It's the time of year for TV shows to be whipping up their holiday offerings. Within those episodes, one can inevitably find any number of tried-and-true tropes, from re-tellings of classic Christmas tales to wacky dysfunctional families to unexpected snowfall (it's a Christmas miracle!). Here's a look at one such Christmas cliche.
The cliche: 'A Christmas Carol'
When the holidays come around, who doesn't want to be haunted by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future? It turns out the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol" has popped up on TV quite a bit over the years, sometimes even tied to different holidays.
"Doctor Who's" 2010 Christmas special was a tribute to the tale, even taking the name "A Christmas Carol." The Doctor (Matt Smith) stepped in as the ghost of Christmas past, while Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) was the ghost of Christmas present.
During the first season of "Popular," it was series villain Nicole (Tammy Lynn Michaels) who got the Scrooge treatment, learning the spirit of Christmas after being visited by three ghosts. Of course, all was forgotten by the time the next episode rolled around. Every show needs a villain, right?
While split from Topanga, Cory gets a visit from the ghost of Christmas future on a very special "Boy Meets World." What would life be like without his lady love? Only the spirit of Feeny knows for sure.
British series "Blackadder" may have put the most fun twist on the story with its "A Christmas Carol" special. Instead of the traditional story, Scrooge starts out as one of the nicest people in England and is inspired to become horrible after being visited by ghosts.
Other offenders include:
"American Dad," "Arrow," "Roseanne," "Xena: Warrior Princess" ("Xena" didn't have Christmas, so their take was "A Solstice Carol"), "Northern Exposure" and "Smallville," among many others.
After all these years, "A Christmas Carol" continues to be a favorite trope for TV shows to take on and for good reason. It's a classic story everyone knows and re-imagining it with fan favorite characters is endlessly fun.