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Thanksgiving Episode

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"I'll be there for fooooood..."

"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."
G. K. Chesterton, Sidelights (1932)

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 (which may or may not be the last Thursday in November). Canada celebrates Thanksgiving as well, and in pretty much the same manner as Americans, with one of the main exceptions being that Canadians celebrate the holiday on the second Monday in October. Thanksgiving also exists on other dates in other countries.

Thanksgiving stories fall into two basic categories. The first category consists 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 familiar 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 European 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 is 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 themself 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 one of the characters is a cartoonist who is Famed In-Story, they might have the honor of their character being a balloon in the Macy's parade. The main character(s) of a pre-established Show Within a Show may also be balloons in the parade.

Korean Dramas sometimes have episodes featuring Chuseok, more or less the Korean Thanksgiving, a harvest festival in which families get together and eat an elaborate meal.

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. Particularly likely to be the setting of Dinner and a Show.

See also Christmas Episode, Halloween Episode, Valentine's Day Episode, St. Patrick's Day Episode, and Easter Episode.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Anpanman: episode 209a "Thanksgiving Day with Uncle Jam" centers around the Japanese theme of Thanksgiving (In Japan, it's known as Labor Thanksgiving Day, where it's on paying respect to laborers and those who do their jobs. Unlike North America, Japan's Thaksgiving is always on November 23rd, though it'll be on a Thursday like the American holiday). When both Batako and Miss Mimi's class were puzzled about what they should do for the holiday, they decided to give a party to Uncle Jam as a thank you for his hard work.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: Archie & Friends Thanksgiving Feast featuring several Thanksgiving stories with Archie and the others.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: A Donald Duck story has Donald trying to hunt Thanksgiving dinner with a special gun that fires custard, with the intent on blinding the target for capture. It works as well as you'd expect.
  • The Justice League of America/Justice Society of America graphic novel Virtue and Vice takes place over Thanksgiving Day. During the two teams' annual Thanksgiving gathering, seven superheroes (Batman, Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, Power Girl, Plastic Man, Mister Terrific and Captain Marvel) are possessed by the Seven Deadly Sins.
    • Another JSA issue follows up on events one year later during the teams' next gathering. Two D-list supervillains attempt to attack JSA HQ and end up ruining dinner. In typical fashion, Batman expected something to go wrong and had pizza ordered.
  • The Simpsons: One issue shows the family's various activities on Thanksgiving Day: Homer is charged with rescuing Mr. Burns from a bunch of crazed, vengeful turkeys, Bart tries to skip dinner early for a sale on a new video game and ends up helping some orphans out, Lisa travels with Grandpa Simpson to vent her frustrations over how history has swept the darker aspects of the first Thanksgiving under the rug, and Marge has to search for replacement turkey after Homer ate the one she was cooking.
  • X-Men: Uncanny X-Men #308 takes place during Thanksgiving and doubles as a much-needed Breather Episode for the team after they recently had to deal with events like Fatal Attractions and Blood Ties. Most notably, it's the issue where Cyclops proposes to Jean Grey.

    Comic Strips 
  • Crabgrass:
    • This comic, where Janine ends up ruining her own attempt at a Thanksgiving dinner, so she and her kids end up going to the Wallaces instead.
    • A year later the comic did an entire Thanksgiving story arc, where Gene, with help of Kevin, Miles and Kyle, has to try and prepare Thanksgiving diner after claiming it can't be that hard. Naturally, it ends in disaster.
  • FoxTrot is pretty consistent about doing Thanksgiving strips or short storylines. Given there are two big eaters in the family, they usually focus on the meal.
  • Garfield doesn't really do this holiday, which is a surprise given that the eponymous cat is the kind of big eater you'd assume would enjoy such a feast. However, it was depicted in one of the animated Garfield specials, appropriately titled Garfield's Thanksgiving.
  • Peanuts didn't have a lot Thanksgiving strips either, although as with Garfield there was a well-known animated special devoted to the holiday.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Free Birds is all on Thanksgiving. The turkeys here utilize a time machine to travel back to the first thanksgiving and prevent turkeys from being on the menu.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gleefully mocked in Addams Family Values, where Wednesday is forced to participate in a Thanksgiving pageant, the story for which being the Politically Correct History version. She plays along at first before going a little... off-script.
    Wednesday: You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides; you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller."
  • Alice's Restaurant dramatizes the Arlo Guthrie song, in a story that includes gathering with Alice and others for a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and the aftermath when Arlo and his friend offer to get rid of all the garbage, and they get arrested for littering when they discover the dump was closed.
  • Big Eden: The movie's second act features a Thanksgiving celebration at the Hart home, with the Stewart family, Widow Thayer, Grace, Anna, and Pike in attendance.
  • Blood Rage (also known as Slasher and Nightmare at Shadow Woods) is a 1983 slasher film that takes place on Thanksgiving, a convenient day for the killer to escape from the asylum to murder his family. “That’s not cranberry sauce” indeed.
  • 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 TV turkey dinners.
  • Home for Purim, a Show Within a Show in For Your Consideration, was transformed into this to make it appeal to a wider audience.
  • Eli Roth's fake trailer Thanksgiving from Grindhouse, a parody of holiday horror flicks. A full length Defictionalization of the trailer is set for Thanksgiving 2023.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For some actual Turkey Day horrors, there's Home Sweet Home, Blood Rage, Séance, ThanksKilling and Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.
  • 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 Humans is set over a single Thanksgiving Day.
  • 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).
  • Pieces of April is about a young woman hosting her estranged family for Thanksgiving dinner at her apartment.
  • The film Planes, Trains and Automobiles is all about a guy trying to make it home for Thanksgiving. Neal barely makes it home for Thanksgiving.
  • 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.
  • The Santa Clause takes place over a one year timespan, has a scene set during Thanksgiving that closes the film's second act. Scott, who has fully transformed into Santa by this point, is granted permission by his ex to see Charlie one final time to say goodbye after his visitation rights were suspended. When he visits him, Charlie shows his father the snowglobe he was given during their previous visit to the North Pole, convincing Scott that he really has become Santa.
  • Son in Law largely takes place the week before Thanksgiving with Rebecca inviting Crawl to spend the holiday with her family, complete with dysfunction and misunderstandings.
  • Spider-Man (2002) has Norm and Aunt May come to Thanksgiving dinner at Peter and Harry's apartment. When Norm notices the same injury on Peter that he inflicted on Spider-Man as the Green Goblin, he realizes that Peter is Spidey. Of note, during the dinner, Peter and Norm are wearing the colors of the other (Peter is in green, Norm is in blue and red).
  • Trading Places starts at Thankgiving time. When Billy Ray is in jail, selectively retelling how he got arrested for supposedly robbing Louis, one of the two Big Black Guys tells him "It ain't cool being no jive turkey so close to Thanksgiving".
  • Turkey Hollow has a family visiting a relative for Thanksgiving and needing to raise money to save her farm.
  • Unknown is set around Thanksgiving. Rodney complains about having to fly to Berlin and miss feasting with his family.

