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15 Thanksgiving TV Episodes to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Thanksgiving is known to bring out the best and worst in families. While it undeniably reminds us to appreciate our loved ones more, it also tends to initiate a bevy of emotions and squabbles. One minute you’re laughing with your relatives, and the next minute you’re fighting with your mother-in-law about the best way to prepare sweet potatoes. If there’s any medium of entertainment that truly captures all the highs and lows of this particular holiday, it’s television.

For the past several decades, TV shows have been known to feature Thanksgiving-themed episodes that consistently hit the nail on the head. Whether the silver screen characters are reminding us to be more thankful or making us laugh with their over-the-top familial drama, we can always find something to relate to in these shows (except, hopefully, getting a turkey stuck on your head).

To help you celebrate Turkey Day this year — and to remind you that your family isn’t that bad — take a look at 15 of the best Thanksgiving TV episodes ever. Let us know if we missed any of your favorites!

15 Thanksgiving TV Episodes to Get You in the Holiday Spirit:

  • Let’s Talk Turkey 1 of 16
    PicMonkey Collage copy

    This holiday season, revisit some of your favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes! From family drama to burnt casseroles, there's no better way to celebrate Turkey Day.

  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving 2 of 16
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    A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving first ran in 1973, and it has since become a holiday staple that airs every single year on TV. When Peppermint Patty and the rest of the Peanuts gang invite themselves over to Charlie Brown and Sally's house for Thanksgiving, our favorite bald worrywart scrambles to make things work. With the "help" of Snoopy, Charlie serves his friends a feast of jelly beans, buttered toast, popcorn, and pretzels. After much chaos and self-actualization, the kids learn the true meaning of the holiday, and Charlie Brown invites them to his grandma's for a REAL Thanksgiving meal. So it's over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's condominium they go! 

     

    Photo credit: IMDB

  • "The One With All the Thanksgivings" | Friends 3 of 16
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    Friends is famous for its incredibly awesome Thanksgiving episodes, perhaps more so than any other sitcom. The show set a new standard with its 1998 episode, "The One With All the Thanksgivings." Like the title suggests, we get to see flashbacks of all the friends' worst Thanksgivings of all time, from Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head to Chandler losing his precious pinky toe. This episode definitely remains one of the best in the show's entire 10-season run.

     

    Photo credit: Friends Wiki

  • "The One with the Rumor" | Friends 4 of 16
    WillColbert

    Sorry, I HAD to include one more Friends episode — there are just too many good ones! I remember when "The One with the Rumor" first aired, the promos leading up to it kept saying that it would feature the biggest guest star in Friends history. When Monica's apartment door opens to reveal Brad Pitt, the live studio audience (as well as myself) went totally nuts. Brad plays a formerly overweight classmate of Rachel's that started an "I Hate Rachel" club, along with Ross. He spends the entire episode giving her dirty and hateful looks, and it's awesome.

     

    Photo credit: Friends Wiki

  • "Pangs" | Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 11.54.31 PM

    While Buffy tries to pull off the perfect celebration in her mother's absence, poor Xander accidentally releases an angry Native American spirit while breaking ground on a new Cultural Center. The vengeful spirit comes from a tribe that was eradicated by white settlers — leave it to Buffy to tackle racial issues during its Thanksgiving-themed episode. And don't worry, "Pangs" also has plenty of Angel-Spike-Riley-Buffy intrigue to last you all year.

     

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • "Slapsgiving" | How I Met Your Mother 6 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.05.22 PM

    The "slap bet," an agreement in which Marshall gets to slap Barney five random times during the rest of their lives, is one of the funniest running gags on How I Met Your Mother. In this season 3 Thanksgiving episode, Lily declares that no slapping is allowed to take place all day, much to Barney's relief. By the end of the episode, Barney becomes so intolerable that Lily removes her ban — and Marshall immediately acts. His proceeding "You Just Got Slapped" song is reason enough to watch this episode.

     

    Photo credit: Netflix

  • "The Miracle of Thanksgiving" | Full House 7 of 16
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    The first season of Full House featured this bittersweet holiday episode back in 1987. It is DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle's first Thanksgiving after their mom passed away, and they are obviously having trouble coping. In true Full House fashion, the Tanner family provides some crazy kitchen antics to lighten the mood, and in even bigger Full House fashion, Danny doles out some serious life lessons and priceless advice. Once that soft music starts playing and people come to terms with their emotions, you know everything is going to end up okay.

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • "Thanksgiving ’93" | Roseanne 8 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 8.21.49 PM

    Just like with FriendsRoseanne was known for its epic Thanksgiving-themed episodes. This 1993 episodes showcases all of the Conners family dysfunction we know and love: Dan gets into a fistfight with his son-in-law, Jackie gets tricked into spending the holiday with the man who got her pregnant, and Roseanne's mom reveals a shocking secret from her past. If you think your house gets crazy during the holidays, you might want to re-watch "Thanksgiving '93" to put things in perspective!

