The Santa Clause franchise has been a Christmas staple for years, but many fans agree that The Santa Clause 3 just wasn’t the same. Part of that is due to the absence of the beloved Bernard the Head Elf, played by David Krumholtz. As it turns out, Krumholtz was set to play Bernard again in The Santa Clause 3, but he backed out. Here’s why.
[Spoiler alert: The third section of this story contains spoilers for The Santa Clauses Episode 5, “Chapter Five: Across the Yule-Verse.”]
Bernard the Head Elf is a fan-favorite in ‘The Santa Clause’ and its sequel
Bernard first appears in The Santa Clause as the Head Elf, who is in charge of making Scott Calvin’s (Tim Allen) transition as the new Santa Claus as smooth as possible. He returns in The Santa Clause 2 to watch over the North Pole while Scott heads back home to find a Mrs. Claus. Unfortunately, Bernard is nowhere to be seen in The Santa Clause 3, with Curtis taking over the Head Elf role. The film does not explain Bernard’s absence.
The Santa Clause movies might revolve around Santa, but for many fans, Bernard is the real star. He was even some viewers’ very first crush. To this day, fans love his snarky remarks and grumpy attitude.
“He’s like the Ed Asner of the North Pole,” Krumholtz recently told Entertainment Weekly of his character. “He’s a tough guy. It’s fun to play that kind of stuff. It was a new take on the whole elf thing at the time. Even Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf is a lot more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in comparison. Bernard is more of an old soul.”
Why is Bernard not in ‘The Santa Clause 3’? The real reason for David Krumholtz’s absence
When The Santa Clause 3 arrived in 2006, many fans felt disappointed that Bernard wasn’t in the film. At the time, rumored scheduling conflicts were to blame for Krumholtz’s absence — he starred in NUMB3RS from 2005 to 2010. However, as Krumholtz himself revealed to Vulture last year, that’s not entirely true. He did have a hectic schedule, but he planned to make it work — until he saw the script for The Santa Clause 3.
“Bernard was in the third movie. They sent me the script, I had a pretty significant role. We did work out the schedule, which was going to be hellish on me, but I was going to make it work,” Krumholtz said. “And it was all set to go. But I would say that the character got devalued a little bit and I couldn’t in good conscience do it.”
The actor went on to say that he’s “tried to watch” the third movie, but it’s “not the same.”
“I think the first two are really special. The first one’s a classic, obviously,” Krumholtz added. “It’s wild to be part of something that’s lasted this long, that plays every single year and has become tradition in people’s homes. I could never have imagined that I’d be having this conversation years later.”
‘The Santa Clauses’ offers a hilarious explanation for where the former Head Elf has been all these years
RELATED: ‘The Santa Clause’ Movies: Where Is the Cast Now?
Well, Bernard fans, it’s time to celebrate: He’s back. Krumholtz reprises his role in Disney+’s new sequel series, The Santa Clauses, in episode 5. Bernard pays a visit to Scott and his family following Scott’s retirement from Santa-hood. He finally explains why he left the North Pole before The Santa Clause 3.
“I haven’t seen you since you disappeared from the North Pole to that elf Rumspringa,” Scott says.
“Kribble-Krabble!” Bernard replies. “I met someone. A human. So I made the jump and gave up eternal youth as an elf, and now I’ve got this thing [referencing a double chin], and it won’t go away no matter how many burpees I do.”
All three Santa Clause movies and The Santa Clauses are now streaming on Disney+. The Santa Clauses finale drops on Dec. 14.