"The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day; to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England."A Thanksgiving Episode is a story or an episode within a larger series that focuses on the holiday of Thanksgiving, celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. Canada also has a Thanksgiving holiday, held on the second Monday in October. For more information about the history of the holiday, see UsefulNotes.Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving stories fall into two basic categories. The first category consist of stories that relate to the origin of the holiday. Traditionally, the holiday is dated back to a feast given in 1621 by Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts to offer thanks to God for their survival past the first harsh year of the settlement. They invited the local Wampanoag tribe, who had been key to that survival, to share the feast with them — whence the traditional Thanksgiving iconography of steeple-crowned and bonneted Pilgrims alongside buckskin-clad Native Americans. Optimistic portrayals focus on the event as a time of inter-cultural cooperation and celebration . More cynical portrayals will place more emphasis on the long-term negative effect of colonization in displacing the Native Americans. The second category is stories that revolve around the celebration of the holiday in latter years. As with Christmas, Thanksgiving stories tend to be very family oriented, with characters either going to visit relatives or hosting large gatherings of the extended family. Such gatherings are generally intended to be joyous times of celebration, but can also be times of tension and internal family conflict. Often groups will take time to help those less fortunate than themselves. The major focus of the holiday on the Thanksgiving meal, which traditionally includes turkey, potatoes, pies, cranberry sauce, yams, and various vegetables. Preparing the turkey is a big deal, and an inexperienced cook seeking to prove him/herself by cooking a perfect meal will often find themselves making various amusing blunders. Even experienced cooks will find themselves challenged by the expectations placed upon them. Health minded cooks may try to create healthier alternatives to the traditional fare, which will almost certainly not be well received. Other activities include the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, watching marathons of TV shows, and watching or even playing American football. If the main character is a cartoonist, they might have the honor of their character being a balloon in the Macy's parade. Thanksgiving stories will often muse on the true meaning of the holiday — family, thankfulness, thankfulness ''for'' family, etc. — by having characters enjoying each other's company despite stress, interpersonal conflicts, or inedible turkeys. See Christmas Episode, Halloween Episode and Valentine's Day Episode.
— G. K. Chesterton, Sidelights (1932)
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Film (Live Action)
- Gleefully mocked in Addams Family Values, where Wednesday pointed out just how badly Native Americans got screwed over.
- Eli Roth's fake trailer Thanksgiving from Grindhouse, a parody of holiday horror flicks.
- Hannah and Her Sisters begins at a Thanksgiving dinner party and follows the characters for a little more than a year. The ending is a semi-epilogue set at Thanksgiving a year after that.
- Broadway Danny Rose is set during the holiday - a shootout in a warehouse full of Macy's parade floats has everyone talking in high-pitched helium voices. Woody Allen's titular agent character gets together with his clients over turkey tv dinners.
- Home for Purim was transformed into this to make it appeal to a wider audience.
- Miracle on 34th Street actually begins on Thanksgiving with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in need of a Santa Claus performer (in Real Life, the parade always ends with a Santa's sleigh float, and thus Santa).
- The film Planes, Trains and Automobiles is all about a guy trying to make it home for Thanksgiving.
- In his Little Movie Glossary, film critic Roger Ebert notes that "Of all the holidays on the calendar, Thanksgiving is the one most often chosen by the movies to show dysfunctional families in meltdown. The title card 'Thanksgiving' is a guarantee that shameful secrets, towering rages and massive depression will be presented, along with alarming alcohol abuse." Examples include Home for the Holidays and The Ice Storm.
- The House of Yes is a movie set during Thanksgiving. As mentioned with the Ebert quote above, there are plenty of dark secrets on display but with a heavy dose of Black Humor.
- The original Rocky film has a plot length that spans several holidays, the first of which is Thanksgiving. Made memorable in the scene where Paulie throws Adrian's roast turkey into the alley and tells her to go eat it there.
- Unknown (2011) is set around Thanksgiving. Rodney complains about having to fly to Berlin and miss feasting with his family.
Live Action TV
- All in the Family has an episode in which Archie gets into a fight with Mike and Gloria during Thanksgiving dinner, over their plan to raise their then-unborn child without religion.
- The After Show Archie Bunker's Place has a Thanksgiving episode in which Mike, Gloria and Joey visit from California, only to get into another fight with Archie after it's revealed that Mike got fired from his job due to his involvement in a nude protest. The episode is notable for being the last time that all four original cast members from All in the Family appear together.
- Blue Bloods: Thanksgiving is an important holiday for the Reagan family. When Henry has a heart attack on Thanksgiving and his careful preparations for the feast are ruined, Frank pulls some strings to reverse the hospital's dining hall and the whole clan shows up with the food so they can share the meal with the wheelchair-bound Henry.
