We have a love-hate with the holiday season when it comes to television.

On the one hand, the holidays can yield incredible episodes of TV -- "The West Wing" had a couple of stellar Christmas episodes, "The O.C." gave us "Chrismukkah" and who can forget The Routine and Ross' leather pants in a couple excellent New Year's episodes of "Friends"?

On the other hand, there's also a well of holiday TV cliches that TV writers just can't help going back to year after year -- so let's count down the Top 5 Christmas cliches and hope that the 2016 offerings steer clear.

Honorable Mention: Decorations

Overdecking the halls has become such a TV cliche that there is now an entire reality show dedicated to it on ABC, "The Great Christmas Light Fight."

But this one only ranks an honorable mention because it seems to pop up strictly on sitcoms and isn't quite as prevalent as some of the other entries.

More on the overcompensating with decorations cliche.

5. Let it snow

Snow tends to appear in holiday episodes in one of two ways -- either people are snowbound somewhere or there's unexpected, "Christmas miracle!" snow.

It also doesn't seem to matter where the show takes place. Even SoCal "Buffy" had the infamous snowfall in Season 3's "Amends," and "The Golden Girls" trapped the ladies home for the holidays with snow. In Miami. Miami, Florida.

More on the Christmas miracle snow cliche.

4. Crazy Santas

On TV, Santa just cannot be the jolly old elf who brings children presents. No, instead he shows up as a criminal ("Growing Pains," "Leverage," "Chuck," et. al.), a drunk ("Married With Children," "SNL"), a pedophile ("Desperate Housewives"), an evil mastermind ("Futurama") and even a corpse ("Bones").

More of the bad Santa cliche.

3. Jail and/or the police

You wouldn't think going to jail would be a holiday TV cliche, but they apparently go together like hand cuffs and orange jumpsuits. This one has been popular for decades -- "Good Times," "227" and "Punky Brewster" all took a turn in the '70s and '80s, but it has also shown up in more recent years with "Psych," "Bones" and "Arrested Development."

More of the jail/police Christmas cliche.

2. Dysfunctional families

Whereas miracle blizzards, con-men Santas and getting arrested fall into the category of "don't happen that often in real life" cliches, the dysfunctional family cliche is used time and again for the very good reason that nearly everyone can relate to it.

Even if your family is mostly top-notch, there has surely been one or two memorably insane holiday seasons. Countless TV shows have gone this route, but special shout-out to "30 Rock" for "Ludachristmas," when Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch) set out to prove Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) family couldn't possibly be as perfect as they seem.

More on the dysfunctional family cliche.

1. Holiday stories

We would not shed one tear if twists on "A Christmas Carol" or "It's a Wonderful Life" never popped up on TV again. They have been done to death, on everything from "American Dad" to "Xena."

Occasionally shows will change up the "classic story retelling" by using "Gift of the Magi" or the actual nativity story from the bible, but "Christmas Carol" and "Wonderful Life" are definitely the two biggies.

More on "Wonderful Life" TV episodes.

More on "Christmas Carol" episodes.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."