See if you remember these 10 Christmas specials from the 1980s

Pac-Man, the Chipmunks, Garfield and soulful raisins all celebrated the season.

Images, clockwise from left: The Everett Collection, Hanna-Barbera, CBS

Nothing says Christmas like singing raisins and glow-in-the-dark larvae. Well, at least in the Eighties. Television networks aired holiday specials inspired by the popular toys, video games, newspaper comic strips and even commercials of the era. Which is how you ended up with Pac-Man meeting St. Nick and Hasbro dolls saving Santa.

There were some more serious live-action affairs based on the classics, too. 

Take a trip backwards in time through some overlooked Christmas specials from the '80s. Do you remember watching these?

1. A Garfield Christmas Special



The lasagna-loving feline begins his Christmas carol singing the praises of presents and precious gems. (Lou Rawls was singing, too.) A trip to the Arbuckle farm — inspired by creator Jim Davis' own Christmas past in Indiana — taught Garfield the true meaning of the holiday. Typically bundled alongside A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Garfield Christmas Special aired on CBS up until about the turn of the millennium.

Image: DHX Media

2. A Claymation Christmas Celebration



The California Raisins went from dried fruit mascot to collectible toy to pop-culture sensation. This special, which premiered on the same night as A Garfield Christmas, saw the singing, stop-motion Raisins performing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but the segment most likely remembered was a clever "Carol of the Bells" played by the bells themselves, whacking their noggins with mallets. 

Image: CBS

3. Babes in Toyland



The made-for-TV movie gathered an unlikely assortment of talent — in hindsight, at least. Drew Barrymore, hot off cinematic horror hits Firestarter and Cat's Eye, starred in this retelling of the traditional operetta. Oh, and it had Keanu Reeves, in one of his earliest lead roles, not to mention a scary cyclops bird monster that sticks in our memories/nightmares. These budding stars were under the direction of Clive Donner, who had helmed Woody Allen's What's New Pussycat? (1965) and The Nude Bomb (1980), the Get Smart movie. Oh, he also directed the film two spots below…

Image: The Everett Collection

4. The GLO Friends Save Christmas



A hot Christmas present at the time — perhaps you remember the stuffed green larvae with little sleeping caps — the popular Glo Worm dolls got a Christmas special, which led to a regular cartoon series, that aired as a segment in My Little Pony. In this Yuletide tale, a witch named Blanche (perhaps someone at Hasbro disliked The Golden Girls?) locks Santa in a cage of ice.

Image: Hasbro

5. A Christmas Carol



If you can play Patton, you can play Scrooge. George C. Scott starred as the "Bah, Humbug!" icon in this umpteenth retelling of the Dickens classic, that actually stays remarkably true to the source material.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. Christmas Comes to Pac-Land



It ain't exactly Charles Dickens, but it was at least animated by the pros at Hanna-Barbera. Marty Ingels, a sitcom legend who had starred in I'm Dickens, He's Fenster with John Astin back in 1962, voiced the yellow arcade hero.

Image: Hanna-Barbera

7. Ziggy's Gift



Ziggy, the little bald comic strip character known for his misfortunes, helped those less fortunate in his charming cartoon special. Written by the character's creator Tom Wilson, the first and only Ziggy special saw Ziggy and his pooch Fuzz play Santa on the street to raise money for the poor. Ziggy may never speak, but there was delightful music from Harry Nilsson. The special won an Emmy.

Image: ABC / Universal Press Syndicate

8. A Chipmunk Christmas



Alvin, Simon and Theodore first celebrated Christmas way back in 1958, when the high-pitched novelty song "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts and garnered three Grammys. (That really all happened.) Surprisingly, it took 23 years to turn that pop success into an animated special, a decade after the death of Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian. Chuck Jones, the brilliant Looney Tunes cartoonist, crafted this special for NBC.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. B.C.: A Special Christmas



Yep, another special from the pages of the newspaper funnies. These cavemen beat Ziggy and Garfield to Christmas special status. It's easy to forget how huge B.C. was at the time. Arby's even sold collectible B.C. glasses in 1981.

Image: Cinera Productions Limited

10. A Snow White Christmas



We're not in Disneyland anymore. This special was a sequel to the classic fairy tale, and had no relation to the 1937 Disney film, though the Evil Queen looked rather similar. In this tale, the original Snow White is now queen — and mother to a daughter also named Snow White. The young Snow White actually has white hair, because I suppose that name was confusing to kids before?

