girls, one design for elf soldiers, etc.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The very Dickensian landlord Mr. Minch dresses in this color scheme.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Nostros dresses this way.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Aurora wears glasses and is a know-it-all.
  • Sour Supporter: Nostros, who expresses great skepticism to Santa's wish to give a toy to every child in the world because the elves could lose their magic if the wish fails. He has a change of heart near the end.
  • Spock Speak: How Aurora talks, naturally.
  • Suicidal Lemmings: The two elf characters are trying to decide what should pull the sleigh. Aurora can't remember the problem with lemmings until they start moving, where they promptly hurtle themselves over the cliff.
    Aurora: I think I remember the bad thing about lemmingssssss... *the sleigh goes over a cliff* They like to run off cliffs.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Nicholas starts off the film with just a mustache. He grows his Santa beard over the course of several months at the North Pole.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Nostros is more-or-less treated as the villain, but all he does is doubt the feasibility of Nicholas' wish, which could destroy the elves' magic if not fulfilled. He is kind of a jerk to Clement, however.


Video Example(s):


Strange Thing about Lemmings

Clement and Aurora try to find the right animal to pull Santa's sleigh.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuicidalLemmings

Media sources: