25. The Middle #10 "Christmas" (first aired December 9, 2009)
In the first Christmas episode of this new hit show, Mike takes over Christmas "duties" while Frankie prepares for a Christmas Eve church solo. As is often the case for this great new classic, things are hectic and crazy in the Heck household (as Mike and the kids fall asleep and almost miss Frankie's solo) before a sweet finish at the church.
|Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip "The Christmas Show"|
This underrated drama that only ran a year had many strong episodes, particularly in the first part of the season. That includes this Christmas episode which touches on some major relationships developing on the show and ends with a powerful performance by New Orleans musicians who were still reeling from Hurricane Katrina when this show aired.
23. Friends #33 "The One With Phoebe's Dad" (first aired December 14, 1995)
In the first Christmas-themed episode of Friends, Phoebe discovers that her Dad is alive and well but can't bring herself to meet him. It is full of funny moments including Joey and Chandler's gas station gifts and the sweltering Christmas party at Rachel and Monica's because they can't turn the heat off.
22. The Bob Newhart Show #14 "His Busiest Season" (first aired December 23, 1972)
The Bob Newhart Show had a Christmas episode every year it was on and this first one is a classic. Christmas is the toughest time of year for a psychologist's patients so Bob invites them over on Christmas Eve but the party is a downer until they all admit what a terrible time they're having. There's also many other funny moments including Bob trying to figure out Howard's shoe size and Carol drunk on eggnog at the office.
|Everybody Loves Raymond "The Christmas Picture"|
Ray plans a family picture as a gift to his mom for Christmas but everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong including Debra's parents showing up to be in the picture. The highlight of this episode is Ray's conversation with a disgruntled Marie before he wheels her over to take the picture.
20. Newsradio #17 "Christmas Story" (first aired December 19, 1995)
In the first Christmas episode of this underrated sitcom, Mr. James buys cars for the whole staff after his first gift (recycled hats with names on them) falls flat. But he only gives Matthew tapes of a classic radio show, which leads to some funny moments. There's also a funny side story as Bill thinks the lobby Santa Claus wants to kill him.
19. Laverne & Shirley #76 "All Come Ye Bums" (first aired December 19, 1978)
Laverne and Shirley host a dinner for the bums of Milwaukee in the second and final Christmas episode from this show. It is a sweet episode that doesn't become sappy and includes a very funny scene as they fight for their fundraising turf on the street corner.
18. The Wonder Years #55 "A Very Cutlip Christmas" (first aired December 12, 1990)
In a very funny yet poignant episode, Kevin discovers that Coach Cutlip is playing Santa at the mall and nearly spills the secret to his friends. When Kevin realizes that Cutlip has a soul, it's almost too late but the friends only recognize him as Santa and a throwback to their childhood, not their awkward gym teacher. A great episode with a standout performance by Robert Picardo as Cutlip.
17. The Andy Griffith Show #11 "Christmas Story" (first aired December 19, 1960)
When town grinch Ben Weaver demands that a bootlegger stays in jail on Christmas, Andy brings Christmas and his family to him. It becomes apparent during the episode that Ben is actually lonely as he makes attempts to join the party by breaking a law. It's a typically sweet but not sappy story from this classic series.
16. Taxi #10 "A Full House for Christmas" (first aired December 12, 1978)
Louie's gambling brother comes to town and gets involved in a poker game before he even goes to see their mother. A high stakes poker contest ensues with Louie funding Alex against his brother. As the stakes go higher, the episode becomes funnier and there is a great performance by Danny DeVito in this episode.
|Father Knows Best "The Christmas Story"|
Christmas episodes were somewhat rare for early 1950s sitcoms but this show had one and a classic one at that. Jim wants an old-fashioned Christmas so he takes his reluctant family up to a cabin in the mountains where they are met by a Santa Claus figure. It's very 1950s but it's done extremely well and very heartwarming.
14. The Office #16 "Christmas Party" (first aired December 6, 2005)
In a cringe-worthy first Christmas episode, Michael turns a game of Secret Santa into Yankee Swap when he doesn't like Phyllis' homemade oven mitt. This is an episode without much redeeming qualities for Michael ("Happy Birthday Jesus, sorry your party's so lame") but it is hilarious and has a great early interaction between Jim and Pam as he gives her a teapot with many inside jokes inside.
13. 8 Simple Rules #12 "All I Want for Christmas" (first aired December 10, 2002)
In a sweet episode, Paul has big plans for a family Christmas but Bridget wants her boyfriend to spend it with them, Kerry is depressed that a stray dog can't find a home, and Rory wants a motorcycle. In the only Christmas episode with John Ritter, it's a great one that features some great moments between Paul and his daughters.
|The Lucy Show "Together for Christmas"|
In a great Christmas episode from the black and white era of the show, Lucy and Viv plan to spend Christmas together with their families. However, they have very opposite traditions and get into a big fight before carolers help them appreciate each other. A great showcase for the brilliant tandem of Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance.
11. Hazel #12 "Hazel's Christmas Shopping" (first aired December 21, 1961)
Hazel takes a job at the department store to make enough money for Christmas presents but she bothers all the customers until she catches a shoplifter. It's a great episode and a look at a bygone era of Christmas busyness.