  • The Bone Chillers books had Franken Turkey, where two kids build a fake turkey so that one that they had grown attached to doesn't become Thanksgiving dinner. However, a bolt of lightning brings the fake turkey to life and it wreaks havoc on them.
  • Clue: Book #10, chapter 9 ("The Thanksgiving Murder") is one, with the guests being assigned to different tasks to get ready for the big meal; meanwhile, each of them tries to steal a ring from Mrs. Peacock.
  • Roys Bedoys: In “Roys Bedoys Saves Thanksgiving!”, Roys’s grandparents and uncle think they can’t make it for Thanksgiving, so Roys has to convince them to change their minds.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam Ruins Everything has the episode "Adam Ruins... Guns," and features the clichés associated with Thanksgiving, such as a family get together interrupted by an argument about politics, in this case gun ownership, references to football, and when one of the characters gets fed up with the arguing, she goes to a big box store to shop for pre-Black Friday deals.note 
    • He also ruined the traditional portrayal of the first Thanksgiving. It's normally portrayed as a celebratory feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. What really happened was the Pilgrims decimated the Pawtucket tribe (who were longtime enemies of the Wampanoag), and were rewarded with corn. In other words, it was more of a celebratory feast for decimating a Native tribe.
  • 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.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow: The appropriately titled season 6 episode "Thanksgiving", in which Oliver, Felicity, William, and Quentin organize a Thanksgiving food drive to raise money for a new SCPD precinct.
    • The Flash (2014): The season 5 episode "O Come All Ye Thankful" is set during Thanksgiving.
    • Legends of Tomorrow: "Tagumo Attacks" has a B-plot about Nate and Ava attending Thanksgiving with Nate's family, with Nate having to leave to settle a crisis at the time bureau.
  • Barney Miller: In "Thanksgiving Story", Inspector Luger badgers Barney into inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner, and a man is arrested for stabbing his brother-in-law with a fork in a dispute over a turkey leg.
  • The Big Bang Theory had the episode "The Thanksgiving Decoupling," where the gang spends Thanksgiving at Howard's mom's house. Sheldon ends up bonding with Bernadette's father Mike, much to Howard's dismay, while Leonard discovers that Penny's fake marriage to her ex, Zack, actually was legal so she's unknowingly been married to him the whole time.
  • The Big Comfy Couch has the Thanksgiving special "Feast of Fools". in which Loonette and her doll Molly attend the annual Feast of Fools dinner party. Granny tells Loonette that the feast reminds clowns of the days when there wasn't much food to go around. When there is plenty of food, it's cause for a celebration which is precisely what Auntie Macassar brings to the feast in song!
  • 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 reserve 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 first involves Bob and Emily hosting their respective parents for dinner, leading to conflict between his mother and her father. The second has Emily going out of town and leaving Bob to share a drunken holiday with his pals over Chinese food.
  • 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.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • "Thanksgiving": The Nine-Nine's detective squad has the holiday weekend off and Amy invites them all over to her apartment for dinner. Captain Holt's husband is out of town so he gladly joins them. Jake hates Thanksgiving (because of his sad childhood memories) and want to be alone and watch football but is ordered to join his colleagues. He's excited when a theft at the precinct allows him and Holt to step away from dinner to investigate.
    • "Lockdown": It's Thanksgiving and Holt and Terry have to go to a charity event so Jake is left in charge of the precinct for the day while all the other detectives take time off. Boyle accidentally knocks a parcel off the mail trolley and releases a mysterious white powder into the squad room. The precinct is put into lockdown. Lots of references to food and family and things people should be thankful for.
    • "Ava": The episode is set around Thanksgiving, but they all have to work (and it's extra hard because the internet is down), only Terry is going away for a romantic getaway with his very pregnant wife. She's waiting for him at the precinct... and her water breaks. Her doula is away for Thanksgiving and her back-up doula is at another birth. The episode has a Running Gag of Holt interrupting Charles when he tries to say what he's thankful for.
    • "Mr. Santiago": Amy is hosting Thanksgiving dinner for her father (who is meeting her boyfriend Jake for the first time) and her friends from work. Charles is put in charge of food and decides to purchase a live turkey so that he can slaughter and cook it because it will taste best.
    • "Two Turkeys": Jake and Amy invite their parents to bond over Thanksgiving dinner. At the precinct, Captain Holt and Kevin's special Thanksgiving pie is stolen from his office.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had "Pangs", during which Xander was cursed by a Native American spirit with the diseases brought over by Europeans. Angel returns from his own series to help Buffy out against the spirits from behind the scenes.
  • Café Americain: In "...And Giblets for All", Holly meets resistance when she decides to throw a Thanksgiving feast at the cafe.
  • Both Caroline in the City and Bob featured the balloons of the main character's cartoon characters getting loose during their debut parades.
  • Cheers episode "Thanksgiving Orphans" finds the gang having dinner at Carla's house. It culminates in a no-holds-barred Food Fight among the cast. Six seasons later, "Ill-Gotten Gaines" has the gang (minus Woody, who is eating with his in-laws) dining at Cheers, with plates and cutlery "borrowed" from Melville's.
  • 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.
  • ER had several, usually airing repeats in the day itself, but starting in 1999, aired a new episode, featuring the birth of Carol's twin daughters.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond Debra decides to 'shake things up' by serving fish instead of turkey.
    • Who can forget the "Tofurkey" episode?
  • In the Family Ties episode "No Nukes is Good Nukes," Steven and Elyse are arrested at an anti-nuke rally and spend Thanksgiving in jail.
  • 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.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had two, one in the first season and one in the final season.
    • The first season episode, "Talking Turkey," has Will's mother, Vy, visit the Banks family for the holiday and tries to get Will and the Banks children to cook Thanksgiving dinner, worried they aren't being self-sufficient enough.
    • The final season episode, "There's the Rub," is an hour-long special where Hilary and Carlton volunteer at a homeless shelter while Will and Uncle Phil are mistakenly arrested and have to prove their innocence.
  • 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. In it, Monica works for a company who wants to make their product, Mockolate (synthetic chocolate), the new Thanksgiving "treat". A Running Gag in these episodes included Chandler often discussing his parents' divorce, which he was first told about on Thanksgiving when he was nine years old.
  • 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.
  • General Hospital devotes a least a couple episodes to Thanksgiving every year, centered on a longstanding Running Gag in which the wealthy Quartermaine family always has something go wrong with their plans to have a traditional dinner, forcing them to order pizza instead.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Lorelei and Rory attend four different Thanksgiving dinners in the episode "A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving" (first at the Kims' who are Korean, very religious and Lane is Rory's best friend; then at Sookie and Jackson's — Sookie is Lorelai's best friend; then they eat at Luke's diner — which is their traditional place where they normally eat and also celebrate holidays, and at Lorelei's parents). They bring autumn flowers to everyone. The deep fried part is in reference to the subplot where Jackson gives Sookie (a master chef) the day off from cooking only to have Jackson and some of his friends deep-fry almost everything under the sun.
  • 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.
  • Heroes has a naturally disastrous one in "Thanksgiving". The Bennets have a tense Thanksgiving dinner since Noah and Sandra are divorced with new dates to the dinner and Claire raising the question of dropping out of college. Hiro is essentially a hostage at the Sullivan Carnival and he and Lydia discover the truth behind Joseph Sullivan's death. Peter learns that Angela brainwashed Sylar into believing he's Nathan and when the truth comes out and Sylar makes his return, he threatens to kill them both after picking off their dessert first.
  • How I Met Your Mother have several Thanksgiving episodes:
