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12 Christmas TV Episodes That Were Anything But Holly Jolly

Involving Krampus, murder, and ho-ho-hopelessness

Christmas is a time for merriment and being surrounded by loved ones — unless you're on the naughty list.

While some Christmas TV episodes are full of holiday cheer and laughter, some shows have over the years opted for a much darker, more Halloween-themed route. Santa Claus's malicious counterpart, Krampus, makes occasional appearances, and episodes that don't involve an evil Santa make up for it with ghosts, murder, and overall poor life choices. So take a break from your Gremlins marathon long enough to check out these dark, freaky, ho-ho-no Christmas-themed episodes. Hope you're on the nice list.

Supernatural

The CW

Supernatural

Season 3's “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” arguably one of the most well-known dark Christmas TV episodes, has Sam and Dean Winchester fighting what they believe to be Krampus — but ends up being two pagan gods who enjoy devouring humans and chastising people who swear.

The X-Files

FOX

The X-Files

Mulder and Scully pull a Fred and Daphne and investigate a haunted house on Christmas Eve in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” looking into a 100-year-old home where a husband and wife killed themselves in a suicide pact. The ghosts eventually trick the federal agents into thinking they shot each other, because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like gunshot wounds.

Doctor Who

BBC America

Doctor Who

What could be scarier than snow that can actually think and assemble itself into vicious snowmen? That's what the Doctor has to deal with in “The Snowmen,” where on Christmas Eve in 1892 London, the snow feeds off the nightmares of a young girl, but the Doctor has conveniently decided to give up on saving the world. Welp.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

20th Century Fox Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In Season 3's “Amends,” the ancient force called First Evil emerges around Christmas time and plagues Angel with nightmares about Angelus's former kills, in hope that he will eventually murder Buffy. Fa-la-la la la...

Warehouse 13

Syfy

Warehouse 13

An evil Santa Claus specter torments a workaholic named Larry in this Syfy series' episode “Secret Santa,” trying to make him disappear with the hope of taking his place.

Grimm

Scott Green/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Grimm

An wicked Santa-like creature in “Twelve Days of Krampus” savagely beats and kidnaps naughty kids, hanging them from the tallest tree with plans to eat them on the winter solstice.

Tales from the Crypt

HBO

Tales from the Crypt

The scene: Christmas Eve, when a woman murders her husband and tries to hide the body. Because karma's a bitch in “And All Through the House,” she's soon terrorized by an escaped serial killer whose victims are older women. The woman manages to escape from his clutches and hides in her house, but her daughter, thinking he is the real Santa Claus, lets him inside. Dun dun dun.

Tales from the Darkside

CBS

Tales from the Darkside

In “Seasons of Belief,” a father and mother tell their kids a scary story on Christmas Eve about a monster called the Grither. According to the tale, just mentioning the Grither causes it to appear and destroy whoever uttered its name. Naturally, the story is actually true, so the kids' parents are murdered by the beast via snapped necks.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Michael Parmelee/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Law & Order: SVU

In “Presumed Guilty,” it's Christmastime in New York, and a man assaults a priest he believes molested and impregnated his sister years ago. During the police investigation, the squad learns that the crime goes higher up than they could've guessed.

Dexter

Showtime

Dexter

“Truth Be Told,” an early Dexter episode, involves the Ice Truck Killer murdering a prostitute and dumping her at the base of a Christmas tree in a Santa's Cottage exhibit. The episode also deals with kidnapping — 'tis the season!

American Horror Story

FX

AHS

Asylum's “Unholy Night” gave us the best Christmas present we didn't know we needed: Ian McShane as a killer Santa figure who murders a girl's parents and winds up in Briarcliff. There, he's repeatedly caned and abused by Sister Jude, and later, he's encouraged to pick up his killing spree where he left off when possessed Sister Mary eggs him on with a Santa suit.

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Cartoon Network

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Technically, there isn't a Christmas episode of this freaky cartoon series, but Season 4's “The Nutcracker” references the Christmas tale, so just go with it. After Courage, Eustace, and Muriel find a creepy toy nutcracker inside the city dump, they're terrorized by two large rats who chase them around while simultaneously dancing to tunes from The Nutcracker. Weird.