QUICK QUESTION: Which TV Shows Have Had the Best Holiday Episodes?

Now that we've officially entered the holiday season, the networks have begun to dust off the shelves of their video libraries labeled "Holiday stuff." The Grinch, Charlie Brown, and even good ol' George Bailey are getting their annual moments in the spotlight, and while I'm definitely not complaining about this, personally I prefer to get my Christmas nostalgia fix from the actual TV shows I've watched and loved. Nothing against the Peanuts gang, or whatever computer-animated movie tie-ins other people prefer, but when characters I'm more familiar with are celebrating the holidays, that's where I want to be.

So here are a few of our picks for TV's best holiday episodes. What are yours?


The Simpsons

Episode: "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

Most people's first introduction to the Simpson family was through this episode, the first-ever full episode of The Simpsons to air on Fox. Although the series was already in production (and this was originally intended to be its eighth episode), Fox decided to air it as a holiday special. I remember that my family gathered to watch it (my mom was almost immediately outraged by its coarseness), and then the next day at school everyone was talking about it. We all loved how Bart lied about his age to get a tattoo and how badly Homer's attempts at decorating the house went, but what's most notable about this episode today is just how sad it is. The Simpsons began as a fairly thoughtful portrayal of a lower-middle-class family, and Homer's inability to afford Christmas gifts for his family was a straight-up bummer. Fortunately everything ended on an up note, when Homer rescued Santa's Little Helper (the last-place finishing greyhound from the dog track) and he turned out to be just the right present for the family.


The Office (USA)

Episode: "Christmas Party"

Not to be controversial, but even today, in its eighth, post-Michael Scott season, The Office remains a reliably hilarious show. But there's certainly no denying that it'll probably never regain the creative energy of Seasons 2 or 3, and that could simply be due to those seasons' still-awkward personal relationships. In the Season 2 episode "Christmas Party," Jim and Pam's connection was still unspoken when he drew her name in the Secret Santa gift exchange. Using the opportunity to give her a very thoughtful gift, a teapot filled with personal items and even a love note, Jim saw his effort suddenly turn disastrous when Michael Scott announced a "Yankee Swap," in which co-workers could poach each other's gifts. The Office is truly on fire whenever it can nail both workplace awkwardness and frustrated romance, and that this episode did both with the added layer of holiday poignancy just makes it an all-time classic.


The O.C.

Episode: "The Best Chrismukkah Ever"

I assure you, I'm not writing about The O.C. for the second week in a row simply to post another picture of Adam Brody. But yeah, just look at him up there with that candy cane and menorah! Anyway, the Season 1 holiday episode, "The Best Chrismukkah Ever," created a buzzword in an already watercooler-worthy season. "Chrismukkah" may have been a cute distillation of two holidays, but it actually represented something pretty thoughtful about the state of modern America, our mixed faiths, and our common love of celebration. Add to that the first ever appearance of Oliver, The O.C.'s most notorious villain, and this episode had all the markings of a winner.


Pee-wee's Playhouse

Episode: "Christmas Special"

Grace Jones. Cher. Charo. Frankie & Annette. Shirtless construction workers. Just a normal children's Christmas special, really. It's honestly hard to describe just how great, weird, wonderful and hilarious the Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special is. Ooops, I just did!


Roseanne

Episode: "No Place Like Home for the Holidays"

Roseanne's status as an American classic is mainly due to its ability to turn everyday middle-class bummers into relatably hilarious moments. The show may have been fronted by a brusque, bossy mom, but it never lacked for heart, and all these elements seemed to gel perfectly during Roseanne's various holiday episodes. This Season 5 episode found the Conners forced apart by a snowstorm and Darlene discovering just how bad David's home life was. The family's eventual reunion was made all the more powerful by the reminder that despite, their flaws and shortcomings, the Conners really had it made.


Sesame Street

Episode: "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street"

Few people remember that back in the heady, pre-Elmo days of 1978, Sesame Street was considered fairly edgy for children's television. I mean, think about it: Sesame Street itself was in kind of a junky neighborhood, and the show didn't shy away from more adult concepts presented in thoughtful ways. In "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," Bert and Ernie touchingly acted out their own version of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" (if you're not familiar, the 10-minute clip is absolutely worth your time), plus the episode tackled the topic of "How does Santa deliver presents to houses that don't have chimneys?"—which was major for kids who didn't grow up with a working fireplace. Yes, in retrospect, the opening with Big Bird throwing a little girl around an ice rink and Oscar the Grouch on skates feels kind of dated and weird, but that heartfelt weirdness is part of what makes this a treasure worth holding onto.


