5 Christmas Movie and TV Clichs That Need to Be Retired

‘Tis the season to snuggle on the couch with the kids, watch holiday specials and keep saying to yourself, “Hoo-boy, that again?” Whether it’s the annual sweater-filled, heartwarming holiday episode of a hit sitcom or a new animated half hour, there are certain plot line gimmicks that Hollywood producers think of as gifts that keep on giving. But really, they’re not. They’ve got to stop. I propose a moratorium on the following five Christmas clichés.

1. The villain’s childhood grudge: Imagine our surprise when we discover that the whole reason the bad guy doesn’t like Christmas is because he never got the tricycle he asked for when he was a six. Of course, he ends up getting that long-yearned-for trike (or teddy bear, or skateboard) as an adult, and learns to believe again.

2. Gift of the Magi swaps: This was a fresh idea back when O. Henry first wrote it in 1906. And it’s been riffed on successfully by everyone from Mickey Mouse to Homer Simpson. But enough is enough. Today, we know where the story is going when we see two characters who each have only one thing that’s most important to them, and not enough money to buy the other a present.

3. Tugging on Santa’s beard: Whichever way it goes -- beard comes off and kids scream, or beard stays on and Santa screams -- we’ve seen it before. No one has done this well since Elf, and even then, they were pushing it.

4. The annoying carolers. You know who I’m talking about -- the dorky family in matching knit caps who cause the curmudgeonly protagonist to grumble with their ridiculously cheerful, unsolicited rendition of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” By the end of the episode, the grumpy guy has usually caught the Christmas spirit and joined them.

5. Santa drops a present. Why do kids have any faith that their gifts will be under the tree on Christmas morning when they constantly see depictions of a gifts falling off of clumsy St. Nick's sleigh? All I can say is thank goodness there are so many cartoon characters that happen to stroll directly under Santa’s flight path, because they always manage to find the wayward presents and redeliver them. Whew.

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