Of all people, you’d think that Santa Claus could handle his beefs peacefully. Yet, Hollywood seems to love depicting Saint Nick embroiled in epic showdowns. And so, I have no choice but to celebrate the season by rounding up the top 10 Santa fights of all time.
There is, however, one condition: I’m not counting any fights with mall Santas. So while Buddy’s fight in Elf may be hilarious and Schwarzenegger’s brawl in Jingle All the Way may be holiday movie magic, I’m only including entries with the real man with the bag — that way I’m not weighing magical versions of Santa against mere mortals dressed in a Santa suit.
With that in mind, let’s start throwing some punches…
10) Santa vs. Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie and Lock, Shock and Barrel
Movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Blow-by-Blow: The dainty-footed Santa in The Nightmare Before Christmas is probably St. Nick’s lowest moment in cinema history. First, he’s kidnapped by three asshole children without even putting up a fight; then he’s tortured by Oogie Boogie until finally being rescued by Jack Skellington, the guy who orchestrated his kidnapping in the first place.
Winner: Jack Skellington et al. While Santa’s message of kindness wins out in the end, he’s mostly just a helpless victim in this Tim Burton classic.
9) Santa vs. Vince Vaughn
Movie: Fred Claus (2007)
Blow-by-Blow: On film, Santa has done battle with all kinds of monsters and supernatural beings, but in Fred Claus, all he has to do is battle Vince Vaughn (technically, Vaughn is playing Santa’s brother, but Vaughn plays it pretty much like every character he’s played since Swingers, so it’s still just Vince Vaughn). Despite the fact that Santa picks a snowball fight with Vaughn — a weapon you’d think Santa would be pretty adept at — Vaughn manages to clobber Santa with snowballs. Humiliated in defeat, Santa then tries to run over his brother with a snowmobile.
Winner: Vaughn, who manages to whack Paul Giamatti’s Santa with a shovel and crash the snowmobile. Honestly, I expected a lot more out of Santa. After all, Vaughn had his ass handed to him by Ron Burgundy, who doesn’t have nearly the superpowers Santa does.
8) Santa vs. Voldar the Martian
Movie: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Blow-by-Blow: Much like the kidnapped Santa in The Nightmare Before Christmas, this version of Santa is taken by Martians and puts up very little fight along the way. The Martians kidnap him to bring happiness to the children of Mars, and for the most part, Santa obliges, setting up a toy factory on the red planet. But trouble arises when one Martian — Voldar — wants to kill Santa for corrupting Martian children.
Winner: Santa, but with a lot of help. Rather than fight his own battles, Santa has the children of Mars — and two kidnapped Earth children — attack Voldar with an array of toys. Not lifting a finger to stop Voldar himself, Santa giggles as Voldar is attacked by bubbles, toy guns and tennis rackets. It’s a pretty pathetic display for a guy who can travel at super speed and has a serious weight advantage over the Martian.
7) Santa vs. Jack Frost
Movie: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
Blow-by-Blow: Squeezing out the last bits of life from a movie that never should have been a franchise to begin with, the third film in the Santa Clause saga finds Martin Short as an embittered Jack Frost who is tired of living in Santa’s shadow. While transparently villainous throughout the movie, Jack Frost manages to trick Tim Allen’s Santa into renouncing his position as Santa Claus, and that’s when the movie really gets crazy. There’s time travel and magic snow globes and a whole mess of complicated details, but it all culminates with a fight between a de-Santa-ed Tim Allen rolling around with Jack Frost in the snow.
Winner: Allen, who, at the time, isn’t actually Santa. Allen manages to wrestle Jack Frost into submission, which corrects the timeline, allowing the past version of Tim Allen to still become Santa. Really, the movie is a bit like Back to the Future II, in that it time-travels back to the first movie. The only difference is that this movie has Santa in it and is entirely unwatchable.
6) Santa vs. Jesus
Movie: South Park: The Spirit of Christmas (1995)
Blow-by-Blow: The Spirit of Christmas is one of two shorts — both with the same name — that Matt Stone and Trey Parker used to pitch South Park to networks. In it, Jesus picks a fight with Santa for distorting the meaning of Christmas, and the two duke it out with fists and Dragon Ball Z-type powers. In it, Santa is responsible for the deaths of four children bystanders — Kenny included — while Jesus accidentally kills three kids.