The Office (UK)

Episode: "Christmas Special, Part 2"

The original U.K. version of The Office only ran for 14 episodes, but they were perfect. It's a bit of a cheat to single out this Christmas special as a high-point when it was also the series finale, but still: This thing is great. Few expected such a devastatingly grim series to end on such a poignant, emotionally positive note, but we definitely aren't complaining.


My So-Called Life

Episode: "So-Called Angels"

For a show in which basically every episode was Very Special, My So-Called Life's 1994 Christmas episode was simply devastating. When the gay character Rickie was beaten and kicked out of his house, Angela and her clueless upper-middle-class family tormented themselves over what to do about it. And what about that scene where typically aloof Jordan Catalano reached out to Rickie? Not to mention Rayanne's hilarious teen hotline phone sex scene with Brian Krakow. But the part everyone remembers is the local homeless teen girl played by '90s alt-rock icon Juliana Hatfield. I won't give away the ending here, but it's a doozy. And it involves tears.


Seinfeld

Episode: "The Strike"

FESTIVUS: FOR THE REST-OF-US!



Now it’s your turn to weigh in: Which TV shows have had the best holiday episodes?

Comments (83)
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"A Very Supernatural Christmas" from season 3 is hands down the best. Bloody, gory, silly (because of the sweaters on the Carrigan's), funny, heartwarming, deepens the relationship between the brothers, answers questions, tells some great backstory, and ultimately who doesn't love a killer Santa Clause.



Warehouse 13 does great Christmas episodes each year. Love 'em!



I remember some entertaining Night Court ones from eons ago.

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You forgot Arthurs Christmas special
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Chuck, Psych, The OC, The Office
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Nobody talked about the best christmas episodes, the Doctor Who episodes.... they are the best...
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I like Psych's Christmas episodes!!! Especially the one with Gus' sister!
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so second that!
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How about "The Dick van Dyke Show," as Rob, Laura, Ritchie, Buddy, Sally and Mel take the stage for a very special "Alan Brady Show"? Fonzie, alone in his apartment on Christmas Eve on "Happy Days?" Or Oscar Madison as Ebenezer Scrooge in "The Odd Couple?"
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"Lexmas" from Smallville

It always makes me cry, definitely one of my top episodes of the series
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Ludachristmas - 30 Rock
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How about "Friends" episode, "The One with The Holliday Armadillo"?
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Community easy, Comparative Religion season 1. Anthony Michael Hall was class
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The Big Bang Theory! When Sheldon hugged Penny!
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My thought exactly! +1

I loved this episode.
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also for any canadians, the trailer park boys christmas special is pure gold!
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As a child of the 80s/90s, two kids' shows MUST be represented here:



1) "A Johnny Bravo Christmas" - Johnny Bravo

http://www.tv.com/shows/johnny-bravo/a-johnny-bravo-christmas-167085/



2) "Kilokahn Is Coming to Town" - Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad

http://www.tv.com/shows/superhuman-samurai-syber-squad/kilokahn-is-coming-to-town-83132/
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Scrubs makes good Christmas episodes. Notably, "My Best Moment".
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The OC, every single Chrimukkah episode

Supernatural, A Very Supernatural Christmas

Buffy, Amends

Justice League, Comfort and Joy

How I Met Your Mother, How Lilly Stole Christmas

Smallville, Lexmas
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ER s06e09 How the Finch Stole Christmas, I watch it every year.
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I can't believe A Very Supernatural Christmas is not on this list (must be because Tim didn't write this article). My family and I watch it every year on Christmas day.
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Staff
that is an awesome tradition.
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I love the Spongebob Christmas special where Sandy introduces Christmas to Bikini Bottom. The Office always gets their Christmas specials right. My favorite is the one where Michael marks the Asian girl he is "dating" so he can tell her apart from the other one. Lol. I always enjoy when Grey's Anatomy does Christmas specials. To bad they are on Hiatus until next year...Oh Well.
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I love the TaleSpin Christmas special. The ending almost makes me want to shed a tear.
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I like 'Phineas and Ferb: Christmas Vacation.' Christmas Who?' from SpongeBob is good too.
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For 6 years, the best holiday episode was "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" Episode 14 "Topper". Stitch stealing all the presents looking for an Experiment pod was hilarious yet heartwarming, especially when Topper was activated and became the top of the tree Pleakley was decorated as. But nowadays the best holiday episode seems to be 'Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation', where the boys attempt to figure out why everyone in Danville is somehow deemed naughty by Santa and try to clear everything up in time to get the gifts delivered.
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i LOVE a very sunny christmas. watch it every year

"Did you fuck my mom santa claus?"
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For me it's a toss up between Invader Zim's 'The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever' Supernatural's 'A Very Supernatural Christmas' & It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's 'A Very Sunny Christmas'.. The ending scene in Sunny's involving a snow machine should go down in history for it's wackiness. & South Park's 'Woodland Critters Christmas' is worth mentioning too, if you have a slightly twisted sense of humor... Heh.
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A Very Supernatural Christmas, with the embarrasing rendition of Silent Night by Sam , Dean and the very drunk Santa, thankfully it was a short rendition !!.



