There’s much to love when it comes to the hit family sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, especially its delightful holiday specials. Given its history spanning close to a decade, there are plenty of fun – and funny – Thanksgiving and Christmas specials to choose from. Each of these romps is largely distinct, with unique premises and different characters taking center stage.
However, if fans had to choose which one is their favorite, which one would clinch the top spot? What episodes never fail to make the viewers smile? Based on the reviews and scores on IMDb, these appear to be the biggest hit amongst fans.
12 No Thanks (S4, Ep9) – 7.6
The Debra-Marie rivalry often sets the stage for some gags that can be both funny and awkward. Season four’s “No Thanks” reaffirms this with a Thanksgiving-themed plot involving Debra’s new plan to “cope” with Marie’s subtle jabs.
Marie spends the day cooking with Debra, which means that insults and smarmy comments are likely to ensue. This gave Debra an opportunity to try out her new tactics – which is to shrug them off and even respond kindly. But of course, this ends up mostly backfiring on Ray’s scorned wife.
11 Turkey Or Fish (S1, Ep10) – 7.6
Raymond was still somewhat coming into its own during its relatively tame first season. Still, there are a few highlights, such as the breakthrough pilot, as well as this entertaining Turkey Day special. Though technically, this is more of a “Fish Day” special since Debra attempts to kick off a new tradition of making a fish dinner for the extended family.
In typical undercutting, subtly-insulting fashion though, Marie decides to barge in with a turkey, which leads to humorous hijinks as well as family drama. This is further inflamed by a particular mishap with the fish preparation, putting Debra in further distress.
10 Season’s Greetings (S6, Ep12) – 7.8
It seems that even by way of a nice Christmas card, Marie can’t help but get in a couple of disses aimed towards Debra. This episode revolves around a rather controversial Christmas letter from Marie, which not only has unfavorable words for Debra, but also Robert.
What’s ironically intended to paint her family in a good light to others soon has them feeling slighted and self-conscious. It is amusing to see such drama and humorous banter stemming from a casually written letter.
9 The Thought That Counts (S7, Ep11) – 7.8
It’s often the effort, ideas, and intentions that make gift-giving special, more so than the item itself. Yet, in the case of Ray’s Christmas gift to Debra, the idea is not his own, but of his brother Robert – who has a sort of unadmitted fixation on her.
Debra fawns over this gift, causing Ray’s brother to reignite their rivalry at a pretty inappropriate time. He spills the beans in front of both Debra and Amy, establishing the gift was his idea. As one might imagine, both humorous and tense moments ensue from there.
8 All I Want For Christmas (S2, Ep12) – 7.9
Ray and Debra often get cruel, annoying reminders that they live right across the street from Ray’s intrusive parents. A prime example of this frustrating dynamic is season two’s “All I Want for Christmas.”
The two are hosting a Christmas morning celebration, and the family is set to arrive at any minute. This would seem a pretty inopportune time for Ray to get “hot and bothered,” as he prepares to use advice from a woman at work to get Debra in the mood. Wouldn’t you know it? This time he’s successful.
What follows is some awkwardly funny scenes as they look to power through and deal with the already aggravating company of Ray’s parents.
7 The Christmas Picture (S4, Ep11) – 7.9
They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and the humorous photo that closes out this laugher nicely sums up the drama and family clashes in the episode.
There’s a simplicity to this one, which is particularly heavy on the banter and light on set pieces. Most of it centers around Marie’s cherished Christmas picture, which the plot continues to build up to.
But between the presence of Debra’s parents, Ray and Robert’s rivalry, and Debra and Marie’s butting of heads, things get a bit out of control. Ray tries to keep the peace as they debate which family should host Christmas, but things don’t quite work out.
6 Christmas Present (S5, Ep11) – 7.9
If not for Ray’s obnoxious behavior and underhanded ways here, this Christmas special would likely be rated higher. Still, it does make for some genuinely funny moments sure to induce some nervous laughter. In it, Ray decides to get Debra a great present so she’ll agree to let him golf with his friends.
This maneuver ironically causes Ray to get paranoid – as he questions Debra’s motives when getting the awesome gift of a DVD player with some movies. While this episode from 2000 is a touch dated, good comedy has proven to be timeless, and there’s plenty of it to go around in this amusing romp.
5 Fighting In-Laws (S5, Ep9) – 8.1
Raymond has a number of classic moments, one of which comes courtesy of this Thanksgiving special, “Fighting In-Laws.” The parents in question are not Ray’s this time, but Debra’s. Ray happens to overhear some personal details regarding his in-laws; namely that their relationship is struggling and they are going to marriage counseling to patch things up.
Cue the iconic moment from Debra, who gets frustrated by the fact that her parents aren’t quite as flawless as she thought compared to Ray’s. She attempts to angrily storm off while also managing a turkey, setting the stage for wacky slapstick of her fumbling and sliding around with the bird.
4 No Fat (S3, Ep10) – 8.1
Speaking of turkey – how about a gelatinous one made out of tofu? This is the idea that Marie poses during this health-conscious Thanksgiving special.
This imitation bird is supposed to help her and Frank with their high cholesterol, but all it really does is create inevitable drama and amusing quips. This funny, endearing romp is also a rare instance where Marie’s actually fairly sympathetic and likable.
3 The Toaster (S3, Ep12) – 8.1
Despite being anotherChristmas special that revolves around gift-giving, this one stands out with some particularly funny showings from Ray’s quirky parents.
As most fans are aware, these two aren’t always the most receptive when it comes to getting presents from their family. Unfortunately for Ray, this means that his engraved toaster ends up getting returned without even being opened. What follows is some amusing hijinks from Frank and Marie at the department store as they try to relocate the specialized item.
2 Older Women (S6, Ep9) – 8.2
While the holiday themes sort of take a backseat here, that doesn’t stop this season six episode from being entertaining or funny. Debra’s parents get a rare chance to show off their comedy chops here, as the story’s centered around the now-divorced couple, and a woman of a certain age; his new date.
There’s plenty of awkward hilarity – including a hilarious conversation between the Barone men and Debra’s father on the couch as they question the union.
1 The Bird (S8, Ep9) – 8.5
The comedy level is often amped up in the later seasons of Raymond, thanks in part to the inclusion of Amy’s hilarious family. The comedic talents of Fred Willard, Georgia Engel, and Chris Elliott are on full display in this wacky Thanksgiving romp, and the Barones are still at their best.
The episode really plays with the fun rivalry between the Barones and the MacDougalls, who it seems couldn’t be further apart. This is driven home by a humorous portrayal of Ally’s play featuring pilgrims and Native Americans. Tensions are high and banter is plentiful, especially when it’s discovered that Pat has killed a hobbled bird.