If you like your holidays with a little rumination on the human condition, then ‘90s hospital drama Christmas episodes are for you! I’ll openly admit that when it comes to ER , I’m a stalwart supporter of the early years. The Must See TV staple ran for a whopping 15 seasons, but the spirit and the cast of those first few dozen episodes will always stick with me. I’m thinking especially here of ER’s “event” episodes, and holiday stories definitely count in that category. Without fail, holiday episodes of the medical series went extra hard on the emotion and the hospital camaraderie, all in front of a backdrop of twinkle lights and extras in Santa caps. Undoubtedly, the best of all the ER Christmas episodes is “Homeless For The Holidays.”
The tenth episode of Season 3 has everything an ER hour needs to make it to the best-of canon: alternatively wacky and touching cases, a turning point moment for a major character, a returning guest star, and, for good measure, traditional Ukrainian festive garb. Don’t believe me? Here are 19 more reasons why “Homeless For The Holidays” out shines all other ER Christmas episodes.
1. Jeanie Gets In The Spirit With This Gorgeous Winter White Coat
And that brooch! This is how you do winter in Chicago.
2. Mark Comes In With A Gift For His Daughter & A Gift For The Toy Drive
Dr. Greene is fretting (as usual) about being a good dad. But even in all his indecisiveness over Rachel's gift, he still remembers to bring one for the charity box. Aw.
3. Mark & Kerry Put Their Differences Aside To Present A Hospital Policy For HIV+ Employees
Jeanie's diagnosis presents a conundrum to the administration of County General. Kerry and Mark were often at odds, but they both respect their coworker and are determined to come to a fair and humane decision regarding her workload.
4. Doug Teases Carol About The "Sexy Ukrainian Shepherdess" Outfit Her Mother Makes Her Wear
And he gets away with it, because he's Doug Ross.
5. This Drag Performer Will Give Up Her Christmas Goose Over Her Actual Dead Body
It's never entirely explained why someone who began having chest pains in the middle of a cabaret would continue to hold her holiday bird in a vice grip while receiving treatment, but it's the slice-of-life flair for this episode.
6. A Teenage Kirsten Dunst Shows Up With A Sick Baby
Charlie is a homeless teen who knows Doug from his work in the mobile clinic. She comes to him with a friend's sick child, and of course, he saves the baby's life.
7. This Dog Saves His Owner & Becomes The ER's Mascot For The Day
Some vicious teens lit a drunk man on fire in a park, and his hero dog barked at a cop until he followed him to his master. Dogs are the greatest.
8. Carol Talks To This Patient Through Her Blitzen Sock Puppet
And really enjoys it, as you can tell from her face.
9. Doug Buys Lunch For Charlie & Only Lightly Scolds Her For Stuffing Rolls In Her Pockets
Let me live, Doug.
10. Jeannie Tells Her Coworkers She Is HIV+
Tired of the whispering, the gossip, and being referred to as "employee X," Jeanie reveals her diagnosis.
11. Maggie Sneaks An Abused Woman Out Of The Hospital Right Under Her Husband's Nose
Maggie immediately knows what's happening when the chart belonging to woman with a broken jaw comes with a laundry list of past injuries. With the woman's husband asleep in the waiting room, Maggie rolls the patient outside on a stretcher, puts her in a cab, and gives her the money from the staff's football pool for food and a bus ticket, instantly becoming my hero.
12. Mark Gives Nick The Stray Pup To Rachel & Adorably Bathes Him In A Sink
Can we keep him? Pleeeeassse?
13. But He Slips & Cuts His Head On The Table, So He Asks Jeanie To Stitch Him Up
To prove to Jeanie that his meticulous study of the hospital's legal duty doesn't mean he is afraid of her, Mark handpicks her to administer his stitches.
14. Carter & Keaton Exchange Forbidden Gifts
Benton's intern and Benton's boss are in the middle of a secret relationship that, in some cases, involves hiding behind desks.
15. Benton Brings Carla A Drug Store Poinsettia, But Gets Lucky Anyway
Carla was always a very understanding woman.
16. Doug Brings Charlie To Surprise Carol's Family Christmas
And the aforementioned traditional garment does not disappoint.
The baby's mother kicked Charlie out for seeing to her child, so she needs a place to stay, leading Doug to ask Carol for a favor. She's reluctant at first, but compassion wins out.
17. Mark Arrives To His Ex-Wife's House To See That Rachel Already Got Two Puppies
But Rachel loves Nick as much as she loves her new pure breeds; and Nick gives Mark a present when he bites Rachel's stepfather.
18. Carter & Keaton Share Pillow Talk Over How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Relationship goals, tbh.
19. And Jeanie Puts Her Family Star On Her "Family" Christmas Tree
With her continued employment at County General secured and positive turns taken in her treatment, Jeanie closes the episode by adding some holiday flair to the ER.
"Homeless For The Holidays" is a stand out ER episode that always deserves a rewatch, but especially around this time of year.
Images: Warner Bros Television (20)