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tis the season

12 Christmas-themed TV episodes, ranked

The 12 TV specials of Christmas.

ON THE FIRST day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

An extended Christmas episode of my favourite television programme.

Yes, the Christmas special is a staple of television and any programme worth its salt will invest time and effort into creating a special seasonal episode in which at least one of the characters will learn the true meaning of Christmas.

When done right, they fill you with the fuzzies and remind you precisely why Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Here are twelve of our favourites:

12. Sabrina, The Teenage Witch – ‘A Girl and Her Cat’

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One that all 90s kids will fondly recall.

It features a kid with a lisp, a contortionist and a Coolio cameo as Sabrina attempts to find Salem in time for Christmas.

11. The O.C. – ‘The Best Christmukkah Ever’

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What could be more adorable than Seth Cohen inventing a hybrid holiday (“Christmukkah”) in an effort to bring together his two faiths? Nothing, that’s what.

11 years after it originally aired, the term is still widely recognised, which is no mean feat. Happy Christmukkah!

10. Mad Men – ‘Christmas Comes But Once A Year’

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While Christmas is a time for family and friends, it is also a time for awkward Christmas parties and getting embarrassingly tipsy in front of your colleagues.

This episode from season four of Mad Men captures the trials and tribulations of the annual office Christmas party and features drunkenness, Santas and Roger instructing Joan to amp proceedings up to “Roman orgy” levels. Good advice for us all.

9. Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special

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At Christmas, you crave warmth and loveliness, and Gavin and Stacey has this in spades.

It may not be particularly cool and James Corden may have emerged as a slight annoyance (read: his stint as host of The Brits) in recent years, but the Christmas special is ideal fare for snuggling up on the couch and horsing into boxes of chocolates.

8. Louie – New Year’s Eve

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It may be titled “New Year’s Eve” but this episode features one of the all-time greatest Christmas scenes, in which Louis painstakingly puts together a doll for his daughter. It’s both hilarious and the sort of thankless deed that will resonate with all parents.

7. South Park – ‘Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo’

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For spawning the titular song alone, one would be remiss not to include this episode on any list of great Christmas TV specials. That it happens to also be a vintage episode of South Park that succeeds in filling you with the fuzzies is an added bonus.

6. The Office Christmas Special – Part 2

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This episode serves as the swansong to the beloved series and though it’s part of a double bill, this second episode is where it’s at.

Tim and Dawn finally get together at the Christmas party, while David Brent’s impression of Frank Spencer elicits the elusive laugh from colleagues he has been chasing for so long.


5. Only Fools and Horses – Heroes and Villains

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What says Christmas like Delboy and Rodney running through the fog dressed as Batman and Robin?

4. Friends – The One with the Holiday Armadillo

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“I’m the holiday armadillo!”

In which Ross dresses as an armadillo to teach his son about Hanukkah.

3. Seinfeld – “The Strike”

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This episode touches on everything from extreme stinginess (see: George inventing a charity to save money on Christmas presents) to made-up holidays (see: Festivus, a precursor to Christmukkah). A bona fide classic.

2. Father Ted – A Christmassy Ted

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Todd Unctious, lingerie and Golden Clerics.

Oh, just load the episode up now, why don’t you?

1. The Simpsons – “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”


The Lionel Messi of Christmas episodes, if we’re being honest.

The first ever episode of The Simpsons tells the story of how the family came to be in possession of Santa’s Little Helper, an abandoned greyhound. The episode somehow turns twenty-five years old this year, but it truly only gets better with age.

It concludes with this classic rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that would make even the heart of even the meanest Grinch swell.

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