You may be vaguely aware that it's the holidays. Christmas music blares from every speaker, every store is full of red and green, and all our TV has been pre-empted with the same old holiday specials. Obviously, some of them are classics, but we've still seem them a 100 times. That's why you need to shut out the world with the greatest in holiday-themed entertainment from other words. Here are 20 TV shows, cartoons and movies so you can have celebrate the holidays the way you want to.
Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Santa Claus"
We start with a Bricken family tradition: the MST-ied version of the insane Mexican Christmas movie where Santa - who lives in heaven with Merlin and unsupervised children of all ethnicities - fights the devil. Well, a devil, admittedly, whose primary mode of evil ranges from convincing little girls to steal dolls to sicc'ing dogs on Santa to strand him in a tree (and then telling the dogs' gun-toting owner there seems to be a burglar on the premises). Pranks are pulled, adorable children's souls are saved, and Santas's sleight is oulls by the most terrifying robotic reindeer you could ever imagine. Fun!
Futurama, "Holiday Val-U-Pak"
There are three Futurama holiday episodes: two focusing the homicidal Robot Santa, and this one, featuring three tales about pine trees overrunning the earth on Xmas, Bender searching for motor oil so fembots can participate in the Robonukah tradition of oil wrestling, and Hermes leading the crew to get space beeswax. Environmental lessons are learned, but more importantly the Planet Express crew die horribly in each one.
A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
There's nothing wrong with A Muppet Christmas Carol, but this It's a Wonderful Life-inspired TV movie - where Kermit wonders what the Muppets would be like if he hadn't been born - is less schmaltzy and more entertainingly weird. Highlights include Scooter dancing in a cage with glowsticks during a rave in which a massive, muscled Beaker is bouncer.
Batman: The Animated Series, "Christmas with the Joker"
Admittedly, this episode is a pretty straight Batman vs. Joker episode, albeit with more Christmas decorations than usual. But it does include an outstanding moment that makes it a must for any nerd's holiday viewing list: After Robin tells Batman even regular criminals take off for Christmas, Batman forces Robin out on patrol with him anyways. Eventually Batman smugly notices a man, running towards a woman in a darkened alley, about to mug her… until Batman realizes the man is simply returning something the woman dropped. Batman looking foolish? It's a Christmas miracle!
Community, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
There have been several stop-motion Christmas parodies since Community aired this 2010 episode, but Community did it best. When Abed has a bigger delusional break than usual and imagines the gang as stop-motion characters inside a Christmas special in his head, the group deals with pterodactyls, Christmas guns and the Lost season 1 DVD set to rescue their friend from his emotional trauma.
Roswell, "A Roswell Christmas Special"
While Isabel "the Christmas Nazi" makes everyone's lives a merry hell with her exacting holiday standards, Max has a spiritual crisis when he lets a father die in a car wreck rather than reveal his secret alien healing power. When the dad starts haunting him, Max must weigh his own safety versus his ability to help others in this thoughtful holiday exploration of giving.
The Venture Bros., "A Very Venture Christmas"
The Monarch plans to blow up the Venture Christmas party through its nativity scene with help from undercover henchman Tiny Joseph, while Hank and Dean accidentally summon Krampus, the German Christmas demon. Honestly, way too few Christmas specials include Krampus.
Doctor Who, "Voyage of the Damned"
When spaceliner unfortunately named the Titanic is sabotaged so that it hits a meteor, the Doctor and guest-star Kylie Minogue must stop it from crashing into the Earth and killing everything on Earth… on Christmas, naturally. There are few holiday disaster movies, but "Voyage" is exciting, moving, and among David Tennant's best Who episodes.
Supernatural, "A Very Supernatural Christmas"
Sam and Dean hunt two disguised Pagan gods who are sucking people up through their chimneys and murdering them, while Dean looks forward to his last Christmas - he made a deal with a demon, long story - while Sam refuses to acknowledge Dean's impending doom. But the real story is a flashback to Sam and Dean's terrible childhoods, as they celebrate Christmas in a motel room waiting for their father to get back from a hunt. Dean steals presents for his brother - it ends up being a Barbie doll - and Sam gives Dean an amulet he had planned to give to their dad. It's equal parts moving and sad.
The Tick, "The Tick Loves Santa!"
After a bank robber disguised as Santa falls into a neon sign gains the improbable power to duplicate himself, Multiple Santa is born! The Santas go on a jolly crime spree, and the Tick must get over his Santa-worship in order to fight the legion of Nicks. Best line: When he's about to be swept away by an avalanche of Santas, the Tick screams, "It's a yuletide!"
Invader Zim, "The Most Horrible Xmas Ever"
Realizing Santa's influence on earth, Zim builds a robotic Santa suit to command Earthlings to build a teleporter to beam all Earthlings to their alien enslavement. After an attempt to disguise himself as an elf fails, Dib receives his own robot suit from his father while Zim's Santa suit is overridden by the holiday spirit and turns into a monster, forcing Dib to "kill" Santa by launching it into space. Contains a very special appearance by Zim as "the Easter Platypus."
