15. Scrubs, "My Own Personal Jesus"
The quirky brilliance of Scrubs is how the writers, directors, and actors manage to carefully balance humour and drama. The show's Christmas episode delves into both, following Turk's journey in particular after an especially harrowing Christmas Eve in the E.R. Like the show's best efforts, the episode treads from outright silly to warm and compassionate, as Turk's struggle with faith is matched by Dr Cox's inanity and some killer put-downs from Kelso.
Those seeking a heart-warming conclusion won't be left out; Turk, JD and Eliot's separate stories are eventually joined together by the missing pregnant woman... who naturally ends up giving birth at a nativity scene.
14. Bob's Burgers, "Christmas in the Car"
Remember Duel? The Steven Spielberg movie about the innocent guy who enters into a spot of road rage by a barmy trucker? Bob's Burgers incorporates that basic plot into its Christmas episode. It's a stunningly original piece of festive storytelling that finds the Belcher clan out in the woods hunting down their third tree, following the premature deaths of the first two.
Packed with all the offbeat humour the show is known for, it also boasts a heart-warming - yet not too gooey - centre. The family stick together as a huge truck kitted out like a giant candy cane bears down on them. Who really needs to be in a toasty living room, feasting on festive snacks when the only thing that matters is who you're with? Oh, and keep your eye out for Louise, Gene and Tina's awesome Santa trap, too.
13. Peep Show, "Seasonal Beatings"
Peep Show built its reputation on revealing the cynical inner monologues of its two leads. That brusque and often painfully frank look at Mark and Jez is somehow topped by the Christmas special, when Mark's dad - who doesn't get a voiceover - manages to make things even more awkward.
But that's the star atop the tree. First there's Jez and Mark's squabbling over presents, Jez's "jokes" about the Christmas dinner and Mark's explosive responses. By the time the family arrives, the seeds have been sown for a monumental social meltdown. Enter Mr. Corrigan, who belittles Dobby, Mark's girlfriend, over dinner and whinges about the lack of cauliflower... despite the fact it's not seasonal. Everything you love about Peep Show is included. You'll be cringing from start to finish.
12. Parks and Recreation, "Citizen Knope"
It's no secret in the world of Parks and Recreation that Pawnee's most ambitious citizen, Leslie Knope, is also an absolutely amazing gift-giver. You might think you've got this year's Christmas presents sorted, but one look at Leslie's assembly of gifts and you'd be weeping. Hence, the Citizen Knope episode puts a festive spin on her generosity by allowing the rest of the gang - Ron, April, Tom, Donna and Andy - to pay it forward.
With Leslie off work following a sex scandal incident, and desperate to be involved in local government in some way she starts a citizens action group, the Parks Committee of Pawnee ("... or PCP. Because like the drug PCP, we are so fast-acting and powerful we should be illegal.") She also loses the two staffers helping her campaign for city council. While it seems all doom and gloom for the Knope, her friends rally around and make her the best gift ever and give themselves as her new workers. There won't be a dry eye on the couch for this one. Funny as heck, and it'll give you all the feels.
11. Veronica Mars, "An Echolls Family Christmas"
Life for Veronica Mars is seldom carefree and Christmas is no exception. Neptune's teenage detective pushes through a holiday fraught with the typical trappings of her job; celebrity stalkers and illegal poker games. Apart from a light smattering of fake snow, dappling the Californian carolers out and about, the episode keeps its focus on the usual noirish thrills.
While Veronica attempts to uncover the truth behind a poker game's winnings - and completely slays at the game, to boot - her dad is tasked with protecting a celebrity. It wouldn't be the same show if things didn't get dark, and so the final stabbing might be just what you need to counter the sentimentality of the season.
10. Grimm, "12 Days of Krampus"
For a fantasy series built loosely around Grimm's fairy tales, it was only a matter of time before ole' Krampus showed up. While a chunk of the episode spends its time dealing with European creatures - aka, wesen as the show refers to them - the seasonal lore kicks off with Nick and Hank investigating a bunch of robberies.
The episode opens on a couple of kids pinching a car-load of Christmas presents. Krampus represents the moral conscience of society - albeit rather violently - and teaches both of the thieving youngsters a lesson. Yeah, it's a bit harsh when he slices 'em up and chucks them into a sack, but it's doubtful they'll ever be naughty again.
9. 30 Rock, "Ludachristmas"
Whenever Liz Lemon's eyes roll back in her head, and she lets out an exhausted sigh, it's usually a good indicator that Tracy and Jenna are trying to dupe someone more clueless than they are. Ludachristmas finds Lemon dealing with a different strife; the meddlesome ways of Jack's mother Colleen. The pride of Liz's parents, evidenced by their wide-eyed awe on the set of the 'Who Farted?' sketch, comes tumbling down at a seasonal dinner with the Donaghys. Their first real shouting match is the perfect Christmas present from Colleen to her son, proof that every family is dysfunctional. Which... is even more dysfunctional.
or the rest of the TGS staff Kenneth teaches them the true meaning of Christmas by screening a video of third world orphans joyously unwrapping blocks of wood. The lesson learned? Chopping down the Rockefeller tree in lieu of gifts.
8. Futurama, "Xmas Story"
In the future Santa is a four-ton robot created by The Friendly Robot Company, an evil corporation whose sole ambition is to rule the world with an iron, capitalist fist. A perfect allegory for the commercialism of Christmas, then.
Of all the far-out wackiness seen on Futurama transforming a well-loved iconic figure into a terrifying emblem of fear is a masterstroke. A glitch in Santa's programming causes his traditional judgement of "naughty or nice?" to be taken far too literally; he thinks everyone needs to be punished. Robot Santa spends Christmas Eve cruising the skies in his robotic sleigh, mowing down innocent bystanders with his machine gun. Only when Fry offers him an exotic bird as a bribe does he holster his weapon. And even then he's reticent to stop his spree.
7. Community, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
One of the finest ever stop-motion episodes of any series revolves around the Greendale Community Gang's most pop culture-savvy member. Abed's crises surrounding the holiday forces his study group buddies to see the world as he does: via stop-motion animation. As Christmas delusions go, it's far and away the most entertaining, with Abed's friends doing whatever they can to "control" his psychotic slip.
Pterodactyls, a boxset of Lost... they try it all, but eventually come to their senses as Abed explains to them, The meaning of Christmas is the idea that Christmas has meaning. And it can mean whatever we want." In this case it means supporting your loved ones, no matter how parodical it gets.
6. Supernatural, "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
As the series has progressed Supernatural leans more on the sibling dynamic between Sam and Dean, whose relationship often yields the most satisfying episodes. This Christmassy story hails from season two when their true bond had yet to be excavated, offering a hint of what the future had in store. And back then it wasn't too rosy for Dean, whose days were numbered after making a deal with a demon. Still, that doesn't mean the bad guys don't need takin' out.
A couple of Pagan gods sucking up people through their chimneys to devour their souls take up most of the storyline - and it's a lot of fun - with the sweetest moment arriving via flashback. Alone in a motel waiting for their dad to return from a demon hunt, the two brothers exchange gifts. Determined to make sure little brother has an awesome Christmas, Dean steals him a Barbie. Sam then gives Dean an amulet he'd been saving for their dad. That's the spirit, boys.