- The Bob Newhart Show had two Thanksgiving episodes. The second one, involving Emily going out of town and leaving Bob to share a drunken holiday with his pals over Chinese food, leads to one of the show's Crowning Moments of Funny.
- The Brady Bunch: Despite airing a full month before Thanksgiving, the Season 2 episode "The Un-Underground Movie" (where Greg makes a movie about the First Thanksgiving for a class assignment) clearly has a Thanksgiving theme, and as such is frequently aired in the United States on or very close to Thanksgiving.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a Thanksgiving Day episode during which Xander was cursed by a Native American spirit with the diseases brought over by Europeans.
- Both Bob! and Caroline in the City featured the balloons of the main character's cartoon characters getting loose during their debut parades.
- Castle with "The Good, The Bad And The Baby"
- Cheers has a Thanksgiving episode that culminates in a no-holds-barred Food Fight among the cast.
- Chuck had three Thanksgiving-themed episodes during its run, all of which saw spy shenanigans interfere with the holiday traditions.
- Community: Jeff goes to visit his estranged father, while the others spend the day with Shirley and her extended family. Jeff ends up Calling the Old Man Out, while the rest try to escape Shirley's overbearing relatives in an extended The Shawshank Redemption homage.
- On Everybody Loves Raymond Debra decides to 'shake things up' by serving fish instead of turkey.
- And, who can forget the "Tofurkey" episode.
- Frasier had two episodes: the first involved Frasier and Lilith desperately attempting to get Frederick into a prestigious school and making things worse while Frederick suffers all sorts of Amusing Injuries in the care of his grandpa and uncle, the second had Frederick seemingly attempting to get his parents back together in a Batman Gambit to get them to buy him a moped.
- Friends has a Thanksgiving episode in all but one season.
- The second season episode happened at Thanksgiving, but didn't feature a Thanksgiving dinner, like all the rest.
- Full House had a Thanksgiving episode in the first season. Danny, Jesse and Joey tried to pull out all the stops to make the first Thanksgiving without Pam as perfect as they can for the girls. Unfortunately, it leads to a burnt turkey, a dropped pumpkin pie and lots of almost-tears (mainly from Jesse, Pam's brother) before the family decides to make the best of what they have and just enjoy being together.
- On Gilmore Girls, Lorelei and Rory attend four different Thanksgiving dinners in the episode A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving.
- Good Luck Charlie has "It's A Charlie Duncan Thanksgiving". Amy stays home to cook Thanksgiving Dinner, much to Bob and P.J.'s dismay, Teddy and Ivy work out a plan to get in line early to buy a new tablet computer at Gizmo hut, and Bob and Gabe panic over Bob's Dad dating Mrs. Dabney.
- How I Met Your Mother had three episodes - two Slapsgivings and a Blitzgiving.
- And, "Belly Full of Turkey", where we meet Marshall's family.
- "The Rebound Girl" shows the prep for Thanksgiving, before dropping the bomb Robin is pregnant with Barney's child (not really).
- Mad About You had multiple Thanksgiving episodes over its run. Perhaps the most famous is "Giblets for Murray", where Paul and Jamie have to deal with overbearing parents trying to take over the meal, then having to replace the turkey multiple times after Murray (the dog, if you remember) eating the first one, without anyone finding out (everyone finds out eventually, but the parents don't tell the couple that they know).
- Mama's Family had "An Ill Wind"—which is an unusual Thanksgiving episode, because it focuses less on the holiday and more on the family being trapped in the basement during a tornado.
- A M*A*S*H episode has a subplot about most of the camp getting sick from the black-market Thanksgiving turkeys Klinger acquired.
- The Munsters had one, "Low-Cal Munster." Herman has to lose 100lbs to fit into his old uniform to go to an Army reunion, forgetting that the last day of the diet was Thanksgiving. He makes it (by using Grandma's old corset.)
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been tied in with the holiday ever since its debut on Twin Cities TV station KTMA on Thanksgiving Day in 1988. After it became a national sensation, Comedy Central ran Thanksgiving Day marathons of MST3K episodes for several years, dubbed "Turkey Day" to reference both the holiday and the film "turkeys" highlighted by the series. Many marathons featured special Thanksgiving-themed episode introductions with the show's characters, and an entire set of alternate Thanksgiving-themed host segments were created for the debut of Night of the Blood Beast; in reruns, they were replaced with the standard segments. Nowadays the MST3K YouTube channel runs a marathon every Thanksgiving.
