It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen the SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas Special probably 500 times throughout the course of my lifetime—I legally have to watch it every December once the holidays start to roll around.
Most people have a few holiday episodes that they need to rewatch during the season, but there are tons of forgotten episodes and other gems that get inadvertently left out. Spanning cartoons and comedies to sitcoms and more, these next 25 holiday episodes of TV—in no specific order—are some of the best to give a watch this season.
Thinking back to his past of throwing grand holiday parties, Johnny wants to pull off a similar affair at the motel, though he’s much more optimistic about its probability of occurring than his family is. Unable to make things as perfect as he wants to, Johnny is sent into a bit of a Christmas sadness after his haphazardly-put-together tree falls apart.
After SpongeBob discovers what Christmas is, he spreads the news about it to the entire town of Bikini Bottom, who start gearing up for Santa Claus to arrive. After sending their Christmas wishes up to the shoreline and singing their iconic Christmas song, they wait and wait and wait. And wait. But there’s no Santa Claus. That is, until Squidward uncharacteristically starts to feel sorry for them and saves the day.
Though multiple plots are going on at the same time, the largest and most well-known plot of all involves Festivus, the odd, made-up holiday that George’s father, Frank, celebrates every year. Eventually, Frank invites everyone over to gather for the holiday, which has to do with airing your grievances to everyone and celebrating with a metal pole instead of a Christmas tree.
After Larry ruins Christmas for Cheryl’s family by eating all of the Nativity Scene cookies (having mistaken them for zoo animals), he has to figure out a way to make it up to them. He comes across a Nativity Scene reenactment group outside of a church and decides to hire them to reenact the scene at his house. But knowing that nothing ever goes right for Larry, a massive conflict breaks out between him and the man playing the role of Joseph.
Although there have been many holiday episodes of Friends over the years, ‘The One with the Holiday Armadillo’ might just be the best—and most-well known—out of the bunch. One of the main plotlines of the episode involves Ross wanting to expose his son to other holiday traditions besides Christmas, which ends up including him dressing in an armadillo costume.
When the whole family realizes that they won’t be together on Christmas Day, they attempt to pull off Christmas in only a few hours. The family breaks up into groups, with each smaller team trying to accomplish one part of the goal, whether that be buying the Christmas tree, getting presents, or decorating for the holidays.
Homer tries to be more giving after his family calls him out for spending too much money on a Christmas gift for himself. Given this, the episode spoofs How The Grinch Stole Christmas, with Homer wanting to one-up Ned Flanders and his selfless holiday spirit.
The first Christmas episode of the series, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins’ centers around Bob as he gets access to a storage space that he inherited, though it ends up containing an actual human in it. Feeling bad for the man named Chet, the family takes him in for the holidays.
Peter accidentally donates all of his family’s Christmas presents to a children’s charity, which forces him and Lois to hit up the mall and replace the gifts. On the other end of things, Stewie is playing Baby Jesus at the local Christmas Pageant and Brian is cooking the turkey, which eventually gets burnt, along with a large portion of the house. Though trying to remain calm, Lois finally loses it and starts yelling at everyone in town.
During the holiday season, Leslie finds herself wrapped up in a scandal involving Councilman Dexhart. While having to deal with that issue, everyone else on the Parks team has to take over Leslie’s responsibilities, which turns out being much more than they had anticipated.
Liz’s parents come to visit for Christmas along with her brother, and they eventually all head out to dinner with Jack and his mother, who happens to be in town. In addition, the annual Christmas party is taking place, though Tracy is unable to get in on the celebration because of his bracelet that monitors his alcohol intake.
At the annual office Christmas party, everyone had agreed to take part in Secret Santa, but on the day of the party, Michael decides to switch things up and do a Yankee Swap instead. Given that Jim had went to great lengths in getting Pam the perfect gift, he’s especially frustrated with Michael’s decision. The episode ended up being nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
At the Bluth family Christmas party, Gob is made fun of, which spurs him to fire tons of people from the company just in time for Christmas. On top of that, Michael has to make massive repairs to the banana stand, as it has been completely vandalized by local kids.
In the most classic Christmas TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas centers around the crew’s Christmas play and Charlie Brown’s overall dismal feelings about the holiday season. After he buys the iconic, tiny-but-sad-looking Christmas tree, he feels even worse as his friends mock him for it. However, things turn around when his friends realize how rough they were being on him and decide to revamp his Christmas tree.
While Helga tries extremely hard to come up with the perfect gift for Arnold for their Secret Santa exchange, Arnold learns more about Mr. Hyunh, who he gets assigned in the exchange. After learning that Mr. Huynh has a long-lost daughter, Arnold does his best to make his Christmas gift special for him.
When Timmy wishes for Christmas to be every day, he soon realizes that this was a huge mistake, as presents start dwindling after a few days and with the overall Christmas spirit and charm fading away. Since all the businesses are still closed, there’s practically nothing to do in town, and with no other holidays allowed to occur, all of the other holiday figureheads start getting upset.
The entire house is gearing up for Christmas, with Coco laying egg-decorations and Madame Foster putting up garland. Everything seems to be going smoothly until two Santas show up and start to get into a physical fight in the main lobby. It turns out that there are even more Santas hanging around in the house as children create imaginary ones in their heads, later ending up at Foster’s.
Being that BoJack hates celebrating Christmas, Todd tries to turn his thinking around by suggesting that they watch the Christmas episode of “Horsin’ Around” together, one of his favorite shows. It’s quite an interesting way to present a Christmas episode, as you’re watching a Christmas episode about a Christmas episode from a fake TV show.
Trying extremely hard to make this year’s Christmas go smoothly, the crew doubles down and attempts to actually enjoy Christmas instead of it being filled with arguments and conflict. However, things don’t go as planned as each attempt at a kinder Christmas unravels before their eyes.
Carrie and Doug get cornered into bringing a cake to the church’s holiday bake sale, but since they aren’t great at baking, they decide to bring a fake cake covered in icing, thinking that they’ll just drop it off and leave without anyone knowing the difference. Their plans start to unravel when they arrive with their cake and realize that instead of a regular bake sale, they sell the cakes through a cake walk.
Because Maxwell has to be away for Christmas, Fran takes Christmas to the next level for the kids, who are upset that their father is gone for the holidays. Given that it’s only the first season of the show, Fran is still getting a better sense of the kids, which makes her really want to win them over on Christmas.
While walking around on a boardwalk down at the Jersey Shore with Paulie, Tony takes a mental walk back to the late ’90s, where he relives Christmas in 1995. The two discuss moments with other characters and how their lives have changed with those people since then, as well as remembering the annual Christmas party at Satriale’s.
The only horror-themed holiday episode on the list, ‘Unholy Night’ from American Horror Story‘s Asylum is definitely the most sinister of the bunch. Alongside the continuing plot of the season, this side plot involves a murderous Santa who ends up at the asylum.
In the last episode of Season 1, the inmates celebrate the holidays by putting on an elaborate Christmas pageant, with each inmate auditioning for the show with a different talent. While all this is happening, Red is trying to take back control of the kitchen, but is unsuccessful once again in doing so.
Though its first season is still airing, the entire show takes place during Christmas, meaning that a bit of each episode is always holiday-themed, a surprising addition to a Marvel show.