    • In "Belly Full of Turkey", we meet Marshall's family and their traditional game of iceketball and huge all-American dinner. Ted, Robin and Barney try to volunteer at shelter and do charity. Robin, being Canadian, gets weirded out on celebrating Thanksgiving in November.
    • There are two Slapsgivings and a Blitzgiving, all taking place on Thanksgiving. A third "Slapsgiving" episode, "Slapsgiving 3 Slappointment In Slapmarra" became an Artifact Title. It happens during the last season, which takes place during Barney and Robin's wedding weekend and has nothing to do with the holiday.
    • "The Rebound Girl" shows the prep for Thanksgiving, before dropping the bomb that Robin is pregnant with Barney's child (exept she's not really).
  • Kenan & Kel had a Thanksgiving episode where Kel ate an entire turkey meant for Kenan's family and they tried to replace it before Kenan's parents found out.
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers has a special episode every year on Thanksgiving Nightnote  where Seth's only guests are his parents, Laurence and Hilary, and his brother and fellow comic actor Josh. It's a delightfully funny and heartfelt time had by all.
  • In The Love Boat episode "Tony's Family," the titular engineer's vacation gets cancelled at the last minute, so the crew helps him smuggle his large family onto the ship for a Thanksgiving cruise.
  • 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.
  • Married... with Children had a Thanksgiving episode in its final season. Al discovers that his favorie pie maker has passed away and heads to her funeral in hopes of getting the last of her famous sweet potato pies that she ever made for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile Kelly gets a pet turkey she names Hank and tries to protect him from being cooked by the others... only to throw Hank out a window and accidentally kill him since she doesn't know turkeys can't fly.
  • The M*A*S*H episode "The Yalu Brick Road" is set the day after Thanksgiving and has a subplot about most of the camp getting food poisoning from the black-market Thanksgiving turkeys Klinger acquired.
  • McGee and 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.
  • The Middle has a Thanksgiving episode in every single season, nine in total, and often highlight some sort of mishap happening to the Heck family on the holiday, such as Frankie stuck having to work on the holiday because of her boss (Thanksgiving I), the family trying to hold Thanksgiving for two marines only for Frankie's parents to be in the middle of an argument and scare them off (Thanksgiving IV), or the family trying to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet (Thanksgiving VI). Notably, the final Thanksgiving episode even ended with a montage of clips from every Thanksgiving episode in the show's run.
  • The Munsters had one, "Low-Cal Munster." Herman has to lose 100 lbs 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.
  • Our Miss Brooks had two Thanksgiving episodes, both focusing on the problem of getting an inexpensive turkey for the holiday.
    • "Thanksgiving Show", a Sound-to-Screen Adaptation, had landlady Mrs. Davis buy a tiny squab for Thanksgiving Day, after she was deterred by the price of a turkey. Miss Brooks tries to get herself invited to a traditional dinner, but only succeeds in inviting Walter Denton, Stretch Snodgrass, Phillip Boynton and the Conklins to dine at Mrs. Davis'.
    • In "Thanksgiving Turkey", which was heard exlcusively on the radio, Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton and Walter Denton buy a cheap live turkey. Unfortunately, she was the farmer's pet, answers to the name Bernice, and Miss Brooks is less than thrilled as Walter and Mr. Boynton arranges for her execution.
  • Riverdale: Season 4’s "The Ice Storm" takes place during Thanksgiving. Naturally, since it’s Riverdale, the titular storm is the least of everyone’s problems:
    • Archie and Veronica host a Thanksgiving dinner for the poor at the Southside community center, but it’s derailed by Hiram, Dodger’s vengeful family and Archie’s attempt to deep fry a turkey.
    • Cheryl and Toni are stalked by the former’s Evil Aunt while attempting to cover up Bedford’s murder. Their solution is to invite her to Thanksgiving dinner and Make her believe that they cooked and served Bedford. They didn’t, but it was a distraction to dump the body in Sweetwater River.
    • Jughead and Betty opt to stay at Stonewall Prep over the Thanksgiving break to investigate Mr. Chipping’s death from the previous episode.
    • Alice, F.P, Hiram and Hermione have Thanksgiving dinner at Pop’s, which ends in a fight and the men coming to blows.
  • Roseanne had six Thanksgiving episodes over their nine-season run, during which something crazy always happened (Dan's father flirting with Crystal in Season 2, Beverly coming out in Season 9, etc.).
  • Saturday Night Live had a skit called "First Thanksgiving", in which John Smith shares a meal with Pocahontas' family. Another skit, called "A Thanksgiving Miracle", takes place during a modern family's Thanksgiving meal, during which a young girl plays, and the family members lip-synch to, "Hello" by Adele. "Festive Thanksgiving" is one where Billy Bob Thornton plays a gay Pilgrim who brings the Wampanoag tribe to the first Thanksgiving dinner. For fake commercials, there's the "Nikey Turkey", which poked fun at the Reebok Pump sneakers that were released around the early 1990s, and also served as a parody of the intro to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • Saved by the Bell has an episode where the main characters try to help an injured Mike make Thanksgiving dinner for underprivileged children, but Leslie can't cook and Screech is an idiot. After Mike is interviewed by Marv Albert on live television, some celebrities arrive with actual food.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Mr Pitt desperately wants a place under the Real Life Woody Woodpecker balloon. The episode's climax takes place during a balloon blow-up party for the parade.
  • 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 & Friends episode, "Thomas and Percy's Mountain Adventure" (see the Western Animation folder for its details).
  • 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.
  • The Sopranos: "He is Risen" occurs on Thanksgiving, and Tony is reminded that Ralphie was scheduled to accompany his girlfriend, Rosalie Aprile, to dinner at their house.
  • 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.
  • Start-Up: The Chuseok episode shows how Seo Dal-mi has made amends with her estranged mom when Mom is at Chuseok with Dal-mi and Dal-mi's grandma. Ji-pyeong, an orphan and Dal-mi's would-be boyfriend, is basically part of the family so he's there too. However, Dal-mi's sister In-jae, feeling alienated from her sister and their mom, does not attend.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series: the episode "Charlie X" takes place around Thanksgiving, in space. Captain Kirk mentions to the ship's cook that if the crew has to eat synthetic meatloaf, he (Kirk) wanted it to look like turkey. Charlie Evans, the titular character, uses his alien-granted powers to change them into real turkeys.
  • 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". Sally also hopes another holiday won't sneak up on them but Dick expects they won't have to worry about another one for months, little knowing Christmas is just around the corner...
  • 2 Broke Girls had a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas episode: "And the Very Christmas Thanksgiving".
  • The Waltons - the 1982 made-for-TV reunion film A Day For Thanks On Walton's Mountain
  • Webster: In "Thanksgiving Show", Webster meets his new grandparents and Katherine has a fight with her mother. In "Thanksgiving with the Four Tops", the Four Tops can't make it home for Thanksgiving, so they eat at the Papadopoulos house.
  • 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. Also parodied early in the episode, when Sam and Toby are working on the President's Thanksgiving proclamation:
    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.
    • CJ Cregg gets stuck dealing with the PR side of Thanksgiving in the White House and, having missed the previous year due to illness, is bewildered by things like the traditional pardoning of a turkey and having to sing with a kids' choir.
    • The third season episode "The Indians in the Lobby" features a subplot of Bartlet calling the Butterball Hotline to test their advice on how to properly cook a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Will & Grace had their share of Thanksgiving episodes: "Homo For The Holidays" and the two-parter "Movable Feast".
  • WKRP in Cincinnati had the "Turkeys Away" episode:
    Mr. Carlson: As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!
  • Young Sheldon: "Family Dynamics and a Red Fiero" is set around 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. The song tells a story that is kicked off by a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat.
  • Ben Rector has "The Thanksgiving Song" released a few weeks before Thanksgiving in 2020.
  • Before that, there was "Thanksgiving Song" by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