Image: Filmation

SEE MORE: 9 forgotten cartoon Christmas specials of the 1970s


Roll back the clock for specials from Bugs, Casper and Family Circus. READ MORE

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timothys71 5 months ago
The 1984 George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol is my 2nd favorite of the numerous film adaptations that have been made over the years. I remember watching it when it originally aired on CBS in 1984. I believe it was actually released theatrically in the UK. Plus, IMHO it has one of the best movie theme songs ever written.
DiscountInferno 5 months ago
I didn’t see Ziggy’s Gift until I reached adulthood, and it actually brought me to tears. Really worth checking out on YouTube, even for a crusty old Gen Xer like me lol
MichaelVegas 17 months ago
I use to LOVE BC and I remember seeing this show
idkwut2use 53 months ago
LOOOVE Garfield & The Chipmunks. And California Raisins and Gloworms (hope we still have our little plastic ones somewhere...) I've also seen the Ziggy and a few others.
Lillyrose 54 months ago
I never saw any of these Christmas specials. The 60’s Christmas specials were great— A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, etc.
dave 54 months ago
Does Anyone remember Yogi's first Christmas. I remember seeing it in the 80's
RobCertSDSCascap dave 54 months ago
Yes, I have it on DVD. One of my favorites!
RobCertSDSCascap 54 months ago
#1- Grandma steals the show. From torching Jon's brother on the piano to
bragging about her rock-hard abs and challenging him to punch them!
Lucyneenah19701 65 months ago
I hope that I can see the Family Circus Christmas Special someday. Maybe Metv will air it?
That would be cool if MeTV could get their hands on some of those Christmas specials that are rarely seen today and run a block of them.
Lucyneenah19701 66 months ago
The only Chrismash special that I've seen on the list is A Christmas Carol.'
A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite. But I think that came out in 1965.
NoahBody 66 months ago
I only vaguely remember " A Chistmas Carol" with George C. Scott I grew up in the early seventies so my brain was pretty fried by the 1980's !!!!!
DIGGER1 66 months ago
I do remember the one entitled "Christmas Comes To Pac-Land(1983)". I loved that "Pac-Man Adventures" show when it was on T.V., and this Christmas special taking place in Pac-Land was also groovy to me.

And I also like the "A Snow White Christmas" special that was made in 1980, even with the small differences, like the fact that, instead of the dwarves, there were the "Seven Friendly Giants" that helped the little girl named "Snow White", who was being pursued by the Wicked Queen.

And of course, there's the 1981 "A Chipmunk Christmas", or at least I hope it's the one that I recall. The one where Alvin gives his trusty "Golden Harmonica" to a sick boy, but then has to raise some money to buy another one for himself so that he can perform a harmonica solo in a Christmas Eve Festival, and do it without letting David Seville know that he gave away his old harmonica. That is something that I would love to see again.

I've heard of the 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol", with George C. Scott as Ebenezzer Scrooge. I'm a big fan of Mr. Scott, but sadly, I've never cared for this version of the classic story. I'm more into the '1938' version with Reginald Owen, the '1951' version with Alastair Sim, the '1999' version that made and shown on the T.N.T. Network and starred Patrick Stewart, known to all of us as Jean-Luc Picard from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". And there was an American version of the story made in 1979, and starred Henry Winkler. And of course, I like all the cartoon versions of the story, including the one made about ten years ago, with Jim Carrey playing not only the role of Scrooge, but of the Christmas Ghosts that visit Scrooge to try and reform him. Now that one was definitely a work of genius to say the least.

And finally, and it is with the deepest of humilities that I must say that I don't recall any of the other shows mentioned in this story. Although I do remember these characters from seeing them in the Funny papers and from watching them on T.V., I wasn't aware that Christmas specials were made with them in them, I'm sorry to say. But, now that I am aware of this information, I will do my very best to keep my eyes out for them with the hope that they with air again on T.V. in the near future, along with the previous ones that I had just talked about earlier.

I hope that you all will get a real kick out of what I posted here today. In fact, I would appreciate it if any of you would kindly respond to this post A.S.A.P., and give me some feedback on what you think of it, okey-dokey? Meanwhile, you all take care and have a nice day, and before I forget...

oneofthesedays1 DIGGER1 66 months ago
I enjoyed your comment, and strangely agreed with your review of all the versions of A Christmas Carol. Patrick Stewart does not get the credit he deserves for this movie, but I believe he deserves to be listed with Owen and Sim. Now Winkler was just plain fun and creative for me.
DIGGER1 oneofthesedays1 66 months ago
(As 'Latka' from "Taxi"): THENK YOU VERY MUCH!" LOL!
MrsPhilHarris DIGGER1 66 months ago
Love the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. Reginald Owen was pretty good too.
jeopardyhead DIGGER1 29 months ago
I wasn't going to say anything, but since you asked for replies: The plural of "dwarf" is "dwarfs."
We all have our own preferences, but my personal top 4 adaptations of A Christmas Carol are:
4) Patrick Stewart (1999)
3) Albert Finney (1970)--MeTV showed that one a couple of years ago
2) George C. Scott (1984)
1) Alistair Sim (1951)
MaryMitch 66 months ago
I used to love "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol"
Lacey MaryMitch 66 months ago
That was NOT in the 1980s, but I TOTALLY agree with you. I have it on DVD and it is as traditional in my family as The Charlie Brown Christmas.
DIGGER1 MaryMitch 66 months ago
Yeah, I loved that show, too.
MrsPhilHarris MaryMitch 66 months ago
Love Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol.
DawnGraham 66 months ago
I remember Chipmunk Christmas & I still watch the George C. Scott Christmas Carol
MrsPhilHarris 66 months ago
I only remember A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as well.
Barry22 66 months ago
The only one I remember was the George C. Scott one, which was pretty good. A couple of week ago SyFy channel was showing the He-Man, She-Ra Xmas special. Good Lord.
dave Barry22 39 months ago
I have the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas on dvd
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