It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And luckily for us television viewers, some of the best episodes of respective series are inspired by the holiday season. Something about their bottle episodic nature, or perhaps the fake words they coin like Chrismukkah and Festivus, give these holiday episodes a certain something extra to be remembered into the new year and beyond.
And with Christmas coming up in just a few, short days… you may want to break out your DVD collection and reminisce with your favorite TV characters!
So here is NoWhiteNoise’s list of the top ten Christmas episodes, in alphabetical order by show title:
The Big Bang Theory | The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis
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Air date: December 15th, 2008
For the holiday season, The Big Bang theory really delivered in season two with their homage to Christmas. The writers took their perfect blend nerd humor, social awkwardness, and all that is Sheldon Cooper, and topped it off with a Santa hat, making what is my personal vote for best holiday episode.
The highlight of this episode is Penny experiencing Sheldon’s nerd-wrath when she attempts to give he and Leonard Christmas presents. Christmas!? You mean Saturnalia! And presents? You mean a social obligation of reciprocity! Sheldon, now forced to find a gift for Penny, goes shopping with the assistance of Wolowitz and Koothrappali. His struggle being to purchase a gift of ‘at or near equal value’ when her gift is an unknown variable.
Naturally, all of Sheldon’s skillful planning and attempts to prepare for appropriate reciprocity fail when Penny’s gift is a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy — and covered in his DNA! After showering Penny with all of the bath items he purchased, Sheldon cries out, “I know, it’s not enough!” posturing in horror to reflect Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Sheldon must do the unthinkable. In proper Socially Awkward Penguin form, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, one of the great thinkers and physicist of our time, danes to hug Penny (as yet no last name), the Cheesecake Factory waitress and wannabe actress from Nebraska. “Leonard look, Sheldon’s hugging me!” Penny cries as though a puppy is just learning to take its first steps. Leonard raises his mug, “It’s a Saturnalia miracle!”
So here’s to you and yours that you have your own Saturnalia miracle this holiday season!
Bones | The Santa in the Slush
Air date: November 27th, 2007
Let’s be honest: as much fun as it was finding a dude dressed as Santa and all signs pointing to it being Santa Claus himself in the beginning of the episode, this is a memorable episode because of the tender Christmas theme and Booth and Brennan making out under the mistletoe. This was the first time viewers saw the two lock lips thanks to Caroline feeling “peckish” and a deal to get a family Christmas for Brennan and her incarcerated father. Their brief kiss was enough to send fangirls into a frenzy and tide us over on the long road until they finally got it on at the end of last season. Booth setting up a Christmas tree outside the prison where Brennan’s family was celebrating also warmed the very cockles of our hearts.
Chuck | Chuck vs Santa Claus
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Air date: December 15th, 2008
In one of the first “bottle” episodes of the series, every single one of the characters finally got together in close quarters during this Holiday-themed episode with a plot that’s anything but. The emotions run rampant, however, in every sense of the word: danger, action, suspense… and even heartwarming. The scene above is not only one of the episode’s best, but also a series best, showing the complex nature of the Chuck and Sarah relationship (or faux relationship that is).
Meanwhile, everyone is stuck in the Buy More, held hostage, waiting to be rescued. As it turns out, the burglar isn’t looking for a ransom — he’s out for Chuck, the Intersect. And what follows is the closest Chuck has been to danger and seeing Sarah has a true threat to himself after she offs someone, and returns to the Buy More with a sweet kiss high off her present. Filled with Holiday cheer, the usual comedy, and a fantastic dynamic by the entire cast: this is most definitely one of the best Christmas episodes of recent years.
Community | Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Air date: December 9th, 2010
Community (which should really be called ‘That’s So Meta or ‘That Meta Show’) carried on their pop culture reference themed tradition with a special Christmas episode entitled “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”. What makes the episode stand out is not just in the daring directorial choice to have it filmed in stop motion animation or even in the hilarity that ensues as a result; it is in the heartwarming message of the episode. Rather than mock Abed for his insistence that he must find the meaning of Christmas through an animated adventure (Well, actually they did. What are friends for?), his friends indulge Abed’s fantasy, and assist their friend in uncovering what he perceives to be the true meaning of Christmas. What he finds is a poignant introspective discovery, shifting the episode into an unexpected emotional tone. Truly a complete holiday experience for all to enjoy.
