10 Christmas TV Episodes To Add to Your Annual Rotation

Collage of Christmas TV Episodes, featuring Abbott Elementary, Community, Doctor Who, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Wynonna Earp

‘Tis the season to watch all the festive TV you can find. You might be overwhelmed this holiday season with thoughts of ever-expanding shopping lists and family arrangements. Still, nothing else puts that anxiety to rest quite like a great Christmas TV episode.

While sitcoms tend to tackle holiday fare, science fiction and fantasy have also hopped aboard the Christmas train, and the results are just as magical as you’d expect. Regardless of the genre, television has embraced the challenge of putting out entertaining, immersive, and sometimes downright hilarious holiday escapism.

As you prepare for the big day, there are plenty of Christmas TV episodes to watch, but some are required viewing. In no particular order, here are 10 Christmas TV episodes to add to your annual rotation. 

1. Abbott Elementary (Season 2 Episode 7)

Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 10 Holiday Hookah

It was only a matter of time before Abbott Elementary blessed us with a Christmas-themed episode, and folks, it did not disappoint. Season 2 Episode 10, “Holiday Hookah,” has everything from laugh-out-loud moments and festive decor to heartwarming character beats and, yes, significant development on the will-they-won’t-they front.

Granine shippers are well-fed as Janine and Gregory run into each other at a hookah bar, and awkward sexual tension (complete with equally awkward dancing) ensues. As for the B-plot, no Christmas episode can really categorize itself as such without at least one character learning the true reason for the season. Enter Jacob, the resident holiday curmudgeon.

Jacob’s scenes with Barbara and Melissa as he crashes their annual tradition are as heartfelt as they are humorous. They strike that perfect balance between funny and tender, which Abbott Elementary does so well.

2. Wynonna Earp (Season 3 Episode 6)

Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 6 If We Make It Through December
WYNONNA EARP Season 3, Episode 6, “If We Make It Through December.” Pictured (l-r): Melanie Scrofano, Dom P-C, Kat Barrell, Tim Rozon, and Varun Saranga. Photo courtesy of Syfy.

Purgatory rings in the holiday season in Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 6, “If We Make It Through December,” as only Purgatory can: with demons, biting wit, and a tampon angel. A shadow of grief is cast over Christmas because of Dolls’ death, but our favorite Black Badge crew navigates complicated emotions and a new dynamic with the show’s signature snark and heart.

Additionally, “If We Make It Through December” adds narrative weight as Waverly learns more about her biological father (who Wynonna unknowingly sleeps with — not at all weird and cringe-inducing). Meanwhile, Mama Earp stirs trouble by freeing Bobo, and Kate finally turns Doc into a vampire after he implores her to.

This festive outing is classic Wynonna Earp that 100 percent deserves a slot in your holiday watch rotation. It nails the complexities of familial relationships around this time of year while bringing plenty of humor to the table.

3. New Girl (Season 2 Episode 11)

New Girl Season 2 Episode 11 Santa
NEW GIRL Season 2, Episode 11, “Santa.” Pictured (l-r): Olivia Munn, Jake Johnson, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Max Greenfield. Photo courtesy of FOX.

Is there anything better than a good holiday-themed sitcom episode? Throw in some romantic hijinks, Christmas plans that backfire, and candy-cane-laced humor, and you’ve got a recipe for success. New Girl Season 2 Episode 11, “Santa,” isn’t the show’s only foray into festive territory, but it’s one of its best.

For starters, Cece and Schmidt give us all the relationship drama while Jess tries to avoid Sam, and Nick struggles to adjust to dating the adventurous Angie. Winston avoids romantic complications and is still objectively the best. Then, the gang attempts to attend one too many Christmas parties, which never goes well for fictional characters, but it certainly makes for entertaining TV.

“Santa” is hysterical, with sharp one-liners and stellar comedic performances. It incorporates New Girl‘s unique brand of unadulterated chaos and charm.

4. Community (Season 3 Episode 10)

Community Season 3 Episode 10 Regional Holiday Music
COMMUNITY Season 3, Episode 10, “Regional Holiday Music.” Pictured (l-r): Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Jim Rash, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Danny Pudi. Photo courtesy of NBC.

Community is no stranger to the Christmas episode. In fact, the series has four, and they’re all excellent, making it challenging to list the top contender. That said, Season 3 Episode 10, “Regional Holiday Music,” slips into the number one slot for its clever satirizing (and playful poking) of Glee, especially during a time when the latter series was well-established in the pop culture zeitgeist.

Abed, inexplicably struck by the spirit of “glee,” tries to get his study group pals to join Greendale’s Glee Club so they can qualify for Regionals. Does anyone know what Regionals are? Of course not, but it’s fun to strive for that marker regardless.

What transpires is a hilarious holiday romp chock full of surprisingly catchy original tunes, the origins of the popular Community one-liner, “Oh, Britta’s in this?”; choreographed dances, and an evil music teacher hellbent on entrapping the study group in Glee Club forever. It’s, dare we say it, pitch-perfect.

5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 3 Episode 10)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 Episode 10 Yippie Kayak
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE Season 3, Episode 10, “Yippie Kayak.” Pictured: Andy Samberg and Joe Lo Truglio. Photo courtesy of FOX.

You know what John McClane says in Die Hard — “Yippie kayak, other buckets!” Oh, wait, that’s Charles Boyle. Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 Episode 10, “Yippie Kayak,” is one of a handful of holiday episodes from the fan-favorite sitcom; however, it’s undoubtedly the strongest across the board.

