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The 4 Craziest Holiday Episodes of '80s Cartoons

The Internet is better than Santa Claus: You can get whatever you want, you don't have to wait all year, and, unless child services repeatedly missed your house, you definitely couldn't ask Santa for porn (which is weird when you're talking about a hairy man who's famous for having a huge sack and an unbelievable excuse for sneaking into people's houses while they're sleeping to make them happy).

Getty
"Why do you think I keep a naughty list?"

While most Christmas things are presents for the kids, cartoon Christmas episodes are presents for the parents: They're the only sure way to get the kids to just sit down for a bit, sweetie, Mommy and Daddy are very tired. Which may be why parents in the 1980s didn't notice that their kids were watching solid crazy.

#4. Christmas Comes to Pac-Land

A cartoon about Christmas coming to an arcade game ... that's something an alien pedophile would make when it found out that it couldn't get a hu-man van-driving license. It's a random smashing together of concepts aliens have heard that kids like without understanding any of them. If you shot the TV executive responsible in the face, it would reveal a robotic skull bent on harvesting the innocent hopes of children for profit. And that would still be a better kid's story.

Hanna-Barbera
It features Pac-Man throwing away small white balls. That's how badly wrong it gets Pac-Man.

The Pac-Man cartoon was made by Hanna-Barbera, which means that Christmas Comes to Pac-Land had lazier animation than stop motion of a sloth's decomposition. The only characters that look halfway decent are the ghosts, because they're meant to wobble wildly from shot to shot. The script was a bitter idiot proving that he could still hate video games despite knowing nothing about them. The whole thing sounds like someone being sarcastic to children they despise and looks like it was animated by people who didn't understand that many emotions.

Hanna-Barbera
Including "hatred of child characters in cartoons."

Hanna-Barbera knows less about enjoying video games than Martin Luther. It's so aggressively anti-Pac-Man that even his house didn't have straight edges. At one point they cut out to a top-down view of the ghosts chasing Pac-Man, and do so in big sweeping curves instead of taking the one and only and obvious chance to look like the game. Only one member of the staff had ever even seen a picture of a maze, and he's still lost in it. When the writer of this trash was told "Pac-Man," he started cleaning out his desk, and no one noticed that he was missing.

Hanna-Barbera
This is what they think Pac-Man being chased looks like.

The Walking Dead is a better Pac-Man cartoon than Christmas Comes to Pac-Land -- at least the prison episodes had straight hallways with sharp turns, and some characters were trying to eat the others. It's also a better kids' show, because the entire third act is Pac-Man dragging a sack of toys through the freezing cold and trying not to die. You'd swear that the staff were channeling their own feelings about finishing this stupid project.

Hanna-Barbera
Thanks, cartoon, I really wanted an upskirt of Santa Claus.

The series even ruined other cartoons by featuring voice actor Peter Cullen. We always technically knew that people only worked on these cartoons for money, but listening to Optimus Prime make Santa say "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good CHOMP"? That's like finding out that the magical night when your mommy met your daddy was for $10 and only resulted in you because she was too drunk to turn over.

#3. The Smurfs' Christmas Special

The Smurfs aren't just a cautionary tale about the hazards of inbreeding -- they're a guaranteed cure for nostalgia. Take the most ardent '80s child you can find and force him or her to watch an episode, and it'll go from Smurfing blue to A Clockwork Orange. The show is animated proof that kids are idiots. We'd have watched the health and safety instructions of senior citizen suppositories if they came as cartoons.

Sony Pictures
And it would still have been better than the movie.

The Smurfs' Christmas Special was appalling, and not just because they sing the goddamn theme song twice before anything even happens. (Note: Smurf singing should be higher on the fictional Geneva Conventions than Borg assimilation.) A pair of children are lost in the woods, and their very existence turns the entire series creepy. We see that the Smurf village and Gargamel's hovel aren't even 10 minutes from the local town, which means that Gargamel isn't an evil wizard out to plague a magical race of beings: He's a homeless man shivering in an abandoned ruin and nobody gives a shit about him. And even on Christmas day, everyone is perfectly content with the crazy old man dying alone.

Hanna-Barbera
"Why won't anyone help me?"

It explains everything -- his ragged robes, how he's constantly talking to his cat, and all those "magic potions" he's brewing? That's how my subconscious would deal with drinking cooking wine and lighter fluid, too. Gargamel is constantly tormented by beings no one else can even see, and society's mental health plan is "just hope his killing urges stay targeted on imaginary things."

Hanna-Barbera
Those "magic symbols" are clearly smeared in his own fluids.

Oh, and in this episode he gets into child slavery and sells his soul to Satan.

Hanna-Barbera
Simultaneously.

It doesn't go well.

Hanna-Barbera
Pictured: not well.

The episode ends with the No. 2 Worst Ever Way to End a Christmas Episode: deus ex cantates. They defeat the devil by singing at him. It's even worse and lazier than when the Care Bears do it, because at least the bears care enough to use more than one color.

Filmation
This is how animators dare people to fire them.

They just sing at the bad guy and he fades away. That is not how carol singing vs. flamethrower fights normally go (just ask my parole officer). The Smurfs are just so good and defenseless that everything works out for them. Which is an even worse lesson for kids than "Men who sneak into your house at night are there to give you nice things."

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Luke McKinney

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