We open with Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley) telling Richie (Ron Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran) that they will celebrate Christmas Eve together with only family members invited. They ask if it’s okay to have a friend or two over, Howard says no.
The Cunninghams are putting up Christmas decorations, including a (creepy looking) robotic Santa in their front yard. The Santabot isn’t working properly and keeps hitting Richie in the head, they’re upset that the Santabot won’t be working on Christmas Eve.
Richie's older brother Chuck (Randolph Roberts) has returned home for Christmas. Chuck is trying to put lights on the tree, but like the Santabot, the lights aren't working.
Richie meets up with Ralph & Potsie (Donny Most and Anson Williams, respectively) at Arnolds. Fonzie (Henry Winkler) shows up with gifts for everyone. Potsie has nothing to give the Fonze, but invites him to spend Christmas Eve with his family. Fonzie declines and says he's spending Christmas with his cousin in Waukesha. He tells of all the presents and elaborate dinner plans await him in Waukesha. Richie & the gang are a little skeptical about Fonzie's Holiday plans.
At Howard’s hardware store, the company Christmas party is ending, so he and Richie close up and plan to drive home. But their car breaks down, so Richie calls Fonzie to ask if he can fix it. Fonzie tows the car to his garage and repairs it, delaying his “bus” to Waukesha, so Howard offers him a ride as payment for the repair. He declines and says goodnight to the Cunninghams. As they're about to leave, Richie realizes he forgot to give Fonzie his Christmas present. He opens the door sees and Fonzie opening a can of food; it’s obvious he’s not going anywhere and will be spending Christmas alone. Fonzie doesn’t notice Richie, so he walks back to the car, not wanting to hurt Fonzie's pride.
Howard and Richie return home to trim their tree with their family. Marion (Marion Ross) has popped popcorn for stringing. Unfortunately the lights aren’t working. Chuck tries to fix the lights again, they still don't work, but everyone is satisfied with the tree. Richie is feeling bad for Fonzie, so he and Howard go visit him to give him the present. Richie also wants to ask Fonzie to join the Cunningham family Holiday celebration. Can they convince Fonzie to spend Christmas with them, or will his own pride and stubbornness force him to spend Christmas alone?
J.A. Morris says:
When I was kid growing up in the 70s, I was a big fan of Happy days, but I've found the series hasn't aged well since then. But "Guess Who's Coming To Christmas" is a very good Christmas episode. It shows that spending Christmas alone is a painful prospect for anyone, including people as cool as Fonzie. And I can relate to Richie and Howard here, sometimes it's difficult to offer help to a friend or family member without offending them.
One thing that makes this an interesting episode is Fonzie's voice. Henry Winkler hadn't perfected it yet, so his voice is a bit higher-pitched than the one we knew and loved.
Fans of TV trivia will be interested to know this was the last appearance of Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days. The character was never mentioned again and eventually written out of existence. Because of this, there's a TV Trope known as Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
This episode can be found on the "Happy Days-The Complete Second Season" dvd set, and also streams on Hulu.
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