Who’s the greatest holiday character in history? That’s easy: Santa. Come on, who else shows up each and every year to bring you gifts you probably don’t deserve? (Yes, the man commits literally millions of misdemeanor trespassing violations on Christmas Eve. But we can let that pass.) Santa rules Christmas, forever and ever.
But let’s broaden the lens a bit, and let’s make this a touch more interesting. Which holiday character would win an all-out Battle Royale? Not so easy there, is it? Sure, Santa’s a generous fellow, but how would he handle himself in a street fight? Let’s discuss.
For this little exercise, we’ll combine four of America’s favorite pastimes: Christmas, celebrity, shopping, and mindless violence. Imagine, if you will, a shopping mall—yes, we know, everybody shops online now, just roll with it—filled to the brim with your favorite holiday characters. If we turned them all loose on each other, who would walk out, and who’d have to be carried out? It’s the greatest holiday extravaganza ever!
As for who’s in: only the biggest of big dogs, holiday-wise. That means nobody from non-holiday winter movies (yes, Elsa from “Frozen” would run the table on these fools), nobody from movies no one under age 40 remembers (sorry, Heat Miser and Snow Miser), nobody from off-brand holiday movies (adios, Christmas donkeys and various extra reindeer), and nobody from Christmas carols (be thankful you’re not in custody, creepy dude in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).
So here they are, 25 of the best of the best, turned loose in a classic shopping mall for your entertainment. Who’s the last one standing? Let’s find out …
25. Frosty the Snowman: Sure, he’s got that magic hat, but like many in the lower reaches of our list, he’s got too sweet of a heart for hand-to-hand combat. More importantly, he’s out of his element: Frosty indoors is like Aquaman in the desert. Three minutes in, and all that’s left of Frosty is a corncob pipe and a button nose in a puddle.
24. Gonzo (Muppet Christmas Carol): Gonzo is the most self-aware character in holiday movies, fully aware that he’s both storyteller and character. Which means he’ll be able to narrate his own defeat here, but he’ll do it with style and grace, weaving a reverence for tradition with transcendent hope for the future, because everyone knows writers are the true heroes of Christmas.
23. Hermie the Elf (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer): Hermie, as you may recall, wanted to be a dentist, and the combination of an elf’s craftsmanship with a dentist’s tools should make for a tough-to-take-down combination. But Hermie’s too precious for this kind of wet work. He’s done in minutes, but he’ll get plenty of new clients for his dental practice soon enough.
22. Ralphie Parker (A Christmas Story): He’s not saddled with Hermie’s conscience; witness the way he goes into Wolverine-esque berserker mode when dealing with bullies. But Ralphie lacks crucial skills like battlefield awareness. He’d shoot his eye out early in this battle and spend the rest of the fight watching the proceeds from the sidelines with a cup of Ovaltine.
21. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Look, we get that “Rudolph” is an uplifting story of being true to yourself and not submitting to the bullying crush of the popular crowd. But Rudolph himself isn’t much of a baller; that red nose is going to be nothing but a target.
20. Clark Griswold (Christmas Vacation): Carnage tends to follow in Clark’s wake, but it’s generally beyond his control (or awareness). It’s entirely possible he’d mow over a couple competitors while driving to the mall in the Family Truckster, but he’ll fare about as well in this battle as his beloved Chicago Bears have on the field this season.
19. Scott Calvin (The Santa Clause): Granted, the Tim Allen character in “The Santa Clause” did in fact (unintentionally) kill Santa and take over his old job, which is a pretty cold-blooded move. But he remains a cranky dad who can’t believe he has to put up with all this silliness, and that kind of attitude gets you bounced from this battle in a hurry.
18. The Wet Bandits (Home Alone): These poor dopes can take more punishment than anyone on this list, as evidenced by the litany of should-be-fatal injuries they suffer throughout the course of one ill-fated home invasion. But they’re not particularly bright, and that makes them easy prey for some of the more devious types among this crew.
17. Scut Farkus (A Christmas Story): The yellow-eyed, raccoon-hatted delinquent seems like he’d be a lot higher on this list, doesn’t he? But like most bullies, he’s a punk at heart. He’d get exposed pretty quickly, since he wouldn’t be preying on six-year-old kids here.
16. Willie T. Soke (Bad Santa): Another potential high draft pick brought low because of questions about his work ethic. The Billy Bob Thornton-played Soke surely has the requisite conscience-free ethos to wreak havoc on gentler folk, but his drunken spiral keeps him out of the realm of true champions. On the plus side, he’s probably the worst-smelling contestant—yes, even worse than wet fur.
15. Lucy Van Pelt (A Charlie Brown Christmas): Like many of our other combatants, Lucy possesses both the innate rage and utter disregard for human life necessary to go deep in a battle royale. But like Achilles, she has a fatal flaw: a love of piano music that reminds her of her beloved stalking target Schroeder. A little “Für Elise” over the mall speakers and she’s putty.
14. Scrooge (A Christmas Carol): This one’s highly dependent on which Scrooge shows up. The Scrooge from the end of the story, who (spoiler alert) is a reformed, changed, gentle man, wouldn’t last thirty seconds. The spiteful, crusty bastard who mocks the poor would last quite a bit longer, but age (and our next competitor) would do him in before he could do too much damage.
