Ho Ho Ho! 24 of TV's Most Memorable Christmas Episodes

6:41 PM 12/21/2016

by Philiana Ng , Aaron Couch, and Farnoush Amiri

From 'The O.C.' to 'The Simpsons,' THR highlights the small-screen's best holiday moments.

Courtesy of Photofest
  • The O.C.

    'The Best Chrismukkah Ever'

    Fox/Photofest

    The first of several holiday episodes of the teen soap, which aired in 2003, introduced the new holiday (a combination of Hanukah and Christmas) to the pop culture lexicon. It was also the episode where Seth (Adam Brody) memorably fails to juggle two love interests, Anna (Samaire Armstrong) and Summer (Rachel Bilson), at his family’s Christmas party.

  • Seinfeld

    'The Strike'

    The classic episode introduced the world to the anti-Christmas holiday, “Festivus." After the episode aired, Festivus became more widely celebrated, with many honoring it on Dec. 23.

  • Friends

    'The One with the Creepy Holiday Card'

    Screengrab

    Friends has given us 10 seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes but in season eight, in the midst of the awkward phase between Ross and Mona's relationship, instead of deciding to slow down, Ross takes huge steps forward in their romance by offering to send out a couple's holiday card when he's cornered. When he vents to the rest of the gang about his decision, they urge him to speak with Mona about the card but instead he leaves the conversation having just given her the only key to his apartment. 

  • 30 Rock

    'Ludachristmas'

    Nicole Rivelli/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Worlds collide when Jack's sourpuss mother meets Liz's eternally optimistic family. The season two episode also sees the writers celebrate "Ludachristmas," Tracy legally prohibited from drinking alcohol, and Kenneth wanting to teach the gang the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Arrested Development

    'Afternoon Delight'

    20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    The Bluth Company Christmas party gets awkward when Michael (Jason Bateman) and Maeby (Alia Shawkat) perform a duet of "Afternoon Delight." (Ditto for Lindsay and George Michael.) Later, George Michael (Michael Cera) and his father bond by rebuilding the Banana stand, which local teens tore down as part of an annual Christmas tradition.

  • Gossip Girl

    'Roman Holiday'

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Any day living on the Upper East Side is filled with its dose of drama and controversy but a Gossip Girl holiday gathering is the boiling point for almost every storyline of the season. On Christmas in season one, Blair's estranged father brings home his lover Roman, Chuck and Nate jet off to Monaco and Dan tries to surprise Serena for the holidays while Vanessa and Jenny help Serena find him a lonely boy-approved gift. 

  • Community

    'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas'

    NBC's Community brought stop-motion animation back into primetime with its 2010 Christmas episode. The show's pop-culture encyclopedia, Abed (Danny Pudi), wakes up to find out that the entire world is in stop-motion -- and brings the whole study group together to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

  • The Office

    'Dwight Christmas'

    Courtesy of NBC

    Through the years, The Office's Christmas parties and shenanigans have been orchestrated via Michael Scott, but in season nine, post-Michael Dunder Mifflin decides to let Dwight plan the annual holiday shindig. Being Dwight, he hosts a Pennsylvania-Dutch themed party that ends abruptly when Jim has to leave to tend to his other job. 

  • The West Wing

    'In Excelsis Deo'

    The White House drama's first Christmas episode centered on Toby (Richard Schiff) going out of his way to give a homeless Korean War vet a proper funeral. The send-off set the tone for The West Wing. Aaron Sorkin, who penned the episode, and Schiff both won Emmys.

  • Gilmore Girls

    The Bracebridge Dinner

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Even with their overly-festive town pride and eclectic holidays, the Gilmore Girls never really got into the Christmas spirit through the seven seasons of the show. But in between Thanksgivings at Emily's and the New Year in season two, there was a Bracebridge dinner that resembled a Christmas dinner. The Independence Inn hosted a gathering equipped with Elizabethan costumes for most of the town's citizens while Rory tries to keep the budding rivalry between Dean and Jess under control. The festivities include horse-drawn sleighs and a Stars Hollow snowman competition. 

  • Cheers

    'Christmas Cheers'

    Courtesy Everett Collection

    The holidays are all about chaos and Cheers' "Christmas Cheers" depicted that to a T. Everyone at Cheers is forced to work late on Christmas Eve, causing Sam (Ted Danson) to find a last-minute gift for Rebecca (Kirstie Alley), while Norm (George Wendt) and his group of friends arrive to bring in the holiday cheer.

