Christmas Cartoon Tier List
I watch a lot of cartoons, which means I watch a lot of Christmas specials. Here is the completely, scientifically proven tier list.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
This one goes without saying. Much has been written about the Peabody-winning A Charlie Brown Christmas since its debut in 1965, suffice to say that it’s a timeless work of charming humanity. The wonderful soundtrack, the delightful animation, the wry observations of the futility of childhood; it all still works.
The showstopper — Linus stealing the spotlight and reading directly from the Book of Luke — accomplishes the rare feat of being spiritual without being patronizing. For all its pagan influences and secular commercialism, Christmas is still derived from a noble (if imperfect) Judeo-Christian ideal.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
“NO CHILD WANTS TO PLAY WITH A CHARLIE IN THE BOX!”
Rankin-Bass’ prolific holiday output is largely forgettable, but Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer still rules. The jerky puppet animation (mostly done in Japan!) hasn’t lost one iota of peculiar charm, and the songs are all top-notch. And its message for children is a good one; this is a Christmas special that isn’t about giving gifts or Jesus, but rather embracing your unique qualities as an individual.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
As a kid whatever message that the Grinch Who Stole Christmas contained didn’t resonate whatsoever. I was more interested in the funny songs and silly cartoon characters having antics. In that sense, it rules.
Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
Season 1 of The Simpsons looks awfully rough, even as the show continues its last exasperating gasps toward its 30th fucking season. Still, people need to realize how shockingly authentic this cartoon felt in 1989; characters say “damn,” fret about realistic money issues, and generally behave like a real (comically exaggerated) family.
SECRETLY GREAT TIER
A Wish For Wings That Work
Berkley Breathed is one of the most influential newspaper cartoonists of the latter 20th Century, and this Christmas special is fantastic. Apparently Breathed hated it? Whatever — the script is delightfully witty and the animation is top-notch. This special was essentially banished from reruns for damn near a decade, and that’s a shame.
A Pinky & The Brain Christmas
Animaniacs is fondly beloved for reasons that continue to elude me. Yeah, Pinky & The Brain were great, the Warner siblings had some funny bits. But I’d rather scoop out my own scrotum with a melon baller than watch those fucking shitty Mindy & Buttons cartoons, or those stupidass hippos.
The Pinky & The Brain spinoff series (that aired in prime time! It won an Emmy!) was shockingly good for its first season, and this Christmas special was a highlight.
Tendo Family Christmas Scramble
The Ranma 1/2 OVA series (which were dropping intermittently after the TV series was cancelled but while the manga was still running) are mostly pretty good, but some of them — like this Christmas special — broke away from the manga to tell a self-contained story.
Those episodes are pretty mediocre, all told, but the Christmas episode is at least cute. Genma dresses up like a Reindeer!
Oh, and if you watch the dub, please skip the karaoke song. It’s awful.
Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman has some neat animation from Osamu Tezuka’s Mushi Production, and of course Jimmy Durante, but the story here is fucking bogus. Frosty just wants to get a magic hat. That’s bullshit.
A Claymation Christmas
Will Vinton made some pretty neat independent short animated films in the 1980’s, which led to this Christmas special which was run endlessly on every network and cable channel desperate to fill another 30 minutes of Christmas-related cartoons.
Some of the sketches are fine, the wassail song is pretty funny, but God damn there’s a lot of boring and/or creepy bits in here.
Also, the California Raisins suck ass. Fuck off, California Raisins.
ANY STANDALONE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL MADE IN THE 90’s AND BEYOND
The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is a 2005 American/Canadian direct-to-video animated film produced by Classic Media…en.wikipedia.org
The fuck is this shit. These all suck. If there was a good one, I haven’t heard of it.
Merry Christmas! Cartoons have ruined my life.