These Christmas trees suck

These Christmas trees suck

From Gremlins to Elf to Doctor Who, a look at some well-known trees that flat-out stink

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The Simpsons, Gremlins, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone 2
The Simpsons, Gremlins, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone 2
Screenshot: 20th Century Studios, Warner Bros. Apple TV+

Every year, as the days grow cold and the nights grow long, we’re encouraged to give every pine tree a gold star simply for existing. Well, listen up, bucko, that’s not cutting it this year. This Christmas, we expect our trees to be merry and bright, so we’re not settling for mediocrity. Instead of bottling up our seasonal sour grape punch, we’re unleashing our inner Scrooge on some unsuspecting plants. So pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa and grab a bowl of warm chestnuts and prepare to spit them out because these trees suck.

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Gremlins

Gremlins

Gremlins (4/6) Movie CLIP - A Tree With Teeth (1984) HD

The beauty of Joe Dante’s Christmas nightmare, Gremlins, is how dreamlike it begins. As the opening chorus to Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” blares over the soundtrack, we’re treated to the picturesque town of Kingston Falls, which is when Dante begins foreshadowing the shitty tree to come. One of the first firs we approach is a Trojan Horse, hiding none other than Corey Feldman. If a snot-nose kid is in the first tree, who knows what horrors await us? Later in the film, we see the tree Feldman sold Billy’s family. Yet, for all the festive shimmer of baubles and tinsel, true horror waits between the branches of the Peltzer’s idyllic tree: Fucking gremlins. Billy’s mom (Francis Lee McCain) leaves her cookie-baking paradise covered in blood. Is there anything worse to find in your holiday tree? It’s by design: but this tree sucks. [Matt Schimkowitz]

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Goodfellas

Goodfellas

Goodfellas - white christmas tree scene (ray Liotta)

“Come here!” Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) beckons, calling his kids by name like a wiseguy George Bailey. “I got the most expensive tree they had!” That tree, a fake-white number adorned with uniform purple ornaments, the kind Charlie Brown disapproved of, is exactly the sort of tree that belongs in a living room that gaudy. As the children unwrap their gifts, Henry presents his to his wife Karen (Lorraine Bracco). “Merry Christmas,” he starts, handing her a gold box and leaning in for a kiss, “… and .. and … happy Hanukkah,” he finishes, pulling out a wad of 100s. A joyous, classy moment from a boundlessly joyous, classy couple. [Tim Lowery]

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Doctor Who, “The Christmas Invasion”

Doctor Who, “The Christmas Invasion”

Attack of the Killer Christmas Trees! | The Christmas Invasion | Doctor Who

There are ugly Christmas trees, and then there are Christmas trees that actively try to murder you. This toxic tannenbaum from the 2005 Doctor Who special “The Christmas Invasion” (in which we were fully introduced to David Tennant’s tenth iteration of the Doctor) might be pleasant to look at, but don’t let that fool you; it’s actually a stealthy alien death trap. You have to give these invaders credit for doing their homework when it comes to human holiday traditions, though. If you overlook the razor-sharp branches spinning out of control, they really nailed the fake tree disguise, complete with glowing strings of lights, shiny ornaments, and an unhinged rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Fortunately, the Doctor comes ’round just in time to blast it to bits with his sonic screwdriver, saving Rose, Jackie, Mickey, and Christmas all at the same time. [Cindy White]

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: The Griswold’s Find The Perfect Christmas Tree (Clip) | TBS

Undoubtedly one of the more realistic depictions of the Yuletide tree gathering, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation provides a cold warning for recreating the Pagan ritual of Yuletide lumberjack LARPing. The result is disastrous for the Griswolds. While not enough to deter Clark (Chevy Chase) from his sad quest, it nonetheless reminds us of all of the benefits of a plastic or even aluminum tree. Sap, squirrels, and size all cause damage to the home and endanger the lives of the Griswold guests. But the sap is the worst part. Sticky fingers might work for Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, but when trying to dress the tree with popcorn and colorful lights? Think again. Bad tree! [Matt Schimkowitz]

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The Simpsons, “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”

The Simpsons, “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”

The Simpsons-Bart Ruins Christmas HQ 4:3

We don’t want to make any tree feel bad for its shape (we’re not going to even touch the “slightly irregular” trees from the very first Simpsons episode), but the tree that Bart burns down in the seminal Simpsons Christmas special “Miracle On Evergreen Terrace” is basically worthless. The flat, toxic remains of the perfect Simpsons Christmas tree are perfect for burying in the snow and hiding until spring, but anyone that’s ever tried putting presents under a flat tree will come to the same conclusion: It simply isn’t practical. What can we say? Bart should not have decorated this one with fire. [Matt Schimkowitz]

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Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Home Alone 2:Lost In New York (1992) Christmas Tree!

