1 of 12 Walt Disney Studios
Tim Allen, The Santa Clause
After Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently causes Santa Claus to fall off his roof, the divorced father and businessman ends up accidentally assuming the jolly old elf's identity and all the responsibilities that go with it. He awakes the next day thinking it was all a dream, but as time passes, he begins to pack on the pounds and grows a long white beard he can't seem to lose. Talk about contractual obligations!
2 of 12 Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection
Elizabeth Mitchell, The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause
Every great Santa needs a Mrs. Claus — and eight years into his contract, Scott Calvin realizes he must find a mate or Christmas will cease to exist. Enter principal Carol Newman (Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell), who Santa Scott meets after his son gets in trouble at school. The two soon end up happily ever after, even though the following Christmas, Mitchell's pregnant Mrs. Claus worries that Santa will be out making his deliveries while she's making one of her own.
3 of 12 Warner Home Video
Ed Asner, Elf
After an orphan baby crawls into Santa's bag of toys and is accidentally carried back to the North Pole, Santa Claus (Ed Asner) has the baby raised as an elf. Sure, the movie is mostly about Buddy (Will Ferrell) and his attempt to reconnect with his real dad, but Asner adds wisdom and charm to the role, two vital ingredients in any Santa depiction.
4 of 12 Warner Bros. Entertainment
Paul Giamatti, Fred Claus
What would happen if Santa had a deadbeat younger brother? That's exactly what Nicholas (Paul Giamatti) is up against with sibling Fred (Vince Vaughn), who claims living in Santa's shadow has made him the way he is. When Nick has to bail his baby brother out of jail, Fred is forced to become an honorary elf in Santa's workshop. Santa never stops giving.
5 of 12 Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Miranda Richardson, Fred Claus
The British actress' good-hearted Mrs. Claus disapproves of brother-in-law's Fred's antics. She urges her hubby, Nick, not to bail his brother out all the time. But naturally, everyone's one big happy family by the end.
6 of 12 20th Century Fox/Kobal Collection
Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street
Did you know Santa's an Oscar winner? Or at least one of his portrayers is. The late Gwenn picked up a supporting actor statuette for his incarnation of Kris Kringle, who is institutionalized in the film because he claims he really is Santa. "Now I know there is a Santa Claus!" Gwenn said upon receiving his Oscar.
7 of 12 Dimension Films/Kobal Collection
Billy Bob Thornton, Bad Santa
While most of the Santas on our list made the cut for being upstanding, heartwarming role models, Billy Bob Thornton's angry, alcoholic department store-robbing mall Santa is a dose of reality for adults. It doesn't hurt that he — and his interactions with his partner-in-crime elf (Tony Cox) and "the Kid" (Brett Kelly) — are pretty hysterical.
8 of 12 Dimension Films/Kobal Collection
Lauren Graham, Bad Santa
OK, she's not technically a Mrs. Claus because she's not married to Santa. (And her Santa of choice is skinny, drinks whiskey and wears a fake beard.) But Graham's raunchy nymphomaniac bartender is as close as you'll get in this thoroughly non-Christmas-y Christmas movie. (Bonus: The role is a far cry from her Gilmore Girls character.)
9 of 12 ITV Global/The Kobal Collection
David Huddleston, Santa Claus: The Movie
This 1985 flick tells two tales. The first half explores how good ol' St. Nick became Santa Claus way back in the 14th century after he was given immortality to become the "Chosen One." After assuming his new identity, the perfectly portly and jolly Santa travels to the modern day, where he must deal with his head elf, Patch (Dudley Moore), who winds up in cahoots with an evil toy manufacturer.
10 of 12 TriStar Pictures/Everett Collection
Judy Cornwell, Santa Claus: The Movie
Mrs. Claus gets a first name here — Anya — and credit for coming up with Santa's staple Nice and Naughty list. Anya didn't believe disobedient children ought to be rewarded with presents. Now that's what you call tough love.
11 of 12 Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection
Douglas Seale, Ernest Saves Christmas
Don't overlook this movie because of its comedic tomfoolery — Seale's Santa is one of the better portrayals on celluloid. After he leaves his magic sack in the taxi driven by Ernest (Jim Varney), he struggles to convince anyone he is Santa and complete his task of hiring a successor (Oliver Clark). Though all the problems in the plot are resolved, the film also delivers an emotional message about the true meaning of Christmas.