For almost as long as long as there have been sitcoms, there have been ‘special episodes.’ And for many viewers the classic Christmas Episode of their favorite shows are always the most special. Maybe it’s because it’s a special time of year, which often finds people in a better mood. Or maybe it’s because the writers, actors, and crew put their all into these episodes, knowing how important they are. Regardless of the reason, Christmas episodes always seem to bring out the best in classic sitcoms. In this video, we’re taking a look at some of the top ones from bygone sitcoms. From the Brady Bunch, to Family Matters, and everything in between, stick around, as Facts Verse presents: The Best Sitcom Christmas Episodes of All Time!
The Brady Bunch
Perhaps no list discussing classic sitcoms, especially “special” episodes, would be complete without including this legendary show. Their episode “The Voice Of Christmas” in 1969 is a great example of what you want in a Christmas themed sitcom episode. The show is already about as non-controversial as can be, so if you’re a fan of the Brady Bunch, you probably enjoy it’s sweet and wholesome vibe. And there’s no more saccharine and wholesome episodes than a Christmas one. In this one, Carol loses her voice, potentially ruining her chance to perform in church for a Christmas service. Naturally, Cindy Brady decides the best route to help her out is to get a Christmas miracle from Santa. It’s a charming half hour of TV, and will make you nostalgic for your favorite blended family from the early days of the sitcom.
Happy Days was yet another classic sitcom from the early days of the format that prioritized wholesome, sweet fun. Heck, happy is right there in the title. And because it was a special episode, the Happy Days writers decided they could lean into the emotional content, even at the expense of the usual laughs. But, let’s be honest, having moments of heartwarming emotion is a big part of why people love Christmas episodes. So Happy Days was early on this trend. In the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” which aired in 1974, The Fonz shows a different side of his personality, namely that he can be a little vulnerable. The reason he abandons his usual confidence and bluster is because he isn’t able to go home for the holidays. He tells people he is planning to grab a bus ride out of town, but Richie sees through this ruse. He realizes that Fonzie is left without anywhere to celebrate. So he naturally think to invite Fonzie to his family’s Christmas dinner. However, Mr. Cunningham has instituted a strict policy this year that it’ll only be family attending. It’s a truly heart warming episode, and you’ll likely be smiling (and maybe crying?) more than you’ll be laughing. But for one episode of a sitcom, that’s perfectly okay.
The Bob Newhart Show
You might think that the best Christmas episodes will only happen on sitcoms with big families. After all, a big part of the holidays, especially on TV, are plots about Santa, gifts, and children. So it might seem counter intuitive that a show that centered around a childless couple would either skip Christmas episodes altogether, or make some fairly unmemorable ones. But that wasn’t the case for The Bob Newhart’s episode, “His Busiest Season.” This 1972 Christmas episode was the first for the show, and they chose to take a different angle on the holiday season – namely the topic of how depressed it can make people. It was appropriate because Bob’s character was a psychologist on the show. And beyond helping patients out with seasonal depression, Bob spends time at home with his wife, Emily. The two are able to have a romantic (and funny) time in their apartment, proving that even Christmas episodes without children can be fantastic.
The Andy Griffith Show
The episode of The Andy Griffith Show, called “The Christmas Story” was another example of a show that decided to lean more into emotions than pure laughs. The Andy Griffith Show was yet another of the early shows that prioritized wholesome, clean fun. But it was usually also quite funny. But on this 1960 episode, they took a different approach. Andy and Barney Fife have a goal for the evening, where they want to get all the prisoners in the holding cell out of there, so they can get back home to see their families for Christmas. They nearly accomplish their goal, before one curmudgeonly citizen asks them to arrest a local moonshine maker. They begrudgingly oblige, and arrest him. But to solve the problem of not seeing their families, they decided to move Christmas dinner to inside the jail. The episode puts a big focus on the old, scrooge-like man who called for them to arrest the moonshiner, shining a light on his behavior, which is rooted in a lack of friendship. It’s a great example of the excellent writing and acting that the Andy Griffith show had for years and years.
