Mistletoe Madness: Our favorite Christmas episodes that didn't make the bracket

This month, we ranked the top 16 Christmas episodes of all time and let you vote for your favorites in our Mistletoe Madness bracket. But even 16 wasn't enough for us. Here, we present the TV version of "stocking stuffers": nine more Christmas episodes that didn't make the bracket, but still give us a healthy dose of holiday cheer.

Futurama, “Xmas Story” (aired December 19, 1999)
According to this animated holiday gem, Christmas Eve looks very different in the year 3000: The citizens of New New York flee the streets at sundown, when a malfunctioning robot Santa Claus (voiced by the great John Goodman) runs rampant, terrorizing anyone it considers “naughty”… which is just about everyone. Meanwhile, Bender gets into the holiday spirit by recruiting a band of homeless robots (including a crutch-wielding “Tinny Tim”) to help him steal stuff. Lots of clever nods to holiday classics here, and Robot Santa was such a hit, they brought him back for two more Christmas episodes. In the words of a nude Professor Farnsworth: Merry Xmas, everyone! — Dave Nemetz

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid” (aired December 19, 1970)
One of TV’s most beloved sitcoms ever gave us one of the most memorable Christmas episodes ever, too. Mary is hoping to spend the holidays with her folks, but gets stuck working in the WJM newsroom on Christmas Day thanks to Mr. Scrooge himself, Lou Grant. No problem for plucky Mary, who switches her plans to spend Christmas Eve with her roomie Rhoda instead… until her co-worker Fred guilt-trips her into taking his Christmas Eve night shift, too. But don’t worry: Her holiday generosity pays off in heartwarming fashion. Lou Grant gruffly debating how much cash to give Mary for Christmas is vintage “MTM.” And get a load of that giant rotisserie oven Rhoda gets Mary! That thing’s probably still running. — Dave Nemetz

The Sopranos, "To Save Us All From Satan's Power" (aired April 29, 2001)
A typically bleak "Sopranos" spin on the winter holidays brings us, via flashbacks, to the moment back in 1995 when Big Pussy Bonpensiero started working with the feds. It's hardly filled with holiday cheer, as Tony's having panic attacks galore, the guys can't find a decent substitute Santa now that Pussy's gone, and Jackie Jr. is inevitably revealing himself as a victim of cranio-rectal inversion. But we meet the infamous Russian for the first time; we're treated to several classic lines (that kid's "F--- you, Santa," followed by an entire room yelling, "Ohhhh!", is a top-ten series moment); and James Gandolfini's nauseated reaction to Tony's gift from Meadow -- a Big Billy Bass toy that, of course, reminds him of Pussy -- is Emmy bait. Rewatch it just for the hair in the flashbacks (a wingless Paulie Walnuts!). — Sarah D. Bunting

(Warning: The foul language in this clip is unbleeped, and not very Christmassy.)


[Related: Vote for the Best Christmas Episode Ever in the Mistletoe Madness Finals]


The Twilight Zone, "The Night of the Meek" (aired December 23, 1960)

Santa's got a brand new bag in this classic "Twilight Zone" episode, as "The Honeymooners" star Art Carney plays dejected drunkard Henry Corwin, who gets fired from his department store Santa gig when he shows up late and soused. But after a heartbreaking speech in which he says he'd like to see "the meek inherit the earth," Henry finds a gift-filled bag, and the bag has the ability to produce anything anyone asks for (even a bottle of vintage liquor that Mr. Dundee, the mean man who fired Henry, wants). Henry distributes gifts to those most in need -- acting as a "moth-eaten Robin Hood," according to Dundee -- until the sack is finally empty. When it's pointed out that he asked for nothing from the bag for himself, Henry replies that all he wants is this… to be able act as a real-life Santa every year, which happens when an elf and reindeers come to fly Henry off to the North Pole. — Kimberly Potts

Little House on the Prairie, "Christmas at Plum Creek" (aired December 25, 1974)
This gem premiered on Christmas night, and there are few holiday TV episodes that capture the real spirit of the season better than the Ingalls family celebration from the first season of "Little House." Everyone had secrets on their minds, but they were the good kind. Charles was making a pair of wagon wheels for Mr. Oleson with plans to use his payment to buy Ma a stove. Mary was working as a seamstress aid so she could make a new shirt for Pa. And Laura was whispering a holiday plan of her own to Mr. Oleson. When it came time for the excited fam to exchange gifts -- and they truly were more excited about what they'd be giving than what they'd be getting -- Ma realized she and Mary had made Charles the same thing. So, of course, Caroline stashed her gift and let Mary proudly present her shirt. And while Charles waited to spring his stove on his wife (hey, it was olden times… appliances were a good gift for a woman back then), Laura pulled off the biggest surprise of all when she gave Caroline a stove, which she'd paid for by selling her beloved horse Bunny to Mr. Oleson. — Kimberly Potts

