The Most Popular TV Episodes & Shows During the Holiday Season

What role does TV play in your holiday traditions? Do you binge-watch Friends after you’ve eaten your weight in turkey? Does your family queue up The Office after you’ve opened presents? What about New Year’s Eve? Are you team action or team sci-fi as you wait for the ball to drop?

As lovers of (and, if we may say so ourselves, experts in) all things TV, the team of USDISH wanted to know which TV episodes are most popular during the holiday season. We also wanted to find the most-googled TV shows during each holiday too—so that’s exactly what we did.  

We found the most popular TV episodes and shows on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, respectively. According to our findings, shows from the ‘90s are all the rage during the holidays.

If you’re team Seinfield, we hate to break it to you: Friends was each state’s most-searched TV show during the holidays, as well as the TV show that boasted the highest number of most popular episodes overall. Right behind Friends is The Office, the second-most popular TV show during the holidays.

We also found that Americans tend to watch longer episodes during Christmas and shorter episodes during Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Read on to see what else we uncovered. 


Interesting Findings

  • According to our findings, Friends is the most popular TV show on Thanksgiving. Of the fifteen episodes that made our list, ten were Friends episodes. Friends had an astronomical budget per episode (some episodes were as high as $10 million). Luckily for NBC, it clearly paid off.  
  • Comedy and romance are hits around Thanksgiving. A whopping fourteen out of the top fifteen episodes are categorized as comedy. Thirteen out of the fifteen TV episodes are also categorized as romance.
  • Apparently Thanksgiving is a perfect time for a little throwback TV. Seven out of the top fifteen episodes aired in the ‘90s, while six aired in the 2000s. 
  • The average running time of all the episodes on our list is twenty-four minutes, which is about how long it takes to make Grandma’s green bean casserole that you never eat each year.


To find the most popular TV episodes on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, we analyzed the top fifteen holiday episodes for each holiday using IMDb data

To qualify for our analysis, each episode had to meet the following criteria: 

  • Contain the keywords “Thanksgiving,” “Christmas,” or “New Year’s Eve,” respectively
  • Be produced between 1990–2020
  • Have over 1,500 IMDb votes 
  • Achieve a rating of 7.5 and above

Once we narrowed down our search, we found each episode’s viewership count using the viewership archive on TV Listings. Then we ranked each episode from most popular to least-popular based on viewership.

To find the most-searched TV show in each state for November, December, and January, respectively, we analyzed Google Trends data. 

StatePopular Shows in November
AlaskaHow I Met Your Mother
ConnecticutThis Is Us
DelawareThis Is Us
District Of ColumbiaThis Is Us
GeorgiaThis Is Us
HawaiiHow I Met Your Mother
IowaThis Is Us
LouisianaThis Is Us
MaineThis Is Us
MarylandThis Is Us
MassachusettsThis Is Us
MississippiThe Big Bang Theory
NevadaThe Big Bang Theory
New HampshireFriends
New JerseyThis Is Us
New MexicoThe Big Bang Theory
New YorkThis Is Us
North CarolinaThis Is Us
North DakotaFriends
PennsylvaniaThis Is Us
Rhode IslandThis Is Us
South CarolinaThis Is Us
South DakotaThe Big Bang Theory
West VirginiaFriends
WisconsinThe Big Bang Theory
WyomingHow I Met Your Mother

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