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Western Animation / A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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Charlie Brown: We've got another holiday to worry about. It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us.
Sally: I haven't even finished eating all of my Halloween candy!

The tenth Peanuts animated special, first broadcast on CBS in 1973, and naturally enough a Thanksgiving Episode. For whatever reason, it hasn't become quite as iconic as the similarly holiday-themed A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, though like those specials it continues to air each and every year.

The plot concerns Peppermint Patty inviting herself, Marcie, and Franklin over to Charlie Brown's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, Charlie Brown and his family will be going to his grandmother's house for dinner and he can't seem to explain this fact to Peppermint Patty, so he, Linus, and Snoopy scramble to throw together a makeshift outdoor "dinner" consisting of toast, popcorn, pretzels and jelly beans.

In 2001 annual broadcast rights to the special moved to ABC, where it was typically paired with an edited version of "The Mayflower Voyagers," the premiere episode of the 1988–89 mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown. (The two specials are commonly paired on DVD as well.) In 2020, this and the other Peanuts specials moved to Apple TV+ as part of a streaming deal. However, it aired on PBS and PBS Kids at least for that year, as part of a last-minute arrangement.


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: Delivered by Marcie toward the end.
    Charlie Brown: I just feel bad because I ruined everyone's Thanksgiving.
    Marcie: But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by "Thanksgiving", Charlie Brown.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: When setting up the Thanksgiving dinner Snoopy struggles with a folding chair that won't stay unfolded and the chair comes to life and starts to fight back.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Marcie gives Peppermint Patty one when she starts complaining about Charlie Brown's "dinner".
    Marcie: Now wait a minute, sir. Did he invite you here to dinner, or did you invite yourself and us too?
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  • Artistic License – History: Asked to say grace before dinner, Linus provides a thumbnail sketch of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 Plymouth, then recites a paraphrased version of a prayer that Elder William Brewster might have given for the colonists. (The prayer itself was made up for the special.)
  • Balloon Belly: Not exaggerated like the usual use of the trope, but Snoopy and Woodstock are patting very round bellies at the end of the credits.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Downplayed, but Marcie suitably shames Peppermint Patty when the latter berates Charlie Brown for his last-minute Thanksgiving dinner. She turns the tide of Patty's opinion and then goes to comfort "Chuck" at Patty's request.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Snoopy fights with a lawn chair, breaking it. Later that day when Charlie Brown hosts his impromptu Thanksgiving dinner, Franklin goes to sit on the same chair. He nearly falls off it and can barely see across the table.
    • During the end credits, Snoopy enjoys a real Thanksgiving dinner with Woodstock, including a whole turkey and pumpkin pie. One wonders where Snoopy was hiding it while the others were having popcorn, toast and jellybeans.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When Peppermint Patty calls and invites herself, Marcy and Franklin over, Charlie Brown stammers because he can't explain that his family has already made plans.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The ending scene features Woodstock joining Snoopy in eating turkey. On a DVD release, Bill Melendez admitted that even he thought the scene was rather morbid. (Then again, birds eat other species of bird in nature, so Woodstock, a canary, isn't a cannibal for eating a turkey.)
  • Cartoon Throbbing: When Snoopy tries to unfold a lawn chair, the chair snaps and closes on his paw, causing it to turn red and throb.
  • The Chew Toy: Snoopy goes through quite a bit of physical punishment in this one: getting thrown into the basketball hoop over the garage, getting squashed by the garage door opener, and dealing with an angry chair that comes to life and attacks him. And that's just the first half. He Earns His Happy Ending during the end credits.
  • Christmas Creep: The characters briefly complain about this; Sally tells Charlie Brown that she went into town to look for a "turkey tree" and could only find Christmas decorations. When Linus joins the conversation and Charlie Brown laments the impending arrival of Thanksgiving, Sally wails, "I haven't even finished eating all of my Halloween candy!"
