The Best of Slugging Santas and Fightin’ Father Christmases

When it comes to sliding down chimneys in the middle of the night into strange homes, a fire waiting below is really the least of Santa’s worries. True, risk is somewhat expected for the world’s most famous home invader whose visitation schedule is well publicized. But in addition to being a fat moving target in bright red, Santa never knows when some nutjob has been good all year just so they can set out a batch of arsenic cookies with a glass of strychnine milk.

Luckily, being on the job for at least 400 years — or longer if he is the same Greek Saint Nicholas from the fourth century – has required Kris Kringle to stay sharp, learn some survival tactics and be able to kick holiday butt when needed.

So while we all know about the largesse of the holly jolly man who loves all good little children, we mustn’t forget about the tough guy with a beard who wields a mean candy-cane nunchaku and probably hangs out in biker bars in his off-season. These are pop-culture’s best Fighting Father Christmases, Kick butt Kris Kringles and Slugging Santas.

Futurama, Vol. 2: “Xmas Story”

OK kids, here’s the bad news: There may be a day when a flesh-and-blood Santa decides to call it quits. But just like Superman, Santa has a robot clone to back him up. However, just like Superman, that robot clone is insane. Created by Mom’s Friendly Robot Company, Robot Santa Claus runs the holiday in the 31st century. Unfortunately, Xmas has become a day of terror because robo-Claus’ naughty-or-nice programming is out of whack and everyone is judged as naughty – and most likely destroyed. Armed with weapons such as T.O.W. missiles (wordplay!) and bicycle guns created by his Neptunian slave laborers, Robot Santa manages to wreak havoc while also bringing people together, even if it does mean huddling together in hiding for a day.

Robot Chicken: Season Four: “The Robot Chicken Full-Assed Christmas Special”

Before he can become a double-o Claus, Kris Kringle must have two naughty kills, or so that’s what Robot Chicken suggests in a sketch aping Casino Royale. Voiced by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy, this Santa is royally ticked at little Jaden for “flashing his wee-wee at the maid.” After taking out his mom in a brutal, bloody fight scene in the kitchen, Santa surprises Jaden in his bedroom – after removing the cartridge from the naughty boy’s gun. Santa delivers a .32 caliber lump of coal before Mom springs back to life, launching a Christmas-themed homage to the James Bond opening sequence. As far as tough-guy mythical figures, who might also be spies, this Santa tops the nice list. Check it out on the excellent Robot Chicken: Season Four DVD.

South Park, The Hits: Vol. 1: “The Spirit of Christmas”

Although the beef between Santa and Jesus is well known, it wasn’t clear how violent their relationship had become until South Park chronicled the feud in bloody detail. While Jesus may have a point that Christmas is about commemorating his birth, Santa takes issue with this and contends the holiday is about giving. When they decide to end it once and for all, because “there can only be one,” Santa holds his own with wicked moves. He even manages to spin Jesus around and fire blue trapezoids (presumably of fury) into the Son of God. The battle ends in a truce after Brian Boitano’s wise words of peace, but the Messiah clearly had an upper hand at that point. Still, Santa makes clear he is not to be trifled with, as he shows in South Park episodes “Red Sleigh Down” and “A Woodland Critter Christmas”, where he trades in trapezoids for heavy artillery.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Father Christmas is pretty dedicated to his job of giving, but when his gifts also involve having children do his dirty work to take out a nemesis, even better. In the 2005 film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ first Narnia book, the Pevensie children are on the run from the White Witch who has kept the world inside the wardrobe pretty cold for 100 years. When her hold over Narnia begins to slip, the kids run into that jolly old arms dealer, Santa. Because there’s no age limit or waiting list for receiving weapons in alternate dimensions, Santa gives a sword and shield to Peter, a bow and arrows to Susan, and a dagger to Lucy. Then he takes off to let them clean up the mess. As one of the few grown-ups in the story who isn’t evil, and isn’t a talking animal, Santa is like Narnia’s answer to Nick Fury — a fairly savvy tactician who’d rather not get his hands dirty.

Runner ups:

The Nightmare Before Christmas: A surly “Sandy Claws” saves the day and fixes Jack Skellington’s botched attempt to merge Halloween and Christmas.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: In this 1964 sci-fi stinker, Martians kidnap Santa, evil Martian tries to kill Santa, Martian assumes Santa mantle on Mars, Santa goes home. And Santa apparently utilizes mind control and brainwashing powers on Martian children.

Santa Claus: A Mexican movie from 1959 where Santa operates in outer space and fights a demon, Lucifer, nasty children and a dog. Santa allies with the wizard Merlin and the Roman god Vulcan to kick butt, take names and deliver toys.