It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, time for TV shows to roll out a fresh batch of Christmas-themed episodes for our viewing pleasure. But which of the many Christmas episodes we’ve enjoyed over the years have stood the test of time to become a true holiday tradition? You tell us. We’ve ranked the most enduring Christmas episodes ever -- along with a few wild cards -- and placed them in a March Madness-style bracket. Over the next two weeks, we’re asking you to vote for your favorite episodes until we get a winner: the undisputed best Christmas episode of all time.
(2) South Park, "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" (aired December 17, 1997)
Well, howwwwwdy ho! This bracket sure feels Christmassy now that “South Park’s” Christmas-loving poo is in Round 2. After surviving a fierce upset bid from “30 Rock” last round (never underestimate the power of Ludachristmas), Mr. Hankey is ready to take on a vintage “ER” Christmas episode… but this isn’t much of a fair fight. “Mr. Hankey” expertly skewers the “Peanuts” holiday specials, and its leading, um, man made such an impression (and left such a trail) that he appeared in several more “South Park” Christmas episodes and inspired a spinoff holiday soundtrack. You can even buy a stuffed Mr. Hankey to put under your Christmas tree! Can you buy a stuffed Anthony Edwards? Not that we’re aware of.
(10) ER, "A Miracle Happens Here" (aired December 14, 1995)
In a Round 1 battle of tearjerking medical dramas, this “ER” installment topped a 2005 holiday offering from “Grey’s Anatomy” in a minor upset. (Chalk that one up to residual Katherine Heigl hatred.) But that’ll probably be as far as “ER” goes in this bracket, because we don’t give it much of a chance of toppling “South Park’s” Mr. Hankey this time around. Carol Hathaway forcing the County General crew to go a-caroling after catching a serious case of Christmas spirit from a Santa-like patient is sweet and all, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to a talking, singing piece of holiday poo. We don’t want to downplay the ovary-igniting power of George Clooney holding a baby wearing a Santa hat, though.
In lieu of a scene from this episode (which we couldn't find for the life of us), enjoy this montage of "ER" Christmas moments:
Which episode deserves to advance to the next round of Mistletoe Madness? Vote in the poll at the top of the page, click here to see the full bracket and vote on other pairings (Round 2 voting ends Friday at 6 PM PT), tweet out your choices using the hashtag #MistletoeMadness, and hit the comments to tell us about all the great Christmas episodes we forgot to include.