As the holidays approach, it’s easy to get swept into our normal “Christmas movie routines” where we rewatch Home Alone, Elf, The Grinch, and all the other usual suspects. This year, maybe take your pick of some of the best Christmas-themed episodes of your favorite genre shows to celebrate your holiday cheer! From aliens, demons, and ghosts to superheroes, spies, and Santa Claus himself, there’s a little something here for everyone.
1. Smallville – “Lexmas” (Season 5, Episode 9)
With a spin on holiday classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, Smallville outdid itself with “Lexmas.” After Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) is shot, he experiences a “glimpse” of what his life could be: marital bliss with Lana (Kristen Kreuk). Though sadly, he doesn’t embrace it. But don’t let Lex’s Scroogish spirit damper yours, Clark (Tom Welling) spends the episode delivering presents to underprivileged children and saving Santa (Kenneth Welsh). If that doesn’t prove that the Christmas spirit is still alive and well, nothing will!
Best Christmas Moment: When Lex has to explain to Lana just why he had to get the biggest Christmas tree in the lot, their budget be damned. It may be the happiest we’ve ever seen Lex.
2. Supernatural – “A Very Supernatural Christmas” (Season 3, Episode 8)
Nothing says Christmas more than Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) taking on some pagan gods during the holiday season. As the Winchesters celebrate their possibly (though definitely not) last Christmas, the weight of Dean’s demon deal weighs heavy on them. As Dean tries to convince Sam to celebrate Christmas, the festivities take hold of them. While it’s certainly “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” that doesn’t mean there isn’t any holiday spirit to go around. Plus, hearing the Winchesters try to sing “Silent Night” is pretty hilarious.
Best Christmas Moment: The brother’s final moments together as they celebrate Christmas. It’s a very Sam and Dean way to celebrate the holidays and we love it.
3. The X-Files – “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (Season 6, Episode 6)
On Christmas Eve, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) decide to investigate a house in Maryland that is haunted by the ghosts of two lovers. These ghosts, played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, have spent the past century tempting lovers to their deaths, and Mulder and Scully are no exception. As the specters manipulate the pair into trying to kill one another, their bond can break any ghostly illusion. These ghosts may try to steal Christmas from our favorite FBI agents, but Mulder and Scully prove stronger still.
Best Christmas Moment: The agents decide to exchange Christmas gifts after all, even after ruining all of Scully’s holiday plans.
4. Chuck – “Chuck Versus Santa Claus” (Season 2, Episode 11)
With Zachary Levi back in the limelight, it’s time to revisit Chuck’s first Christmas-themed episode, which saw the Buy More invaded by a Fulcrum in order to draw Chuck out. Between the employees’ hilarious attempt at a coup, Casey (Adam Baldwin) cutting his fingers, and that final scene where Chuck witnesses a murder, this holiday episode is intense. “Versus Santa Claus” is great though, and brings Chuck and his family closer together while also keeping him and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) apart, at least for a little while longer.
Best Christmas Moment: Chuck’s heartfelt gift to Sarah. It’s thoughtful and beautiful in the best of ways. There’s nothing like it.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Amends” (Season 3, Episode 10)
“Amends” sees Angel (David Boreanaz) haunted by the ghosts of those he killed as Angelus as they attempt to convince him to kill himself. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) gets wind of the First Evil’s plan and does her best to stop him. As Angel struggles with his humanity, the First does its best to drive him mad, reminding him of each an every failure. But as Buffy fights for Angel’s life, she reminds him that everyone has the “power to do good” and “make amends.” It’s sweet in a very Christmas way.
Best Christmas Moment: Buffy and Angel walking through Sunnydale as it snows for the first time ever.
6. Doctor Who – “A Christmas Carol” (Episode 213)
Of course, Doctor Who’s take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a must-see. As the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) tirelessly works to save Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), the calloused heart of the miserable Scrooge stand-in Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon) begins to thaw. While Dickens’ Carol is the clear basis for this episode, it takes its own wild creative liberties as the Doctor plays with Kazran’s history in real-time, attempting to change the man’s hardened heart by appealing directly to his younger self (Laurence Belcher).
Best Christmas Moment: When the Doctor introduces the young Kazran to his older self, warning him of the heartless old man he would become before reuniting him with his beloved Abigail (Katherine Jenkins). It’s chilling, heartwarming, and vital to the saving of Christmas.
7. Millennium – “Midnight of the Century” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Millennium’s version of a Christmas episode turns out to be a deeply personal look at Frank Black’s (Lance Henriksen) childhood, and one of the greatest character studies in the series. Another in the spirit of Dickens, “Midnight of the Century” sees Frank confront his past on a dark Christmas Eve. Visions of fetches, aka spirits of the soon-to-be-departed, and angels force Frank to reunite with his estranged father (Darren McGavin) during his quest to get his daughter Jordan (Brittney Tiplady) the right Christmas present.
Best Christmas Moment: When Frank shows his father Jordan’s angel drawing, only to learn that it matches his mother’s exactly. It’s emotional, but perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Christmas.