- In an episode of Seinfeld, Mr Pitt desperately wants a place under the Real Life Woody Woodpecker balloon.
- Shining Time Station has the episode, "Billy's Party". Billy Twofeathers plans to spend his Thanksgiving with the Boomers and the Hobos, whom Stacy tells the story of to Dan, Becky, and Kara. However, things don't turn out as planned for Billy when he has go get Schemer, who gets stranded on a train, and drive Ginny to buy her a new Thanksgiving dinner after her dog ruins her old one. While he does miss his party with the Boomers and the Hobos as a result, everyone at the station spends their thanksgiving at the station with him so he doesn't feel all alone. This episode also includes the Thomas the Tank Engine episode, "Thomas and Percy's Mountain Adventure" (see the Western Animation folder for its details).
- Spin City did a few. The most remembered one is when the staff tried to do a live on-air special for New York. But one disaster after another keeps happening such as the mayor having bad blood with his father, Mike getting his hand stuck in the turkey and the staff constantly arguing with each other. Ironically the in-universe viewers loved it cause it's exactly how most Thanksgivings go down.
- Small Wonder had an episode in which Jamie falsely asserted that his parents were separated, so he and Vicki could get into a Thanksgiving camp for latchkey children.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Thanksgiving was the aliens' first Earth holiday. The episode also marked the first appearance of Mrs. Dubcek's daughter Vicki, who would became a recurring love interest for Harry. Unaware of Black Friday, Sally mentions in The Tag that tomorrow she will "spend a nice peaceful day at the mall".
- 2 Broke Girls had a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas episode: "And the Very Christmas Thanksgiving".
- WKRP in Cincinnati had the infamous "Turkeys Away" episode, often regarded as the series' Crowning Moment of Funny.
As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!
- The West Wing episode "Shibboleth" laid on Thanksgiving very thickly in multiple plot threads that include both uses of this trope: President Bartlet invokes the original Thanksgiving as justification for freeing Chinese Christians fleeing persecution, and invokes the familial side of modern observance when he gives his body man Charlie (who has no parents) a priceless family heirloom originally made by Paul Revere as a gesture metaphorically adopting Charlie into his family.
Sam: Well, over three and a half centuries ago, strengthened by faith and bound by a common desire for liberty, a small band of Pilgrims sought out a place in the New World where they could worship according to their own beliefs...and solve crimes.Toby: Sam...Sam: It'd be good.Toby: Read the thing.Sam: By day, they churn butter and worship according to their own beliefs, and by night, they solve crimes.Toby: Read the thing.Sam: Pilgrim detectives.
- Also parodied early in the episode, when Sam and Toby are working on the President's Thanksgiving proclamation:
- Will and Grace had their share of Thanksgiving episodes: "Homo For The Holidays" and the two-parter "Movable Feast"
- Roseanne had six Thanksgiving episodes over their nine-season run, during which something crazy always happened. (Dan's father flirting with Crystal in s2, Beverly coming out in Season 9, etc.).
- The Adventures of Mc Gee & Me has the very last episode Beauty in the Least where Nick's Romanian pen pal and his family come in for a visit. All the day they learn about love and hospitality and the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
- Radio stations have been known to play the 18-minute song "Alice's Restaurant" on Thanksgiving to mark the transition from regular music to Christmas music — and to give hungry DJs a chance to gobble some turkey.
- In the 80s, World Class Championship Wrestling Star Wars had an Annual Thanksgiving Episode.
- New Japan Pro Wrestling and Dragon Gate have their Fan Thanksgiving Days, in which they say thank you to the fans.
- WWE SmackDown would have a Thanksgiving-centered episode when it aired on Thursday nights, since it would obviously land on the holiday itself. It was pretty much a yearly tradition for the show to have a Thanksgiving party and food spread backstage or in the ring, and inevitably give way to a big food fight, including the obligatory pie to the face. Best known for the memetic segment with Luther Reigns, who never had a proper Thanksgiving due to being in prison for "five calendars", demanding a serving of a Thanksgiving plate:
Reigns: Why don't you give me somma this TURKEY?! Somma them maaashed potatoes! Lemme get somma them peas, I had peas b'fo!
- Future Of Wrestling's Thanksgiving Leftovers event.
- The Damn Few has one.
- Homestar Runner featured holiday 'toons fairly frequently, and Thanksgiving is no exception. From the token short-shorts "Happy T!" and "Some Stupid Turkey" to an episode of Strong Bad Emails centered around the alleged story of Strong Badia's colonization, to the full-length shorts "Let Us Give TANKS!", "Toikey TV", and "Twenty THAN Xty Six". They even even spoofed the Macy's Parade with "the firty-tirst annual Fall Float Parade" featuring balloons, bizarre floats, a marching band, and twin clones of Homsar dressed as Shriners driving tiny cars.