  • The Ricky Gervais Show: Episode 2 of the fourth series of podcasts was billed as a Thanksgiving episode. However, with Ricky, Steve and Karl being from England, Karl questions why they're celebrating a holiday he's never even heard of, and the actual content of the episode has little to do with Thanksgiving at all.
  • Unwell Podcast: The episode 'The Broken Moat' takes place at Thanksgiving, complete with a big turkey dinner, feelings of togetherness, and stressful family relationships.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Bear in the Big Blue House:
    • The series has "The Best Thanksgiving Ever," which focuses on Ojo declaring herself a "Thanksgiving commander" and taking charge of setting up the decorations and the Thanksgiving pageant in order for everything to have the best Thanksgiving ever described in the title. Of course, things don't end up going as planned, but Bear helps her to see what's really important.
    • A Comfy, Cozy Thanksgiving is a book release with its own plotline, which involves Treelo feeling unappreciated when nobody seems to want his help at Thanksgiving. He goes off on his own for a while, only to end up drifting back to the Big Blue House after smelling the wonderful smells of the Thanksgiving cooking and finding that everyone does, in fact, want his help.
  • Donkey Hodie: Not an episode, but the social media accounts for the show did several special Thanksgiving videos where the characters say what they're thankful for. The main child characters (except for Duck Duck for unknown reasons) and Grampy Hodie (with his pet elephant Gregory) each got a video like this.
  • Sesame Street had a Thanksgiving Episode in Season 48 where Elmo and the gang learn why Thanksgiving Day is celebrated.

    Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest: The Harvest Festival's main quest is a hunt for crops to present to the goddess of the harvest. The side-quests typically involve fighting against BURPs who would otherwise eat that year's harvest.
  • Animal Crossing: Around Thanksgiving time, the residents will celebrate the Harvest Festival / Turkey Day requesting ingredients for the meals.
  • Borderlands 2: "The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler" is a Thanksgiving-themed DLC with the Vault Hunter traveling to Gluttony Gulch to hunt for the Wattle Gobbler.

    Web Animation 
  • Balena Productions: "Sonic in Harvest Time Hazard", where Sonic and Tails look for a pumpkin big enough for their evening dinner while also having to battle with Eggman's pumpkin badniks.
  • Homestar Runner featured holiday 'toons fairly frequently, and Thanksgiving is no exception:
    • "Some Stupid Turkey" (2001) is a short-short in which Strong Bad dresses like a turkey, then sings a song with the other guys of Free Country USA. Then the King of Town eats the entire Thanksgiving dinner by himself.
    • "Happy T!" (2002) is a short flash file with messages of various HSR characters wishing the viewers a "Happy T!" (or a "Horpy Tor" in the case of Coach Z).
    • The Strong Bad Email "colonization" (2003) centers around the alleged story of Strong Badia's founding, in the form of a parody of the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving. 2003 also saw the release of a series of E-greeting cards starring Fake Band Limozeen.
    • "Fall Float Parade" (2005) has Coach Z and Marzipan as the hosts of "the firty-tirst annual Fall Float Parade" a parody of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with balloons, a pair of Homsars dressed as Shriners, and floats dedicated to "SWE ATSHIRTS", calling Coach Z a jerk, and nunchucking snowmen.
    • "Let Us Give TANKS!" (2006) is a Cheat Commandos short in which the Cheat Commandos go to Thanksgiving dinner with Blue Laser and his minions, and Gunhaver struggles to unwind.
    • "Toikey TV" (2007) has Strong Bad and the Cheat relaxing after Thanksgiving dinner, trying to find something to watch on TV besides "the 2007 Falling Asleep On The Couch Watching Football Bowl". All they can find is stuff like a PSA by the King of Town on the dangers of non-fried turkey, a cartoon starring Strong Sad's folk-hero alter ego Saddy Dumpington, a cooking show with Marzipan showing her fellow "turkey liberators" how to make a vegan "faux-ducken", "another lame Thanksgiving special" featuring the Cheat Commandos, and a commercial for Bubs' Black Friday sale: "Come on, moms! You know you want to beat each other up over some stupid kids' toy!"
    • "Twenty THANX-ty Six" (2008) is a Stinkoman short in which 1-Up tries to teach Stinkoman how to give thanks, which Stinkoman seems to think involves stuff like farming and being a businessman.
    • For 2017, Strong Bad had a special episode of Skills of an Artist showing the viewer how to draw a cornucopia before he turns it into a sketch of a monster puking out plastic fruit.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: "A Very Deandra Thanksgiving".
  • Red vs. Blue had two PSAs set on the holiday, Indigestion 2004 (which combined the holiday with the election and had Sarge taking the Turducken further) and Thanksgiving 2008 (where in acknowledging the series is set in the distant future of Halo, history of the holiday has been kind of lost).
  • SMG4's Mario Bloopers has "Mario and the Bob Mansion", where the gang visit Bob's mansion and celebrate "Bobsgiving".

