The television special is a hallmark for American broadcasts. Whether the network wanted to talk about something "very special" or just wanted to break up their usual line for a bit, specials were treated as an event in television viewing households. And while there are certainly golden gems throughout broadcast history, perhaps none have been as prolific and highly regarded as Charles Schulz' Peanuts specials. Peanuts itself was an American staple from the late 60's to 80's with a franchising and merchandising boom to rival The Simpsons. One could find Charlie Brown and Snoopy plastered on everything in their house and the pet industry was finding an auspicious boom in beagle sales. And while the strips have been worthy of their own acclaim, much of this popularity is due to the propagation and critical success of the series' run on television and film. Even to this day, it's a tradition in some homes to gather around the television set on holidays and watch the Peanuts gang on another adventure. In celebration of the good childhoods gone by and their recent remastering, this list will be going over a few of the most highly rated Peanuts specials (according to IMDb).
10 A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Starting off this list with a major holiday favorite, the Peanuts gang decides to invade Charlie Brown's home for a rousing Thanksgiving dinner. The issues are, he and his sister are already going to their grandma's for Thanksgiving and Charlie Brown doesn't know how to cook anything besides cold cereal and toast. This special is chock full of Peanuts staples: Peppermint Patty talking Chuck Brown into weird situations, Linus coming in with an initially reasonable solution, and everyone's favorite beagle becoming the center of attention. From that comes one of Peanuts' most iconic scenes of Snoopy and Woodstock preparing everyone a Thanksgiving dinner (It's still cold cereal and toast but in style) and the social awkwardness of Charlie Brown having to deal with the situation.
9 There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown
An underrated gem that flew below some people's radar, "There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown" is a fun episode for the gang that explores one of the most over looked relationships and romances in television history: the outspoken, strong headed Peppermint Patty and the ol' wishy washy Charlie Brown. While reports, essays, and exams draw near for the Peanuts gang, Peppermint Patty and Chuck have become incredibly strung out. On the day of the school trip to the art museum, a few of the kids mistakenly enter a supermarket, with Patty and Charlie Brown humorously exploring and studying the wonders of the stores' "pop art." This special is famous for exploring the interesting dynamic between the two, whether it's romantically or just plain personality wise, and introducing Patty's sidekick, Marcie, to the broadcast world.
8 You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
Not every Peanuts special focuses on Charlie Brown or Snoopy. A character famous and distinct in his own right rightly received his fair share of television specials. Linus van Pelt is the best friend of Charlie Brown, known for being his eloquent voice of reason and his strange fixation with his blanket. While he's often on the supporting end of Charlie Brown's exploits, this episode explores one of his own. After Lucy thoroughly discourages Charlie Brown from running for class president, Linus gets roped into doing it. What follows suit is a series of hilarious exploits involving Lucy's personal flavor of campaign management, satire on politics, and Snoopy acting out the fantasy of "Joe Cool."
7 Play It Again, Charlie Brown
It would be hard to find any Peanuts special that didn't feature at least one scene of Lucy hanging around Schroeder practicing piano. And for this entry, the Peanuts gang finds one entirely dedicated to that relationship. Lucy is in love with Schroeder and is always at odds with his artistic sensibilities. Schroeder is indifferent to her and defensive of Beethoven and the arts. When Lucy actually decides to entertain his interests by getting Schroeder a gig at the next PTA meeting, her plan comes falling apart as the gig may force Schroeder to compromise. From here, the special dishes out a fun band practice, Schroeder's odd dedication as a young (a very young) artist, and some potshots at the early boom of spray cans. Even more interestingly, despite, a lot of Peanuts characters being one hit gags, this special explores an odd dynamic to Lucy that is less punchy and more trying and sincere.
6 It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown
This episode hearkens back to the day in most people's youth when teachers would make them write essays about anything. In this instance, Charlie Brown and Linus were to write a 500 word essay on what they did that Summer. In doing so, they reflect on their interesting adventures at Summer camp, as Linus loses out on an easy, stay at home Summer and Charlie Brown starts a war of the sexes that goes as well as one might think. From there, the episode finds a fun series of camp activities, Charlie Brown's foolish soap box speeches, and 500 word essays that didn't get written.
5 He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown
Halfway through, this list finally reaches the character that really made Peanuts less of a comic strip and more of a cartoon. Snoopy was America's favorite beagle during the middle 20th Century, but he wasn't necessarily in the Peanuts gang's. Due to his eccentric nature, the gang pushes Charlie Brown to give his dog more training. And while it would've been nice for Snoopy to actually reach his dog training school, what follows suit is Snoopy's grand adventure of him imagining that he's a soldier on leave in Paris, exploring the country sides of Europe and eating all of Peppermint Patty's food. Spoiler alert: Snoopy learns nothing.
4 You're in Love, Charlie Brown
Another episode of Charlie Brown's romantic woes and social faux pas, "You're in Love, Charlie Brown" features ol' Chuck's quest to confess his love for the elusive "Little Red Haired Girl." People with childhood anxiety beware as this episode is a long series of quiet yet disastrous moments of romantic awkwardness, featuring a love letter being read to the class, Linus' seemingly good intentions, and Charlie Brown being made fun of. The special also features the funny exchange of Peppermint Patty trying to set up Charlie Brown with Lucy.
3 It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
A major, timeless classic, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" brings the viewer back to the days of pumpkin carving, cheap costumes, and that one trick-or-treater getting the short end of the stick. If you're new to Peanuts, just know that kid is always Charlie Brown. This episode is iconic for Charlie Brown's famous "I got a rock." line, and Linus playing the odd role of an overly evangelistic defender of the Great Pumpkin, showing seeds of Charles Schulz' days as a Sunday school teacher. Parodying children's odd eagerness for Christmas and Santa Claus, Linus religiously awaits for Halloween's own mascot to return, as he wastes Sally Brown's time.
2 Charlie Brown's All Stars!
It's no secret to anyone, even people who have never read a Peanuts strip, that Charlie Brown has a certain ineptitude for sports. And while his season exchanges with Lucy and the football are iconic, they haven't exactly encapsulated Charlie Brown's delusions and potency for failure as well as "Charlie Brown's All Stars!" The Peanuts gang are part of the neighborhood baseball team coached by Charlie Brown. They're a little infamous for a large losing streak, and it's discouraged the kids. So much so, that they all decide to quit the team, right before Charlie Brown manages to secure them a sponsor, with uniforms and official league play. While the prestige of this does manage to get the kids back into the game, this special features Charlie Brown's exploits to keep everyone playing despite losing their sponsor at the last minute! This is a special that follows the grand Peanuts formula of stacking everything up so high just to see how hard they hit the floor.
1 A Charlie Brown Christmas
If a person has only seen one Peanuts special, it's probably this one. The Christmas holiday itself practically sets its clock to when "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs; and for many, it's the defining voice and tone for what Peanuts is and represents: Charlie Brown trying and failing to have it all, Linus exploring what it's all about, and, showing a dim light in a darkened world, everyone gives Charlie Brown a little break. This special is filled to the brim with iconic moments: the ice skating scene, the tree and decorating gags, the stage dance scene, and of course the iconic caroling to Charlie Brown's efforts. If there's ever a Peanuts special to watch with the family, it's this one.