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The Entire Santa Clause Franchise Timeline Explained

Well, Christmastime is here, and that means holiday-themed movies, shows, and music reign supreme until we arrive at the New Year. Until then, why not celebrate with some of the most beloved Christmas movies ever – namely, Disney's "The Santa Clause" trilogy and the Disney+ series "The Santa Clauses?" Starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, aka the man who becomes Santa Claus, this holiday franchise has stood the test of time and continues to delight audiences every December.

Since the mid-1990s, Tim Allen has been the most persistent cinematic Santa. Though, according to the "The Santa Clauses," Scott Calvin isn't actually the only Santa. Since "The Santa Clauses" further expands on the history of Christmas' iconic legendary figure, we're heading back to the beginning to explain the entire timeline of Disney's most popular holiday franchise. 

While we can certainly argue which entry in the franchise is the greatest (it's "The Santa Clause 2," by the way) what's more important is seeing the whole story through. So, without further ado, lace up your boots as we zoom through the "Santa Clause" chronology faster than he can deliver presents on Christmas Eve.

Myths, legends, and historical origins

A little bit after the beginning of time, the Council of Legendary Figures forms. Over the centuries, this Council shifts and changes, with new figureheads added and others possibly removed. By the time of "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," the group consists of Mother Nature, Father Time, Cupid, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Jack Frost, and Santa Claus himself. Each of these figures represents a specific rule of nature, holiday, or emotional-spiritual ideal, and each of them works around the clock.

While we don't know where all of these beings come from, both Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny take their root in Christian holy days, namely Christmas and Easter, thus they didn't exist before Christ. This means that they're presumably the newest members to the Council, with Father Time and Mother Nature being the oldest. Nevertheless, they are solid additions to the Legendary Figures and continue to help guide humanity in positive ways.

According to deep lore revealed in "The Santa Clauses," in the early 300s A.D., the loving and giving nature of Nicholas of Myra forever memorialized him as a Christian saint, specifically the patron saint of children. The actions of Saint Nicholas sparks the Christmas Spirit to create avatars capable of spreading the same goodness and cheer every holiday season. This is how Santa Claus begins, and though Nicholas himself was human, the other Santas that follow — even the European folktale of Saint Nicholas – were not. Rather, they were eternal ethereal beings created by magic.

Santa Claus through the ages

Before Scott Calvin, there were 17 other Santas throughout history. For nearly two millennia, these avatars of Christmas cheer are magically produced to give gifts to the poor and needy. Deeming children either naughty or nice, the Santas — which include the likes of Papa Noel, Krampus, Sinterklaas, and the iconic Kris Kringle — travel the world in a single night, using magical vortexes, flying animals, and elves to make Christmas happen.

The final ethereal Santa Claus before Scott Calvin embodies the Spirit of Christmas from the turn of the 20th century all the way through the mid-1990s. For the better part of 100 years, the 17th Santa spreads holiday cheer despite the Great Depression, two World Wars, "The Star Wars Holiday Special," and various other catastrophes throughout the 1900s. But on one Christmas night, Santa encounters a young boy named Scott Calvin and picks him as his Santa successor.

After seeing the cheerful and giving spirit of Christmas within Scott, Santa and the other 16 variants decide to pass the magical torch onto a human being. This seems like a risky venture to be sure, but given that Saint Nicholas himself was human, it's worth a shot. Here, Santa 17 and Bernard — the North Pole's head elf — devise a plan that helps Scott Calvin fulfill his life's calling as Santa Claus when the time is right.

Scott Calvin initiates the Santa clause

That time comes on Christmas Eve in 1994 when Scott Calvin spends the holiday with his son Charlie, thus beginning the events of "The Santa Clause." After burning the turkey and eating at Denny's, Scott and Charlie fall fast asleep when they're awakened by Santa Claus' visit. After "scaring" Santa off the roof, the mysterious figure vanishes into thin air as Scott and Charlie uncover his coat and his sleigh, and eventually find themselves at the North Pole. This experience has a profound impact on Charlie, who now sees his dad as a superhero, though Scott is mostly just confused by the whole ordeal.