  • All Saints Street: Chapter 16 covers Luis setting up a Thanksgiving dinner for the apartment. While he was the only one celebrating at first (since none of the other residents have a similar tradition), he eventually ropes Vlad, Neil, and Ira into eating with him.
  • El Goonish Shive, has had a few Thanksgiving filler strips one actually giving thanks, one referencing turkeys, and one simply wishing happy Thanksgiving.
  • Gronk: This one. Also this one.
  • Savestate: Kade and Nicole's parents visit their children here. Hilarity Ensues.

    Web Original 
  • Economy Watch: Three have been done thus far, one per season.
    • Episode 13: "Pilgrimage Tercentenary Half-Dollar"
    • Episode 21: "A Wall Street Thanksgiving"
    • Episode 31: "Black Friday"
  • Is It a Good Idea to Microwave This?: Two episodes, "Talking Greeting Card", and "License Plates".
  • JonTron: The Thanksgiving video "The REAL Story of the Pilgrims" has Jon presenting his own take on how Thanksgiving actually began.
  • Scott The Woz released a Thanksgiving special episode for his fourth season in 2020. It has him attempting to cook a Thanksgiving dinner by using the Nintendo DS game Personal Trainer: Cooking. Hilarity Ensues.
  • SuperMarioLogan: "Turkey Tyranny!"; Obama bans all turkeys and makes them illegal to have on Thanksgiving, just because one attacked him, and Rosalina's parents threaten to wipe out the human race if they don't eat turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Will It Blend?: Thanksgiving Dinner.

Alternative Title(s): Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Day Story, Thanksgiving Day Special


Thanksgiving Throwdown

Coop and Jamie explain Thanksgiving tradition to Kiva.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThanksgivingEpisode

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