The merriest TV Christmases
Happy December, when the weather outside is frightful, but TV is so delightful! In celebration of this festive season and as part of EW’s 25-day Countdown to Tinseltown, we’ve rounded up our 25 favorite TV Christmas episodes, from the holly-jolly to the downright heartbreaking. Check out our yuletide picks ahead!
Friends, "The One with the Holiday Armadillo" (season 7, episode 10)
Friends had more than just Thanksgiving! If you can make it through the Holiday Armadillo’s Hanukkah lesson all the way to Superman’s arrival without once dissolving into a pile of Christmas giggles, you’re stronger than we are.
Mad Men, "Christmas Waltz" (season 5, episode 10)
It was fun when Roger wore a Santa suit, but Mad Men’s best yuletide hour had to be this bittersweet season 5 entry. Nobody wears heartache quite so gorgeously as Don and Joan at a bar (or in a Jaguar) at Christmas.
The Office, "Christmas Party" (season 2, episode 10)
Dunder Mifflin had its fair share of memorable Christmases, but between Michael’s inappropriate iPod gift and some classic Jim-Pam romantic tension, nothing tops season 2’s Secret Santa gone awry.
How I Met Your Mother, "How Lily Stole Christmas" (season 2, episode 11)
Second only to “eating a sandwich” among narrator Ted’s various sanitized revisions of his younger days is his tale of the time he called Lily a “grinch” (decide for yourself what word he really used) at Christmastime.
Gilmore Girls, "The Bracebridge Dinner" (season 2, episode 10)
Snowy Connecticut! A Lorelai-hosted hyper-specific Stars Hollow event! Richard and Emily drama! Sneaky, snarky, flirty Jess! What more could you possibly want from a Gilmore Girls Christmas?
Doctor Who, "A Christmas Carol" (2010)
The classic novella has gotten plenty of small-screen adaptations, but none more singular that Doctor Who’s version — which was somehow very clearly Dickensian but also distinctly, unquestionably, entirely Doctor Who.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "My Mom, Greg's Mom, and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves!" (season 1, episode 8)
Well, you can take your snow and shove it. We couldn’t possibly leave Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s season 1 holiday ep off the list if only ‘cause this is California, and we do Christmas right!
Lizzie McGuire, "Xtreme Xmas" (season 2, episode 20)
You can keep your Aaron Carter music videos — the most Xtreme holiday on Lizzie McGuire had to be season 2’s Steven Tyler-assisted Xtravaganza.
The X-Files, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" (season 6, episode 6)
After dealing with a tricky pair of old married ghosts, Mulder and Scully’s Christmas gift exchange makes for one of The X-Filesduo’s all-time greatest moments.
New Girl, "The 23rd" (season 1, episode 9)
New Girl’s first Christmas episode brought hilarity (oh, Schmidt) and heart (Candy Cane Lane!) in equal measure, making for a high point of the sitcom’s freshman season.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "A Very Sunny Christmas" (season 6, episode 13)
Always Sunny’s two-parter at the end of season 6 had to be twice as long to fit so much Christmas spirit into it.
Boy Meets World, "A Very Topanga Christmas" (season 5, episode 11)
Can you imagine a better Ghost of Christmas Anything than Mr. Feeny?
The Real Housewives of New York City, "December: Berkshires County" (season 8, episode 9)
Dorinda decorated. She cooked. She made it nice.
Black Mirror, "White Christmas" (2014)
It’s Black Mirror does Christmas! And it’s exactly what that sounds like!
Lost, "The Constant" (season 4, episode 5)
Forget just being one of the best Christmas episodes — Lost’s indelible time-travel masterpiece ranks among the greatest TV episodes ever, period.
Community, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" (season 2, episode 11)
We all grew up watching Christmas stories in stop-motion on TV, so it only feels right that Community went the Sant Claus Is Coming to Town route for its season 2 holiday episode.
Seinfeld, "The Strike" (season 9, episode 10)
We apologize for referring to “The Strike” as a Christmas episode. Happy Festivus, everyone.
Glee, "A Very Glee Christmas" (season 2, episode 10)
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has in recent years been reappraised as a particularly problematic holiday song. Forget that for a minute and just listen to Kurt and Blaine singing it. You’re welcome.
Will & Grace, "Jingle Balls" (season 4, episode 12)
The spirit and the glamour of Christmas are on full display in this Will & Grace episode, when Grace selflessly plays Santa Claus for Jack by designing a gorgeous holiday window display at Barneys.
The Mindy Project, "Christmas Party Sex Trap" (season 2, episode 11)
Who knew Danny Castellano and Aaliyah were such a perfect match?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Amends" (season 3, episode 10)
Buffy’s only Christmas episode is a low point for a memory-haunted Angel, who plans to kill himself by standing outside as the sun rises, that turns into one of the most touching scenes of his and Buffy’s romance: When the sun is blocked by snowfall, he and Buffy take a daytime walk through Sunnydale together for the very first time.
Downton Abbey, "Christmas at Downton Abbey" (2011)
Downton’s second season ended with a perfectly elegant Christmas special — which itself ended with a perfectly romantic marriage proposal in the snow.
The O.C., "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" (season 1, episode 13)
Season 1’s episode surrounding Seth Cohen’s favorite holiday really was “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”!
Black-ish, "Black Santa/White Christmas" (season 1, episode 10)
Black-ish’s took on the “black people can’t be racist” argument in its freshman season’s Christmas episode, in which Dre insists that his office Christmas party needs a black Santa (specifically him).
30 Rock, "Christmas Special" (season 3, episode 6)
What better subject for a Christmas TV show than the making of a Christmas TV show? And what better way to spend Christmas than with family? And what better family than Jack’s mom?!