But, since Scott reads from the Santa clause card and puts on the old man's coat, he thereby claims the identity of Santa Claus and begins to transform into the legendary figure. At the North Pole, Scott and Charlie are introduced to head elf Bernard who explains the Santa clause to Scott — some of it, anyway — and helps him transition into his newfound career path. Though Bernard gives Scott until Thanksgiving to get his affairs in order, Scott — who woke back up in his own bed — writes the experience off as just a strange shared dream he had with Charlie.

Charlie, on the other hand, continues to believe, which quickly gets Scott into a bit more trouble than he bargains for. The year of 1995 proves to be a tough one for Scott, and as it gets closer to Christmas, his life is never quite the same.

Fighting for his family

After he gains a ton of weight, grows a great white beard, and starts wearing Christmas-y colors all year round, Scott's ex-wife Laura and her new husband Neil began worrying about Charlie's safety and Scott's mental stability. As they take further steps to keep Charlie in their custody, Scott half-obliviously slips further into his role as Father Christmas. Though, after Charlie shows his father a magical snow globe that he receives during their visit to the North Pole, Scott recognizes that he is indeed Santa Claus and commits wholeheartedly to the job.

On Christmas Eve of 1995, Scott-as-Santa takes Charlie around the world to deliver presents; upon returning to Laura and Neil's house, he's arrested for kidnapping Charlie. While it all looks pretty bad and somewhat hopeless, Bernard sends the E.L.F.S. team to break the big man out. Though, instead of escaping into the night, Santa returns to see his son, and reveals his magic to Laura and Neil, proving once and for all that Scott Calvin is indeed the new Santa Claus. 

Delighted, Laura burns the legal papers keeping Scott from seeing Charlie, and Santa gives her and Neil presents of their own — the gifts they never received from the previous Santa. The first film ends with Santa and Charlie finishing the night's deliveries and Charlie exclaiming that, one day, he'd like to go into "the family business."

The Mrs. Clause

Eight years later, Scott is working around the clock as Santa — so much so that he struggles to make time to see Charlie, who has ironically made his way onto Santa's naughty list. Despite Santa's incredible work ethic and enthusiasm, Bernard and the elf Curtis — the keeper of the Handbook of Christmas — discover another clause hidden within the magical legal bindings of the office of Santa Claus...

Kicking off the events of "The Santa Clause 2," Curtis reveals that unless Scott gets married by Christmas this year, he will lose his magic and no longer be able to retain his position as Santa. In fact, the "deSanctification process" had already begun. After seeking advice from the Council of Legendary Figures, Scott decides that it's time to return to Chicago to set his son straight and find a bride — and it isn't long before Scott falls head over heels for Charlie's school principal, Carol Newman.

Though Carol struggles with Christmas spirit, Scott gives off enough for the both of them as they spend plenty of holiday-themed quality time together. But after Scott reveals that he is indeed Santa, Carol rejects him, believing that he's afraid of intimacy and making fun of her childhood. Unfortunately, Scott is forced to return to the North Pole to deal with another issue before he can resolve the situation with Carol.

War for the North Pole

Speaking of that other issue, before Santa leaves to find a wife, Curtis develops a solution so that the other elves won't suspect their leader's absence — a life-sized toy Santa. Sadly, it isn't long before this toy Santa becomes a tyrant and uses his newfound appetite for power to deem all the children "naughty" and give them all coal for Christmas. He imprisons Bernard, uses his toy soldiers to enforce his rule, and nearly prevents Curtis from escaping the North Pole to warn Scott and save Christmas.

Thankfully, Scott teams up with his friend the Tooth Fairy to return home with Curtis to fight to overthrow the plastic menace. Unfortunately, Scott and Curtis are immediately captured. But after Charlie convinces Carol that his dad really is Santa Claus, she and Charlie arrive to spring Scott loose and lead the elves in victory over the toy soldiers and their fake-bearded leader.

Wanting to come clean, Scott proposes to Carol, explaining the Mrs. clause and that he loves her dearly. Carol accepts and Mother Nature quickly officiates their wedding before Scott reclaims his title as Santa Claus and takes Charlie out for a 2002 Christmas Eve. Oh, and he also reveals his identity to Charlie's half-sister Lucy — another on the long list who know the family secret — who promises to not tell anybody what her "Uncle Scott" really does for a job. With Christmas properly restored, all is right in the world.

