11 cartoon Christmas specials you forgot existed until now

There are a lot of traditions that come along with the holidays. Eating too much, spending too much, drinking too much, saying too much to that family member you hate once drunk, decorating too much. Anything that ends with us hating ourselves come New Year”s? We are all over it like ornament glitter on GODDAMN EVERYTHING. 

For decades, one tradition that has taken root is gathering around the light of the television to watch Christmas specials. As such, certain ones have risen to the top of our frenetic desire to CHRISTMAS HARDER. Anything claymation from the 1960s (Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus), the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and somehow the California Raisins are among the most instantly recognized animated holiday shows.

But they”re far from the only ones. Below, I”ve collected several of the more obscure bursts of nostalgia available for your pleasure on YouTube. Sadly, both The Flintstones and Jetsons Christmas specials are behind a Warner Bros. paywall because they are a hybrid of a Grinch and a Scrooge.

Felicitations of the season!

#1 – “The Smurfs Christmas Special”
There are some elements of classic fairy tales in this special. And not the happiness and light Disney version. We”ve got a trapped elderly grandpa, kids almost getting eaten by wolves, kids almost dying in the snow, and kids getting kidnapped by Gargamel to use as currency in an evil exchange. Oh, the Smurfs are in there somewhere, too.

#2 – “The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite”
A story within a story, this is basically some teacher buying time until Christmas break by regaling her students with “The Nutcracker Suite” with the Care Bears shoehorned in to keep their attention. For some reason, in this version the evil rats are led by an evil caricature of a Vizier, because reasons? Head”s up, this one is split into 6-parts because the YouTube gods are cruel.

#3 – “He-Man & She-Ra”s Christmas Special”
Of course they don”t have Christmas in Eternia! Don”t be ridiculous. Orko merely accidentally shot the Sky Spy so far off course that it rocketed out of the atmosphere and crash landed on Earth. Then He-Man and She-Ra accidentally teleport human children and their Christmas tree back to Eternia and shenanigans ensue. Duh.

#4 – “Mister Magoo”s Christmas Carol”
Just what it says on the tin. Charles Dickens” classic tale recast with a cranky, lovable, legally blind old man.

#5 – “Super Mario World: The Night Before Cave Christmas”
Just like everything else in the Mushroom Kingdom, this episode sounds like it was conceived while the writers were ON shrooms. Despite it being mid-August, Mario is going to throw a Christmas celebration to make the cave people start being nice to one another. Because everyone is nice at the holidays, obviously.

#6 – “Raggedy Ann & Andy”s Great Christmas Caper”
Why the hell is ACME is Santa”s subcontractor? And why is Wile E. Coyote masquerading as Alexander Graham Wolf? And why does he want to perform a hostile takeover of Santa”s gig? And why are Raggedy Ann & Andy the only ones who can stop him? These questions and more will definitely not be answered if you watch.

#7 – “For Better or For Worse: A Christmas Angel”
Other than a bit of magic if you squint near the end, this is probably the most accurate portrayal of spending the holidays with family ever put to animation. Brace yourself, it”s about to get super real.

#8 – “Wacky 12 Days of Christmas”
There”s only so much you can do with perennial Christmas song “The 12 Days of Christmas” and apparently one of those things is a comedy of errors involving a crossword puzzle and a depressed princess. Seriously. Watch out, YouTube gods have smited this special, and it”s split into three parts.

#9 – “The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree”
Following in the hallowed footsteps of the “bumbling husband” trope, Papa Bear disregards logic and common sense. Instead of getting a tree from a lot, he bundles the kids into the car and heads into the mountains ahead of a snow storm. Sigh.

#10 – “Ziggy”s Gift”
There is almost something darkly psychedelic about this special. Ziggy takes a job as a Street Santa from a highly suspect character, yet manages to bring joy to the world despite broken clockwork angels, nightmare-fuel store Santas, and a bumbling cop.


#11 – “Peace On Earth”
Nothing says “holiday cheer” like a post-apocalyptic world devoid of human life.