The Real Ghostbusters, "Xmas Marks the Spot"
Kudos to The Real Ghostbusters cartoon for taking on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in a way only it could do: After the Ghostbusters actually bust the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, the trio of Ray, Winston and Venkman have to masquerade as the ghosts to un-humbug Ebenezer Scrooge while Egon heads into the containment unit to find the real ghosts.
Lex has a twisted It's a Wonderful Life lesson of his own when, after being mugged, shot and falling into a coma, the ghost of his mother shows him what life would be like if he just left his evil father and Lexcorp. Turns out he'd be married to Lana, have a kid (with another on the way), friends with Clark, and winning a humanitarian award. But after Lana dies on Christmas from complications during childbirth, Lex wakes up from his coma and remains partnered with his father. While Lex chooses money and power, he's also choosing to keep Lana alive, hinting that his path to evil involves a touch of self-sacrifice in this surprisingly moving episode.
Animaniacs, Helloooo Holidays
Honestly, trying to figure out which one of the many Animaniacs holiday episodes was too tough, so my advice is to track down the Helloooo Holidays VHS, which includes all of ‘em - Twas the Day Before Christmas; Little Drummer Warners; The Great Wakkorotti: The Holiday Concert; A Christmas Plotz; Jingle Boo; Yakko's Universe; A Gift of Gold; and Nighty-Night Toons - and watch that (or at least try to recreate the viewing order with your DVDs or YouTube clips).
A Blackadder Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Blackadder is the nicest man in all of England, giving everything he has to charity and the many, many people who take advantage of his kindness. The Spirit of Christmas (played by Robbie Coltrane) arrives to congratulate him on his goodness, showing him his despicable, ruthless, but quite well-off ancestors. But when Ebenezer asks the Spirit what would happen if he became more like his predecessors, the Spirit reluctantly shows him a future where Grand Admiral Blackadder is about to marry Queen Asphyxia XIX and rule the universe. Needless to say, Ebenezer wakes up the next morning determined to be s a complete dick to others.
Justice League, "Comfort and Joy"
Three holiday tales from the DCAU, in which John Stewart and Hawkgirl celebrate the holidays with an alien bar fight, the Flash looks for a toy but runs into Ultra-Humanite, and Superman takes Martian Manhunter to celebrate Christmas with him and the Kents in Smallville. The best part: After the Ultra-Humanite accidentally breaks the toy Flash was looking for, the repentant villain fixes it - substituting its rapping and farting voice chip with a recording of "The Nutcracker Suite." It's the day the evil genius man-ape saved Christmas!
Power Rangers Zeo, "A Season to Remember"
Admittedly, this isn't the deepest of holiday specials, but it's a nice introduction to and celebration of holiday diversity. The evil King Mondo casts a spell to make the Rangers dislike each other, especially their differing holiday traditions - Raymond is Jewish, Tanya celebrates Kwanzaa, Adam's a Buddhist -but it all works out as you might expect. Incidentally, this episode is narrated by an elderly Tommy (the Green Ranger), who is seemingly married to Kat (the Pink Ranger), sparking a hundred fan fics. From one who knows.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force, "Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future"
The titular star of this episode - a strange robot with a duck beak and a penchant for telling truly ridiculous stories [which is saying something, since he's a time-traveling Christmas duck robot] - instantly became a fan favorite character after he fills Carl's pool with elf blood, explains how Santa is an ape named "Sir Santa of Claws" and gets harassed by Glenn Danzig. And who's to say that's not what Christmas is really about?
Doctor Who, "A Christmas Carol"
Got room in your heart for one more "Christmas Carol" adaptation? Then make sure it's this one, arguably the greatest Doctor Who Christmas special ever. When Amy and Rory get stuck on a crashing spaceliner (darn those spaceliners!), the Doctor has to go into the past of the grumpy miser who could fix the ship, but won't, and make him a nicer person. It's a brilliant adaptation of the short story, done with the time travel Who does so well. Also, if you wanted to watch "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe," we wouldn't hold it against you.
Rifftrax, "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny"
For all that the MST3K episode of Santa Claus is weird, it's still noticeably a movie. "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny" is a fever dream with heroin withdrawal, involving Santa's sleigh getting stuck on a Florida beach, a guy in a gorilla suit, Thumbelina, Huckleberry Finn and a man in a dirty rabbit outfit whose link to ice cream is never once discussed. It's divine. You can get the DVD with the Rifftrax included here.
Dishonorable Mention: Star Wars Holiday Special
As io9 readers I'm sure most of know the legend of the Star Wars Holiday Special, and probably more than a few of you have seen it. There's probably a large portion of you who love bad movies/TV shows like I do, and want to see if it lives up to its reputation for wretchedness. As someone who adores both MST3K and Rifftrax, I can tell you plainly: DO NOT SEE THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL. It is not so bad it's good. It is so bad it is considered a war crime in many nations. It's not nostalgically goofy, it's an assault on all things good and decent. It makes Jar Jar look dignified, that's how awful it is. Just… just don't.