The Escape Clause

Four years after the events of "The Santa Clause 2," a now-pregnant Carol begins feeling homesick, prompting Scott to invite his in-laws and his own family — Charlie, Lucy, Laura, and Neil — to the North Pole for Christmas. Hoping to keep the Santa-thing under-wraps, Santa asks the now-head elf Curtis to help support the lie that they're actually in Canada, not the North Pole. "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" further expands on the world of Santa and the politics of the Council of Legendary Figures — namely their distaste for Jack Frost.

Jack Frost, who secretly hopes to overthrow Santa, is banished to the North Pole to pay penance for attempting to launch his own holiday. Upon learning of the escape clause — another "fine print" addition to The Santa Clause that allows a Santa to give up their position as Father Christmas and thus rewrite history — Frost breaks into the Hall of Snowglobes, freezes Lucy's parents, and tricks Scott into activating the escape clause.

This sends the two of them back to Christmas Eve in 1994 — during the events of the first film — where Jack overpowers Scott and takes the Santa coat for himself. This sparks a "Back to the Future, Part II"-inspired alternate 2006 where Jack Frost is a very public (and expensive) Santa Claus and Scott is no longer married to Carol at all. It's pretty depressing.

Jack Frost dethroned

Having retained his memories of being Santa, Scott desperately tries to do something about Jack Frost's reign over Christmas, which Frost renames "Frostmas." Scott enlists the help of Lucy to trick Frost into activating the escape clause yet again, which once more sends them back to that fateful Christmas Eve in 1994. This time, Scott holds Frost back long enough for his younger self and Charlie to restore the timeline back to its original state.

Unfortunately, this doesn't fix every issue in the North Pole, as Lucy reveals that Laura and Neil are still frozen solid. Since Frost refuses to unthaw them and Mother Nature claims that Legendary Figures cannot use their powers against one another, Santa and Lucy decide that the only way to save her family is for her own warm embrace to melt the ice man's heart. Somehow, be it through the magic of the North Pole or the warm embrace of a child, it works, and Jack Frost turns into a kinder, more cheerful creature as a result.

Oh, and in all the commotion, Carol gives birth to their son, whom they name Buddy Calvin-Claus after Carol's father, who they also end up telling the truth to about Scott's line of work. With Christmas saved yet again and business as usual resuming at the North Pole, Santa Claus becomes a father once more.

The years between

For more than a decade after "The Santa Clause 3," Scott Calvin continues to serve faithfully as Santa Claus. Carol also becomes the principal at a school for elves when she and Scott aren't too busy raising their son Buddy, who eventually adopts the nickname "Cal" after his father's original surname, Calvin. Some years after Cal is born, Scott and Carol are gifted with another child — this time a daughter they name Sandra. As the Calvin-Claus family grows, other familiar faces at the North Pole begin to shift and change.

Bernard steps down as head elf (reportedly due to David Krumholtzrnard wisely passing on the third movie) sometime prior to Cal's birth, as does Curtis. In their place, the elf Betty becomes the new chief of staff at the North Pole — and a close confidant of Carol's — who enforces each of the different Santa clauses. Her husband Noel becomes Santa's new right-hand elf, and after Charlie stops spending Christmas Eve with his dad, Noel even takes over co-pilot duties.

Speaking of Charlie, he's married and had two kids of his own since the events of "The Santa Clause 3," and although it's not explained what happened to Laura, Neil, and Lucy, we can presume that they're also happy and living their own lives. By the time of "The Santa Clauses," Scott Calvin had served as Santa Claus for nearly 30 years, but even some of the greatest legends must eventually come to an end...

The Secessus Clause

At the beginning of the Disney+ limited series "The Santa Clauses," Santa begins slowly losing his magic. Unable to perform the way he used to and losing a significant amount of weight, Santa learns from Betty that there is a final subsection under the previously revealed Santa clauses — the secessus clause. This clause allows Santa to return to a normal life upon choosing a successor to take over the job. Santa is initially uninterested in the idea of retiring, but after talking it over with Carol, who hopes to one day leave the North Pole, he reconsiders.

