Spoilers for the season finale of Shortland Street for 2020
Given what a year 2020 has been, you would think the last thing anyone on Shortland Street needs is their annual Christmas curse to rear its ugly head once again.
But Covid be damned, not even a pandemic is going to get in the way of the chance to torment Chris Warner.
It's a sign of how dramatic life is in Ferndale that a global health crisis only got one mention amongst the host of other problems the hospital's staff contended with in this year's Christmas cliffhanger.
The biggest question hangs over the fate of long-suffering surgeon Warner, who was shot in the closing moments of tonight's episode by vengeful ex-cop Brady Nash.
It comes after Warner started the episode contemplating ending his life, still grieving the recent loss of his son Phoenix to a drug overdose. His heavy drinking is seeing him hallucinate his own Christmas ghosts in the form of Phoenix, Mo Hannah and his long-dead wife Toni.
"This stupid cruel ugly world, I'm sick of it," Chris rants, rejecting help from his brother Guy Warner in a surprise Zoom-cameo from Craig Parker.
It falls to Chris' other son Frank to rush to the beach house to save him, only to be followed by Nash, who's seeking revenge after Frank and TK brought him down.
Chris' plan to walk off into the ocean – which admittedly is a much safer place to be at Christmas than Ferndale – is interrupted by a call from Frank, before he's attacked by Brady.
Both Chris and Frank find themselves held hostage by Brady, and the threat of death seems to find some hope in Chris.
"Life is precious. My son's life, your life, don't throw it away. We're all human, we all mistakes. We have to look after each other. We have to learn to forgive and start afresh. We have to choose love before it's too late."
Yet his inspiring monologue isn't enough to stop Brady, and Chris takes a bullet for his son, ending the year once again fighting for his life.
It ends up being an equally grim Christmas for Boyd. After spending the day with Zara, Harper and Drew and their children, the episode ends with Boyd waking up to find his sons missing from their beds – running out to find their mother and his ex-partner, Eve, had snatched them.
It was left solely up to Leanne to try and spread some Christmas cheer through the hospital staff, but her orphan's lunch went awry when she gave in to temptation and kissed Rosalyn Mullens, her daughter Nicole's mother-in-law, only to be caught immediately by her current fling Graham.
He became the one confirmed victim of the Christmas curse, suffering a heart attack in his shock, but the possibility for more victims remains in the air, after Desdemona left the party in a violent, drunken rage, ignoring her boyfriend Damo's pleas and driving off.
While some ended the year in a good mood – Dawn's dog Barry suddenly producing a litter of puppies criminally got barely any screen time – they, as always, are in the minority in Ferndale.
Fans will have to wait just under a month to find out the fate of Chris, Boyd and Desdemona, but given that Dr Warner has been doing this every year for the best part of three decades now, it's probably safe to assume that he will live to suffer another Christmas.
Shortland Street returns January 11th on TVNZ 2