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" | Gilmore Girls 9 of 16
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    Lorelei and Rory Gilmore are known for their bottomless stomachs, and their epic appetites are put to the test in "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" from season 3 of Gilmore Girls. The mother-daughter team has to attend FOUR Thanksgiving dinners: Luke's, Suki's, Mrs. Kim's, and Richard and Emily's. They make it through, of course, and even regret skipping the dinner rolls at the end of the day. This episode showcases all of the best Stars Hollow characters and features a dramatic face-off between Jess and Dean to keep things interesting.

     

    Photo credit: Rotten Tomatoes

  • "The Mom & Pop Store" | Seinfeld 10 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 9.19.25 PM

    Life is always random and crazy for Seinfeld and friends, so why should Thanksgiving be any different? This 1994 episode has Elaine trying to get a date with Jerry's dentist (guest star Bryan Cranston), Jerry getting all of his sneakers stolen by a "Mom and Pop" shoe repair store, and Jon Voight biting Kramer's arm in a taxi cab. And to add an appropriate Thanksgiving twist, Jerry punctures a Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Macy's Day Parade by knocking an Empire State Building figurine out the window. Happy holidays!

     

    Photo credit: Seinfeld Wiki

  • "Blair Waldorf Must Pie" | Gossip Girl 11 of 16
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    Aside from having a fantastic title, Gossip Girl's "Blair Waldorf Must Pie" plays up all the insane Upper East Side drama with the backdrop of Thanksgivings of past and present. Aside from the current situation of Lily showing up with Serena at the Humphrey family's Thanksgiving (awkward alert!), we also get to see flashbacks of Serena during her alcoholic days and Blair's relationship with her dad. This year, I think we should all be grateful we don't have lives as complicated as Manhattan's most elite.

     

    Photo credit: Gossip Girl Wiki

  • "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" | The Simpsons 12 of 16
    simpsons thanksgiving19

    After Bart accidentally destroys Lisa's handmade table centerpiece on Thanksgiving, he gets sent to his room and then angrily runs away from home. He finds his way to a soup kitchen and realizes how much he has at home after witnessing the poverty there. He returns home, apologizes to Lisa, and the family sits down together for a late-night meal of Thanksgiving leftovers. "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" has all the laughs and cultural references you'd expect from a Simpsons episodes, but it also has a truly touching theme overall.

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • "The Homecoming" | The O.C. 13 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 9.55.57 PM 1

    When you're looking for some melodramatic turkey troubles, you know you can count on The O.C. to deliver. In "The Homecoming," Ryan and Marissa visit Ryan's brother in prison, while Kirsten and Sandy try to deal with burnt food and burgeoning romances. As an added bonus, we also get to see Seth frantically try to choose between Anna and Summer in his adorably awkward fashion. Blackmail, adultery, major Ryan brooding … sounds like just another day in the Cohen household.

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • "Endgame" | The Carrie Diaries 14 of 16
    Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 5.08.36 PM

    On the first Thanksgiving since her mother's death, Carrie takes it upon herself to cook the perfect dinner for her family and new boyfriend. The turkey, as it often does in television shows, ends up catching on fire. By the end of the evening, the electricity is off, Carrie has a heart to heart with her little sister, and sexy Sebastian shows up at the Bradshaw house with a bottle of whiskey. (Side note: Don't hate — this show is actually da bomb dot com.)

     

    Photo credit: Netflix

  • "He Is Risen" | The Sopranos 15 of 16
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    So what if The Sopranos decided to air its Thanksgiving episode on Easter Sunday? That show did as it darn well pleased. "He Is Risen" contains tons of stressful moments, but it should come as no surprise that tensions run even higher in North Caldwell, NJ around the holidays. This episode has everything from murder plots to a turkey sandwich-induced heart attack — not exactly a bucket of laughs, but worth watching nonetheless.

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • "Samantha’s Thanksgiving to Remember" | Bewitched 16 of 16
    thanks1

    Going back to the 1600s to spend Thanksgiving with the original pilgrims sounds pretty fun, right? Well, turns out it's slightly less fun if you happen to be a witch. In this 1967 episode of Bewitched, Samantha's Aunt Clara gets nostalgic and transports the entire family to Plymouth Rock. When the pilgrims catch Darrin lighting a match, they accuse him of witchcraft and put him on trial to be burned at the stake (oh, the irony!). They manage to escape back to the present just in time, and finally enjoy the nice quiet Thanksgiving they were hoping to have.

     

    Photo credit: YouTube

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