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show was made up of a slew of incredibly talented actors who had skillsets that exceeded that of a TV sitcom. They all had experience in places like Vaudeville as well as the Broadway stages. So one could argue that the show was tailor made to create a bevy of special episodes, especially Christmas ones. Surprisingly, they didn’t even try to do one until the third season on the air. The episode is called “The Alan Brady Show Presents.”This 1963 gem sees the cast, among other things, line up in the style of the famous Rockette dancers and do a choreographed dance.There honestly isn’t a huge amount of story to this particular episode. It’s a lot of festive singing and dancing, and sketch pieces that are incredibly funny. And the most memorable element is when Dick and Mary Tyler Moore do a dance number in a Santa suit that shows off just how insanely talented the two are. It’s a fun, adorable, and funny Christmas episode.
Let’s move to the 1980’s, where we’ll take a look at the 1988 episode of Full House called
“Our Very First Christmas Show.” It’s kind of a mix of Home Alone and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. That’s because it involves a family traveling on Christmas, and things going a little haywire. The Tanner crew is on their way to have a fun family holiday when their flight gets grounded because of a nasty snowstorm. Most of the episode takes place in the baggage claim area of the airport, where the plane’s passengers are stuck. Spirits begin to dwindle, until John Stamos decides to play the role of crowd inspirer. He gives a classic Hollywood speech that shows everyone the meaning of Christmas, and lifts them up. One passenger, who may or may not be the ‘real’ Santa, is particularly impressed. Of course, it’s Full House, so the episode has its share of cheesy dad-jokes, cute kid interactions, and more. But it’s a feel-good episode that deserves a rewatch.
Family Matters took a cue from Happy Days, choosing to focus on a character who has no one to celebrate Christmas with. The family is all set to celebrate at home, when they discover that, of all people, Steve Urkel is about to spend the holiday by himself. So, they invite him over to celebrate, against their best judgement. And yes, the episode lives up to the usual Family Matters promise, which is that Urkel will cause his own special brand of mayhem and hijinks. But they also take their classic Christmas elements to the max, incorporating, last minute trips to for gifts, some nice caroling, and a revelation that Santa just might be a real dude. It’s a pretty vintage piece of TGIF programming, and fans of this classic genre will adore this episode. Plus, in the vein of most Christmas shows from family oriented programs, there is a heart warming ending, and we all learn about the real meaning of Christmas… aka family.
NewsRadio often gets overlooked when it comes to the all time great sitcoms. And yet, it thrived on the air with a mix of fantastic writing, talented acting, and joke-packed episodes. The death of beloved cast member Phil Hartman meant that the show came to an end earlier than it would have, so maybe that’s part of it. But NewsRadio’s Christmas episode from 1995, called “Xmas Story” was a classic example of why this show is still loved by a lot of people. Unlike a lot of the other shows we’ve been talking about, NewsRadio decided not to go emotional or schmaltzy for their holiday episode. Instead, they jampacked it with jokes and zany plot points, making it just as funny as any of their other classic offerings. Jimmy James, the owner of the station decides to gift Mazda Miata’s to all of the staff. That is, except Matthew, played by Andy Dick. Jimmy gives him a set of cassette tapes of Fibber McGee & Molly, an old radio show. And, also unlike the other episodes we’ve highlighted, this one doesn’t haven’t any overriding lessons, or moments of togetherness. It’s simply hilarious, as Matthew slowly discovered what has happened.
Christmas episodes, even when they are pretty cheesy, are always fun to watch. So it’s no wonder that most sitcoms incorporate at least some form of holiday episode each year.
Now it’s time to hear from you. What is your favorite Christmas episode from a classic TV sitcom? Did any of these from our video make your list? Have you seen any of the ones we talked about? Let us know in the comments section below!