Jake finally gets to live like his idol John McClane when German thieves take him, Gina, and Boyle hostage in a department store. It’s a surprisingly action-packed outing complemented by the show’s trademark cheeky wit and over-the-top charisma.

While the B and C plots aren’t quite as memorable, they provide enough support for the central episodic narrative to shine. Nothing beats Jake’s abject bewilderment when Boyle swoops in to save the day in a white tank top, butchering McClane’s signature line. It’s comedy gold.

6. Doctor Who (A Christmas Carol)

Doctor Who A Christmas Carol
DOCTOR WHO, “A Christmas Carol.” Pictured (l-r): Michael Gambon, Matt Smith, and Katherine Jenkins. Photo credit: BBC.

What says “Christmas” more than a Doctor Who Christmas special? While all the specials (and each doctor) are delightful in their own right, they don’t compare to the Eleventh Doctor’s holiday adventures. “A Christmas Carol” is more than the title of a novella by Charles Dickens; it’s the name of the long-running sci-fi show’s best festive episode.

Matt Smith imbues Eleven with childlike wonderment and awe, making him the perfect candidate to ring in the holidays. In “A Christmas Carol,” writer Steven Moffat crafts an inventive world where fish swim in fog, the Doctor accidentally marries Marilyn Monroe, and a cantankerous older man modeled after Ebenezer Scrooge has a radical change of heart.

Whovians the world over, experienced and new, should watch this classic Christmas special for a dose of warm, cozy magic that only Doctor Who can provide.

7. Supernatural (Season 3 Episode 8)

Supernatural Season 3 Episode 8 A Very Supernatural Christmas
SUPERNATURAL Season 3, Episode 8, “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Pictured: Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Photo courtesy of The CW.

Supernatural is always at its best when it leans into its inherent campiness, and Season 3 Episode 8, “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” is no exception. Our favorite demon-hunting brothers find themselves on the hunt for an “Anti-Santa” who abducts victims by pulling them through their chimneys.

What follows next is an episodic adventure that takes the nonlinear approach, weaving flashbacks into the narrative as the boys vanquish a pair of demons. Said flashbacks whisk us away to 1991, where young Sam and Dean celebrate a lonely Christmas. It gives us a much-needed glimpse into their relationship with the holiday, providing further character development.

Thankfully, all it takes is a Christmas tree branch to eradicate their enemies. Then, it’s back to “Saving People, Hunting Things, The Family Business.”

8. Superstore (Season 3 Episode 7)

Superstore Season 3 Episode 7 Christmas Eve
SUPERSTORE Season 3, Episode 7, “Christmas Eve.” Pictured (l-r): Lauren Plaxco, Ryan Gaul, Lauren Ash, America Ferrera, and Nichole Sakura. Photo courtesy of NBC.

“Crazy Amy” has come to play this holiday season. In Superstore Season 3 Episode 7, “Christmas Eve,” Amy is on a mission to prove she’s fun. She regales her fellow Cloud 9 coworkers with tales of her high school exploits, followed by an impromptu trip to her ex-husband’s home with Cheyenne and Dina that doesn’t go over so well.

Meanwhile, Glenn tries to convert Matteo to Team Christmas, and Garrett and Jonah’s roommate issues reach a boiling point. It’s your typical festive sitcom fare that’s as comforting as a warm hug on a snowy day and as hilarious as anything Superstore has produced.

Plus, it feels like a genuine and humorous tribute to retail workers who receive unnecessary flak during the holidays. Not to mention, Cloud 9 looks like a winter wonderland with all those decorations.

9. Ted Lasso (Season 2 Episode 4)

Ted Lasso Season 2 Episode 4 Carol of the Bells
TED LASSO Season 2, Episode 4, “Carol of the Bells.” Pictured: Hannah Waddingham. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.

If any comedy should tackle a Christmas episode, it’s the boisterous and uplifting Ted Lasso. Season 2 Episode 4, “Carol of the Bells,” feels more Ted Lasso-y than ever as Richmond embraces the holiday spirit. Ted and Rebecca take on the role of Santa’s elves, delivering gifts to those who need them, while Keeley and Roy help Phoebe (complete with a Love Actually nod), and the Higgins open their home to the Greyhounds.

“Carol of the Bells” combines the show’s wholesome wit with a dash of profound heart and plenty of festive cheer. Just make sure to keep a box of tissues handy because the waterworks will flow in abundance (in a good way).

Additionally, Hannah Waddingham delights with her impressive vocals as Rebecca leads the neighborhood in exuberant song. It wouldn’t be Christmas without holiday tunes.

10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 6 Episode 13)

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 6 Episode 13 A Very Sunny Christmas
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Season 6, Episode 13, “A Very Sunny Christmas.” Pictured (l-r): Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton. Photo courtesy of FX.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has always been a sitcom that subverts tropes, and its longevity proves it strikes all the right chords with viewers. Somehow, adding a Christmas episode to its catalog feels subversive in that regard. Season 6 Episode 13, “A Very Sunny Christmas,” sits at the intersection of darkly hilarious and jaw-droppingly twisted as the gang takes on the holiday season.

Dee and Dennis teach Frank a valuable lesson in the same vein as “A Christmas Carol,” while Charlie and Mac uncover shocking truths about their childhood Christmas traditions. One culminates in Frank clambering out of a couch in his birthday suit, while the other results in Charlie biting off a mall Santa’s ear.

“A Very Sunny Christmas” epitomizes the series’ hard-edged charm, laugh-out-loud, sardonic humor, and underrated comedic performances. (Seriously, when will awards season stop overlooking this show?) Bust out some rum ham, perhaps a milk steak boiled over hard and a side of raw jelly beans, and dig in.

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