Clone High, "Snowflake Day: A Very Special Holiday Special" (aired April 13, 2003)
A withering take on political correctness, the "Snowflake Day" episode centers on the Clone-iverse's own unique holiday: Snowflake Day, whose Santa is a pirate named Snowflake Jake and whose special foods include not candy canes or latkes but…spices. Joan of Arc has lost her snowflake spirit, but it's hard to relate to her seasonal depression with the jokes flying so fast – the infomercial for JFK's Snowflake Day hits album (tracks include "Away in a Taco"); Gandhi and Abe's highly dangerous spork knockoff, the knork; and the corn on Principal Scudworth's foot, "Gary," who appears on Scudworth's holiday card. Our favorite part of "Snowflake Day" is the Greeting Card Industry assassins – every time Joan complains about the holidays, a bullet whizzes past her ear – but there's something for everyone. Or…to upset everyone. "Snowflake Day" aired out of order, evidently to spare delicate sensibilities, but we can't tell WHICH element was deemed the offensive one. The squishy sound effects and quarts of blood that attend Abe's struggles with the knork? The Dreidlstein monster in the Snowflake Jake special? Mandy Moore voicing a homeless teen angel living in a dumpster? Hey, Moore didn't seem to mind – and if what you need is a treacle-cutter, "Clone High's" got you covered. — Sarah D. Bunting


[Related: Check Out More Christmas Episodes and Seasonal Specials At Our Holiday TV Hub]


The King of Queens, "Mentalo Case" (aired December 16, 2002)

"The Gift of the Magi" meets a comedy of errors in this less sentimental (but hilarious) holiday entry from the underappreciated CBS comedy. The action begins when Carrie spends a heap of dough on a cruise for dad Arthur. He'd planned to give her a much less extravagant gift (free chopsticks, gift-wrapped), assuming she'd be giving him "another old man cap." But when dogwalker/family friend Holly spills Carrie's secret, Arthur feels compelled to splurge on a leather jacket for Carrie. Doug, meanwhile, has his heart set on buying his beloved childhood toy Mentalo -- a "glorified Magic 8-Ball," according to pal Deacon -- on eBay, until Carrie nixes the toy's steep auction price. So, you know how it ends, right? Carrie buys Doug the Mentalo and Carrie and Arthur each get special gifts from each other? Wrong. A fight over Mentalo, a Mentalo knock-off, and an old man cap ensure that the only one who gets a good surprise on Christmas is Holly. — Kimberly Potts

The Wonder Years, “Christmas” (aired December 14, 1988)
Not many TV shows tugged on our heartstrings on a weekly basis like this 1988-93 flashback sitcom did; Kevin Arnold’s wistful recollections are a perfect fit with Christmastime. This endearingly sappy holiday offering finds Kevin and his big brother Wayne pushing their tight-fisted dad to invest in the cutting edge of late-‘60s technology: a color TV. Plus, Kevin has to scramble when Winnie Cooper buys him a Christmas gift and he didn’t get her anything. Kevin doesn’t end up getting that color TV, and his gift exchange with Winnie doesn’t go the way he planned, either. But the artful mix of nostalgia and melancholy found here gets us feeling all warm and fuzzy every year. — Dave Nemetz

We can’t embed a scene from this episode (although you can find it on Netflix), but enjoy this montage of classic Kevin and Winnie moments, set to the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”:

My So-Called Life, "So-Called Angels" (aired December 22, 1994)
Even fans of the show usually don't care for "So-Called Angels," which competes with "Weekend" for last place on most "MSCL" fave lists, and while we're fond of the ep, the arguments against it make sense. It gets off to a challenging start with a shot of Rickie falling to his knees in the snow and spitting up blood, and strays into PSA territory several times while trying to spotlight the plight of homeless teens. Julianna Hatfield, cast for her singing and the indie name recognition she'd bring, has strange-at-best line readings, and the angel-wing special effect at the end is awful. But all these years later, we still love the beginning of the friendship between Rayanne and Sharon at the teen helpline (we just love Sharon, period), and the unexpected channel that opens between Rickie and Jordan Catalano. And when Patty hugs Rickie in the back of the church, we cry every time. Come for Patty's classic rant about holiday-card politics; stay for the classic Danes Crying™ on offer. (And for the record, "Halloween" is the worst, not "Weekend.") — Sarah D. Bunting



Okay, we've now cited 25 different Christmas episodes in Mistletoe Madness... but did we still forget your favorite? If so, hit the comments below and let us know which Christmas episodes get you into the holiday mood.