8. Roswell – “A Roswell Christmas Carol” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Another ghostly Christmas classic, “A Roswell Christmas Carol” plays heavily with the constant moral dilemmas that Max (Jason Behr) and the “Royal Four” face daily. After failing to save a man (John Littlefield) who died in front of him, Max is haunted by his ghost, who encourages Max to use his abilities to heal those around him. As Liz (Shiri Appleby) reminds Max that he isn’t God, she also convinces him to save the young children at a Pheonix hospital who desperately need a miracle. It’s a really great episode that perfectly encapsulates the season.
Best Christmas Moment: Max’s final moments with John’s ghost, who tells him that the best place to be on Christmas is with those who you love most. It’s sweet in every way.
9. Grimm – “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” (Season 4, Episode 7)
Grimm isn’t exactly the easiest series to break into, but “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” is a lot of fun. It follows Portland detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and his fellow Wesen-fighting friends as they battle three little goblins who wreak havoc on Christmas. Nick, Juliet (Bitsie Tulloch), Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), and the others do their best to balance the holiday season with their moral duty. There’s a lot of really fun Christmas-y moments here, but the choir boy goblins take the cake.
Best Christmas Moment: Monroe’s obsession with Christmas decorations is a recurring series gag, but his model train in this episode is probably the coolest part.
10. The Twilight Zone – “The Night of the Meek” (Season 2, Episode 11)
A Twilight Zone classic, “The Night of the Meek” tugs all the right holiday heartstrings just in time for Christmas. The episode follows a down-on-his-luck Santa named Henry Corwin (Art Carney) whose sole Christmas wish is to give to those in need. After stumbling upon a magic bag that gives the exact gift one desires, Corwin’s life is changed for the better as he steps into the role he’s wanted for years. This 25-minute delight will help renew both your Christmas spirit and faith in humanity as you see what goodwill towards all men can do to change one’s life.
Best Christmas Moment: When Corwin’s true wish comes to life at the episode’s end, turning him into the real Santa Claus himself. It’s both unexpected and entirely welcomed.
11. Warehouse 13 – “Secret Santa” (Season 2, Episode 13)
In the second season finale, Warehouse 13 manages to pull all the holiday heartstrings it can in under 40 minutes. Between the reconciliation between Artie (Saul Rubinek) and his father (Judd Hirsch) at the dubious hands of Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka’s (Joanne Kelly) own Christmas quest, there’s a lot going on here. As the artifact in question actually goes back to the Christmas Truce of 1914, the holiday spirit proves resilient as ever. A strange concept, it’s just another day at the Warehouse 13 office.
Best Christmas Moment: The reunion between Artie and his father is probably the most heartfelt as they both turn from their Grinchish ways to make up for their lost time.
12. The Librarians – “…And Santa’s Midnight Run” (Season 1, Episode 4)
A few episodes in and The Librarians dives head-first into Christmas. Here, Guardian Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) and the Librarians-in-training, Stone (Christian Kane), Cassandra (Lindy Booth), and Ezekiel (John Kim), must save Santa (Bruce Campbell) from sudden death. As Baird and Santa set off to find a mistletoe cure, Ezekiel is overcome with the holiday spirit. All the while, Santa shifts through his multiple incarnations (including a drunk Odin), it quickly becomes clear that the avatar of goodwill is a bit more important than Baird thought.
Best Christmas Moment: Baird having to put on Santa’s hat and spread the goodwill of Christmas all across the globe is a powerful moment for her that reminds us what Saint Nick is all about.
13. Arrow – “Year’s End” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Arrow might not be the series you’d expect to have a Christmas-themed episode, but after learning that his family refuses to celebrate the holidays, Oliver (Stephen Amell) decides to host a Christmas party, to mixed results. There’s a lot of drama here, between everybody, but if that isn’t an accurate representation of the holidays, then what is? As the party implodes, Oliver finds himself in a showdown with the Dark Archer (John Barrowman). Although he loses, it actually brings his family together, proving to be the Christmas miracle they all needed.
Best Christmas Moment: Oliver waking up in the hospital only to be surrounded by his family in their last time all together until the end of the season.
14. The Flash – “The Man in the Yellow Suit” (Season 1, Episode 9)
A superhero series to its core, The Flash’s Christmas episode manages to be pretty Christmas-y, no matter how much it ties into the over-arching narrative. Sweet holiday moments between Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton), including a confession of love, are its heartbeat while Barry’s quest to find his mother’s killer, the Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanaugh), forces us to remember what and who are truly important. While the episode might not be entirely Christmas-focused, the holiday season shines through.
Best Christmas Moment: Barry’s return home to meet all his friends and family as they enjoy their “merry little Christmas” together.
15. Batman: The Animated Series – “Christmas with the Joker” (Season 1, Episode 2)
Batman: The Animated Series features one of the best Christmas episodes in television. “Christmas with the Joker” unites Kevin Conroy’s iconic Batman with Mark Hamill’s Joker as the Clown Prince of Crime escapes from Arkham to wreak havoc on Christmas Eve. But the real heart of this one is Robin (Loren Lester), whose countless attempts to get Batman to acknowledge Christmas go unnoticed until the Joker is captured and his hostages set free. After all that, Batman can finally recognize that even Christmas “has its moments.”
Best Christmas Moment: When Batman and Robin finally get to spend their evening watching It’s A Wonderful Life.