Spending your holidays with the Peanuts gang has been an annual tradition since 1965, when A Charlie Brown Christmas brought Charles Schulz's classic comic strip characters to your television screen. That Yuletide favorite proved such a success that it launched an entire franchise of animated specials — 45 in all — that aired on various networks between 1965 and 2011, with the last one airing almost a full decade after the creator's passing. (Schulz died in 2000.)
These days, the Peanuts brand is owned by Apple TV+ and the streaming service has launched its own series of specials aimed at a younger generation, with a movie on the way. For Boomers, Gen-X and millennials alike, though, that original 58-year run remains nostalgic catnip. But do all of those specials deserve the rose-tinted glass treatment? Here's Yahoo Entertainment's official ranking of those 45 Peanuts specials... including a few you almost certainly don't remember.
45. Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown (1981)
Watch and cringe as Charlie Brown goes from lovelorn lonely heart to full-on stalker in this painfully misconceived half-hour. After catching a glimpse of a lovely girl (but not the Little Red-Haired Girl) sitting in the stands at a football game, our hero enlists Linus to help him track her down. Devoid of any humor or charm, Someday You’ll Find Her is the nadir of the Peanuts cartoon series.
44. It’s the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown (2000)
A resoundingly unsuccessful attempt to insert the Peanuts characters into the oft-told fairy tale, It’s the Pied Piper was deemed not ready for primetime, and only saw the light of day on home video. Marred by terrible animation and clumsy storytelling, it’s a lost entry in the Peanuts TV canon that deserves to stay lost.
43. What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown (1978)
Hey kids! Wanna see Snoopy get in touch with his feral side when he’s forcibly enlisted in an Arctic dog sled team? Watch your favorite beagle challenge the other mutts for a piece of meat! See Snoopy viciously attack the pack’s alpha dog! But don’t worry, it all turns out to be a nightmare, so he’s totally fine at the end. Hey, wait... where are you going?
42. It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown (1996)
This remake of the superior Charlie Brown All-Stars — right down to the storyline about Charlie Brown’s team needing new uniforms — also skipped a television airing in favor of a direct-to-home video debut. We're guessing that executives saw the notorious clip of Franklin rapping and realized it wasn't ready for primetime. Or, really, any time of day.
41. It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984)
A blatant example of why Peanuts should never, ever try to be hip and topical, the infamous It’s Flashbeagle special lazily pokes fun at Flashdance and early '80s music videos like Olivia Newton-John’s "Physical," in between randomly organized one-scene gags. The whole thing builds to a surreal climax where Snoopy dances for his life on the disco floor, and then in Sally’s classroom during show-and-tell.
40. Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985)
Snoopy bids farewell to being a bachelor beagle when he proposes to gal-pal Genevieve. But he immediately freaks out about the whole thing, and the special strangely seems to agree with him, ticking off the reasons why being married is a pain for both dogs and, by extension, humans. Moral of the story: Don’t look to Peanuts for marriage advice.
39. A Charlie Brown Celebration (1982)
If an hour-long anthology special airs with no memorable shorts, does it really make a sound? Not in this case, where an utterly generic title sets the stage for the ho-hum collection of cartoons that follow. Far worse Peanuts specials have made it to the airwaves, but few feel as instantly disposable as this one.
38. I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
Tired of begging Snoopy to play with him, little Rerun decides he wants a dog of his own. So Snoopy extends an invitation to his brother Spike to spend some time with the youngest Van Pelt on a trial basis. The special gently tries to put a happy face on this downer ending, but you can’t help but feel bad that Spike came such a long way for a whole lot of nothing.
37. You’re In the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown (1994)
After teaming up with Charlie Brown to compete in a "punt, pass and kick" with a pair of Super Bowl tickets as first prize, the duo is easily creamed by Melody-Melody, the cute girl that Linus flirts with before he realizes she’s a pigskin dynamo. Linus is generally one of the more progressive Peanuts characters, so it’s disappointing to learn that he’s not so open-minded about certain things in life... like losing to a girl.
36. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002)
Another Christmas tale from the Peanuts crew, this one broken up into five segments so that five of the most popular characters — Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Charlie Brown — all get their turn in the spotlight. Made two years after Schulz’s death, this special feels like a leftover doodle rather than a loving tribute to a holiday tradition he created.
35. You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979)
Late to sign up for the annual School Olympics, Charlie Brown pencils his name into the only event that’s still open: the decathlon. That means he’ll have to excel in 10 sports, none of which he’s good at. Enter Peppermint Patty, who promptly puts the would-be Olympian — as well as back-up competitors Snoopy and Marcie — through a strict training regimen in a forgettable half-hour.
