“I went down to buy a turkey tree, and all they have are things for Christmas!” exclaims Sally in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. I feel the same way. Thanksgiving all too often gets overlooked or turned into some sort of pre-Christmas extension. Not in my house! From the first day of November through Thanksgiving day, my home is filled with flocks of turkeys, and my kids and watch the Thanksgiving episodes of our favorite television shows.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
At the top of my list of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which is the tenth prime-time animated TV special based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. The episode originally aired on November 20, 1973. I own the DVD version, which I watch over and over again during the month of November. The special follows Charlie Brown on Thanksgiving as he attempts to have two dinners: one with his friends at his house and one with his family at his grandmother’s. The meal that Charlie Brown prepares with help from Linus and Snoopy is less than traditional: ice cream sundaes, two slices of buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jelly beans. Things work out in the end, however, when Charlie Brown’s grandmother invites the entire Peanuts gang to her house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Of all the shows I watch, Friends has the best Thanksgiving episodes. The show aired a Thanksgiving episode for every season but one.
“The One Where Underdog Gets Away” Season 1 Episode 9
Monica plans a lovely, quiet Thanksgiving feast for the gang in her apartment, but her plans go awry. Chandler plans to boycott Thanksgiving because his parents announced their divorce on Thanksgiving when he was younger. The ‘Underdog’ balloon breaks free during the parade and everyone goes to the roof to watch and get locked out of the apartment, meaning dinner gets burned. Thus everyone ends up eating Chandler’s cheese sandwiches for dinner.
“The One with the Football” Season 3 Episode 9
Emotions become the feast of the day when the gang plays a game of touch football on Thanksgiving when Ross and Monica’s competitive streaks flare up. Joey and Chandler argue over who gets to date a Dutch model who is watching the game.
“The One with Chandler in a Box” Season 4 Episode 8
Chandler agrees to spend Thanksgiving in a shipping crate as a punishment from Joey for kissing Kathy. After Monica accidentally gets ice in her eye, she visits a new eye doctor, who turns out to be Richard’s son. She then invites him over for Thanksgiving, which the others find weird. After Kathy visits and breaks up with Chandler due to not wanting to break up a friendship, Joey forgives Chandler and tells him to go after her before she leaves.
“The One with All the Thanksgivings” Season 5 Episode 8
After gorging on the big meal, the friends share their memories of their worst Thanksgivings. Rachel reveals Monica’s worst Thanksgiving, at which Monica accidentally cut off Chandler’s little toe. When Monica tries to get Chandler to forgive her by putting a turkey on her head, he accidentally reveals that he loves her.
“The One Where Ross Got High” Season 6 Episode 9
Joey and Ross try to get out of Thanksgiving dinner after being invited to hang out with Janine, Joey’s new roommate, and her dancer friends. Ross is forced to tell Chandler why his parents, Jack and Judy, do not like him. Rachel attempts to make dessert but makes half an English trifle and half a shepherd’s pie because the pages of her cookbook were stuck together. Monica finally reveals to her parents that she and Chandler are dating.
“The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs” Season 7 Episode 9
Phoebe sneaks a dog into the apartment, forcing Chandler to reveal that he hates dogs. After revealing Tag broke up with his girlfriend and has nowhere to go for Thanksgiving, Rachel invites him over and is hesitant about telling Tag her true feelings. Ross becomes obsessed with naming all fifty states in order to earn his Thanksgiving dinner.
“The One with the Rumor” Season 8 Episode 9
Monica invites an old high school friend, Will, to her Thanksgiving dinner. Rachel finds out that he and Ross started a rumor about Rachel having both male and female reproductive parts during their senior year of high school. Monica reveals that Rachel told the entire school that Ross made out with the middle aged school librarian. Joey tries to eat an entire turkey by himself. Chandler and Phoebe avoid helping Monica by sitting on the couch, pretending to watch a football game.
“The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” Season 9 Episode 8
Rachel’s other sister Amy shows up and stays for Thanksgiving Dinner. With her arrival comes a big fight starts over who will get Emma if Rachel and Ross died. Meanwhile, Monica obsesses over her expensive china plates, and Phoebe tries to teach Joey how to lie.
“The One with the Late Thanksgiving” Season 10 Episode 8
Monica and Chandler decide not to host Thanksgiving, but Phoebe convinces Monica to change her mind by appealing to her competitive nature. Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma in a beauty pageant and win while Ross and Joey go to a Rangers game. As a result, all four are nearly an hour late to the dinner that Monica and Chandler did not want to host. Angry that nobody turned up on time, Monica and Chandler lock the door and refuse to let anyone in. The argument is quickly forgotten when Monica and Chandler get a call telling them a girl from Ohio has picked them to adopt her baby, and everyone sits down for a belated Thanksgiving.
That 70s Show
That 70s Show is one of my favorite television shows. I love watching the holiday episodes over and over again.
“Thanksgiving” Season 1 Episode 9
Laurie brings her college friend Kate home with her for Thanksgiving. Kitty becomes annoyed when Bernice, Red’s mother, calls her constantly, asking about Thanksgiving dinner. Donna is angry when she finds out Kate kissed Eric, and Red is reluctant to accept a job offer from Bob.
“Thank You” Season 5 Episode 8
To keep Red from finding out about his failing math grade, Eric forges his signature on a failing notice, and he and Donna decide to reveal their engagement during Thanksgiving dinner. Laurie returns home after a long absence. As usual, the night does not go as planned.
