This list was originally published in 2019. It’s been updated to include more episodes. Lucky you.
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday unlike any other. While the core meaning of a lot of Christian holidays is lost over time, giving way to feasts of capitalism and overindulging, St. Patrick’s Day has kinda always been a little about that. Historically, one aspect of the celebrations was that the Lent restrictions on alcohol would be lifted for the day. Now, many revelers take that to the furthest degree, spending the day wearing green, drinking themselves into oblivion, and not spending too much time thinking about Saint Patrick or the meaning of Irish identity. Its closest relative is Halloween, another holiday rooted in tomfoolery and chaos that unites and divides us in equal measure.
These days, the meaning of the holiday is that chaos. But if you’d rather watch the wild antics from afar than head to your local Irish pub and drain it of cheap shots while wearing a clip-on ginger beard, we’ve got your solution — 11 of the best St. Patrick’s Day TV episodes, many of which feature a lot of chaos, magic, and hedonism to enjoy vicariously.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun” (Season 11, Episode 8)
Naturally, bar episodes are pretty high on the list for St. Paddy’s Day specials. Despite its bar’s namesake, somehow Sunny got to season 11 before having a special based on the holiday. In an otherwise pretty weak season, “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun” makes the most of Charlie’s endearing childlike curiosity and gullibility while Dennis tries to streamline the bar with a booze-selling wagon. After a man is caught pickpocketing, he tells Charlie he’s a leprechaun and Charlie believes him; setting glue traps to catch him, and going on a wild goose chase all over town with Mac to track him. Leaning into the more magical, whimsical aspects of the holiday, this episode sees the gang at their best instead of relying on tired tropes of drunkenness.
Bob’s Burgers, “Flat-Top O’ the Morning to Ya” (Season 10, Episode 16)
Bob’s Burgers loves a holiday episode, but this is the first and only dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day. Here Linda and Teddy get a little too in the festive spirit. It starts innocently enough with an Irish-themed breakfast, but Bob is keen to keep things classy (and not green) in the restaurant. While Bob goes on his own side quest, Linda and Teddy egg each other on, starting out with dyeing some beer green and moving on to coloring … everything — ketchup, mustard, fries, burgers. But their enthusiasm doesn’t quite rub off on the customers, who’d rather not chow down green meat. In the end, they take it to the streets, bringing back all the drunk and hungry revelers to eat as many on-theme burgers as their hearts desire.
The Afterparty, “High School” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Innovative murder-mystery comedy The Afterparty sees a group of ex-classmates under suspicion for the murder of an old friend at the after-party of a high-school reunion. Everyone is a suspect, and there’s a lot of buildup to finding out what happened at a fateful St. Patrick’s Day party 15 years prior — especially when Chelsea (Ilana Glazer) makes a mysterious reference to an incident that made the entire school ostracize her. Diving into St. Patrick’s Day 2006, we see Walt (Jamie Demetriou) observing everything from his fly-on-the-wall-position at a house rager straight out of a teen movie: early-aughts fashion choices, lots of alcohol, and a painful reminder of the horrors of the high-school rumor mill. Bonus points if you can spot Walt lurking in the background of every shot.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch, “Salem, the Boy” (Season 3, Episode 17)
For right or wrong, we associate St. Patrick’s Day and Irish culture with magic, gold, and leprechauns. A couple of the shows on this list are about witches, and that’s by no coincidence. In “Salem, the Boy,” Sabrina the Teenage Witch leans into that association, with Roland returning as a leprechaun. He gives Sabrina three golden coupons that grant her wishes; which, as we know, never goes well. She turns Salem into a man, but his essence is placed into a boy at school, leading to his attempts to take over the world. It’s a silly, fun episode with no real stakes but lots of ridiculousness and capers all round — perfect for the holiday.
How I Met Your Mother, “No Tomorrow” (Season 3, Episode 12)
In “No Tomorrow,” the How I Met Your Mother gang leans into the green hedonism of St Patrick’s Day after attempting to stay at home and have a board-game night. When Barney convinces Ted that the day has no consequences, Ted goes hog wild on behaving badly and finds that his bad deeds actually reward him: For one night only, he can live consequence-free, just like Barney. While Ted doesn’t feel too pleased with himself afterward, there is a lesson in here that every St. Paddy’s Day reveler seems to hope to be true: that your behavior on that night is, if not inconsequential, then forgivable.
