Peanuts began as a comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz in 1950. The four-panel strip featured the events of main character Charlie Brown and his friends. The comic proved extremely popular and would later inspire a Christmas-themed animated special in 1965; the success of the special would prompt more specials, shows and movies so far. Peanuts has remained an incredibly influential and beloved creation, both in the comic book and television worlds, with specials that have entertained viewers for generations. Here are the best Peanuts movies and specials, classified.
8/8 The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Peanuts movie information marks Peanuts’ first digital feature film. It follows the characters as Charlie tries more things to get the little red-haired girl’s attention. Despite the ups and downs along the way, it ends on a happy note, with Charlie being praised for his honesty and compassion. Done in digital animation, it might not be the design fans are used to, but it’s still cute and simplistic, capturing the characters well. It’s a loving take on the characters that will delight fans old and new.
7/8 Snoopy, come home! (1972)
A feature film, Snoopy, come home! details Snoopy’s grief leaving Charlie to return to his original landlord, who was forced to abandon him when his apartment didn’t allow dogs. As she is now in the hospital and needs him, Snoopy is forced to return to her. Snoopy’s going away party is one of the most emotional moments in the franchise, as is the scene of his return to Charlie. It’s a sweet film that celebrates Charlie’s beloved dog and his importance to the characters.
6/8 A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
A boy named Charlie Brown is the first feature film with the characters; although a feature film was initially rejected in 1965, it was accepted two years later as Charlie Brown proved popular, according to Our Culture. The film sees Charlie take on the National Spelling Bee, after receiving well wishes from his classmates, and Linus’ cover for luck. He is ironically eliminated for misspelled beagle and climbs into bed in embarrassment. Charlie claims he’ll never do anything again, but Linus, in one of his wisest moments, says the worst has happened and the world keeps spinning. It’s a strong movie with a kind and encouraging lesson about failure.
5/8 Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
One of the most heartbreaking specials, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown sees Charlie and Linus getting run over at a party meant to celebrate love. Linus plans to give his teacher a box of chocolates, only for her to leave with her boyfriend. Charlie fares even worse; he doesn’t get valentines in class and gets a used valentine the next day out of pity, which he accepts despite knowing he shouldn’t. It’s one of the more depressing specials, but there are some great visuals, music, and moments of friendship between Charlie and Linus.
4/8 It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)
It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown focuses on Easter celebrations for the group. As everyone prepares for the holidays, Linus says they don’t need it, because the Easter Beagle will. Despite everyone’s doubts, Snoopy pretends to be the Easter Beagle and hands out eggs. This fun special has big moments for all the characters, like Snoopy buying Woodstock a new birdhouse, and everyone having fun in the mall. There’s also a hilarious sequence when Patty tries to color Easter eggs with Marcie, only to have Marcie mess up in every way imaginable. It’s lighter than the other specials and it’s a fun watch.
3/8 A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving sees Patty invite herself to Charlie’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Unable to tell her he’s going to his grandmother’s, he decides to throw a small dinner party for the group, consisting of toast, popcorn, pretzels, and candy. Linus recites the first Thanksgiving prayer before Patty reacts indignantly to the food. It’s one of the funniest specials, with Snoopy battling a chair and the mess he makes to cook dinner, but it also has the weight of Patty learning her lesson and seeing what’s really Thanksgiving.
2/8 It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Similar to the Easter special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown follows Linus’ quest to stay up on Halloween night and see the Great Pumpkin rise in the pumpkin patch. Despite everyone’s ridicule and disbelief, he skips the trick or treat to wait for the pumpkin, but never sees it. Charlie’s prank or treat night doesn’t go well, as he only gets rocked and teased by everyone at a party. It’s kind of sad, though there’s a good moment where Charlie and Linus sympathize together at the end.
1/8 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
The very first Peanuts special and still the best, A Charlie Brown Christmas follows the characters as they celebrate Christmas. Charlie feels depressed despite the holiday cheer and runs the local Christmas play to cheer himself up. This further depresses him, as he finds everyone acting ridiculous and giving in to the business aspects of Christmas. To combat this, he brings a real Christmas tree to the room. After the others make fun of her small size, they re-evaluate the meaning of Christmas and welcome Charlie and his tree. The Smithsonian Magazine reported that the special was considered risky and likely to fail, but it was well received and remained so. From the colorful animation to the iconic soundtrack to the hopeful sincerity, this is one of the best Christmas shows ever.