"I loved that tree"
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I second Abed's Christmas episode on Community.
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How could you forget Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas?
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every time i see so-called angels i have to cry.

buffy, friends and roseanne had great ones too. and queer as folk!

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Two Guys, a Girl, and Pizza Place had a great Halloween episode. It should have made the list.
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Every year they had a great one... Good call!
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WHERE THE HELL IS SOUTH PARK!?!
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I will always remember the My So Called Life one! Ooo Netflix now has a holiday tv show section in watch instantly. Yay! http://movies.netflix.com/WiHoliday
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Friends! Every Holiday episode is hilarious.



And I am eager to see what Modern Family has for us this Holiday Season.
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I can't believe nobody has said Warehouse 13! Their Special Christmas episode was great! And of course I have to agree with Supernatural being a great one too.
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Friends' holiday armadillo episode. With Joey as Superman, Chandler as Santa and Ross as a big armadillo who teaches Ben about the festival of lights.
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Yeah idk how Price didn't put Friends here. FRIENDS ARE THE BEST.
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Friends had a couple of good ones, with the holiday armadillo and such. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had "Amends" which was a really sweet story. If we are including Thanksgiving, How I Met Your Mother has "Slapsgiving" which was brilliant. Supernatural, it was great, with Dean finally being in the spirit, and Sam not wanting to, and both for the same reason. Plus, the gift exchange was hilarious. And the Office has the best. They have all been hilarious, and when Jim and Pam had unresolved feelings for each other, the first, with the romantic gift for Pam, the second, when Jim was dating Karen, were my absolute favorites.
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There's actually a cracking episode of ER (I know, in the early days they were ALL cracking) which finishes with a choir singing "Do you see what I see". Beautiful. I think George Clooney was wearing a Santa hat as well.
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FRIENDS.
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8 Simple Rules Christmas Episode,

Tru Callings Christmas Episode,

Buffy the Vampire Slayers Christmas Episode,

Ghost Whisperers Christmas Episode,

Veronica Mars' Christmas Episode

Gossip Girls Christmas Episodes

Desperate Housewives' Christmas Episodes,

Outnumbered Christmas Special

7th Heaven Christmas Episode.



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You probably didn't need to write "Christmas episode" after each one.
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Family Matters had some memorable Christmas episodes.
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I remember an episode of Frasier... with Niles dressed as Santa, a pork roast in the oven and Frasiers Jewish date ringing the door bell
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First off, I think including the Simpsons Christmas special is a cheat since the show was broadcast as a standalone and not part of the series. My favorite holiday episodes are the Seinfeld episode where Kramer takes Elaine's picture for a Christmas card ("The Nose-Picker"?), the third-season X-Files episode where a businessman with a burning touch is stalking the reincarnations of the twelve apostles, The Avengers: "Too Many Christmas Trees," and Seinfeld's "The Strike."

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Roseanne always nailed the holiday episodes!
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That episode of The Office was great. Sadly you didn't mention the Christmas episode of the show "Popular." That was really terrific.
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Ally McBeal
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Eureka, Dr Who,
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Seinfeld, hands down. :)
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South Park's "Woodland Critter Christmas" is my favorite, for some reason.
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Supernatural's A Very Supernatural Christmas needs to be on this list. How much more awesome can you get? Now we all know what Christmas trees are really for; improvised weaponry. I love Supernatural's sense of humour.
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I totally agree! Plus the alternate opening sequence was awesome, too, with the showing of the classic "Special Presentation" graphic.
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Home Important, Full House and The Simpsons! Friends had some fun ones too! With the gas station presents!
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When I think of Christmas and TV (Yes I used Christmas because thats the holiday TV celebrates) I think of 3 shows: South Park, Home Improvement and The Simpsons.

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Oh, and the Rugrats probably deserve special recognition for having not only a Christmas ep, but Hannukah and Kwanza eps too.
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