  • Veronica Mars

    'An Echolls Family Christmas'

    Who knew a Christmas party could get so bloody? In the 2004 episode, Veronica (Kristen Bell) goes on a quest to find out what happened to the missing money after a poker game at the Echolls' house, while her private investigator father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) gets hired by Aaron Echolls' wife Lynn (Lisa Rinna) to see if he has a stalker. When it's discovered that Aaron's stalker is a woman he had an affair with, Lynn finds out about her husband's extracurricular activities. If that doesn't take the cake, Aaron (Harry Hamlin) gets stabbed at their Christmas party.

  • Family Guy

    'A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas'

    It's not a very merry Christmas Eve for the Griffin family after Peter mistakenly gives all of their gifts away to needy children. The family tries to buy more gifts at the mall, but things don't work out and Lois ends up going on a rampage and (among other things) pushes It's A Wonderful Life's George Bailey off a bridge.

  • M*A*S*H

    'Death Takes a Holiday'

    The most touching aspect of the 1980 episode, airing during M*A*S*H's later years, is Hawkeye (Alan Alda), B.J. (Mike Farrell) and Margarent (Loretta Swit) valiantly trying to keep a wounded soldier alive through Christmas Day.

  • South Park

    'Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo'

    South Park really hit its stride with its season one Christmas special, which featured the loveable piece of – ahem – feces, Mr. Hankey. Mr. Hankey befriends Kyle after his mother forces him to quit the Christmas play. The 1997 episode lampooned the political correctness surrounding the holidays, and also marked the Comedy Central show's first musical episode.

  • New Girl

    'LAXmas'

    Courtesy of FOX

     As the roommates all depart on their separate ways to spend the Christmas break, they all find their holiday plans either canceled or delayed, leaving them spending the evening at the airport. 

  • Dawson's Creek

    'Merry Mayhem'

    As The WB's teen staple neared the end of its run, the final Christmas episode of Dawson's Creek was a tumultuous one.  Joey (Katie Holmes), Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Pacey (Joshua Jackson) returned to Capeside and reconvened in the Leery household in the 2002 episode. What they didn't expect was to have their mishaps aired out in front of everyone. But the episode did prove significant, with Joey and Dawson -- who have had their fair share of trials and errors -- reconciling.

  • The Simpsons

    'Miracle on Evergreen Terrace'

    Fox's long-running animated sitcom, The Simpsons, kicked off with a Christmas episode back in 1989 but several years later, it would air one of its most memorable in "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" -- the title a play on Miracle on 34th Street. After Bart burns down the family Christmas tree and presents, he fibs and says that a burglar broke in and stole everything, manufacturing a town-wide story and $15,000 in donations that would later come back to haunt them. And bring Marge to Jeopardy.

  • Doctor Who

    'The End of Time'

    Doctor Who's Christmas specials are an annual tradition on British (and U.S.) television, and often mark the end of a Doctor and the introduction of another. David Tennant's final hurrah as a regular on Doctor Who -- and the welcoming of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor -- came in the two-part "The End of Time" that aired on Christmas Day in 2009 and New Year's Day in 2010.

  • ER

    'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

    The 2001 episode marked the final appearance Eriq LaSalle, who played surgeon Dr. Benton, as a series regular on the NBC hospital drama. (He would, however, return later at several points in the eighth and 15 seasons.) Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle), meanwhile, copes with the bombshell news that his father is divorcing his mother.

  • Parks and Recreation

    'Citizen Knope'

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Finding herself temporarily unemployed, Leslie Knope decides to keep busy by creating a community parks committee to keep tabs on the projects that need funding all while managing to give each member of her staff thoughtful and personalized Christmas presents. In order to repay her after years of rudimentary gift giving, the staff searches for the perfect present to give Leslie. 

  • Mary Tyler Moore

    'Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II'

    Courtesy Everett Collection

    Mary (Mary Tyler Moore) volunteers to work alone at WJM-TV on Christmas Eve after learning that a long-time colleague hasn't been able to spend the holiday with his family for years because of his shift. Loneliness at the station, however, drives Mary nearly insane. But her friends come by to keep her company and they all ring in Christmas Day together. The episode's title, "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II," is a reference to a 1966 episode of That Girl.

  • Ally McBeal

    'Blue Christmas'

    Elaine (Jane Krakowski) finds a baby in a nativity scene, bringing Cage (Peter MacNicol) and Ally (Calista Flockhart) in to help in a custody battle over the baby she intends on keeping. But any Ally McBeal episode isn't complete without a memorable performance. In this 1999 effort, it's Ally singing "Santa Baby" at her work's Christmas party.

  • The Brady Bunch

    'The Voice of Christmas'

    Just in time for the holidays, Carol (Florence Henderson) gets laryngitis and may be unable to perform during the Christmas shows, which causes Cindy (Susan Olsen) to ask Santa to bring her mother's voice back.

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