Cheers, “Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey” (Season 11, Episode 19)
Naturally, more than one show on this list takes place in a bar. In Cheers, the original bar-based comedy, they took the St Patrick’s Day episode hijinks as far as they could reasonably take them for “Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey.” In the episode, the bar is in an annual battle for sales against Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern — and loses. As in the Sunny episode, the stakes are more about business and pride than having wild, raucous fun — partly because, well, running a bar over St. Patrick’s Day probably isn’t that much fun, but it definitely brings in a lot of money. Catch this episode of Cheers and then spare a thought (and a big tip) for your local bartender if you go out this weekend.
30 Rock, “St Patrick’s Day” (Season 6, Episode 12)
30 Rock has special episodes for every holiday you could think of, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. Here, Liz’s hatred for the Irish and, in particular, ex-boyfriend Dennis Duffy comes to a head. She attempts to stay inside (with her James Marsden–played boyfriend!) and avoid the revelry — something you might be trying to do, reader, even if it isn’t always possible. When Dennis shows up at her apartment claiming to be married, Liz tries to deal with it, all in her Liz Lemon way. Elsewhere, Jenna and Tracy attempt to host the St Patrick’s Day parade, but fight for lead host. It’s a perfect 30 Rock episode, full of fights, megalomania, and general disdain, all heightened by the holiday.
Charmed, “Lucky Charmed” (Season 5, Episode 17)
Magic is a theme in a few of these episodes, but perhaps none more so than in Charmed. In “Lucky Charmed,” a less fun St. Paddy’s Day episode than others on the list, leprechauns get their turn to be more of a sympathetic force than a tricksy, difficult, troublesome one. A demon is out killing leprechauns and stealing their magic, so the Charmed Ones, as always, step in to help. The girls battle the evil magic and attempt to reverse the leprechauns’ legendary bad luck, proving St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t always have to go as badly as it has in the past.
The Office, “St Patrick’s Day” (Season 6, Episode 19)
Luckily, the holiday falls on a Friday this year, which means those so inclined can work late and still get in a full weekend of partying. Not so in this classic episode of The Office, in which Dunder Mifflin’s employees are all stuck at work after being made to stay later by Jo, which forces them to attempt to leave to head to a nearby bar by taking multiple breaks. They fail. Eventually, Michael is forced to be direct with Jo and tell her he’s letting the employees leave. She relents, and we have a happy ending, as the employees get to enjoy their St. Patrick’s Day in a bar, as it was intended by St. Patrick himself.
Home Improvement, “Desperately Seeking Willow” (Season 7, Episode 19)
St. Patrick’s Day should be a time for hedonism and letting loose, but in this Home Improvement episode, Wilson’s visiting niece, Willow, has a bit too much fun, failing to return home from the club and scaring everyone into sending out a search party. Meanwhile, there’s a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Tool Time. It’s a holiday episode within a holiday episode — Tim and Al wear lots of green, the set is dressed in Guinness merch, there’s Irish-themed improvement projects, and Tim opens with an attempt at an offensive limerick. It’s an episode that proves that all you really need to celebrate holiday (even on a Tuesday) is to get into the spirit, which might just mean painting your toolbox green. Also don’t get lost.
2 Broke Girls, “And the Kilt Trip” (Season 3, Episode 19)
As with many festive and outgoing holidays, a lot of us more introverted types might find ourselves grudgingly trying to join the fun even if it’s not quite our bag. That’s what happens in 2 Broke Girls’ “And the Kilt Trip” when, seeking to fit in with Max and her other friends, Caroline joins everyone to get crazy at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Surprise: She has a not-so-great time, and instead longs to enjoy her own old holiday traditions at the Plaza Hotel. It’s a lesson to all of us, really, and what we’ve been telling you all along: If you’re not really a party type, stay in, curl up, and just watch loads of TV instead.