- Will It Blend?: Thanksgiving Dinner.
- Is It a Good Idea to Microwave This?: Two episodes, "Talking Greeting Card", and "License Plates".
- Action League Now had the episode, "Turkey of Terror", where The Mayor invites the Action League to his mansion for Thanksgiving dinner to form a truce. Stinky doesn't believe The Mayor has gone good and quits the Action League, and decides to spend Thanksgiving with his own family, who argue with each other when they found out Stinky quit his job. It later turns out that Stinky was right about The Mayor when Justice witnesses the event and brings him his badge, and Stinky decides to save the rest of the League from being cooked in The Mayor's turkey.
- An episode of Arthur dealt with Francine, who couldn't enjoy Thanksgiving after cheating on a history report, by plagiarizing content off the Internet and dealing with emotional guilt afterwards. Of course the episode ends with her telling Mr. Ratburn what happened, re-doing the assignment, and getting a good grade for good and self-done work.
- Bob's Burgers - Bob's landlord offers a generous deal on the rent if the Belchers pose as his family and Bob cooks Thanksgiving dinner to impress a romantic prospect.
- In a second episode, the turkey Bob is preparing ends up in the toilet, and the same thing keeps happening to all the replacement turkeys. The culprit turns out to be Bob himself; under the effect of allergy pills, he sleepwalks while dreaming about toilet training Tina, picks up the turkey thinking it's baby Tina and...
- CatDog: A turkey meant for Rancid Rabbit hides at CatDog's house, and they end up protecting it.
- The Cleveland Show Thanksgiving episode has the blended family struggling to get along, not entirely helped by the appearance of "Auntie Mama", an eccentric advice dispenser.
- Season 2's Another Bad Thanksgiving
- Season 3's A General Thanksgiving
- And the Season 4 episode Turkey Pot Die.
- The Fairly Oddparents storybook In a Tizzy over Turkey! has Timmy refusing to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his parents because his mom made tofurkey (turkey-flavored tofu) instead of real turkey. Cosmo and Wanda eventually grant his wish for the perfect dinner, but he learns a lesson about the true meaning of the holiday from, of all people, Vicky.
- Thansgiving on Family Guy sees everyone close to the Griffins come together for a heated discussion about the merits of the Iraq War.
- Garfield had a Thanksgiving Day special, centered on Garfield being put on a diet by his vet shortly before Thanksgiving. Said vet comes to dinner that day, keeping the cat from pigging out as he wants.
- The comic book version takes a different route: After being put on the diet, Garfield sabotages Jon's thanksgiving dinner out of bitterness, only for the vet to take him off the diet after it's too late.
- Hey Arnold! had Arnold and Helga leave their home due to respective family problems, then decide to visit their happy-go-lucky teacher Mr. Simmons, figuring that his holiday at least has to be pleasant. It turns out his holiday guests are worse than either of their families, but Mr. Simmons say he has to try to enjoy the holiday with them, because they're family. The two get the hint that they need to be thankful for their loved ones, no matter how screwed up they are.
- A short on The Huckleberry Hound Show titled "Grim Pilgrim" involved Huck's pursuit of a turkey, hindered by an Indian.
- The first season of Jackie Chan Adventures has "Enter the Viper" which has Jackie and Jade in New York City to retrieve the Snake Talisman (for the second time) by taking it out of a museum. The third act features the big parade in New York with the titular character fighting ninjas on top of a balloon float.
- Tex Avery did a one-shot cartoon "Jerky Turkey" where a big schnook of a pilgrim hunts a wise-guy turkey modeled after Jimmy Durante.
- King of the Hill had Thanksgiving episodes on three consecutive seasons.
- Looney Tunes:
Daffy: It's too bad you can't have duck for Thanksgiving dinner...(The formerly deadpan farmer suddenly grins maniacally.)
- In the short, "Bugs' Bonnets'', when Elmer Fudd is suddenly crowned with a steepled hat, he explains to an arresting officer that he was "just twying to shoot a tuhkey fow the fuhst Thanksgiving dinnuh"; Bugs, suddenly bedecked with a feather headdress and pair of braids, seizes Elmer's rifle and attempts to shoot him!
- In an earlier short, "Tom Turk and Daffy", Porky Pig is the P-p-p-pilgrim attempting to hunt the eponymous Tom.
- The Merrie Melodies short, "Holiday For Drumsticks" has Daffy tricking a barnyard turkey destined for Thanksgiving dinner into dieting and exercising while the duck stuffs himself with all the fattening food meant for the turkey.