13. Ghost of Christmas Present (Scrooged): Usually the Ghost of Christmas Present is a jolly fellow, reveling in the joy that is Christmastime. The Carol Kane version from “Scrooged” is that, yes, but with a heaping helping o’ random violence slathered atop the rapture. She’d do plenty of damage armed with anything within arm’s reach. And her burbling giggle would worm into your brain and drive you mad.
12. The Conductor (Polar Express): We can’t quite get a handle on what The Conductor’s powers and abilities are, though he does seem to be able to peer into the world of Christmas magic, he commands an army of hot chocolate-bearing waiters, and he remains cooler under pressure than Han Solo. We project he gets his ticket punched midway through this battle.
11. Krampus: Yeah, yeah, he’s an otherworldly demon with the power to send nonbelievers to Hell. Whatever. Krampus is a chump, and he’s no match for the heavy hitters in the top 10.
10. Santa Claus: Let’s consider Santa’s talents: Sleigh-enabled hyperspeed. Dexterity to get down chimneys. The ability to peer into hearts and determine naughtiness or niceness. First-rate organizational skills. Alas, his kind heart and his belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly keep him from causing real trouble. Plus, at a mall there’d be a line of kids waiting to sit in his lap.
9. Clarence the Angel (It’s a Wonderful Life): Don’t let the bulbous nose and the bumbling demeanor fool you—Clarence is going to be a tough out. He’s got some heaven-gifted powers, like the ability to disappear and avoid any hit. He can also show his fellow combatants what life would have been like without them, which is enough to bring anyone to their knees.
8. Yukon Cornelius (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer): Dude once took down the Abominable Snow Monster pretty much by himself. He also licks his pickaxe before battle, which is some straight-up Viking action. But his weakness is his lust for silver and gold, which could distract him at a crucial moment.
7. Cousin Eddie (Christmas Vacation): Write off Cousin Eddie as a redneck dipstick at your peril. Remember, the man kidnapped Clark’s boss right out from under the noses of his family on Christmas Eve. And you don’t want to end up on the business end of that hose snaking from the back of Eddie’s RV.
6. Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas): The Pumpkin King boasts a reach advantage over nearly every other adversary, plus the element of surprise: nobody’s expecting bats and jack-o’-lanterns at Christmas. But like Conor McGregor fighting Floyd Mayweather, Skellington is out of his element here, and eventually succumbs to the Christmas spirit.
5. Buddy (Elf): And now we’re into the horses. We’re not quite sure how Buddy managed to acquire Avengers-level super powers while being raised by elves, but whatever … his cannon arm alone would be enough to take out half the field. His fatal flaw? Yep. Santa. (Buddy knows him.) Buddy wouldn’t be able to take out Santa, and wouldn’t be able to handle seeing the Big Man ushered to the sidelines, either.
4. John McClane (Die Hard): Yes, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. And McClane, like our remaining combatants, is ruthless and opportunistic. We could see him pilfering Yukon’s pickaxe, Ralphie’s Red Ryder rifle, and Cousin Eddie’s hunting cap before charging back into battle. The cowboy survives to the Final Four, to which we say, yippie-ki-yay.
3. Abominable Snow Monster (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer): Oh sure, he looks like a college freshman home on break, and he waddles around like he had a few too many bourbon balls at a ‘70s office party, but make no mistake: he’ll straight-up EAT you. (Didn’t show that part in the Christmas special, did they?) And since Hermie the Elf was nice enough to pull that infected tooth—thanks, kid—the Snow Monster has no discernible weaknesses now. Great.
2. The Grinch (How The Grinch Stole Christmas): Scrooge, Mr. Potter, Darth Vader … you aren’t going to find anyone more flat-out evil than the Grinch, anywhere, any time. He steals presents from little girls and little boys, for heaven’s sake. His breaking-and-entering skills are almost without equal—he does get caught by Cindy Lou Who, after all—but his sheer petty greed is something to behold. His only flaw? His super strength only shows up when his heart grows two sizes, and generosity of spirit is not a favorable attribute in a Battle Royale.
But that leaves us with just one combatant. One challenger, one relentless warrior, someone for whom heart and compassion are foreign words. Who else could it be?
1. Kevin McAllister (Home Alone): You look at young Kevin, played by the then-cherubic Macaulay Culkin, and you think, “That little scamp! What kind of shenanigans is he up to now?” And that’s about the time he splits your skull with a baseball bat swung from a tetherball pole. Kevin McAllister is not evil; no, he is the absence of evil, or good, or any human emotion whatsoever. He is amorality, existing for no other reason than to cause those around him pain. A professional diagnosis of the movie’s injuries has shown that Kevin’s little traps would severely disfigure each of the Wet Bandits, and some amateur sleuthing has turned up disturbing similarities between Kevin and the serial killer Jigsaw from the “Saw” franchise. Bottom line: given an entire shopping mall’s worth of potential armaments, plus the built-in advantage that would come from his enemies underestimating him, Kevin McAllister would walk out of our Holiday Character Battle Royale smelling as sweet as his daddy’s aftershave.
And there you have it, friends. May your holidays be happy, joyful, and free of kid-incited violence. Merry Christmas and happy holidays from your pals at Yahoo Sports!
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.