Doctor Who | A Christmas Carol
Air date: December 25th, 2010
What do you get when you combine crashing spaceships, steampunk, and flying sharks? No, not a bad acid trip. It’s the Doctor Who 2010 Christmas special “A Christmas Carol.” The basis of the episode is the traditional Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale with Steven Moffat’s trademark timey-wimey spin on things. It is a standalone episode, so no previous Doctor Who experience needed, but for those who are familiar with the newest seasons and storylines, there are couple of fun little Easter eggs. It is beautifully shot; every scene overflows with gorgeous scenery, sets, and costumes. It features veteran actor Michael Gambon, the amazing vocal talents of Welsh singer, Katherine Jenkins, and of course, the ever enjoyable Matt Smith leads the charge as the iconic Doctor. It has content simple and visually stimulating for younger children, but the writing is also clever enough for the parents and grandparents. It’s a great family friendly choice when you are looking for something fun and new, yet classic and familiar to watch while eating your Who-Hash and Roast Beast.
Friends | The One With the Holiday Armadillo
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Air date: Decembr 14th, 2000
In this episode, Ross tries to teach Ben (a.k.a Zack and Cody) about Hanukkah and Phoebe worries that Rachel will not want to move back in with her because she and Joey are having so much fun. Ross decides to shirk the 6 years of Christmas tradition to teach Ben about Hanukkah, however Ben proves reluctant to learn about the Jewish festival of light and Ross has to remind him “it’s not a contest” as Ben interrupts his father’s story by singing Christmas songs.
Eventually, Ross concedes to combine Christmas and Hanukkah to placate his upset son who believes Santa is mad at him. Meanwhile Phoebe has been buying Joey Christmas gifts that she hopes will drive Rachel out of the apartment. However, the drum set is more of a nuisance to Monica and Chandler and the tarantula scares Joey rather than Rachel. Rachel and Phoebe agree to move back in together as planned. All is well until they visit the apartment to discover that it is now a one bedroom… one really big bedroom that Phoebe likes the look of so her plotting was in vain as she decides to move into this apartment alone and Rachel stays with Joey. Ross frantically searches Greenwich Village for a Santa costume, but comes up short and invents the infamous Holiday Armadillo (Santa’s part Jewish “representative of all the Southern States and… MEXICO!”) After a show down between Santa (Chandler) and the Holiday Armadillo the episode ends with Ross finally explaining Hanukkah to Ben and the arrival of superman (Joey) completes the scene, which Rachel describes as “the Easter Bunny’s funeral.”
Glee | A Very Glee Christmas
Air date: December 10th, 2010
In Glee’s season two Christmas special the glee club is coming up with a plan to keep Britney-Lu-Who’s Christmas spirit alive by not revealing that Santa isn’t real. At the mall, they each take a turn sitting on Santa’s lap and Glee in-jokes are abundant with casual racism, “Chapstick, lots and lots of chapstick” for Sam, obviously, and then Britney makes her request for Artie to be able to walk. The Glee Club doesn’t want to break Britney’s Christmas spirit, but they send The Beiste to her house as Santa to tell her that he can’t make it happen. Britney’s Christmas spirit is broken anyway and the rest of the Glee Club’s spirit follows not far behind as Grue (Grinch/Sue) and her accomplice reindog wreck the choir room and steal all the poor children’s presents. At this point Finn gives a speech about the importance of being jolly. Rachel decides that she and Finn need to save the glee club’s spirit. If you ever need to save the spirit of a Glee club, take note, all you need is to find an excuse to sing “Last Christmas.” After Rachel and Finn’s rendition of “Last Christmas,” the episode rebuilds itself and all ends happily ever after with The Beiste being revealed as Santa, Artie being able to walk (even though his re-walker “inexplicably broke the next day”) and the Glee club invading Mr. Schue’s apartment (seriously this man needs to find an interest outside of Glee).
The OC | The Best Chrismukkah Ever
Air date: December 3rd, 2003
How can you watch this episode and not become a Christmukkah convert? Despite Sandy and Kirsten’s business conflicts with Cal, Marissa’s ever increasing downward spiral, and Ryan’s Scrooge-like attitude, Seth’s enthusiasm for the holiday overshadows it all, even his own love triangle drama with Summer and Anna. This episode brought us a new super holiday that has since become a part of common culture. Even people who didn’t watch The OC know what Christmukkah is and that is why I love it. I mean, like Seth said, it is 8 days of presents followed by one day of many presents; who wouldn’t love that?