Recalling Charlie's childhood and his stated desire to claim the "family business," Scott initially tries to enlist his firstborn to take over as Father Christmas. Since Charlie has his own life and family, he declines. While thankful that his father considered him a worthy successor, he brings up the notion that raising kids in the North Pole might not be the best idea after all, especially given how strange Cal and Sandra turned out.

This gives Scott another idea and he asks his other son Cal to take over the red hat and coat. Cal implies that he'd rather his dad retire so that they can explore the rest of the real world. Soon after, it becomes official, Santa Claus is retiring and hiring his replacement.

Leaving the North Pole

After Scott realizes he may have to look outside of the Calvin clan for the next Santa Claus, he interviews a host of candidates, which strangely includes Peyton Manning. But of all the would-be Santas, the most notable is Simon Choksi, a former game developer and single dad to a young girl named Grace. After spending time with Simon in search of their daughters — who briefly go missing while fraternizing with La Befana, the North Pole's very own Christmas witch — Scott sees the potential in Simon to be a great Santa Claus and offers him the job.

This leads to the Calvin-Clauses transitioning out of their position at the North Pole and settling in the suburbs of Chicago to enjoy a new life in the normal world while Simon begins his training for next year's Christmastime. Though, instead of training, Simon quickly begins changing Christmas from being a once-a-year holiday meant to be anticipated, to an everyday instant gratification called "CED." Yikes. As Simon slowly destroys Christmas, the elves begin to disappear. Worse yet, Betty and Noel become increasingly concerned after Santa's coat also goes missing. 

Christmas spirit is dying, and they know that the only one who can do anything to stop this new "fake Santa" is the real deal himself. But, with the Calvins happily (well, mostly) readjusted to their lives in Chicago, Scott can't commit to leaving. He wants to finally spend Christmas with his family.

Into the Yule-Verse

With nowhere else to turn, Betty pulls Bernard the elf out of retirement to bring Scott Calvin back to the North Pole. Of course, that's easier said than done, but after an interdimensional trip to visit the previous Santas, Scott is soon convinced. It's in the Yule-Verse that Scott learns the truth about his destiny as Santa Claus — he was chosen all those years ago by the 17th Santa Claus to take over the mantle.

After recognizing his calling — and that his kids Cal and Sandra have both inherited magic powers since they were born to Santa Claus in the North Pole — Scott decides to reclaim his title as Father Christmas and travels back to the North Pole in order to stop Simon from destroying the holiday for good. But, of course, not before a heart-to-heart reunion with Bernard, who reveals that he's living a happy human life and that Scott was the greatest Santa Claus he ever worked alongside.

Upon returning to the North Pole, Scott is immediately captured by Simon, who has become consumed by his newfound power and search of progress. Thankfully, Carol, Cal, and Sandra use their own magical abilities to return to the North Pole, too — just in time to save Scott and turn the tables on the fake Santa Claus.

Christmas is saved again

After searching the North Pole for the famed Santa coat, which would restore Scott to his status as Santa Claus, Scott and his family finally find it, but not before Simon gets to it first. It's here that Simon recognizes, after admitting to destroying Christmas, that he might be the bad guy after all. After a heart-to-heart with his daughter Grace, Simon willingly gives up his brief tenure as Santa and Scott reclaims the coat and hat for himself.

Once Scott is restored as Santa, the elves are also restored and Christmas is on again. With a very limited amount of time until Christmas Day, Santa and his crew work hard and fast at delivering gifts — snow globes that show the recipients their favorite Christmas memories — before the sun comes up. But Santa doesn't do it alone. This year, he takes Carol, Cal, and Sandra with him, with the latter two using their newfound abilities to help their father. Finally able to spend Christmas Eve with his family after all these years, Santa is a jolly old man.

As Christmas is restored once more, Simon and Grace return to the real world, and Scott Calvin reigns as the supreme Santa Claus, we can rest assured knowing that the holiday is in good hands. No matter what comes next, one thing is clear — Scott Calvin is meant to be Father Christmas, and no one else comes even close.