- In the Rankin/Bass Productions holiday special The Mouse on the Mayflower, a mouse named Willem is among the Puritan founders. He makes friends with the native mice, and together the Indians and Pilgrims, human and murine, celebrate the first Thanksgiving.
- The series finale for My Gym Partner's a Monkey was called "A Thanksgiving Carol." The episode consisted of Adam telling his animal friends why he loves Thanksgiving so much and trying to figure out why his animals friends hate it so much—initially, it seems like the reason animals hate Thanksgiving is because of how humans eat turkey on that day (which be probably be the reason in most cases), but Adam's animal friends explain that the real reason they hate Thanksgiving is actually because of the parades that are held on that day.
- Pac-Man had "Happy Pacsgiving", in which Pac-Baby's grandmother read a story about the Pac-Pilgrims and the Ghost Monster Indians.
- The Peanuts special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Also the Mayflower episode of This Is America, Charlie Brown.
- Recess had "The Great Can Drive", where the Recess Gang try to beat the Ashleys in the Thanksgiving canned foods drive. Later released as part of the Direct-to-Video Christmas movie.
- Regular Show in its fifth season gives us The Thanksgiving Special, which begins with Mordecai and Rigby messing up worse than they -ever- have before...and ends with one of the sweetest, most sincerely happy moments in the show's history.
- A segment of Robot Chicken had the President pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey but, unfortunately, this one was a maniacal axe murder who goes on a rampage after being freed.
- Rocko's Modern Life had one called "Turkey Time," involving all the Thanksgiving turkeys in O-Town taking refuge at Rocko's house.
- Rugrats had the episode, "The Turkey Who Came to Dinner", where the babies play "Nakie Americans" after Didi tells them a story about pilgrims and indians. Due to a turkey shortage, the parents order a live Turkey. The babies befriend the Turkey and try to save him from being eaten, but Angelica is determined to tell the parents about him.
- The Simpsons' Season 2 episode "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" has been a favorite for years.
- The 1972 Hanna-Barbera special "The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't" focused on a squirrel rescuing a pair of lost boys (one a Pilgrim, the other a Native American), with the squirrel as a result becoming the guest of honor at the first Thanksgiving dinner.
- While the Thomas the Tank Engine episode, "Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure" was a Christmas Episode in the UK, it was dubbed into a Thanksgiving Episode in the US, entitled "Thomas and Percy's Mountain Adventure". This is evidenced in the ending scene, where the engine sheds are decorated with Christmas decorations.
- The Tom and Jerry short, "The Little Orphan", took one of the basic concepts of "The Milky Waif" (always-hungry orphan Nibbles appears at Jerry's doorstep), and turns it into a Thanksgiving story by showing that Jerry had volunteered to host an orphan mouse for the holiday. Less lion-roaring Papa Wolf Jerry, more Food Fighting.
- One story arc in Underdog has Simon Barsinister go back in time to sabotage the founding of Plymouth Plantation so that there will be no Thanksgiving. Why? Because his plan to conquer the city depended on him accessing a certain device at a certain time, which he couldn't because the Thanksgiving Day Parade was blocking the street. Given that he had a time machine, there were much simpler ways to solve the problem (such as going back in time to earlier that morning and crossing the street before the parade started), but he never considers them.
The Real Life Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- A Real Life tragic incident involving The Cat in the Hat balloon knocking over a lamppost and injuring a woman resulted in new wind restrictions for the balloons, and new size restrictions for their designs, which in turn forced the retirement of many longtime favorites, including The Pink Panther and Woody Woodpecker. A similar incident involving a balloon of the M&M's characters less severely injured a little girl, who notably pleaded that Macy's not retire it on her account. It was, however, removed anyway in 2007, to be replaced with a float saluting Broadway.
- Probably the franchise most represented in the parade over the years would be Peanuts, usually Snoopy (with or without Woodstock), but also for a few years represented by two balloons, one of Charlie Brown, the other of the elusive football he's trying to kick. Most likely various Muppet based balloons (Kermit, Grover, Big Bird) would be next, followed by Disney (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Buzz Lightyear, various one-year balloons celebrating upcoming Disney films).
- This Coca-Cola ad from Super Bowl XLII, featuring a competition between a fictional Stewie Griffin balloon and a re-creation of the classic Underdog balloon. The Charlie Brown balloon is the one who emerges victorious at the end.
- One of the first meta-references on The Simpsons (if not the first) involved the real-life 1990 debut of a Bart Simpson balloon.
- Oh, and it has its own page now, which desperately Needs Wiki Magic Love, a bit of Entry Pimping, and a better description.