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: Patty invites herself over for Thanksgiving dinner when she isn't even family for Charlie Brown, honorary or otherwise. She did volunteer to help with the dishes, but that's about it. Linus suggests they have a smaller dinner earlier so that Charlie Brown won't be late. Peppermint Patty complains that the food isn't traditional dinner, and it's more an array of snacks. Marcie does call out Patty for it.
  • Cool Old Lady: Charlie Brown's grandmother hears about him hosting an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner, but the guests aren't satisfied. She invites the other kids along, much to their delight.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Snoopy blunders and goes through hell just to make the kids a barebones "alternate" meal made of sandwiches and raw snacks, though during the ending he ironically proves able to conjure up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with little to no fuss.
  • The Ditz: Peppermint Patty, of course. Perhaps even more so here, with her inviting herself, Marcie and Franklin to Charlie Brown's place for Thanksgiving despite Charlie's protests.
  • Enmity with an Object: Snoopy struggles with a folding chair that won't stay open, and at one point starts to fight back.
  • Fridge Logic: Invoked In-Universe by Charlie Brown, when everyone sings "Over the River and Through the Woods", saying his grandmother lives in a condo.
  • Full-Name Basis: Charlie Brown identifies himself as "Charlie Brown" to his own grandmother over the phone.
  • Got Me Doing It: Charlie Brown quickly corrects himself when he calls himself "Chuck" by accident to Grandma.
  • Homage: Towards the end, the special becomes a Gender Flipped version of The Courtship of Miles Standish, with the brusque tomboy Peppermint Patty sending the more eloquent and intellectual Marcie to speak to Charlie Brown on her behalf. The analogy is Lampshaded by Linus, but Peppermint Patty doesn't see it. Later, Marcie refers to her as "Priscilla," although technically Charlie Brown is Priscilla in this analogy.
  • Irony: Peppermint Patty has an ungrateful rant on a holiday that exists for the explicit purpose of expressing gratitude. Of course, this sets up Marcie's Aesop about the holiday's true meaning.
  • Jerkass Ball: Peppermint Patty holds it for the special, inviting herself and the others to Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving feast and acting ungrateful.
  • Jerkass Realization: Peppermint Patty has one after Marcie calls her out for yelling at Charlie Brown about the dinner he made.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded.
    Peppermint Patty: Old Chuck is pretty cool about dates. He always wears that striped shirt of his.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Woodstock does this after accidentally toasting and buttering Snooopy's ear.
  • Out Of Control Popcorn: One of the things Snoopy does when preparing the food was prepare the popcorn. But there was one time he forgot to put the lid on the pot when throwing in the next batch of kernels...
  • Projectile Toast: Done by Charlie Brown and Linus in the kitchen, while Snoopy pops corn.
  • Silent Snarker:
    • The chair gets outright sassy when it gets into a wrestling match with Snoopy.
    • Woodstock has a few moments, like when he refuses to wear the little pilgrim outfit.
  • A Simple Plan: And it almost works, if not for Patty complaining. Linus suggests to Charlie Brown that if he has three uninvited guests, Charlie Brown host a simple dinner early before the big celebration at Grandma's. When Charlie Brown says he can only make cereal and toast, Linus and Snoopy help him assemble toast, popcorn, jellybeans and pretzel sticks. The other kids, after being weirded out by Snoopy tossing them their food, dig into the food.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Peppermint Patty, who takes on Lucy's role of Jerkass in the special. After inviting herself and the others to Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, she has the audacity to yell at him for not having a "proper" holiday meal in spite of the fact that one, he can't cook, two, he's only about ten or so years old (the same age as every other child in their group of friends save for Linus, Sally and Rerun), three, Snoopy did the majority of the cooking and four, that she wasn't properly invited. Thankfully, Marcie called her out on her behavior.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lucy isn't seen or even mentioned after the Football Gag scene at the beginning. This is especially odd given the substantial role her brother Linus has in the main story.
  • You Didn't Ask: Charlie Brown and Linus ask Snoopy and Woodstock to help serve Charlie's "alternate" meal to the gang. After they leave, Snoopy pulls out a fully cooked, traditional Thanksgiving meal.


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