34. A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002)
The only distinctive element of this latter-day special is its radically different depiction of the Little Red-Haired Girl, who has curly red hair instead of the straight flowing locks glimpsed in earlier installments. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, as Charlie Brown pines for his crush, while Peppermint Patty and Marcie unsuccessfully compete for his attention instead of recognizing their own chemistry.
33. It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977)
The Little Red-Haired girl gets a face and a name: Heather. She also gets a peck on the cheek from Charlie Brown, a significant victory for a kid who rarely wins anything. But that historic accomplishment comes at the tail end of an episode that’s otherwise given over to a tedious football game where the "missing the kick" gag is repeated a whopping three times.
32. Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986)
While his pals are ringing in 1986, Charlie Brown is stuck at home reading War and Peace for a book report. By the time he gets to the party, midnight is long gone, as is his favorite crush, the Little Red-Haired Girl, though she made sure to share a dance with Linus before she left. If that sounds familiar, that's because the storyline was borrowed for 2015's The Peanuts Movie... and frankly it was more effective there.
31. Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011)
Grandparents just don’t understand. Especially Linus’s grandmother, who decides it’s well past time for her grandson to kick the blanket habit. But Lucy, Charlie Brown and Snoopy decide to get the jump on Granny Van Pelt, implementing their own blanket-swiping schemes. Overseen by an all-new creative team, the last of the original cycle of Peanuts specials faithfully tries to recreate the look and tone of the franchise’s '60s-era past. Ultimately, though, it suffers from too much imitation and not enough invention.
30. Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971)
Schroeder finally gets some love... and not just from Lucy, for a change. The Beethoven-in-training is pushed out of his classical music comfort zone when he agrees to join a rock ensemble consisting of Charlie Brown on guitar, Snoopy on bass and Pig-Pen on drums. While it’s always nice for a supporting player to get his turn in the spotlight, this special suggests that Schroeder is a better back-up player than frontman.
29. Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown (1980)
Snoopy experiences life as a circus beagle when he’s inadvertently dog-napped and becomes the big top’s resident high-wire unicycle act. He also receives a crash course in the joys and heartbreaks that accompany falling in love in a mildly amusing, but mostly disposable trip to the Big Top.
28. It’s Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Twenty-seven years and 35 specials after the inaugural Charlie Brown Christmas, Peanuts returns to the Yuletide well for a sequel consisting of material adapted directly from the comic strip. The best part comes towards the end, when Sally yells, “Hockey stick!” during the school pageant instead of “Hark!” and a Harold Angel (as opposed to a herald angel) later rings the doorbell.
27. He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown (2006)
Good ol' Charlie Brown stands up to a summer camp bully, while Marcie displays an uncharacteristic bullying streak as well, mercilessly teasing a stuck-at-home Peppermint Patty about all the up close and personal time she’s getting with Charles. Not cool making one of our favorite characters look bad, guys.
26. You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975)
After years of falling short of victory on the baseball diamond, Charlie Brown finally finishes first... in a motocross race? In this uncharacteristically optimistic — but decidedly middle of the road — special, Chuck and his beat-up old motorcycle emerge from a disastrous pre-race crash to vroom steady and true, while his competitors flame out. But his triumph inevitably proves short-lived; the next day, he’s back to being beaned by baseballs.
25. It Was My Best Birthday Ever, Charlie Brown (1997)
In between lengthy rollerblading sequences, Linus stumbles upon a mysterious girl in a hidden garden and inviting her to his birthday party. On the big day, everyone else shows up, but her... until she appears out of thin air in a 1920s-style car and hands him a rose. Is she a ghost? A hallucination? A Time Lord? The answer remains elusive, but we kind of want to rewatch the whole thing to search for the clues to this offbeat mystery.
24. It’s a Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974)
Snoopy channels Sherlock Holmes to solve the case of what happened to Woodstock’s mysteriously vanished nest. Contrary to what the title implies, this wisp of an episode doesn’t really offer much of a mystery, but it does permit the interspecies buddies to bicker and bond for our modest amusement.
23. Snoopy!!! The Musical (1988)
Within the musical theater realm, the common consensus is that 1975’s Snoopy!!! The Musical falls short of its predecessor, 1967’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. But the two animated specials derived from these stage productions are mostly on par. Jauntily animated sequences scored to cute ditties like “Edgar Allen Poe” and “Just One Person” make it a worthy successor and fun family fare in its own right.
22. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1985)
Clark Gesner’s ever-popular Peanuts musical, which made its Off-Broadway debut in 1967 and is regularly revived to this day, is adapted into the animated realm in an abridged version. Fortunately, it retains many of the show’s best tunes, most notably “The Book Report,” a four-part melody in which Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and Charlie Brown can be heard trying (and failing) to compose a 100-word dissertation on Peter Rabbit.
21. Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown (2003)
Charlie Brown teaches Lucy to respect his managerial authori-tah by booting her from the baseball team she doesn’t care about anyway, and drafting Marcie. But the switcheroo proves remarkably unsuccessful at healing his fragile psyche or, for that matter, helping the team win any games. Traded is filled with just enough great Lucy moments to propel it out of the minors, but not all the way into the big leagues.
20. It’s the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown (1988)
The strangest Peanuts special of all-time is a live action and animation hybrid that depicts the friendship that blossoms between Snoopy’s cartoon brother Spike and aspiring flesh-and-blood professional dancer Jenny, played by Charles Schulz’s daughter Jill. Long unavailable on physical media but findable online, it's a fascinating curio for Peanuts completists.
19. There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (1973)
While on a school trip to the art museum, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty and Marcie get separated from the group and accidentally tour a supermarket instead. But the real story here is the simmering romantic tension between Patty and Chuck, which only the perpetually-wise Marcie seems to pick up on. Points for finally addressing that relationship, even if it happens under bizarre circumstances.
18. It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)
A trial run for the 1977 animated feature Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, Short Summer packs the Peanuts gang off to summer camp, where the boys and girls are pitted against each other in a variety of challenges. Faced with a clean sweep by the girls’ team, Snoopy suits up as the Masked Marvel and goes elbow-to-elbow with Lucy in the climactic arm wrestling competition. Race for Your Life is a better summer camp story overall, but the Snoopy vs. Lucy face-off here is another amusing entry in that that never-ending rivalry.
17. He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968)
Snoopy gets a crash course in obedience training courtesy of Peppermint Patty, who turns her temporary houseguest into a full-time servant. The Patty-Snoopy dynamic has long been one of Peanuts’ best running gags, and this special gives it an entertaining showcase. It’s also nice to see the self-absorbed beagle learn to appreciate how good he has it with Charlie Brown.
16. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976)
The Peanuts crew uses one of the more random holidays as an excuse to do another fun baseball-related special. Hijacking Linus’s plans to instruct Sally in the environmentally conscious ways of Arbor Day, Lucy encourages the duo to turn Charlie Brown’s beloved baseball field into an arboretum in advance of their Opening Day game against Peppermint Patty. At first, all of the freshly planted greenery creates annoying obstacles, but then Mother Nature works her magic by helping the eternally unlucky team (almost) nab their first victory.
15. Why, Charlie Brown, Why? (1990)
Surgeon General’s Warning: Watching this special might be hazardous to your emotional health. When Linus’s good friend Janice goes home from school with a fever, he has no idea that the next time he sees her will be in the hospital where the little girl casually mentions that she’s got the Big C. Schulz treats her illness with earnest respect, using Linus as young viewers’ surrogate to understanding what Janice is going through. Kids will learn a lot, but their parents might need a big hug afterwards.
14. She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown (1980)
Premiering two days after the conclusion of the 1980 Winter Olympics, She’s a Good Skate sends Peppermint Patty onto the ice to compete in a figure-skating competition under the tutelage of her coach, Snoopy. As for Charlie Brown, he’s merely an observer, cheering Patty on from the stands. Maybe that’s why this special boasts what’s arguably the happiest ending of any Peanuts cartoon. Just because Charlie Brown never wins doesn’t mean he can’t delight in his friends’ victories.
13. It’s Magic, Charlie Brown (1981)
Think Charlie Brown never kicked that football? Think again. The momentous event occurs midway through Magic, when Charlie Brown’s shoe connects with the football’s pigskin hide not just once, but multiple times. Turns out that he’s been rendered invisible courtesy of amateur magician Snoopy, and when the magic wears off he’s back to his old losing ways. Still, this special is a winner for finally giving us the football kick we've been craving.
12. You’re in Love, Charlie Brown (1967)
The Little Red-Haired Girl makes her first (non) appearance in the Peanuts cartoon universe, and Charlie Brown spends the entire school year agonizing about how to talk to his crush. Meanwhile, Lucy continues to try and tear Schroeder’s attention away from his toy piano, leading to the episode’s funniest sequence where Peppermint Patty gets her couples confused, and plays matchmaker between Lucy and... Charlie Brown? No disrespect to the Little Red-Haired Girl, but that’s the love story we’d like to see told.
11. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
At Peppermint Patty’s urging, Charlie Brown and Snoopy team up to make a Turkey Day feast with toast, jelly beans and popcorn as the main courses. While Thanksgiving is arguably the weakest of the Big Three Peanuts holiday specials, it's still a seasonal favorite for a reason. And, for the record, jelly beans and popcorn sounds like the perfect snack.
