Not all pop culture Santas are created equal.
The North Pole’s most famous resident is etched in our brains as a loving, warm, and all-around good fellow who deserves all the cookies in the world, but his portrayal in TV and film is a bit more complicated.
There are jolly versions, creepy iterations, and such totally bizarre ones that you’ll remember them long after you leave the cinema.
Lo and behold, here’s a quick roundup of the most memorable Santas in pop culture.
1. David Schwimmer as the Holiday Armadillo in Friends
Who says Santa has to be Santa?
Years before The OC’s Seth Cohen coined the term “Chrismakkuh,” Ross Geller combined Christmas and Hannukah for his son, Ben, so the kid would be exposed to his Jewish heritage. When Ben freaked out at the prospect of missing out on Santa that year, Ross searched high and low for a costume at the last minute. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to secure one, so he got an armadillo suit instead. He introduced himself to Ben as Santa’s Tex-Mex friend, “Holiday Armadillo,” and explained the concept of Hannukah.
The Holiday Armadillo is no Santa, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
2. Daniel Franzese’s Sassy Santa in Mean Girls
Move over, Bad Santa. We’ve got a mean Santa over here!
Mean Girls’s Damian tried causing a rift among The Plastics when he gave candy canes to Cady and Karen, and none for Gretchen Wieners (bye!). It was all a plot to make her feel like her queen bee, Regina George, hated her. She totally did, but that’s not the point.
He also cheered on the fictional character Glen Coco for receiving not one, not two, but FOUR candy canes! You go, Glen Coco!
3. Tim Allen’s Reluctant Santa in The Santa Clause
You must admit Tim Allen’s stint as good ol’ St. Nick was nothing but ICONIC.
After accidentally ending the real father Christmas, Scott Calvin tried on Santa’s red suit and was transported to the North Pole, where the elves named him the new Santa. He had no choice but to take on Santa’s responsibilities and save Christmas — a job that transformed him from a selfish man to someone selfless and giving. And, well, isn’t that what it means to be Santa?
4. Tom Hanks in The Polar Express
Tom Hanks played multiple roles (including Scrooge and the train conductor) in Christmas classic The Polar Express, but his most memorable role was Santa Claus. He only appeared for a few minutes, but those few minutes mattered the most. When almost all hope was lost, Santa swooped in to bestow Christmas cheer on all the kids in town.
5. Ed Asner in ELF
When it comes to playing the jolliest man in the world, no one does it quite like Ed Asner. He’s so good at playing Santa that he’s done it eight times, but his portrayal as St. Nick in Elf is a clear standout. He raised Will Ferrell’s Buddy all on his own, and even encouraged him to find his family when he had some an identity crisis.
Can someone give Ed all the cookies and milk he wants?
Who’s your favorite pop culture Santa? Comment below!
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