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Season 7 Episode 9
Eric wants to go to a Styx concert on Thanksgiving, but his parents want him to stay for dinner. Hyde and Angie open up a new record store for their father called “Grooves,” but the grand opening is not going very well.
Reba is another one of my favorite television shows, and I absolutely love watching the Thanksgiving episode over and over again.
“Thanksgiving” Season 4 Episode 9
Reba and Barbara Jean fight over who is going to host Thanksgiving dinner. The two reach a compromise when Barbra Jean offers to share cooking duties while allowing Reba to keep the celebration at her house. Unfortunately, the plan leads to hurt feelings when Barbra Jean confesses that she still feels like an outsider compared to Reba.
How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother is another of my top favorite shows that I could watch again and again. I especially love the holiday episodes. (I do not include the Thanksgiving episode from the final season because the final season was absolutely horrible.)
“Belly Full of Turkey” Season 1 Episode 9
Marshall and Lily head to Minnesota for a family Thanksgiving, but Lily feels out of place with the large, loud, and rambunctious Eriksen family. Meanwhile, Robin and Ted are surprised to find Barney as the Volunteer of the Year at a local soup kitchen. Ted is even more surprised as he begins to uncover unethical acts taking place behind the scenes of the charity.
“Slapsgiving” Season 3 Episode 9
Lily and Marshall have their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. Barney is tortured by the slap bet countdown clock, worrying about when the slap will be dished out.
“Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap” Season 5 Episode 9
The gang celebrates Thanksgiving this year with Lily’s estranged father whom she had not spoken to in three years. Ted and Robin are given the chance to use Marshall’s fourth Slap Bet slap on Barney.
“Blitzgiving” Season 6 Episode 10
An old college friend with bad luck celebrates Thanksgiving with Lily, Robin, Marshall, and Barney. Ted, who cooked a surprise feast for the gang, celebrates the holiday with Zoey instead.
I have watched the entire Gilmore Girls series twice now, and I am super excited for the upcoming revival. My only wish is that the show had more holiday episodes!
“A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” Season 3 Episode 9
Lorelai and Rory have Thanksgiving dinner at four different places: with the Kims, with Luke and Jess, with Sookie and Jackson, and with Emily and Richard. Rory reveals that she has applied to Yale. Kirk gets a cat, with disastrous results. Dave asks Lane out and then kisses her. Paris is afraid her difficulty getting into a shelter will affect her acceptance to Harvard. Dean faces off with Jess.
The Goldbergs is one of my favorite new shows on television, and the Thanksgiving episodes are absolutely hilarious.
“A Goldberg Thanksgiving” Season 2 Episode 7
In the days before Thanksgiving, Beverly and Erica make a bet. Erica wins, leading her to opt out of the holiday and go to Lainey’s house and Beverly scrambling to win her back. Pops eventually tells Erica to celebrate Thanksgiving with her mom because her and Nana did so every year, but Nana died when Beverly was just 17. Meanwhile, Uncle Marvin visits, and Murray gets annoyed when Marvin and Adam start to form a close bond. Adam and Murray eventually begin a tradition of playing video games every Thanksgiving while Erica and Beverly cook together.
“In Conclusion, Thanksgiving” Season 3 Episode 8
Beverly insists the entire family get together for Thanksgiving — including Murray’s estranged father Pop-Pop. The tension starts when Uncle Marvin shows up dressed in medical scrubs as an almost a fully licensed chiropractor. In order to keep the family toasting tradition alive, Pops and asks Erica to take over as toastmaster general, but a jealous Barry wants his fair shot and turns the holiday toast into a contest. When Adam shows Murray a music video he made of “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Adam then subliminally uses lyrics from the song to manipulate Murray to pay for a pricey wide-angle lens. Beverly catches Adam, but instead of punishing him, she uses the song to get Murray to invite Pop-Pop to dinner. The tension continues to build when Barry actual beats Erica with his entertaining and dramatic toast while Marvin tricks Pop-Pop into thinking he will pick him up for dinner but never does. Murray now has to get his dad, arguments ensue over the mind-trick, and he throws his back out. In the end, Erica makes a rousing speech, arguments stop, Murray’s back is aligned by Marvin, and even Pop-Pop devours Beverly’s food.
“A Wall Street Thanksgiving” Season 5 Episode 7
As Beverly continues on her Bevolution, the matriarch of the Goldberg home decides not to go overboard on Thanksgiving and instead invites neighbors and friends for a potluck. Uncle Marvin arrives in a decked-out convertible that he bought after making a bunch of money in the stock market. He convinces the JTP to invest with promises of making the boys rich. Murray stops Barry from investing in the scheme, for which Barry scolds his father, stating that he never wants to be middle class like him. At the same time, Erica reveals that she has racked up $3,000 in debt on a high-interest credit card, and she gives Marvin money to invest in the hopes of paying back her debt when her mom refuses to bail her out. The stock that Marvin invested in turns out to be Atari, which quickly tanks due to disappointing sales of the unplayable E.T. video game. Eventually Barry realizes that Murray’s responsible ways are not so bad when he later sees his father give Marvin some money to get back on his feet. Erica also realizes that she needs to take responsibly for her mistakes.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving television episode?