‘Friends’ vs ‘How I Met Your Mother’: Which Sit-Com Has the Best Christmas Episodes?

Published 12/03/2023, 3:50 AM EST

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When it comes to sitcoms that encapsulate the camaraderie among those one calls their chosen family, Friends and How I Met Your Mother are the top picks for most. In this cosmos, 90s Friends came as a timeless classic that echoed the themes of a comforting comedy. Meanwhile, How I Met Your Mother is the more modern rom-com with just as many hilarious twists and one less member than the Central Perk’s six. Within these series’, Christmas bells brought with them some episodes filled with holiday frivolity and bonding. 

Here are some comparisons in the approach both shows took when depicting the joy of Christmas. 

The first Christmases in Friends and How I Met Your Mother 

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For the first-ever Christmas episode that Friends offered its viewers, the plot jumped from a pact the sextet made to not bring dates to the introduction of the beloved monkey: Marcel. However, the highlight of the episode came in the face of Joey whose elf attire left Chandler struggling to hold back his sarcasm. Meanwhile, in How I Met Your Mother the holiday season in the second season had a much darker twist in store. 

Well, Lily had turned into the Grinch following a fight with Ted. After nearly bringing the Christmas cheer to a halt with their bickering, the two finally resolved their differences. Besides the make-up session between these two, the episode did not have much to offer in terms of redemption. So, Friends certainly took the cake with its first Christmas special episode. 

Tis the season to be jolly and face your demons

Another way that the holiday season is significant for most is how folks begin to question the events of that year and their actions during it. In Friends’ third season, it all comes to a head as Rachel’s exhaustion from working at the coffeehouse results in her quitting. Meanwhile, Phoebe protests her environmental blues at Joey’s tree-selling gig and eventually wins him over with her ideas. 

Similarly, an episode from How I Met Your Mother’s sixth season that signified the characters’ willingness to turn a new page was False Positive. In it, Ted eventually comes to the rescue by making Lily and Marshall accept their fate of bringing a child into the world. Then, he convinces Robin to pursue her dreams and Barney to cut back on his spending habits. For this category, the CBS show reigned superior over NBC’s Friends

Tearjerker episodes when friends became Christmas heroes

Besides their themes of friendship, one thing that joins together How I Met Your Mother and Friends is the existence of two lovable geeks. While Ross served this purpose in Friends, Marshall carries this title in the former. Both these characters were once responsible for uplifting a downtrodden friend in a Christmas episode. In Marshall’s case, season 4 brought with it the opportunity to save Robin’s Christmas in the Little Minnesota episode. 

Well, he ultimately succeeded in giving his home-sick friend a Canada-themed Christmas. Parallely, Ross who ‘almost’ got entangled with Phoebe once, won over everybody’s hearts by making her childhood dream come true when he gifted her the bike she always wanted. Truly, not one eye was left dry. However, since this touching scene was only a sub-plot of that Christmas episode from Friends, the CBS series did a better job at ticking this category. 

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Holiday-driven romance takes center stage 

While Friends did not really serve up any romance-centric episodes amidst all ‘the ones’ from the holiday season, How I Met Your Mother delivered a spectacular sequence from Christmas for those who love ‘love’. In its eighth season, the CBS series brought Barney and Robin’s love into the limelight in the Christmas special episode: The Final Page. When Barney’s spectacular plan to propose is revealed, audiences were left gasping for air.

On the other hand, Friends did not lean towards any dramatic love-filled holiday sequences throughout its ten seasons. The closest the show came to portraying some Christmas romance was in The One With the Creepy Holiday Card from season 8. Well, Rachel had finally started to size up Joey as a potential love interest to the joy of some fans and the dismay of many. So, in the arena of love, the CBS show once again emerges victorious. 

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Friends vs How I Met Your Mother: The Verdict

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With a whopping eleven holiday-themed episodes, Friends definitely had plenty of opportunities to deliver some iconic Christmas episodes like its Thanksgiving ones that fans reminisce about to this day. However, the NBC series only wins in terms of the number game in this category due to a lack of memorable Christmas moments. On the other hand, How I Met Your Mother certainly makes up for the lack of these through its nine-season run. 

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Even with only a total of six Christmas episodes to its name, the CBS show managed to cover the significant themes fans want to see explored, like the ones mentioned above. So, we would lean towards the latter when it comes to picking out the series that won the holiday season. Although when it comes to lighthearted comedy, Friends still reigned supreme in their approach towards their holiday episodes. 

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Do you agree with our verdict? Or do you prefer Friends’ Christmas specials over How I Met Your Mother? Share your answers in the comments. 

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Ibadat Kaur

586 articles

Ibadat Kaur is an entertainment writer at Netflix Junkie. Her love for Narcos & Pedro Pascal is what brought her to the world of entertainment news. She has immense love for historical and investigative documentaries on people and cultural practices.

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