The Office | Christmas Wishes
Air date: December 8th, 2011
The Office had a lot of funny Christmas episodes and it was so hard to pick a fave of ours! We decided to go with the most recent one, “Christmas Wishes.” It started off with Andy saying he would grant everyone’s Christmas wish (when really he just granted what he thought or hoped they’d wish for). Andy invited his girlfriend, Jessica (finally we meet the mystery woman!) who happens to be pretty attractive. (We were hoping she wouldn’t be for Erin’s sake). CEO, Mr. California, gets Erin to drink her problems away which actually causes more problems. She told Andy her Christmas wish was for him to kill Jessica. Whoa! Things got pretty heavy… So what balanced out this dark story line? Jim and Dwight of course! Apparently Pam’s replacement doesn’t like Dwight’s bullying or how Jim pranks. In result, Andy tells them to stop or he will take the Christmas bonus away from whoever doesn’t and give it to the other. So what does Dwight do? Frame Jim by pranking himself so he can take his bonus. Andy realizes this is causing more issues so he tells Jim he won’t take any of their bonuses and to go back to the way they act. Jim tells Andy he will make sure Dwight knows, but of course Jim would take this opportunity to see Dwight prank himself. In the end, Erin is wasted and it seemed like Robert California was trying to take advantage of her. Andy let his girlfriend drive herself home so that he can take a drunk Meredith home. Obviously he was only taking her home so he could make sure Robert was trying to pull anything with Erin. Turns out Erin got home safely and that eased Andy’s mind. So we know he still cares for her! Hopefully they will get together soon. They deserve it.
Seinfeld | The Strike
Air date: December 18th, 1997
In its usual Seinfeld cadence, we got some insight into the Costanza family — mainly, that they don’t celebrate Christmas… they celebrate Festivus. More than a decade later, and Festivus is still celebrated to this day (even if just for craps and giggles) — the holiday with a metal pole, the airing of grievances, and the feats of strength.
Smallville | “Lexmas”
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Air date: December 9th, 2005
Christmas is all about second chances and becoming better people, and that’s why Smallville’s “Lexmas” will always be one of our favorite holiday episodes.
While Lex Luthor was contemplating whether or not he should sabotage Jonathan Kent’s race to State Senator, he gets mugged and shot. The next day, he wakes up in a new world where he’s married to the girl of his dreams, has a baby boy, and everyone loves him. In the alternate reality, he’s a better man bringing down Luthorcorp, the company he runs in reality.
Lex is definitely one of those villains who become evil because their brutal backgrounds, and it was nice seeing what would have become of him if he had had the right people there to support him. Almost all the episode made me smile cheerily , until the last few minutes of the episode when Lex wakes up and decides that he will do anything to have a happy life – including ruining Kent’s chances in winning the Senate race.
The X-Files | How the Ghosts Stole Christmas
Air date: December 3rd, 1998
This is a classic haunted house story with a holiday spin, and one of our personal favorite X-Files episodes. Scully joins Mulder outside a creepy Victorian mansion for what he says is a “stakeout” on Christmas Eve. She soon realizes that he isn’t there for FBI-related business at all, but rather to investigate local myth that the house is haunted by lovers who made a suicide pact. Scully, of course, insists that there’s no such thing as ghosts, but reluctantly follows him inside.
Creepiness ensues when the ghosts of the two lovers start messing with Mulder and Scully from the beyond. The ghosts turn out to be a mischievous older couple who get their kicks psycho-analyzing their hauntees and pushing young attractive couples into double murders. Mulder and Scully have great banter and a cute gift exchange scene at the end after narrowly making it out alive. The episode is good spooky fun and definitely worth a rewatch this holiday season!
The Simpsons | Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
Air date: December 17th, 1989
What’s there to say? As the first ever Simpsons episode aired, but not the first one produced, the family is out of money… so Homer decides to gamble the last few bucks he does have at the dog track. He ends up losing all of the money, but he and the entire family gain something much more: the true meaning of Christmas… plus, a new dog (and an iconic Simpsons pet) Santa’s Little Helper. It’s the episode that launched the pop culture legend for the last 22 years.
What are some of your favorite Holiday episodes?