Winner: Draw. Santa’s body count might give him a leg-up on Jesus, but the fight really has no winner. Instead, figure skater Brian Boitano shows up and talks about the true meaning of Christmas to Stan, Kyle and Cartman, and the boys convince Santa and Jesus to stop fighting. It’s as heartwarming a story as South Park has ever told, and this was without a singing piece of Christmas poo.
5) Santa vs. an Evil Snowman
Movie: Santa vs. the Snowman 3D (1997)
Blow-by-Blow: Santa vs. the Snowman 3D is a half-hour animated movie that was shown on TV and later in IMAX theaters as a 3D movie. In the cartoon, an evil snowman tries to take over Christmas, and after his elf army fails, Santa fights the snowman in a giant robotic, fire-breathing nutcracker.
Winner: The evil snowman, who commands an army of snowmen that imprisons Santa. Santa soon breaks free of the ice prison and takes Christmas back, but he doesn’t do it by force, he does it with heartwarming Christmas-type stuff by giving the evil snowman a beautiful flute as a show of kindness.
4) Santa vs. Toy Santa
Movie: The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
Blow-by-Blow: On a quest to find himself a Mrs. Claus, Santa allows a robotic toy duplicate of himself to run the North Pole while he’s gone. Eventually, the Toy Santa goes crazy and declares all the children of Earth to be naughty. Tim Allen — who loses his Santa powers in this movie, too — then has to fight Toy Santa to save Christmas. The showdown — which is far more exciting than the Jack Frost tussle — takes place in mid-air as Toy Santa is flying Santa’s sleigh.
Winner: Allen’s Santa, who technically is still Santa, but without his Santa powers. Allen wins the fistfight aboard Santa’s sleigh, which results in the sleigh crashing and the Toy Santa being locked up. This movie, like the third one, is a bad, unnecessary sequel to a genuine Christmas classic, but it’s at least slightly less convoluted and Santa is kind of a badass this time around.
3) Santa vs. the Boogeyman
Movie: Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Blow-by-Blow: The Santa Clause 2 might not be a good movie, but at least Santa feels like Santa in it, which isn’t the case for the remaining Santas on this list. Most of them feel too badass to be Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, and the Santa in Rise of the Guardians is no exception. In this universe, Santa leads a team of superheroes composed of holiday mascots like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. This Santa also speaks with a badass Russian accent, is covered in badass tattoos and drives a badass sleigh. He is, in short, a badass.
In Rise of the Guardians, the holiday mascots fight the Boogeyman, who’s making the children of Earth not believe in the Guardians anymore. During the fight, Santa has sick moves, wields double swords and has abominable snowmen at his command.
Winner: Santa, who, once again, is definitely a badass in this film. The only reason why this Santa doesn’t rank higher is that he gets a lot of help from his fellow mascots.
2) Santa vs. a Hitman
Movie: Fatman (2020)
Blow-by-Blow: Yet another Santa who tries really, really hard to be a badass is the Santa from the movie Fatman, played by that hateful bastard Mel Gibson. In it, a kid on the naughty list sends a hitman — played by Walton Goggins — to kill Santa, and the movie ends with a shootout at Santa’s workshop.
Winner: The hitman, who stabs Santa and shoots him in the head in the gritty showdown. To prove just how badass he is though, Santa manages to survive the attack, and after Mrs. Claus kills the assassin, she and the elves revive Santa.
1) Santa vs. Everyone
Movie: Santa’s Slay (2005)
Blow-by-Blow: In this story, Santa is a demon who lost a bet with an angel, which forced him to give presents and spread good cheer for a thousand years. Once the bet is over, however, Santa begins terrorizing humankind in all sorts of holiday-themed ways, like drowning someone in eggnog and using a tree-topper as a ninja star.
Winner: According to the YouTube show Kill Count, Santa kills 40 people in this movie, all in pretty ridiculous ways, too. While this Santa — played by wrestler Bill Goldberg — bears little resemblance to the Santa Claus we all know and love, he’s easily the toughest Santa of all time. Better yet, he’s not played by that scumbag Mel Gibson.