10. What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (1980)
Conceived as a sequel to the fourth Peanuts animated feature, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, What Have We Learned starts with Charlie Brown, Linus, Marcie, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy returning from the sojourn in France. But the special changes gears midway through when the characters spend a night camping out on Omaha Beach, where the Allies’ D-Day invasion launched. A WWII veteran himself, Schulz pushes beyond rah-rah jingoism to end on a mournful note, with Linus repeating the titular question to Charlie Brown while they stand on a former battlefield now filled with red poppies. It’s heavy material for a children’s cartoon, and it also may be the most personal Peanuts story Schulz ever told.
9. Snoopy’s Reunion (1991)
Alternate title? Beagle Begins. Opening with Snoopy’s birth at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm — joining a litter of seven other brothers and sisters — the special presents the slow break-up of the family as each puppy is adopted... and, in Snoopy’s case, adopted twice. Typically, the sight of smiling boys and girls cuddling warm puppies inspires similarly warm feelings, but these adoptions really tug at the heartstrings. Of course, that helps make the climactic reunion amongst the grown-up pup siblings all the more satisfying.
8. Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
Poor Linus has his own Charlie Brown moment when he tries and fails to express his affection for his teacher Ms. Othmar. I think we can all agree that few things are funnier than watching an angry Linus hurling chocolates off a bridge while shouting, “This is for Elizabeth Barrett Browning!"
7. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)
The highlight of this Easter-themed special isn’t everyone’s favorite beagle slinging colorful eggs about with cheerful abandon while doing his patented “Snoopy Dance.” It’s Marcie’s repeated hard-boiled egg fails, as she prepares those shelled protein bombs in every which way but the correct one. It’s a great runny... um, make that running gag that showcases the appeal of one of Peanuts’ funniest characters.
6. You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)
Airing nine days before the 1972 presidential election, You’re Not Elected is a political lesson in microcosm, one that neatly touches on the cronyism and compromise often inherent in the democratic process. Using the results of a highly unscientific schoolyard straw poll, Lucy launches a “Linus for Student Body President” movement that sweeps the blanket-carrying politician into office, even after a “Great Pumpkin” gaffe almost derails his bid. And even though he runs as a rabble-rousing outsider, Linus inevitably becomes part of the establishment.
5. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars (1966)
Charlie Brown’s perpetual losing streak finally pushes the members of his baseball team to their breaking point, and he only wins them back with the promise of new uniforms. The on-field antics are tragically comic: Former Little Leaguers might feel a lump in their throat as Charlie Brown’s failures stir up memories of their own tough losses. Stepping up to the plate as the first of many baseball-themed specials to follow, Charlie Brown’s All-Stars hits a home run.
4. Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? (1983)
Among Schulz’s many skills was an innate ability to break down complex emotions in funny-yet-serious ways that always made sense to children. That gift is on full display in Is This Goodbye, which beautifully distills the process of saying farewell to a friend — in this case Linus and Lucy, who discover they're moving away — into an emotionally resonant half-hour. Of course, the move is inevitably undone since Linus and Lucy can’t ever really leave the Peanuts universe. But even a fake-out ending doesn’t erase the special’s bittersweet bite.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A Charlie Brown Christmas is the A New Hope of the Peanuts franchise, and just like that foundational Star Wars movie, it's since been surpassed by certain sequels. At the same time, its own distinct charms haven’t faded in the five decades since its premiere. The best thing about the special is that it expertly translates the tone and humor of the comic strip to the television screen, giving every special that came after a high bar to meet.
2. It’s An Adventure Charlie Brown (1983)
Some of the highlights of this terrific hour-long anthology include "Kite," where Charlie Brown takes a bite out of that infernal kite eating tree and then has to go on the lam to avoid being caught by the EPA, and "Butterfly," in which Marcie convinces Peppermint Patty that the butterfly that temporarily perched on her nose has transformed into an angel. But the best of the bunch has to be "Sack," which finds Charlie Brown achieving new heights of popularity after he puts a brown grocery sack over his noggin to hide a baseball-esque rash. It’s a classic Charlie Brown tale, and boasts one of the franchise’s funniest punchlines.
1. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Not only the all-time best Peanuts animated special, but also the all-time best Halloween cartoon, Great Pumpkin is as delightful as getting full-sized candy bars in your trick-or-treat bag. From Linus’s desperate wait in the pumpkin patch (accompanied by an increasingly irate Sally), to Charlie Brown’s hol-ey ghost costume to Snoopy’s first televised air duel with the Red Baron, it’s packed with classic moments that make it endlessly rewatchable.
This post was originally published on Nov. 28, 2015. It has been updated.