I’ve been harboring years of resentment for the Christmas tree cutout Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) knocks over at the Christmas Pageant in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, and you people are going to finally hear me out this time. That tree is pathetic. It’s not even a real Christmas tree. It’s just a cutout. One could argue that fact should disqualify it from this list, but that is precisely why it deserves inclusion. Furthermore, the “tree” is a health hazard. As you may recall, the tree topples over fairly easily and whacks that old lady playing the piano on the head, sending her flying offstage. How could a school located in the McCallisters’ wealthy neighborhood put on such a shoddy production? The lady on the piano is also at least in her late 60s too, a blow to the dome like that could have killed her. In fact, we never do see her get back up, so one could assume at the very least that the lady suffered a concussion and at the very worst Kevin McCallister is on the hook for an involuntary manslaughter case. [Peter Scobel]

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Elf

Elf

Controversial opinion: The Gimbles display that Buddy the Elf (Will Farrell) devises in Elf is perfect save for its centerpiece. The fake-snow nonsense that Buddy concocts for free (Buddy, like all elves, undervalues his time and labor so much that he expects and receives no compensation for his efforts) betrays his Christmastime dreams by flocking his hard work with science snow. Furthermore, we don’t find an Etch-a-Sketch bearing a likeness of the Mona Lisa to be a traditional decoration, just more Buddy showing off. Bad form. Send this one to the IMDb goofs page because that’s a plothole.

Bonus bad tree: The one he brings to his father’s house is simply too big for the space. If you have to channel your inner Airness to place the topper, something has gone horribly awry. [Matt Schimkowitz]

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - The Christmas Tree Makeover/Ending Credits

Before the Christmas cops come for us for speaking ill about one of the most iconic, beloved, and endlessly copied Christmas trees in pop culture, the dying twig from A Charlie Brown Christmas, we’d like to state for the record that we’re not talking about the shitty tree Charlie Brown decorated. Rather the one his so-called friends hobble together after his forced holiday glee ruins their Christmas and his own. Charles Schultz, do you mean to tell us that by wrapping a tree in a blanket, green pine needles will spring from its dying branches? While we commend one child (we’re assuming it was Pig-Pen) for wrapping the whole thing in a chain, we find it unlikely that such a tree could support the weight. Whatever Satanic magic Linus conjured for this one has no place on Jesus’ birthday. [Matt Schimkowitz]

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Schitt’s Creek, “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”

Schitt’s Creek, “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose”

Christmas with the Roses - Schitt’s Creek

You know you’ve got a terrible tree when someone describes it as “charming, in sort of a war-torn sort of way.” The tree Johnny Rose procures in the Schitt’s Creek episode “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose” has multiple layers of sadness. From the moment they take it home, it’s already dead, and it promptly sheds most of its branches once Johnny cuts the strings holding it together. It’s a reminder for the family of how far they’ve fallen. And it’s a personal failing for Johnny, as this is truly the best he could afford. Sure, David and Patrick fix it up with “a scary amount of superglue,” and it’s clear that Johnny’s enamored with its makeover, but it still feels like someone’s standing just out of frame with a fire extinguisher, ready to jump into action at any moment. [Jen Lennon]

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Bob’s Burgers, “Christmas In The Car”

Bob’s Burgers, “Christmas In The Car”

Twas The Night Before Christmas | Season 4 Ep. 8 | BOB’S BURGERS

In the Bob’s Burgers episode “Christmas In The Car,” the Belchers set out to procure a new tree after their previous one dies. Not only is the new tree small, scraggly, and one of the last on the lot, but it also gets the family into a harrowing altercation with a deranged truck driver in a parody of Steven Spielberg’s Duel. And even though the relentlessly optimistic Linda Belcher manages to turn it around into a heartwarming Christmas Eve, the rest of the family seems like they’d have been happier if they’d lit their old, dead tree on fire and exchanged gifts by the warm light of the dumpster out back. [Jen Lennon]

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