The new year is fast approaching and, although you could reflect on another year passed and celebrate with friends, watching some fictional characters countdown to midnight is a pretty good way to get you hyped too.
Christmas-themed sitcom episodes are something of a television staple, with just about every U.S. and UK show cracking out a festive edition. Hey, we even took a look at some of the best here.
While Halloween, Thanksgiving and Xmas tend to be the go to for sitcom specials, NYE gets a little less love on the box, which is a shame.
Even so, a New Year’s Eve setting has also produced some absolute belters from some of our favourite sitcom episodes – after all, with themes of family, togetherness and getting absolutely rat arsed to see in the new year, it’s an event pretty much made for TV comedy.
Here’s eight of the best…
Friends – ‘The One With The Routine’ (1999)
“Happy No Year!” This one got a brief mention in our Christmas-themed sitcoms round-up, but it can actually act as both a Xmas special and a NYE special. You see, although the B-story is about Chandler, Rachel and Phoebe hunting for the Xmas gifts Monica has bought them, it’s the A-plot which everyone remembers from this one.
Monica, Ross, Joey and his new hot dancer flatmate Janine manage to get into the taping for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. The Geller siblings are determined to get themselves on TV, so they decide to crack out ‘the routine’ from their middle school days. Cue one of the funniest moments from the show’s history, as brother and sister crack out their fiercest moves, much to the amusement of the show’s producer.
That ’70s Show – ‘That ’70s Finale’ (2006)
Not only a very well done new year’s eve focused episode, this one was also the last ever episode of That ’70s Show – the sitcom which gave Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher their big break. The show had gone drastically downhill by its eighth season but there’s no denying that the writers and the cast absolutely hit it out of the park at the end to give the beloved show a fitting send-off.
It’s the last day of the Seventies, as the remaining members of the gang gather on December 31, 1979 to welcome in a new decade. Kitty and Red decide not to move to Florida after all, while Michael and Eric return to celebrate the closing moments of the ’70s with their friends and family. Cue a lot of emotion, one final circle between the guys, Michael falling off the watertower one last time, the reunion between Donna and Eric we all wanted, and one last “foot in your ass” from Red. A fitting reflection on all the great years the show gave us.
Peep Show – ‘New Year’s Eve’ (2010)
Anytime there’s a party in Peep Show it usually ends in some form of disaster for Mark and Jeremy (like most things in their lives, come to think of it) but a fancy dress NYE party at Johnson’s pad was never going to end well. Mark is a father now but all he wants to do is find Dobby and sort things out between them, while Jeremy has agreed to move in with his latest girlfriend Zahra. Naturally, things escalate and the two mates, along with Super Hans, end up hopping from party to party.
They check in at one which is too disturbing even for Super Hans, before hitting up Big Suze’s house party and finally ending up at Gerard’s place. Of course, Jeremy quickly becomes infatuated with the Japanese girl Super Hans has picked up on their travels – she can’t speak any English but, hey, she did look at Jez which is enough for him to know she’s interested. By the end, Super Hans is giving Jez a kicking for flirting with the woman he’s decided he loves. Because would this lot ever see in the new year any other way than being pissed off with one another?
How I Met Your Mother – ‘The Limo’ (2005)
An absolute gem from the first season of the show. New York City is considered one of the absolute best cities in the world in which to celebrate New Year’s Eve but HIMYM looked at how it usually ends up being an overhyped mess. Ted rents a limo and the group (Barney especially, with his beloved ‘Get Psyched’ mix) are determined to make it a legendary night hopping from party to party around the city, in an attempt to find their “dream party”.
Naturally, everything goes tits up as the night progresses. The limo gets a flat tyre and then gets stuck in traffic, but at least Ranjit is driving it. Along the way, Marshall and Lily get separated, Ted is very obviously falling for Robin despite being on a date with another woman, and the gang pick up a guy who they think is Moby but he turns out to be a murderous psychopath. You know, just standard NYE stuff. Still, at least Ted and Robin share that kiss at midnight.
The Office U.S. – ‘Ultimatum’ (2011)
The Dunder Mifflin crew’s attempts to see in the new year by sticking to their resolutions is every bit as cringe-worthy as we’d come to expect from Michael Scott and his staff. Michael is focused on the return of Holly and whether she’s stuck to her new year’s resolution to break up with AJ if he didn’t propose – leading to a particularly glorious celebration for him and Erin in his office when he thinks things are finally going his way.
Meanwhile, Pam has created a new year’s resolution board for the office, featuring gems like Kevin vowing to eat more vegetables and Creed resolving to do a cartwheel. Plus, Dwight, Andy and Darryl visit a roller skating rink so Dwight can follow his resolution to “meet loose women”. It’s a reminder to us all that we should try our best to actually follow through with those silly resolutions we make at the start of the year, rather than giving up halfway through January. Because shouldn’t we all live our lives like it’s an art project? No. No, we shouldn’t…
Louie – ‘New Year’s Eve’ (2012)
If you’ve yet to check out Louis CK’s stunning sitcom, which has probably been the best thing on TV in recent years, the Louie NYE special isn’t a bad place to start. In many ways, the holiday season is the perfect fit for the dark comedy, with Xmas and NYE allowing CK to completely unleash the season’s weird, wonderful and melancholic nature. The flashback to Louie’s desperate attempts to fix a doll’s eyes in time to give it to his daughter on Christmas Day is both a hilarious sequence and an all too real depiction of the struggles of being a parent during the holiday season.
Once his kids leave, however, Louie has to deal with the depression of being alone around NYE. Instead of going to visit his sister and her family, however, he makes a snap decision to catch a flight to China, moments after witnessing his ex-girlfriend die right before his eyes. The whole episode is trippy and surreal as fuck, with the episode’s final moments of Louie seeing in the new year alongside a random family in the mountains of Beijing a beautiful ending to a totally unique episode of TV.
Frasier – ‘Rdwrer’ (2000)
NYE definitely didn’t go to plan for Frasier Crane, and the episode focuses on him regaling to Roz his story of his family’s crazy adventure as they attempted to see in the Millennium. After Chez Henri, where they planned to spend the weekend, burned down, Frasier, Niles and their dad are forced into a race against time to try and make it to a wine party in Sun Valley so they can celebrate the start of the year 2000 in style.
Instead, the group end up spending the last moments of 1999 in Martin’s Winnebago, although not before Niles has boarded the wrong vehicle and accidentally stolen it. It’s a reminder of how we all want to make NYE a night to remember but, more often than not, the evening ends up being a total bust. You just have to hope you can cope with your father’s incessant Austin Powers impersonations along the way…
South Park – ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Jesus’ (1999)
Given their bizarre takes on Christmas, it won’t shock you to hear that Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s vision of a new year’s episode is pretty fucking out there. I mean, sure, there’s a sing along to ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and a Rod Stewart NYE concert in Las Vegas, but it also starts with Cartman bleeding out of his anus and ends with the appearance of God in an unexpected form. Because of course it does.
Rather than focus on the themes of family and love like most of the other sitcoms on this list, South Park opted to delve into the absolute hysteria surrounding Y2K and the Millennium Bug. It’s just, in the world of South Park, that manifests itself as everyone getting angry with Jesus and attempting to crucify him again. Oh, and Kenny explodes after he shoves a tampon up his butt. Happy New Year everyone!