You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not disrobe on Christmas Eve, or assume you or your family will live to see December 26, or attempt to experience goodwill and joy on Christmas. Because Santa Claus might be coming to town.
While children equate the round, jolly sight of St. Nick’s signature red and white with unbounded happiness, adults will often skew the traditional gift-giver in very dark ways. That’s kind of what adults do, even when our childhoods were wonderful. So now that the “real” Santa Claus has come and gone, ho-ho-hopefully cleaning up his own damned cookie crumbs for once, here are eight of the worst TV Santas you could ever wake up to on Christmas morning.
Santa Ian McShane (American Horror Story: Asylum)
When children write letters to Santa Claus, they’re generally asking a magical man in the sky for toys, games and possibly pets. No one asks a psychopathic prison rape victim to be harassed, half-drowned and then crucified on a church cross. That’s what Ian McShane’s Leigh Emerson brought to his guest stint on American Horror Story: Asylum, and he looked a frightful mess while he was doing it. I’ve already lost my Christmas spirit and it’s the first entry.
Robot Santa (Futurama)
Yes, a song will certainly inspire one to regain Xmas cheer, even when it’s one being partly sung by a mass-murdering four-ton robot who is continuously putting the Planet Express crew through most joyless situations. While it would be nice if Robot Santa gave presents like the paradox-absorbing crumple zones in his head, which would help to ensure a life free from cranial cave-ins, there’s a good chance he would just judge you as being too naughty and enslave you to make his toys until your days were up.
Robot Santas (Doctor Who)
Regardless of whether an android Santa is animated or it’s a real thing, the point is to be the most ridiculously overblown version that it can be. Doctor Who’s Roboforms are a perfect example, taking the form of frozen-in-creepiness Santa Clauses and wielding wind instruments that can be used as rocket launchers and flame throwers, along with destructive ornaments. They’re terrible at killing the Doctor, but I’m betting they’d destroy a suburban household in no time. This year’s Christmas special features an evil Nick Frost as Santa, which is an infinitely more joyous choice.
Killer Santa (Tales from the Crypt)
One of the rare horror remakes that works better than its original form, Robert Zemeckis’ Tales from the Crypt episode “And All Through the House” was expertly adapted from the segment in the British feature film of the same name. It featured a pre-Dr. Giggles Larry Drake as a serial killer in a Santa suit that victimizes a woman who has just murdered her husband. I guess I wouldn’t want that woman to be bringing gifts to my house overnight either, but goddamn is Drake a freaky looking bastard with his beardless chin and messed-up mouth.
Santa Bundy (Married…With Children)
Look at that! Rather than just pile on murderers and would-be rapists, we finally have a Santa that is just a terrible human being in general, but without the criminal file to prove it. Al Bundy is just the complete opposite of what Santa Claus stands for, and is definitely not the person you’d want to send your wishes to. In one episode, he’s a mall Santa bitching about things in a bar full of mall Santas (before having his family blow his holiday mind), and in another one he becomes a surrogate Santa after the “real” one crashes into the Bundys’ backyard while parachuting. In this scenario, though, Al also doesn’t want to be Santa in your home.
Secretive Santa (Conan)
Some of Conan’s more amusing recurring stints in recent times are the “Santa’s Secrets” segments, in which Santa shows up and unleashes a series of increasingly awful skeletons from his closet. This latest set of truths include his secret cocaine occupation, the link between Rudolph’s red nose and his prostate, and the reality of Mrs. Claus just being a beanbag with a hole cut into it. I’ll admit this guy would be a fun romp at a bar, but not any place where my family is in reach.
Pedophile Santa (Desperate Housewives)
This list is really kind of a downer when you think about it, and it doesn’t get much darker than Art, the neighborhood Santa on Desperate Housewives, who is accused by that crone Mrs. McCluskey of being a pedophile. Obviously none of the parents will let their kids near him, and what a shame, since Art is such a nice guy, right? Wrong. By the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Art actually IS a monstrous pervert, and that skim milk is actually whole milk and ankle socks are actually knee socks.
Sloppy Drunk Santa (The Twilight Zone)
While this perhaps wasn’t the dawn of shitty Santas, The Twilight Zone delivered one of TV’s first worsts in department store Santa Henry Corwin, who would assumedly trade all of your children for a six-pack of cheap brew. He gets a magic sack of goods that allows him to transform both his life and anyone else’s that he wants to, so I guess he wouldn’t be the worst guy to have around the house. But they don’t show him actually sobering up before he gets whisked away as the new Santa Claus. Are there AA meetings at the North Pole?
And because it's always better when there's one to grow on, get ready for a bonus Santa on the next page.
Bonus: Terry Gilliam’s Santa (Do Not Adjust Your Set)
Santa only pops in for a few seconds in this video to steal some shit and kidnap some carolers, which makes this a fit for the list, but it’s really the rest of this amazing animation that’s worth the watch. Animated by the iconic Terry Gilliam, this vid comes from the pre-Monty Python comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set (opens in new tab).
And with that, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a safe, non-murderously explosive day and night.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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