8. The Simpsons: Holidays of future Past
It may be a controversial pick, but who isn’t a sucker for stories that take place when Bart and Lisa are grown-ups. This Christmas episode has both Bart and Lisa dealing with the mistakes they’ve made with their children, and their romantic lives, and is also the sharpest the show has been in over a decade.
7. Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Community was always an ambitious show, and Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas is slap bang in the middle of that ambition. It can’t beat the paintball trilogy, but this Christmas episode dives deep in to fan favourite Abed’s imagination to tell a story, narrated by the wonderful John Oliver, of how friends are also family.
6. The X Files: How the Ghosts Stole Christmas
This season six, also known as the last good season, episode has Mulder and Scully investigate a house supposedly haunted by a couple who died there on Christmas Eve. A much lighter tone, and some really great twists make this one of the shows most heart-warming and strange episodes. It also proves that Mulder is a bit of a sad case, yet again.
5. 30 Rock: Christmas Special
Considering 30 Rock’s talent for deconstructing TV tropes, Christmas Special is business as usual in that it’s absolutely brilliant. 30 Rock knows that there is joy to be had in basking in other peoples failures. That’s why Jack and his mother are always a highlight, but here Elaine’s sacrifices for her son serve to bring the two closer, even if it’s only for Christmas.
4. Black Mirror: White Christmas
Not all Christmas episodes are heartfelt and fun, some are downright disturbing. Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall star in perhaps the show’s darkest episode. In Black Mirror Christmas isn’t always a happy time, it’s a time in which the darkness creeps up all the easier. A must watch for anyone tired of Christmas cheer.
3. Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
Doctor Who’s Christmas episodes are hit and miss at the best of times, but there is no arguing with the quality of Matt Smith and Steven Moffat’s first seasonal outing. Whether it’s the flying sharks, Smith’s new-found ease in the role, and a brilliant performance from Michael Gambon, A Christmas Carol is not only the best Christmas episode, it’s one of the best episodes the show has ever done.
2. Lost: The Constant
Lost is a disappointing show, but it is hard to deny the sheer entertainment value of Desmond’s episodes. As the character that got most of the show’s crazier plots, The Constant has Desmond trapped in a loop of his own memories, like a cut-up version of A Christmas Carol. It takes the power of his true love Penny, in a particularly Christmasy memory to save the Scottish wonder.
1. Parks and Recreation: Citizen Knope
Parks and Rec is one of the 21st Century’s most heart-warming comedies, so it should come as no surprise that Leslie Knope and co excel at Christmas episodes. If we can only pick one, it has to be Citizen Knope as Leslie’s campaign for City Council is saved by her friends.