It’s that time of year, where all your favourite shows are putting out Christmas/holiday episodes to get you in the season’s spirits. Growing up, most of my favourite shows had Xmas episodes and I typically shrugged them off, being too cool for school and all that. Looking back though, a lot of them were really, really good. I have a fair few Christmas movies that I love as well, but that’s another list for another day.
With all of this in mind, here is my list of the top 5 Holiday episodes from TV.
5. “Merry Christmas Charlie Manson” – South Park (S02E16)
Leading off the holiday episode list is this classic from the early days of South Park. This particular episode sees Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and Kenny, as well as Cartman’s family, visiting his grandmother in Nebraska for Christmas. The visit is going innocently enough until they get a couple of visitors in the night (and it isn’t Santa) in the form of escaped convict Charles Manson and Cartman’s Uncle Howard.
Somehow, the end of the episode manages to tie Manson, Cartman’s family and Christmas together with Christmas carols. The absolute ridiculousness of the episode is a reminder of why the show was so good in the early seasons. It seems an unlikely choice as a Christmas episode, but it’s definitely worth watching if only to see Charles Manson singing carols.
4. “The One with The Holiday Armadillo” – Friends (S07E10)
It wouldn’t be a TV Show list without at least one appearance from Friends. This holiday episode sees Ross (David Schwimmer) with his son Ben (played by Cole Sprouse) for the holidays. Ross wants to teach Ben about Hannukah and its importance, but Ben just wants Santa Claus. Ross eventually decides to give his son what he wants and desperately tries to find a Santa costume, but being the last minute and all, the shop only has an armadillo costume.
Seeing David Schwimmer in an armadillo costume, trying to explain how it relates to the holidays is amazing. Having Chandler and Joey show up as Santa and Superman respectively, top off an unforgettable Christmas episode of one of the best sitcoms ever.
3. “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas” – Family Guy (S03E16)
I can hardly believe that this episode aired almost 20 years ago, on the 21st of December 2001. One of my favourite episodes of the show itself, sees Peter mistakenly donating the entirety of the Griffin family’s Christmas presents to charity, instead of the one that Lois had been reminding him to do for a while. Lois isn’t particularly bothered by the gesture, but makes the family go to the mall to replace the gifts.
While they are gone, Brian is left at home to mind the turkey in the oven, and you can imagine how well that goes. The interactions between characters are the highlight in this holiday episode, especially when Stewie tries to bargain with the mall Santa for some plutonium, as long as he is a good boy. This is one of the best episodes the series has aired because it was everything that Family Guy was about at that time and being set at Christmas has made it into ‘classics’ territory. This is one holiday episode that’s not to be missed.
2. “Deck The Halls” – Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (S01E15)
Out of all the TV shows that I have watched in my life, I loved Fresh Prince the most. This show had everything. Heart, comedy, drama; everything a growing boy could ask for. The holiday episode from season 1 will always be my favourite of the holiday episodes from the series. This episode has Will finding out that his little cousin Ashley has never had a traditional Christmas, with all the decorations, music, etc. Will goes out of his way to decorate the entire Banks home in festive adornments, resulting in numerous complaints from their uptight neighbours.
Their attitude towards the decorations puts Ashley in poor spirits for the season until the end of the episode when a group of underprivileged kids arrive on their doorstep to sing Christmas carols for the family. The kids love the decorations and Ashley demands that they stay up to her father. This episode never fails to get me in the Christmas spirit and should be a must-watch for anyone needing inspiration to get in the holiday spirit.
1. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” – The Simpsons (S01E01)
It’s not a TV episode list without the most well-known TV family of the last 30 years. The very first episode of the entire series (I know, right) is a holiday episode, where the family falls on hard times financially when Mr. Burns decides to not award his employees a Christmas bonus this year. This triggers a series of events that eventually leads to how the Simpson’s ended up with their beloved dog, Santa’s Little Helper.
The happiness of the family and the dog always manage to bring a tear to my eye, even now as I write this. I couldn’t not pick this one as number one on my list, as it perfectly embodies the Christmas spirit for me, which is to have your family near to celebrate with you.