The 'Santa Clause' Series Is A Holiday Phantasmagoria

The Santa Clause series is a holiday classic. Ever since the first movie's release in 1994, families have tuned in year after year to revisit the convoluted story of Scott Calvin and his Santa Claus contract. 

The movie is filled with hilarious quotes and plenty of references to the spirit of the season, which conveniently allows the dark undertones of the plot to slip by unnoticed. Make no mistake - this movie is twisted. From untimely demises to intricate contract agreements to storylines that are just plain wild, this series is simultaneously horrifying, heartwarming, and laughable. 

Ready to relive all the ups and downs of this bewildering Christmas trilogy? Take a look at a few key moments that will prove just how weird this story really is.


  • The First Film Opens With Santa Falling Off A Roof And Crumbling To Dust

    The First Film Opens With Santa Falling Off A Roof And Crumbling To Dust
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    While The Santa Clause is presented as a fun, lighthearted holiday movie, it actually has some pretty dark undertones. Remember when the original Santa Claus falls off the roof to his untimely end within the first few scenes of the first movie?

    When Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) hears noises coming from the top of his house, he understandably runs outside to see what's going on. Since most of us are pretty sure that Santa doesn't exist, Scott freaks out when he sees the Claus-like figure on his roof, and yells up at him. The original Claus is frightened by Scott's yell and falls off the two-story house, landing in a snowbank. Then, he crumbles to dust, leaving only his suit behind. 

    Not only does the series begin with a harrowing scene that's met with total nonchalance from the remaining characters, but the first Santa is also basically never mentioned again. Scott takes his clothes and that's the end of that. What a disappointing and dark event for the herald of the season.

  • Scott Is Forced To Become Santa Without Full Knowledge Of The Contract

    Scott Is Forced To Become Santa Without Full Knowledge Of The Contract
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    After the first Santa fatally falls, Scott and his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) climb to the roof where they find his missing reindeer and sleigh. Scott tries to force Charlie to come back inside, but he accidentally prompts the reindeer into flying to the next house. At that point, Charlie emotionally manipulates his father into playing Santa for the night with a pitiful, "How come everything I want to do is stupid?" Playing the part of the guilty father, Scott agrees to put on the suit and play Santa for the night, just to make his son happy. 

    Little does Scott know, the second he puts on the suit, he accepts all the duties of Santa Claus, even though he's totally unaware of that. The teeny-tiny card he pulls from the old Santa explains all his duties in fine print that's totally impossible to read without a magnifying glass. The unreadable fine print tells him that putting on the suit waives his right to his previous identity. He has to be Santa whether he wants to or not. It's quite the tricky contract.

  • The Elves Are Centuries-Old Beings That Look Like Children

    The Elves Are Centuries-Old Beings That Look Like Children
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    Santa Claus and elves are irrevocably tied to each other in Christmas lore. However, each movie has their own take on what these mythical creatures actually look like. The interpretation in The Santa Clause is particularly disturbing. Instead of small people that look like fully grown adults or even fully grown adults with the addition of pointed ears, the elves in The Santa Clause are pointy-eared beings that have lived for centuries, but still look like children

    This odd interpretation leads to tiny humans who behave like a mixture between children and adults. One minute, they're happily building toys and riding tiny trains through Santa's workshop, and the next, they're referencing their dating lives with that certain someone in wrapping. We're looking at you, Judy (Paige Tamada).

  • The First Movie Shames Laura And Neil For No Longer Believing In Santa Claus

    The First Movie Shames Laura And Neil For No Longer Believing In Santa Claus
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    It's safe to say that most adults in the world no longer believe in Santa Claus. However, for the entirety of the first movie, Scott's ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband Neil (Judge Reinhold) are portrayed as the bad guys for not believing in Santa. When Charlie refuses to give up the idea that he actually went to the North Pole, his mother and stepfather understandably express concern. They fear that Charlie isn't developing as a normal child should, and is instead clinging to imaginary scenarios and presenting them as reality. That's a totally normal reaction for a set of committed parents.  

    However, the film often pushes the idea that Laura and Neil are the ones who are off-base. The storyline leads the audience to believe that they're overreacting and that their attempts to separate Charlie from his father for his own health and well-being are simply mean-spirited. Let's be clear - Laura and Neil are the normal ones here. Their disbelief in Santa is totally logical, and they shouldn't be shamed for trying to take care of their child.

  • Scott Takes Off With His Son And Disappears For Four Weeks

    Scott Takes Off With His Son And Disappears For Four Weeks
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    As Scott transforms into Santa Claus over the course of the first movie, admittedly without his explicit consent, Laura and Neil grow more and more concerned. Eventually, Scott looks just like Santa - long beard, a heavier weight, white hair - and Laura and Neil decide that enough's enough. Instead of continuing to damage their child, they take Charlie to a counselor and revoke Scott's visitation rights. Although Scott legally isn't allowed to see his son, he stops by on Thanksgiving night to say goodbye to Charlie. At that point, Charlie reminds Scott that he really is Santa. When Scott asks for a moment to say goodbye to his son, Bernand the Head Elf (David Krumholtz) appears to escort the new Santa back to the North Pole. Charlie begs to come along and Scott allows it, but he doesn’t tell Laura and Neil where they're going.

    Scott essentially kidnaps his son, prompting Laura and Neil to go to the police to try to get Charlie back. Although Charlie goes willingly, Scott taking him is totally against the law and pretty messed up. He leaves Laura and Neil in agony, worried about their child. All they get is a single call from Charlie until he returns roughly four weeks later on Christmas Eve. That's four full weeks of two parents not knowing where their child is. It doesn't matter if he's Santa or not - Scott shouldn't be able to take off with his child and get away with it.

  • Neil, A Respected Psychologist, Is Convinced Of Santa’s Existence With A Weenie Whistle

    Neil, A Respected Psychologist, Is Convinced Of Santa’s Existence With A Weenie Whistle
    Photo: The Santa Clause / Buena Vista Pictures

    Part of the reason that Neil and Laura are so concerned by Charlie's behavior stems from Neil's background as a respected psychologist. By the end of the movie, however, his many degrees and medical background fly out the window, all because of a Weenie Whistle. 

    Early in the movie, Neil tells Laura that he stopped believing in Santa at just 3 years old, when he didn't get the Weenie Whistle he wanted for Christmas. Although he sees Scott in many forms, he still struggles to believe. Laura gets on board with the idea that Scott is Santa Claus, even burning the custody papers to show how sorry she is for not believing. Neil, however, still believes that Scott is simply "pulling them into his delusions." He changes his mind when Scott drops a Weenie Whistle from his sleigh intended for Neil. 

    Anyone who looked hard enough could probably find a Weenie Whistle. Hasn't Neil heard of eBay? If anything, that's the least convincing moment to establish Scott as Santa Claus. The appearance of a random elf and the sight of a flying sleigh and reindeer don't sway him - but a Weenie Whistle does the trick? Neil should be smarter than that.